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Sad Aster

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Do you remember when I took that walk in November, hunting for acorn caps? Well I wrote about a little White Aster I came across, alone in the field. Here is what I wrote in that post:

“And one little Aster in the middle of the ‘Maze’, an overgrown field with paths I cut years ago. The white Aster looked up at me with it’s tiny little face, and asked if winter was coming soon? I told it to prepare and go to sleep before the snow falls. It was sad but missed it’s friends, as they had all gone, so it nodded it’s head and drooped a little in it’s tiny stem.”

(c)Aster 3

“Sad Aster go to sleep, before the snow falls cold and deep.”

At the time I saw it, I just saw a white Aster and thought about it alone there, but I didn’t give it feelings and talk to it. That was my creative mind putting my feelings onto a tiny flower and as soon as I wrote that paragraph a new character was born! Yes, as soon as I wrote that post I wrote a poem called “Sad Aster” and then I did some sketches.

(c)Aster 1

“Your friends are gone, the field is empty,
Where once they stood in numbers plenty.”

I’m quite pleased with the little poem and now will work on illustrating it, creating more of a character.

"..before the snow falls cold and deep."

“..before the snow falls cold and deep.”

I just thought it’d be interesting to share with you how one walk in nature, when combined with my emotions and thoughts, will sometimes evolve (in my mind) into something other people can relate to.

"Little Aster cold and white, Go to sleep this cold, dark night."

“Little Aster cold and white,
Go to sleep this cold, dark night.”

I wish I could share the whole poem but I guess I should wait until it can be published properly.

Worried little Aster

Worried little Aster

While I’m warm in my house, I hope she’s sleeping soundly out there under the foot of snow we got this weekend! 😉 Well for now I have to put “Sad Aster” aside while I catch up on some mice illustrations I started, it never ends….so much to do! I’ve also created some small needle felted animals in wool with wire armatures so they are pose-able, and continue to do small experiments with wet felting. One of these days I’ll open an Etsy shop so I can sell them, but for now I must concentrate on my illustrations!

PS. Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending for Sad Aster! 😉

A New Sketchbook!

My New Sketchbook! (please click pictures for clearer view)

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

Sometimes you just need a new sketchbook. A fresh start along a new path. Something that allows you to jot down all your creative ideas, no matter how small. I’ve put so much of my art career on hold this past year because of preparing to move to England. Lately (as you may know) I’ve been exploring the art of felt making and silk painting and that ties in here too! I wanted a sketchbook that I could draw ideas in and tape things in like a scrap book. So I created this big sketchbook that is meant to stay in the studio, not venture outside for hikes.

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

A sketchbook to an artist is like a living thing; we tell it our inner thoughts and ideas, inspirations, by drawing, writing and painting in it. It becomes the very closest, best friend you’ve ever had! Sometimes we share what’s on the pages freely, enjoying the reaction and feedback from those we share it with. But it’s also nice to have a sketchbook that is just for you, that you decide how much of it you’ll share. Most of my sketchbooks the past few years, have been very public; nature sketches done while walking here in New York or in England. I LOVE sharing them! When I was in England it was enjoyable to let interested strangers look through my pages, finding out what they liked best, hearing their comments about places I painted that they recognized. But my new sketchbook I’m ‘allowing’ myself to share only what I want, PHEW! It’s funny the feeling of freedom you get just making that decision as a teacher and one who loves sharing their work.

The first page in my sketchbook, totally geared towards felting and silk painting.

The first page in my sketchbook, totally geared towards felting and silk painting.

This is the first page in my sketchbook; you can see it’s all geared towards felting and silk painting. Instead of worrying about this new love distracting me from my illustration and painting, I embraced it because I saw it as good practice while my mind is occupied with other things. I taped some watercolor studies in later used the space around for more notes and ideas.

Working on the letter "S".

Working on the letter “S”.

I drew the letters free-form on the cover (which by the way is a piece of colored mat board), later realizing that I should have made them fatter. So I added onto them and it still worked alright. I had fun making the letters look like shiny ribbons.

Ok, what I love about my new sketchbook is the size! I used full sheets of 9 x 12″ papers from various sketchpads. I put bristol board, watercolor papers, card stock and plain drawing paper for an assortment and labeled each in tiny letters along the edge. This way I can continue to test and evaluate what paper I like best. I’m used to working in sketchbooks half this size for drawing and painting in the field.

My sketch in progress, for a new poem, "Red Dragonflies".

My sketch in progress, for a new poem, “Red Dragonflies”.

The very best thing I’ve found use for on these big pages, is that I can jot down a new poem and then right next to it do sketches of my ideas for illustrating it! I was in the garden in September and enjoyed watching two red dragonflies, landing on the leaves, sunning, glittering. When I went in the house I started writing a poem about them and did four stanzas. The next day I added two more and then at the end of the month I tied it up with two more! But the best thing is I sketched an idea of an illustration right next to it, while looking at photos I took of the dragonflies. As I have time I’m adding a bit of watercolor and working on the little sketch.

I also put notes around sketches for ideas of what to put in the painting, like colors and subjects, as below.

An idea I had for a funny illustration, while walking around my backyard.

An idea I had for a funny illustration, while walking around my backyard.

One day while walking around my yard I noticed the little paths that go into the tall grasses along the edges of my yard. I always look at these and imagine the critters who walk on them and think they’re great subjects for my stories. Well there’s a stray black cat that hangs around my yard sometimes and after seeing the paths and thinking of the cat, I drew this funny little sketch! The cat is waiting in the shadows…but he doesn’t look mean, is he going to eat them? Or is he a friend? The one mouse beckons to the other, “C’mon”….as you wonder what will happen. The little wren at the top looks on.

So there is the evolution of my new sketchbook! Lots going into it and I’ll try to post more soon! Please leave comments below, I love reading them and responding!

Sketch for a little girl mouse.

Sketch for a little girl mouse.

"The Daffodils" by William Wordsworth

Springtime Daffodils

Springtime Daffodils

With Spring making it’s appearance I thought it a good time to remember the beautiful poem by William Wordsworth, one of England’s most famous and loved poets. He wrote this poem inspired by a walk on April 15 by Lake Ullswater, in the Lake District, the shores of which even today are full of Daffodils “fluttering and dancing”. His sister Dorothy accompanied him, which I imagine happened a lot as they lived together, even after he married Mary Hutchinson.

His sister seems to have had a talent too, as she wrote in her “Grasmere Journal” there by the lake on April 15, 1802, “the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake”. I copied the entire text from Wikipedia of what she wrote and include it below, after her brother’s poem. I include it because I think it’s so beautiful and insightful and we know it inspired her brother a full two years later in 1804, to write his famous poem. Now I love hearing about someone using their journal like that, just as I would have done! And though they experienced this beautiful scene 211 years ago, we can still relate to it today, which is what makes it timeless.

“The Daffodils” or “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

To read more about William Wordsworth visit this page we created about him on the “Old School Tours” website.

Below click on the beautiful painting of Lake Ullswater by J. M. W. Turner to see it enlarged.

J. M. W. Turner – Ullswater from Gobarrow Park

It’s just ‘that beautiful’, but I especially like the dreamy way Turner captures the landscape.

“Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

And here’s the copied text of what his sister Dorothy wrote:

“When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up — But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed and reeled and danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway — We rested again & again. The Bays were stormy & we heard the waves at different distances & in the middle of the water like the Sea.”

—Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal Thursday, 15 April 1802

Now isn’t that beautiful? It sets the scene in a real way for the famous poem her brother was inspired to write. And we know the date he was inspired, even though he wrote the poem two years later, because Dorothy had entered it in her journal on April 15, 1802! Sometimes I look back at my journals and read the dates, comparing how the weather is ‘this’ year as to then. I noticed that last year on Easter Sunday I was out sketching frog eggs and thinking of renewel of the earth. This year the frogs are calling like mad but no eggs yet! Today I’m headed out for an ‘explore’, we’ll see if we can find some. The point is, even if you just jot down some notes about the weather, how your plants are growing, or the birds you see, you can look back and remember. You’ll be surprised at how fresh it will stay in your mind especially if you draw or paint things, because you take time to really study and absorb the scene.

Enjoy today folks, happy spring!

“A jocund company”

All photographs (c) Mary McAndrew

ps. Sorry I don’t have drawings of my daffodils, but I have been doing sketches of fuzzy buds and will post those next!

Spring Walk, Nature Notes and Poems

It’s been weeks since I’ve been out in the field sketching, and now that I’ve been out I feel renewed! I guess that’s how we should feel in Spring. I put on my Wellies or “Mud Boots” grabbed my sketch kit and camera and set out. Come with me and I’ll show you my walk with sketches and photos! (Please click on pictures to view clearer.)

Dried grasses in “Pasture Lane” on the way to the pond.

The first lane I walk in follows the pasture so it’s always been called “Pasture Lane”. No animals in the pasture now but still lots of wild things to look at. This lane has lots of nice dried rushes and sedges in it; I love this color, especially with the blue sky. It won’t be long I’ll be spotting all kinds of Nursery Web Spiders and underwater little nymphs and creatures.

Natural arch of branches on Long Lane

This is on “Long Lane”, looking towards “Aspen Hall” and it’s a natural archway of branches that’s been forming the past few years. I keep breaking branches when I go under it to keep it a bit under control! I’ve done sketches and paintings of it before, and not too long ago photographed it covered with snow! But as I was standing here I decided to go up “Memory Lane” to my left. This leads me to “Oak Lane”, one of my favorites, where I thought I’d check things out.

Woodpecker hole in dead tree by “Memory Lane”.

Just at this intersection the woods are quite wet and I always see dead trees with lots of woodpecker holes. This one looks like it’s been freshly pecked at.

One of the ancient oaks in “Oak Lane”, standing tall and strong.

I ended up in “Oak Lane” my favorite place on my property where the oaks are huge and tall, standing for many many generations. I made a little place to sit right up next to the tree at it’s base, by spreading my trusty garbage bag out, first checking for pokey sticks and bits. There I sat, ate a snack and enjoyed the peace, then did a small sketch of the grapevines growing about me. Hmm…funny but that seems sort of rhymy to me…lets see:

“Here I Sit”
Before I sat down
Upon leafy ground
I gave the spot a good scour
Where I’d while away the hour.
There were pokey sticks
And hard little bits
I had to clear before I sat,
So I could sit and have my snack.
Well, now here I sit
With favorite sketchkit
Having a think and a good look,
At what will go in my sketchbook.
by Mary McAndrew

Well that was fun! I just made that up!

Here’s the start of my “Grapevine” sketch

I put my sketchbook on my knees and decided to draw the big grapevine branch hanging near me…that’s it by my leg.

My watercolor palette, I just love the colors!

There’s a close up of my watercolor palette I take when I go afield, it’s getting pretty stained now and I’ll have to look for a new one. Some of my colors I have in temporary little plastic containers, just to see if I want to add them to the kit.

Using a waterbrush to paint.

This is one of my waterbrushes, it’s actually not one of the more expensive ones but it worked great for me today. It has good juicy water-flow and the tip stayed sharp for details. I also wrote words about the grapevine on the page that I’ll type out below:

“The grapevine grows greatly
reaching upwards with twisted limb.
It’s rough bark twisting tightly tense
along it’s sinuous length.
Great muscle of wooden rope reaching right up
to entangle and strangle it’s host.
And gentle innocent long trailing tendrils
Hang down from above,
stirring in the breeze
to tease.”
by Mary McAndrew

As I wrote the words I let my mind think poetically and freely. I knew later I’d like to write a poem from some of the words I found because I liked the way they sounded together. Here’s the finished sketch below and then the new poem follows:

Grapevine sketch and words done in the field.

Here’s my little poem I wrote just now while looking back at the words:

“The Grapevine”
Grapevine growing greatly
Reaching upwards with twisted limb,
Rough bark twisting tightly
Tense, sinuous and slim.
Great muscle of wooden rope
Reaching right up to entangle,
Clinging to unwilling host
As you wind about to strangle.
Gentle, innocent tendrils trail
Stirring in the breeze.
Stronger than you look so frail,
Climbing any tree you please.
by Mary McAndrew

Watercolor started in the field of purpley red bushes.

The watercolor above I did half in the field and half at home.  On my way back I stood in an field we call “The Maze”, because of all the intertwined paths in it, all cut by me years ago using a tractor and brush hog. It was very difficult to paint the stems while standing there in front of them, tired, cold…but I loved the colors so much and wanted to try and ‘study’ it. When I got back I looked at photos I took using my computer, and did more detail and study. I found myself using Dioxizine Violet mixed with Alizarin Crimson for most of the purpley colors; mixing it with Sepia made a nice shadow color. I had to use a bit of Cadmium Red to brighten up the color here and there. You can see my color notes on the left side there. By the way, I can’t really recall what the name of the bushes are, I think “Red Pannacled…something or other! Sorry, I packed all my field guides up, I’ll see if I can look for them.

The old stick bridge at “Aspen Hall”

This is the old stick bridge in “Aspen Hall”, I add to it every spring and summer, tossing on dead branches to go over the ditch. “Aspen Hall” is located along “Long Lane”, so I’ve done a circle and am coming back towards home now.

A very old car frame.

This is a very old car frame just sitting by the pasture, it’s been there ages! I think the former owner of the farm told me it was Model T or Model A …wooden spokes! How cool!

I’ll leave you with one more picture from my spring walk…

Ahhh…this is the life!

I didn’t want you to miss my favorite picture! I love taking pictures of my boots when I go hiking, wherever I am. In my shop I have pictures of my boots in England too! Go here to my shop then scroll down left side column and click “Hiking – Walking + Boots”

Hope you enjoyed our ramble!

Click on the pictures below to see my photos as note cards, it has a nice ZOOM feature that’s lets you look closely.

“Great Old Oak Tree” glossy note cards
“The Old Stick Bridge” glossy note cards
“Old Wheel” glossy note cards

“The Lightning Bugs”

I must report that this poor, suffering artist has not opened her sketchbook or touched her paints in over a month and a half! I say ‘poor and suffering’ just because of that fact! When I don’t get to paint my life just gets disjointed and unhappy fast! Well I’ve been focused on things like going through a big house myself and organizing for my someday move. Someday, the sooner the better, I’ll be moving to England, but now is preparation time. Selling things, packing things, donating things…you know the scene, total chaos! (and an aching back!)

But amidst this chaos sometimes the creativity just has to bubble out, and lately it’s been my poetry. Did you know I was a poet? Well I guess I am, I’m putting together all the poems I’ve written over the years (for children mostly) and now adding lots more. Once my life gets settled I’ll be working on illustrating them, YAY!!  You will start to see little characters appear here amongst the more ‘serious’ artwork and studies. I hope you’ll stick with me on my journey, I think it’s going to lead somewhere exciting, besides England and a new life with my sweetheart!

I have notes about the poem following it below.

“The Lightning Bugs”

I peer out my bedroom window
into the darkness
listening to the crickets
and frogs songs caress.

A peaceful end
to a long hot day,
a slight cool dark breeze
brings smells of summer night my way.

My fields and trees
are absolutely alive,
an incessant glittering sea
of the lightning bugs arise.

There is a twinkling of light
so clear
on this warm foggy night
Through and in and on
and around all the trees,
lime yellow lights are upon.

Then it continues
in a glimmering show
of electricity
across the grass of the yard
and out into the dark field it goes.

I long to be flying with them,
these little fairies of the night.
When we meet on stem,
it is them I shall know
as Flicker, Glimmer and Glow.

I’ve seen them before
when I was a child
caught them in my hand,
watched them glow
between my fingers
then let them go.

I shall meet them again
on dewy long nights
wandering quietly through the dark
sparkle of their lights.

(c) Mary McAndrew July 8, 2012

I wrote four stanzas of non rhyming lines in my journal the other night, after looking out my window at the lightning bugs. Though it didn’t rhyme I did keep a pace to it or rhythm, I guess you’d call that ‘free verse’. Then the next day as I typed it up I decided to make it rhyme and it also grew longer. In making it rhyme I found I had to stretch my thoughts more and I liked the way the ideas and feelings came across. This is what I LOVE about poetry, writing it and reading it! It can be a bit ‘abstract’ in thoughts but this can be what gives it such a feeling.

I always wish to paint a scene with Lightning Bugs but think it’d be rather hard, how would I do it?

I guess when I look out at the Lightning Bugs I feel a sort of longing, just like looking at the moon when I’m alone. So the poem, as I developed it above, has a feel of longing for childhood, magical memories. It might have been different if I wasn’t looking at them alone. Also I introduced the names “Flicker, Glimmer and Glow”. As I wrote the poem I thought of them and how I could create characters of a more light and delightful kind to write a story about for children.

I’m sharing the poem because I’d really like some feedback. If you could read it again aloud, especially to children, and see how it feels? Sounds? When I wrote it I meant for it to be read slowly, deliberately, quietly. This lends to a more somber mood though and I wonder would children find it peaceful? Would they prefer it read more lively? I’d love some feedback, please leave comments!

Spider in the Garden

Now I’ll freely admit, I’m WAY behind on my blog posting! I was doing so well at sketching all the time in my journal this summer and getting out for walks in my fields then sharing it with you, but life has been so busy this winter. I’ve been in Northumberland England the past few months and though I didn’t get as many paintings and sketches done as I would have liked, I do still have sketches and photos to share here. So I’ll try to post them even though they’re a little ‘old’!

This one is about a short walk to the ‘local’ castle, church and a spider in my front yard.

Stone steps into the churchyard, access for people but not for sheep!

Just down the road there’s a Church, St. John the Baptist, built in the 11c, and sometimes I go have a walk around the churchyard. My boyfriend doesn’t know why I think this is interesting but I’m just amazed at how old the gravestones are. I read the names and dates and think of the real people who lived long ago in this village.

Gate latch at the church

I love looking at old gates and this one is especially cool, the metal clasp lifts up so you can swing the gate open. Think of all the people over hundreds of years that have walked this path, maybe not the same gate but it’s been around awhile!

Meet Me There carving on gravestone

This is a popular carving theme on stones, the finger pointing upwards; I just love drawing banners too so I had to sketch it. It’s permanent ink pen, the date on this stone was 1900.

Gate to the castle

This picture was taken just next to the church, the gate on the left goes down a grassy lane to the castle in the distance, the one on the right goes into the farmers field, we won’t go that way! You can see an old viaduct in the distance, that used to be for a small railway that ran through this little town, I wish it was still here. The hills you see in the distance I climbed up with Gary, right to the top and oh what a view! Then we walked all the way back down and came over that viaduct and back to where I shot this picture. That was a looong walk for me!

Edlingham Castle

There’s the castle, not far now. This is Edlingham Castle built in the 12th c. On either side of the grassy path there are usually sheep or cows, remember the red cows I sketched not long ago? Here’s a link to Wikipedia about Edlingham Castle.

Edlingham castle ruins

You can walk all around this castle ruins for free, I like trying to imagine the original layout of it. You can see the viaduct in the background and the crags on the hill above that.

Spider in the garden

So I knew you’d be wondering, what about that spider you mentioned? Well when I got back from my stroll I discovered a spider in the front yard clinging to an old leaf and stem. Now I had to squat down and lean in really close to take this picture, I hope you appreciate how close I got to this spider to take it’s picture! I think spiders are really interesting but I still get scared of them and don’t want to touch them! shudder….

Spider sketch and poem

It had a web woven attached to it. I did a tiny sketch while crouched down to look at it, and I wrote the poem in bed one night after.  I thought his web was like window panes in the air. Here’s the poem:

“Spider in the Garden”

Spider in the garden
What do you see?
A world through a web
Where we are all free.
Through your silver floss
Little windows in the air,
You watch us ignoring you
As if we didn’t care.

Mary McAndrew

October, 11, 2011

Blackbird eating berries

I’ll leave you with one more picture, a Blackbird (female) eating berries in the tree.

"April Poem" 4-15-11

April is coming to a close soon, hopefully lets say goodbye to a wet, cold month!

April Poem

The last post I did a drawing on a very cold, damp day then I wrote this word “April” in my sketch journal and later colored it in while watching a movie. I had fun making it 3 dimensional and coloring it. Then two days later I wrote the poem while sitting in “Aspen Hall” while out for a walk on my land. I wrote it in the back of my journal first on lined paper then re-wrote it with watercolor pencil on the page here, and added the swirlies. I took a waterbrush and washed over it all to ‘release’ the color.

Here’s the short, simple poem, one of my un-serious poems!


April is the time of year
When cold winds blow,
And sun does cheer.

Buds are out and grass is greening,
Love sick birdies
All are preening.

Mary McAndrew 4-15-11

Enjoy the following photos from my walk.

Bush Blossoms

These bushes would have been easy to walk right by, their blooms aren’t showy like our garden shrubs. But if you stop to take notice and look a little closer they are really beautiful. Soft and delicate, with yellow tips, and then the sun shone through them they almost glowed like magic.

One of my really old oak trees

I have a line of really old oak trees, my farm is around 200 years old so I figure that’s how old these are. Their girth is such it would take several people to reach around their base. I love hugging this tree!

My seat in Aspen Hall

Just a simple pile of dead branches and small trees I have been adding to during the early spring. Aspen Hall is an area on my land that we used to sit in for picnics (my boys and I) and it’s been neglected over the past years. I’ve been going out to it whenever I go for a walk with Ginger.

Sap like a red jewel in the scar of a tree

I had to look closely at this red jelly like jewel in the tree scar. I took this picture using the closeup setting and making the camera look through my magnifier.

Old farm equipment in the woods

Another interesting find, some really old farm equipment! I think it’s so cool looking how it blends into the forest colors.

Old farm equipment in my woods

One last shot of the farm equipment; anyone know what it might be? It had plow ‘thingys’ on the back.

“Wind in the Willows” – Clouds and Crayons

April 14, 2011

(if viewing this in an email subscription, please go to the website to see the video clip and pictures better)

Clouds Over Fox Lane

Above, this is the first view Ginger and I got when we started out on our walk; clouds, gorgeous clouds stretching as far as the eye could see! I love the way the old pasture fence looks here along “Fox Lane”.

“Wind in the Willows”

I’ll show you right away what I ended up sketching after we walked all the way out on the property. (At the end of my post I have links to note cards and gifts using this image!) I had a page in my journal with the first verse of the song from “The Wind in the Willows”, the popular children’s tv show, written in permanent ink. I knew eventually I’d do some kind of painting over it of trees.  I just love the song from this show, I posted a link below so you could have a listen too!

Theme Song from “Wind in the Willows”

My Watercolor Crayons + Waterbrush

To explain a little how I did the sketch, as I stood in about 8″ of water on a particularly wet path, I held my sketch journal and balanced the little box of crayons on it. I have taken all my water soluble crayons and cut them in half so I could carry more in a smaller space and less weight! I put it on a peice of paper towel to protect a little watercolor I’ve got on that page, and I put a piece of paper towel (Viva) next to the box for wiping my brush on. I used one flat water brush, a favorite of mine when I want to do very quick washes and scrubbing. This particular brand releases water quite fast, at first I didn’t like that but now it’s also why I DO use it!

First thing I did was to scribble with white crayola wax crayon where I wanted to show white clouds. It doesn’t really show up until you color around it, but if you tip your paper a tiny bit you can see it. Then I colored very quickly with two different blue water soluble crayons all around; I found that I could shade right over the white wax and it didn’t really disturb it, cool! Then very quick scrubbing with the waterbrush to wet and move the color around. I grabbed the paper towel and sometimes blotted off the white cloud and it helped soften the look. Using the grey crayon ‘under’ each cloud really helped to pull them out and make them look real.

The trees were drawn on with a brown wc crayon from Derwent, using the hard edge to make branches. It works really great on damp paper, the lines are very vivid. I must say, it’s the scribbley look of the painting that I like so much! I could go back and soften the bottom of the moon, but it was a field sketch and I think I’ll just leave it as is. It was hard to get the look in such a tiny thing while hand holding my journal.

View I painted from while standing in water!

This is a photo from the spot I was standing, can you see the tiny moon in the middle?

A close up of the moon

Sometimes when you’re outside in the middle of the day, if you look for it you’ll see the moon amongst the clouds. I always think it’s a nice surprise.

Ginger all wet!

Yes, Miss Ginger is wet but doesn’t mind. This is the lane I stood in to do my sketch.

An old nest left from last year

I spotted some old nests as I walked, this one was out near “The North Pole”, the furthest part of my land. It’s amazing how many nests are at our eye level but we don’t see them when the bushes are in full leaf.

Clouds in Spring Over the Lane

I’ll leave you with one more pretty picture. I just love the colors in this, the blues contrasting with the golden colors of the dried grasses, the reds in the tips of the bushes and trees and the purpley colors under the clouds.

I hope you enjoyed our walk again out on “Long Lane Farm” at Springtime. Please enjoy the pictures links shown below, they go to prints, note cards, tee shirts and a magnet using my “Wind in the Willows” field sketch painting, in my shop. I can’t wait to order a tee shirt for myself!

Visit my SHOP to see many beautiful note cards with photos of the new Spring flowers, bees, landscapes etc!

“The Journals’ Answer”

Today the sun was out so warm and I eventually found myself in the backyard in a lawn chair for the first time this season. I pondered my journal and things going on in my life, then before you know it I was writing a poem. So I’m sharing it with you here, hope you like it. (I also typed it at the end so you can read it minus the typo’s!  😉

“The Journals’ Answer” by Mary McAndrew

My poem "The Journals' Answer" on parchment

As usual I like to share with you a little about how I did something. Below are color swatches to show what color’s I used making this parchment. The top five are water soluble crayons, the bottom one is Derwent’s Inktense black water soluble pencil. I used the top four mostly, and at the end I added some black right next to the edge of the paper. I then added some black water soluble crayon over it just to try it. The paper was Bristol Vellum and it’s great for a journal you’ll paint in but it only handles a so much ‘rubbing’ when you’re blending layers of colors.

Color chart for what I used making the parchment

I jotted the poem on some lined paper I keep at the back of my journal then started to write it ‘neatly’ (hahah) on the journal page. I didn’t realize it was going to grow to be so long so I drew the parchment borders after I got the whole thing written. Oh and as a side note, I didn’t really cry though I felt a frustration with some things on my mind. Writing about crying was like crying for real.


“The Journals’ Answer”

Holding my journal in my hands,
I think of things I don’t understand.
Breezes warm upon my face,
Leave behind  no sign or trace.

Of feelings that welled from inside.
Tracks of wet tears that from my eyes
Ran freely down upon my cheek.
Leaving nothing for me to speak.

Where will this future take me now?
I ask my book, my pages, “how?”
Can they not give me some support?
I listen hard for it’s retort,

Is it my book I hear replying
Or the breeze in yon willow sighing?
My heart tells me what I’m feeling
Write it, draw it, find your healing.

Pages open wide for me
Put to paper what I see.
Draw and write what I hold dear
Focusing on these makes it clear.

Leaving my writing for all to see
Nature drawings now history.
My world is your world, this my gift,
To hope it gives a little lift.

No time for tears or heavy sighs
Lift your spirits to the skies.
Find your path, do what you will
Just remember “don’t sit still”!

Futures come and futures go
This you can be sure to know.
Thank you journal, you showed me how
To stop and see what’s here now.

Now is all that matters much
The rest is all “out of touch”.
Draw it, share it, live it, breath it,
In my journal I will leave it.

(c) Mary McAndrew 2011

I may change the line that reads “Futures come and futures go” to “The future comes then it goes”? Usually when I write a poem I finish it pretty fast, all in one sitting because it just kind of flows out at that time. Sometimes I go back and rearrange a bit.

Well leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Ponderings of a poet-naturalist-artist!

Creative Journaling Class was so much FUN!

Well my “Creative Journaling Spring 2011” class has ended after 4 weeks; it passed very quickly! Some of my students had never drawn anything before and others were used to doing some art or crafts. What I found the most interesting was how certain areas of what I taught really suited different students or ‘caught’ their imaginations. (Please CLICK on pictures to see them enlarged)

Great job Helen!

I’m happy to say Helen, who has never drawn before but is an EXCELLENT quilter, tried drawing and did quite well. I went over comparative measurements and gesture sketching with her and I think she’s getting the hang of it! She said she loved using the watercolor pencils. I can see her love of color in her quilts and could see she loved using color with the watercolor pencils.

Helen used her love of fabric and made a cover for her journal.

This of course, is Helen’s journal…she couldn’t help but get creative with fabric and cover her sketchbook journal that we made. She glued it on with rubber cement.

Linda and Paula working on poems and painting.

These ladies are very involved with their pages. Linda created some beautiful twig letters when we did creative lettering. I showed how to start with a simple outline then embellish your lines. Paula was inspired to write a poem during class after I introduced using poetry in your journal and gave a little talk about how I write a poem. Paula already liked writing poems so it really caught her interest and here is the wonderful poem she penned about our class!


Painting what I see,
Seeing sky through the tree,
Climbing the incline,
Writing poetry with rhyme.

Enjoying Nature:
Through art and poetry,
With experimentation and camaraderie,
Is easy, fun, natural and free!

by Paula Minklai 2011

Paula followed just what I was encouraging by doing a little painting in her journal and incorporated the poem on the page. Her little painting was of an incline with trees on it and she likened learning to going up the incline, enjoying what we experience as we go. Great job Paula!

I showed the class how to use the twig look for letters, Linda did a great job!

I love the blue color of the twigs Linda used.

Please enjoy the rest of the photos taken over the last few weeks.

Linda working on watercolor pencil landscape in a circle.

Helen used the watercolor pencils so nicely here for the first time ever!

Creative Journaling class 2 - making coffee stained paper

Creative Journaling class 2 - making coffee stained paper

Creative Journaling class 3 - drawing

Creative Journaling class 3 - drawing

I hope someday you’ll take a class with me! Sign up your email in the subscribe box to see when I’ll be teaching near you or just follow my posts about my journaling adventures!