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!
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!
Today, before I started cooking our Thanksgiving Day dinner, I popped outside for some air. I’ve been trying to walk laps around my yard for exercise but today I brought my lonely field sketch kit. It’s gotten ‘dusty’ from non use and how great it was to refresh with a sketch. I did this small, quick sketch of a tree covered with Wild Grapevines. (Click pictures to see clearer.)
Quick sketch of wild grapevines all over a tree.
As I was drawing/painting, I noticed that the vines on the right (in the sun), were best drawn by showing the darks around them. By painting the dark areas the vines showed up. And on the left side they were best shown by making the vines themselves dark and the space around them light. Opposites on each side of the tree they clung to. Hmm…might be something poetic here but haven’t gone with that inspiration yet.
The tree was absolutely choked with vines!
You can see the tree was choked with vines but they were so graceful looking, swirling around and in and out! What a good hiding place for critters when covered with leaves.
Yes that’s me sketching, wearing my Dad’s old Woolrich hunting coat and my fingerless mittens.
I got a picture of me sketching, wearing my Dad’s old Woolrich hunting coat that I love as it makes me think of him. He loved to be out in the fields in fall hunting birds with our Brittany Spaniel “Red” and in winter he’d don this coat with it’s matching trousers and go deer hunting. I remember going with him to ‘run the dog’ in fall, to get Red in shape and work on training. I loved going with him! I’m also wearing my fingerless mittens which later I took off, along with the coat because it was so nice and warm in the sun! I wear my sketch bag crosswise over one shoulder and my camera strap over the other.
Such blue skies!
I thought it was going to be colder. The sky was clear and blue, I love looking up at the tree tops like this. There were a few Chickadees flitting around keeping me company.
Get Outside and Sketch!
And there’s my final words! “Get Outside and Sketch!”
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you don’t celebrate it, I hope you still had a good week and got outside for some fresh air!
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
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
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!
This walk was on April 13, 2012, all around on my land checking on how things were doing now that spring is well underway. (please click pictures to see larger)
"Lane with Arched Branches" watercolor and ink
I did this watercolor study while standing in the lane, looking ahead through the natural arch formed by this one bush or small tree. Over the years as I would walk under it, I’d trim off branches hanging down right where you walk, so it formed a natural arch. The branches on top reach straight up like suckers do. I actually did most of it on one day then another time I was out I added the ink.
The first snail I met this year!
Now you can meet some of the critters I met on my walk. The first was a snail sliding along on this piece of dead grass floating in the water. I noticed this before on snails like this, his body color is blueish! Cool.
The second snail I met was this flat shaped coiled one.
Here’s a totally different kind, this one’s shell makes a coil but flat. Can you see the paler band of color at about 9 o’clock? Everything from there to the lip is new growth just from this year!
I took him home and he decided to come out to explore
Well, yes, I did tuck him into a little baggie I had with some of the water from where I found him! I stuck him in my pocket and brought him home to look at closer. I thought I’d have time to sketch him but when I realized I wouldn’t I released him right away.
Looking up to the spreading grandeur of this old oak!
Now here we are in “Oak Lane”, so named because of the very old, very huge oak trees growing there. They were probably planted some 200 years ago by the original owners of this farm as a land boundary. I love looking up at them as they tower over me, and marvel at how many years they’ve been looking down at people before me even. There are so many critters living in, on and under them!
Way up high this squirrel's tail was hanging out of it's hole.
When you’re out walking, if you keep your eyes open and maybe more importantly, stop sometimes and just stand still to listen and look, you may be surprised at what you see. As I was admiring my oaks and listening to birds I caught sight of something way, way up high, moving. It was just a stirring but it caught my eye; turns out it was a Grey Squirrels tail left hanging outside his/her hole! How funny it was, just blowing around in the wind like a flag put out on a porch. I think it was sleeping!
This is the first butterfly of the year for me, the Mourning Cloak
Then all of a sudden in a flutter, a Mourning Cloak butterfly appeared and landed not far from me. It was sticking to the open lane where the sun was. Everytime I got too close it flew off but I was patient and followed it along, and the last shots I got were the best because I think, it was tired and didn’t want to fly as much. After that I left it alone, thank goodness for digital zoom!
I hope you enjoyed this little walk and my watercolor study. Stay tuned because I have some more posts in the works! And as always please share my blog with friends and visit my Shop at Zazzle where you’ll find TONS of my nature photos and artwork on all kinds of products.
(please click to see enlarged and clearer)
"Pasture Lane in March" watercolor and ink
The land is starting to thaw at Long Lane Farm. The Robins have returned along with many other birds so I went out to look for signs of spring. It was very quiet except for occasional Chickadee’s following me or a Blue Jay calling, some Canadian Geese flying over. I made it just up the lane a little and decided to sit and do this sketch.
I carried a small camp stool over my shoulder so I sat on that and put my sketchbook on my lap along with my watercolor pan. I used two waterbrushes and a permanent ink pen to draw it first. I found it a bit difficult to paint the grasses right in front of me, that were all matted and crisscrossed on the ground, sooo much detail! You can see I didn’t get crazy into detail, mostly just looking for the darks and lights of the scene, showing the water around the rushes and the dry color of grasses in the lane. I didn’t fuss over it too long because my back hurt like a ‘son of a gun’! Darn back of mine, I think I may have been better to just stand like I usually do.
PS. A note to those who follow my blog, I’m so glad you keep coming back to read and see what I’m up to. I’ve not posted as much lately only because I am finally concentrating seriously on illustrating all the poems and stories I’ve written over the past years. I’ll try to share a bit as I can, but don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon! We’ll see what I end up with and I’ll keep you posted!
I made some cards with my sketch, check them out by clicking pics below:
Glossy Note Cards
Glossy Post Cards
Poster/Prints in many sizes and papers
(you can change the size smaller and the price will go down accordingly)
Today was cold, oh so cold but SUNNY!, and that makes all the difference in the world. It’s been a long while since I’ve sketched in the field (or while walking) since coming home from England.
Pasture Lane in February, all icy and beautiful.
I wore my mud boots or Wellies because I knew it’d be wet. The photo shows the wet lane and as I walked here and all through the field, it was creaking and cracking ice under foot. It was actually fun and reminded me of some movie scenes when you’d hear that familiar creaking of ice, just before the huge crack creased through the ice towards the unfortunate victim! Haha…oh but don’t worry, the water under ‘my’ ice is only a few inches deep! A tip from me, walk near the grasses along the edges of icy lanes, it’s more solid and less water underneath.
Bird's nest found in the field (click to see nice large image)
I spotted this nest so clearly in the bare branches of a bush in the middle of my field. I walked over and found that it was actually above my head, probably around 6′ 6″ or more from the ground. I’m not sure what kind it is, I’ve seen Song Sparrow nests in this field but they were lower. I did a quick drawing while wearing my fingerless gloves, which makes it better but you still get cold! Drawing with a permanent ink pen, I tried to sketch and plan where I needed to ‘not’ draw the branches so I could put the nest in and not have unerasable lines. While I had the real nest in front of me I added the shadows to the branches.
It was when I got home that I started to play around and draw twigs around the page like a frame. I did this as I waited for my water to boil, that nice cup of coffee I’d enjoy soon, to help me thaw. Now that I just studied real branches in the field, it was fresh in my mind and the most important thing is adding the shadows. Just pretend the light is always from the same side (mine was upper right side) and after you draw the branches, add the shadows. Now if I wanted I could add a poem along the right side; below I created a card, in my Zazzle shop, where you can do that!
The birds nest up high in a bush
Here’s a picture of the nest as it looked from back a few steps, up in the bush.
Nest up close.
This shot shows the nest up close, I love having my tiny olympus camera in my bag for this type of shot. On purpose I left my ‘regular’ camera at home, determined to push myself to do a sketch today! Well, darn it, I still like taking pics of the beautiful landscapes, close ups of interesting things and if I do a sketch perhaps the subject I drew. I try to always have my tiny camera in my sketch kit. I thought the nest had spider web helping to hold it together but now I look closer and think it could be downy seeds instead. I love the colors of the woven grasses in the nest, though being that it was so cold outside, I really didn’t want to pull out my watercolors as I stood in front of it drawing.
A view from above by holding the tiny camera up high.
And here’s the last shot, I held the camera up as high as I could and pointed it into the nest. It’s in such good shape after a whole winter, I’m so glad I spotted it and did my sketch today.
I’ve created some note cards using my photos and sketch in my Zazzle shop, please click any below and have a look! (I especially love the last one!)
“Pasture Lane in February” Note Card
“Birds Nest in February” Note Card
“Birds Nest in Winter Sketch” Note Card with changeable color background
“Birds Nest in Winter Sketch” Note Card with changeable text!
If you have any trouble adding the text you want, please email me and let me help you.
I couldn’t resist, I wrote a poem to go on this card! Please click to see it!