Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trees in Parking Lots While Waiting for Appointments

Kind of like "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", I have been "interviewing" trees in parking lots by sketching their "character". This works well if I arrive early to an appointment or event. And, hey, if the appointment doesn't go well, at least I sketched a tree! 
The picture above is a very regal sycamore tree in the parking lot at the North Museum, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. That tree was sketched with a Pentel Pocket Brush with a bit of watercolor added on the spot. The tree on the right is a tree in the parking lot at Monocacy Hill, a wooded preserve in Berks Co., PA. It was done with a Pigma Micron Pen 05 and later a bit of Prismacolor Verithin colored pencil was added. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Breakfast Blooms and the Best Idea Ever!

Another Breakfast Blooms page completed! The Black-eyed Susan that is colored in was one big experiment - a little more involved than I care for so early in the morning. First I decided that I needed to block off some white for the hoary frost. I got out a white Crayola and scribbled along the edges of the petals.  The rest is a long story involving pencil, erasures, colored pencils, art markers, Posca white pen, Pigma Micron pen, etc. etc.

 All I am going to say is the outcome was that the other blooms will be left black and white.

I needed some fun after that fiasco, so I used this great scribble technique. Just use art markers to quickly scribble the flower. Afterwards, take a fine line pen like a Pigma Micron or Zig Writer and outline each scribble mark.  Gives it a "Tiffany" look!

Now the BEST IDEA EVER! At breakfast the other day, my husband came up with the most original and best creative idea! I don't know why no one has ever thought of this before! Egads! It should've been obvious to everyone - but most of all to Danny Gregory and Koosje, the fakulty and student body of Sketchbook Skool, everyone who has participated in "Every Day Matters" or read any of Danny's books, or for that matter anyone who has every taken any sketching or drawing course any where! Ready for it? Here it comes! This is what he came up with, he said, and I quote: "You should sketch a picture everyday." Wow, is he a genius or what! Everyone in the world has my permission to use his idea at any time for any reason. I am not going to get it copyrighted. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Breakfast Bluebells with Dew Drops Journal Page Finished

It took 3 days of oatmeal with sliced apples to finish the bluebells with dew drops page in my journal. To prepare the pages for "Art During Breakfast", I cut pictures of flowers from old magazines and pasted them into the journal. I left plenty of room to draw on the page when doing this. Then I left the journal on the kitchen table along with a few simple art supplies: Pigma Micron 05 pen, Prismacolor Verithin colored pencisl, a soft sketching Goldfaber 1221 4B pencil and an eraser. This made it easy and convenient to sketch while eating, which is better for your digestion and more relaxing than watching the political circus on the morning news!

At the bottom of the page, I made notes about which colored pencils and other supplies that I used. Just for fun, when the page was complete, I did add a drop of Liquitex Glazing Medium to the dew drops to make them sparkle!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Gregory Diet: Always start the day with a balanced breakfast!

The Danny Gregory diet: always start the day with a nutritiously balanced breakfast that includes oatmeal with sliced apples, orange juice, and colored pencils. To encourage this daily habit, I have prepared my journal by cutting out pictures of flowers from magazines and garden catalogs and gluing them into several pages.

Leaving the journal on the kitchen table along with a few simple tools: pencil, eraser, Micron Pigma Pen, and some colored pencils makes establishing this habit even easier!

I guess I was pretty much a sketching snob. "Oh, I ONLY sketch flowers from life in the garden or in the woods. I would NEVER sketch from a photograph!"

Well, really now. You CAN learn a lot about the way leaves grow and petals curl by studying photographs while eating oatmeal with sliced apples.

After all, with a lot of sketching practice and studying at home, it will be much easier to draw the flowers while in the field!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Swallows and Star Magnolia

Happy March 23rd! The Tree Swallows have returned to nest in the bluebird boxes and the Star Magnolia has started to bloom. It's 5 pm and sunny and 70 degrees. Delightful.

Sitting in a chair in the garden, I lightly sketched two Magnolia branches and then used the Zig Writer to trace over or redraw the lines. After that, I removed the pencil lines with a soft eraser.

I used my portable Winsor & Newton watercolor set and a water brush to paint while "plein air". I was in the mood for a simple page so I decided to leave it at the "botanical" stage and just added a few notes.

 NOTE: I am often asked about what supplies I use, so I have been adding a link to Amazon at the bottom of my pages. I like to use Amazon to research products by reading the product description and also the customers' reviews. If you think that may help you, feel free to click on the images below, if not, please ignore! Thanks!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Lesson in Nature Journaling: "A Walk in the Woods" Nolde Forest March 9th

With temperatures 30 degrees above normal, our early spring botany walk at Nolde Forest seemed more like a summer stroll. On your journal page, don't forget to write the date, temperature, place, and who you are with. Because, yes, you will forget! When I walk with a group of people, I take short notes and make quick sketches with a Sharpie Ultra Fine Pen, a Pigma Micron 05 pen, or a Zig Writer. I started the first page in the parking lot while I was waiting for the group to arrive. I made some notes concerning the butterflies, birds, and blooms that I noticed that morning at home. Above you can see how quickly the page fills up with bits and bobs. That evening I added color to the page using Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils. (see below for product descriptions)

One member of the group found a fine lichen growing on bark and showed us the asexual reproductive bodies were visible. I drew a quick close-up to remember the details. Don't forget your senses! I added notes to the page describing how the Witch Hazel buds felt like velvet and the dried stems of last year's mountain mint still smelled yummy when crushed. As we walked up the trail, I jotted down at the bottom of the page how the upland habitat soil changed to a more acidic one as evidenced by the Mountain Laurels, Blueberry bushes, and spotted wintergreen plants. I would like to go back and spend some time drawing the wonderfully twisted stems of the laurel!

Sometimes I use the back of a page, and sometimes I don't. Here I continued the journey on the back of the first page. One easy trick to do while walking is to just pick up a leaf and trace it. Make a note about the color so later you can get it correct. Since this was last year's leaf, the color was simply brown. One great thing about the oak leaves is that they do not decompose quickly and you can find them to trace in early spring before the new leaves unfurl. On this page I also rubbed a piece of wintergreen leaf on the paper. The smell did fade quickly but the experience is fun. While mammals are not usually visible during a group walk, their signs and scats are. I made notes about some white deer hair that was found on the trail. Always wonder and question in your journal. I wondered if the deer was shedding. Conversation on the trail turned to the topic of what, if any, animal eats ferns. And suddenly, there on the side of the trail were clumps of eaten ferns as evidenced by the leftovers. Apparently, the rachis of the fern is not very tasty or maybe it is too tough to chew. So much on this page! I added a contrast which was a bright patch of spring onions popping up next to broken clam shells. I decided not to rub the onions on the page being afraid that the smell WOULD last. 

One more point about this page: LISTEN! Keep your ears open for both nature sounds and human ones. Sometimes I make notes of bird sounds, but this time I drew a "sound picture" (not a true sketch of what I saw, just something to remind me of the sound) of the brook which was making a delightful classic babble babble. I also wrote an "Overheard". It's fun to note what others say. 

Okay, last page. We were beyond the half way point in the walk at this time and decided to see what was happening in the wet lands. Interesting sights along the way were Beech Drops and Rattlesnake Plantain. The Rattlesnake Plantain still had the dried seed pods from last year attached so I noted that. Something else I noted was the exposed root of the plant which I had never seen on this species but related it to what I've seen on domestic orchids. It's good to make connections to previous knowledge. Back to the parking lot and a side trip to see the newly excavated Pileated Woodpecker Hole. I picked up a chip and traced it to show the large size hunk of wood that this bird is able shred with one blow. I tried to show the size of the hole by drawing hands next to it. Hmmm, may have been a mistake, but you get the idea - when you don't have a ruler, use some familiar object to measure with. 

One more detail from the wetlands. We found a patch of Skunk Cabbage with blooming flowers! The lime green and purple spathe and the yellow spadix were quite a colorful sight! The walk lasted two hours and I have three pages of notes and sketches to remember all the details. That evening when I colored in the sketches, it was like being on the walk again which only re-enforces the idea that journalist live life twice!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Canson Artist Series FANBOY Comic Manga Illustration paper 150 lb 9X12

I saw this in the store and thought I would try it since I have been doing a lot of work with markers lately. The paper is by Canson. The cover of the pad says "Artist Series", Comic Manga, Illustration, acid free, 150 lbs. 20 sheets 9x12in., smooth surface, erases cleanly, heavyweight paper for pencil, ink and marker, no bleeding or feathering. Best part was that it was buy one get one free! (Sorry, could not find an exact description on Amazon, but have posted something similar below.)

A quick sketch using Nicole Premiere Design Markers (ACMoore) for the first sample. I like the way the markers moved on the paper. The colors went down and stayed bright. The Blender seemed to work well. You can see the bleed through to the other side in the second photo. (The descriptions below are for similar products by Prismacolor.)

A quick blind contour using Spectrum Noir Markers. Front view and back view in which you can see some bleed through. In the RENDR journal there is absolutely no bleed through, but this paper is very smooth and likes the markers. 

More to come!