Friday, May 15, 2009

NEW HOME for my BLOG!!

Hello everyone, just letting you know I've successfully moved this blog over to my website. You can now visit my galleries, read more about my art and visit my blog all in one place. Please sign up there so you can get updates from that site now.
Many of my friends here have never seen ALL of my artwork and may be surprised at the variety. I encourage you to visit. I have a new blog post up there too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Free Talk and Demonstration on Nature Sketching!

This coming Saturday April 4, 2009, I’ll be giving a free talk and demonstration about nature sketching in the field. It’ll be held at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge from 1pm, at the refuge headquarters building, 1101 Casey Road. I’ll be showing my personal sketchbooks, art supplies I use in the field, how I carry things and demonstrating some basic drawing techniques along with how to make a simple field sketchbook for yourself! Please come and meet me and see my sketchbooks and be inspired to go drawing in the field after!

Here’s some links to past entries from this blog about hikes around the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge.

There is also a link for the preserve there you can go to their site to have a look around. I hope you join us!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Everlasting Valentines Bouquet" 2-23-09

A Valentines Day bouquet from your sweetie is very nice...smells so sweet, warms your heart..but doesn't last forever no matter what you do. Unless you get out your paints and do some studies! After a week of enjoying the blooms...then watching some slowly fade, I picked out the freshest ones and moved them into another vase up to my studio. As I did the tulips dropped their petals in a flourish, woosh...all over the table. I picked some up and looked at them, thinking how beautiful their individual forms and colors were.

I decided to do studies of the petals and laid them on my paper with a strong little lamp above me. I should have titled this post "How to Paint Through Pain"...that is, how to cope with painting while in pain. I painted these on the floor, my lower back has been hurting and sitting in a chair was too much to bear. So, I put it on the floor and kept moving around...kneeling, laying on my stomach...what ever I could. I got a bit messy with some areas of these studies, but then it was hard to concentrate! I started each with a basic gesture of the shape very lightly drawn with pencil. The shadows were the most fun to paint, studying the colors coming through the petals. A tip here, to keep the petals fresh until you're ready to work, put them in a ziplock sandwich bag with a sprinkle of water, then put them in the refrigerator. Tell everyone NOT to eat them!!

Oh yes, the other thing is I did them with just my waterbrush...see above picture. You can see the petals laying on my paper and waterbrush in my hand. (PS. this was really late at night...actually I think it was 1am!)
So now I can look at the little study and always remember my Valentines surprise bouquet! I wish I had time to do more studies..I had planned to, but you know how that goes!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Derwent Water Marina" 9-13-09

Today I'll take you to the Marina at Derwent water where I stayed overnight at The Derwent Hotel. It's a gorgeous place to stay all newly refinished, the bedroom was just sumptuous! And oh yes, I really liked that they had internet so I could catch up with the folks at home and let them know I wasn't lost somewhere in the English countryside!
This is the front lobby, coming down in the early morning to have my oatmeal made with cream and oh boy was it rich!
Then I made my way across the street and just down a driveway and there you are...the marina. A small, uncomplicated, peaceful place so early in the morning. toward the water...I took note of birds I saw, almost all were new to me, how exciting!
I love when the mist is lower than the mountains around it, the puffs were making their way up each 'valley' from the lake. Small coots were chugging across the still water looking for fish...I did some small sketches of birds and wrote my bird list on the sketch page shown below.

Click the page to read my notes.
These are simple sketches done while walking around, this is typically how I draw birds in the field. Not much to them, just identification notes, and I had my Altoids watercolor kit with me and did some simple coloring. I think one of my favorite birds was the wood pidgeon; with a flash of white on his wings when he flew from the deep trees where hidden. They are quite big compared to 'our' rock doves or pidgeons.
Later in the day I walked up the hill behind the hotel. It was very chilly and damp as I sat and worked. I did a small sketch of the lake view over the hotel, trying to get some color notes on it so I'd remember how it looked. I think my friend Gary arrived just in time though as my fingers were getting quite stiff! Time for hot tea!
I just finished the sketch,(back home in the states) working from a dull photo because it was a dull day. I sat in a coffee/lunch area in the grocery store on a nasty snowy day and worked on it...then finished it in the comfort of my studio. I perked up the color a little trying to keep in mind the original colors I had on the paper. I signed it Lake Derwent before I learned that it's called Derwent Water. By the way, I did the entire painting using one waterbrush and my travel palette. I'm trying to practice using the waterbrush so it'll come naturally in the field.
I think it's a nice little painting!

I think the painting will always mean something different to the artist who painted it in the field. As I sat and sketched, then painted...I absorbed all around me. My eyes studied the colors, my ears heard wrens and thrushes singing, the wind blowing through the pines, my fingers felt the cool rain drops and mist, my face felt the breeze and my nose smelled the wet leaves and mosses in the undergrowth behind me...and the smells of the kitchen below. As I look at that little painting...I can remember it all! THIS is what makes painting outside in nature so rewarding, and it's why I do it. I hope you'll join me someday in experiencing this feeling.

"My Travels from Grasmere and Ambleside to Derwentwater" 9-2-09

River Rothay in Grasmere, a wonderful little town in the Lake District.

I'll tell you from the start, this post has NO drawing in it! I feel a bit guilty but what can I say? I loved my travels between the places I stayed while exploring the Lake District and I wanted to share some of the photos with you. I must declare here and now, I fell in love with England when I visited the Lake District! It has swept this artist's heart away and I won't be truly happy until I return! Happily that'll be soon, as I plan to return to England this Summer for more exploring and painting. I also hope to teach some outdoor nature sketching classes while there.
I thought this was a Merganser but here they call it a Goosander, it was working it's way up the river fishing...turning around in circles sometimes then diving. What a beautiful bird!
Wonderful Celtic crosses in a churchyard right in town. I love the different colors from the moss and lichens growing on them.
Another wonderful thing I discovered in England was flapjacks. When I went with my friend Gary to buy goodies for our journey he said "how about some flapjacks?" I looked at him like he was rediculous! Who carries flapjacks around with them?? haha....To the American a flapjack is a large flat pancake you eat with butter and syrup for breakfast, you don't take it in the car to nibble on. (Though I have been known to nibble on cold ones for a snack from the fridge!) He kept pointing to stuff in the bakery case and I kept looking for the pancakes! Well, to the English a flapjack is a wonderful healthy snack made from oats and whatever you want to put in it like raisins etc. It's like a chewy granola bar. So in the picture, here I am enjoying my first flapjack! Just check out those hills behind me; the reddish color is from the Bracken turning color in the fall.
Me taking some shots before we moved on, it was hard to leave this spot it was so beautiful.
A farm in the valley where we stopped.
This is in Ambleside, the "Bridge House" set right over the river or "Stock Beck" (Norwegian name for river is Beck); this was to escape the land tax at the time. It was used as an apple store and at one time had a family with six children living in it!

That's a Jackdaw on top of it; Jackdaw's are a common bird much like our House Sparrow or Starlings are...both came from England originally by the way. So as I was excited to see the Jackdaw about everywhere, no one payed any attention to them. It's something to remember, things in your own backyard can be really fascinating to others. So take a closer look at what you've got and appreciate it.
Hmm...that could have meaning on several levels ;-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Rydal Water Hike" 9-11-08 painted pg 1

I've been trying to go back into my sketches I did on my trip to England and add some color or finish what I've started. On this little sketch I scribbled it out in 5min....and added some notes on color right on the page. So to keep practicing with my waterbrush and watercolors I added some color while looking at a photo I had taken that day. It's different using the waterbrush alone and not an assortment of brushes. You have one tip to work with and a different kind of flow of water. I'm liking it more and more, but it still has it's limitations, most especially when wanting to lay in a large wash of color. You have to mix a puddle of color first on your palette, squeezing the barrel to make drops of water come out.
Here's the sketch as it appeared in my original post about my hike. To read more about this hike go to my post:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Another Snowy Day" 2-1-09

The cardinals I did looking at the little feeder that is stuck to my studio window. I wasn't concerned with a fantastic drawing, just practicing the gesture sketches of it. I added a touch of color with a waterbrush and watercolor.
Then I decided to take my sketchbook, watercolors and a simple waterbrush with me when I went out to feed the chickens. It was really cold and windy, so it was hard to draw, but I donned the flip top mittens and went to it! was worse trying to paint, but I did some simple color studies. It's very hard to sketch chickens as they move so much!
Then I headed outside the barn and set my pad on top of a tripod that I attached a piece of wood to, it was very windy! The mount isn't a very strong one, it loosened up sometimes, but it allowed me to set everything down in front of me. I'm always experimenting with ideas.
Above you can see the some chickens that were roosting in the rafters. I painted them with Chinese ink...from a dry cake I keep in a tin; it used to be liquid I just let it dry and can use it like dry watercolors. Below that is the little landscape study with some notes. The hawk sketches I added today actually. I saw a hawk through the window and tried to do a sketch using my binoculars. I'm pretty sure it's a red tailed hawk.
My landscape was pretty far away from me, but I was after the colors of the field. You can see the picture below. Oh yes...and then there's Ginger, always waiting for me to walk on somewhere else! haha....

That's it for now...stay tuned for more updates about my trip to England, sign up your email in the box in the right column. Bye!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Spring 2009 Nature Sketching and Painting Classes"

photo courtesy of John Rusak-Clarence Bee News, teaching at the Burchfield Nature and Art Center Spring 2008, 5th grade class

Indoor and Field Classes
Join Naturalist Artist guide Mary McAndrew in sketching, painting and experiencing nature through art.
Mary McAndrew (716) 741-4544

Free talk and intro lesson! April 4, 2009 1pm
For full article go to this entry:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama, NY
Mary McAndrew, naturalist artist guide, will be giving a FREE introductory talk and lesson on "Nature Sketching in the Field" at the Iroquis National Wildlife Refuge. Please bring a sketch pad and pencils; the time of the program is 1pm at the refuge visitors center 1101 Casey Road. To read more about the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge visit their website:
My students trying watercolors for the first time, it was so much fun!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Rydal Water-Last Day" 9-12-08

In the morning looking out my window, I was greeted by an unusual sight, sheep in the courtyard! I guess it would be very frustrating to have a garden here as the sheep kind of wander where they like, especially if their gate is left open. The owners of Cote Howe B+B told me it was hard to protect the garden and they try to put fencing around it.
This morning I was leaving Rydal Water, I was sad to say good-bye. I went out behind the B+B to wait for my friend Gary to come, it was chilly and damp. I climbed up on top of a big wooden gate with huge stone posts and did a balancing act as I swung my legs to the other side. The stone wall is fascinating in itself to study, notice the huge cap stone at the end on the left...I don't know how deep it goes into the ground, but I'm sure it goes down a few feet at least. This is how the stones were set for Stonehenge and the other stone circles around England and Ireland. The big stone here is used as the post, the wall being built up against it and also gates can be hung on it. The wall has a niche in it, I forget what the owner told me it was for? Does anyone know?
Above you can see some beautiful forms of fungus's and moss. It seems anything that wasn't moving in England this fall, was covered with mosses! I'll try to identify these later from my field guides, if anyone has some good identification, leave me a comment please!
There were sheep in the field, an occasional hiker and just a beautiful view looking towards Rydal Water and the path I took yesterday for my hike. I sat and sketched the sheep and pathview, the bunny is from when I was standing by the garden and saw him there. I added a short video clip at the end of this post showing the sheep I was sketching, I was sitting so still and quiet that it came to eat right under me! When I started to talk it got suprised and walked away. That's the neat thing about sketching in nature, you sit so quietly engrossed that wildlife will come around you.
Below you can see my original page, this is what I did as I sat on the fence, I painted it in while looking at the photos on my computer screen, using my tiny altoids watercolor kit and just one waterbrush. You can see my tiny color tests in the spiral area of the paper.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Rydal Water Hike" 9-11-08

Not too long ago I posted about my hike around Rydal Water in the Lake District of England. I did sketches as I went, some being quick as the day grew short and chilly. Below is a sketch I did with a permanent micron pen, I just couldn't resist the view. I wrote notes on it about how I felt and even some abbreviations for color notes.
Last night, quite late actually, around midnight I found myself in front of the computer with a photo I had taken on the spot up on the screen. I used my tiny altoids watercolor kit and one #8 round brush to color in the sketch. I went over the words in a heavier line because they started to get lost. I think it's a bit distracted looking if that makes sense, I think because I was in a lot of pain (neck and lower back! ohhhh!). But I wanted to do this up...I may go back into it with a micron pen to scribble in more forms. But at least I practiced with my colors and what I could produce with my tiny kit.
I have another post coming soon that I colored after also, of some sheep, a bunny and a little view of my path.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Robert Burns Day and his poem "To a Mouse"

I hesitated to put this study up, it's nothing gross to a naturalist, a dead mouse. Some people would say "oh, gross!" but all through time, man (scientists and artists in particular) has learned by studying from dead creatures. I love animals and things of our natural world and have a great respect for them even when dead. This mouse was very beautiful and being the curious naturalist that I am, I studied it, sketched it and painted it. It's fur was soft and shiny, and it's tiny paws amazing. Someday I'm going to have some pet mice again, (had them when a teenager) then I can study and paint them all I want.
The top painting was done first with a light pencil gesture sketch then I used watercolors, his whiskers being added with a Chinese white watercolor and tiny brush. The bottom left study was done with a brown micron permanent marker and the right one was done with non permanent brown ink, that I touched with a waterbrush to create value washes.

And now about Robert Burns, he was a poet from Scotland and they commemorate his life by having a Burn's Supper on January 25th, there are formalities of speeches, whiskey toasts and haggis. Here's a link to Wikipedia to learn more about it.

And why I mention Robert Burns...Scottish poet? I heard a poem on Robert Burns day (Jan. 25th) and it was about a mouse and it went with my mouse study; here's a link to UTube to listen to a reading of his poem "To a Mouse".

I like that he calls the mouse lucky, because he doesn't look back at his past or worry about his future, he lives in the here and now unlike man. Sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I'll look at my dog rolling in the grass, trotting freely around the yard and lucky you are! To be as simple as an animal and live for just this moment.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Hiking on my Land" 1-23-09

Today as the sun shone and the temperatures climbed to a balmy 30 or so degrees, I felt a very strong urge to just grab my field kit and go for a hike with Ginger. I notice whenever I go out field sketching or work on a painting in the studio, it's like having a visit to the therapist! I feel like I've just had some kind of adjustment, and all is right in my world! Troubles melt away as I stop to catch my breath and listen to the wind gusting through the trees. Today was no different. (click on any picture to see enlarged view)
First small sketch done with a micron 05 permanent marker, it's along the path that's called "Long Lane" on my farm. To warm up and to see if drawing with my fingerless mittens would feel comfortable, I did the top of a small oak tree, then turned and looked down the lane where Ginger was disappearing down, and did a quickly scrawled sketch. It's ok that it's not beautiful and meticulously drawn, I can remember the scene in my mind just be looking at it. Sometimes the field sketch can have more movement and show more excitement than a carefully executed studio drawing. I also find that being able to work loosely in the field keeps my studio painting fresh and lively looking.
Just me in my dad's old wool hunting coat that I treasure, using the fingerless mitten ok. I picked up this pair in England at a regular clothes store at the mall, I made sure they had wool in them, and I like the dark brown color (to hide the dirt of course silly!). At this point I think my fingers were cold, sometimes I worked with the top pulled back and sometimes closed. I'm using a waterbrush here and watercolors, I put my kit in a new bag to try out, an over the shoulder binder type thing, but no room for apples or water bottles. Extra things had to go in the back secret pouch on the hunting jacket, made for carrying dead birds that the hunter (dad) would shoot. It's actually a handy pouch...I slid my sketchbook in there when I would get moving on my hike.
This is a page with a simple color study of the red bark on bushes and the little fern heads coming up through the snow. Their forms, almost silhouette because they're so dark, are wonderful to study.

The photo above shows a leaf I found in a tiny birds nest that was tucked into a tangled bush. It's small things like this that if you take time to notice the subtle beauty your enjoyment of the natural world and simple walks would be much more memorable. This leaf is a simple shape, but I love the mixture of subtle colors, there's a promise of green there that makes me think of spring, it's almost as if the green was frozen from the fresh times of summer. The pattern of the veins and cells is really something too, the wet sheen on it's surface reflecting a cool light.
Then turn the same leaf over and it's a whole other leaf! This side has a network of raised veins showing, like fine meshwork netting and the contrast of the color of vein to leaf is at once noticed. The fall like colors are not showing on this side. When you pick something up, turn it over and explore everything about it; if you draw it, you will study it deeply, noting it's every interesting detail. Sometimes this is good to do once you get back home and can sit in the warmth and take time to study it.
Here's another nest I found that almost looks like it has an ice cream scoop for an egg waiting to be hatched by the warm spring sun. (It'll have to wait awhile still!) Walking in winter is a good time to look for birds nests, just look at bushes or trees for clumps of dark areas, usually made by leaves and small branches. It's fun to look closely at them, how the tiny branches are laid criss cross and woven, and imagine two birds picked up ever single twig and made that. Some nests are tiny things..some larger and could even be for grey squirrels. I don't ever disturb the nests...I feel they are there to be used somehow by other creatures, mice, bugs, etc. and I just let it alone. I will carefully pull some leaves out of a nest to see what the cup might look like.
Now this page has notes you can read, but I'll explain a bit more. I went to a part of my land that has huge old oak trees on it, and one in particular that is dead. This dead tree had all kinds of funguses growing on it and was great to study.
I learned something new that I didn't expect, there was an interesting type of fungus growing on the underside of all the large branches. It was a beautiful natural yellow with some orangey colors in it, but very muted. The funny thing was I noticed the snow beneath it had yellow spots following the branches, NO Ginger didn't do that! haha...but as the snow piled on top of the branches melted, the yellow color in the fungus was dripping down to the ground. I wonder if the Indians or settlers used that as a color for something?
Here's a close up, if anyone can help me identify this I'd be grateful. I looked it up in my mushroom and fungus books but can't find it specifically.
This fungus is as far as I can tell, a "Redbelt" shelf fungus. I did a painting in the field while looking at it and looked it up when I got home. (The painting is below). The odd thing was, as closely as I thought I looked at this, I still missed something interesting. When I got home and uploaded my photos, I noticed on some close ups there were little blackish bugs crawling all over the place!! Ewww....I have to admit, I like studying bugs, but the idea that there were bugs all over this fungus and tree and I didn't know it kind of made me uneasy! But the fascinating thing was that there were bugs out doing their thing in the middle of the winter! You would be surprised at what you'll see on a mild winter day!At this point, at the end of my hike after being out two hours, my toes were frozen and getting numb. This is when the idea of hot cocoa creeps into my mind and Ginger's happy face asking, "Can we go home yet?" starts to distract me.
This last page I finished at home while drinking that hot cocoa; the tree and fungus I did in the field. I brought home a stick with neat fungus growing on it, the leaf I photographed and a dead leaf. This stick was very interesting to look at under a magnifying glass, the black fungus was shiny and the rose colored had a velvety sheen almost. I made a stab at identifying the rose colored as Hypoxylon Fragiforme, any experts out there can verify this? I added color notes too so you could see what paints I used.
I hope you enjoyed our hike today in the winter chill! Sign up your email in the right column to recieve updates when I post new things. Happy Hiking!

Monday, January 19, 2009

"English Wetlands" 1-19-09

Today I painted this miniature watercolor of some wetlands in England. It measures only 2.25" x 4.25", yes it's a wee tiny thing! I have some pictures from England I want to work from sitting on my kitchen table; so this morning as my oatmeal and coffee got cold, I did this little painting.
Here's a picture of one of my tiny travel kits, this one is set up with my 'Altoids' watercolor kit. I have small watercolor brushes that I cut the handles off of so they are short and fit in my kit. The watercolor kit or box is stuck into a metal pencil case that I can use to mix my colors and hold the paper and watercup at the same time. It's a great little set up, and I like keeping it handy at the table. I did the Snowy Egret in the last post using this kit, but just drew with my inktense watersoluble pencil, not watercolors.
This painting will be up for sale soon in my Fine Art Gallery Blog, please email me if you'd like to make an offer for it unframed, ready to mail!