Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Feathers & Old Books

Nature has provided me with some amazing feathers -- primary & secondary wing feathers from a Wild Turkey, a primary feather from a Great Horned Owl, and a variety of unidentified plumes.  

And, I have been drawn to using pages from an old dictionary that was gathering dust in my barn loft art studio.  In my collection for years, I had never cracked the old tome open to read it. Now that I am putting it to artistic use, I find that I search each page I pull out for interesting words before I create -- drawings, India ink brush paintings, letters to friends, even grocery lists.  The extra layer of text creates a toned background & a pleasing complexity.    

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Nature Journal Update: Hiking the Late Summer Woods

Since April, David & I have hiked over 400 miles through Raccoon Creek State Park --I've logged each mile. On many of those treks, I had a nature journal tucked under my arm.  I'm ever amazed at how keeping a nature journal ties you to the land.  You see subtle changes, what's in bloom -- now Joe Pye Weed and goldenrod take the fore, as Bergamot and Bee Balm fade.  You notice how the oak leaves have become pock-marked with insect damage and how the Wild Turkey young have grown almost as big as their parents, and have smooth plumage.  

Lately, I guess every bird must be molting for the fall as I find gorgeous Wild Turkey, hawk and owl feathers on the trail.  Can't help but scoop them up and try to capture their essence on paper.  Pretty soon it will be acorns and colorful autumn leaves.  Sketching what's going on right now, following the seasons, has it's own calming effect.  The wheel of the year rolls on regardless of what is going on in human realms, and its consistency is a balm to my soul.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

A Stormy Start to a New Journal

Starting a new nature journal can feel like starting a journey of infinite possibilities, but also can feel like a perfect, blank book that you don't want to make the first mistake in.  Thursday afternoon, David and I went out on a hike and I took a brand new nature journal with me. About 2 miles in, we found ourselves slogging through a summer rain shower.  By the time we made it back to the Adirondack shelters in the park, we were soaked to the bone, and my brand new nature journal was no longer crisp and fresh, but soggy-edged and mud-splashed.  Somehow, this felt like the best of both worlds -- still open to infinite possibilities, but also not so precious that I couldn't make mistakes.  A great start.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Celebrating Color in Summer

The joy of new paints is trying out the colors and exploring what you can do with them.

The page "Things Leaves Do" was inspired by nature journaler Hannah Hinchman, author of A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place.  She fills illustrated journal pages with topics like "Things Snow Does."

Monday, July 20, 2020

Painting Grandmother Oak

At the foot of my country driveway I can see a massive oak tree I've long admired and wanted to draw.  I call her Grandmother Oak.  One recent summer morning, I toted my paints and pens down to the spot, sketching her first in my nature journal, and then trying to capture her with watercolors.  The gift of a painting done on a summer morning, aside from the experience of painting, is that you get to carry the memory of that time and place with you through the winter every time you look at your artwork.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Nature Journal Update: Day Lilies

I recently watched a YouTube video about adding a simple background to nature journal sketches of plants and animals to help capture the place and moment.  I thought I'd give it a try, and I love the added depth of the page.

Click here to see John Muir Laws' YouTube video that inspired me.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Finished 3 Fabulous Feathers!

I couldn't be more delighted with my new Schmincke watercolors.  Here's the finished study of a Crow feather, an Owl (?) feather and a Downy Woodpecker feather.  Of course, the real feathers that I found out on hikes and around my farm weren't purple and blue, but I decided to take a colorist's approach to the black, earth-toned and black-and-white, feathers, respectively.