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.