Monday, March 18, 2013

"How-To" For 16 Page Journal

Please click to enlarge images.  This book has 16 paintable surfaces.

You'll want to use Fabriano watercolor paper as it doesn't crack when folded. I tore my sheets so I could get an uneven edge. I use their hot press surface as I like writing on the smooth surface.

Your book will be as precise as your folds.  Take your time and you'll be happy.  I practiced on  a 15" x 22" sheet of drawing paper.  I'm glad I did!

Happy journal making!

No charge for type-os :) If anything doesn't make sense to you, leave a comment and I will try to answer your question(s).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A New Handbuilt Book

This journal was created from a half sheet of Fabriano hot press watercolor paper.  It's 7.5" high and 5.5" wide when closed.  If you count the cover... there are 16 surfaces to paint on! Amazing considering it came from a 15" x 22" piece of paper :)

Stay tuned for the "How To".......

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Correcting Lettering Mistakes

A lot of times I'll wait until I get home before adding lettering to a journal page. Mainly because of time and comfort. But on this particular day, I felt quite comfy perched on my camp stool and the 8.5 x 11 journal page in my Stillman and Birn Alpha hardbound journal was such a dream to work on.

However, on the way home, I began to wonder if this really was Harbour Town's Liberty Oak. There were two very large oaks in the heart of Harbour Town.  The magnificence of this tree, with it's sprawling low lying branches surely struck me as the one to bear this name...... Not!

Long ago, a skilled calligrapher taught me how to correct mistakes... Tip: correct your mistake before you lift any unwanted lettering.  Huh? Yes, write over the lettering on the page, then white out or lift off what you don't want.
That way the stroke of the corrected lettering will be smooth and you won't have to contend with the often bumpy texture left by white out or white ink.  I used a Signo Uniball broad tip white pen, available from

I decided to turn Liberty Oak into Live Oak.  The RTY of Liberty would be taken out.  A good size space would be left between the two words.  I decided to put the tree's Latin name between Live and Oak.... a quirky fix, but it worked for me :)

Since this is a journal page and not a piece of calligraphic art, I was willing to live with a bumpy surface to write the smaller replacement text on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bald Cypress

In the middle of the town of Port Royal, SC, there is a treasure... The Cypress Wetland Park.  Over the years, the town recognized the value of this wetland and have worked hard to preserve it.  Last year they completed a boardwalk that skirts the edge of the wetland.  In the middle is an island rookery. Along the east and south sides are stands of Bald Cypress, dancing ladies that grace the wetland with their hoop skirts.... at least that's what they remind me of, especially when the trunks have water around them :)

Here is a short video that the town made during the final building stages...
In a month or so, the rookery will be a hopping place.  I hope to find myself back here, capturing all facets of breeding season.

The above journal pages are in a Stillman and Birn 8.5 x 5.5 Alpha Series hardbound journal. The tree on the right and the Spanish Moss were painted with a large round Pentel waterbrush.  I find that if I load the brush with pigment, then touch the brush to a Bounty paper towel to get excess moisture off, I can achieve a dry brush effect.  The pen sketching was done with a sepia colored 005 Micron pen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Workshop Demo Pages

Here are two journal pages I created during a couple of workshops, as demonstrations for students.  The left was sketched with a black 02 Micron pen. The right was sketched en plein air using an 005 Sepia Micron pen, then painted with watercolors using a waterbrush.  The assignment here was for students to sketch what they saw at ground level, eye level and then up to the sky.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Biking and Sketching in Sea Pines

It was a beauty of a day in the low country.  Rob and I took our bikes into Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island.

Sea Pines is a large resort and residential plantation at the south end of the island.  Charles Fraser, a real estate developer, transformed HHI with the creation of Sea Pines, turning the sparsely populated barrier island into a world class destination resort.

There are bike trails galore to explore.  We parked at the Sea Pines Club and then cycled a trail that winds through Heron Point Golf Course and made our way to the Forest Preserve.

One of our favorite places in the preserve is Lake Mary.  An Anhinga was perched on a dead limb very near the shore where we stopped.  It was busy preening and made a perfect model for quick sketching.  I started with a Pentel Brush Pen and finished up with a Micron.

We headed for Harbour Town, the home of the PGA's Heritage Golf Tournament that's held in April.  This area of Sea Pines is always full of life.  Luckily, this time of year, it wasn't at all congested.  We were able to ride our bikes right up under the huge oaks near the harbor. 

One tree's limb was almost touching the ground and it really caught my eye.  I thought it was part of the Liberty Oak but not.... I will have to amend this page somehow....

Rob's surprise: a photograph of me in the midst of painting this page :)
I've new equipment for my PaintCycle... Two saddle bags to carry art supplies and camp stools. I  truly have a portable studio working :)  One happy camper here!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sketching and Biking at Palmetto Bluff

Oooo, the BeeCycle has been getting a workout.  We went over to Palmetto Bluff to bike the trails.  This is one of the scenes along the five mile drive into the village.

On this trip I carried my 8.5x11 Stillman and Birn Alpha journal in my basket.  I love sketching with a Micron pen on this paper. I took a reference photo so I could add color at a later time. 

The day finally arrived :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sketching Practice with iPad

 I'm so enjoying honing my sketching skills on the iPad using Paper by 53 app.

I'm just scratching the surface with what this app can do.  Check out artist David Rankin's work here .

Next stop.... in the field!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jupe and the Moon Encounter

Y'all know I love keeping tract of celestial events :)  Thankfully the sky was almost clear... Even better, atmospheric ice crystals created a huge ring around the moon as if to celebrate the closeness of these two heavenly bodies.

I sketched the 6:45 pm and 10:30 pm views plein air, but in a different sketch book, then added them later to this journal page.  The painting was done inside after running out, taking a peek, and then creating the sketch from memory.

One thing I'm very careful to do is make sure I have the slant of the gibbous moon correct. I imagine a clock face to judge the angle. In this case, at 6:45 pm it was 11 and 5 o'clock, at 8 pm - 11:30 and 5:30.  It was a big surprise that the moon had turned so much by 10:30.  This was also when Jupiter was at its closest point to the moon.

If you had a clear sky for viewing, did you have a ring around the moon, too?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mackay Creek View... Another Tutorial

click to enlarge all images
I finished the page at home, adding a few more darks and textures to the exposed oyster bed on the left side and finally, the type.  I made my notes in pencil while on location.  I didn't want to forget anything!

One day, I'll be able to write in a straight line :)

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!