This past summer my husband and I tried to pop out to the Lake District when we could. Unfortunately time slipped by and we only got out there a few times for the day, except of course when my son visited and I got to stay in Keswick two days with him! (but that’s another story). On this occasion we explored Kendal, then some small tarns but the best part was walking up Gummer’s How and having a picnic. (please click on photos to see larger views)
The Chocolate House, Kendal.
First we stopped in Kendal and had a quick run around, but lingered a little longer in the Chocolate House. It’s a very small shop filled with all kinds of chocolates and candies. To be honest I didn’t buy any this time, I just didn’t feel in the mood….I must have been NOT feeling myself! Well it’s a reason to go back again.
An amazing old door on a small church we visited.
This is an amazing old heavy wooden door on a small church we visited.
A very scary ford to cross.
This is a ford we came to, I’ve never seen one this wide! There was no sign saying not to cross it but I told Gary I’d get out of the car if he tried! It looked far too deep.
I’m so glad we decided not to cross this ford!
We drove around the long way and this is the ford from the other side. It was awful, the ground was all broken up from previous flooding, and it must have been 2 1/2 feet deep! There should have been a sign to warn people!
Gummer’s How, waiting for us to come up!
This is Gummer’s How and you can just see Lake Windermere at its base. Time to get our boots on and get walking.
There were some really pretty areas on our walk up.
We passed small grassy glades and this one had a small stream that sounded so refreshing.
This is the path that curves around towards the top
As we get near the top the path goes close to the edge and you get a great view of Windermere. I had to stop and take it in, though Gary said to keep on, he knew the view got better!
Now don’t get jealous of this next photo! It looks like a scene from the “Miss Potter” movie and I love that!
Settling down to do a watercolor of the view at Lake Windermere.
Of course my big plan was to do a watercolor study up top and I’m happy to say I did. Many times we walk and when we’re at the top of our hill I don’t feel like painting or there’s just no time.
The day couldn’t get more perfect!
After our picnic of Ploughman’s sandwiches (cheese and pickle), various biscuits (cookies) and a can of apple cider we shared, I settled down on some soft mossy heather to draw.
This apple cider was nice with our picnic.
It helps to carry a plastic bag to sit on, the ground is usually very damp so I always have one tucked in my field kit.
My small sketchbook and travel palette balanced on my knees.
The difficult part is translating that huge expanse of landscape to your small pad, I focused in on several of the distant mountains and first sketched with pencil.
This shows how far I got while working in the field.
The above picture shows how far I got in the field. One of the best things about painting or drawing outside, is all the things you see as you sit there! We heard loud airplane engines and then two really big military airplanes flew right up the lake; it was below us and that perspective made it even more exciting! They must have been returning from an airshow?
Finished watercolor of “Lake Windermere from Gummer’s How”
Here’s the finished watercolor (above). The most challenging thing (as always) was the changing shadow patterns on the hills. You can sit and gaze all day at the moving shadows from the clouds, picking out brilliant greens in one area then fading to appear in another spot. It helped me greatly to look at photos I shot when I finished up details at home. I had to pick a bit from many to fit what my painting was showing.
Click on this Wikipedia link to read more about Gummer’s How. I love the quote by Wainwright at the end, I guess I don’t have to hang up my boots just yet!
The sunset as we drove home.
The end of a very nice day, this was the sunset as we drove through the Pennines back to Northumberland. I hope you enjoyed the extra photos today, though I know August is long since gone, I’ll always remember our hike and painting on Gummer’s How.
The end of May was very chilly here, wool sweaters and extra layers to peel off when the sun did decide to shine. Gary and I have continued our walks of course, especially when the rain holds off. Most of our walks are later in the day and we don’t have much time for me to sit and paint. But today we went with the intention that I’d sit and do a study of distant hills. Yay!
The view I painted was in this direction, looking up Coquetdale.
We had a ramble around on Lordenshaws, which is situated right next to the well known Simonside Hills, a favorite place for walkers. Lordenshaws is a much more gentle hill and an easy walk but still offering great views.
Here’s the largest cup and ring marked stone at Lordenshaws with the marvelous view in the distance of Coquetdale.
I love that there are ancient cup and ring marked stones to see as you walk, made about three thousand years ago!
Here’s more of a close up to see the rings and the ‘holes’ are the cup marks.
This shows the markings or carvings a bit closer. It’s amazing to think of how long ago they were made and we always have a wonder about the people that made them. What were they like? What did they think of and what do the marks mean? No one can answer that for sure.
View I had of the hills and Coquetdale valley.
Though there are many views, I decided to paint this one, with Simonside being just to the left and the view of Coquet valley coming from behind it. I liked the distant hills with fields marked by lines of hedges and then the nearer farm fields just at the base of Simonside. (It’s very hard to see any detail in this photo, because the sun was in front of me getting low.)
Painting with cold hands as the sky constantly changed.
I tried to get as much done as possible, then at home I looked at the photos I took on the computer, and tried to touch it up. It’s always best to get as much done in the field as possible, as the colors are never the same on the computer! The hard thing is when you work outdoors, especially in the chilly evening air, your hands get cold and your back aches…well mine does. So I try to work quickly.
Finished! “View From Lordenshaw’s” watercolor, 5.5″x7″
Here’s the finished painting, only 5.5″ x 7″, including the ring holes!
More posts to come, it’s been such a busy summer I am far behind! Please sign up your email (upper right) to recieve notification of new posts.
Here’s a post I wrote from July, never too late to enjoy a bit of sun I guess!?
July 16, 2015
Did I tell you how much I LOVE living here in Northumberland? I did? Well I won’t get tired of saying it or doing my sketches out in the field.
Taking a rest, enjoying the day, in my barn boots of course!
I went up in the field near Edlingham Castle, I had it all to myself, no sheep or cows about. It was just that kind of day that I sat on the ground to think, listen to the birds and enjoy just living. Then I just lay back and put my straw hat over my eyes and let time slip by, and it was ok.
Trying to take a selfie with a 35mm isn’t easy!
Laying down amongst the clovers, it made me feel like a kid again. Isn’t that funny? I should go lay in the grass more often! Maybe we could start a national “Lay in the Grass Day”! haha.
Below is a picture of what it looked like, my view from the grasses, the clouds were so beautiful.
My view from the grass, my mouse eye view.
And below, this is what I saw near me, a Ringlet butterfly, a very common sight in the fields here in summer. I’m really enjoying learning the new butterflies and bugs here in the UK.
A Ringlet butterfly on a clover head.
Well I didn’t just lay around all day, after a little while I went down the field, found a spot to stand and did a small painting. Below is a picture of Edlingham Castle, this was what I drew. You can see by the photo, the lighting never stays the same when you’re painting outside. My painting ended with nice blue skies and sunshine!
Edlingham Castle view from field.
Below is the ink drawing I did first. Sometimes I do an ink drawing then paint with my watercolors, especially if I don’t think I’ll have time to paint it. The other way is to do a light pencil sketch and then paint, drawing with ink a little for details on the pencil before or after painting.
Ink drawing of Edlingham castle, over the gate.
Below is my finished watercolor painting, only 4.5″ x 6″. You can see how bright the colors are, the day really was so bright, unlike the photo! The ink drawing makes it look more like an illustration than a painting to me. Kind of like all details are picked out at once, but that’s ok.
Edlingham Castle, Northumberland. Watercolor and Ink 4.5″ x 6″
I hope you enjoyed a little look back into summer! If you don’t want to miss any of my posts, just put your email in the box at the top right column. It’ll send you an email notice and you just respond then you’ll get my posts right in your inbox. Remember though, it’s best to click to come here and read the post, it lays out better on the page (and you can leave comments here).
Winter has passed by and I’m still settling into my new life in England. I did some sketches as I could, being tired from unpacking, cleaning or just being overwhelmed in general. But happily I can see my sketching has increased as the months slip by and I will share all that in further posts to catch up.
Waiting at Gate 12, Buffalo International Airport…the big day way back in December!
Today I’m posting sketches I did way back in December and January. The one above I did while waiting in the Buffalo International Airport, Gate 12, for my flight to the UK. I like the way it came out, a person sitting ‘almost’ in silhouette in front of the huge windows. It definitely helped to pass the time and calm my nervous excitement.
Ink sketch of a very old Hawthorn in a farmers hedgerow.
After I settled in I started walking in the mornings, mostly on my favorite lane above the village. Just like at ‘home’ in New York, sketching in winter I mostly use very small pocket sketchbooks. It’s just too cold to stand around freezing my fingers off, so I just do smaller quicker sketches; the most important thing is just to keep sketching.
The drawing above is actually tiny, done at the top of the page, but I like how it came out. It’s done with a brown Faber-Castell ink pen; I love using these pens. It’s a twisted little hawthorn along a sheep field, very exposed to the winds at the top of a ridge. I like it’s character because it reminds me of a bonsai tree. Some of the little trees you see hedges made of are actually very old trees that are trimmed all the time.
“Tree on Upper Lane”, a rough sketch on a very cold day, using water soluble pencils that I haven’t wet yet!
This sketch was done very quickly because it was so darn cold! I love walking on this one lane that goes out of our village because it’s lined with ancient trees and gorgeous views of distant hills and fields. I did it using water soluble pencil but wanted to scan it before I wet it. When you wet them they can get very dark and intense…it still waits for me to wet it with my brushes and mess around.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small. I made a pen holder out of duct tape and attached it to the back cover. I have another one that’s even smaller that I used at home a lot too, just loved sticking it in my barn coat pocket when I went walking.
Small watercolor done while sitting along the bank of Edlingham Burn, on a very cold day in January.
January 7, 2015 – I walked down to Edlingham Burn (small river) and found a mossy rock to sit upon with this lovely view. Well maybe it’s hard to imagine from such a small sketch, but it was a view of the burn and moss covered trees everywhere, just lovely!
Me in the freezing cold, painting Edlingham Burn.
I was very cold painting this, I did it with mittens on mind you, no easy task! I sat on a bit of rock, cold and damp, but it felt so good to be out and finally messing with my watercolors, that I didn’t notice (until I got up, all stiff!) I used one medium sized waterbrush to do this.
The livestock fence across the burn.
Farmers use old pallets across small streams or ‘burns’ here, to keep sheep and cattle in sectioned off fields. I put it in the background of my watercolor sketch you can see above.
A walk along the burn in January.
This is Edlingham Burn, I walked along it looking for a spot to paint. Where the rest of the land was pretty bleak and bare, the river was/is fascinating to me. With all it’s mossy trees, ivy climbing everywhere, dry grasses draping over dark banks touching the cold water and the sound of splashing water, wonderful.
From my small sketchbook, I love the way these two trees were twisting together.
These two trees I found behind the old church, in the farmers field. I really like how this sketch came out. They twisted together, almost in an embrace, part lichen covered, part moss. Standing in a cold, bare hedge, naked of leaves or flowers, just waiting till spring! Maybe someday I’ll do a larger color study.
Pine tree across the road from us, I noted the birds I saw while sketching it.
January 26th – I did this sketch on a day where I was tired and not feeling particularly inspired. That’s an especially good time to stick to your small sketchbook, just do something small until you ‘do’ feel inspired. It helped me to focus and relax; practice is always a good thing. I noted the birds I saw while doing it, Seagulls, Jackdaws and a Tree Creeper.
A pretty view of sheep over a country fence.
I thought I’d leave you with two more photos, from Jan. 6th on my morning walk. I love watching the sheep in the fields all around me, there are so many kinds here!
A sheep wondering what I’m doing in her field.
This little ewe was watching me, they run away if you get too close, so having a zoom is needed! They are all carrying lambs at this time and I can’t wait to see them in spring!
Check back for more updates, yes there are more sketches, paintings and photos to catch up with from this spring and I can’t wait to share them with you! Sign up in the right column with your email, if you want to be notified when I do new posts. Please leave me comments if you like!
(I wrote this in November. Sorry it’s a bit late, but I thought you’d still enjoy the pictures of my walk!)
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go…high ho the dairy oh….a hunting we will go!
When you need something for a project and you can’t buy it at the local store, it’s great to know you have it right in your own backyard! I want to make some felted acorns, have you seen any of these? Oh they are so cool; I love the texture and colors of the wool and the real acorn cap is just perfect.
On my property there is a place I call “Oak Lane” because all along it there are huge, ancient oak trees growing and I watch over them the best I can. Well I set out for a short walk, only taking my camera and a plastic bag and glad that I put on my Wellies or barn boots because ‘AY CARUMBA’ it was wet!
Just what I was looking for, Bracket Fungus and Moss!
I also had it in mind to collect reference pictures for my illustration projects. I found some excellent bracket fungus and moss for “Miss Mouse’s House”. I made up a sketch (in the new, big studio sketch book!) of her house and I can’t believe when I was walking, I found JUST the thing! I hope to share Miss Mouse with you when I get more sketches done.
What was supposed to be a short walk turned (as usual) into a long ramble, taking pictures every few steps. Seriously, every few steps…”oh look at that color!” “Oh…look how the trees reflect in the water”….glad no one came with me, I was able to wander slowly, drinking it all in and taking lots of pictures for future reference. When you walk slow and pause often, you also can take notice of so many things around you.
Reflections in the water, along Pasture Lane as I walked.
When I made it to Oak Lane, I picked up a small stick with a forked tip and used it for shuffling the wet leaves away. We’re not talking about oak trees in a yard with neatly trimmed grass! No…it was wild and absolutely covered with leaves, and how beautiful. But any caps I did find were mostly covered with mud, so into the bag they went to be studied later.
Interesting and delicate pod or gall I found under the leaves.
Another neat thing I found, this thing that looks like some kind of a gall? It was on the ground under the leaves and I’m guessing it was on the tree or a small plant before because it had a stem. There’s a hole so whatever grew up inside it came out. It is paper thin and very interesting, so I put it in my bag, hoping it wouldn’t get squished. (see note at end of post)
Can you see anything in all these leaves?
The best find of all was when I noticed something move in the leaves, a tiny, tiny movement but I saw it. Then I just stopped and watched, and waited…then saw it again and really had to watch it not to loose it in the leaves again, a tiny Wood Frog!
A beautiful and tiny Wood Frog!
Not very big and exciting you say? NO it IS! How many years have I walked on my land and do you think I see them all the time? NO, I hear them but don’t see them. So I snapped as many photos of this frog, that seriously was only as big as my thumbnail, as I could. Then when I was satisfied I had gotten enough, I used my stick to carefully move a blade of grass that was blocking my view of him.
Nice side view showing his mask.
It’s totally ok that it made him hop onto new leaves, I got even better pictures of him! You have to be patient and yes, it gave me a very stiff neck, all that looking down and crouching.
Here’s a top view of him, you can see the patterns on his back that help him blend in.
I think because it was so cold he was moving slower than normal, a great time to get photos of frogs. Then I heard another Wood Frog across the lane calling and I thought, maybe that’s his mate or in ‘children’s book land’ his friend? It’s wandering through the woods alone when you can let your imagination have play too, and it’s good for you!
This was an unusual fungus I saw more than once, it looked liked someone squished raisins on the branch!
On the way back then it started to rain, then it hailed on my head! It was ok, the clouds were magnificent and the the cold breezes blowing, making my cheeks glow, it was wonderful to be there at that moment and really take it in.
Such beauty in a much overlooked wildflower, Chicory.
I found two Chicory plants with beautiful blue blossoms on them still, hanging on to any sun they can get now.
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.
Though I see interesting and beautiful things, walking alone on my land, I’m sometimes like the little Aster. It focuses my thoughts as I walk in quiet and when I see the beauty I want to turn to my sweetheart to share it with him, and he’s not there. And the discoveries I make I want to share with my Dad…and then I miss him again and again, not being able to talk to him. I’m sure many of you know what I mean, but instead of focusing on who isn’t there, I try to share my experiences with those I can.
The wild rose hips and their leaves were just beautiful, magical colors!
I can show Gary pictures and talk to him on Skype until we can walk together. And my dad, I thank him for encouraging my love of nature and my creative endeavors as I quietly promise to follow through on my children’s stories. And to all of you, so glad you stop by to read my ramblings and see what I’m up to!
Have you gotten outside to take a slow walk lately? Noticing the change of seasons?
Maple leaf I made by wet felting wool.
I made this leaf out of wool by wet felting it, isn’t it cool? I can keep it forever and it won’t lose it’s color. Here’s a picture with two leaves I made.
Two Maple leaves I made into felt from wool.
Now here are those felted acorns I made! Aren’t they cool?
Colorful wool needle felted acorns, caps from two different oak trees.
I have since added pretty beads to the strings and made them into ornaments.
* My online friend Ed has kindly sent me a link to a page about the mysterious empty gall I found. It’s from an Oak Apple Gall Wasp, please read about it here, it’s fascinating! And here’s a page all about galls and the ‘critters’ that form them. Thanks Ed!
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
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:
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
(please click pictures to see larger)
Oak leaves and tracks in the snow, January 9, 2013
The sketches above are from my walk on January 9, 2013. I didn’t need to wear my snowshoes this time and I walked further than before, making it to “Oak Lane” today. It was there in my favorite lane, that I leaned against a tree to sketch the oak leaves on the ground. I also saw interesting little tracks that I can only guess are squirrel? I have grey and red squirrels here, these look a little big for red squirrel but I’m just guessing. The top track is life size at 1″ x 1″.
The Octagon House in Akron, NY
I went to Akron NY this weekend to go sketching a bit with my friend Nancy. I want to practice drawing buildings and houses more and Akron has some interesting old ones. This Octagon House was built in the 1840’s by Charles B. Rich for his fourth wife. It’s a museum too and someday I want to go through to see all the Victorian era furniture and decorations. It was a challenge to sketch standing there on the sidewalk opposite, leaning against a stop sign! I sketched it in pencil then put a little watercolor on; at home I used my ink pen to draw over and then painted from the picture I took. It was such a grey dull day but can’t complain about how warm it was.
A building on Main Street in Akron, NY.
This is a business on Main St. in Akron I started to sketch from a cold bench across the street. I’ll try to work on it this week to finish it up. I guess it looks like many old businesses do on any Main St. in America. It was popular to have a facade that is really taller than the building itself, kind of like an old western town movie set!
I also worked on a little watercolor landscape study from a photograph I took while in Northumberland, England, but want to put a few finishing touches on it.
(Since posting this I’ve come back and edited the text I had before. I’ve changed my mind about doing a “Weekly Sketches” post as I don’t like how limiting it felt! I don’t want to label posts with dates and no names, they are all listed by date under “Archives” in the right side column anyways. And this way I can throw a painting in when I want also! Don’t worry I’m still going to try and keep up with posting more of my sketches as I do them.)
Here’s a few sketches from the week:
A tiny pencil sketch of an arch in the snow, complete with bunny!
I’m sneaking this one in, since it’s not technically drawn in 2013 but it’s close enough! I did it while out for a snowshoe walk on Long Lane Farm.
A tiny sketch in ink of my fence.
I have a tiny sketchpad I made that I keep tucked in the pocket of my winter coat that I wear out walking. I did this aprox. 3″x3″ sketch with a permanent ink Micron pen after my walk. It was snowing on the paper and I was wearing my fingerless gloves, it’s not easy to draw in those conditions! This is the exciting challenge of it all!! It might not look like much but when I look at the sketch, I remember so much more than what is seen. I remember the sounds, colors and COLD! haha
The pictures of the mice below are sketched on cheap computer paper, no proper tooth but great for quick sketches. It’s also good when you want to transfer onto ‘good’ paper, just draw over the pencil with a black fine point marker and trace onto the ‘good’ paper using a light table or window.
A rough sketch from a photo.
I printed out a bunch of photos of mice so I can sketch them as I have time. The one above shows how I was looking for the forms or shapes of the body, under the mouses fur.
Here is Mouse 1 sketch finished.
Here it is finished. I just erased the light sketch lines and used a tortillion stump to do some quick blending.
This guy is cute! Mouse 2 finished sketch.
This mouse was cute! He reminds me of a hamster because of his wide face, but it was a mouse. I love his little hands!
This is from below, a view you don’t often see.
Mouse 3, sketched view from below. I noticed they have the tiniest noses and little pads on their feet. I tried to use a pin to score the paper on the right, so when I shade it might show as white whiskers; but the paper was just too thin, you can see just a tiny bit. It’s a great trick on heavier paper!
Some fun with clay! A little mouse sculpture.
You must think I have “mouse on the brain” this week! Well when I was sketching I just started playing with some plasticine clay I have and he came out! It’s fun to play around with clay; I always had huge amounts of it for my boys to play with in my studio. The great thing about it is it never dries out, you can reshape it and reuse it for years.
Well he had to have a friend!
I suppose he had to have a friend! I’ve always played around with my kneaded rubber eraser while sketching and when I tweaked it into a point for erasing something I couldn’t resist, well…you know…another mouse! haha 🙂 I used the head of a quilting pin to make the dents for eyes, but they’d look much better with beads stuck in.
I think these are fox tracks in the snow.
I was getting my exercise in my yard yesterday and spotted lots of tracks in the snow. Before I walked I had to sketch them, the tracks above are at ‘real’ size on my paper. I measured them with my pen and sketched it on my paper. I ‘think’ they’re fox.
Rabbit and white tailed deer tracks.
There were bunny tracks all over my yard but these were just adorable! You could see every little toe pad on it’s back feet deep into the snow. The deer track is not at life size, they were all over too!
Three bunny studies in pencil
And the last one, three bunny studies that I think I sketched in bed while watching a movie. Thinking of ideas for a new poem I wrote.
Well that’s it! Busy week, lets see if I can do some more this week….stay tuned. Make sure you sign up your email in the “Subscribe” box in the upper right column if you want to follow what I’m up to! 😉
New Years Eve has come again, as it does. We had lots of snow lately and now that hunting season is over, I can venture out into my fields again! So I got out my snowshoes, stuffed a tiny sketchbook in my pocket and slung my camera over my shoulder and ready for a walk! Well after donning a few wool layers that is! (Click pics for clearer view.)
My ‘long’ snowshoes are ready to go.
This post isn’t really about great sketches but mostly just getting out into nature, going for a good walk and of course looking for inspiration. I love looking as I go and letting ideas come to me. I see holes in the snow and think of my little characters living in there! But if you just enjoy sketching nature then you get inspired by the lighting, colors and forms you see as you walk. If anything you feel better for filling your lungs with fresh air. I enjoyed taking pictures to add to my reference folders, so I’ll put my photos here that I shot as I walked and you can see what I saw.
My long snowshoes.
I have two pair of snowshoes, one is a “Bear Paw” style that is rounded on both ends, and the other are what I wore today, they taper out long in the back. These were great for the long trails, I guess the others are supposed to be good when in a more ‘brushy’ trail where you don’t want a long end (like skies) to maneuver.
The start of my walk, up “Pasture Lane”.
This is “Pasture Lane”, the start of almost every walk. I did a nice oil painting one year in May, while sitting just here and looking down the grassy lane filled with yellow dandelions! Ahh…to dream of green spring! (Have a peek at the painting here in my gallery)
“Long Lane” waiting to be explored, this is near the pond.
Then I turn to the area where the pond is but if I continue on in the direction as before, “Long Lane” is before me. The lane that my farm is named for! It goes on and on and all the trails I’ve made over the years with the brush-hog run off of it. It’s all been getting pretty wild though the past few years, as I’ve either been in England or my tractor broke or couldn’t because my back bothered me. I have noticed a LOT more wonderful butterflies and dragonflies on the property though, by letting the field go wild!
A pretty view of the field from Long Lane.
In winter you learn to appreciate the subtle things, like the colors of the dormant bushes, the murky greyness of the trees in the distance, the way snow rolls over everything and creates subtle shadows that are a challenge to draw. You also notice the quiet of it all except today, today the wind was making it’s presence known!
A little natural snow arch that would be perfect for a bunny!
I spotted this little snow arch created by the tree and bushes and it captured my imagination. I thought it’d make a great reference for adding a bunny someday.
A close up of the “snow nook”.
So I took a bunch of photos from all different angles, then stood still to do a tiny sketch in my tiny sketchbook.
A tiny pencil sketch of a snowy arch in the snow, complete with bunny!
Ohh it was cold but I tried to do what I could and later I touched it up a bit while looking at the photos. I added a pretend bunny while I was drawing it in the lane; someday I’ll have to think of a story or painting.
Water in the ditch and snow covered downed trees.
The deer always cross here and I like to stop and image things. It’s like a little world to a small creature complete with lake! Other than that it’s just pretty.
Tracks from my snowshoes.
Always look back to see how things look from a different view…
Dead grapevine leaves, auto setting.
Now these two pictures of the grapevine leaves are just a mini photo lesson. I only wanted to point out that I tested using the “auto” setting (shown above) which makes the picture very cold and bluey. But below…
Dead grapevine leaves taken with Aperture Priority mode.
I switched it to Aperture Priority mode and was able to select the kind of lighting…you know, indoor with lights, outdoor shade etc. When I selected outdoor type and shade it allowed the warmer tones to come through. I thought it was much nicer and how I was ‘seeing’ it in real life. In that setting I could play around with the depth of field a little too. Sorry my photos in the this post aren’t a bit nicer but I don’t take time to tweak in any photo program…they just are what they are. I was mostly interested in photos for references.
Now I’m following some deer tracks.
So I wander onward…following deer tracks. Another great thing about winter is being able to study all the tracks that are made in the snow! You can try to figure out what went on during the night when you were sleeping.
Here’s a little hole that could be good for one of my illustrations!
More holes capture my imagination, so I photograph them for references.
here’s another hole that caught my imagination.
Now as you think of the holes and look at the photos below…
Almost to “Memory Lane”.
…read what I wrote in that tiny journal sketchbook, while walking in the freezing cold lane:
“Dec 31. New Years Eve Walk – Snowshoes…cold.
The wind blows through the Ash tree tops, Great roaring above that sounds like an ocean in the distance.
The wind looks everywhere for a burrow, a hole a nest…it has no home. So on it roars…looking.
I hear clacking little frozen branches – small ones that rattle against each other in this wind.
Sometimes I hear the squeaking and creaking of big limbs, pressed together over time but now mobil in this wind.
I walk on.”
Beautiful dried grasses all swirled in different directions.
This is near “Memory Lane”, where most of the year it’s wet so this grass grows profusely there and in winter it’s nice to look at. I love the color of dry grasses.
Dried Bull Thistle bends low.
Here are some more notes from my journal: “The Bull Thistle – bending over, trying to kiss the snow, once stood 7′ tall.Now it prostrates itself in a deep bow.”
The downy hairs they once had are now soaked with ice.
“What bristly seed heads still have downy beards – are now soaked with ice as they hang their heads to the ground.”
Me with my snowshoes after a long walk!
Oh dear, there’s me without a stitch of makeup on!! Yikes! I can also see white blurry bits of snow on the lens. Oh well, I like this photo because it reminds me of my mini adventure so I thought I’d share it!
So now, my parting words to you are – instead of moping around the house this winter, grab your sketchbook or camera and go for a walk!
For the past few months I’ve been using my backyard to walk laps for exercise. During hunting season I stay away from the fields and when my back was especially stiff, I found walking on the even grass a great way to keep up my routine. The weather hasn’t been inspiring for sketching outdoors but lately I’ve been tucking a simple stiff folder with loose watercolor papers in it, into my coat pocket. I also carry a mechanical pencil, eraser and ink pen. So I’ll show you just some of the small studies I did with REALLY COLD hands!
bluebird house on snowy day
(Nov. 25, 2012) This is one of my Bluebird houses, now just filled with an old nest that the field mice use to ‘hole up’ for the winter. My paper looks blotchy because while I sketched, it snowed on me! Snow all over and my hands were cold; I drew this with mittens on!
tree sketch (Paul’s trees)
(Nov. 27, 2012) This is a very small study, about 3″x 4″ in graphite. I like how this one came out, smudged it a bit for atmosphere and a bit of distance. And I like the light trees in front of the dark ones. These are special trees because my son Paul always loved them, so he claimed them to be ‘his’ trees, so when I draw them they are “Paul’s Trees”!
The House Through the Trees
(Nov. 28, 2012) Now this was a cold grey day but I had just finished a great walk and felt warm enough to try and stand still to sketch this. I am still wearing my fingerless mittens though, which are awkward to do drawing in. It’s a house up the road from me I can see through the trees. Doing these sketches in pencil is good practice for me as I usually draw in permanent ink in the field.
I then drew these Teasels that I left to grow in my garden this summer. I love the way Teasel looks when it’s dry, the elegant swirl of the long (would they be Sepals?)
I’m sharing these with you hopefully to encourage those of you who like nature sketching, to keep a pad with you, go out and walk in your yard and see what you can find. I’m working hard on my children’s book illustrating projects so my nature sketching has been pushed aside a bit. So this is my way to keep from getting too rusty and it just feels so good to study something outside using my sketching. Have you been wanting to sketch more?
Stay tuned, next post is the finished Mouse Family watercolor! yay!