It’s been a long time since I used my watercolor pencils, so I thought I’d bring them out with me on this day (in March). The snowdrops were out in a thick blanket at the “St. John the Baptist” churchyard, Edlingham and the view in the distance with “Edlingham Castle”, the Viaduct and “Corby Crags” was great; so I thought I’d try to capture a bit of it.
Beginning sketch I did while sitting on the wall of the churchyard.
I took this picture with my cell phone as I sat on the cold stone wall of the churchyard, cold enough I was drawing with fingerless mittens on!
This is how far I got working outside.
Above shows how far I got working on it outside sitting on the churchwall. I got most of the important things drawn in the right place and color for a lot of it. I was very stiff and cold so had to stop!
This shows a bit more color laid on
This shows a bit more color layers put on, more on the trees and background detailed a bit. You can’t see it but I also put some color on the castle.
Finished! In all it’s vividness and rich greens! That’s Edlingham Castle and the Viaduct in the background.
This little painting really tidied up nicely! The fence ended up being a bit different than I planned but I think it’s ok. I wanted to leave the whites to show the snowdrops; I mostly showed them by using the greens around them. When I was done I used a white gel type pen and touched here and there helped really pull the flowers out more. I’m also experimenting with using Doc Martin’s Bleed Proof White, a non permanent white ink, to add touches of white (tree trunks).
I hope your Spring is shaping up nicely where-ever you may be! Happy Spring!
The end of May was very chilly here, wool sweaters and extra layers to peel off when the sun did decide to shine. Gary and I have continued our walks of course, especially when the rain holds off. Most of our walks are later in the day and we don’t have much time for me to sit and paint. But today we went with the intention that I’d sit and do a study of distant hills. Yay!
The view I painted was in this direction, looking up Coquetdale.
We had a ramble around on Lordenshaws, which is situated right next to the well known Simonside Hills, a favorite place for walkers. Lordenshaws is a much more gentle hill and an easy walk but still offering great views.
Here’s the largest cup and ring marked stone at Lordenshaws with the marvelous view in the distance of Coquetdale.
I love that there are ancient cup and ring marked stones to see as you walk, made about three thousand years ago!
Here’s more of a close up to see the rings and the ‘holes’ are the cup marks.
This shows the markings or carvings a bit closer. It’s amazing to think of how long ago they were made and we always have a wonder about the people that made them. What were they like? What did they think of and what do the marks mean? No one can answer that for sure.
View I had of the hills and Coquetdale valley.
Though there are many views, I decided to paint this one, with Simonside being just to the left and the view of Coquet valley coming from behind it. I liked the distant hills with fields marked by lines of hedges and then the nearer farm fields just at the base of Simonside. (It’s very hard to see any detail in this photo, because the sun was in front of me getting low.)
Painting with cold hands as the sky constantly changed.
I tried to get as much done as possible, then at home I looked at the photos I took on the computer, and tried to touch it up. It’s always best to get as much done in the field as possible, as the colors are never the same on the computer! The hard thing is when you work outdoors, especially in the chilly evening air, your hands get cold and your back aches…well mine does. So I try to work quickly.
Finished! “View From Lordenshaw’s” watercolor, 5.5″x7″
Here’s the finished painting, only 5.5″ x 7″, including the ring holes!
More posts to come, it’s been such a busy summer I am far behind! Please sign up your email (upper right) to recieve notification of new posts.
It’s gardening time again! I started a variety of seeds on the window sill and we’re really looking forward to the sunflowers! The spring has been so cold that I waited a bit to plant, but we can hope for warmer weather. Now the sprouts have been moved outside and a few are planted. Fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens!
Sunflower seeds sprouting.
Above are two very small studies of the sunflowers sprouting; I LOVE when seeds sprout! After messing around with my sunflower sprouts, I decided to get outside, now that the sun is actually shining!
Photo of the plant I did the watercolor study of.
I wanted to do a small study of some plants and decided on this one. I liked how the tips of the leaves at the bottom of the plant are reddish, a good alizarin crimson red. I’m almost positive it’s a weed, but who cares? It looks good for a study.
My sketchbook and paint kit, where I sat in front of the garden.
I sat on the grass and the plant was about eye level in a low bed. I clipped my sketchbook and the tiny paint kit onto a stiff peice of cardboard, then I could hold it in one hand. I used a waterbrush to paint and the tiny white bottle is water that I can squirt onto the pan for extra wetness, I also use it to wet my colors.
Close up of my kit and sketchbook.
Here it is a bit closer. The sketch of the bird was done from a dead wren that my husband’s cat killed. 🙁 I would usually like to do a study from it but just didn’t have time, so I traced it’s outline. Poor sweet little thing. Happily though, the wrens are nesting behind our house, under the seat of an old bicycle! We keep the cat well away from there!
Coming up soon, a post about an adventurous hike and some watercolors that were inspired by it. (it involves little mice!)
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Here’s a post I wrote from July, never too late to enjoy a bit of sun I guess!?
July 16, 2015
Did I tell you how much I LOVE living here in Northumberland? I did? Well I won’t get tired of saying it or doing my sketches out in the field.
Taking a rest, enjoying the day, in my barn boots of course!
I went up in the field near Edlingham Castle, I had it all to myself, no sheep or cows about. It was just that kind of day that I sat on the ground to think, listen to the birds and enjoy just living. Then I just lay back and put my straw hat over my eyes and let time slip by, and it was ok.
Trying to take a selfie with a 35mm isn’t easy!
Laying down amongst the clovers, it made me feel like a kid again. Isn’t that funny? I should go lay in the grass more often! Maybe we could start a national “Lay in the Grass Day”! haha.
Below is a picture of what it looked like, my view from the grasses, the clouds were so beautiful.
My view from the grass, my mouse eye view.
And below, this is what I saw near me, a Ringlet butterfly, a very common sight in the fields here in summer. I’m really enjoying learning the new butterflies and bugs here in the UK.
A Ringlet butterfly on a clover head.
Well I didn’t just lay around all day, after a little while I went down the field, found a spot to stand and did a small painting. Below is a picture of Edlingham Castle, this was what I drew. You can see by the photo, the lighting never stays the same when you’re painting outside. My painting ended with nice blue skies and sunshine!
Edlingham Castle view from field.
Below is the ink drawing I did first. Sometimes I do an ink drawing then paint with my watercolors, especially if I don’t think I’ll have time to paint it. The other way is to do a light pencil sketch and then paint, drawing with ink a little for details on the pencil before or after painting.
Ink drawing of Edlingham castle, over the gate.
Below is my finished watercolor painting, only 4.5″ x 6″. You can see how bright the colors are, the day really was so bright, unlike the photo! The ink drawing makes it look more like an illustration than a painting to me. Kind of like all details are picked out at once, but that’s ok.
Edlingham Castle, Northumberland. Watercolor and Ink 4.5″ x 6″
I hope you enjoyed a little look back into summer! If you don’t want to miss any of my posts, just put your email in the box at the top right column. It’ll send you an email notice and you just respond then you’ll get my posts right in your inbox. Remember though, it’s best to click to come here and read the post, it lays out better on the page (and you can leave comments here).
I wrote this post way back in July, when it was sunny and warm, now here we are at the end of October! I still have new drawings and paintings to share, it’s just been more hectic than I expected! I’m still settling into this new life, trying to learn how to drive standard (badly!), finding a new accountant, and not being able to find some of my supplies because many things are still packed and stacked in plastic bins! But what has been most excellent is our walks near our home and a few trips to the Lake District. The greatest joy Gary and I share is our love of walking in the countryside. I’m overwhelmed with subject matter, it’s just finding time to sit and work.
So, on to my July post! Please click on the pictures to see them enlarged and clearer, enjoy!
(July 2015) I’m very lucky to have an ancient castle near where I live. I can go visit the site and walk around it, or view it from the fields.
Brown ink drawing of Edlingham Castle done in the field in April 2015.
I did this drawing in brown ink (Faber Castell Pitt pen) while standing in the field where only local villagers usually go, way back in April. It’s great to switch your mediums once in awhile when out painting. I think it’s great ‘brain training’ as you have to approach it in different ways, seeing shapes, values, lines, textures and measurements; and thinking what you will use to capture that.
As I am settling into my new studio space here in England, I am still re-organizing my ‘stuff’ and wanting to play with materials I’ve had packed for ages. One of those is charcoal, I haven’t really used it in a long time so lately I’ve been rediscovering it. Below I’ll show you how I did another small drawing of the castle en Plein Air or sitting in a field with my art kit.
Sometimes I set my stuff out on the ground, this is charcoal drawing supplies.
This shows my small backpack, a big lawn + leaf type garbage bag, Altoids tin with loose charcoal sticks and one plastic box with charcoal pencils, tortillions, brushes, sandpaper and eraser. I almost always stand when I work but today I had a small folding camp stool to sit on. The garbage bag is great for when you want to throw your backpack or kit on the ground and it’s all damp OR use it for sitting on.
Here’s part of my field kit for charcoals, good ‘ol Altoids tin.
And the ever popular ‘Altoids tin’, once used by me for watercolors but now I put my charcoal sticks in here. The rubber bands on the lid are holding a piece of paper towel and some cotton balls in place.
Here it is open and ready to use; I put the messy hard and soft sticks in here.
The base holds an assortment of soft vine and compressed charcoal sticks also a piece of chamois for blending and shading.
You can use the ‘messy’ charcoal powder in the tin to draw with a brush.
When I sharpen points on sandpaper I let the powder fall into this tin and then it’s great to pick up with brushes for shading. A great way to start your sketch with soft blocked in areas of value, using soft or stiff brushes.
Work in progress, my support is just the cardboard back of a sketchpad.
Above here it is almost finished, just a few touch ups and strengthening of darks and details to do.
Charcoal drawing of Edlingham Castle, July 2, 2015.
And it’s finished! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my kit and how I worked. I’ll try to post more of those sketches I’ve done! Leave me comments below, I love to hear from you all.
And my other facebook page: Mary McAndrew Painting and Illustration
As I was looking through my small sketches and watercolors from this spring and early summer, I found I have many that are of distant views of the hills. Scenes that are all around me here in Northumberland England, just drive anywhere and you will always see some far off huge hills in the distance that all the locals can tell you the name of. Yes, all have names, very old names! It’s fun to learn the silhouettes and names of them.
Our favorite thing to do is walk up any of the high hills and see into the distance; can you believe we can see all the way to Scotland!? You don’t have to climb a high hill to appreciate the views though, even walking on the upper lane out of our village gives you views across Whittingham Vale or up to Corby Crags.
View of the Cheviots and Glanton area in the Whittingham Vale.
The tiny watercolor sketch above is from one of my morning walks along the upper lane of our village. The blue hill in the distance on the left is actually two hills in the Cheviots, one being “The Cheviot” itself. The hill in the center I’m pretty sure is Low Pyke in Glanton, the next village that you can see across the valley. It makes you realize that all the way back to bronze age man, people must have named the hills and used them for direction.
Study of Corby Crags in watercolor, March 10, 2015.
This little study above is of Corby Crags, as seen from my side yard in spring. It’s just a quick watercolor sketch to practice clouds and colors, but I remember standing there doing it on a sunny day in March, when winter was breaking.
“Burning Heather on Brizlee”, watercolor field study, April 6, 2015
This one was done while walking along our upper back lane, I saw smoke from a fire in the distance and stopped to record it. I leaned on a big field gate as I looked past the buildings in the foreground to the long hill in the distance. My husband told me they were burning heather on the moors up on Brizlee, this is to promote new growth of heather shoots for the grouse and partridges (all for the hunting season). This hill I realized later when I looked on a map is all the way in Alnwick, the next village about 6 miles away!
“View of Demesne Farm and Thrunton Woods”, watercolor, May 26, 2015.
One of my favorite things here is to watch the clouds cast shadows and patches of sun creep across the face of the land. Where the sun goes the greens and golds of the land come alive, it’s so dramatic! The little 5 1/2″ x 7″ watercolor above I did while sitting on the side bank of the road out of our village looking towards Thrunton Woods and Demesne Farm. It’s one of my morning walks that is relatively short but always windy when you get to the top. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this view!
“View From Edlingham Lane” watercolor, July 21, 2015.
This 4 1/2″x 6″ study was done on the same lane but just a week ago. I was near the top of the lane where you really get hit with all the wind sweeping across this valley. It was a misty day and my hands got cold and stiff, yeah even in July! As I painted this it started to rain (see the approaching clouds?) so I quickly put my kit away…then it stopped….so unpack the kit again! The weather here is just like that, dress in layers because when the sun comes out you’ll get so hot and start peeling off jackets, but as soon as the clouds come it’s cold and there could be a surprise sprinkle in that cloud. I usually bring more than the average walker because I end up sitting or standing still a lot and it gets cold when you don’t move around.
Next post I’ll share more photos of my surroundings, but still so many sketches to share too! Besides sketching I’ve been busy testing watercolor paper so I can dig in and concentrate on my illustrations, I also got a new watercolor field box that I’ve been using and love. I’ve been recording (with photos and sketches) the local flora and fauna (would you expect anything less from me?) So far I have positively identified 51 birds, 46 different wildflowers, 10 butterflies, 3 moths and any number of unidentified insects, moths, plants etc. It’s exciting to be in a new country with all these new things! I’ll share more of this coming up, stay tuned!
Ok, so I know it’s summertime so why am I talking about spring? Well I still have sketches and paintings to share that are from late winter and spring before I share my recent work. You’ll notice my winter and spring sketches were all quite small and not as much watercolor going on. As the weather warms up, and thus my fingers, I start to do more. Lately I’ve been doing some charcoal drawings too, but lets not get ahead of ourselves…spring first!
Watercolor of Edlingham Burn, February 10th in Edlingham village, Northumberland.
Above, here’s a small watercolor I did while sitting by the burn or stream that runs through Edlingham. The painting is just small, about 5×6″ or so, but good practice to paint the green trees and blue and brown water. Well actually the water is quite clean and clear, it just reflects all that’s above it! I really enjoyed the sun that day though it was still cold, so I finished the painting at home.
Fuzzy Buds drawing in ink February 17, 2015
I just love when native bushes bloom with soft fuzzy buds in springtime. They have little shiny, leathery looking caps that their fuzzy little heads push up as they swell to bloom. I brought some twigs in to draw; if you put them in water they look great and last awhile as you draw them.
My set up for drawing.
I set up the jar of buds by the patio windows, getting some natural light to work by. I like sitting here with my porridge in the morning to read and watch the birds outside.
Painted with watercolor from live branches I brought inside. February 17, 2015
I really enjoy trying to paint the soft look of the buds and also showing that they are white. You can’t (well I can’t) help but stroke them and think of how it feels like the ear of my bunny I had years ago!
One of many snowdrops, done in ink and watercolor. February 11, 2015
Spring here in England, wouldn’t be spring without the Snowdrops! They were everywhere and lasted so long, a real promise of more spring flowers to come. I had planned to paint a Snowdrop open, but ran out of time. I took a lot of pictures though so maybe in the future?
Unfinished sketch of a bit of Edlingham Valley.
Here’s another from February; do you notice how small this is? It’s from one of my tiny 4.25″ x 5″ sketchbooks I like to use in the winter. (see pic below). It’s great for tucking in your pocket when you just might want to draw something interesting, and I draw while standing up so it’s easy to hold too.
Finished watercolor 4.25″ x 5″, view in Edlingham, Northumberland.
Later I finished the color on the trees and grasses. As the page says, it was cold that day!
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small.
There’s the sketchbook I made, designed complete with a pen holder made out of duct tape!
The Vole Hole, watercolor, 4.25″ x 5″.
Another tiny one, done on the backside of the sketch of Edlingham Valley view. Who can resist a tiny hole belonging to a vole or mouse? I know my husband’s cat can’t but neither can I for different reasons. I just have this little childlike vision of cute mice straight from Beatrix Potter coming out of the holes. I like to practice drawing these kinds of homes for future stories I may illustrate.
4.25″ x 5″ ink drawing of our ancient Sycamore.
I did this sketch with the intention to study the wonderful colors that are on this tree. It’s an ancient Sycamore covered with lichens of many colors, mosses of green and the tree bark’s own reddish hue, just waiting (still) to be studied by my watercolors.
Well I think that’s all for this post, I still have lots of small spring sketches and watercolors to share soon though. Next time I’ll post some more photos too. I’ll be posting soon, stay tuned!
Winter has passed by and I’m still settling into my new life in England. I did some sketches as I could, being tired from unpacking, cleaning or just being overwhelmed in general. But happily I can see my sketching has increased as the months slip by and I will share all that in further posts to catch up.
Waiting at Gate 12, Buffalo International Airport…the big day way back in December!
Today I’m posting sketches I did way back in December and January. The one above I did while waiting in the Buffalo International Airport, Gate 12, for my flight to the UK. I like the way it came out, a person sitting ‘almost’ in silhouette in front of the huge windows. It definitely helped to pass the time and calm my nervous excitement.
Ink sketch of a very old Hawthorn in a farmers hedgerow.
After I settled in I started walking in the mornings, mostly on my favorite lane above the village. Just like at ‘home’ in New York, sketching in winter I mostly use very small pocket sketchbooks. It’s just too cold to stand around freezing my fingers off, so I just do smaller quicker sketches; the most important thing is just to keep sketching.
The drawing above is actually tiny, done at the top of the page, but I like how it came out. It’s done with a brown Faber-Castell ink pen; I love using these pens. It’s a twisted little hawthorn along a sheep field, very exposed to the winds at the top of a ridge. I like it’s character because it reminds me of a bonsai tree. Some of the little trees you see hedges made of are actually very old trees that are trimmed all the time.
“Tree on Upper Lane”, a rough sketch on a very cold day, using water soluble pencils that I haven’t wet yet!
This sketch was done very quickly because it was so darn cold! I love walking on this one lane that goes out of our village because it’s lined with ancient trees and gorgeous views of distant hills and fields. I did it using water soluble pencil but wanted to scan it before I wet it. When you wet them they can get very dark and intense…it still waits for me to wet it with my brushes and mess around.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small. I made a pen holder out of duct tape and attached it to the back cover. I have another one that’s even smaller that I used at home a lot too, just loved sticking it in my barn coat pocket when I went walking.
Small watercolor done while sitting along the bank of Edlingham Burn, on a very cold day in January.
January 7, 2015 – I walked down to Edlingham Burn (small river) and found a mossy rock to sit upon with this lovely view. Well maybe it’s hard to imagine from such a small sketch, but it was a view of the burn and moss covered trees everywhere, just lovely!
Me in the freezing cold, painting Edlingham Burn.
I was very cold painting this, I did it with mittens on mind you, no easy task! I sat on a bit of rock, cold and damp, but it felt so good to be out and finally messing with my watercolors, that I didn’t notice (until I got up, all stiff!) I used one medium sized waterbrush to do this.
The livestock fence across the burn.
Farmers use old pallets across small streams or ‘burns’ here, to keep sheep and cattle in sectioned off fields. I put it in the background of my watercolor sketch you can see above.
A walk along the burn in January.
This is Edlingham Burn, I walked along it looking for a spot to paint. Where the rest of the land was pretty bleak and bare, the river was/is fascinating to me. With all it’s mossy trees, ivy climbing everywhere, dry grasses draping over dark banks touching the cold water and the sound of splashing water, wonderful.
From my small sketchbook, I love the way these two trees were twisting together.
These two trees I found behind the old church, in the farmers field. I really like how this sketch came out. They twisted together, almost in an embrace, part lichen covered, part moss. Standing in a cold, bare hedge, naked of leaves or flowers, just waiting till spring! Maybe someday I’ll do a larger color study.
Pine tree across the road from us, I noted the birds I saw while sketching it.
January 26th – I did this sketch on a day where I was tired and not feeling particularly inspired. That’s an especially good time to stick to your small sketchbook, just do something small until you ‘do’ feel inspired. It helped me to focus and relax; practice is always a good thing. I noted the birds I saw while doing it, Seagulls, Jackdaws and a Tree Creeper.
A pretty view of sheep over a country fence.
I thought I’d leave you with two more photos, from Jan. 6th on my morning walk. I love watching the sheep in the fields all around me, there are so many kinds here!
A sheep wondering what I’m doing in her field.
This little ewe was watching me, they run away if you get too close, so having a zoom is needed! They are all carrying lambs at this time and I can’t wait to see them in spring!
Check back for more updates, yes there are more sketches, paintings and photos to catch up with from this spring and I can’t wait to share them with you! Sign up in the right column with your email, if you want to be notified when I do new posts. Please leave me comments if you like!
Hello there! Yes I know it’s now
October November, but I’m super busy getting ready for my big move to England so I haven’t had much time for posting! During the summer I did get my sketchbook out and go adventuring into my wild fields but most of what I observed just so happened to be right in my backyard. I have a really big yard and lots of wild stuff just dying to burst through the fence all around! I love it!
(Please click on pictures to view larger)
The back fence barely holds back all the wild plants and flowers in the field!
I took a break and sat in a lawn chair on a very nice day to do this little watercolor sketch. It’s only a couple inches in diameter but I got to play a bit with the watercolors and that was so relaxing.
A collection of wild plants and flowers.
I like studying the little plants and flowers that grow in my grass, above is an old sketch I did when I started to notice them.
I’ve been noticing this tiny purple wild flowering plant (below) for years, but just realized that there are two plants! So now I need help identifying them.
This plant grows very short when in the mowed lawn and still flowers!
Bees just love these tiny flowers.
Look how beautiful these little clusters are!
The three photos above are all the same kind of plant. Notice the leaves are oval/lance shaped and smooth margins? Also the flowers always grow from one spiked cluster at the top of the plant. What gets confusing is where the plant is found in my trimmed lawn, sometimes the spike is cut off and looks very different when flowering. Each individual bloom is really quite beautiful (if you get down on your hands and knees and take a ‘mouse eye view’!)
Below are photos of the second purple wildflower.
Study of purple wildflower #2 I did years ago.
I ‘think’ this might be called “Gill Over the Ground”?? I did this study years ago. I love how the tiny leaves look like round geranium leaves and have wavy margins. When the new leaves are forming they make the nicest little clusters that are really fun to draw! I really need to do more studies of this one.
Here’s a photo of the same plant.
This photo doesn’t show many flowers, but they grow more than this example. Their flowers can grow from sections along the stem and not so much from a spike like the other flowers.
A beautiful Hawkmoth hovers over the flowers as it feeds.
I know it’s a bit hard to see, but there’s a Hawkmoth hovering over the tiny flowers! Below I cropped the photo so you could see it better.
A fascinating Hawkmoth, can you see it’s clear wings?
See how important all these little flowers are in your grass?
With tiny flowers you get tiny butterflies and bugs.
Above is a photo of that same plant in my grass…and what is that tiny little blue flutter I saw?
A gorgeous Spring Azure Butterfly!
Yes, for tiny flowers you have tiny butterflies, tiny bugs and bees. This butterfly was a dainty flitting little thing, until I identified it I was calling it a “Fairy Blue Butterfly”! I kind of like my name better! So it looks pale blue now, but when it opens it’s wings (extremely hard to catch a photo) it’s very blue. So when it flies you see the white and blue of under and upper wings combine to make a light blue! Just like one of those flat paper toys you spin on a string and it makes a new picture or color.
An old style illustration using the wild plants in my yard.
Above is a study I did in my field sketchbook years ago using the tiny plants in my yard. I really like it and will do more studies like this in the future! Do you see the little purple wildflower #2 in this?
A watercolor study of Knapweed (as far as I can tell).
I ventured out on my land here at Long Lane Farm, towards the end of summer. Out in what we call “The Maze” there’s this beautiful wildflower growing; I think it’s Knapweed. I tried very hard to find photos like it online and since all my wildflower books are packed away I didn’t really figure it out definitively.
This is another study of Knapweed, done in bright sunlight.
Yes, this is the same type of plant, just different lighting when I painted it. I worked in full sunlight and tried to paint the colors I saw. I tried to take more note of the leaves so someday I can get help with identifying it. Though I love it I have a feeling it might be one of those dreaded invasive weeds?
Skipper butterfly on sweet white clover.
Above is white clover with a Skipper butterfly on it. All summer I enjoyed the multitude of clovers and Moneywort growing in my grass…weed killer?? God help us, NEVER! I have all kinds of beautiful tiny plants and flowers in my lawn…their leaves are green, they add to the ‘greeness’ of my lawn and also beautiful tiny flowers.
White clover blooming in the warm grass of summer.
And when that clover is blooming I’ve never smelled anything sweeter! You just have to stop and breath in, and realize that subtle sweet smell is the clover talking to you. It’s saying, “Don’t spray me with weed killer!” Seriously though, when I look across the yard and it’s blooming, it’s so beautiful, especially with the sunny yellow Dandelions.
Tiny study of Dandelions in the grass.
Below you see the Skipper on a bending Dandelion head, can you remember the smell of that pretty little flower? And how soft it is when it tickles your nose?
A tiny Skipper butterfly on a soft dandelion head.
A small study I did years ago of Moneywort, not in bloom.
The Moneywort loves it here because it’s damp and when that blooms it’s stems are absolutely covered with bright yellow flowers. It actually gives the grass a yellow hue when you look at it with a ‘painters eye’. I remember when I did this study all the plants were under freezing cold spring melt-water.
White Asters grow in profusion around my fences.
The bees are allover, gathering nectar from the wild flowers and pollinating to their hearts content…do bees have hearts? I’m sure they do! Above is a study I quite like of White Asters. They grow in tiny but profuse branched clusters that form little bushes of white dainty flowers. As the flower grows ‘old’ the center turns from a bright yellow to a dark orange-ish to red-ish looking color. I really love these little dainties and even wrote a story about one little aster, someday to share.
Tiny mushrooms growing in the grass. Watercolor + ink.
One of my favorite things is to discover little mushroom clusters in the grass. I’m terrible at identifying mushrooms and someday I think I’ll concentrate on learning a bit more, but for now I’m content to just sketch and be inspired. When I see mushrooms in the grass and get right down at eye level (or mouse level as I call it!) I think about how they look like little houses for wee folk or critters.
Studies of tiny mushrooms
So we’ll end it here, Fall is almost over now and there are NO flowers in my yard! I have collected lots of photos to use for reference when I do my illustrations in the future. Oh that reminds me! I have one more picture that you’ve seen before but would be fitting here.
“Mouse Family in the Leaves”
It’s great to use the real plants I see in my own backyard when I do my illustrations. I hope to show you more in the future!
Do you have tiny wildflowers growing in your grass? I love reading comments, please add yours below!
Do you remember my last post about the cocoon I was watching all winter long?
Unhatched cocoon hanging in tree, April 20, 2014
I did sketches of it on cold snowy days, while it hung in the tree, disguised as dead leaves.
March 20, 2014 – first day of spring, snowing, dismal + dark!
Another sketch of the ‘leaf cocoon’ after my walking was finished. (March 27, 2014)
Then one day I got the bright idea of putting mesh around it so when the mystery bug hatched I may have a chance to see what it was. I also knew that I now took responsibility for this creatures’ welfare, I had to check it everyday so if it hatched I could release it! I fastened it with wire bread ties.
Plastic mesh onion bag I carefully put around the cocoon.
Well as the weeks dragged on into spring I sort of gave up hope; I observed a small hole at the top and thought maybe something got at it. Also a ‘bug friend’ told me that sometimes wasps will parasitize these cocoons and it may not live. Leaves from the tree were now poking out through the mesh and black ants were crawling around everywhere, where was my ‘creature’?
June 1st, still not hatched!
Well one morning while walking around the yard I spotted something big and dark in the mesh bag from way across the yard! I actually ran across the yard, I was so excited! (yes, I really did! lol)
Much to my delight, not only did it hatch but it was HUGE! Introducing the “Promethea Silkmoth”! (Hatched June 4, 2014)
I love this photo, you can almost see his ‘face’ saying “Help, I can’t hang on!”
I ran in the house and got my pruners and clipped the small branch it was on. I took it into my shady back porch and stood it up in a vase of water, then thought about how to sketch it quick so I could release it. Well it had that ‘ugly’ red plastic netting around it, but being that I was in my screen porch and it had only just hatched I decided to carefully cut away the netting. Lucky me, the moth still needed to hang out a bit to get stronger, so I took lots of photos then settled down to sketch.
I did this watercolor from life then later finished from my photos.
Like many moths, his beauty wasn’t in his bright colors but in the subtlety of his patterns and earthy colors, and boy was he beautiful! I also loved his fat, furry body, it was deep rusty color with interesting patterns on the sides. In the sketch above I used my permanent ink pen along with the watercolors for real definition.
This one I avoided using the ink pen to see how it would look with just watercolors.
The sketch above I avoided using the ink pen just to see how it would be with just watercolors. It’s softer looking but I favor the other one, which I actually spent a lot more time on too. I traced around a card to create the box look, then just colored around it; a nice way to ‘decorate’ your sketches!
Promethea Silkmoth with his wings partly open.
Then I painted this view from a photo, where he had his wings partly open. I loved the ‘teeth’ patterns on his wings, above and below. It was when he decided to fly around in my screen porch that I noticed when his wings are open, he looks like a fearsome beast with many big teeth!! Well imagine your small too, and want to eat this moth, suddenly you have all these teeth and eyes (two black with blue spots) looking at you! Another interesting thing with his behavior was he shook his wings, something I’ve seen other moths do when frightened. He wasn’t shaking in fear! He was making himself look fearful! How cool is that?!
Flying around in my screen porch.
Above, here he is on the screen, shaking or vibrating his wings at me.
A nice photo showing how beautiful his antennae and body are.
His little feet tickled my hand!
This photo above really shows the scale of how big he was. Now he was getting active, time to release him to the world!
I put him back into the tree his cocoon was on.
I put him back onto the tree his cocoon had hung in all winter. It didn’t take him long and he fluttered around then disappeared…off to find a mate I’m sure or find dark shelter for the day.
Now all that’s left is the cocoon.
I hope you enjoyed this excited discovery with me! I know I’m late posting about it but as many of you know my time is taken up lately with preparing for my big move. I do have some other interesting photos and sketches from my backyard adventures, I’ll try to post as I can.