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“A Winter Birds Nest”

 Today was cold, oh so cold but SUNNY!, and that makes all the difference in the world. It’s been a long while since I’ve sketched in the field (or while walking) since coming home from England.

Pasture Lane in February, all icy and beautiful.

I wore my mud boots or Wellies because I knew it’d be wet. The photo shows the wet lane and as I walked here and all through the field, it was creaking and cracking ice under foot. It was actually fun and reminded me of some movie scenes when you’d hear that familiar creaking of ice, just before the huge crack creased through the ice towards the unfortunate victim! Haha…oh but don’t worry, the water under ‘my’ ice is only a few inches deep! A tip from me, walk near the grasses along the edges of icy lanes, it’s more solid and less water underneath.

Bird's nest found in the field (click to see nice large image)

I spotted this nest so clearly in the bare branches of a bush in the middle of my field. I walked over and found that it was actually above my head, probably around 6′ 6″ or more from the ground. I’m not sure what kind it is, I’ve seen Song Sparrow nests in this field but they were lower. I did a quick drawing while wearing my fingerless gloves, which makes it better but you still get cold! Drawing with a permanent ink pen, I tried to sketch and plan where I needed to ‘not’ draw the branches so I could put the nest in and not have unerasable lines. While I had the real nest in front of me I added the shadows to the branches.

It was when I got home that I started to play around and draw twigs around the page like a frame. I did this as I waited for my water to boil, that nice cup of coffee I’d enjoy soon, to help me thaw. Now that I just studied real branches in the field, it was fresh in my mind and the most important thing is adding the shadows. Just pretend the light is always from the same side (mine was upper right side) and after you draw the branches, add the shadows. Now if I wanted I could add a poem along the right side; below I created a card, in my Zazzle shop, where you can do that!

The birds nest up high in a bush

Here’s a picture of the nest as it looked from back a few steps, up in the bush.

Nest up close.

This shot shows the nest up close, I love having my tiny olympus camera in my bag for this type of shot. On purpose I left my ‘regular’ camera at home, determined to push myself to do a sketch today! Well, darn it, I still like taking pics of the beautiful landscapes, close ups of interesting things and if I do a sketch perhaps the subject I drew. I try to always have my tiny camera in my sketch kit. I thought the nest had spider web helping to hold it together but now I look closer and think it could be downy seeds instead. I love the colors of the woven grasses in the nest, though being that it was so cold outside, I really didn’t want to pull out my watercolors as I stood in front of it drawing.

A view from above by holding the tiny camera up high.

And here’s the last shot, I held the camera up as high as I could and pointed it into the nest. It’s in such good shape after a whole winter, I’m so glad I spotted it and did my sketch today.

I’ve created some note cards using my photos and sketch in my Zazzle shop, please click any below and have a look! (I especially love the last one!)

“Pasture Lane in February” Note Card
Birds Nest in Winter card
“Birds Nest in February” Note Card
Birds Nest in Winter sketch in ink card
“Birds Nest in Winter Sketch” Note Card with changeable color background
Birds Nest in Winter sketch in ink card
“Birds Nest in Winter Sketch”  Note Card with changeable text!
If you have any trouble adding the text you want, please email me and let me help you.
Birds Nest in Winter sketch in ink with poem card
I couldn’t resist, I wrote a poem to go on this card! Please click to see it!

Tiny Goldcrest

Today I saw a Goldcrest for the first time ever, but not the way I’d like to have seen it. This beautiful and tiny little bird flew right into the patio window while I was sat just on the other side of it.  I’m pretty certain this is the same bird at home we call the Golden Crowned Kinglet.

Tiny Goldcrest Studies in watercolor

 Poor little thing! I picked it up carefully with a paper towel and decided I’d do studies before putting it to rest in the field. I selected a nicely curled dry leaf to lay him on, it just seemed right for such a natural little creature. I sketched it out then added more detail then the layers of watercolor. I was fascinated by the tiny, hard black beak and little whiskers around it. The yellow crest was so beautiful, surrounded by black borders as if to hold the color in.

Goldcrest studies in ink and watercolor

The top drawing was done with permanent brown ink then I added just a touch of color. It’s amazing how long the claws are on such a small foot!

I hope to see a live one when I return to England, then I can do a painting from life! Much better I’d say!

Walk to the Roman Fort (June 21, 2010)

Though I went for this walk a month ago, I need to catch up on posting my sketches from all my walks so you can see where I’ve been.  This walk started at the Edlingham Church from the 11thC and Edlingham Castle.

Edlingham church and castle quick sketch

Edlingham church and castle quick sketch

As I noted on my page, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. I started by walking past the old church and as I stood in the parking lot near it, I sketched using my Derwent Inktense “Ink Black” watercolor pencil. I then used my waterbrush to make washes using the pencil lines. You can add more color or value by touching the tip of your pencil with the waterbrush and adding it to the already damp paper. If you re-draw on the damp paper the pencil will make a very strong line and be harder to blend.  Since I don’t have use of a scanner here, I photographed my pages and then brightened them, the picture here looks a bit more contrasty than the real one.

The sketch of the castle at the bottom of the page (shown above) is started with the same Inktense pencil then later colored with watercolors and watercolor pencils. I was way up in a sheep field looking back when I did this, just a quick impression.

Edlingham Church and Castle

Edlingham Church and Castle

After my walk I added color to the top sketch of the church, with watercolor pencils. I’m going through a phase with them right now, as I so often do…then I switch back to my loved watercolors. I’m having fun layering colors to find nice greens and browns. I don’t like a drawing or painting to look ‘mushy’, that is be too soft, and I’m tempted to go back and draw with my ink pens into these little studies. But they are studies and sometimes the soft look of them is nice.

Lapwing

Lapwing

As I walked up through another farmers field I saw Lapwings on the ground. They are such a neat bird with two long feathers on their crest that looks like a fancy plumed hat! When they fly their wings are wide, rounded and a sharp looking black and white. They have a very nice call too. This picture is a bit blurry as I shot it from far away, but you get the idea of what they look like.

Dog Rose + Lapwing

Dog Rose + Lapwing

I’ll type out the notes from this page down below.

I had fun and created a old fashioned looking greeting card with this Dog Rose watercolor I did. Click to see it in the shop, it has pink inside and you can add your own text. Click your back button to return.
On the way to the top

On the way to the top

This photo shows just how gorgeous the views were; I wanted to stop and paint all the time! But if you don’t keep walking you’ll never see as much, so on I went. (click it to see it in my shop larger)

Yup, that's me!

Yup, that's me!

Yes, well, that’s me! I was happy to be out walking alone, stopping as I pleased and discovering interesting things, like the butterflies below.

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly

This is a tattered looking Painted Lady, it looks similar to the Tortoiseshell below, but see how that one is dark in the center around the body?

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

This small little Tortoiseshell butterfly looks like it’s been through some weather, maybe even escaped a birds beak?  I saw quite a few butterflies along the little dirt lane I walked on, I think they enjoyed the windbreak of the stone wall that followed it.

At the Roman Fort site, wow, buttercups!

At the Roman Fort site, wow, buttercups!

(Click to see this picture as a glossy note card) This picture is at the top of the hill where the Roman Fort used to be. There are piles of stones around in a big rectangle shape, all that is left of it now. The Buttercups were so pretty, I crouched down low to get this shot, I liked the angle of it.

Here are the notes I wrote on my page: ” Headed to the Old Roman Fort. Sitting here now- it’s so beautiful the scene. Skylark is singing to my right + sheep are calling down the valley behind me. I don’t have time to paint the landscape, I have too much to do at home. 🙁  oh…I couldn’t resist! Quick watercolor sketch!” (See below!)

Small watercolor view from top of Edlingham

Small watercolor view from top of Edlingham

I’m so glad I took some time to do this little watercolor, now I look at it in my field journal and can remember the scene so well.  I sat on a huge rock of the fort, with my feet up and set a little container of water besides me. I used regular watercolor brushes for this one. I first laid on washes of blue and quickly lifted areas with a tissue for clouds. Then overlapping (on purpose) the blue near the horizon, I put pale green hills. The blue showed through and it made very nice distant hills, keep it soft and pale for this. Then I put various patches of greens for the fields in front.

View from Top, "Ah, this is the life!"

View from Top, "Ah, this is the life!"

I used this picture to create a glossy note card for those who love hiking, click on the picture to see my “people in landscapes” but I also created one that says on it: “Ah, this is the life!” I guess that says it all, you’ll find that one in my shop here.

More posts coming as I catch up! Please sign your email in the box at the right if you’d like to be notified. Exciting news coming soon about Creative Journaling and Sketching tours!

Studies of the Coast near Cullernose Point

Come with me on a sunny, breezy stroll along the Northumberland coast of England, south of Cullernose Point and Dunstanburgh Castle.

South of Cullernose Point, Northumberland

This sketch is done looking northwards while I sat on the grass. I used one water soluble “Inktense” pencil (Ink Black) by Derwent, ; after doing a light sketch I wet it with my waterbrush to create tonal values. It’s like doing an ink wash sketch, great for quick sketches and you can go back over it later with color. The inktense pencils are relatively permanent once dry, so I’m experimenting with using the black then coloring later from photos. These colors of Inktense are very intense, so you need to practice and go lightly with your pressure. You can also achieve very black areas which I like.

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Drawing near Cullernose Point

Here I am with my field sketchbook, what a view! (click on the picture to see it as a note card with a quote by Pablo Picasso)

Enjoy the many photographs I took below, they show the things we discovered as we walked and some I used later to do sketches from at home.

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

It’s funny, once you learn about something you start noticing it more and more, as is the case with snails for me. Now when we walk I see them everywhere!

Brown Lipped Snails

Brown Lipped Snails

These are Brown Lipped Snails; notice the brown line at the edge of their shell. I just love the striped patterns they have.

Pool with Grey Heron

Pool with Grey Heron

This is looking down from the coastal path we walked on, there is a Grey Heron in that pool down there.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Well spotted! He’s a beauty; we watched him fish in the pool as I took pictures from afar.

View of the coastal rocks we explored

Here’s another view of the coast where we walked. You can see two figures walking on the path ahead, that’s where we’ll be going.

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

When we ‘clambered’ down to the shore, (hey it’s an old word but it fits here!), we found lots of Limpets, snails and Periwinkles. It wasn’t until I looked at my pictures on the computer later that I noticed the bug, a “Sea Slater”, how interesting! The Limpets are living creatures that cling very tightly to the rocks, you’ll see a watercolor sketch below of one I did.

Yellow Scales

Yellow Scales

This is called Yellow Scales, a type of lichen that grows near the coast on rocks. It’s very beautiful along with the whitish lichens and grey rocks.

Southern Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

When we returned to the top of the cliffs, we found these small unusual orchids growing here and there. I was surprised at how tiny they were and may have passed them by if Gary didn’t point them out. As near as I can tell they are Southern Marsh Orchids, if anyone knows better, please let me know!

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

This photo will show you how tiny they were, the orchid is just in front of my sketchbook. I just lay in the grass and did a tiny light, sketch with a pencil. (click to see this and other photos like this, in my shop)

Shell and Flower studies

Shell and Flower studies

When I got home I downloaded my photos and did these studies from the laptop. I used watercolors for these, but using Titanium White this time for the white highlights and ‘wet’ look. I don’t usually use white paint, I rub or scrape off to create lights, but I quite liked using the paint for the glaze look. You can read my list of things we saw while there that day on my page.

Studies of Grey Heron

Studies of Grey Heron

The little studies at the top of the page show my experiment with “Inktense” and just a black watercolor pencil, using watercolor pencil to color it. I wanted to see how much the blacks would lift or blend, hoping they wouldn’t. As I thought the Inktense didn’t lift as well and that’s exactly what I wanted.

The heron studies are also done from the laptop, just painted without sketching him out first. The little one in the left corner was an experiment of painting solid blue water then lifting color and using white paint to add the heron after. I’m not thrilled with how it came out but you should always experiment!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this walk by the sea. Get outside and bring a small sketchpad with you, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll see when you sit and start to draw things around you; a whole new world opens up before your eyes.

Here’s a little video clip of the waves washing over the rocks where we were, enjoy!

NOTE: Many of the photographs in this post have been made into beautiful glossy note cards and gifts and are in my shop (home page link). There are many more besides the links in this post, I hope you have a look and please pass it on to friends!

“A Glorious Spring Morning” 4-23-10

Come walk with me on my Spring morning hike at Long Lane Farm!

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Below is the first page in my small field sketchbook from today, I’ll type what it says below in case my handwriting is hard to read! (Click the photos for larger view, drawings are already enlarged.)

"A Glorious Morning!" 4-23-2010 pg 1

"A Glorious Morning!" 4-23-2010 pg 1

“A glorious morning! Frost on the ground and now at 9am it’s just wet in the sun, sparkles on the grass everywhere. The House Sparrows are chattering at the barn and a Song Sparrow has staked his claim to the back corner of the yard. Ginger waits in Fox Lane for me. Tree Swallows diving at each other near the nest box, constant twittering, bubbling, chatter. “

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

I saw some great birds today, the Tree Swallows are a joy to watch!  They swoop and turn and I’ve watched them play a game by snatching up chicken feathers from the ground while in flight, then carrying it up high they drop it and another bird will catch it out of the air! I can’t get over the glossy green blue of their feathers.

me sketching

me sketching

Here’s a picture of me sketching in the lane, wearing my tall mud boots (Wellies), winter coat, bag for sketch supplies and my camera with the long lens. I like to cross the strap diagonally from my shoulder as it takes pressure off my neck and back better.

"Budding Tree" 4-23-2010 pg 2

"Budding Tree" 4-23-2010 pg 2

“Song Sparrow over and over, cardinal in the treeline and a crow, gurgling of the Red Winged Blackbird and Tree Sparrows. Such a sound! Now a Yellow Shafted Flicker…off up the field somewhere. I hear a Field Sparrow now at the maze.”

The trees are just starting to bud, looking up at them in the sunlight they looked like little gems glittering on the tips of branches.

Bluebirds

Bluebirds

I was so happy to see a pair of Bluebirds have chosen one of the houses in the field, the Tree Sparrows have claimed the other one.

"Secret Circle Lane" 4-23-2010 pg 3

"Secret Circle Lane" 4-23-2010 pg 3

I had fun discovering tadpoles, snails and a tiny red mite on “Secret Circle Lane”, all in the freezing cold water flooding the lane.

Water Mite

Water Mite

As I wrote in my sketchbook, I was finally able to scoop up a ‘red dot’ floating in the water. Later I was able to study the tiny red dot from the photos I took and found out it’s a Water Mite. Before it got any ideas of how tasty my finger would be I released it back into the water!  I’d like to know what they do live on or how they live.

Here’s a short video clip I shot while standing over the flooded lane (now promise you won’t laugh at me!) :

"The Wet Woods" 4-23-2010

"The Wet Woods" 4-23-2010

I walked into the wet woods and standing in 4″ of water I did this tiny watercolor sketch of the dead tree. What fascinated me the most was how the shadows and sunlight dappled on the ground and tree branches

"Snail Study" 4-23-2010

"Snail Study" 4-23-2010

Once home I looked at my photos on the computer screen and did this little watercolor study of a snail and two tadpoles. I haven’t identified the snail yet, but it was amazing to see when it was floating in the water it wriggled until it looked like it was out of it’s shell. It was a queer blue color, I never saw one like it.

Go here to find note cards and gifts of this Snail and Tadpoles painting.

"Water Mite + Snail Study" 4-23-2010

"Water Mite + Snail Study" 4-23-2010

The shell of the snail was not flashy or patterned boldly but I think it was beautiful in it’s own subtle way. It looked almost of a gunmetal grey with a cream background.

“Winter Sketches, New Years Eve”

Winter Wasp

I have a few sketches to share that came before New Years Eve day, I’ve been getting behind on my updates here! So just a few sketches, the above one is a wasp that paid a visit to my bathroom windowsill. I wasn’t even sure what it was at first because it was so small. But I’m pretty sure it’s a wasp, I helped him find his way outside! What was really neat is that I held a magnifying glass up to study him, I was able to see so much more!

Thistle and Chickens in Winter

Then just the other day I realized it had been forever since I went outside and did some sketching in my field sketchbook. So, though it was in the Teens I ventured out with small sketchbook and simple ink pens in hand. I also brought my camera and had fun taking black and white photos till my fingers absolutely froze. I drew these sketches wearing big fat mittens, it was really hard!

December 29, 2009 journal

These are notes from the back  of my journal from that day. It’s  a small sketchbook that I made myself and in the back are pages made from cheap computer paper just for note taking freely.

Ink sketches of weeds in the snow

“Dead weeds…seeds awaiting Spring..so is it really ever dead? Awaiting a warmer time in a warmer clime.”

New Years Eve watercolor sketch

I hope my writing is readable, I wrote it after dropping my sketchbook into the snow and the paper was damp! It really may look simple but looking back at this little sketch reminds me exactly of the day and standing there to paint it.

New Years Eve 2009 journal

Though I’ve scanned my pages above I’ll type them out so you can read them better. This is what I wrote in the back section of my sketchbook where I just write my thoughts.

“December 31, 2009-New Years Eve, I walked across the yard, the ice crunching under my boots, and reaching the side of the yard with bushes, weeds + trees. I stopped as a Mourning dove flew from a distant tree. I stood still and just waited, listened + watched. Then I noticed a group of house sparrows in the treeline, clustered together like a friendly band of cheerful friends. I remained still. Then I saw a sparrow closer this time, oh it’s a Chipping Sparrow! With a red cap! He’s looking for seeds on the weed heads, I remained still. Two Blue Jays silently flew from one tree to the next and then a tiny Chickadee…followed by another…then a woodpecker (Downy) made it’s appearance followed by the whirring sound of doves wings. Overhead now I hear a flock of Canadian Geese coming..one, two, three….23! Just standing silent at the yards edge in Winter, so much life if you stop and watch and listen. Now they seem to all have moved on…time for me to move on.”

Looking forward to the New Year!

Mary McAndrew

“New Bugs and Wildflowers” 6-14-09

Today I went for another walk on Long Lane Farm with my 4 legged companion Ginger. Below I have a page from my sketchbook journal where I show a fun technique of using a frame as a design element. If you keep a few ‘frame’ templates in your field kit you can have some fun tracing them. Some template ideas could be a post it note, an index card, maybe the lens cap from your camera (I thought of this one while sitting and drawing today) and what I used here was a simple refrigerator magnet that has the center that pops out. I think if you take more time to play with this you can really do some nice designs!
field-study-flowers

field-study-flowers

Clockwise from the top left you can see a Daisey in the grass, then the male Oriole popping his head through the oak leaves at the top of a VERY high old oak. Above that a yellow wildflower that I think is ‘King Devil’ a type of Hawkweed, then ‘Fleabane’, the little pink flower underneath the Oriole. The bottom right is a very pretty wildflower that I found in the Maze..anyone help me with this one? (I have photos of these wildflowers coming up.) In the frame are ‘Common’ or ‘Tall Buttercups’ and around the frame I listed the names of birds I saw or heard today.

field-study-grasses

field-study-grasses

On the second page I just used the micron permanent pen and drew some grasses.  On the right are ‘Soft Rushes’, their pliable stems are what would be used to weave mats or baskets and next to it some type of sedge. The rushes are more closely related to lilies than grasses, my field guide says and I know the stem is round. It’s neat to follow the stem to the top with your fingers and feel how absolutely perfect a point it comes to. The sketch next to it is of some type of sedge, honestly I can’t find it in my guide.  They had a most interesting design in their growth, three leaves jutting out from the top in different directions and the clustered seed pods looking like spikey critters! It had a triangular stem which reminds me of the saying…”Sedges have edges”.

tree-swallow-youngster

tree-swallow-youngster

I snapped this shot as I was leaving the yard, just after his mom or dad had visited the hole. What a face! haha!

fleabane

fleabane

And here’s the pretty pink ‘Daisy Fleabane’, people used to hang it in their houses to keep away the fleas…not sure if it worked! I have a big clump of these sprouted up in my front flower bed and they are really pretty. Many people would have yanked it thinking ‘weed’, but well, it has lots of company with all the other weeds!

white-flower

white-flower

This is the mystery flower, can anyone help me identify it? I love the fine fuzz on it, as I look at a close up picture, it catches the sun. They were growing together in a patch in the middle of the Maze.

yellow-flower

King Devil-Hawkweed

I think this is called King Devil a type of Hawkweed; I found it growing at ‘Aspen Hall’ a shady area along the lane just before the Maze. It has fine bristly hairs all over it and the flowers were all confined to just the top of one long stem. I had to move grasses to find the leaves, which were tucked low at ground level.

white-moth

white-moth

This white moth was interesting to study. I spotted him when Ginger and I were returning along ‘Oak Lane’, it was flitting eratically along the path, as butterflies do. I kept following it to try and get a picture and I’m sure it knew it was being followed. I thought about how strange it is for a WHITE butterfly to be amonst so much green! It stands out like a sore thumb, well I have a feeling this photo will teach you something. When it landed instead of staying on top of the leaf and closing it’s wings, it very quickly flipped under the leaf and laid it’s wings out. Now you’d think oh I’ll still see the white, but no, the green leaf reflected on it’s wings and it now looked green! How cool is that? If you ask questions as you stand and watch the bugs and critters around you, you’ll start to notice details you never thought of before.

oriole-male

oriole-male

Here is the gloriously beautiful male Baltimore Oriole! I love seeing them, such an intense orange and yellow breast set off by deep black like velvet! He’s way up in an oak tree looking down at me, can you tell? I love this picture of him. This was along Oak Lane and I ended up standing still here for quite a long time. I kept hearing several different birds give their warning chirp like they had babies near.

oriole-nest

oriole-nest

I’m glad I stood as long as I did, I caught sight of what I guessed was a female Oriole and studied where she disappeared to. Aha! They have a nest way up in the oak tree, hanging out over the path! It’s amazing that birds can actually weave a basket nest like this in the tree and it supports the eggs and adult, later all growing into heavier fledglings. If you look close you can just see the female through the leaves, leaning down into the nest to feed the babies.

green-bug

green-bug

I think this little green guy who came to visit me while I was eating and painting was really neat! I haven’t found him yet in my field guide, I think I need another bug guide to cross reference.

black-beetle

black-beetle

And last we have a very black, very shiney beetle…no I don’t think it’s this beetle but I’d love to hear some suggestions? Closest I’ve come is either a ‘Ground Beetle’, or ‘Red Legged Ham Beetle’ or a ‘Blue Milkweed Beetle’.

I hope you enjoyed the walk with me today, so much was seen and discovered in what looks just like an ordinary field and woodland edge. Take time to stand or sit still and just watch what the creatures around you do. And you’ll see so much more if you look a  bit closer at the ground, grasses or flowers as there is always something living there.

Please post a comment if you like and if you may know what my bugs or flowers are, please lets have a stab at it!

Here’s the books I referenced after my hike today:

RD Wildflowers

Reader's Digest Wildflowers Guide

NWF Field Guide to Insects and Spiders NAm

Nat.Wildlife Fed. Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of N. America

Wildflowers-Peterson-First-Guides

Wildflowers-Peterson-First-Guides


“Spectacled Owl” (waiting in the Dr.’s office) 5-21-09

I like to keep my field kit ready at hand to grab and it was a good thing today. I had a doctor’s appointment that I knew would be a long wait and lucky I had my kit. I threw a handful of 4×5 owl photos from my trip to England, into my bag; this will give me a chance to sketch some ideas for larger paintings. Here is the sketch of a young Spectacled Owl sitting on my gloved hand at the Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland.

"Spectacled Owl Sketch"

“Spectacled Owl Sketch”

I’ll be working on this some more and then post it, not sure if it’ll be watercolor or not. You can see a picture of me holding him on my “About Me page.


“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. http://www.derwentwatermarina.co.uk/Walking 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.

“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! Ok..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!