Lush, Green and Warm
The northern winter can start to feel long about this time of year, so I like to take a trip someplace warm and green to buoy my spirits and provide inspiration. I’m not talking about Florida or the Caribbean or Mexico, the destination of choice for many in February and March. No, I’m just talking about paying a visit to the nearest greenhouse. I met three artistic friends at the Lyman Conservancy at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and, while snow blew sideways outside the glass, we enjoyed sketching for a few… Read More
I was digging around my desk the other day for a pen or pencil that might give me a looser line than I can get with the fine-nib pens I typically use. I unearthed a brush pen, stuck it in my sketch bag, and pulled it out today when sketching again at the Pember Museum of Natural History. I’ve spent a lot of time with the museum’s bird nests and eggs, but in all my years there, I’ve never drawn from its mammal collection. I also have never looked closely at moles,… Read More
Drawn from the Sea
Isn’t it amazing that a simple chemical compound, calcium carbonate, can create so much? It forms the hard outer shells of mollusks, who spin it into a myriad of forms and colors. As mollusks develop, they absorb salt and chemicals from sea water and secrete proteins and calcium carbonate, which hardens on the outside of their bodies, creating a hard shell. Mollusks continue to grow their shells as they age, adding layers year by year. When they die, they leave behind their beautiful creations, small gifts from a vast and mysterious ocean. Tips… Read More
Many thanks for all of your kind notes and best wishes for a swift recovery from my broken wrist and surgery. The outpouring of support was such a nice gift amidst this trying time. I am so pleased to report that surgery went well and my hard cast was swapped for a removable brace last week. I’ve started OT and I have a lot of work ahead to regain range of motion and strength. While I’m thrilled to now be able to tie my shoes and use a fork with my right… Read More
December at Home
With snow yet to come and trees now bare bones, slate colored skies, tawny fields, and dun-colored woods dominate the landscape. Here and there, white pines tower above it all, making me think that that’s where I’d be if I were a bird in December. I’ve drawn the land around my home in different seasons, and I like the way using a grid with a variety of small vignettes helps me to convey a sense of place. Looking back, August and September were certainly more colorful and January brighter, but I do… Read More
Out of Season
Usually, I would bring you beach finds in summer, when freshly found and still holding a hint of sea and salt air. But here they are in November, a collection of small treasures that I pulled out for my latest Drawn to Nature class. I used them to illustrate ways to record discoveries and layout sketchbook pages when out exploring. Like a puzzle whose picture is revealed only when complete, these types of pages are built piece by piece and end up capturing a particular place or moment in time. So, though… Read More
After the grand display of autumn’s boldest colors, the leaves come down. One by one they fall, by day and night, in windswept flurries and slow-motion descents. I collect a sample of oak, maple, beech, hickory; trying to preserve the quickly fading splendor. But in the turning of the season, all is not lost. The Earth is grounded in beauty, change, quiet, and renewal…and so are we. Tips and Techniques– I always think that painting leaves will be easier than it is. There must be a way to simply splash bold colors… Read More
Sometimes, painting is about the obvious things: the beauty that’s right in front of you, bold colors, compelling light, big picture views. But more often for me, it’s about the things you might pass by: the subtle, the small, the imperfect. Learning to notice is more important than pencil, paper, or paint. I had ample opportunities to sketch both bigger views and subtleties when in Maine recently. Which is more compelling to you?
Blue Mussels on a Rainy Day
October in Maine: a gift. As lovely and as simple as blue mussels on a rainy day. As steady as the ocean lapping on shore, loons calling their lonesome cry from the expanse of blue. As surprising as a pair of kingfishers rattling in flight across a cove. As beautiful as flames of crimson and gold maples and burnt sienna salt marsh hay glowing in the sun. Today, I send you the mussels. More gifts to come.
The season of brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows is upon us here in the Northeast. While the changing foliage of trees steals the show, those same colors echoed in roadsides and fields are just as lovely. I’d better get painting– the season’s peak doesn’t last long. Step out and enjoy the colorful show while you can. Tips and Techniques– Don’t be intimidated by painting tiny flowers. They can be niggly, but keep in mind that you don’t have to draw every tiny shape and detail. Look at the overall structure of… Read More