Sunday, January 20, 2013

Plein Air Nature Journal Page Tutorial

Last week, we had some unusually warm weather in the lowcountry.  Rob and I took advantage by taking our bikes to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  This is one of the major reasons I asked for a bike for Christmas.  I've been yearning to sketch and paint the far and beyond of Pinckney. By the time we were done, we'd cycled 7 miles :)  I must get a softer seat for my bike!!!!

Our first stop was Nini Chapin Pond. It's roughly two miles from the parking area. There was not much bird activity, but we found some shade and it was a good time to eat our lunch.

This was the view we looked upon.  There was a small group of Buffleheads feeding in the water.  I loved how their dives caused the olive green water to shimmer with the blue of the sky.

Viewing the scene for a few minutes is a great way to narrow down what really catches my eye, helping me to decide  what to record in the journal.

The next page in my Stillman and Birn journal, that I've devoted to water scenes, was the right side of a spread.  I didn't want to fill the entire page with a sketch so decided upon a smaller vertical image.
Click to enlarge

The first thing I did was to secure a piece of foam core to the right side of the back of the journal.  This made a great surface to hold the palette and less of a balancing act for me.

Next, I drew the vertical shape that would hold the watercolor sketch. Then added pertinent information for the day: date, time, temperature, where we were, and around the edge of the box, I started adding notes about any wildlife that crossed our path.

To me, the lightest color in the scene was the blue of the sky and water.
I knew that if I let most of the paper show through on the lower right corner, I'd stand half a chance at keeping the true color to the foreground grasses.

click to enlarge

Hopefully you can see the first layer of blue!

 Now you can see the first layers of green water and the brown of the far shore's bank.  While painting, the Buffleheads were diving away, always changing what the water looked like.

When painting plein air, light and reflections are ever changing.  Once I've laid down the initial frame work of colors, I take a good look at the direction of the shadows. I will have to paint from memory in order to make the painting read true. 
All that was left to do was to add notes of any other wildlife that we saw after heading over to the other side of the pond.

I'm loving my trusty steed.... the PaintCycle, a.k.a. the BeeBike  :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Starting the New Year off right :)

Took my PaintCycle for another spin this morning and sketched a Live Oak that has intrigued me for years.  Finally down on paper!!
It was sunny when I started out a little after 9 a.m., and the angle of the winter sun was perfect for seeing all the nooks and crannies this tree possesses.  This is the first sketch in an 8.5 x 11 Stillman and Birn Alpha hardbound journal.  It straddles my bike basket perfectly :)

The tide was coming in. A flock of small shorebirds was active in the marsh. I love how they fly in unison. I need to remember to pack my binoculars!! 

Other birds of note:  Osprey, Wood Stork, Hooded Merganzer, Snowy Egret, Red-shouldered Hawk and American Crows.  A good way to start the day and New Year :)

Wishing you, my readers, a happy, healthy and blessed New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Long - Night Moon... the beginning

click to enlarge
This morning was my maiden voyage on my new 'PaintCycle' - A hearty thank you to my in-laws for gift money to purchase a cruiser bicycle with a basket perfect for hauling art supplies :)

A tad chilly,  make that a cold 33 degrees at 6:45 a.m., but I had to capture the Long-Night Moon that reached its peak of fullness at 5:22 a.m. EST.

I rode to the 7th green where the moon was about to dip behind far the trees.  My light was positioned between the brake cords and the basket, but this setup will have to be tweaked as the light kept slipping and preventing me from painting.  The whole expedition took about 20 minutes and I managed to capture the initial scene minus the houses across the water that line the 6th fairway.  I so love not being a camera! The moon disappeared below the tree line. Ho hum, it's tough when you have to go to work when all you really want to do is stay home and paint :)

Ooooooh, I'm so going to love traversing the trails on my PaintCycle and sketching!!!

Stay tuned for the final journal page!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2013 Lowcountry MoonScapes Calendar

It wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't last minute with creating special things.  I thought for sure I wouldn't get a calendar produced for 2013 but somehow I've pulled it off.  I need your help though, as I using a different provider and it's not a print-on-demand service.

So..... if  you would like to own an original, limited edition, ordered just for you.... Lowcountry MoonScapes 2013 calendar, please hit the 'Buy Now' button to the right through Tuesday, December 25th!

The calendar is 8.5 x 11 wall calendar with a spiral binding and opens to 17 x 11.  The images below are taken from the design page on my computer and show the layout as side by side but in reality, the calendar page sits below the moon painting. 

I received my sample calendar in the mail yesterday and am very, very pleased with the colors and the stock it's printed on.  I've added full and new moon dates based on information from NASA, and they are calculated at Eastern Standard Time. The full moon dates remain the same across the United States but  new moon dates in Pacific Standard Time during February and July are one day earlier!  Who knew???

The cost for each calendar is $26 and includes shipping via priority mail within the United States.  Holidays are also geared to the United States.

I have to place the order by December 23rd so you should receive your calendar within the first two weeks of January.

This is the first time I've used a 'buy now' button from PayPal and I'm not quite sure how it all works.  Please send me an email letting me know you've order (pjbartstudio-at-me-dot-com) and included your snail mail address and any special instructions.

Thank you so for traveling down a new road with me :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The 12.12.12 Commerative... Cotton!

I have a childhood memory of a family friend's treasure box that was filled with interesting organic items she'd found during her travels.  I remember exotic shells, all types of stones and a sprig of cotton.

A week ago, I had my first one-on-one experience with a field of cotton. What a delight to the eye!  I had no idea the plant had such lovely architecture. 

I picked several cotton sprigs but what really thrilled my eyes were the pale yellow flowers blooming out of a three-sided leaf-like structure with long thin fingers.  I brought my treasures home and put the flowering branches in water.  After a few days, the pale yellow flowers slowly started to turn the same crimson color of what I now know is called a 'square'.  I found a great website that explains the life cycle and gives the names of the various parts of the cotton plant. A 'boll' forms from the flower and it takes 24 days to reach full size. An additional 24-40 days is needed for the fiber to fill with cellulose and the boll to open.

I'm tickled that the cotton plant came into my life at this time.  It has such a rich history, especially here in the Lowcountry. A special plant for a special day!

In remembrance....
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Jame Mattioli, Grace McDonnnel, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt. 12.14.2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Water Study

The Stillman & Birn journal I've dedicated to water studies finally has another entry.

Saturday, I conducted a workshop entitled "Working Small".  The morning was spent in the classroom honing quick sketching skills, learning to how to capture a scene in 4 values and last but not least, putting skills learned into practice by sketching en plein air.

During the en plein air stage of the workshop we were at a small park along the Beaufort River.  Most of my time was spent conducting one-on-one tutoring with the workshop participants but, I just couldn't resist capturing the lighting and the colors on the river.  This may sound odd but it was a bright mostly cloudy day.  The afternoon sun was trying hard to break through the cloud cover but never did truly succeed.  Oh..... the colors on the river were stunning.  This page reflects a very small portion of the view.  So much can be learned from working small :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Full Frost Moon

Now for the rest of the story...

On my iPhone, I have a couple of neat Apps: 1) for viewing the sky, sun, moon, stars and even satellites - whether during the day or night. It's called..... Night Sky, and 2) MoonPhase.... which provides information like rise and set times, a calendar showing the different phases, moon names, an ephemeris data file that calculates the position of the moon at regular intervals throughout the month and it will even howl on the day of the full moon. Basically, I've everything I need to be prepared for and be in position to paint the rising of the moon :)
I arrived a bit early and was able to lay the groundwork of the scene.  According to the Night Sky App, the moon would rise over the lower back ground trees between the dark foreground trees the where the far trees gained height.

Well, I waited and waited.... the moon should have already risen above the lower trees.  Were there really horizon clouds?  It sure looked like they had broken up to my eye.  Where was the moon? I decided to get out of my chair and take a look around.

There it is! Wait a minute... it's over more to the left!  Ahhh!  I have to totally shift my angle of view and now there will be no reflection of the moon in the water :(    Oooooo, Jupiter is hanging with the moon tonight. Sweet!

I'm disappointed with with the Night Sky App.  It pulled a fooly on me.  All the times I've used it I don't remember it being that far off on location of the moon.  Oh well, I was able to get two basic plein air sketches in my journal.  My over-the-neck nightlight had plenty of candlepower to paint by, but the cold damp air was making it difficult for my hands to work and even with the use of my little fan, the paper wasn't drying fast enough.  I finished both sketches over the weekend.  All is well in my moon painting kingdom :)

The next big sketching day is just around the corner.... 12.12.12! The last of these special, same number day/month/year dates for this century.  What will you sketch to commemorate this day?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Waiting for the Moon

Last Wednesday the full moon was rising at the perfect time.  I could paint it from a spot I've been eyeing that's on the way home from where I work.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Native Vines

Coastal Autumn colors are still singing their song. The colors and textures are a delight to my eyes.

Virginia Creeper and Muscadine Grape vines abound in our landscape.

New to me is Virgin's Bower - a native clematis.  I really want to explore the wonderful arrangement of the spent flowers.  They look different in every type of light.  I'm especially fond of the intricate squiggly fronds that are attached to the seeds - they look like feathers.  What a great way this plant has to transport its seeds through the air.

Last Wednesday, I cut snippets of these vines and put them in a vase for later sketching.
what a fun way to spend time waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to cook!

The Muscadine and Virginia Creeper have now faded but the Virgin's Bower hasn't changed a bit..... Oh goodie! I'll be able to make some enlarged sketches of this amazing plant :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Redbud on Veterans Day

Veterans Day found me sketching a favorite Redbud tree.  It struck me as happy with it's branches lifting up toward the sky.  A smattering of brightly colored leaves were like icing on a cake.

Freedom makes my heart sing. Thank you, Veterans, for your bravery and sacrifices that helped keep our country free!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plein Air and Memory Watercolor Sketches

During the palette knife painting workshop with Jane Smithers, we also sketched in our journals.

The larger image is a 15 minute plein air sketch, the smaller a two-minute memory sketch. Both using just watercolors with no initial pencil sketch.

I so love timed sketching.  Stokes become quite simplified. It's great for loosening up and colors stay fresh. 

Both sketches are done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha series hardbound journal. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sketching During a Golf Game

Yes, my kind of golf game now is sitting in the golf cart and sketching while Rob plays :)  I remember the last time I played this course was back in the mid '90's.   The bunkers were geometric in shape.  It was not a kind course for me to play then.... and all these years later, I'm quite satisfied in being a passenger in the golf cart!

A delightful day!  The temps were in the high 60's, sun shining bright, the course was loaded with players and we couldn't have been happier.  The couple we were paired up with didn't like the slow play but not us.  We love to take our time and enjoy the day.... not race around the course.  It gave me lot's of time to study and sketch things that caught my eye.  Five hours to play 18 holes.  Nice!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Autumn Wildflower Celebration

These were picked from Spring Island's wildflower garden last Thursday.  The Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, blooms are spent, but I still love their shapes. The Horsemint, Monarde punctata L, is barely hanging on and the River Oat sprig, Chasmanthium latifolium, has been brown for weeks. But Elliott's Aster, Symphyotrichum elliottii, Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta and Wild Ageratum flowers are not ready to stop their celebration of Autumn.

I so wish I could have a scratch and sniff square on this page!

I sketched everything with an 005 brown Micron pen, then added watercolors.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Palette Knife Painting

Please click to enlarge
Two weeks ago I took part in a Jane Smithers oil painting workshop.  We used only a palette knife to apply paint to our substrates. 

I've not painted with oils since college and this time around chose Holbein's duo aqua oils as I want to not get involved with the chemicals and odors of traditional oil paints.

I found them easy to work with but my biggest surprise during this workshop was the lack of odor from the traditional oil paints that everyone else was using.  This was due in part because it's wasn't necessary to use mineral spirits or turpenoid for cleanup!  Our workshop instructor enlightened us with the use of Wet Ones to clean the palette knife!

All in all, palette knife painting has two big pluses. Very easy cleanup and it forces you to stay loose. However, there is a learning curve of how to apply paint with the knife. It's rather like leaning how to write with traditional calligraphy tools.  My painting technique used in the above image really didn't take advantage of all the effects a knife can create, but I sure do have the urge for more exploration!

Thank you, Jane!  You are a great teacher!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween!

This page was created on Calhoun Street in the Old Town section of Bluffton, SC.

I started with the flowers and sign post except I was so taken with the blooms and how the vine twirled around the post that I didn't even consider the original placement.... Oops! Ran out of room for the hanging sign :)  So it can go when sketching with pen.  But that's okay.  As we walked along Calhoun Street the sheet ghosts that Bin 55 had hanging on their porch caught my eye and I couldn't resist having it take center stage on the page.  I love how serendipity can save a page :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Bit of Architecture

This is the last sketch I did during the Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop I conducted recently in Beaufort, SC.

We were making our way back to Coastal Art Supply and decided to see if anything on Craven Street spoke to us.  This church steeple did it for me.  The sun was out but storm clouds were to the north.  So dramatic!

I've often said sketching with pen is terrifyingly freeing and so it was while I sketched this subject that's not at all nature related.  I kept telling myself to be bold and trust that I'd get the perspective correct.  I'm pleased :)

This is an amazing church. The architect and builders really added some wonderfully unusual details. I must get back and explore this building in more detail.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop

The first Friday and Saturday in October found me in Beaufort conducting a workshop at Coastal Art Supply.

Around-the-Town Sketching is one of my favorite workshop formats. Participants gain experience with fast sketching, sketching with pen, plein air watercolor sketching and lettering. We spend the mornings sauntering around the streets of Beaufort and sketching. Sometimes sketching with pen and adding color later in the comfort of the classroom and other times, we find a comfy spot to sit and sketch and paint plein air.
I used a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series hardbound journal during the workshop. The paper takes watercolor washes beautifully and is smooth enough to write with an 01 Micron pen.  The paper is opaque enough not to show images from the previous page.  A winner!

The workshop ran for two days, with the option of attending only one day. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't remember to take photos on the first day and two of my students are left out of the montage :( 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Ink and Exercise Challenge

I'm trying out yet another Stillman and Birn Journal.... this time the Epsilon Series that has paper suited for pen and ink.

This is my first entry and I've got to say writing on this paper with a Micron pen is dreamy. The greys were created with grey and black Pentel Sign Pens that I hit the tip of with a waterbrush, then added the ink to the page.  The water/ink combo spread like butter.

One thing I really like about using a waterbrush is that it dispenses just enough water to get the job done.  This is very useful when the paper being used is not necessarily meant for washes.

This journal has two purposes. The first being to get me off of my desk chair and moving about. That's a challenge in itself as I get lost in my work and time goes sailing by. The second, and most fun, is to explore ink.

I'm glad the journal has many pages as there are so many inks waiting to be tried :) Which leads me to the back of my journal where I create color test pages......
click to enlarge
I'm keeping this journal in my desk drawer, easily at hand.  I've been sitting too long again... time to catch lunch and take a stroll with my journal and pens :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beaching It.... Again!

I don't mean to flaunt :) Actually for someone who only lives 15 miles from the beach, this is only the fourth time we've been this year!  Very sad, really!

This spread is the second in my new Stillman & Birn hardbound, Beta Series journal.  I've officially decided to designate it for all things water related.  This morning, upon waking, I was composing the title page in my mind. I will take my time to create it.  I want this page to be just right, no pressure to create,  and I want it to just ooze with the love I feel when around water; be it marsh, stream, river, lake or ocean and all the flora and fauna that lives in these environs.

Painting at the beach has its challenges. My skin doesn't handle a lot of sun exposure well, so when not walking the shoreline, I'm hugging the shade under the umbrella.  I'll just get deep into painting and the sun will have moved enough so the chairs need to relocated.  Then, working on you lap can be awkward... the threat of sand in your paint and on your brush, surrounds you! 

I love observing waves. The Uniball Signo broad tip white pen really helped me capture the movement of white water.  Not to mention the white trim on the umbrella!  I tried to leave the white of the paper but it was too much.  This is strictly a watercolor sketch... no pencil lines and keeping the shapes of the umbrella's panels and wire supports got away from me.  Much easier to paint it all blue, add shading and when dry, the white trim and support struts :)

I really like the quality of paper this journal offers.  I was able to lift the blue of the water to make room for the umbrella's pole without damaging the surface. It handles layering of colors well and is smooth enough to use a Micron 01 pen.  I used pan watercolors and a waterbrush.  My next adventure will be to use traditional watercolor brushes and see how the paper holds up to more water.  I've not painted pleir air with anything but a waterbrush so this will be fun!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beach Day with my Stillman and Birn Journal

Last month I entered a drawing on Stillman and Birn's FaceBook page to win one of their hardbound journals that feature 180 lb. watercolor paper.  I was one of 10 lucky artists to win  :)

Two Sundays ago, I had the perfect opportunity to take it for a spin.  We treated ourselves to beach chairs and an umbrella and that's where I sat as I broke the journal in, carefully opening it in the center and bending the covers back until they touched.  I followed Jamie Grossman's instructions to the letter.  Thanks, Jamie!

I started with the sky. If you look real close at the photo above, you can see my travel palette on the right.  My brush was a large Pentel waterbrush.
Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turns out, my left margin listed to the right.  On one of our beach walks, we happened upon a new treasure. It turned out to be the tail of a horseshoe crab. And, as journal keeping goes, I celebrated this serendipitous find and drew in into the most perfect spot on my page :)  The part of the tail that connects to the crab was spooky looking. It reminded me of a Halloween goblin.... ooga booga!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Broad Strokes

Today, Spring Island's Landscape Ecologist, whom I share office space with, asked if I wanted to visit one of our resident's garden... I grabbed my sketch bag before he even finished his sentence :)

I've been hearing about Ann's garden for two years.  It is incredible. Loaded with native plants and in one small area she has a butterfly garden that does have a few non-natives.

As we approached, the Joe Pye Weed and Thoroughwort plants caught my eye.  I could go no further.

We visited during lunch and didn't have a lot of time, so I concentrated on capturing the shapes and colors that initially caught my eye.  This can sometimes tear at me as I do love the details of plants... But, lunch is lunch and I hadn't eaten yet!

The majority of this page was painted within 20 minutes.  I penciled in the names of the plants, but not in the position you see them now.... just scratched them in as reference.  Upon returning to the office, I wrote the plant names on a separate sheet of paper, erased my pencil notes, then began the lettering.  But, there was an awkward empty spot near the bottom of the page.... hmmm.  A perfect spot for Otto!  I had taken a few photos of butterflies during our time there.  Otto made it into one of them.  I'm glad I had a reference image of him!

I must go back to Ann's garden.  The majority of wildflowers are getting ready to bloom... Autumn in the lowcounty is a wildflower delight!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Item in Sketch Bag

Click to Enlarge

This page started off to feature the new addition to my plein air supplies, but then the page took on a life of its own :) 

Often, when painting the full moon, I get frustrated with the drying time of watercolors, especially in the summer months when the humidity and mosquitoes are fierce.  I just don't have the luxury of waiting for paint to dry and often have to finish the page upon returning home.

I've been looking for small fans that would fit in my bag, not weigh too much and have some decent reviews written about them.  The size of this little Coleman personal fan is perfect.  It's 4 inches tall, 1 3/8 inches wide and 3/4 deep. It weighs 4 oz. with 2 AA batteries inserted and puts out quite a breeze!  The reviews were mixed and averaged 3 out of 5 - 5 being excellent. I ordered it on Amazon and since there were already enough items in my cart to qualify for free shipping, I took a chance on the this ever so expensive (ha, ha) $5.27 fan!

Now for the opportunity to try it out!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon Celebration... Goodbye Neil

We've had soooo many storms all week that I was thrilled when the Weather Channel said our chances for rain would be 30% at moonrise Friday.  I was still worried that a thunderstorm might pop up.  Usually a 30% chance of rain in the lowcountry means zero rain..... but lately, that truth is being rubbed out! I'm happy to say there was nary a cloud in the eastern sky come moonrise :) 

Before I left the house, I used masking fluid to spell out Blue Moon on a couple of journal pages. The nib was a little too broad on my first attempt, but my second writing, using a smaller nib, was the look I had in mind.  I used Daniel Smith masking fluid.  I like their offering as they provide you with several nib attachments that you can tailor to suit your own needs.

I was able to get the base watercolor sketch laid in on site, then moved to a different location so I could get the moon reflection in the tidal creek.  I wish I could have painted them entirely plein air, but neglected to test my light prior to leaving the house..... the battery was very dead.

Given the massive amounts of mosquitoes, I didn't get too upset with myself for not checking the light :)

It's amazing how dark it can get in 15 minutes!

As I finished the second sketch today, I knew this was the one I wanted to dedicate to Neil Armstrong. Neil, I'm sorry you've left this world, but happy that the universe lined up with your passing so that you were able to be laid to rest during a Blue Moon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ocean Course in Sea Pines

What an incredible day in the Low Country of South Carolina! Low 80's, a breeze with cool tones, no humidity to speak of...  Is it really August in SC?

Rob and I took total advantage and enjoyed the day down in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island.

We went to the driving range at the Sea Pines Resort.  Rob got two bags of balls to hit. I brought my favorite painting chair and parked myself so I could capture the view looking toward hole number one of the Ocean Course. We feel like we had a mini Sunday vacation :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August Duet... The Sequel

Well, these pretty flowers kept singing their song on my desk and I couldn't resist sketching another view! I must say, painting during lunch breaks is quite refreshing.

The Brown-eyed Susan is a tall plant that's covered in smaller flowers. You just feel happy when looking at it.

The Ironweed, which grows right beside the Brown-eyed Susan in the wildflower garden at work, is very tall. But, if you click on the link, you'll see a trimmed version.

The links also bring you to the Spring Island Trust Native Plant Project pages.  You'll find a wealth of plant information there.  Our next Native Plant Sale is scheduled for October 20th and is open to the public. 

The lovely illustrations you see on the Native Plant pages are by artist Katie Lee. She is a frequent visiting artist to Spring Island.  Another reason why I love my job so.... I am able to meet a variety of artists.  Inspiration abounds :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Duet

I love the color harmony found in nature. I picked these delicate beauties from the Native Plant Garden at the Nature Center on Spring Island. 

This is a watercolor sketch.... no pencil.  I used a Micron 01 pen for the lettering and added the Ironweed's white springs with a Signo uni•ball broad tip white pen from

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Digital Art Fun.... Meet Otto

More digital art fun.   I started with a photo of this cutie - Otto is a 4 month old miniature Schnauzer that a co-worker brings to the office. At the time, Otto was sitting on my lap at my desk. I took a photo of him with my phone. Later, I transferred the image into iPhoto for iPad app and selected the watercolor feature, then cropped the image.  Saved the results to my camera roll so I could drop it into MyBrushes app where I painted additional background colors and gave more definition to Otto's eyes. Lastly, I signed my name in photoshop. 

Now to use this manipulated image as inspiration for an oil painting :)

Here's the original photo.

Yes, Otto is full of himself :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Sketching

Last year, I found the Upside•Down Patio Garden container at the store Tuesday Morning.  I thought it would be perfect for the condo we were living in at the time.  But, as silly condo rules go.... I found out I couldn't put this on the sunny front porch.

This spring we moved into a house with a sunny, private back yard.  Once the move was over and we were halfway settled in, I ran to Lowes for plants and potting soil. The bottom of the container is filled with sand. This keeps the structure quite sound.

What a joy it is to be tending a garden again.  It was planted a little too late in the season for the Beef Steak toms and peppers but the Grape toms are giving us a good crop.  The herbs on top are very happy. So many plants in one square foot of garden space! No weeding, just joy :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Charcoal Sketching on iPad

I love the look of charcoal sketches... just not the mess associated with the medium. Now, thanks to ASKetch app for iPad, I'm not covered in black dust!  Oh, happy days :)

I've got a bit of a learning curve to tackle, but overall, I'm pleased with my first attempt.  Grizz was beside me on the sofa and when not in food mode, she's a perfect model :)

Couldn't figure out how to get a pencil stroke to write the date and sign this for my electronic journal, so I loaded the image into MyBrushes app. Oooooo, I'm feeling like such a modern girl!

Mind you, I'm ignoring the fact that the house requires Saturday chores..... they won't go away, but the quiet time to create will!  Tough choice :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Anhinga Study - Playing With Brush Pens

click to enlarge

I so love using minimal brush strokes to capture waterbirds.

The Anhinga, or Snake Bird, is one of my favorites.  It's very calligraphic and begs to be sketched with a brush.

I was looking through my old sketchbooks the other day and ran across this demo I did during a workshop.  The blue sketch was made with an Elmer's Watercolor Brush Pen. They come in assorted colors. You can see a few strokes of different colors above the Anhinga. The sad thing about these pens is that when the color is gone you toss the pen. 

The foreground Anhinga was sketched with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
At JetPens (link above) it has 'for Calligraphy' tacked onto the end of the name.  At Dick Blick, that specification is left off. This brush pen comes with a refill cartridge and you can also purchases refills separately :)  I love the texture you can achieve with this brush pen - almost a dry brush look.  If you let the ink set up for a minute or so, it becomes waterproof.  Or, if you are quick, you can stroke the pigment with a waterbrush and create diluted grays.  You can view this technique here
The bulk of the Anhinga's body, neck and head were made in one stroke...  takes a bit of practice but that's all part of the fun. If I remember correctly, I began by pressing the brush into the paper to create the bird's body and then lifted up to thin out the stroke until the brush was barely touching the paper for the bill.  Practice pressure strokes with this instrument. Lots of pressure gives a bold stroke, light pressure a fine line. Have fun!

Friday, July 6, 2012

iPhoto for iPad app....Fun!

Click to enlarge
I love my iPad... it's convenient and the apps that are available are incredible.

Last week I downloaded iPhoto for iPad.  This week, I was able to play with the possibilities :)

I have lots of canvas and a set of water soluble oil paints waiting for me to dig in.  It will be fun to see how the oil paint effect translates images I want to paint. Plus, it's a great jumping off point for the look and feel I'd like to achieve.  I love what the effect did for my Midday Sun sketch!