Friday, October 28, 2011

Starting Something New, Journal Pages

The problem with finishing a work that I have spent a lot of time on is that I feel a bit at loose ends when it is done, and it can be hard to get the brain to focus on what I want to do next. I have of course been working on the drawings in the Journal pages, but I needed to start something new.

Last week I found myself feeling that the technical pens weren't totally doing it for me so I hauled out the crow quill and a bottle of ink. No I am not going to show you the scribbles I made while playing around the pen, but I did enough that I decided I wanted to try something a bit more focused.

My camera while excellent needs a new lens that will let me take close up pictures of birds without being right next to them, unfortunately the budget won't allow that expense right now, but every now and then I get lucky and get a fairly good photograph of a bird. I used one of those of a sparrow feeding to draw the above image. It is still in pencil and needs to be refined a bit, but I think so far so good. Next step will be applying some ink. Wish me luck, I have a feeling I am going to need it.

Below find a couple of Journal Pages:

The one above is from last Saturday. Daniel Webster Sanctuary was having it's annual Farm Day. They have games for the kids, music, some crafting tents (I avoided them) a Hayride and a few farm animals on display. The event was supposed to have happened back in Sept. but that Saturday it poured rain so they cancelled it and rescheduled for Oct. 22. It got a bit cloudy but at least it didn't rain, and it wasn't too chilly so I think it was a success. I did walk the sanctuary but saw few birds, only some Canada Geese in the fields, I think the rest had be frightened off by the noise of people having a good time.

The first drawing is of my usual tree trunk in the pond. The water level was the highest I have seen it. Covering most of the rocks that the turtles like to sun themselves on. There were just a couple of turtles out Saturday, it could be that despite our warm weather some are starting to realize that it is time to hibernate but I really don't know. I only know that I didn't see as many turtles this week as I have in the past.

Next drawing is a bit hard to make out, it is of the tractor pulling the hay wagon with riders around the sanctuary paths. I think I should have been a bit more sketchy with the background.

Last drawing is from a photograph I made of one of the farm animals, this is a kid (young goat) with an itch. I rather liked the photo, but not sure my drawing did it justice.

Next pages are from my Monday visit to North River Sanctuary.

I often visit both Daniel Webster and North River sanctuaries on the same day. They are only a few miles apart in Marshfield, MA. Because I had been to Daniel Webster on Saturday I decided to spend my visit time on Monday at North River. I walked down to the overlook pier and spend some time just sitting and watching the river. The tide was low and still going out so mudflats were exposed. I got to see some shore birds, not sure just what, they were too far for me to identify even with my field glasses, probably Willet's and or Sandpipers feeding in the shallows and on the mud flats. Also saw some Cormorants diving in the river and then sitting on a raft to dry their wings. At one point a mallard duck swam by, he was also busy feeding in the river. It was a fairly mild day so I enjoyed just sitting and watching.

Drawings for Monday are top: a chipmunk that is taking advantage of a free meal in one of the bird feeders at the sanctuary. They mostly have the tubular hanging feeders for the smaller birds, but they also have this larger one that they spread seed in for larger ones. I have also seen squirrels and blue jays feeding there.

The bottom image is of a boat on the river, several passed by while I was sitting. I was able to  photograph this one and though it made a good image for the journal.

Below are a couple of photographs I made on my visits:

Above is a view of the pond at Daniel Webster, notice how high the water level is, and how golden the trees and grasses look. I just like the colors here, the contrast of the golden grasses/leaves with the gray/blue water and sky make I think a beautiful picture.

The above photo was made from the observation pier at North River looking back toward the woods that line the river edge. This is about as good as it gets this year for seeing fall color.

That is it for today. Not very exciting I know, but comments are appreciated anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mushrooms Finished along with the usual stuff

Well I worked on this over the weekend and got it to the point where I am calling it done. I expect I could have done more work on the front left, but decided since I wasn't going for total photo realism that I didn't need to work it much further. I laid in enough color/pencil that it looks like wood. Besides, I will be honest and admit that I was getting tired of the piece, not to mention that I didn't want to overwork it. I am mostly pleased with how this came out. The dark values are good and really make the light mushrooms pop.

FYI I did not use any black pencil on this. The darks are several dark browns, a dark grey, and indigo. My Illustration instructor a couple of years ago advised us to not use black unless we absolutely had to. It is a dead color that absorbs all light, if you get a dark using combinations of others colors, your paintings will have more life.

Below is a Journal page from a visit I made to an ocean side State Park last week.

This was a new park for me, Ellisville Harbor in Plymouth, MA. It is on the shoreline with an estuary, marsh, beach, and barrier dunes along with a narrow strip of woods. I spent most of my time walking the the beach, picking up a couple of rocks and shell fragments. The rocks and shells I used for the drawings on the top and middle of the page. The rocks were totally smooth, worn that way by the action of the waves and sand on them. Both are probably quartz, the larger more milky and the smaller round one more translucent.

Both shells were broken a bit, and I am not sure my ink drawings do them justice.

The bottom sketch is of two gulls sitting on a rock surrounded by seaweed. The tide had been almost all the way out when I arrived, but it had already turned and was coming back in during my visit. The rock they were standing on was covered with seaweed and at high tide was certainly underwater. Not sure the species of gull, they have black legs and I think black beaks, though their backs are dark grey. Maybe a Laughing Gull in non-breeding plumage.

Below is my figure drawing from last night.

All I can say is oops, I was not in good form last night. I am not pleased with her face, or her right arm/hand. Good thing I get to try again next week. My excuse is that we had more artists this week, and I was distracted by conversations.

Below are a couple photographs from my visit to Ellisville Harbor:

The view is looking out over the tidal mud flats in the estuary, with brown grasses and some trees on the barrier beach in the middle. The land in the distance is Cape Cod, just across a narrow bit of Cape Cod Bay. The white tower toward the right belongs to a power plant on the Cape.

Not sure just what this is, but I thought it made an interesting photograph. Since the tide was almost totally out I was able to photograph rocks with some attached life forms. This is actually quite small only about an inch across.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are appreciated.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Every Day Matters and Journal Pages

First two drawings today are from a list of challenges created by a group called Every Day Matters. I believe it all started on a blog and has morphed into a Yahoo Group, a Facebook group and a Flickr Group.   The list of challenge subjects has grown to be over 280 challenges long. A new challenge is released every week, so you can see that this group has been running for years. I found the group through one of my Flickr contacts and requested to join.

That was over a month ago. I have been reading the group, checking out links, but not doing any of the challenges until the past couple of days. I did pull out a blank Journal I had around the house and started to set it up to be used for these challenges, but wasn't motivated to draw. Mainly because I was working on other things.

Finally I got around to starting this journey. So above are my first drawings for the challenge, a shoe and  a cup. I don't intend to always draw the challenges in order. And since I have realized the the drawings I did for the Every Day in May Challenge are actually from the Every Day Matters list, I won't be re-drawing them.  Not sure how often I will be doing or even posting these. But I want to get back to drawing everyday, and this list is a great source of subjects.

Below are two more of my Nature Journal Pages:

Above is from a visit to Borderland State Park, Easton, MA on October 15th. The drawings are just leaves, top is a Yellow Poplar leaf, in the middle is a leaf from a Box Elder and the bottom is a fern of some variety. I have tried to identify it a bit more specifically, but so far no luck.

It was a beautiful day and the park was full of visitors, human, dog (on leashes) and mallard ducks. The ducks were on the ponds, the humans and dogs on the trails.

Below is from my Monday visit to Daniel Webster Sanctuary.

A very breezy day, but also another nice one before the rains came back to visit us. Drawings on this page are the tree stump the turtles love to sun on, saw 8 of them crammed together at one point. I draw it because I can use it as a guide for how high or low the water level is. This week it was lower than last week but not by much.

The next two drawings are both of a Wild Radish plant, the middle one of the flower/seed stalk, and the bottom of one of it's leaves. These plants grow around/in the stone dump which is up on Fox Hill, an observation point in the Sanctuary. They have been blooming all summer, and I thought it was time to recognize them.

Below are two photographs from my park visits.

Not sure what these are, a type of grape I think, it isn't the best photograph but I love the colors of the grapes. I have not used Photoshop on this other than to crop the photo, the colors are as they were, amazing aren't they, ranging from turquoise to purple.

It is so easy to walk by this type of thing and not notice just how beautiful the natural world can be.

This last image was made Monday at Daniel Webster. Canada Geese flying over the pond. I can't recall right now if they were taking off or landing, but either way I rather like this photograph.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Figure Drawing, Journal Pages and Mushroom update

Another update on my mushrooms colored pencil drawing. I am sure at this point you are wondering why it is taking me so long. Well that is sort of the nature of colored pencils to take a long time to do. The color has to be layered, and layered again before you get the depth of color I, at least, am looking for. This drawing is getting there but still have some background and foreground work to do, then probably some touch up on the mushrooms. But it is getting there.

Below is a spread from my Nature Journal about a visit to Daniel Webster Sanctuary Oct. 10th.

Drawings are top: a rose leaf. No flowers but with the cooler (but still warm for this time of year) wet weather we have been having a lot of plants have been putting out some new growth including some of the rose bushes on the property. This leaf is from Multiflora rose, those are the roses with the very small clustered blossoms. I can tell the species from all the rose hips that are still on the plant. Many areas in the US consider them an invasive species since they were brought from Asia in the 1860's and are not native.

The lower drawing is of two geese either flying into a field or coming in for a landing. I was able to make several good photos of geese doing both while at Daniel Webster that Monday. The background is a bit made up but works for the sketch.

I am getting a bit behind posting these pages, and may sneak in an additional blog post to catch everyone up. It will depend on the weather and if I manage another outing this week. 

Below is my figure drawing from last night:

Not much to say about this. My problems last night had more to do with the couch than the figure which is unusual for me. The fabric drape is from the first session, as when the model retook the pose the fabric went everywhere but where it had been. So I couldn't add a lot of shadow detail.

It was a very quiet session, with just one other person other than myself showing up to paint/draw. Not sure where everyone was, to early to be Holiday rush and weather wise it was a nice evening.

Last image for today is a Photograph I made at North River, Marshfield on Monday, Oct. 10th:

Yes that is a monarch butterfly, looks newly emerged from its chrysalis doesn't it. There were actually two butterflies at the sanctuary. Hopefully they are both now long gone and on their journey down to Mexico for the winter. This one won't make it back here of course, but it's descendants will sometime next summer.

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mushrooms update, Journal Pages and owls

Above is an updated scan on my mushroom drawing. I have put more work into the mushrooms and started doing some of the background/foreground fill. So far I am enjoying this and am fairly pleased with how it is coming along. I am not going for hyper-photo realistic but do want them to look like mushrooms growing under a tree.

Below are a couple more pages from my Nature Journal:

Last Saturday I went up to visit the Blue Hills Reservation starting at Trailside Museum where the animal exhibits and bird feeders are. To my surprise they were having an open house event. One of the on site naturalists brought out a couple of owls to show the visitors. I took advantage of not having any cage bars between me and the birds to make some photographs. So the drawing above of a Barn Owl is a result.

The other drawing on the page is of a stem of one of the pine trees growing in the exhibit area along with its pine cone. The trees (there are several) are Eastern Hemlocks. I feel sure that they were planted, my local woods mostly have White Pines as the naturally occurring pines, but I suppose it is possible I am wrong. These are quite large, therefore old trees, so I am fairly sure no one probably knows how they got there.

The pages below were from my Sunday visit to D.W. Field Park here in Brockton.

Not very exciting illustrations I fear. I did have another leaf but managed to loose it, besides I am not sure the species of tree it came from (I have a photo of its' bark) so I will try some other day.

The top leaf is from a Sassafras tree and had turned a lovely red. This is the 2nd Sassafras leaf I have drawn the first having the more identifiable 3 lobed shape. But Sassafras leaves have 3 different shapes, and this is one of the alternates.

The bottom sketch is of a Swamp Milkweed with pods. Somehow I don't notice the plants when they are in bloom but the pods always seem to catch my attention. So I have no photos of the plants in bloom and to be honest I am not sure what the flowers look like. The seed pods are much narrower than the more common milkweeds and smooth. I find these plants around the ponds in the park.

Below are a couple of the Owl photographs I made last Saturday.

Barred Owl

The owl above is a Barred Owl, one of our Native MA owls (we have quite a few). By the time I realized a naturalist had one of the owls out on display the bird was getting tired so I don't have a lot of photographs of this one. A hansom bird though isn't it? The naturalist took this one back to its cage and was going to bring out a Great Horned owl (a young female) but she wasn't feeling happy about being out of her cage so the naturalist decided to leave her be and brought out a Barn owl instead.

I made quite a few photos of the Barn owl, I used one as reference for my Journal sketch above, below is another:

Barn Owl

This is the back view of the owl. I am showing this one because of the beautiful colors of its feathers. I was told that barn owls show a fairly wide variety of coloration differences between birds. This one has a white chest, but there are some with brown on their chests.

I want to make a few comments here, Owls do NOT make good pets. The barn owl above was taken as a young bird by a family who though they could make a pet out of it, only to realize later that it just wasn't possible and that the bird was more work then they wanted to deal with on an ongoing basis. The result is a beautiful healthy bird that can never be released to the wild, partly because it isn't afraid of people but mainly because it doesn't know how to hunt and kill its own food. Being released to the wild would be a death sentence for it. At least it is being used to educate children about wild owls, but it isn't the life it should have had.

Owls really aren't very smart, anyone who wants a smart bird for a pet should buy a parrot (and try to make sure it wasn't a wild caught bird, but bred for the market) Also realize ahead of time that birds require a lot of attention, and are a great deal of work, at least a Parrot won't want a couple of mice everyday for dinner.

There is lot of young adult, or even adult fiction out there that makes the raptors (including owls) out to be smart birds that bond with their owners, in real life they don't/can't. They really aren't smart enough. Falcons have been kept for hunting for thousands of years, but they aren't pets. Not to mention that it is illegal to own one of these birds unless you have a license. Sorry for the long rant, but it really annoys me when people think they can take wild animals and make pets of them.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Colors of Fall, Nature Journal, and Figure Dwg.

I am going to call this done. There isn't much tooth left on the paper anywhere so even if I wanted to make more changes my ability to do so is limited. Didn't come out quite like I expected. The old issue (for me) of a clear focal point again raises its head. I almost used a tan for a background color but decided to go with the turquoise instead. Ah well, I think I am done with this concept for a while anyway, though it has been interesting to work on. This is a bit larger then I usually work, 7 x 9 inches, on hot press water color paper, ink and colored pencils.

Below are a couple of Journal pages from a trip I made down to Massasoit State Park last week:

Drawings are from the top down: Tamarack leaves/needles, leaf from I think a Amur Honeysuckle bush, leaf from a Big Tooth Aspen, and a sketch of Running Ground Cedar, a type of club moss.

Massasoit has a pair of Tamarack trees that stand in a clearing near the parking areas for Lake Rico. This type of pine tree actually sheds it needles each fall. I had tentatively identified the trees from the pine cones I drew earlier this summer, but it took finding some newly sprouted needles for me to really verify it. This is not a tree I am very familiar with, so really couldn't believe my initial ID.  I hope to make a photo of them when the needles turn a golden brown. Wish me luck.

I had a hard time identifying the leaf from the Honeysuckle bush, and I am still not sure if I am correct. This bush has red berries which are slightly translucent, but not as translucent as some I have seen. I didn't find a photograph of the Honeysuckle berries on-line just descriptions so the more I think about it, the more I am convinced I have the wrong identification. Will just have to keep researching this leaf I guess.

The ground cedar was fun to draw. This is another of those low ground covering plants that are found in our local woods. The plant has sent up a spore stalk. It is a member of the club moss family, and as a moss has no flowers.

Below is my drawing from last night:

My only comment on this is that I am not quite sure that her folded leg reads correctly. Otherwise it came together fairly well, I only wish it was a bit larger. For some reason I was drawing small last night. I am using a ledger sized sheet of paper and this drawing would have fit on a 12 x 9 inch sheet. But by the time I realized what I was doing I was so far into the drawing that I didn't want to start over. Next week I need to remind myself to work larger.

Below is a photograph I made while visiting Massasoit State Park:

One thing I really noticed on my visit to the park last week was all of the dragonflies, there were hundreds (maybe thousands) of them on both sides of the roadway I was walking on. Mostly they were on the sunny side absorbing the sun as the day was a bit cool, but they were everywhere I looked. I only made a few photos of them, but above is one. The wings are almost invisible against the grass/ground, but believe me they are there. We will probably have a hard frost in the next week or two so this is probably my last dragonfly photograph for the year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Journal Pages and Leaves In Progress

I am making progress with this drawing. I have finished the inking (all that I am going to do anyway) and have started adding the colored pencil fills. The tentative title for this is Colors of Fall, so the colors are going to range from browns, greens, reds (more or less) and orange.

I was trying something different with the light green but looking at the scan I am not sure it works so I will probably be reworking that in the next few days. Otherwise I think I like how it is going.

Below are a couple more pages out of my Nature Journal.

Above pages are from another trip to Borderland State Park in Easton, MA last Saturday. The first drawing is of berries on an Indian Cucumber Root. I had photographed this plant in bloom earlier this summer so couldn't pass up the chance to photograph an update with the berries.

The other two images are from a Sweet Pepperbush, a leaf and a stalk that recently held flowers and is growing seeds. The bushes like damp soil and are often to be found along the shores of ponds, streams and other wet areas.

Otherwise I spent some time walking the trails that wander into the hills away from the ponds. What a lot of rocks this site has, it must have been very poor farmland and the hill areas must have been good only for pasturage. Beech trees with their shallow roots are not at all adverse to spreading their roots over the rock ledges, had to really watch my footing so not to trip.

The second spread for today's posting is from my Monday visit to Daniel Webster, Marshfield, MA:

The mosquitoes were fierce, so I never made it out to Fox Hill. But it was fun to watch the swallows flying over the fields swooping in and out, catching their dinner, hopefully mosquitoes. I picked up the feather, drawn in the middle of the journal page, on the path. There were a lot of smaller feathers scattered around it, so I have a feeling it was the kill site of a small bird by one of the visiting hawks.

I did see a hawk, it was perched on one of the empty bird houses, but too far for me to attempt to photograph it, also too far for me to even make a guess as to what kind of Hawk it was, largish is all I can say.

The other drawings are top: an apple leaf. There are about a half dozen apple trees left on the property, probably an old orchard, they had quite a crop of apples earlier this fall. On one of my visits I noticed a lot of apples on the ground under the trees, but then the deer discovered them and by my next visit they were gone. Since the fallen apples made the air smell like cider I had to wonder if the deer didn't get a bit drunk on their feast.

The bottom drawing is of part of  a stem, with berries and a couple of leaves, from a Winterberry shrub. I see a lot of these bushes with their bright red berries at other Audubon sanctuaries. The birds love the fruit so these bushes are a great source of food for them. The berries will stay on the shrubs after the leaves have fallen, bringing a spot of color to a winter garden.

Finally a couple of photographs, the first of a Milk Weed Pod bursting open and releasing its seeds.

I made this over a week ago at Moose Hill, but thought you might enjoy it.

This second photo is from Borderland State Park:

Just a sample of some of the boulders I saw on my walk. I have uploaded more rock/stone wall photos to my flickr account, you can follow the Blog link to view if you are interested.

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Leaves In Process, Figure Dwg. and Journal

Above is an in-progress scan of my second version of my leaf pattern. I have almost inked in all the fill areas, then I will have to think about how I want to color this.

Thinking up different fill patterns is both fun and tiring, the first ones of a drawing session come fairly easily, but then I have to think about what to do in the next area. After a bit I sort of run dry and need to put it aside. One reason why this is taking me so long to get to this stage.

The other reason why I have been so slow with this is that I have been working on drawings in my Nature Journal. The image below is from a visit to Stony Brook, MA Audubon Sanctuary last week.

The sketches on the above page are varied. Top is several views of Beech nuts and the enclosed seeds, each nut has 2 seeds, sort of triangular in shape, with the side where the two abut in the middle flat. The seed pod has short bristles and splits into four sections. They are relatively small and I probably wouldn't have found them except I could hear the nuts falling and really looked for them. The sanctuary has a resident population of red squirrels, they are slightly smaller then the grays, and I am sure will be scarfing up these nuts just as quickly as they can not leaving any for other visitors to find.

Next are a couple of birch tree leaves, to the left another of the European White Birch, and I believe the leaf next to it is a native Paper Birch leaf.  The leaf below those is a White Mulberry. The tree is on the grounds around the Center building at Stony Brook, not far from the mill pond.

The last drawing is a sketch of a Great Blue Heron against the background of the mill pond. I was walking back toward the center when I came to the area they call the spillway (one spot where the surrounding ponds feed water into the main mill pond). To my surprise just on the other side of the bridge was a Great Blue Heron. We gazed at each other briefly then it took off and I grabbed my camera. Those birds are big, and oddly look a darker gray closer up then from a distance. It didn't go too far and I was able to make a couple more pictures. The sketch is based on one of those photos (actual photo at the bottom of today's post).

Below is my figure drawing from last night.

Model is in a classic drawing class pose with traditional lighting. I am pleased with how this came out. After the struggles of a couple of weeks ago it was nice to have a drawing that seemed to just come together. The only area I am not thrilled with is her foot. Ah well feet can be tricky, what else can I say.

The Great Blue Heron is that white/grey area in the lower center of the photo. Actually for my lens this is a good photo. The Great Blues are very shy, and usually I need field glasses to make them out. Wish I had been faster with the camera, then I would have had a wonderful photo.

Enough for today, I am running late with this update as is. Per usual comments are welcome.