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Today I went for a walk with Ginger. We ventured forth out into the wet lanes and fields, the mud sucking at our feet, water swirling as we waded. Not all my land is wet mind you, but this time of year it certainly is in some areas. I start my post off today with my drawings of the little snail I met while out walking, because I knew you’d be curious to see him.
Little Golden Snail Sketches
I did these studies actually back at my studio while looking at him under a magnifying glass. I did some while in the field (you’ll see below) but it was so small it was hard to really get a good look at him while I sat on a log! So he came home for a visit. I first lightly sketched him with pencil then drew with a permanent ink pen and then watercolor on that. After I drew the swirly curly border I drew over it with one watercolor pencil then just dragged a wet waterbrush over all of it to soften it and make the color bleed out a bit.
Now back to our walk.
Secret Circle Lane
This is “Secret Circle Lane”, as wet as it always is in springtime; (click it for high res. view in my shop) how pretty reflecting the sky like that! Ginger and I crept quietly along through this water because I heard an interesting call from some kind of frog along with the zillions of peepers that were singing.
Here’s a short video clip I shot while standing in the water, just to let you hear the sound of the Peepers calling.
Ah yes, the trusty boots! Can’t go anywhere without these mud boots or “Wellies”. Well these boots weren’t made for “walkin” they were made for “sloshin”!! I did see some interesting little critters in the water before our feet disturbed it, some snails and a few water beetles.
Oh, and there’s me…had to show you my favorite hat of all time and my Dad’s hunting coat! The hat I bought in England at a farm supply shop, where they sell the expensive horsey equipment and clothes. Well it WAS expensive too, BUT well worth ever penny! It’s waterproof, lined for warmth, has a flap that drops down over your ears and makes it fit your head like a helmet and has an elastic cord that goes under your chin for high winds. When the wind blew hard on the high hills of Northumberland, my wonderful hat stayed put!! The other nifty thing is it has a little button on the brim you click and you get two settings of led lights! High power beams!! I’m telling you we’ve used it to find our way on paths past dusk and it’s great for visiting old castle ruins because you can point your beam into dark places that you wouldn’t have seen before. I should get paid money to promote this hat!
And the wonderful old Woolrich hunting coat my dad gave me so I love it. He used to put it on when going out hunting, I still remember seeing him in the kitchen with the pants on with bright red suspenders and laughing playing like he was Santa! It is covered with pockets and has a special pocket at the back for carrying your ‘game’ home in. I have been known to carry sketchbooks there and always keep a spare kitchen size garbage bag for sitting on wet ground.
Crocuses in Aspen Hall
I told you before that we planted flowers in “Aspen Hall”, here’s two little crocuses I wanted to sketch. Click to see a note card of it where you can zoom in and see it bigger.
I love the close up pictures of this pretty little golden snail. I spotted him on the ground amongst the leaf litter, but in the sun he glistened like gold. I took my tiny Olympus camera on the macro setting and shot this picture through a close up part of my magnifying glass! It really works at getting a little closer. Click on the pictures to view note cards that you can view close up.
golde snail pointy end up!
Here’s another shot of him, I love the form of the shell twisting up like that.
Studying the snail closely for sketches
Now this picture is important because it shows you how tiny he was and when you need reading glasses to see things better, it doesn’t help. The other thing that made it difficult to draw him in the field was sitting on one little log made my back hurt terribly so I was not comfortable. I wrote my notes and did some little sketches anyways.
golden snail peeking at me
Another great shot, I love the patterns in the shell that the sunlight catches. And notice the subtle color that runs up through those eye stalks? I notice how well it matches the dead stick he was crawling on.
My Journal page
Here’s my actual journal page from my time sitting in “Aspen Hall”, go ahead and click it to read it.
Tiny Golden Snail with metallic gold watercolor paint added.
Now I had a little more fun with the snail studies I did by using some metallic watercolor paint on them. I took some pictures of the snail paintings tipped at an angle to catch the sun and really show the metallic watercolor paint I added on top. It was a lot of fun using it and really made it look like the snail did, it sparkled in the sun!
Golden Snails in watercolor with gold metallic watercolor over.
And one more shot showing the glitter in the full sun.
I hope you enjoyed our walk today and you didn’t even have to get your feet wet! 😉 Don’t forget to visit my SHOP by clicking the pictures above to see note cards of the little golden snail or the landscape photos in this post.
Here’s a note card using the watercolor studies:
Speaking of snails I’m honored to say there’s a wonderful blog written by two talented women one of which was inspired by my posts about the snail I found and did studies of while I was in England! Have a look here: “The Dao of Doing”
Well you can see by the date on my sketch page above, that I’m way behind on my posts! I had another very nice visit to the sea on this day, at Howick Haven in Northumberland England, one of our favorites. There are many rock pools to explore when the tide goes out and that’s just what I did before settling down on a rock perch to draw the above sketch. (Click on it to see it as a glossy note card with text removed) You can read my little note about how it’s damp and chilly, my hands got so stiff it was hard to draw. Then there were too many people walking around for my liking, when they see someone sitting alone on some rocks sketching they get curious and come out pretending to explore just to peek over your shoulder. Well I don’t mind really, many times I chat with nice folks this way. (Hey if you ever see someone out drawing in nature and you think it’s me, introduce yourself!!)
Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack full page
This is a picture of the whole sketch page to show you my list of what we saw there, I also listed my pencil colors. When you look closer at little things around you, you’ll be amazed at how much more you see. When you start to identify and learn about these things you will see them many more times. One of the new ‘discoveries’ of the day was a Green Chiton, wow it was so cool! (see below)
Green Chiton in the water
This Chiton was a gorgeous green with black trimming. Gary found it when I coaxed him out to have a ‘play’ like me around the rock pools, looking for interesting things. It was settled under water in a shallow pool, looking similar to a Limpet that clings tightly to rocks. This was unique in that it was oval shaped, and segmented like a pill bug, it could curl it’s shell! I want to do a little color study of it when I have time.
Green Chiton curled up
This is what it looked like when touched, it curled slowly. Don’t worry, it was soon placed safely back into the tidal pool.
pencils + drawing of seaweed with limpet
I wanted to show you my set up with the laptop because the weather was so damp and chilly it was impossible for me to finish my color sketch on the spot. I took lots of photos and then at home just referred to my laptop screen to finish details and colors. Those are all the watercolor pencils I used laid out on the side. I had the sketch book and pencils on a little board on top of the keyboard. I used a variety of watercolor pencil types, mostly Derwent with a few Prismcolor, both great brands to use. As I studied the colors in the Bladder Wrack, this sort of ugly seaweed became more interesting to me. I liked the subtle colors of olive and yellow, the form of the leaves as they lay curling on the rocks and the fascinating little ‘bladders’ of air sacs on them to help them float, with little bumps all over them. What perked up the painting was adding light blue washes here and there where the light was hitting the wet surfaces.
I ended up using the permanent black marker to really define the drawing forms, to ‘dig in’ to dark areas and make them stand out more. I also like the way ink can loosen up a drawing and keep it from looking stiff.
Below I’ve added lots of random photos from my short visit to the coast here in Northumberland England, please have a look and enjoy my day with me! (Some I’ve made note cards of, you’ll see them in my shop when you click on those photos; you can hover over them in the shop to see close up views!)
The Beach-Tides going Out
You see some of the pools here, the beach and high dunes where we park the car are in the distance. Not a very sunny day!
Limpets along a rock
A nice photo showing the Limpets and Bladder Wrack (so named for the little ‘bladders’ on their leaves).
Dunlin wading in the water
My birdy expert friend Stuart over at “The Boulmer Birder” helped me out with this ID, it’s a Dunlin.
Immature Pied Wagtail
This Pied Wagtail had my scratching my head, I’m still new to the birds of England but thought this was a Wagtail but it had no bib. Thanks to Stuart for telling me it is a Wagtail but the immature ones lack the bib.
Cormorant + Friends
Some more popular shore birds, a Cormorant, Gulls and an Oystercatcher. I love the Oyster-catcher’s red beak and very black and white plumage when they fly.
Grey Heron and Oyster Catcher
Can’t forget the Grey Heron, sorry he’s a bit blurry, I had to zoom in a lot to get him. They are incredibly shy, hard to get near so the zoom comes in handy.
This is Dunstanburgh Castle, it’s just north of Craster along the coast. From Howick Haven you can see it in the distance, I zoomed again for this one.
My Boots at the Beach
Then there’s the ‘ol boot picture! Just to show I do kick back sometimes and take in the beautiful scenery. (I have a bunch of cool boot note cards for those people who like hiking, click on the picture to check ’em out in my shop, more coming all the time!)
Meadow Pipit singing up in the dunes
One more bird, we saw this one while we were walking up on the dunes and as the caption says, it’s a Meadow Pipit.
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
The final beautiful picture I leave you with today is the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. I spotted him flying around in the grasses, also up on the dunes. Just love his furry little body and gorgeous colors! Click on the picture to see many photos I’ve taken of these beauties!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk with me at the coast. I hope you visit my shop to see the note cards I made, explore my many categories there to see other photographs and paintings. http://www.zazzle.com/marymcandrew*
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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.
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
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
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
This is looking down from the coastal path we walked on, there is a Grey Heron in that pool down there.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
I’ve been studying my snail Cuthbert, and really learning a lot of interesting facts. I know they’re slimy, strange little creatures that eat your garden plants, but they still merit study in my opinion. So I went outside the strange thing was I just walked over to a huge Sycamore tree and felt directed to look right at it’s base in the long grasses, tucked between some big roots. I pulled the grass aside and there, lo and behold two snails! I must have felt the “Snail Vibes” hahah.
big snail photo
One of the snails was this big guy (or girl!) that has now been named “Jabba the Hut”! He’s munching on some sweet corn here. Enjoy the simple stages of painting in watercolor shown below, to give you an idea of how I paint them.
big snail stage 1- ink
First I did drawings using light pencil, then go over it my micro permanent pen, keeping it simple and cartoon-like so I could add the detail with watercolor.
big snail stage 2
Then I look at the snails to see what pale color I see ‘underneath’ the other darker colors. I make a wash of this color and put it on, and while it’s wet, sometimes I drag a bit more of the wash or color into areas I want darker, with the tip of my brush.
big snail stage 3
Here you can see I’m just adding a bit more details and colors, keeping it simple. Look for dark patterns and be careful to leave light or white areas alone.
big snail stage 4
Sorry my stages kind of jumped here, I think I got busy and didn’t photograph any more stages! But all I did was kept looking for pattern, colors and shapes, let areas dry before adding new patterns so it doesn’t all blur together. If it does, take your paper towel tip and push it on the area to blot it, rub with brush tip and repeat until you get it lightened. You can add dappley marks with your brush tip for texture.
big snail stage 4 + paint
This is my sketch book along side my pan of watercolors, this is what I used to paint them.
Well my snail has been named as I said before, “Cuthbert”, after St. Cuthbert the patron Saint of Northumberland. I did some more studies of him as he’s growing.
Cuthbert close-up, in color
This is a close up of the watercolor study I did, it’s shown below first as a black and white ink.
Pages 2 + 3 studies in ink
Click on the images to read my notes. Cuthbert has already grown a few millimeters; the dark part on his shell is new growth.
Page 2 of colored studies
Here’s the same studies colored in with watercolor.
Page 3 of colored studies
This is the last page of my studies. I added to these pages on different days until I filled the two pages, but most was done in the first sitting.
Well Cuthbert says hello and goodbye, time to go and eat more carrots! Don’t worry, more snail sketches coming again! Don’t forget to visit my shop to see glossy note cards and other gifts with my sketches, paintings and photographs on them.
Today is a tale of meeting a snail, hmm…I feel a poem coming on…maybe later.
We went to Alnmouth and explored all around the dunes and on the beach. As we walked between the great high dunes to reach the beach, I couldn’t resist stopping to pick up so many pretty coiled shells. I didn’t have my usual field painting bag with me so I ended up filling my little purse! Those that were packed with sand I plopped into a dish of water to soak once I got home. Imagine my surprise when the next morning I found one of the ‘shells’ crawling up my coffee pot! (Lucky it wasn’t on!)
Well I quickly made his acquaintance and before you knew it he had food and shelter. At first he lived in a little plastic jar with the lid on very loosely on, but now he’s in a glass jar on it’s side with nice mosses to hide under. Click on the page below and read the notes I wrote as I painted his picture that day.
Snail Studies pg 1
My set up with the Model
Here’s my set up while I painted him, he was on the little plate with lettuce etc. but then slide off, and went up the brass lamp about halfway, this is when I took a bathroom break! When I returned I put him on top of my waterbottle, for this picture. I’m using the watercolor pan I take in the field with me all the time, it’s got a good selection of half pans. I used permanent ink marker to draw over my penciled sketches then used watercolor with regular brushes to color. On the right side you can see a rectangle shaped silver thing, that’s my little light up magnifier for reading maps; it’s great for field work.
Close up of snail studies
Here’s a close up of two of the snail studies with notes.
This painting makes me laugh, I did it with just watercolors. He was escaping from the plate…so I called it “Escargo Escapee”…he didn’t want to give me any ideas when I was hungry! The funny thing is I think he’s a copse snail…so a copse snail is escaping…but shouldn’t he be a robber snail then? (Oh gosh I know that’s corny!)
Cuthbert the snail with the shells I found
One more picture for now, more to come soon. I love this shot of him with the empty shells I found…poor thing, he’s probably crawling around them saying,”Where’d everybody go?” I decided to name him Cuthbert after the Patron St. of Northumberland, we found him near the cross for St. Cuthbert in Alnmouth.
Here’s a great website I found on snails, this page has a diagram on shell parts and helps with identifying your snail:
I have already drawn more pages of sketches and I’m recording changes in his shell growth. Please come back soon to see what happens to him! I have created some really neat gifts with these snail images on them, please have a look and pass the link to my shop onto your friends!
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