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A Weevil Came to Visit

This will be short and sweet. Just a quick post to share some sketches I did of a little dark Weevil that came by today. He didn’t stop by for tea but I may do a character of him someday so you never know!

(click any pictures to see larger)

Enlarged sketches of the Weevil

Enlarged sketches of the Weevil

Above shows the small sketch page I did. It had a spot of color on it from when I was going to paint something, but this is just a study so it didn’t bother me. You can see in the upper right corner, I always draw two lines showing the bugs actual length. I hope the pictures aren’t too blurry, I only have my cell phone camera right now. I cropped and enlarged them so they may not be as nice as they could be! (getting a new camera is on my list!)

Weevil in my 'bug' container to study.

Weevil in my ‘bug’ container to study.

Above shows the little container I’ve used for years as a temporary holder for bugs while I study them. None of them have ever held still, it’s so hard to draw them while they constantly walk about. I tried to draw the sketches much bigger than actual size to show more detail.

A great natural light picture when I released him.

A great natural light picture when I released him.

This is when I released him outside on the fence. You can see the tiny dots of tan on his back.

Another nice shot of his texture and color.

Another nice shot of his texture and color.

They must have a special substance on their feet because he was able to walk on all the slipper walls of this shiny plastic container.

And another shot

And another shot, you can see his eyes.

Look at those antennae! They were bent like an arm would bend at the elbow, and he poked them up and down to ‘feel’ or ‘smell’ (?) his way along.

I like how this picture shows how he can bend his body a bit, or neck if he has one!

I like how this picture shows how he can bend his body a bit, or neck if he has one!

Look at the interesting shape of his legs, and I like how he has his neck bent a bit.

One last picture of him in the container.

One last picture of him in the container.

One last picture of him in the container, I like showing all the different angles. I find the legs so interesting and difficult to draw unless it’s from a photo. He walked constantly while I sketched him and reminded me of one of those wind up toys! I noticed how they moved opposite legs, just like any multi-legged creature would for balance.

Watercolor of Edlingham Castle - July 2015

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.

7-16-15 havin a rest (3) (460x345)

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.

7-16-15 havin a rest (4) (345x460)

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.

7-16-15 mouse eye view (3) (345x460)

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.

7-16-15 butterfly (3) (460x345)

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!

7-16-15 drawing the castle (7) (345x460)

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.

(c)7-16-15 drawing the castle (9)

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.

(c)Edlingham Castle wc

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).

Views of Edlingham Castle, Northumberland

I wrote this post way back in July, when it was sunny and warm, now here we are at the end of October! I still have new drawings and paintings to share, it’s just been more hectic than I expected! I’m still settling into this new life, trying to learn how to drive standard (badly!), finding a new accountant, and not being able to find some of my supplies because many things are still packed and stacked in plastic bins! But what has been most excellent is our walks near our home and a few trips to the Lake District. The greatest joy Gary and I share is our love of walking in the countryside. I’m overwhelmed with subject matter, it’s just finding time to sit and work.

So, on to my July post! Please click on the pictures to see them enlarged and clearer, enjoy!

(July 2015) I’m very lucky to have an ancient castle near where I live.  I can go visit the site and walk around it, or view it from the fields.

(c)April 2015 Edlingham Castle from the field

Brown ink drawing of Edlingham Castle done in the field in April 2015.

I did this drawing in brown ink (Faber Castell Pitt pen) while standing in the field where only local villagers usually go, way back in April. It’s great to switch your mediums once in awhile when out painting. I think it’s great ‘brain training’ as you have to approach it in different ways, seeing shapes, values, lines, textures and measurements; and thinking what you will use to capture that.

As I am settling into my new studio space here in England, I am still re-organizing my ‘stuff’ and wanting to play with materials I’ve had packed for ages. One of those is charcoal, I haven’t really used it in a long time so lately I’ve been rediscovering it. Below I’ll show you how I did another small drawing of the castle en Plein Air or sitting in a field with my art kit.

Sometimes I set my stuff out on the ground, this is charcoal drawing supplies.

Sometimes I set my stuff out on the ground, this is charcoal drawing supplies.

This shows my small backpack, a big lawn + leaf type garbage bag, Altoids tin with loose charcoal sticks and one plastic box with charcoal pencils, tortillions, brushes, sandpaper and eraser. I almost always stand when I work but today I had a small folding camp stool to sit on. The garbage bag is great for when you want to throw your backpack or kit on the ground and it’s all damp OR use it for sitting on.

Here's part of my field kit for charcoals, good 'ol Altoids tin.

Here’s part of my field kit for charcoals, good ‘ol Altoids tin.

And the ever popular ‘Altoids tin’, once used by me for watercolors but now I put my charcoal sticks in here. The rubber bands on the lid are holding a piece of paper towel and some cotton balls in place.

Here it is open and ready to use.

Here it is open and ready to use; I put the messy hard and soft sticks in here.

The base holds an assortment of soft vine and compressed charcoal sticks also a piece of chamois for blending and shading.

You can use the 'messy' charcoal powder in the tin to draw with a stiff brush.

You can use the ‘messy’ charcoal powder in the tin to draw with a brush.

When I sharpen points on sandpaper I let the powder fall into this tin and then it’s great to pick up with brushes for shading. A great way to start your sketch with soft blocked in areas of value, using soft or stiff brushes.

Work in progress, my support is just the cardboard back of a sketchpad.

Work in progress, my support is just the cardboard back of a sketchpad.

Above here it is almost finished, just a few touch ups and strengthening of darks and details to do.

Charcoal drawing of Edlingham Castle,  July 2, 2015.

Charcoal drawing of Edlingham Castle, July 2, 2015.

And it’s finished! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my kit and how I worked. I’ll try to post more of those sketches I’ve done! Leave me comments below, I love to hear from you all.

And my other facebook page: Mary McAndrew Painting and Illustration

"Winter Sketches in England"

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!

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.

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!

“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, it's great for winter sketches because it's small.

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.

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!

(c)me sketching 1-7-15

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 his field.

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!

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! 😉

Small Sketches From My Yard

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

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)

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

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.

Dry teasel

Dry teasel

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!

Mouse Family in Ink

Though I’m working on illustrating a story with Teddy Bears at the moment, I just can’t leave behind my love of nature. I haven’t had much time for my usual nature studies but what I have been doing is testing out different papers to use for illustration. Arches, Fabriano, Canson…cold press, hot press, dual sided even!, they are all getting tried. I was surprised to find the ones I thought I’d love I hated and the cold press was feeling pretty nice. Cold press paper is rougher and can show nice textures when working with watercolors, but not as nice if you’re doing fine detail.

"The Mouse Family" in Windsor Newton Nut Brown Ink on Arches 140lb watercolor cold press paper.

(please click the pictures to see larger)

So I combined my experimenting with papers with wanting to draw some mice, my subject in many, many little children’s poems I’ve written. I want to keep a realism but cross the line into children’s illustration…make them a bit cute and giving them humanesque qualities.

Just showing the start of my drawing; I did it without a pencil sketch first!

I started by drawing freehand in permanent ink (no pencil sketch) this mouse on Arches 140 lb cold press paper. I used Windsor Newton Nut Brown, a really nice brown ink. (Forgive the yellow picture quality, I snapped this with my camera at night-time so I could record the stages of drawing.)

Windsor Newton Nut Brown Pernanent Ink

Then I went outside and grabbed up a bunch of leaves to add around it, and drew some of them.

my pile of leaves I first brought in to sketch from

What started all this was a cute sketch in ink of the mouse (mother) but she had to have some leaves to be tucked into. I brought in a good variety from the yard, they looked more colorful than this in the beginning. They all curled and dried but that’s ok, I like keeping some dried leaves around in a small box, for sketching.

Here it is on the easel, you can see my dip nib pen and brown ink there.

This is my set up, a small table easel that has a little drawer you can slide out. I like to put my watercolors there and anything else I might be using to draw. You can see my bottle of ink and my small ‘dip nib pen’ laying there. I have my paper on a piece of plexiglas. This is great to use when you are tracing a sketch onto ‘good’ paper, just go over your sketch with dark ink, put good paper on top, stick a lamp behind and sketch lightly with pencil. I didn’t do that with this drawing, as I said, I just started in and the drawing grew.

Here’s a picture of my “dip nib pen”.

Small "dip nib pen" with a little study after Beatrix Potter's Dormouse in the background.

You can see my two favorite pens here, when I want to use loose dip ink that is. I just love the detail I can get with this little nib! There’s something nice about using loose ink. I decided I liked when it ran out of ink regularly, it gave me a pause to check my drawing and think before making marks!

Just a little more drawn in...

As I drew the mouse I started to think maybe it could become a story, so I felt I needed to leave the area in front of it open to possibilities. *Very important when working with permanent ink to take your time and plan a bit!

A little close up of the mother mouse and baby.

I was going to put a grasshopper in because they are everywhere in the grass right now, but I decided on a baby mouse. At this point I started sketching with pencil…the rest of the leaves, mushrooms and babies, because now it had become an actual illustration to NOT mess up! haha. You can see I changed the mouses face, added an open mouth, eyes a bit bigger with lashes, just a touch! I’m looking for my ‘mousy style’.

And a close up of the other little baby mouse!

And you know with mice…where there’s one there’s many!…so I added this baby on the right. It’s good for the composition because it leads your eye around the page. Keep this in mind too when arranging your leaves, all the curves, waves and curls can really be exciting to draw and look at as they lead your eye around the composition.

Below are a few photos of what inspired me to keep adding to my drawing.

baby nursery web spider

I’m fascinated by the Nursery Web Spiders in my yard. In spring I see them living half under water and half above, then all summer they have their webs in the tall grasses on the lanes. Now as I walk through my yard in fall I see tiny baby spiders darting across the leaves everywhere!  I couldn’t wait to sneak them into an illustration!

I liked the twist of this leaf so I used it in my drawing

Well these leaves aren’t colorful but I love the curve of the big one, and the other small one fit in nice. You can see them on the right side of my drawing. I used this photo on my computer screen when I drew these leaves.

dead fall leaves in the grass

This is another one I added on the right side by the baby mouse. I tried not to go too heavy adding the shadows, since the leaves were all photographed at different angles in the sun. I also looked at this on my tiny computer screen while drawing, late into the night!

little golden mushrooms in the grass

One day when I was walking through the yard I spotted an area of mushrooms, each were about 2″ across at least. They blended in so well I almost didn’t notice them at first, but looking for “things in the grass” for my drawing they were a nice find. It wasn’t until the next day I went out to photograph them and they were all gone! I searched and searched and finally started noticing these tiny mushrooms around under blades of grass. NO, my lawn is NOT neatly mowed, I’m lucky when my son comes and gives it a cut, so I get all kinds of things growing and hiding in the long grass!

more tiny little golden mushrooms

I love looking at mushrooms, though I admit I don’t know too many species names. If anyone can tell me what these are I’d be grateful (Western NY-wet area)

This is the small Ink Cap mushroom I used after the first one disappeared

This one was the best find! It’s a Shaggy Ink Cap mushroom and I’ve never seen one here before, I’ve only ever seen them when I was in Ireland and England. One day I spotted a big one growing in the yard, I wasn’t able to get out to photograph it until the next day. To my great disappointment it had all but disappeared! I never saw one ‘roll up’ as fast as that! For those who have never seen this, the mushroom will start to roll up from the bottom, disappearing until just the top is left, surrounded by a black inky goo. It’s really quiet interesting and yuchy at the same time!

But lucky me, walking my laps around the yard the next day I spotted this small one growing not far from the other spot. So I grabbed my camera right away and got some good shots. I couldn’t wait to use it in my drawing and already knew it would be perfect as a backdrop.

"The Mouse Family" Ink on Arches watercolor paper.

So there you have it, all the parts together! Now that I’ve scanned it, I can play around with watercolors on it and we’ll see how that goes! Please visit my shop to see the Note Cards and Gifts I made using this and other photos in this post. I’ll add a few picture links you can click to visit it, please please share my shop links with friends once you get there! 🙂

Glossy Note Card with plain white background
Glossy Note Card with changeable text and brown background
Customizable Mug
Shaggy Ink Cap Glossy Note Cards
Hope you enjoyed my post! Please leave me comments and share on your Facebook or Pinterest pages!

“Common Looper Moth” 4-30-10

Well at first I was going to call this post “Little Brown Moth” as I couldn’t guess what kind it was. Have a look at my sketches below and then read about how I figured out what it was.

The last time I found a moth it was a fugitive hiding behind my kitchen door curtain, this one was very similar. He was inside my kitchen sliding door frame…just another ordinary little brown moth. I dismissed it as such and thought, well later I’ll look at him and maybe do a sketch. All I could find to hold him while I studied him (without hurting him) was an empty camera lens case; it’s extremely clear, round, flat and about 3″ across. I made sure not to close it so he could have air and tried to work quickly, I am mindful of his life in my hands and don’t want to stress him too much.Trying not to touch his wings I gently cupped my hand over him and could feel him fluttering inside my hand.

He did get away I’ll admit, then it was actually easy to hold the lid over him then put the bottom up to catch him from off the exhaust hood over my stove…with me perched on a chair!

"Common Looper Moth Studies"

"Common Looper Moth Studies"

The first two sketches are done from life using a quill pen and brown ink. The ink will run when wet so I used a waterbrush to gently touch it and ‘make’ it run; it turns a beautiful reddish brown when you wet it. (Pelican ink) I also noted the actual size, you can see it’s quite small so a magnifying glass was handy to help me see him.

The drawing on the bottom of the page (above) is done while looking at a photo I took of him. I put a very light sketch in pencil then used my permanent brown ink pen, to which I added some watercolors. This study is only 2″ tall, pretty small in my tiny sketch book.

Common Looper Moth study with notes

Common Looper Moth study with notes

You can see from my notes, what was so interesting about this little brown moth is his profile! When I looked at him from the side I was surprised to find the bristles sticking up like a crown or furry coat. He also has a big ‘nose’ looking thing, I think that’s actually his tongue or mouth parts?

Common Looper Moth side view

Common Looper Moth side view

Here are two photos I got of him as I released him outside; it was going dark so the lighting isn’t great. I think the best shots I’ve gotten of captured insects are when I am about to release them, outside on my screen porch in natural light. The photo below is blurry, SORRY! but the light was fading, I just wanted to show you his wing pattern.

Common Looper Moth top view

Common Looper Moth top view

Now a few notes about how I identified him. After studying his form and the unusual profile this helped me, I took note of the whitish marks on his wings and the color of the ‘underwing’. I went to my “Nature Links” page and clicked on “Bug Guide.net”; this site is very helpful but sometimes can be difficult if you’re a beginner like me. I started with “Moths”, click on that, then they showed a silhouette box and that was most helpful. I clicked on the one that looked just like my bug, and from looking it up in my “Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America” I at least figured out that it’s some kind of Owlet Moth. Cool, well, now what? My field guide gave me no more help, but on the Bug Guide website I saw another website called “Moth Photographers Group”, (now a link on my Nature Links page!) and when I went to a page it recommended, I was able to really see so many moths and almost certainly identify mine. Then I copied the name and went back to “Bug Guide” and pasted it in the search box, oh wow!, lots of pictures came up now of MY MOTH! Yes, that’s it, an Autographa precationis!

A tip from me, on Bug Guide, if you find a page with pictures you want to look at, use your back button to return from looking at a photo or else it will bring up a whole new set of pictures, not sure why. Another tip, when you visit the Moth Photographers Group, to see pictures go to the “Plate Series” page for links to pictures, BUT I highly recommend starting with Bug Guide or your Field Guide to get an idea of the scientific name, it’s the only way to search on this site.

I hope you enjoyed discovering more about this not so plain little brown moth with me! What it teaches us, if you look at something much closer, with curiosity, you can discover new things you never knew were right under your nose!


“Rydal Water and Cote How B+B” 9-11-08

After a long night time drive from Muncaster, I arrived at Rydal Water and settled into my room at Cote How Bed and Breakfast. I had only one day to explore as I spent an extra day under Muncaster’s spell. I spent the entire day hiking, taking photos, sketching, talking to people and video taping. Every few steps I had to stop and exclain “wow”…”oh!”…”beautiful!”…I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I wish I had a week so I could really go out to draw and paint. I’ll do work from the photos in the studio and try to return there perhaps to teach a class as we hike around the lake?
After a wonderful breakfast at the Cote How b+b, I came down a path and this is the view of the lake as I approached. The day had a promise of rain; I had my rain gear in my backpack, some snacks bought on the way to Rydal, bottle of water, and extra art supplies. My video camera was hanging from my waist in handy reach, 35mm around my neck, and my art kit hanging from my waist also. Umm…I felt a little like a pack horse but believe me I tried to keep it light! I always try to not carry too much, my back just can’t take it.
Sometimes the path veers away from the lake but always followes along through woods and over hills. Every gate I came to was set in a different scene, mood and lighting. I saw wooden gates and metal, all attached to ancient stone walls with lush green moss on anthing that wasn’t moving!

Once I got out and walked next to the lake, I did a really quick sketch looking across to the other side. I put color notes on the sketch and wrote about some nice walkers I met along the way.

Another gate, this one is for the cows who are lazily lounging along the lake. I put a video clip at the end of this post that shows this view with the wall. Can you see the other side across the water? That’s where I’m eventually headed, this hike today will take me around the entire Rydal Water lake.
Ok…no one said the hike was super easy! This is one part of my walk that took me up the mountain on the other side of the lake. Sometimes I was following a dry creek bed for a path.
After that part of the hike I smartly decided to sit and have lunch, maybe it was a cover so when people walked by they wouldn’t notice my heavy breathing! haha…I sat and did a micron pen sketch of the gate on the path. I added notes about color and things so I could remember later if I do a painting. Just as I finished the sketch my favorite little European Robin landed on the gate! I had to sketch him in.
I’m on the other side of the lake now…looking back and down the valley at the sheep in the fields. They were everywhere, wandering about even on the paths were I was walking.

Along the way I met all kinds of nice people, this is a group of photographers from Scotland. I knew they’d be friendly if I chatted with them, I have friends in Buffalo who go shooting and they love talking shop. As we talked standing along the valley stone wall, a friendly European Robin came and started looking for handouts. One of the group put some crumbs out and we became instant friends with the little bird! Here’s a picture taken with my tiny camera on zoom, not so great for clarity, but it works!
I love when you’re hiking along and if you keep your eyes open, really take notice of what you see, you may see something almost underfoot, literally! I was chatting with an older gentleman while up on the far side of the mountain, a good thing to do to catch your breath. I pointed out a dung beetle crawling along on the ground. I took lots of photos…it’s just great to look at later and notice all the cool things you don’t see at the time. His feet had long ‘toe’ parts, his antennae were a beautiful color with several parts to it, his legs a gorgeous deep purple. When I looked at him from above he was just like the ancient scarabs the Egyptians used in their jewelry. Ok..yes, he’s still a dung beetle, as I studied him…he crawled directly across the path and found..umm…dung! I spared you the picture of that!
This I did while up at the highest point, looking down at the b+b I came from. I stradled a cold, damp stone wall and tried to sit on my coat. I had to hang one leg over the side towards the valley, it was a pretty big drop off. People passed by and I just tried to do my best with my small set of oil pastels, smearing the clouds as the weather changed and mist came in.

This quick sketch was done on the fly…the weather was changing and I was a little worried about how long it would take me to finish my hike. I did take pictures so I could do a little color study later, if I can I’ll post it.
And this is the last page of my sketchbook for today that I wrote while at the Badger Pub. After my hike I freshened up at the b+b then walked the back path to cross over the bridge to the pub. The dinner was excellent and when 9pm rolled around, we were invited to go out back of the pub to watch the badgers get fed! I counted at least nine of them! It was really cool, my only experience with badgers was when I was a zookeeper, his name was Boris! You had to keep a shovel between you and him to keep from being nipped!
I hope you enjoy the video clip below of the lake from my hike. It was a fantastic walk that has filled my memory with wonderful things. I hope you come along with me on the rest of my journey in England!

“Waiting in Friendly’s” 12-26-08

I did this sketch obviously while waiting to eat at Friendly’s in Endicott NY. I went to visit my dad and family after Christmas, always taking my sketchbook with me, like a little kid I need to keep occupied! I originally drew this with a pencil and kneaded rubber eraser, hiding it under the table as I drew. I try not to be too obvious when I draw people in public, they can start to feel like you’re staring at them. I try to get the general person sketch in and some lines of the furniture around them, then work on the people leaving furniture for later. You can finish that stuff long after they’re gone.

The pencil got so smeared by the time I got back to Buffalo I had to redraw it quickly in pen. So it looks a bit different, but I should learn my lesson by now, graphite just doesn’t travel well in a sketchbook that gets moved around a lot.