Doubly Good

You have to be in the right place at the right time to see a common nighthawk. Even then, you need to be lucky.  Nighthawks are nocturnal birds that fly at dusk over fields, ballparks, cities and towns, hawking insects in the air with quick wingbeats interrupted by soaring, swooping, and gliding. At first glance you might mistake one for a large bat. But then it soars or dives and you think, no, that’s a bird. Unfortunately, common nighthawks are no longer common—they’ve suffered a 60-percent decline in population since the 1960s…. Read More

Seals Hauled Out

If seeing harbor seals lazing on seaweed draped rocks isn’t awesome enough, hearing them growling at each other and splashing at rivals in a full-on water fight ranks high on my list of Maine vacation experiences. This group of about 40 seals hauls out to rest on the same rocky ledges at low tide each day. I sketched them on two separate days; first, from a place on shore where I used binoculars to view them, and the second time from a closer rocky outcrop that we reached by canoe. Tucked in… Read More

Vinalhaven Sketchbook 2021

Islands all along the east coast are invaded each summer by lovers of sun, beaches, and beauty. DownEast Maine islands are no different, except that the beaches are rocky, the water is cold, and you’re likely to get a healthy dose of fog as well as sun. If you go far enough out to sea, you can add solitude to the list of attributes. We’ve found all of that on the island of Vinalhaven, which sits at the margin of Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few pages from… Read More

Enough Already!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the near daily rain we’d been experiencing in Upstate New York, which had been a boon to mushroom growth but not much else. Since then, it’s been more of the same: rain, humidity, and mushrooms. I want to stop sketching them, I really do. But with more colors and varieties sprouting by the day, I just can’t seem to stop. When opportunity arises, I find myself wandering the grove of oaks on our property, looking for the latest species to emerge, and adding them to my… Read More

A Magnificent Structure

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure, that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility.” Albert Einstein Tips and Techniques— I sketched and painted this nest and quote as a demonstration for an online class that explores ways to capture the essence of a subject. While I find research and scientific information invaluable for field sketching, I also appreciate how a few spare lines of poetry or a quote can cut to the chase, helping to express what drew… Read More

Mushroom Rains

It has rained nearly every day for a week straight. This is not good if you like summer or swimming or outdoor dining or if you want to cut the lawn every now and then. It’s not good if you like painting outside or if you want your watercolor paints to dry inside without using a hairdryer. What all the rain and humidity is good for is mushrooms. They are fruiting like gangbusters in a myriad of colors, forms, and variety. I went out to sketch them during a blessed break in… Read More

Notes from the Coast

What could be better than a week spent outdoors on the beautiful rocky coast of Maine with a group of people enthusiastic about exploring, sketching, and painting nature? Hmmm…. not much. Directing the Arts and Birding program at the Hog Island Audubon Camp near Damariscotta is a highlight of my year. Although I don’t have time to do much artwork myself, the time I spend teaching others and seeing what they produce is inspiring. I do manage a few sketches, or at least I manage to start them even if I need… Read More

Burning Twice as Bright

I have been waiting for my Oriental poppies to bloom for two years. I am not disappointed. Their papery thin, flaming orange-red petals are outrageous in the garden. Still, some of the blossoms lasted only days. A few were knocked out by heat. Others by heavy rain. Only two of eight remain. Alas, I’ll content myself with these, plant more perhaps, and paint them again next June. Tips and Techniques– For the strong warm reds and depth of color poppies demand, I tapped the intense colors of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine… Read More

New Hampshire Getaway

Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I carried our one-and-a-half-year-old son up a mountain to a clear, quiet lake in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It was a blue-sky November day; fall colors lay on the ground; my son wore a blue sweater that his grandmother knit for him. I loved that hike and I remember the details because we took a photo at the water’s edge, mountains tinged by an early frost in the background. And then—life happened. We had a second child, my husband’s family sold their property in the mountains,… Read More

Oh, how beautiful

Rudyard Kipling was so right when he wrote, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” Except in this particular garden, that’s exactly what I did. With the sun casting a warm golden light at the close of the day, I sat in the shadow of a large maple tree and surveyed a lovely field of grasses and allium. I had no hand in their planting or care. The only finger I lifted was the one that carried lines and watercolor across this page. An unknown… Read More