Here’s a post I wrote from July, never too late to enjoy a bit of sun I guess!?
July 16, 2015
Did I tell you how much I LOVE living here in Northumberland? I did? Well I won’t get tired of saying it or doing my sketches out in the field.
Taking a rest, enjoying the day, in my barn boots of course!
I went up in the field near Edlingham Castle, I had it all to myself, no sheep or cows about. It was just that kind of day that I sat on the ground to think, listen to the birds and enjoy just living. Then I just lay back and put my straw hat over my eyes and let time slip by, and it was ok.
Trying to take a selfie with a 35mm isn’t easy!
Laying down amongst the clovers, it made me feel like a kid again. Isn’t that funny? I should go lay in the grass more often! Maybe we could start a national “Lay in the Grass Day”! haha.
Below is a picture of what it looked like, my view from the grasses, the clouds were so beautiful.
My view from the grass, my mouse eye view.
And below, this is what I saw near me, a Ringlet butterfly, a very common sight in the fields here in summer. I’m really enjoying learning the new butterflies and bugs here in the UK.
A Ringlet butterfly on a clover head.
Well I didn’t just lay around all day, after a little while I went down the field, found a spot to stand and did a small painting. Below is a picture of Edlingham Castle, this was what I drew. You can see by the photo, the lighting never stays the same when you’re painting outside. My painting ended with nice blue skies and sunshine!
Edlingham Castle view from field.
Below is the ink drawing I did first. Sometimes I do an ink drawing then paint with my watercolors, especially if I don’t think I’ll have time to paint it. The other way is to do a light pencil sketch and then paint, drawing with ink a little for details on the pencil before or after painting.
Ink drawing of Edlingham castle, over the gate.
Below is my finished watercolor painting, only 4.5″ x 6″. You can see how bright the colors are, the day really was so bright, unlike the photo! The ink drawing makes it look more like an illustration than a painting to me. Kind of like all details are picked out at once, but that’s ok.
Edlingham Castle, Northumberland. Watercolor and Ink 4.5″ x 6″
I hope you enjoyed a little look back into summer! If you don’t want to miss any of my posts, just put your email in the box at the top right column. It’ll send you an email notice and you just respond then you’ll get my posts right in your inbox. Remember though, it’s best to click to come here and read the post, it lays out better on the page (and you can leave comments here).
As I was looking through my small sketches and watercolors from this spring and early summer, I found I have many that are of distant views of the hills. Scenes that are all around me here in Northumberland England, just drive anywhere and you will always see some far off huge hills in the distance that all the locals can tell you the name of. Yes, all have names, very old names! It’s fun to learn the silhouettes and names of them.
Our favorite thing to do is walk up any of the high hills and see into the distance; can you believe we can see all the way to Scotland!? You don’t have to climb a high hill to appreciate the views though, even walking on the upper lane out of our village gives you views across Whittingham Vale or up to Corby Crags.
View of the Cheviots and Glanton area in the Whittingham Vale.
The tiny watercolor sketch above is from one of my morning walks along the upper lane of our village. The blue hill in the distance on the left is actually two hills in the Cheviots, one being “The Cheviot” itself. The hill in the center I’m pretty sure is Low Pyke in Glanton, the next village that you can see across the valley. It makes you realize that all the way back to bronze age man, people must have named the hills and used them for direction.
Study of Corby Crags in watercolor, March 10, 2015.
This little study above is of Corby Crags, as seen from my side yard in spring. It’s just a quick watercolor sketch to practice clouds and colors, but I remember standing there doing it on a sunny day in March, when winter was breaking.
“Burning Heather on Brizlee”, watercolor field study, April 6, 2015
This one was done while walking along our upper back lane, I saw smoke from a fire in the distance and stopped to record it. I leaned on a big field gate as I looked past the buildings in the foreground to the long hill in the distance. My husband told me they were burning heather on the moors up on Brizlee, this is to promote new growth of heather shoots for the grouse and partridges (all for the hunting season). This hill I realized later when I looked on a map is all the way in Alnwick, the next village about 6 miles away!
“View of Demesne Farm and Thrunton Woods”, watercolor, May 26, 2015.
One of my favorite things here is to watch the clouds cast shadows and patches of sun creep across the face of the land. Where the sun goes the greens and golds of the land come alive, it’s so dramatic! The little 5 1/2″ x 7″ watercolor above I did while sitting on the side bank of the road out of our village looking towards Thrunton Woods and Demesne Farm. It’s one of my morning walks that is relatively short but always windy when you get to the top. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this view!
“View From Edlingham Lane” watercolor, July 21, 2015.
This 4 1/2″x 6″ study was done on the same lane but just a week ago. I was near the top of the lane where you really get hit with all the wind sweeping across this valley. It was a misty day and my hands got cold and stiff, yeah even in July! As I painted this it started to rain (see the approaching clouds?) so I quickly put my kit away…then it stopped….so unpack the kit again! The weather here is just like that, dress in layers because when the sun comes out you’ll get so hot and start peeling off jackets, but as soon as the clouds come it’s cold and there could be a surprise sprinkle in that cloud. I usually bring more than the average walker because I end up sitting or standing still a lot and it gets cold when you don’t move around.
Next post I’ll share more photos of my surroundings, but still so many sketches to share too! Besides sketching I’ve been busy testing watercolor paper so I can dig in and concentrate on my illustrations, I also got a new watercolor field box that I’ve been using and love. I’ve been recording (with photos and sketches) the local flora and fauna (would you expect anything less from me?) So far I have positively identified 51 birds, 46 different wildflowers, 10 butterflies, 3 moths and any number of unidentified insects, moths, plants etc. It’s exciting to be in a new country with all these new things! I’ll share more of this coming up, stay tuned!
Ok, so I know it’s summertime so why am I talking about spring? Well I still have sketches and paintings to share that are from late winter and spring before I share my recent work. You’ll notice my winter and spring sketches were all quite small and not as much watercolor going on. As the weather warms up, and thus my fingers, I start to do more. Lately I’ve been doing some charcoal drawings too, but lets not get ahead of ourselves…spring first!
Watercolor of Edlingham Burn, February 10th in Edlingham village, Northumberland.
Above, here’s a small watercolor I did while sitting by the burn or stream that runs through Edlingham. The painting is just small, about 5×6″ or so, but good practice to paint the green trees and blue and brown water. Well actually the water is quite clean and clear, it just reflects all that’s above it! I really enjoyed the sun that day though it was still cold, so I finished the painting at home.
Fuzzy Buds drawing in ink February 17, 2015
I just love when native bushes bloom with soft fuzzy buds in springtime. They have little shiny, leathery looking caps that their fuzzy little heads push up as they swell to bloom. I brought some twigs in to draw; if you put them in water they look great and last awhile as you draw them.
My set up for drawing.
I set up the jar of buds by the patio windows, getting some natural light to work by. I like sitting here with my porridge in the morning to read and watch the birds outside.
Painted with watercolor from live branches I brought inside. February 17, 2015
I really enjoy trying to paint the soft look of the buds and also showing that they are white. You can’t (well I can’t) help but stroke them and think of how it feels like the ear of my bunny I had years ago!
One of many snowdrops, done in ink and watercolor. February 11, 2015
Spring here in England, wouldn’t be spring without the Snowdrops! They were everywhere and lasted so long, a real promise of more spring flowers to come. I had planned to paint a Snowdrop open, but ran out of time. I took a lot of pictures though so maybe in the future?
Unfinished sketch of a bit of Edlingham Valley.
Here’s another from February; do you notice how small this is? It’s from one of my tiny 4.25″ x 5″ sketchbooks I like to use in the winter. (see pic below). It’s great for tucking in your pocket when you just might want to draw something interesting, and I draw while standing up so it’s easy to hold too.
Finished watercolor 4.25″ x 5″, view in Edlingham, Northumberland.
Later I finished the color on the trees and grasses. As the page says, it was cold that day!
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small.
There’s the sketchbook I made, designed complete with a pen holder made out of duct tape!
The Vole Hole, watercolor, 4.25″ x 5″.
Another tiny one, done on the backside of the sketch of Edlingham Valley view. Who can resist a tiny hole belonging to a vole or mouse? I know my husband’s cat can’t but neither can I for different reasons. I just have this little childlike vision of cute mice straight from Beatrix Potter coming out of the holes. I like to practice drawing these kinds of homes for future stories I may illustrate.
4.25″ x 5″ ink drawing of our ancient Sycamore.
I did this sketch with the intention to study the wonderful colors that are on this tree. It’s an ancient Sycamore covered with lichens of many colors, mosses of green and the tree bark’s own reddish hue, just waiting (still) to be studied by my watercolors.
Well I think that’s all for this post, I still have lots of small spring sketches and watercolors to share soon though. Next time I’ll post some more photos too. I’ll be posting soon, stay tuned!
Winter has passed by and I’m still settling into my new life in England. I did some sketches as I could, being tired from unpacking, cleaning or just being overwhelmed in general. But happily I can see my sketching has increased as the months slip by and I will share all that in further posts to catch up.
Waiting at Gate 12, Buffalo International Airport…the big day way back in December!
Today I’m posting sketches I did way back in December and January. The one above I did while waiting in the Buffalo International Airport, Gate 12, for my flight to the UK. I like the way it came out, a person sitting ‘almost’ in silhouette in front of the huge windows. It definitely helped to pass the time and calm my nervous excitement.
Ink sketch of a very old Hawthorn in a farmers hedgerow.
After I settled in I started walking in the mornings, mostly on my favorite lane above the village. Just like at ‘home’ in New York, sketching in winter I mostly use very small pocket sketchbooks. It’s just too cold to stand around freezing my fingers off, so I just do smaller quicker sketches; the most important thing is just to keep sketching.
The drawing above is actually tiny, done at the top of the page, but I like how it came out. It’s done with a brown Faber-Castell ink pen; I love using these pens. It’s a twisted little hawthorn along a sheep field, very exposed to the winds at the top of a ridge. I like it’s character because it reminds me of a bonsai tree. Some of the little trees you see hedges made of are actually very old trees that are trimmed all the time.
“Tree on Upper Lane”, a rough sketch on a very cold day, using water soluble pencils that I haven’t wet yet!
This sketch was done very quickly because it was so darn cold! I love walking on this one lane that goes out of our village because it’s lined with ancient trees and gorgeous views of distant hills and fields. I did it using water soluble pencil but wanted to scan it before I wet it. When you wet them they can get very dark and intense…it still waits for me to wet it with my brushes and mess around.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed.
This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small. I made a pen holder out of duct tape and attached it to the back cover. I have another one that’s even smaller that I used at home a lot too, just loved sticking it in my barn coat pocket when I went walking.
Small watercolor done while sitting along the bank of Edlingham Burn, on a very cold day in January.
January 7, 2015 – I walked down to Edlingham Burn (small river) and found a mossy rock to sit upon with this lovely view. Well maybe it’s hard to imagine from such a small sketch, but it was a view of the burn and moss covered trees everywhere, just lovely!
Me in the freezing cold, painting Edlingham Burn.
I was very cold painting this, I did it with mittens on mind you, no easy task! I sat on a bit of rock, cold and damp, but it felt so good to be out and finally messing with my watercolors, that I didn’t notice (until I got up, all stiff!) I used one medium sized waterbrush to do this.
The livestock fence across the burn.
Farmers use old pallets across small streams or ‘burns’ here, to keep sheep and cattle in sectioned off fields. I put it in the background of my watercolor sketch you can see above.
A walk along the burn in January.
This is Edlingham Burn, I walked along it looking for a spot to paint. Where the rest of the land was pretty bleak and bare, the river was/is fascinating to me. With all it’s mossy trees, ivy climbing everywhere, dry grasses draping over dark banks touching the cold water and the sound of splashing water, wonderful.
From my small sketchbook, I love the way these two trees were twisting together.
These two trees I found behind the old church, in the farmers field. I really like how this sketch came out. They twisted together, almost in an embrace, part lichen covered, part moss. Standing in a cold, bare hedge, naked of leaves or flowers, just waiting till spring! Maybe someday I’ll do a larger color study.
Pine tree across the road from us, I noted the birds I saw while sketching it.
January 26th – I did this sketch on a day where I was tired and not feeling particularly inspired. That’s an especially good time to stick to your small sketchbook, just do something small until you ‘do’ feel inspired. It helped me to focus and relax; practice is always a good thing. I noted the birds I saw while doing it, Seagulls, Jackdaws and a Tree Creeper.
A pretty view of sheep over a country fence.
I thought I’d leave you with two more photos, from Jan. 6th on my morning walk. I love watching the sheep in the fields all around me, there are so many kinds here!
A sheep wondering what I’m doing in her field.
This little ewe was watching me, they run away if you get too close, so having a zoom is needed! They are all carrying lambs at this time and I can’t wait to see them in spring!
Check back for more updates, yes there are more sketches, paintings and photos to catch up with from this spring and I can’t wait to share them with you! Sign up in the right column with your email, if you want to be notified when I do new posts. Please leave me comments if you like!
Hello there! Yes I know it’s now
October November, but I’m super busy getting ready for my big move to England so I haven’t had much time for posting! During the summer I did get my sketchbook out and go adventuring into my wild fields but most of what I observed just so happened to be right in my backyard. I have a really big yard and lots of wild stuff just dying to burst through the fence all around! I love it!
(Please click on pictures to view larger)
The back fence barely holds back all the wild plants and flowers in the field!
I took a break and sat in a lawn chair on a very nice day to do this little watercolor sketch. It’s only a couple inches in diameter but I got to play a bit with the watercolors and that was so relaxing.
A collection of wild plants and flowers.
I like studying the little plants and flowers that grow in my grass, above is an old sketch I did when I started to notice them.
I’ve been noticing this tiny purple wild flowering plant (below) for years, but just realized that there are two plants! So now I need help identifying them.
This plant grows very short when in the mowed lawn and still flowers!
Bees just love these tiny flowers.
Look how beautiful these little clusters are!
The three photos above are all the same kind of plant. Notice the leaves are oval/lance shaped and smooth margins? Also the flowers always grow from one spiked cluster at the top of the plant. What gets confusing is where the plant is found in my trimmed lawn, sometimes the spike is cut off and looks very different when flowering. Each individual bloom is really quite beautiful (if you get down on your hands and knees and take a ‘mouse eye view’!)
Below are photos of the second purple wildflower.
Study of purple wildflower #2 I did years ago.
I ‘think’ this might be called “Gill Over the Ground”?? I did this study years ago. I love how the tiny leaves look like round geranium leaves and have wavy margins. When the new leaves are forming they make the nicest little clusters that are really fun to draw! I really need to do more studies of this one.
Here’s a photo of the same plant.
This photo doesn’t show many flowers, but they grow more than this example. Their flowers can grow from sections along the stem and not so much from a spike like the other flowers.
A beautiful Hawkmoth hovers over the flowers as it feeds.
I know it’s a bit hard to see, but there’s a Hawkmoth hovering over the tiny flowers! Below I cropped the photo so you could see it better.
A fascinating Hawkmoth, can you see it’s clear wings?
See how important all these little flowers are in your grass?
With tiny flowers you get tiny butterflies and bugs.
Above is a photo of that same plant in my grass…and what is that tiny little blue flutter I saw?
A gorgeous Spring Azure Butterfly!
Yes, for tiny flowers you have tiny butterflies, tiny bugs and bees. This butterfly was a dainty flitting little thing, until I identified it I was calling it a “Fairy Blue Butterfly”! I kind of like my name better! So it looks pale blue now, but when it opens it’s wings (extremely hard to catch a photo) it’s very blue. So when it flies you see the white and blue of under and upper wings combine to make a light blue! Just like one of those flat paper toys you spin on a string and it makes a new picture or color.
An old style illustration using the wild plants in my yard.
Above is a study I did in my field sketchbook years ago using the tiny plants in my yard. I really like it and will do more studies like this in the future! Do you see the little purple wildflower #2 in this?
A watercolor study of Knapweed (as far as I can tell).
I ventured out on my land here at Long Lane Farm, towards the end of summer. Out in what we call “The Maze” there’s this beautiful wildflower growing; I think it’s Knapweed. I tried very hard to find photos like it online and since all my wildflower books are packed away I didn’t really figure it out definitively.
This is another study of Knapweed, done in bright sunlight.
Yes, this is the same type of plant, just different lighting when I painted it. I worked in full sunlight and tried to paint the colors I saw. I tried to take more note of the leaves so someday I can get help with identifying it. Though I love it I have a feeling it might be one of those dreaded invasive weeds?
Skipper butterfly on sweet white clover.
Above is white clover with a Skipper butterfly on it. All summer I enjoyed the multitude of clovers and Moneywort growing in my grass…weed killer?? God help us, NEVER! I have all kinds of beautiful tiny plants and flowers in my lawn…their leaves are green, they add to the ‘greeness’ of my lawn and also beautiful tiny flowers.
White clover blooming in the warm grass of summer.
And when that clover is blooming I’ve never smelled anything sweeter! You just have to stop and breath in, and realize that subtle sweet smell is the clover talking to you. It’s saying, “Don’t spray me with weed killer!” Seriously though, when I look across the yard and it’s blooming, it’s so beautiful, especially with the sunny yellow Dandelions.
Tiny study of Dandelions in the grass.
Below you see the Skipper on a bending Dandelion head, can you remember the smell of that pretty little flower? And how soft it is when it tickles your nose?
A tiny Skipper butterfly on a soft dandelion head.
A small study I did years ago of Moneywort, not in bloom.
The Moneywort loves it here because it’s damp and when that blooms it’s stems are absolutely covered with bright yellow flowers. It actually gives the grass a yellow hue when you look at it with a ‘painters eye’. I remember when I did this study all the plants were under freezing cold spring melt-water.
White Asters grow in profusion around my fences.
The bees are allover, gathering nectar from the wild flowers and pollinating to their hearts content…do bees have hearts? I’m sure they do! Above is a study I quite like of White Asters. They grow in tiny but profuse branched clusters that form little bushes of white dainty flowers. As the flower grows ‘old’ the center turns from a bright yellow to a dark orange-ish to red-ish looking color. I really love these little dainties and even wrote a story about one little aster, someday to share.
Tiny mushrooms growing in the grass. Watercolor + ink.
One of my favorite things is to discover little mushroom clusters in the grass. I’m terrible at identifying mushrooms and someday I think I’ll concentrate on learning a bit more, but for now I’m content to just sketch and be inspired. When I see mushrooms in the grass and get right down at eye level (or mouse level as I call it!) I think about how they look like little houses for wee folk or critters.
Studies of tiny mushrooms
So we’ll end it here, Fall is almost over now and there are NO flowers in my yard! I have collected lots of photos to use for reference when I do my illustrations in the future. Oh that reminds me! I have one more picture that you’ve seen before but would be fitting here.
“Mouse Family in the Leaves”
It’s great to use the real plants I see in my own backyard when I do my illustrations. I hope to show you more in the future!
Do you have tiny wildflowers growing in your grass? I love reading comments, please add yours below!
I’ve been meaning to post these pictures as I did them at the end of this winter. All of them were done outside while wearing mittens, so I was going to title the post something like that, but now that winter is gone I can’t bring myself to think about mittens! So, here’s a bunch of tiny sketches done at the end of winter, using my tiny square sketchpad.
Tiny sketch kit I keep in my winter ‘backyard coat’ pocket; I also keep a mechanical pencil and kneaded rubber eraser in it.
The baggie is sandwich sized and in it I keep a permanent ink pen, one mechanical pencil, a kneaded rubber eraser along and the homemade 4″ x 4″ sketchbook. This small size is great for winter because just capturing a small sketch on a freezing cold day is better than trying to do something bigger and your fingers fall off from the cold before you’re done! 😉 I also keep a few pages of printer paper at the back for notes or creative ideas for poems.
Aspen leaf deep in the snow…very cold outside!
I’ll add my small sketches in order that I did them.
“Waiting for Spring”
The tree sketch above was done the same day, after strolling around the frozen yard. The two trees at the back corner of my yard had dark, dead leaves and swirled dried grasses all about them, like an oasis in the white snow.
“Waiting for Spring” photo of sketchbook.
This photo above just shows how small the sketch is. Like I said the idea is to keep the sketchbook handy in my pocket and keep the drawing time to a minimum.
“Cocoon Leaf” that I’ve been watching all winter.
This is a sketch of the leaf I’ve kept an eye on all winter. I wondered why one dead leaf never fell from this little tree in my yard, I suspected what I found, a cocoon. Very interesting to look at up close and see the silk spun around the stem.
“Cocoon Leaf” sketched from the other side.
And this is sketched the next day after my walking. It was difficult to draw with bulky mittens on, sometimes I pull back the top and use my fingers. I like this sketch because it shows how beautiful the form of the leaves wrap together.
A tree by the lane (Long Lane).
Today I went further than the yard, up Pasture Lane into the big field. It was just great to be out in the open and not cooped up inside, though it was still very cold. All the ground that had flooded in the winter was covered by ice + water, so I had to watch my steps. As I sketched the tree I imagined a squirrel could be looking down from that one ‘V’ branch, in a story, then I thought of England as usual. “My mind if full of leaving, my mind is full of returning…to England”. Then it started to snow again.
“Cocoon Leaf”, another sketch…I like this one.
The next day I walked in the yard again and drew the leaf. It’s great to repeatedly study one object, every sketch a different angle or different lighting.
“Cocoon Leaf” gets covered with a plastic mesh bag.
I decided to play more the ‘scientist’ and hopefully get to study what kind of critter comes out of the cocoon, if any! I took a plastic mesh bag from some onions and gently tied it over the twig with the cocoon. I made sure the bag won’t move and disturb the cocoon leaf. The only thing about doing this is now I’ve signed on to be “Cocoon Keeper”, it’s my responsibility to watch it everyday in case something does come out.
The other neat thing about drawing outside that day is the sounds I heard from the treeline. There’s a ditch that drains the fields there and all winter it’s full of water and ice. Today the ice made such interesting cracking sounds, I assume it’s to do with temperature changes between air and earth.
Sketches of what I think are Woodcock footprints in the snow.
I had a nice walk on this day, March 25. The sun was out, it was cold but calm and I got to see a Woodcock walking on the ground! First I saw these tracks which I noted, then just further on I saw a Woodcock in the treeline walking! I’ve never seen one on the ground, they always flush as I come upon them. I tried to grab photos but, NO WAY, it was too quick for me.
Tree in Aspen Hall with interesting marks on it.
Last sketch of ‘Winter’; though it’s officially spring, with snow on the ground and mittens I still call it winter! This was sketched the same day, after seeing the Woodcock. I walked up Long Lane to Aspen Hall and sat for a bit on a pile of dead branches I use for a seat. Aspen Hall is a special place for me because it’s a place on my land where my sons and I would first hike to. Just far enough for a 2 + 4 year old to make it to, one in a wagon when tired, but far enough to be an adventure and secret place; I always loved secret, special places. We planted daffodils and crocuses 20 years ago, and some still come up now! I can’t believe it’s been so long ago.
Well that’s it for ‘wintery sketches’! I do have more in my tiny sketchbook but they are officially done ‘without mittens’! so I’ll save them for another ‘tiny sketchbook post’.
If anything, I hope this encourages some of you to stick a small sketchbook in your pocket and just do little studies when you’re out. Some of us spend far too much time focused on work, the house, the kids, the computer….when it’s so important to get out and walk and see. The best way to see is to stop, study and draw!
(Just a note on my actual drawing techniques, sometimes I use a pencil to sketch and correct with a kneaded rubber eraser. Afterwards I’ll go over it with the permanent pen, let it dry, then erase the pencil. I do this because I don’t like pencil in my field sketchbooks as it smudges. Many, many times I don’t use the pencil first at all, I just take my time and sketch directly with the permanent pen. It can be a freeing feeling to do this, but also can make you think a little more before you make your mark!)
Hope you enjoyed my tiny sketches and notes, please leave me comments and ask questions if you like, I love reading them and replying!
The little mice of Long Lane don’t sleep in the winter like some other animals do. They still go out into the snowy land and look for food or visit each other. They have cozy little homes, deep under ground or inside of great old trees. (please click pictures for clearer view)
“Home Cozy Home”
They like to light candles that cast a warm light and even a little warmth to their small rooms. The flame flickers and the hot wax melting smells good!
Warm candle light flickers on the walls.
They like to have creamy hot cups of cocoa by the fireside waiting on the warm hearth.
Oh what a cozy scene, I can almost smell the wood fire!
Some of the mice have learned how to use snowshoes, finding they don’t sink into the deep snow as easily. Here’s a pair that just came in from the cold!
A trusty pair of snowshoes getting dry by the fire.
Those snowshoes belong to this mouse, he’s taking all his wet layers off by the warm fire.
Little snowshoe mouse getting warm.
First he takes off his snowshoes and sets them by the fire, then he takes off his boots, hat, mittens and scarf. He knows his mom has made hot cocoa for them both to enjoy.
And here’s the whole scene, mouse getting warm by his cozy fire.
I did this watercolor after I was out snowshoeing myself this winter. I like getting out using them, they’re good exercise especially when you’re cooped up indoors. I found it difficult this winter because we had awful flooding around Christmas time and then it all froze. Walking out on the lanes was not a great idea so I didn’t get to go snowshoeing much like this little mouse! 🙁
Maybe it was wishful thinking creating this little sketch? It’s not really big but I like how it came out for a sketch. I have redrawn it on ‘good’ paper and will see if I can paint it again and still keep that freshness I love about a sketch.
I hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully it won’t be long and we’ll be looking at spring blooms instead of snow at Long Lane Farm! 😉
I created some beautiful glossy note cards have a look! (Click the pictures) They would make a cozy winter greeting to send someone. You can put any color you want around the painting.
Golden orange background.
Red background, this would look great as a Christmas Card!
A small chuckle for you today!
“When Bananas Go Bad” color
(Click for clearer view) I have to blame my Fiance for this silly thought, as we joked around about bananas going bad; then I jump right in and make it real by creating the characters! I scanned it right from my sketchbook and didn’t clean it up as I did below in the black and white.
“When Bananas Go Bad”
I think I prefer the black and white at this point, I think my colors got too muddy in the color. What do you think?
(I wrote this in November. Sorry it’s a bit late, but I thought you’d still enjoy the pictures of my walk!)
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go…high ho the dairy oh….a hunting we will go!
When you need something for a project and you can’t buy it at the local store, it’s great to know you have it right in your own backyard! I want to make some felted acorns, have you seen any of these? Oh they are so cool; I love the texture and colors of the wool and the real acorn cap is just perfect.
On my property there is a place I call “Oak Lane” because all along it there are huge, ancient oak trees growing and I watch over them the best I can. Well I set out for a short walk, only taking my camera and a plastic bag and glad that I put on my Wellies or barn boots because ‘AY CARUMBA’ it was wet!
Just what I was looking for, Bracket Fungus and Moss!
I also had it in mind to collect reference pictures for my illustration projects. I found some excellent bracket fungus and moss for “Miss Mouse’s House”. I made up a sketch (in the new, big studio sketch book!) of her house and I can’t believe when I was walking, I found JUST the thing! I hope to share Miss Mouse with you when I get more sketches done.
What was supposed to be a short walk turned (as usual) into a long ramble, taking pictures every few steps. Seriously, every few steps…”oh look at that color!” “Oh…look how the trees reflect in the water”….glad no one came with me, I was able to wander slowly, drinking it all in and taking lots of pictures for future reference. When you walk slow and pause often, you also can take notice of so many things around you.
Reflections in the water, along Pasture Lane as I walked.
When I made it to Oak Lane, I picked up a small stick with a forked tip and used it for shuffling the wet leaves away. We’re not talking about oak trees in a yard with neatly trimmed grass! No…it was wild and absolutely covered with leaves, and how beautiful. But any caps I did find were mostly covered with mud, so into the bag they went to be studied later.
Interesting and delicate pod or gall I found under the leaves.
Another neat thing I found, this thing that looks like some kind of a gall? It was on the ground under the leaves and I’m guessing it was on the tree or a small plant before because it had a stem. There’s a hole so whatever grew up inside it came out. It is paper thin and very interesting, so I put it in my bag, hoping it wouldn’t get squished. (see note at end of post)
Can you see anything in all these leaves?
The best find of all was when I noticed something move in the leaves, a tiny, tiny movement but I saw it. Then I just stopped and watched, and waited…then saw it again and really had to watch it not to loose it in the leaves again, a tiny Wood Frog!
A beautiful and tiny Wood Frog!
Not very big and exciting you say? NO it IS! How many years have I walked on my land and do you think I see them all the time? NO, I hear them but don’t see them. So I snapped as many photos of this frog, that seriously was only as big as my thumbnail, as I could. Then when I was satisfied I had gotten enough, I used my stick to carefully move a blade of grass that was blocking my view of him.
Nice side view showing his mask.
It’s totally ok that it made him hop onto new leaves, I got even better pictures of him! You have to be patient and yes, it gave me a very stiff neck, all that looking down and crouching.
Here’s a top view of him, you can see the patterns on his back that help him blend in.
I think because it was so cold he was moving slower than normal, a great time to get photos of frogs. Then I heard another Wood Frog across the lane calling and I thought, maybe that’s his mate or in ‘children’s book land’ his friend? It’s wandering through the woods alone when you can let your imagination have play too, and it’s good for you!
This was an unusual fungus I saw more than once, it looked liked someone squished raisins on the branch!
On the way back then it started to rain, then it hailed on my head! It was ok, the clouds were magnificent and the the cold breezes blowing, making my cheeks glow, it was wonderful to be there at that moment and really take it in.
Such beauty in a much overlooked wildflower, Chicory.
I found two Chicory plants with beautiful blue blossoms on them still, hanging on to any sun they can get now.
And one little Aster in the middle of the ‘Maze’, an overgrown field with paths I cut years ago. The white Aster looked up at me with it’s tiny little face, and asked if winter was coming soon? I told it to prepare and go to sleep before the snow falls. It was sad but missed it’s friends, as they had all gone, so it nodded it’s head and drooped a little in it’s tiny stem.
Though I see interesting and beautiful things, walking alone on my land, I’m sometimes like the little Aster. It focuses my thoughts as I walk in quiet and when I see the beauty I want to turn to my sweetheart to share it with him, and he’s not there. And the discoveries I make I want to share with my Dad…and then I miss him again and again, not being able to talk to him. I’m sure many of you know what I mean, but instead of focusing on who isn’t there, I try to share my experiences with those I can.
The wild rose hips and their leaves were just beautiful, magical colors!
I can show Gary pictures and talk to him on Skype until we can walk together. And my dad, I thank him for encouraging my love of nature and my creative endeavors as I quietly promise to follow through on my children’s stories. And to all of you, so glad you stop by to read my ramblings and see what I’m up to!
Have you gotten outside to take a slow walk lately? Noticing the change of seasons?
Maple leaf I made by wet felting wool.
I made this leaf out of wool by wet felting it, isn’t it cool? I can keep it forever and it won’t lose it’s color. Here’s a picture with two leaves I made.
Two Maple leaves I made into felt from wool.
Now here are those felted acorns I made! Aren’t they cool?
Colorful wool needle felted acorns, caps from two different oak trees.
I have since added pretty beads to the strings and made them into ornaments.
* My online friend Ed has kindly sent me a link to a page about the mysterious empty gall I found. It’s from an Oak Apple Gall Wasp, please read about it here, it’s fascinating! And here’s a page all about galls and the ‘critters’ that form them. Thanks Ed!
My New Sketchbook! (please click pictures for clearer view)
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!
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.