Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Swallow Hollow" Iroqouis Wildlife Refuge 8-12-08

What a day I had at the Swallow Hollow nature trail, part of the Iroqouis Wildlife Preserve. The above photo was just one of the many beautiful scenes I saw that day; the trail follows the water in a nice loop, sometimes going through woods, mostly near the marsh or some natural looking water canals. Much of the trail is a boardwalk to keep you up from the very wet ground, especially after such a rainy summer!

This is a picture of my new sketchbook cover, it's a sketchbook that I designed and made myself with a long format. I thought it'd be fun to put some pictures of my paintings on the cover, to show people I meet some of my work. I can add or take pages from the sketchbook as I want to.

This is the first page of my sketchbook from my day out. I stopped at a nice area in the Tonawanda Wildlife Management area, Elizabeth Hilldurger Estate project. I was so happy to see two Great Egrets (or in my old Peterson guide American Egret) flying around. The one roosted in a tree far away, I tried to do some little sketches by looking through my binoculars.
The watercolor of the water scene I did using my little watercolor 'altoids' field kit and just a water-brush. It's pretty simple looking but I did it quickly while standing up.

This is me pausing to sketch along the boardwalk. You can see I have my art kit bag on my waist and a backpack with other supplies on my back. Almost all of what I draw, I draw while I'm standing and looking at things.
Along the way on my walks I usually meet some nice people who are curious about what I'm doing. I met a couple walking their dogs, Papillions...Pudgie is the puppy furiously digging the hole in the back...Max is the one gazing up at his owner. Maybe this is the kind of dog I should get to keep me company in the house? I've seen them before and thought about it. Their owner told me Papillion means butterfly in french....well at least it's their names meaning, I guess because of how they look with their ears perked.

Next is another page from my sketchbook, click it to see it closer. I met a little Leopard frog along the way and did quick little sketches of him, then painted it at home using metallic watercolor paints. He really had a metallic look to his skin, so beautiful! At the end of this post you'll see a little video clip of him!

I saw many Harvestman spiders in the woods and did a sketch of one on a dying milkweed leaf. I also took photos so when I got home I was able to paint it with watercolors. I took step by step photos of the painting, perhaps I'll get to post it separately later.
I did some reading about Harvestmen Spiders, which are only distantly related to spiders, they are not venomous, lack fangs and do not bite. They use their legs to walk, breath, smell and capture prey! There are 5,000 species, about 235 known in North America, most are drab brown or grey, but a few are rusty red, mottled spots or have a stripe down their back. Now that I know that, I know I was lucky to see a rusty red one, and the one I painted had a mottled kind of dark stripe on it. One more interesting detail to keep my eyes open for while hiking! I hope you take a closer look next time you meet one.

This next page shows a light pencil sketch I did of the path, I also took some photos so later I could color it in. I haven't gotten that far yet! The mushrooms at the bottom of the page I went specifically to Swallow Hollow to try to find again and paint, I saw them there just a week before. I could use some help indentifying them if anyone has expertise in this area?? I have become fascinated with mushrooms and fungi...when you walk in the woods, just take a close look at the ground or on trees or dead logs, you'll be surprised at what you might discover! I've seen gorgeous yellow or orange mushrooms that I didn't expect. The picture of the orange mushroom I could use help identifying too.

I set up my stool in the woods and I painted this study from life. It was difficult because the lighting kept changing, first direct, raking light, then very dark shadows. As I painted a Harvestmen Spider crawled across my sketchbook, pausing over my painting to 'taste' the wet paint! Before I could get my camera, he crawled off down my leg....he being a spider that he was I helped him hurry off me! I don't mind them too much, but don't want them lingering. At least I can say, knowing they are harmless helps me not to react like Little Miss Muffet! Remember her story?

This is the last page from my outing...while I was in the field I sketched the tiny mushrooms in pencil...kneeling in the pine needles to gain a closer look. They're done at life size. Then while walking later I went over the lines with a sepia colored Micron Permanent ink pen. Later at home I printed out the photos I took of them and added the watercolor. I have found that when I do something in graphite pencil in the field, I get disappointed at how it will smear or fade with all the use the sketchbook gets, so I like to use my micron pens a lot to draw.

The while fungus is fascinating...they are hard to might just step right past them, but you have to be aware of everything and look everywhere when you walk. These are also drawn at life size, aproximately 2" tall and coming up like delicate white filaments from the forest floor. A mystery to me, if anyone can tell us please do.

The butterfly was a type I saw all day, following me it seemed, to see what I was doing in their woods? I sketched it in the field on a leaf, but later painted it from a photo. Can anyone help me with identifying it?

I added a short video clip of my meeting with the Leopard Frog along a sunny path, check it out!

"Wandering by the Niagara River" July 25, 2008

Well, it's time to play 'catch up', this is from July, but better late than never! If you click on the pictures you'll see an enlarged view, where you can read my notes.

I did these two pages in my sketchbook following a very upsetting visit to a surgeon. I left the office in tears because he said I needed surgery on my discs from my car accident! He told me the symptoms to watch out for, all very nasty and debilitating, and then about the surgery and recovery. It was a little too much for me to handle after all the months of trying to recover from the car crash!
So....on my way home, I pulled over at a nice little park by the Niagara River and was determined to look at birds, do some sketching. It was hard but, as most artists know, once you get started there's nothing better to take your mind off pain and worry. The reason I share this with all of you friends around the world, is to let you know, it's not always as it seems. That is, I've seen other doctors since who believe I can make it without surgery (Yay!!!) and my hopes for proceeding with my life fall back into place. How awful those kind of days are that throw us for a loop of self doubt, or "how will I ever cope?"
The page above shows some sketches of water plants, and I think Purple Loose strife, considered an invasive weed here. Two bugs, including one of my favorites, the milkweed beetle and notes about birds and flowers seen. I was sitting on a rock that had waves splashing up on it, jutting into the river a bit. What a gorgeous day!
The second page was more plants, a close up view of some kind of sedge I think...I love the seed pods on this, all pointy and green, and as I studied it and drew, all of a sudden I realised there was a furry catapillar hanging on under one of the leaves. At the bottom of the page you can see a tiny landscape sketch of Niagara Falls in the distance.
I wish the pictures were colored in but I didn't have time or the energy to stay and do that. Just so you know, All is Well with me!!! I'm getting ready for my trip to England and Ireland now, I'll be blogging from there I hope, keep tuned!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"On the Road" Watersoluble Graphite 8-9-08

I brought my small art kit with me while on a road trip to the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling NY. , of course I wasn't the driver! I experimented with drawing with my new graphitint watersoluble graphite pencils, They are colored but not as intense as watercolor pencils. I did the drawing then wet it with my waterbrush, this brings out the intensity of the colors. You can manipulate the values this way and if you like, work back into the drawing wet or dry. They're very interesting and I am looking forward to trying them for more drawings. I took a couple pictures of them with my tiny digital camera, since I'm nowhere near my scanner, forgive the not so great color and clarity!
The "Barn Owl" measures a wee 2"x2"! It was a bit challenging to do with the bumpy road.

This little landscape measures aproximately 4"x5" and is of the road we traveled. It was a great day for clouds, the only problem I had was making the line on the road. The set of pencils I bought has no yellow. You can notice that I made little color tests along the margins of the drawing.