Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Journal Pages, Figure Dwg and a WIP

Starting out today's post with a couple pages out of my Nature Journal. The top one is from my walk at Daniel Webster made last Friday afternoon, I consider it before Hurricane Irene. The page below I made yesterday prior to going to my drawing session, so it is after. The image above (drawn from a photo when I got home) is of an Eastern Phoebe who somehow flew into the entrance building at Daniel Webster and couldn't seem to find it's way out. Poor thing, I did finally chase it in the right direction, but it did fly into windows a couple of times before it managed to go. I hope it didn't injure itself.

The other excitement for the day was to see a large white Egret/crane at the pond. It was too far away for me to photograph, but I was able to view it well enough through my field glasses to say it was either the white morph of a Great Blue Heron, or a Great Egret, I couldn't see the legs to really identify it. There was also a Hawk who stopped by, and I spent time watching another Eastern Phoebe swooping down toward the pond surface to catch bugs and its dinner. They are very fun to watch. They perch on the dead trees between flights looking for bugs, when they see one off they go only to return to their perch to eat.

Yesterday I did notice some wind damage at the sanctuary, at least one downed tree, and some broken branches. The bird in the drawing above is a Northern Mockingbird, there was quite a small flock of them, I think I counted at least 5 at one point, perhaps this years fledglings. There were also a fairly large number of Canada geese, at least 3 flocks though they tended to merge when they were in the fields feeding so there may have been more. The parking lot also showed evidence of visiting geese.

Some other visitors came into a Hide while I was there and mentioned that they had just seen an Osprey, I didn't see it, but later another couple and I were watching a very large bird in the top of a distant tree. It was too far for us to ID, but now I wonder if it was the Osprey, it was certainly one of the raptors.

Below is a scan of my current work in progress:

I am not entirely sure where this is going, or even what it is, but it is fun to work on. I am working on another piece of my grey Stonehendge paper with ink and colored pencils.

Below is my figure drawing from last night:

I am not totally thrilled with it. Drawing foreshorten legs is not easy, well the actual drawing isn't that hard, but giving the viewer the visual cues they need so that they "see" it as foreshorten is not so easily done.

Irene has left many areas without power, I noticed a lot of non-working stop lights yesterday on my drive over to Daniel Webster. Scott said that the power only came back on in the studio around 4:00 p.m. but that he had brought candles so if it hadn't come on we would have been working by candle light. I have to admit that would have been interesting, though tricky for the painters as it is hard to see color in low light. The color receptors in the eye shut down if there isn't enough light.

I was lucky where I live and didn't loose power except for a few flickers, but I noticed last night as I was driving home that there were still some major sections that were without light. Irene dropped a fair amount of rain on us with lots of wind, still she could have caused even more damage then she did so I am thankful it wasn't a stronger storm.

One last photograph, made last Friday at Daniel Webster:

Not the best photo, I fear it is just slightly out of focus. Problem is this is my best photo out of the series I made of this Short Tailed Swallowtail. Pretty isn't it, so I hope you will forgive me for posting it.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ferns Finished

I consider this done, well I have done just a bit more tweaking since I made the scan but I doubt it would be noticed so I haven't re-scanned the image. I rather like how this came out. Though I don't think I will use Stonehendge paper for any ink work other than stippling. The paper seems a bit soft. Still it is rated for ink and in this case I think the black and grey paper really work together. White paper would have been too harsh.

I only wish it didn't take so long to do a stipple piece. I have spent many, many hours on this in the past couple of days.

Next just a little drawing:

On my visits to Long Pasture on the Cape I have been photographing the sheep. On my second visit the woman who takes care of them arrived and let them out of their pen. I was able to make several good photos including the one I used as reference to the above drawing. I didn't spend  lot of time on this, but I rather like how it came out. A very woolly sheep, which had been sheared the last time I visited.

Another page from my Journal:

In this case I wrote most of the Journal while visiting Borderland State Park in Easton, MA. but did the drawings at home using my photographs as reference. The mushrooms which I wanted to do needed color. While I was on my walk making photographs of the various mushroom that had popped up do to our latest rain, I ran into a woman who was harvesting them. The mushroom in the book are 3 eatable varieties that she had harvested to take home. She had a couple of bins of various types of mushrooms that she had harvested. From her accent I would say she was from Central Europe so probably grew up harvesting mushrooms in the wild. Not something I plan to take up, way too easy to make a mistake. But it was fun chatting with her.

The building in the Journal is the lodge which is down by one of the ponds and has a couple of fireplaces inside. I am sure it was used by the family for summer evening entertainments.

A couple of photos from my visit to the Park:

A view of one of the ponds. There was an intermittent breeze that day but when when I made this photo the pond surface was so flat it was a perfect mirror of a very blue sky.

Not the best photo of this Common Buckeye butterfly. I have one showing both wings but the focus is a bit off, so this will have to do.

That is it for today. Hope everyone on the East Coast of the US is preparing for Irene, my wish is that she down grades to just a tropical storm, but I have a feeling that isn't going to happen soon. Stay safe, stay dry if you can.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Drawing Thread, Journal, figure, ferns

Above is a sketch of a bowl of thread, another drawing of "everyday" objects. I don't use thread everyday, in fact I haven't sewn anything for months. But this bowl of thread sits on the table where my sewing machine sits and I see it every day. Not my best drawing, but I think I still managed to capture the look of a bunch of spools of thread in a bowl.

Next image is another page out of my Field Journal:

I was out at the Daniel Webster Sanctuary yesterday prior to heading over to the Studio for the weekly long pose session. What a beautiful day, partly cloudy but still lots of sun, a lovely breeze, and temps only in the upper 70's to low 80's, low humidity. I wasn't the only one who felt it was a good day to get out and about. I saw more people yesterday at the sanctuary then I have seen in all my other visits this summer combined.

No special birds though I did watch one grayish bird catching insects at the pond for a bit. I can't figure out what it was, maybe a Mockingbird, though I have never read that they caught insects on the wing as this one was doing. Sorry don't have a good photo of it.

I did perform a minor rescue. When I arrived there was a Monarch butterfly trapped inside the visitors building. I caught and released it outside, I hope it survives OK, it was able to fly away so there is some hope. I didn't make any photo's of it. Seemed cruel to do that when it was trying so hard to get out through the glass of the window.

Below is last nights figure drawing:

Our model was the one we were supposed to have a couple of weeks ago only she didn't show. Humph, well she sat the pose very well last night so I suppose we will have to forgive her. Scott arranged the pose in a very different manner, usually our models are semi lounging but last night she was sitting upright in a chair. Light source was basically on the floor and gave some very strong shadows. Makes it so much easier to draw the model when there are strong shadows. I am fairly pleased, though I struggled a bit to get the shapes blocked, location positions of hands and feet were the issue.

One last drawing, just an update on the stippled ferns:

Progress is slow on this, but there has been progress. More of the background has been filled in and I have started working a bit on the third fern head.

One last photograph:

Made yesterday at the Daniel Webster Sanctuary. Canada Geese coming in for a landing at the pond. There were several bunches of geese at the sanctuary yesterday. I can only assume the geese have started their fall migration and were using the sanctuary as a fuel and rest stop.

That is it for today's post, per usual comments are welcome.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Field Journal - Sketchbook

Daniel Webster First Visit May 30th

I want to apologize up front for the poor quality of my scans today. The book I am scanning has gotten wet, and to be honest I am not sure my home scanner is the best option for scanning book pages in the first place.

I have been carrying this book around with me on most of my walks for several weeks if not all summer, but yesterday was the first time I actually opened it to make some notes and a couple of sketches. It was a fairly nice day yesterday sunny, warm, though very muggy so I decided to head over to the Daniel Webster Sanctuary for my weekly visit. Monday is my usual day for visiting but it was pouring rain so I didn't go.

While I was sitting in one of the hides around the pond, I was noting changes from the last time I was visiting and though I need to document this. I happen to have the blank book with me (I have been meaning to do this all summer) so I opened it up and started.

I am not a plein air artist, the bugs get to me, and I don't want to haul paints, brushes and water around, I have too many colored pencils to make it practical to bring them so I will be using just plain black ink. A waterproof Micron is my preferred tool. I will try to do some field sketches but I always bring the camera and will sometimes supplement those images with sketches from my photos.

The top page is a combination of a sketch I made yesterday and others I made at home last night from photographs made on that first visit. I wrote in the journal what I can recall seeing as prodded by reviewing the photographs.

Green Heron

The page above is to mark the visit when I saw the Green Heron. I didn't do much else that day other than sit in the hide watching and making photographs. The sketch is from one of my photos.


The visit documented above was notable for seeing some yellow warblers, at least I think that is what I saw. I tried making a photograph but the birds were feeding on berries in the bushes so not really visible and my camera lens isn't powerful enough to make a good photo under those conditions. I noted that the pond water level was getting very low and watched the dragonflies. On my way out of the sanctuary I saw this rabbit eating grass at the edge of the car park. I made quite a few photos and used one to do the sketch above.

Above are the pages that I actually wrote in the field yesterday. The top drawings on the left of the turtles and dragonfly were done on site. The bottom sketch of the geese feeding in the field was done last night from a photograph I made.

Now that I have actually gotten started doing this, I will try to keep it up. The Daniel Webster is the perfect place to use because with the two hides I have a spot to sit out of the sun, observe nature, and write or draw.

Above is a photo I made yesterday at Daniel Webster. They mow the fields to keep the trees from growing back and turning the fields to forest. Most of what grows in the fields are grasses of various types, you can see them turning golden in the above photo.

One last photo for today. To date, this summer, my best photo of a Monarch Butterfly, made at the North River Sanctuary yesterday afternoon.

That is it for today, if you enjoyed the views into my Nature Journal check out Sketching in Nature, a blog by various artists around the world and their drawings of nature. Per usual comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Everyday Objects and Butterflies

The camera and I have been housebound since last Friday. Well I could have gone out Saturday, but I was exhausted from the previous two days so spent it recovering instead. Being inside I though I would do some more sketching for the Sketchbook Challenge August Theme.

The drawing above is of a planter I have. A friend gave this to me years ago and I have always loved the face. I don't actually put a plant in the planter, I keep the plant (an ivy) in a pot that slips into the hole but otherwise it does serve its purpose. I have to keep it on a plate as it is made of a porous material that leaks water on my table top if I don't.

I have also spent some time working on the Ferns, below is an updated scan of progress.

Mostly I have been focusing on the background areas. Still lots of works to do on this before it will be finished, but so far I am pleased with my progress. I also continue to like the soft gray color of the paper in contrast to the black stipple work.

Below is last nights figure drawing:

Not a lot of artists turned out for this session, just the usual standbys. We had a "rare" summer nor'easter yesterday, chilly, with periods of downpours and a heavy drizzle the rest of the time. The ground was dry enough that they didn't issue any flood warnings other than for roadways, so the rain was needed.

Last nights pose looks deceptively simple, but was not quite so easy to draw. The model is a lovely slender young woman with blond hair. I know I didn't do a good job on her hair, and am also dubious about the hands and feet. Still I enjoyed the evening out despite the rain.

Because I haven't been out with the camera since my last post I thought I would share a couple of my recent butterfly photographs with you.

The above is a Purple Red Spotted Butterfly. Well I think that is what it is, even though mine only has a couple of red spots and no purple (that I could see). I made this photograph last Thursday in the Great Blue Hills Reservation over by Houghton's Pond. I was actually on a path through some trees when I saw this one flitting along, it obligingly settled in the only patch of sun light for me to make the photograph.

The above photo was made last Friday at Long Pasture Sanctuary on Cape Cod. I have been totally unsuccessful identifying the species. It is one of the pair I showed you in my last posting, just a different photograph. Ah well, I keep hoping I will figure it out one of these days. More butterfly photos are posted in the Insect Album on my Flickr Account.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always welcome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drawings and Photographs

The Sketchbook Challenge theme for August is Everyday Objects. Since I didn't manage to do any drawings last month based on their theme (Elements) I decided I had better do something this month so selecting an object that is part of my everyday drawing life I drew. Not sure how much time I spent on this, not all that much, maybe an hour or so. For those who don't recognize it, it is a 3mm mechanical pencil lead sharpener. When I posted this to the flickr Sketchbook Challenge group someone commented that they thought it was a sippy cup at first glance. I suppose it does look a bit like a sippy cup, esp as from the drawing you can't tell how large it is. In real live it is much too small to hold something to drink.

The photo below is of a new stipple drawing in progress:

This spring I made a photograph of a clump of ferns popping up out of the ground and starting to unfurl their fronds. They were still pretty much curled when I made the photo, as you can see in the lightly penciled drawing above. Anyway I really liked this photo and decided that it would be a good subject for a pen and ink drawing. The paper is really gray, one of the tinted Stonehenge papers to be exact. Stonehenge is a fairly sturdy paper popular with Color Pencil artists. I purchased several sheets a couple of weeks ago and am still experimenting with it to discover what I like and don't like about it.

You will note that I am not that far along with the stippling, the reason is that I have been out and about making photographs. The butterflies are finally semi cooperative and I have posted several of my better ones to my Flickr account (link to my account is on the right). The past couple of days have been beautiful weather wise and I really had to take advantage of it.

Yesterday I drove down to Cape Cod and finally spent some time in Sandwich. Photo below is the old Grist Mill near Sandwich center.

I also finally managed a visit to the Thornton Burgess Museum and garden which is located on the Mill Pond, the photo of the Dill blossoms below was made in their garden. The museum is housed in a very old home with examples of his illustrations for his many books and stories hung on the walls. The wooden floor in the house is amazing as the boards used were about a foot wide, not something you would ever find in a more modern house. The museum is well worth the time to visit.

Finishing my look around Sandwich I drove further down the Cape to again visit Long Pasture, the MA Audubon sanctuary. I strolled the paths through the fields checking out the small wild flower garden areas to see what I could find to photograph. The photograph below of two butterflies on the same plant was my reward.

I have no clue what these guys are, I spent a fair amount of time last night researching various images, but still haven't managed to ID them. I also saw a Tiger Swallowtail, several monarchs, a couple of yellow butterflies, and a small brown butterfly, but wasn't able to make any good photos, frustrating. Photographing butterflies takes patience and luck as they often don't want to cooperate. Still I really enjoyed my day out and about even if it did leave me exhausted.

That is it for today. The weather is supposed to change this weekend with rain moving in sometime tomorrow.  Good for the lakes and ponds which are a bit low, still for August everything is still fairly green, so there is no drought here in MA. Per usual comments are welcome, and if anyone can ID my butterflies please let me know what they are.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What can you do with a doodle?

Fold in Space
Make a colored pencil drawing such as the one above.

I would have reversed the order of these first two drawings except that the colored pencil one is prettier so I wanted it to show up first. A problem with blogs is that the first image is the one that will be used as a reference image for a post. Because of that I prefer to post the best/most colorful images first. It does take away the ability to unveil a drawing but there it is.

Anyway the above drawing started out as a pencil doodle. The doodle turned into the drawing below. I liked the shapes so decided to transfer the basic drawing to better paper and add color. The paper is 8 x 8 inch Stonehenge, a paper that many color pencil artists seem to love. I have to use a bit more of it I think before I decide if I like it or not. It does require that the color pencils be layered in light layers until you finally reach the coverage you want, but otherwise it does take pencil well. I have been playing with it using some of my ink pens and will let you know how I like it for ink some other day. Pencils used were my Derwent's, Artists, Studio and some of the Signatures.

Below is last nights figure drawing:

Not sure about this one. It did turn out a bit better then I thought it would at the first break but I think the legs aren't quite as well drawn as they could have been. Her body doesn't look like it is actually sitting on the bench. Maybe if I had taken the darks a bit darker. Oh well there is always next week when I can try again.

Last week here in MA we had absolutely beautiful summer weather, temps into the low 80's most days with sunny sky's and no rain. The rain arrived this weekend, which on the whole is a good thing as after a week without we need it. I visited another MA State Park last week. This one is in the next town over to me, Easton, MA. I didn't even know this park existed until a few weeks ago. It is called Borderland and was the home of an artist and her family. After the artist's death the Estate was purchased by the State and made into a park.

Below are some photos:

Upper left are some riders enjoying a canter on the lawn in front of the main Estate house.  Middle left is a view of one of the 3 ponds on the Estate. Bottom left is a photo of the old farm house (now empty) that is also on the grounds. They keep the old pastures mowed so they won't return to forest. The top right photo is of some wildflowers blooming along the fence bordering one of the pastures. I needed another photo for my contact sheet so added the lower right of a Goldfinch eating thistle seeds, made in Field Park, Brockton. Goldfinch do love thistle seeds so this time of year is a real feast for them when the thistles are blooming and going to seed.

I was over in Marshfield yesterday at the MA Audubon sanctuaries and manged to photograph these 3 butterflies.

The top two photographs are of skippers, though I don't know their exact names. The upper left really shows how the wings are formed. The bottom photo is of a Monarch, and is the best photograph I have made this year of a Monarch. The background is not good (the roadway at North River) and the angle even worse, but it is in focus.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ram, Sandpiper and Swallowtail

A very mixed up title this week, but it does reflect the content of today's blog post. Above is my sketch of a ram from a reference photo posted in one of the WetCanvas forums. I call it a sketch because I didn't really spend a lot of time on it. The photo reference called it a sheep, but I think this is more correctly a ram. While I believe there may be some wild sheep where the ewes have horns this guy looks male to me.

Below is my figure drawing from last night:

Scott is back, well semi back he will be away next week on vacation (he has been at school) but he was back for last nights session. Last night's model was one I have drawn before. She was wearing gloves so those lines across her forearms aren't me being creative.

All in all I think I am happy with last nights drawing. The feet could use some work, but I think the rest of the pose works. I am deliberately leaving the pencil lines a bit rough and not blending them together. I think it is in reaction to all of the photo realistic work I have been looking at on the WetCanvas forums. Don't get me wrong some of the work shown there is amazing and beautifully drawn. But I find myself wondering if it is art. Where is the artist in those drawings/paintings? Mostly they are reproducing photographs, but why spend hours making a piece of art that looks like a photograph?

Ack, enough I need to get off this hobby horse and just go and make my art. While my personal goal is to accurately create an image of my subject on paper, I am not trying to create photographic accuracy. I don't need or want my art work to look like a photograph. I make enough photographs, and they are sometimes artwork in and of themselves my drawings don't need to look like them.  I want my art to have my stamp on it, hopefully I am beginning to develop my own recognizable style.

Yesterday prior to the studio session I spent most of my day wandering around the Marshfield Audubon sanctuaries below are a couple of photographs:

The little bird above was photographed at the Daniel Webster Sanctuary. I believe it is a Spotted Sandpiper either a juvenile or an adult that is no longer in mating plumage. The Daniel Webster Sanctuary is not that far from the ocean, so having one of these little guys come for a visit probably isn't that uncommon.

It had a funny little bounce/wriggle to its walk, every couple of steps it would sort of bounce/wriggle its tail. It was really funny to watch, but from my bird book typical for these birds.

Below is photo of a butterfly I made at the North River Sanctuary:

I believe this is a swallowtail. I don't want to admit how many photographs of butterflies I made yesterday because I deleted almost all of them. Mostly because I was too far away to have a clear photo, but the swallowtail just wouldn't stay still. Even when it was sitting on a flower it would flutter its wings giving me a blurry image. So this is my best shot. I also tried for a couple of skippers but just couldn't get close enough to them. I did make a couple of photos of a clearwing hummingbird moth and I will post the best of those to my flickr account.  Besides the hummingbird moth I did see a real hummingbird feeding from cardinal flowers, but I wasn't quick enough to even try to photograph that little one. Oh well it was just fun to see it.