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Snowdrops in the Churchyard

It’s been a long time since I used my watercolor pencils, so I thought I’d bring them out with me on this day (in March). The snowdrops were out in a thick blanket at the “St. John the Baptist” churchyard, Edlingham and the view in the distance with “Edlingham Castle”, the Viaduct and “Corby Crags” was great; so I thought I’d try to capture a bit of it.

Beginning sketch I did while sitting on the wall of the churchyard.

Beginning sketch I did while sitting on the wall of the churchyard.

I took this picture with my cell phone as I sat on the cold stone wall of the churchyard, cold enough I was drawing with fingerless mittens on!

This is how far I got working outside.

This is how far I got working outside.

Above shows how far I got working on it outside sitting on the churchwall. I got most of the important things drawn in the right place and color for a lot of it. I was very stiff and cold so had to stop!

This shows a bit more color laid on

This shows a bit more color laid on

This shows a bit more color layers put on, more on the trees and background detailed a bit. You can’t see it but I also put some color on the castle.

Finished! In all it's vividness and rich greens!

Finished! In all it’s vividness and rich greens! That’s Edlingham Castle and the Viaduct in the background.

This little painting really tidied up nicely! The fence ended up being a bit different than I planned but I think it’s ok. I wanted to leave the whites to show the snowdrops; I mostly showed them by using the greens around them. When I was done I used a white gel type pen and touched here and there helped really pull the flowers out more. I’m also experimenting with using Doc Martin’s Bleed Proof White, a non permanent white ink, to add touches of white (tree trunks).

I hope your Spring is shaping up nicely where-ever you may be! Happy Spring!

Small Flowers + Plants In My Yard

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!

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.

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!

This plant grows very short when in the mowed lawn and still flowers!

Bees just love these tiny flowers.

Bees just love these tiny flowers.

Look how beautiful these little clusters are!

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.

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.

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.

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?

A fascinating Hawkmoth, can you see it’s clear wings?

See how important all these little flowers are in your grass?

For tiny flowers you get tiny butterflies and bugs.

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!

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 tiny Skipper butterfly on a soft dandelion head.

A small study I did years ago of Moneywort, not in bloom.

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.

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.

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

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

“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!

Sad Aster

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Do you remember when I took that walk in November, hunting for acorn caps? Well I wrote about a little White Aster I came across, alone in the field. Here is what I wrote in that post:

“And one little Aster in the middle of the ‘Maze’, an overgrown field with paths I cut years ago. The white Aster looked up at me with it’s tiny little face, and asked if winter was coming soon? I told it to prepare and go to sleep before the snow falls. It was sad but missed it’s friends, as they had all gone, so it nodded it’s head and drooped a little in it’s tiny stem.”

(c)Aster 3

“Sad Aster go to sleep, before the snow falls cold and deep.”

At the time I saw it, I just saw a white Aster and thought about it alone there, but I didn’t give it feelings and talk to it. That was my creative mind putting my feelings onto a tiny flower and as soon as I wrote that paragraph a new character was born! Yes, as soon as I wrote that post I wrote a poem called “Sad Aster” and then I did some sketches.

(c)Aster 1

“Your friends are gone, the field is empty,
Where once they stood in numbers plenty.”

I’m quite pleased with the little poem and now will work on illustrating it, creating more of a character.

"..before the snow falls cold and deep."

“..before the snow falls cold and deep.”

I just thought it’d be interesting to share with you how one walk in nature, when combined with my emotions and thoughts, will sometimes evolve (in my mind) into something other people can relate to.

"Little Aster cold and white, Go to sleep this cold, dark night."

“Little Aster cold and white,
Go to sleep this cold, dark night.”

I wish I could share the whole poem but I guess I should wait until it can be published properly.

Worried little Aster

Worried little Aster

While I’m warm in my house, I hope she’s sleeping soundly out there under the foot of snow we got this weekend! 😉 Well for now I have to put “Sad Aster” aside while I catch up on some mice illustrations I started, it never ends….so much to do! I’ve also created some small needle felted animals in wool with wire armatures so they are pose-able, and continue to do small experiments with wet felting. One of these days I’ll open an Etsy shop so I can sell them, but for now I must concentrate on my illustrations!

PS. Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending for Sad Aster! 😉

Hunting For Acorn Caps

(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!

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.

(c) P1410476 reflections

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.

(c)mysterious pod (1)

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?

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!

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.

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.

(c)Wood Frog (18)

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!

(c)'raisin' fungus 1

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

A Walk in the Field, Late August (8-30-11)

I headed out to the back fields today, before the day got too hot. As I picked up my straw hat and plopped it on my head Ginger got all excited, her eyes riveted to my every move. Her whole body tensed and ready to run out the door, as she knows this means we’re going out. Now…when I have my sketch bag in hand and pick up my camera and sling it over my shoulder she knows we’re in for it! The ‘Big Walk’ hahaha…well it means we’re leaving the yard and going out to the ‘wilds’ of the fields and lanes. Yes, if I was a dog I’d be acting just like her!

Ginger waits expectantly!

As I walked I was VERY mindful of watching out for the huge yellow garden spiders that I discovered in my overgrown field, I didn’t want to walk through one of their webs! I’ll show you pictures in another post! Every step I took about three grasshoppers or more would fly up and over the grass for a short bit then land again. As I studied them I laughed to see when they landed, many times they did a sort of “moonwalk” backwards down the stalk they were clinging to.

Red Legged Grasshopper I think

If you stop to study them close, using the zoom lens on a camera is a great way, you’ll notice how many different varieties there are. I am guessing some of the many types may just be different ages of the same grasshopper, or males and females, all were really interesting.

Fat Yellow Grasshopper

Most had some kind of interesting pattern and colors that I’d like to do some studies of someday. First I need to start identifying them better, my field guide to insects is woefully lacking in species of many insects, grasshoppers included.

Nat. Wildlife Fed. Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America

Nat. Wildlife Fed. Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America

Though it’s not a bad all round guide to start with, I find now I need much more species to choose from.

Long Lane Farm in August - watercolor

Well as I got out into the field a ways, I paused and looked back and this is what I saw. The Purple Loosestrife was blooming, clouds billowing, wildflowers dotting the field. I did this small watercolor using one waterbrush and my pan of colors, while standing in some very hot sun. It was really hard to find any shade and it made me a little ‘snow blind’ looking at my page.

A tiny Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

After that Ginger and I made for the lane for a bit more shade. I’ve been noticing this tiny butterfly now sometimes when I walk on the lane. It first caught my attention flitting around the grasses and I thought it was one of those tiny white moths I always see. (It’s only as big as the end of my thumb!) There was something about it though, it seemed to have a bluish look too. So I followed it with my eyes to see where it landed then zoomed in with my camera and there you go! Ahha! A butterfly. Just one of my little discoveries this summer.

He shows a peek of blue wing

They don’t give up much, this tiny, tiny butterfly hardly ever opens it’s wings to show off it’s gorgeous blue!

Hummingbird Moth feeding on Teasel

 I couldn’t resist slipping this picture in to share. I have a great big area behind my barn that’s overgrown now with Teasel. I found the Monarch and Viceroy butterflies, and to my delight Hummingbird moths, loved feeding on them. I would encourage everyone to grow some for them to feed on and for their beauty of form.

Teasel drawn with permanent pen

I love drawing Teasel and long into winter you can enjoy their elegant forms. This is a drawing I did years ago in the fall, (sorry I don’t have it scanned large enough to enlarge much) can you see how much fun you could have looking at it’s bristly but graceful form?

I hope you enjoyed our little walk on Long Lane Farm. I always see or find something new when I stop and look for awhile. I want to point out that I have been adding great links for identifying things on my “Nature Links” page, please have a look. I use these links often when I need to identify bugs or blooms. I’m adding links all the time so everyone can use it, please let me know if you have a favorite you want to share!

Below are a few note cards I created in my shop from my sketches or photos, I hope you enjoy them!

My watercolor sketch
Hummingbird Moth card
Hummingbird Moth
I miss you! sad dog photo card
Awww, who could resist that face?!

Easter Sunday Wanderings / Frogs + Mayapples

A post sharing my notes and photos from a cold, wet walk on Easter Sunday. I was still able to find interesting life, wait till you see the video clip with Tadpole eggs! Please click images to see them larger or be taken to see them as cards you can zoom in on, use the BACK button to return.

Easter Sunday 2011

Below is a picture of what it looked like when I was sitting on a pile of dead logs, my rubber boots deep in water, and trying not to drop anything! My hands were cold, as you could guess from my trusty wool flip back mittens. This is just a small, quick sketch done with watercolor crayons.

Watercolor crayons, brush and journal on my lap above the water.

Then I video taped the little tadpoles floating in the water here in front of the pond, have a look!

By the time I got to Oak Lane, where the wild Mayapples grow, I was tired and cold.

A sea of green umbrellas, like little people waiting in the woods!

I was excited to see the Mayapples though, they always surprise me as they don’t grow anywhere else on my land. They look like a sea of green umbrellas held by miniature people standing in the woods, maybe they’re fairies?

Mayapples unfurl like soft umbrellas

Mayapples softly unfolding.

Mayapple unopened yet, such a tender green with hints of reddish tints.

Below just a few small sketches done while standing and looking down at them. I had to give up soon though, my back was seizing up saying enough!

Mayapples + Green Frogs

I was excited to find a Green Frog in the pasture on my way back, he was moving slow because it was so cold. I was actually able to snatch him up after he dove under water! heehee…I felt like a little kid!

Meet my new friend, Mr. Green Frog

Always gentle with creatures I touch, I was careful how I held him, and with experienced deftness (;-) ) whipped out my tiny camera and got some close up shots of him.

Mr. Green Frog poses for his 3/4 profile shot!

Don’t worry, I didn’t entertain thoughts of kissing him! I already found my prince! But I do think Mr. Green Frog was trying to look handsome.

Green Frog in the grass

Then he was gently returned to the grass and as many frogs will do, just sat there while I continued to snap pictures and also do the small watercolor sketch. They believe themselves to be invisible while not moving. Here’s a tip from me, when photographing a frog, or any critter, take some shots right away in case they jump away. Then after you have a few, try moving your position a bit or as I sometimes do, move some grasses that might be in the way. With this green guy, I was actually able to gently remove grasses in front of his face, then from his body as he sat frozen, watching me. It was a cold day so maybe he was extra sluggish. Then he jumped away into the water and I took more shots.

I really do like frogs and feel a bit guilty for not doing a nice little painting for you to see, BUT I was really cold and wet by the time I met Mr. Green Frog and couldn’t wait to get home for a hot bath. I’d like to do some drawings from my photos though, when I do you’ll be first to know!

I hope you enjoyed coming on my walk with me, it was kind of lonely until I met the tadpoles and then the frog. I guess you’re always surrounded by friends if you stop to meet them!

Here’s some links to fun things in my shop with “Mr. Green Frog” on them:

Green Frog postcard postcard
Green Frog postcard by MaryMcandrew
Shop for another postcard design from Zazzle

“Morning Walk in Edlingham” July 13, 2010

Well I must admit I’m getting way behind in my posts, I have lots of new pages to share and adventures to tell about, but keep running out of time (or energy!) to keep up. Here’s a short story about my morning walk in the tiny village of Edlingham on a sunny morning in July.

Edlingham Castle from across fields

Edlingham Castle from across fields

You can read my notes written on my sketch page too. The drawing above I sketched while standing on the side of a road, I just pulled out the watercolor pencil I needed as I worked. First I did a quick sketch with permanent ink pen then touched in with colors. Edlingham Castle is a great ruin to visit and explore, I love wondering what it must have looked like ages ago.

Meadow Cranesbill

Meadow Cranesbill

There were Meadow Cranesbill flowers growing along side the road, very pretty! I guess they’re named such because as the flower head looks a bit like a crane’s head and bill.

Black Faced Sheep in the Field

Black Faced Sheep in the Field

This is how pretty it is around Edlingham, black faced sheep and huge shadows passing over hills of many greens.

Sheep with lambs

Sheep with lambs

Now these sheep are ok as sheep go, but really not my favorites; I think they are a variety from France. I tend to refer to them as “uglies” ohh I know that sounds harsh…but they look like ‘beefy’ sheep thugs wearing wool sweaters.

Burnside Cottage, Edlingham

Burnside Cottage, Edlingha

I made my way up the lane to near where the busy road is and sat on a gas meter to look over the hills. As I made my way back down there is a sweet cottage called “Burnside Cottage” right by a stream; Burn meaning stream. I stood across the road and just up a bit from it to do this ink sketch while standing. The light changed as I worked but I was interested in an ink drawing so it didn’t matter. I did take a few snap shots of it so if I want to go back and color it, which I think would be nice, I could. (forgive the quality of the picture, it’s not scanned, I only have my camera to photograph my sketchbook with then I try to edit them a bit on the computer to brighten them)

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

At the very end of my walk I was greeted by the song of the Song Thrush.  And here is a little poem I just made up in honor of the Thrush:

The Song Thrush
The Song Thrush
Hides in the bush.
The air is ringing
With his joyful singing.
Take to the air
Snails beware.
The thrush he is a winging!

(c) Mary McAndrew 2010

Don’t forget to visit my shop on Zazzle where you’ll find my most recent photos of landscapes and nature from my hikes in Northern England, CLICK HERE.

Walk to the Roman Fort (June 21, 2010)

Though I went for this walk a month ago, I need to catch up on posting my sketches from all my walks so you can see where I’ve been.  This walk started at the Edlingham Church from the 11thC and Edlingham Castle.

Edlingham church and castle quick sketch

Edlingham church and castle quick sketch

As I noted on my page, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. I started by walking past the old church and as I stood in the parking lot near it, I sketched using my Derwent Inktense “Ink Black” watercolor pencil. I then used my waterbrush to make washes using the pencil lines. You can add more color or value by touching the tip of your pencil with the waterbrush and adding it to the already damp paper. If you re-draw on the damp paper the pencil will make a very strong line and be harder to blend.  Since I don’t have use of a scanner here, I photographed my pages and then brightened them, the picture here looks a bit more contrasty than the real one.

The sketch of the castle at the bottom of the page (shown above) is started with the same Inktense pencil then later colored with watercolors and watercolor pencils. I was way up in a sheep field looking back when I did this, just a quick impression.

Edlingham Church and Castle

Edlingham Church and Castle

After my walk I added color to the top sketch of the church, with watercolor pencils. I’m going through a phase with them right now, as I so often do…then I switch back to my loved watercolors. I’m having fun layering colors to find nice greens and browns. I don’t like a drawing or painting to look ‘mushy’, that is be too soft, and I’m tempted to go back and draw with my ink pens into these little studies. But they are studies and sometimes the soft look of them is nice.

Lapwing

Lapwing

As I walked up through another farmers field I saw Lapwings on the ground. They are such a neat bird with two long feathers on their crest that looks like a fancy plumed hat! When they fly their wings are wide, rounded and a sharp looking black and white. They have a very nice call too. This picture is a bit blurry as I shot it from far away, but you get the idea of what they look like.

Dog Rose + Lapwing

Dog Rose + Lapwing

I’ll type out the notes from this page down below.

I had fun and created a old fashioned looking greeting card with this Dog Rose watercolor I did. Click to see it in the shop, it has pink inside and you can add your own text. Click your back button to return.
On the way to the top

On the way to the top

This photo shows just how gorgeous the views were; I wanted to stop and paint all the time! But if you don’t keep walking you’ll never see as much, so on I went. (click it to see it in my shop larger)

Yup, that's me!

Yup, that's me!

Yes, well, that’s me! I was happy to be out walking alone, stopping as I pleased and discovering interesting things, like the butterflies below.

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly

This is a tattered looking Painted Lady, it looks similar to the Tortoiseshell below, but see how that one is dark in the center around the body?

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

This small little Tortoiseshell butterfly looks like it’s been through some weather, maybe even escaped a birds beak?  I saw quite a few butterflies along the little dirt lane I walked on, I think they enjoyed the windbreak of the stone wall that followed it.

At the Roman Fort site, wow, buttercups!

At the Roman Fort site, wow, buttercups!

(Click to see this picture as a glossy note card) This picture is at the top of the hill where the Roman Fort used to be. There are piles of stones around in a big rectangle shape, all that is left of it now. The Buttercups were so pretty, I crouched down low to get this shot, I liked the angle of it.

Here are the notes I wrote on my page: ” Headed to the Old Roman Fort. Sitting here now- it’s so beautiful the scene. Skylark is singing to my right + sheep are calling down the valley behind me. I don’t have time to paint the landscape, I have too much to do at home. 🙁  oh…I couldn’t resist! Quick watercolor sketch!” (See below!)

Small watercolor view from top of Edlingham

Small watercolor view from top of Edlingham

I’m so glad I took some time to do this little watercolor, now I look at it in my field journal and can remember the scene so well.  I sat on a huge rock of the fort, with my feet up and set a little container of water besides me. I used regular watercolor brushes for this one. I first laid on washes of blue and quickly lifted areas with a tissue for clouds. Then overlapping (on purpose) the blue near the horizon, I put pale green hills. The blue showed through and it made very nice distant hills, keep it soft and pale for this. Then I put various patches of greens for the fields in front.

View from Top, "Ah, this is the life!"

View from Top, "Ah, this is the life!"

I used this picture to create a glossy note card for those who love hiking, click on the picture to see my “people in landscapes” but I also created one that says on it: “Ah, this is the life!” I guess that says it all, you’ll find that one in my shop here.

More posts coming as I catch up! Please sign your email in the box at the right if you’d like to be notified. Exciting news coming soon about Creative Journaling and Sketching tours!

Studies of the Coast near Cullernose Point

Come with me on a sunny, breezy stroll along the Northumberland coast of England, south of Cullernose Point and Dunstanburgh Castle.

South of Cullernose Point, Northumberland

This sketch is done looking northwards while I sat on the grass. I used one water soluble “Inktense” pencil (Ink Black) by Derwent, ; after doing a light sketch I wet it with my waterbrush to create tonal values. It’s like doing an ink wash sketch, great for quick sketches and you can go back over it later with color. The inktense pencils are relatively permanent once dry, so I’m experimenting with using the black then coloring later from photos. These colors of Inktense are very intense, so you need to practice and go lightly with your pressure. You can also achieve very black areas which I like.

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Drawing near Cullernose Point

Here I am with my field sketchbook, what a view! (click on the picture to see it as a note card with a quote by Pablo Picasso)

Enjoy the many photographs I took below, they show the things we discovered as we walked and some I used later to do sketches from at home.

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

It’s funny, once you learn about something you start noticing it more and more, as is the case with snails for me. Now when we walk I see them everywhere!

Brown Lipped Snails

Brown Lipped Snails

These are Brown Lipped Snails; notice the brown line at the edge of their shell. I just love the striped patterns they have.

Pool with Grey Heron

Pool with Grey Heron

This is looking down from the coastal path we walked on, there is a Grey Heron in that pool down there.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Well spotted! He’s a beauty; we watched him fish in the pool as I took pictures from afar.

View of the coastal rocks we explored

Here’s another view of the coast where we walked. You can see two figures walking on the path ahead, that’s where we’ll be going.

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

When we ‘clambered’ down to the shore, (hey it’s an old word but it fits here!), we found lots of Limpets, snails and Periwinkles. It wasn’t until I looked at my pictures on the computer later that I noticed the bug, a “Sea Slater”, how interesting! The Limpets are living creatures that cling very tightly to the rocks, you’ll see a watercolor sketch below of one I did.

Yellow Scales

Yellow Scales

This is called Yellow Scales, a type of lichen that grows near the coast on rocks. It’s very beautiful along with the whitish lichens and grey rocks.

Southern Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

When we returned to the top of the cliffs, we found these small unusual orchids growing here and there. I was surprised at how tiny they were and may have passed them by if Gary didn’t point them out. As near as I can tell they are Southern Marsh Orchids, if anyone knows better, please let me know!

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

This photo will show you how tiny they were, the orchid is just in front of my sketchbook. I just lay in the grass and did a tiny light, sketch with a pencil. (click to see this and other photos like this, in my shop)

Shell and Flower studies

Shell and Flower studies

When I got home I downloaded my photos and did these studies from the laptop. I used watercolors for these, but using Titanium White this time for the white highlights and ‘wet’ look. I don’t usually use white paint, I rub or scrape off to create lights, but I quite liked using the paint for the glaze look. You can read my list of things we saw while there that day on my page.

Studies of Grey Heron

Studies of Grey Heron

The little studies at the top of the page show my experiment with “Inktense” and just a black watercolor pencil, using watercolor pencil to color it. I wanted to see how much the blacks would lift or blend, hoping they wouldn’t. As I thought the Inktense didn’t lift as well and that’s exactly what I wanted.

The heron studies are also done from the laptop, just painted without sketching him out first. The little one in the left corner was an experiment of painting solid blue water then lifting color and using white paint to add the heron after. I’m not thrilled with how it came out but you should always experiment!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this walk by the sea. Get outside and bring a small sketchpad with you, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll see when you sit and start to draw things around you; a whole new world opens up before your eyes.

Here’s a little video clip of the waves washing over the rocks where we were, enjoy!

NOTE: Many of the photographs in this post have been made into beautiful glossy note cards and gifts and are in my shop (home page link). There are many more besides the links in this post, I hope you have a look and please pass it on to friends!

“New Bugs and Wildflowers” 6-14-09

Today I went for another walk on Long Lane Farm with my 4 legged companion Ginger. Below I have a page from my sketchbook journal where I show a fun technique of using a frame as a design element. If you keep a few ‘frame’ templates in your field kit you can have some fun tracing them. Some template ideas could be a post it note, an index card, maybe the lens cap from your camera (I thought of this one while sitting and drawing today) and what I used here was a simple refrigerator magnet that has the center that pops out. I think if you take more time to play with this you can really do some nice designs!
field-study-flowers

field-study-flowers

Clockwise from the top left you can see a Daisey in the grass, then the male Oriole popping his head through the oak leaves at the top of a VERY high old oak. Above that a yellow wildflower that I think is ‘King Devil’ a type of Hawkweed, then ‘Fleabane’, the little pink flower underneath the Oriole. The bottom right is a very pretty wildflower that I found in the Maze..anyone help me with this one? (I have photos of these wildflowers coming up.) In the frame are ‘Common’ or ‘Tall Buttercups’ and around the frame I listed the names of birds I saw or heard today.

field-study-grasses

field-study-grasses

On the second page I just used the micron permanent pen and drew some grasses.  On the right are ‘Soft Rushes’, their pliable stems are what would be used to weave mats or baskets and next to it some type of sedge. The rushes are more closely related to lilies than grasses, my field guide says and I know the stem is round. It’s neat to follow the stem to the top with your fingers and feel how absolutely perfect a point it comes to. The sketch next to it is of some type of sedge, honestly I can’t find it in my guide.  They had a most interesting design in their growth, three leaves jutting out from the top in different directions and the clustered seed pods looking like spikey critters! It had a triangular stem which reminds me of the saying…”Sedges have edges”.

tree-swallow-youngster

tree-swallow-youngster

I snapped this shot as I was leaving the yard, just after his mom or dad had visited the hole. What a face! haha!

fleabane

fleabane

And here’s the pretty pink ‘Daisy Fleabane’, people used to hang it in their houses to keep away the fleas…not sure if it worked! I have a big clump of these sprouted up in my front flower bed and they are really pretty. Many people would have yanked it thinking ‘weed’, but well, it has lots of company with all the other weeds!

white-flower

white-flower

This is the mystery flower, can anyone help me identify it? I love the fine fuzz on it, as I look at a close up picture, it catches the sun. They were growing together in a patch in the middle of the Maze.

yellow-flower

King Devil-Hawkweed

I think this is called King Devil a type of Hawkweed; I found it growing at ‘Aspen Hall’ a shady area along the lane just before the Maze. It has fine bristly hairs all over it and the flowers were all confined to just the top of one long stem. I had to move grasses to find the leaves, which were tucked low at ground level.

white-moth

white-moth

This white moth was interesting to study. I spotted him when Ginger and I were returning along ‘Oak Lane’, it was flitting eratically along the path, as butterflies do. I kept following it to try and get a picture and I’m sure it knew it was being followed. I thought about how strange it is for a WHITE butterfly to be amonst so much green! It stands out like a sore thumb, well I have a feeling this photo will teach you something. When it landed instead of staying on top of the leaf and closing it’s wings, it very quickly flipped under the leaf and laid it’s wings out. Now you’d think oh I’ll still see the white, but no, the green leaf reflected on it’s wings and it now looked green! How cool is that? If you ask questions as you stand and watch the bugs and critters around you, you’ll start to notice details you never thought of before.

oriole-male

oriole-male

Here is the gloriously beautiful male Baltimore Oriole! I love seeing them, such an intense orange and yellow breast set off by deep black like velvet! He’s way up in an oak tree looking down at me, can you tell? I love this picture of him. This was along Oak Lane and I ended up standing still here for quite a long time. I kept hearing several different birds give their warning chirp like they had babies near.

oriole-nest

oriole-nest

I’m glad I stood as long as I did, I caught sight of what I guessed was a female Oriole and studied where she disappeared to. Aha! They have a nest way up in the oak tree, hanging out over the path! It’s amazing that birds can actually weave a basket nest like this in the tree and it supports the eggs and adult, later all growing into heavier fledglings. If you look close you can just see the female through the leaves, leaning down into the nest to feed the babies.

green-bug

green-bug

I think this little green guy who came to visit me while I was eating and painting was really neat! I haven’t found him yet in my field guide, I think I need another bug guide to cross reference.

black-beetle

black-beetle

And last we have a very black, very shiney beetle…no I don’t think it’s this beetle but I’d love to hear some suggestions? Closest I’ve come is either a ‘Ground Beetle’, or ‘Red Legged Ham Beetle’ or a ‘Blue Milkweed Beetle’.

I hope you enjoyed the walk with me today, so much was seen and discovered in what looks just like an ordinary field and woodland edge. Take time to stand or sit still and just watch what the creatures around you do. And you’ll see so much more if you look a  bit closer at the ground, grasses or flowers as there is always something living there.

Please post a comment if you like and if you may know what my bugs or flowers are, please lets have a stab at it!

Here’s the books I referenced after my hike today:

RD Wildflowers

Reader's Digest Wildflowers Guide

NWF Field Guide to Insects and Spiders NAm

Nat.Wildlife Fed. Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of N. America

Wildflowers-Peterson-First-Guides

Wildflowers-Peterson-First-Guides