November’s Nest

I spy the nest in a thicket at the edge of the field. There’s no way to reach it but to wade in. I follow an old deer trail that takes me part way, and then battle brambles, thorns, and waist-high goldenrod stems to reach the prize. Unlike many nests at this time of year, this one is still quite intact. Whoever wove it did a beautiful job. Tips and Techniques– I always do some research about my subjects, especially nests. Like identifying birds, identifying nests requires a process of elimination. At… 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

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.

Finally Fall

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

Not the Last Afterall

Whatever happened to posts about birds or flowers or trees? There will be more of those to come, I promise. But first, just a few more mushrooms which, as you will see, were worthy of paint. First, the pear-shaped puffball, whose smoky spores release when gently squeezed. And then the inconspicuous tannish-brown clitocybe. Who would have thought lavender gills would be hiding underneath that unassuming cap? Tips and Techniques– Use your sketchbook to try a variety of artistic approaches. Part of what’s keeping me going on mushrooms week after week is not… Read More

Until Next Year (maybe)

Okay. This is it! The last of the mushrooms for 2022. I don’t think I can paint any more, try to identify any more, read any more. I must clean my desk and turn a new page! But then, who knows, I haven’t gone outside yet today to see if anything new has come up. Tips and Techniques– For this page, I thought it might be fun to try something different and just take a top down view of mushroom caps. This gave me a chance to look at patterns, texture, and… Read More

In the Shoal

The thrill of being at the beach is not only experiencing the ocean, it’s also about never knowing what you might find. While treasure hunting last weekend on the south coast of Massachusetts, I was hoping for perfect shells or shorebirds, but instead found beautiful purple and silver colored fish recently washed up on shore. The fish were small and not long dead, one here, two there, all told, about ten as we made our way along the beach. Later, while swimming nearby, huge shoals of these same fish moved all about… Read More

Full of Life

My garden is full of life this month! Butterflies, bees, hawkmoths, and hummingbirds are coming daily to feast on July’s main attractions: coneflowers and beebalm. I’ve seen swallowtails and skippers, fritillaries and whites. What a grand display! Mind you, my garden is not perfect. There are gaps here and overcrowding there, some plants didn’t come back this spring and others are looking meager. But it is enough for me to pick out a bouquet or a painting, or to simply enjoy the show. Tips and Techniques- I always find that adding wildlife… Read More

Bits and Pieces

I traveled to Maine last week to direct and teach the Arts & Birding workshop at the Audubon Camp at Hog Island. The workshop is an intensive five-day program that includes bird walks at dawn, a variety of art lessons, hikes, evening programs, and a day-long boat trip to see Atlantic puffins and other seabirds. We welcomed a wonderful group of artists this year who sketched, learned, shared, and produced beautiful artwork. Because my job includes teaching and ensuring that everything is running smoothly, my painting time is limited. Still, I managed… Read More

Coming Soon

Spring is just about to burst forth here in New York. It’s a time many of us eagerly await; the long winter months nearly behind us. Just a few things are blooming now, but the pace will accelerate in the coming days with a procession of spring ephemerals, migratory birds, flowering trees and shrubs, and colorful bulbs. I went looking for spring yesterday and was pleased to spend time with star magnolia and forsythia before the rain came and temperatures fell from 60-to 40-degrees. Here’s wishing you time to wonder and enjoy… Read More