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

Vegetable Explosion

It’s the season of abundance! Farm stands, farmers markets, and gardens are at their peak– full of rich color, variety, and freshness the likes of which no supermarket can match. It’s time to celebrate! Pick your favorite vegetable and you are likely to find it feted somewhere: there are OkraFests, GarlicFests, Potato Festivals, even a Butterbean Festival in Alabama, a Great Northern Squashfest in Wisconsin, and an Eggplant Festival in California—every veggie, it seems, gets its due. My personal favorite was a family celebration held each August called Corn Sunday, a gathering… Read More

If you build it…

Since we moved to our house five years ago, we’ve been converting several areas that were formerly maintained as mown lawn to meadow. This is the first year that wildflowers and milkweed from seeds sown and scattered are blooming and it’s a delight to see butterflies, bees, and dragonflies take notice. A monarch caterpillar was our best resident to date, and I’m glad I sketched it before it either became a juicy meal for a lucky bird or crawled off and hid itself to begin its transformation. Alas, it has been a… Read More

The Promise of Summer

With the solstice officially marking summer this week, the season of plenty is here to celebrate. Many birds have already fledged one brood and are now sitting on a second clutch. Depending on where you live, songbirds may even have a chance to raise three broods. I say, thank goodness for second chances. Let the wrens try again after their first nest was disturbed by a bear. Let the robins lay perfect blue eggs and hope the jays leave them alone. Let all this new life surround and fill us during the… Read More

Slow Painting

There’s a bias in urban and nature sketching for working quickly. The idea is to get the subject down while on location and to capture the moment, place, or experience. It’s a worthy practice and many people do it well, completing sketchbook pages with lovely drawings and paintings in an hour or two. But there’s also a lot to be said for working slowly. Careful observation and allowing time for a subject to resonate gives you time to figure out how best to approach it on paper. Sometimes I build a painting… Read More

Showstopper

The color of poppies is outrageous—so bright and red you can scarcely believe it. But there it is, once a year, a showstopper in the early June garden. When other flowers are just contemplating what kind of tune they might sing, the poppies belt out their solo. Confidently, they command center stage—knowing, perhaps, that a good rain will soon end their performance. Tips and Techniques– Because I work during the day, I am often snatching time for sketching and painting in the evenings. I made several trips to the garden this week,… Read More

Catch it while you can

Today, the allium. Tomorrow poppies. Coming and going, a garden is ever evolving, never static. A bee, a swallowtail, if I’m lucky, a hummingbird. Even now, one moment makes way for the next. Catching it while you can makes all the difference. Tips and Techniques– Because I was away for much of May, I missed the flowering spring trees, many of the ephemeral wildflowers and bulbs, and the unfurling of ferns here in New York. When I got home the allium were in bloom but starting to fade; I knew I had… Read More

Travels in Italy—Part 1

Buon Giorno…It’s been a while. I didn’t mean to be away so long. But sometimes travel leads to the unexpected. After a lovely week of teaching in Umbria and several days hiking up and down the steep hillsides overlooking the sea in Porto Venere, my trip to Italy took a wrong turn when I tested positive for Covid in Florence and couldn’t come home. You may be thinking that spending an unexpected week in Florence is a dream…but not so much when you have to find a place to stay during the… 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