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A New Sketchbook!

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

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

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

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

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

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

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

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

Working on the letter "S".

Working on the letter “S”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sketch for a little girl mouse.

Sketch for a little girl mouse.

"The Daffodils" by William Wordsworth

Springtime Daffodils

Springtime Daffodils

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

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

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

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

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

Enjoy today folks, happy spring!

“A jocund company”

All photographs (c) Mary McAndrew

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

Spring Walk, Nature Notes and Poems

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

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

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

Natural arch of branches on Long Lane

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

Woodpecker hole in dead tree by “Memory Lane”.

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

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

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

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

Well that was fun! I just made that up!

Here’s the start of my “Grapevine” sketch

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

My watercolor palette, I just love the colors!

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

Using a waterbrush to paint.

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

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

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

Grapevine sketch and words done in the field.

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

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

Watercolor started in the field of purpley red bushes.

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

The old stick bridge at “Aspen Hall”

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

A very old car frame.

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

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

Ahhh…this is the life!

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

Hope you enjoyed our ramble!

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

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

“The Lightning Bugs”

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

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

I have notes about the poem following it below.

“The Lightning Bugs”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Mary McAndrew July 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

October Cows in Northumberland

 I know it’s already November and I’m way behind! I have more trouble getting online and having time to edit photos since I’ve been here in England. But I’m trying to go with the flow and keep up with posting my sketches and photos. I’m also using a tiny new laptop and my usual photo program isn’t on here, so I’m getting used to editing pictures with something new (sorry if they look small etc). I’ve also felt really down since my dad passed away and it’s hard to feel creative, as many of you probably know how that is.

 But here’s a few cows to start off with! It’s what I see most of around where I’m staying so they’ve gotten my attention. I just love the velvety look of their fur in fall. The days have been very cold, damp and windy but I did these sketches standing along the field in the wind! Brrrr.

Red Cattle in the Field, Oct 1

I wrote a poem as I watched them, just put a few words down then later I changed two words to make it better. I’ll retype it here:

“September ends…October is here,
The little Robin sings, Winter is near!

The red cattle in the field look so nice,
Fur like rust velvet, ready for Winter’s chill and ice.”

(c)Mary McAndrew 10-1-11

Overthwarts on the Hill, watercolor

The page above I did on October 2nd, it was windier, colder and wetter still than the day before! I wrote a note on the page about how hard it was to draw, of course I was wearing my fingerless mittens too and they are hard to paint in! There’s a farm called Overthwarts up on that hill as I looked from where I stood near Edlingham castle.

Cows at rest and an Angle Shade moth, ink.

The same day I walked a ways up the lane where it got even windier, I found some cows to sketch and sat down along the lane where I could see them through a break in the hedge. Getting down low really got me out of the worst of the wind.

Then another day an Angle Shade moth paid us a visit by coming inside, I guess it’s hibernation time! He didn’t want to leave. I put some sugar water in a little jar lid and he sucked it all up and grew very fat! Anything to help a little hungry wanderer. It hung around a few days just sitting there then disappeared, so I don’t know if he’s hiding out in the house or went back outside.

The furry red cow eyed me warily

Here’s one of the bovine beauties watching me, I tried to walk slowly and talk quietly to her but they are so skiddish, she turned away and made a retreat as I approached.

Well I hope you enjoyed my outdoor sketches, more to come, slowly but surely!

I had some fun creating note cards with cow (and sheep) photos I took in England, have a look in my shop!

“Step Outside Your Door Today”

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Spring Fuzzy Buds

Spring Fuzzy Buds on "Long Lane Farm"

Today is the “Equilux”, that is the day of the Equinox, where day is the same length as night. I heard that it’s also “World Storytelling Day“; now this interests me greatly as I love to tell stories and love to hear and read them. I’ll have to look into that further.  For me today was like a story of Spring coming. The sun was out, though the air was still very cold, and the birds are all vying for attention, not from me but they were certainly getting it! I did some sketches and wrote notes and a poem while I was walking so I’ll re-type what I penned on my pages for you to read.  So I tell a story today. (Please click pictures to see enlarged).

"Step Out Your Back Door" notes, poem and Hawthorn needle.

"Step Out Your Back Door" notes, poem and Hawthorn needle.

Journal: “March 20, 2011 Just had to pop outside. It’s sunny but cold; I am wearing a wooly cap + wool fingerless mittens. Though the sun shines + the birds are all singing, it’s COLD! Daffodils by the back door are getting ready for their entrance into Spring.”

Then I walked out into the pasture, totally flooded and squishy; so lucky I wore my ‘barn boots’ or Wellies as they call them in England.  Here’s a little poem I wrote while standing and listening to the birds:


“Step Outside Your Door Today”

“Step outside your door today, walk in your backyard.

Watch the Blackbirds sing and play, smiling is not hard.

The woodpecker laughs from his high perch,

As signs of Spring you do search.

Cardinals red and grasses of brown,

You smell the earth deep beneath the ground.

A stirring of creatures above and below,

Spring’s arrival defeats Winter’s foe!”

Mary McAndrew

Hawthorne needle

Hawthorne needle

Then I walked on and around “Aspen Hall”, a favorite area of my land where the boys and I used to picnic, I found a branch from the Hawthorne tree on the ground. I plucked many of the long sharp spines off it, then poked one through my paper like a needle. This looks really cool if you click the picture to see it enlarged!

As I walked it was so cold I had to keep my hat and scarf on.  When I found a sunny spot in the “Maze”,  it actually felt better to sit down out of the breeze. I was able to pull my wooly hat off and stretch my legs out; I put a plastic kitchen garbage bag on the ground to keep the wet where it belonged! Just make sure you don’t put it on any pokey stubs of things, you’ll get a hole and be surprised later!

Black Crayola Crayon Sketch

Black Crayola Crayon Sketch

Here’s a page in my sketch journal that I worked on, a view of the path I had just walked on.  I started with a little border line around the edges to add a neat design element. Then sketched in black ‘Crayola’ wax crayon that I had sharpened with my knife. Using this crayon was SO MUCH FUN! I can’t wait to try it some more, I loved the feel of the crayon on the slightly rough paper, you could see the texture too. You can press harder for darker lines and very lightly to make it light of course.

Using the flat tipped waterbrush to wet the watercolor crayons

Using the flat tipped waterbrush to wet the watercolor crayons

Then I tested my colors by making a tiny dot at the bottom of the next page and wet it. Make sure you test your colors before you scrawl all over a drawing, watercolor pencils and crayons can surprise you at how different they look wet!  I very lightly, using the side of the point of each crayon, added color to the areas. I saw the bushes and trees in front of me as more of a mass of value with some standing out in the foreground; so I massed it in as brownish reds then added heavier marks for trees and branches.  Experiment with adding lines onto your wet paper, they will be very distinct and bold; this is good for adding branches.

I’m using the flat waterbrush, I really like this brush for studies that need large washed areas and it’s great for making grass marks! PS. yes it was cold still, I did the sketch with the mittens on, the flipped back the finger cover to use my brush!

Sketch in the Maze done with watercolor crayons on black wax crayon

Sketch in the Maze done with watercolor crayons on black wax crayon

Here’s a picture of my crayons, (each is broken in half to make them fit and weigh less in my pack) I have them tucked into an “Altoids” tin with some paper towel. The ones in the lid on the left are what I used for this sketch. Another thing you can see is how in the foreground I used more lines from the crayons going back and forth to add texture. Then the flat waterbrush with tip sort of dry, it spreads apart and makes good grass type marks. Touch it to your crayon tip to get color and brush it on the paper. Click on the finished sketch below.

"Springtime Path in the Maze" watercolor crayon + wax crayon

"Springtime Path in the Maze" watercolor crayon + wax crayon

Here’s the finished sketch done in wax and water soluble crayons. I rather like it! Oh and the three bigger trees on the left are the “Sister Trees”, they are a group of huge trees I’ve painted before.

You may like to read my notes on this page that I wrote as I did the little painting. They are here at full size so you don’t have to click it and I typed out the notes below the picture!

Notes from my walk with colors for sketch at bottom.

Notes from my walk with colors for sketch at bottom.

Journal: “I’ve found a sunny spot to sit in a clearing on one of the paths in the “Maze”, an overgrown field on my property that I cut paths and tracks all around. This is an area I cleared more  into an open, private spot along one path. I put a clean plastic garbage bag upon the ground and that’s where I’m sat; legs stretched out and wooly hat off! Sun warming me nicely now! 🙂 I did the little sketch with Black Crayola crayon and it was wonderful to see the fine texture of the paper under my hand; pressing hard or light to get variety of lines. Then I lightly scumbled over it all with watercolor crayons by Caran d’ Ache. I never used these before as I thought the colors too garish- but if you go light the browns + the golden yellow were great over the black wax crayon! I love how the black crayon just stays. I used the big, flat waterbrush and it blended all nicely, then made perfect marks for texture on the ground in front.

Just sitting here quietly feels wonderful. I hear birds + distant sound of cars. The Chickadees are so curious they keep coming closer and closer. One just looked down on me from a small bush. Something else interesting, I can hear the ground making sound! There is a barely audible sound like “ticking” here and there all about me. I’m sure it’s the sound of air bubbles coming to the surface of this very wet ground…the earth breaths as the ice melts…the peepers awake.

12:10 pm 3/20/2011  Mary McAndrew”

Ginger on Long Lane, listening to the Peepers singing.

Ginger on Long Lane, listening to the Peepers singing.

Now, go get your dog, your children or just yourself, grab that sketchbook and some crayons and get out there!! Good days don’t wait for anyone, go enjoy what’s around you no matter where you live. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been out and noticed signs of Spring, leave me some comments.

I started putting lots of my sketches on “Flickr” if you want to stop by and see them, I may use it as a place to show all my sketch pages? We’ll see. Don’t forget to stop by my ‘SHOP’ to see the new Easter and Spring cards.

Moon Thoughts One Late January Night

"Moon Thoughts"

Not much to add here, the sketch says it all.  I guess I was feeling down because my back was still hurting a lot and there’s just something about looking at the glowing moon at night when I’m alone that sort of depresses me. But doing a little poem and sketch really changes my mood, can’t help but think about good things when you start to paint.

A fun thing to do in your journal is sketch the moon and clouds then add colors. I added these colors the next day after studying how the darks and lights looked.  Sometimes it’s nice to paint (color) something later, you can be more expressive with color or design.

Here’s the small poem in case it’s hard for you to read:

“The moon rises up

through the black fingers

of clouds,

stretched across the frozen


Night sky.”

Mary McAndrew

ps. I keep trying to do my physical therapy exercises everyday, sometimes I miss a day but I do try to get out for walks with Ginger and she really likes that! I believe you just have to keep moving!

“We Are None of Us Perfect”

I was creating note cards from my butterfly photos and noticed this one, though beautiful, has a torn wing. I thought about how so many of us have some kind of physical difficulty, or imperfection, but just go on with our lives. It inspired me to write a small poem that appears on the inside of this inspirational card.

“We are none of us perfect…” by MaryMcandrew

Please click on the title above to see the glossy note card in my shop. If you click on my name it’ll take you to my Zazzle Shop where I have many note cards for sale featuring my photographs and paintings of nature and landscapes. The poem is below.

We Are None of Us Perfect

We are none of us perfect,
From the outside perhaps,
Torn and tattered.
Parts not working.

But on the inside
Who knows us better
Than ourselves?
Or those who love us?

We are all bright shining
Lights of love and beauty!

(c) Mary McAndrew 2-15-2010

(The butterfly is a Red Admiral, I took it while in a garden in England.)

“Robert Burns Day and his poem “To a Mouse”

I hesitated to put this study up, it’s nothing gross to a naturalist, a dead mouse. Some people would say “oh, gross!” but all through time, man (scientists and artists in particular) has learned by studying from dead creatures. I love animals and things of our natural world and have a great respect for them even when dead. This mouse was very beautiful and being the curious naturalist that I am, I studied it, sketched it and painted it. It’s fur was soft and shiny, and it’s tiny paws amazing. Someday I’m going to have some pet mice again, (had them when a teenager) then I can study and paint them all I want.
The top painting was done first with a light pencil gesture sketch then I used watercolors, his whiskers being added with a Chinese white watercolor and tiny brush. The bottom left study was done with a brown micron permanent marker and the right one was done with non permanent brown ink, that I touched with a waterbrush to create value washes.

And now about Robert Burns, he was a poet from Scotland and they commemorate his life by having a Burn’s Supper on January 25th, there are formalities of speeches, whiskey toasts and haggis. Here’s a link to Wikipedia to learn more about it.

And why I mention Robert Burns…Scottish poet? I heard a poem on Robert Burns day (Jan. 25th) and it was about a mouse and it went with my mouse study; here’s a link to UTube to listen to a reading of his poem “To a Mouse”.

I like that he calls the mouse lucky, because he doesn’t look back at his past or worry about his future, he lives in the here and now unlike man. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I’ll look at my dog rolling in the grass, trotting freely around the yard and think…how lucky you are! To be as simple as an animal and live for just this moment.