In Camille’s Garden

Having creative friends is wonderful thing—especially when they invite you over for an evening of sketching! I’d been eying Camille’s garden for awhile and I was glad for the chance to look at it more closely. Unfortunately, the sun was fading fast, so I chose just a small part of the flower bed to paint. I especially liked the way the hedge bindweed threaded through the lilies and daisies. The wren is nesting in my own garden, but he fit that space quite nicely and so became the final element to the… Read More

Life Between the Tides

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.” —Rachel Carson, 1955 No visit to the rocky coast of Maine would be complete without exploring and sketching in the watery realm where land meets sea. Here, a fascinating world of plants and animals awaits discovery. Creatures of the Intertidal Zone are uniquely adapted to live both underwater and high and dry for hours each day as the tide rises and falls. Only the most hardy and adaptable survive – and they do it with remarkable tenacity. Sketching conditions are a… Read More

Unwanted Sprouts

I’ve been weeding around the house and gardens this week, and discovering some unwanted beauties in the process. I pulled the shagbark hickory first – complete with half its outer shell – and started this page with that. Next came the sugar maple, which I found spouting beneath the peonies. I liked the curve of the stem reaching for light, but I liked it better in my journal than in the ground. The page seemed a little spare, so I went looking for something small and discovered the silver maple, just getting… Read More

Arts and Birding

How do you draw something when it is in constant motion? How do you get the shapes and colors and patterns right when you only get a fleeting look at your subject? That’s the challenge of sketching birds—which requires good field identification skills, some study of bird anatomy, and solid drawing and painting skills. I like to study and sketch specimens and use photographs for reference materials before going into the field. By working out shapes, identifying details, and making notes about a bird’s habits, I’m more prepared to sketch quickly when… Read More

Locust Buzz

Turns out I wasn’t the only one drawn in by the burst of blossoms in a nearby locust grove. Once I got up close to sketch, I could hear the drone of hundreds of bees buzzing in the profusion of flowers draping the trees. These were especially large bumble bees—and I’ll have to go back to make a more accurate identification. Though they were flying about as I sketched, they were too focused on the task at hand to bother with me. Bees are an important pollinator of locusts and beekeepers often… Read More

Under the Eaves

At my sister’s 1830s rambling country farmhouse last weekend, I found several nests of robins and phoebes tucked under the eaves of porches and overhangs. I walked under this one numerous times before noticing its messy threads spilling from the beams above the front porch doorway! I sketched very quickly in ink, which lent itself to the loose tangle of grasses, but didn’t work as well for figuring out the perspective of the multi-angled beams, roof, and siding. The paint and text helped pull it together — but in the end, the… Read More

Coffee Break

“The problem with painting and eating is patience.” …As you can see, I didn’t wait for the coffee. I don’t often draw food, but its fun, especially when I’ve baked something for company or a special occasion. Then a journal page like this serves as a nice reminder. As is typically the case when painting food, time is limited. This leads to loose and imperfect results on the page, but assures eating after a reasonable wait. I sketched directly in pen, then added watercolor, and finally wrote the text after eating the… Read More

Migration!

Spring songbird migration is in full swing! Over the weekend, a warm front moved in, bringing flocks of warblers to our yard. The birds spent the better part of two days flitting and feasting in our birch tree, and we spent the better part of a morning and evening craning our necks to watch them. We identified six different species—most of which we had never seen in our yard before and may never see here again. (The term “fall out” refers to the phenomenon of a frontal system temporarily stalling bird migration…. Read More

Ancient Apple in Spring

“Moss thickened every bough and the wood of the limbs looked rotten, but the trees were wild with blossom and a green fire of small new leaves flickered even on the deadest branches.” From The Apple Trees at Olema, Robert Hass, 1941 Ancient, gnarled, and abandoned, two old apples still stand in a neighboring field. I go there in springtime to see them come to life. Solid. Defiant. They send out blossoms and leaves against all odds. Capturing this moment is such a pleasure. I drew directly in pen and then added… Read More

Star Magnolia

April showers bring…May showers, or so it seems. We’ve had many days with only a glimpse of sun. But magnolia blossoms are so fleeting that I was determined to try to capture a few blooms before they lay scattered across the lawn. Yet each time I grabbed my sketchbook, sun quickly gave way to clouds. I finally managed a very quick sketch against blue skies, before it turned gray again. I added watercolor and text later inside, using an old fashioned dip pen with waterproof black ink.