Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Various Journal Pages

I have not made a lot of progress with my holiday journal.  Oops, oh well I do have photos and will have to spend more time with it when I get home. Now I seem to be spending most of my time visiting with relatives and working on another piece of art, or using the camera. So I will just have to create the pages from my reference photos, I know not the way it is supposed to work but it will have to do for me.

I have managed to get a couple pages done. The above page is the front piece and I am rather pleased with it. The poinsettia was done with colored pencil. The lettering is no particular font just something I thought looked nice.

Above is the pen and ink drawing I made for the second page, how I got to the airport for my trip. I plan to include an airport scene but haven't drawn it yet.

The page below is from my Nature Journal, my second trip to Broadmoor in Natick made over 10 days ago.

The 2 sketches from that visit are fairly simple. The top is the seed pod of a Catalpa tree. The tree is located just outside of the sanctuary's visitor center. Typically there were still some pods hanging from the tree but there were also a few on the ground. I collected one of the pods on the ground to draw.

The second drawing is of a mill stone. The property at Broadmoor once contained a grist mill, and the mill ponds and flow-ways are an integral part of the site. The stone is to commemorate the mill and I don't believe it is an original stone. There is nothing left of the original mill structure, just the dams, spillways and ponds.

I am including a couple of photographs I made while visiting the sanctuary.

The above is a view of the Charles River with its tree lined river bank. Because of recent storms the river was outside it summer banks and running fairly high and swiftly.

By the time I was leaving the sanctuary the sun was beginning to set. The above is an eastern view of one of the ponds showing how even clouds in the east can pick up some color when the sun is setting. You can see a corner of one of the walkways in the lower left.

That is it for today. Hope everyone is enjoying their winter solstice holidays, per usual comments are welcome.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Bags, a Journal Page and Figure Drawing

I have been traveling, and visiting with family so am a bit late with this blog update. Before I left on my travels I purchased a Christmas gift for myself, a new lens for my Camera. It is a 55mm to 250mm lens and I am hoping to make better photographs of birds and butterflies with it once I get used to it.

The only thing was, the new lens won't fit in my current camera bag with the camera and its old lens. There were a couple of options, I could purchase a larger camera bag that would hold both lenses and camera and other stuff (cables, manuals etc) or I could make a separate bag to carry the lens. Since I don't really want to haul around a larger camera bag I decided to make a small bag that would hold just the lens. One that I could easily wear while out and about in the areas I go to photograph. So I pulled out some fabrics, my rotary cutter, the cutting mat and started cutting.

The bag in the above image is the end result. Just large enough to hold the new or old lens, with a long enough strap so it can easily be carried while I am out walking so I can swap out lenses if I need/want to. There is batting between the inner lining and the outer fabric to protect the lens. I also placed the seams on the outside to keep lint/loose threads away from the lens. I didn't use a pattern but sort of made it up as I went along. The strap is braided fabric strips.

I think it is pretty and functional, and actually used it on my walk in Daniel Webster this past monday. It worked very well and is light enough to not be a burden.

Below is a page out of the Nature Journal from over a week ago.

This was also a visit to Daniel Webster but was a week ago Monday. Weather was chilly, with a slight film of ice around some of the edges of the ponds. The image is of a goose taking off from the pond. Looked like it was walking on water in the photo so I couldn't resist using it for my page image for the day.

Below is my figure drawing from this past Monday evening.

It was a good session with a few non-regular artists dropping in to draw. I was feeling a bit distracted that evening, what with my mind wanting to think about the things I had to get done prior to my leaving on my trip. So I am not sure the drawing is as successful as it could have been, still all things considered I am not displeased with the results.

Below are a couple of photographs I made at Daniel Webster over a week ago.

Blue sky with one of the marsh plants seed heads against it.

The photo above is the one I used as reference for my page drawing. You can see how stark everything has gotten now that winter is finally settling in. Birds in flight are poetry in motion no question. These Canada Geese taking off from the pond are certainly that.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are always welcome.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bagging Christmas, and start of a new Drawing

I have started the above pen and ink work in the past couple of days. The elaborate border was drawn first in one of my sketch pads and I am using tracing paper to transfer it to my good paper. I am using gray Stonehenge for this and will be using stipple in the background of the border. Not sure what I am going to put in the middle yet. I think some flowers and have been searching my photographs for the right reference image.

Needless to say this part of the work is finicky and find myself able to spend just so much time on it before I want/need to work on something else.

With the Christmas season approaching (rapidly) I have been spending a fair amount of time on preparing gifts for my family. Last year I decided to bag my gifts instead of using wrapping paper and I am continuing the tradition this year. The bags are made out of Christmas fabric which I think has prettier designs than wrapping paper does and can be reused instead of thrown out. They are simple to make, a couple of side/bottom seams a turn over at the top to make a pocket that a ribbon can be threaded through (leave a gap near the top of one of the side seams, so that when it is folded over inside there is an opening to the pocket on the outside). I think it takes me longer to iron and trim the fabrics for the bags than it does for me to sew the seams. Anyway in the top photo above you can see my pile of made bags with some of the gifts to be "bagged".

The middle photo is of one of the bags, you can see the ribbon used to close the opening trailing across the bag.

Bottom photo shows all of the gifts bagged and ready to be boxed up and mail off. I designed the name tags last year. Those I print off on fairly heavy weight paper, cut apart, punch a hole in the corner, add names and attach to the proper bag, and call it done. Hmm, maybe I should think about purchasing several yards of Christmas fabrics and selling the bags in my Esty shop next year. I suppose I could also design some tags that could go with them.

Below is a page from my Nature Journal from a trip over the Weekend to Blue Hills Reservation.

The images are of a dried seed head of a late blooming goldenrod. As I have said before this kind of material isn't going to survive the winter, and I have always thought that dried grasses and seed heads were visually interesting so will continue to include them as long as it is available.

The bottom drawing is of a Screech Owl. It was chilly the day I was in the animal exhibit area at Trailside Museum and not much in the way of animal life was visible or active so I decided to go into the museum. The Naturalist was there holding this small owl. I asked if I could make a couple of photos and I used one as the reference for the above drawing.  They think this is a female, but even so she is a small bird with brownish coloring. They are night hunters of mice, moths and other small creatures. They do have ear tufts though this one wasn't really displaying them. It certainly looks cute, but they really don't make good pets.

Last image today is a photograph I made at Houghton's Pond showing some skim ice on the pond. After our very warm fall the temps are finally falling to more seasonable weather. The Sunday I was in the park I saw this ice along the southern edges of the pond. The shadows from trees and bushes growing at the ponds edge prevent the sun from shining on these areas so even though it was after noon and the sun had been shining all day and the air temp was in the 40's these areas of ice remained.

Enough for today. Per usual comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finished Sketches and a Figure Drawing

My top two images today are the finished drawings done from the Thanksgiving Day sketch. The one above is only pen and ink on Bristol Board, the one below was done on Hot Press Watercolor paper and is colored pencil. The top image is larger 9.0 x 12.0 inches. The colored pencil piece is only 7.0 x 9.0 inches.

I prefer the pen and ink piece, I find it more visually interesting even though it doesn't have color. The blocks of color in the colored pencil piece bother me a bit, but I am not sure how to apply the color so that it is more interesting yet not muddied or too busy.

Sorry for the image quality on these, I photographed them both and I should have set up the tripod and checked angles, neither photo is entirely square as it should be. Both pieces are just a bit too large for my scanner.

Below is my figure drawing from last night.

We had a more upright pose last night, different from what we usually have. Lighting was also different as she was lit from above. It looks like a deceptively simple pose, though it wasn't entirely easy to draw.

Below is a page from a visit I made last week to Borderland State Park.

The drawings are fairly simple, the top one is the tip of a branch of Northern White Cedar including some of the pine cones. These trees were growing around the old farm house that is on the property and aren't something I often see in the woods I visit. More typically I see Eastern Red Cedar, I am saving that drawing for a later date. In the center of the page I did a close up sketch of one of the pine cones as they are really very simple compared to most pines and I didn't feel the top sketch really depicted that.

Bottom drawing is a tree stump that was covered with shelf mushrooms. They may not be doing any growing at this time of year, but they are still viable. Since my available subject matter has been reduced I will draw anything that strikes my fancy, expect to see more tree trunks before spring arrives.

I made the above photo at Borderland and is of one of the ponds, there is a small grouping of mallard ducks in the center of the pond. I think they were all females and spent most of their time feeding. I selected this photo because of the light/shadows and the colors of the clouds. The photo was actually made in the middle of the afternoon, but with the nearness of the winter solstice, daylight is short this time of year and the sun was already getting low in the western sky.

That is it for today. Hope everyone is enjoying good health and getting ready for the up coming Holidays. Per usual comments are welcome.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Making my own Journal

I have only been doing a little drawing these past few days. Mainly I have been focused on putting together a blank Journal to take with me to Chicago this year. The idea is that I will do sketches/drawings to document this holiday with my family. Last year I was working on the Sketchbook Project and I thought it would good to have another similar project for this year, just not as many pages.

The idea is also an out growth of the Sketchbook Challenge I have been following. Over the past year I have been introduced to many artists who journal their vacations. So I thought why not. I didn't want a book with a lot of pages (the Sketchbook Project uses Moleskin and they are larger than I wanted to use) so my next option was to make my own.

I have done some binding, notably for my Portfolio Resume. The type of binding I used for that can be used to make larger booklets/books (Coptic binding). So I purchased some fairly heavy weight paper and cut it to a size I wanted to use. Found some heavy cardboard to cut for covers and proceed to poke holes.

The image above basically shows some of the steps I went through to create the book.

Top image is the cover design I finally came up with after a lot of thought. It is based on a photograph I made several years ago along the edge of Lake Michigan looking toward downtown Chicago.

Second is a photo of the 3 prepared "signatures" with the top and bottom covers.

The next image skips the assembly step of attaching the signatures to the top and back covers. You can visit the web page I used for instruction here. This image shows the assembled book after I had applied a coating of Liquitex Gloss Gel to both the front and back covers to protect the paper.

The last image shows the step of gluing the first and last pages to the covers, I suppose this isn't necessary but it does attach the covers a bit more securely.

The image at the top of the blog is the finished Journal ready for me to use size is 7.5 x 9 inches.

I am fairly pleased with how this came out though I do have a couple of issues with it. The lettering on the cover could have been better and while you can't see it one of the signatures isn't in line with the others, getting that right will take a bit more practice I think.

Below is my Nature Journal page from Monday's visit to Daniel Webster.

Top image is just a small branch of a European White Birch. The birches over at Daniel Webster seemed to be a bit confused about what season we are in and are starting to send out these flower catkins. They aren't blooming, and as the weather has turned much more seasonable in the last couple of days they probably won't, as for what will happen to them come real spring I have no clue but will be watching.

The bottom two sketches are of a couple of split seed pods I found in the grass near the Visitor Entry building. I don't know what they come from, nothing around the building. But I have a feeling the source isn't that far away either. I just liked the shapes and thought I would draw them.

Below is a photograph I made Monday.

It shows bare branches against a blue sky with a few scattered clouds and a half moon rising in the sky. The moon was really visible that afternoon so I thought it would make a good subject.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Update, Nature Journals, and a Man

I will say immediately that this isn't done. Not quite sure where I am going next, but I will be going somewhere. This is the Pen and ink version of my sketch from Thanksgiving with a lot more ink added. So far I am pleased with how it is coming along. One of the next steps I am contemplating is adding some color, but you will just have to wait and see.

Below I have a couple of Nature Journal pages, I have done a few more out and about trips than I have posted to the blog so I am getting a bit behind image wise. Today I thought I would do some catch up.

This was done during a visit to Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA., Monday Nov. 28th.

The above sketches are top: a dried seed head from a Queen Ann Lace flower. I think they actually look quite pretty and they certainly won't survive the winter so I took the opportunity to draw one now while they are still to be found.

The bottom sketch is of a nest I saw in some bushes. The fallen leaves have left just the stems and branches of trees and bushes. Allowing the once hidden nests of squirrels and birds to be revealed. This nest was small and seemed to be made mostly of twigs.

Below are some drawings from a first time visit to Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, another MA Audubon site on December 1st.

Broadmoor is located in Natick, MA. not that far from my usual stomping grounds so I am not sure why I haven't visited before. Anyway now that I have been this once I will be going back. The site includes fresh water ponds/marshes, wooded areas, fields and a section of the Charles River. They have quite a few walkways that extend into the ponds for easier viewing of birds and other wildlife. For some reason I actually forgot my camera so there aren't any photo's from this visit.

Drawings are top: a structure I saw in a wooded area, I have to wonder if the sanctuary doesn't host a boy or girl scout troop and this is something they were building, with a bit more branches it would make an excellent shelter.

The bottom two drawings aren't all that impressive, the one on the left is half of a hickory nut that I found on one of the paths. The actual tree (shag bark hickory) was a good quarter of a mile away standing alone in a field next to a stone wall. It is a very large old tree, I am sure the farmer who once owned the land considered it a valuable resource.

The drawing on the right is a grouping of white pine needles. White pine needles usually come in groups of 5 though sometimes in groups of three, and are approximately 3 inches long. I drew a white pine pinecone as one of my early images in the book and thought I should show the needles.

Below is last nights figure drawing.

Yup, that is a guy not a girl. We were supposed to have a male/female pair last night, but the woman caught the flu so we only had the man. Actually I didn't mind, I wasn't sure if I was up to drawing two figures, and having one male suited me just fine. We so rarely get male models that I really enjoyed the change. Not sure how the painters feel about it, but I wish we could have more men. Oddly enough I am finding that lovely young women get a bit boring after a while.

Above is a photo from last weeks visit to Daniel Webster. It would have been nice to have one more goose in the photo, but one has to take what nature provides.  OK I know I could Photoshop in a 5th goose, but I don't like to do that, so this is what it is. Still I really like the shapes against that gray sky. By the way the geese are flying from right to left. Hmm maybe I should check my Roman History, I think flying geese were considered some sort of omen to the Romans, hopefully a good one.

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Developing a Sketch

On Thanksgiving (last Thursday) I started the above sketch in my sketchbook. It isn't wonderful, but I thought it had possibilities so earlier this week I transferred the drawing (using tracing paper) to a couple of sheets of better paper so I could investigate those possibilities.

The above version I am doing using just pen and ink (at the moment) and it isn't very far along. I haven't really done enough with it for me to decide one way or another how I feel about it. But I also am not at a point where I would tear it up and work on something else.

This one is being done on Velum Bristol board, a smooth white paper, that until I started using Stonehenge and Hot Press Watercolor paper was my favorite paper to use.

Above is the colored pencil version I am working on. It is a bit further along than the ink version is, not surprising as I started it first. With this I am feeling that something is not quite how I want it to be, but haven't quite put my finger on what is wrong. Well maybe wrong isn't the right term, but about the best one I can think of at the moment. I think it needs more complexity, but have to figure out just how I want to introduce it. If you have a suggestion I would love to hear it.

Below is a Journal page done last Saturday with an image from my visit to the Blue Hills Reservation.

It was a warm day (upper 60's) and there were hordes of people out enjoying it at the Trailside Museum parking lots. I think most of them were actually climbing Great Blue Hill, but there were plenty wandering around the Museum and grounds.

The drawing is actually from a photograph I made in the Houghton Pond area. The man had been walking his dog and both of them were playing with a white ball that was almost as large as the dog. The dog would sort of push it around and the man would kick it for the dog to chase. Both seemed to be having a good time.

As I recall the round object in the man's hand was one of those leashes that automatically unroll and then contract depending on how close or far the dog gets from the owner. I see a fair number of these when I am in the State Parks (they allow dogs) and it certainly has to be easier for the owner since the dog can run a fair distance and explore all without tangling a leash on the ground or around some trees or bushes.

Below is a Photo I made at Houghton's Pond:

This is just a photo of the pond showing the reflections of the trees and sky on the surface. Amazing how the sky looks bluer in the pond then it does in the real sky. As you can tell there wasn't much wind so the surface of the pond was a perfect mirror.

That is it for today. Per usual comments and or suggestions are welcome.