Saturday, June 30, 2012

End of June

Well, obviously I didn't do much better with the blog this past week. More reading I fear then drawing, though I did finish these Nature Journal pages and my usual weekly figure drawing.

The above page is from my visit last week to Cape Cod. It was a hot day and thinking it would be cooler down on the Cape I started early and ended up visiting several Cape locations. First was Fort Hill where I had first visited last summer. I didn't spend a lot of time there and didn't see anything particularly noteworthy. My next stop was to the Cape Cod National Sea Shore visitor center, where I inquired about Wellfleet Bay a MA Audubon site.  Turned out it was just a few more miles down the road so I went for my first time visit.

What a beautiful spot, I did more walking then I intended and wasn't always as observant as I would have liked, too hot. I now want to go back when it is cooler so I can enjoy it a bit more. The top two images on my page are both from Wellfleet Bay.

Top left is a drawing of the ground cover Bearberry with berry. The berries were mostly still green but here and there some were starting to turn red. Bearberry is a low growing evergreen ground cover, found on rocky or sandy undisturbed soil. I first saw this plant up on the rocky ledges of the Blue Hills many years ago. In the spring they have a small white flower. I was surprised to see so much of it growing at Wellfleet Bay along the edges of many of the paths.

The top right sketch is of a sand crab/fiddler crab. A naturalist had come out with a family with a couple of young children and had captured one of the crabs to show them what was making all the holes in the sandy path. I took advantage of this to make photographs of the crab, a male, as identified by the large left claw. The crab was only a couple of inches wide including legs. I tried to not intrude but I really wanted the photographs.

The bottom drawing was made from a photo made at the Cape Cod Canal park and is of 2 Double Crested Cormorants sitting on one of the light fixtures located along the canal edge. The birds like to sit on the lights to dry and rest between fishing expeditions in the Canal.

Above is my Journal page from Monday's visit to Daniel Webster. It was raining during most of this visit so I didn't go much beyond the blinds. Top image is the tree trunk in the Panne. I has been shifting around again, and now seems a bit further from shore than it was. It is possible that the naturalists have been out in the Panne moving things around, and maybe trimming some of the plants along the edge. I really don't know for sure. I had forgotten my field glasses so was only able to observe the areas of the pond that were close to me. Not a lot of see that day.

The lower image is of a grackle that landed on one of the branches that they have placed in the water near the blinds as perches for the birds.

Above is my figure drawing from Monday night. We had a good group of artists who showed up to paint or draw, and the pose wasn't quite as tricky as last weeks, thankfully. I am actually rather pleased with how this one came out. Even though the model was a bit twitchy.

The above photo was made at Wellfleet Bay and shows some of the estuary, with the bay waters in the distance. The tree to the right is a Pitch Pine, a common pine tree found on the Cape.

The photo above I made in my local city Park and is of St. Johns Wort a summer wildflower. I just like the colors of this, the bright yellows/greens against the gray granite. It is not a native wildflower but brought to America for it Herbal properties, still used by some.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Drawings and New Nature Journal Page

Thankfully it is cooler today, our three day heat wave broke last night when some thunderstorms came though. I had spent 2 days this past week either at the park on the Cape Cod Canal, or on the Cape where the temp while hot wasn't quite as hot as it was at home.

Above is a sketch I made while at the Canal Park. The view shows part of the canal and the Sagamore Bridge, which is the northerly of the two vehicle bridges that cross the Canal. Three bridges and the widening of the Canal were built by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1930s, with the bridges opening in 1935. I have thoughts of turning this into a pen and ink drawing, but so far haven't started work on it.

Above is a sketch that I made last night based on a couple of photographs I made this spring. I say two photographs as while the boy was feeding this unusual goose I didn't get a photo with both in it.

I am rather pleased with how this came out considering I didn't really spend all that much time on it (maybe 2  hours)

Both photographs were made in my local Town Park where they permit the feeding of birds (Seagulls, mostly Canada Geese and Ducks). I like photographing there as most of the birds have lost some of their fear of man and I can get quite close to them with the camera. Not sure what breed this animal is, I think a pet that someone released to the wild. The dark area on the head/face is red skin such as you would see on a Chicken and the feathers are white if anyone has a guess I would love to know.

I have started a new Nature Journal, this one has a different shape and different paper from my original book. I was unable to find another blank book like that one so had to make do with this. I am not totally happy with it, the paper takes ink a bit differently and it will probably take me a bit to adjust. Also because of the new size (7 x 7 inches squares) the whole spread doesn't fit on the scanner. Meaning all I will be showing of this Journal is the drawings, but please understand that I am continuing with my notes as before.

These images are from my outing at Daniel Webster on Monday. Monday was a lovely day, not too hot, though I would have liked a bit more sun. Images in the Journal are top the flowers of the Winterberry bush. They are small white flowers in the leaf axials.

Bottom image is of a ladybug on a grass leaf. I was looking at some thistle flower heads that weren't quite in bloom when I noticed this ladybug crawling on the grass stem. I am not totally pleased with how it came out, as I mentioned I need to get used to applying ink to this new paper. As with the other book what I draw totally depends on what I see, and what I find interesting on that day.

Above is my best photograph (so far) of a male Bobolink in the grasses at Daniel Webster. He is still in his breeding plumage, with a buff cap on his head and white down his back. I am not sure I have ever even seen one of the females who look totally different. Maybe if I spent more time in the fields watching I would see one, after all they are breeding at Daniel Webster so have to be there. Seeing female bobolinks is about like seeing female Red Wing Black birds, not usually done, though those I have been seeing at the Panne (pond) this year.

My second photograph today is of the Ladybug I used for my drawing. I found it hard to depict the red without pulling out my colored pencils. Maybe I should have done that.

That is it for today, hopefully I am now back up to speed and will be back to my twice weekly updates. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last Day of Spring

Officially summer starts this evening around 7:30 p.m. the time of the summer solstice when the tilt of the earth puts the sun at its most northern point in the sky, after today the period of sunlight will start getting less, though for us here in the northern Hemisphere summer has just begun. That said today is going to be a hot one here in the Northeast with temps well into the 90's. I am not looking forward to it.

Sorry for the lack of a second update last week. I am drawing, just not a lot, for the first time in several years I just didn't feel like pushing myself to draw so I would have something to post. Still I have been working on the Nature Journal and with these 2 spreads I have finished the book I was working in, on Monday I actually started in a new book. It feels good to have finished a Journal. It has taken me almost a year to fill the pages with notes and drawings as I started keeping it last August. I have to say I am very pleased with how it has come out, and I really enjoy looking back at past entries and comments.

The above spread is from my visit to Daniel Webster a week ago Monday. That day I split my afternoon between the North River Sanctuary and Daniel Webster, both in Marshfield, MA. The bottom image is of Partridge-berry flowers I found at North River. I drew their berry/seed last fall, but was able to photograph some blooms on Monday. This is a ground cover found in wooded areas here in the Northeast, the flowers are small only about a 1/2 inch in length so they were a bit tricky to photograph. The two flowers will produce a single joined berry, which is a bit unusual.

The top image is of a female wood duck who is stretching her wings after having a bath in the pond. She was really too far away from me for me to make a good photograph, But it has been fun for me to watch them with the glasses out in the middle area of the pond. As far as I can tell they have 2 surviving young, which I see occasionally.

The above spread which is the last one in the Journal is from my visit down to Attleboro over the weekend. I visited two locations, Attleboro Springs and Oak Knoll both MA Audubon sanctuaries. The top image is of a Sycamore leaf. The tree is found at Oak Knoll along the edge of the parking area. At first glace these leaves look like a Maple leaf, but the trunk of the tree is so entirely different looking that I knew it wasn't any kind of Maple.

My bottom image is of a garter snake that I came across at Attleboro Springs in the woods. I was actually looking at the star flower plant which is shown to the left of the snake, they are growing their seed pods and I was thinking of photographing it when I realize the snake was there. For once the snake didn't dash off but allowed me to make several pictures. Not a huge snake, but not a small one either, I would say over 2 feet long and probably about an inch in dia. It was quite pretty with a sort of checkerboard pattern on its scales.

I actually don't usually see snakes on my walks. In all the years I have been walking I think I could count on one hand the number of snakes I have seen, and then what I see is mostly tail as they vanish into the undergrowth. I know they are there, I just don't see them, or perhaps I should say more accurately notice them.

Above is my figure drawing from Monday Night's session. Some parts I am happy with but others ah well, thankfully there is always next week.

Above is one of the several varieties of Skipper Butterfly that can be found here in MA. On my walk at North River I saw a lot of these little guys mostly on clover blossoms like this one. This photograph gives you a good view of the wings and head, not sure it would be good for identifying the exact species as I gather the differences are somewhat subtle for some of them and related to feet and other more obscure details. For me it is enough to know it is an orange colored Skipper.

The photograph above was made at Daniel Webster at the Panne (pond). This is a grackle in flight from the rock you see in the photograph. I thought it was kind of cool, and not my usual photograph.

The above image is a close up photograph of Squaw Root, a parasitic plant that can be found in the woods here in the northeast. I saw this at the Attleboro Springs Sanctuary. This particular plant is found in associated with oak trees. Looks sort of like an odd kind of pine cone, and is only about 4 to 6 inches tall.

That is it for today. Hope everyone is staying cool, well as cool as possible, and per usual comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June Challenge, Figure Dwg. and Nature Journal

Above is another of my pen and ink drawings done from a Challenge  photos in the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum. This one is for the month of June. I fear I rather dashed it off, and am repenting at leisure, as it were. I see lots of errors in this one, errors that I wouldn't have made if I had spent more time on it.

But I haven't had a lot of patience with my drawings so far this month. I had several non-art related things that I have had to take care of the past couple of weeks, but just spent 2 hours resolving one of them today. Had to renew my Drivers License, and I needed to have a new photo made so... Thankfully I am now all set for 5 years, and hopefully I will now be able to get to work on one of my longer projects, like finish my Border piece.

Above is a spread from my Nature Journal. We had a beautiful day Saturday, and originally I was going to go up to the Blue Hills Reservation but decided to head out to Stony Brook in Norfolk, MA instead. I am glad I did as I had a good afternoon in a lovely spot watching wildlife.

Drawings in the Journal are on top a leaf from a Grey Birch. Looks a lot like the European Birch leaves I have drawn in the past except it is flatter along the bottom edge. Now that trees are again leafed out I though it was time that I get back to drawing some for identification purposes.

The bottom image is of a turtle I spied hauled out of the water and under some bushes along a path, believe it or not, it wasn't really that noticeable and I almost walked right by it. Since this was one very large turtle (about 14 inches long) I have to admit feeling a bit strange about that. I believe this is a snapping turtle, though I didn't really investigate it that thoroughly, if it was a snapper I didn't want to disturb it, they are not friendly animals.

Also seen on this visit, Wood Ducks (too far in the distance for me to photograph but view-able with the binoculars), green frogs, a yellow warbler, red wing black birds, painted turtles, muskrat and a large dragonfly. The muskrat was more heard than seen, I heard a loud splash near me then noticed a dark brown sleek body dashing over/through some bushes on a small island and then watched a head swimming away from me.

Above is Monday nights figure drawing. Scott is off to his Graduate Study Program for the next 2 months so Monday's session was run by our model. She decided that with Scott away she should change up the pose significantly. We don't often get backs when Scott is around so this was a real change. I rather like how it came out. I certainly used my 4B pencil on this one getting those darks in place.

Above is a photograph I made at Stony Brook. If you look closely you will see a green frog in the center right portion of the image. It really blends in but is there. I don't normally get to photograph frogs, at this time of year I can hear them but they are usually not close enough to me to photograph.

That is it for today, they are predicting some really nice weather so I may make a dash for the Cape in the next couple of days, I haven't been down there since last fall and I am due. In the meantime comments are always welcome, and I hope everyone is having a great June.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Drawings, challenges and a nature Journal

After a break of a couple of a week or so I have finally finished another of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum's challenge photos. This one was actually for May, I have downloaded the June photos I might want to tackle but so far haven't done one. I had gotten it started over a week ago but put off finishing it when I was faced with putting in the fence and not being in the mood to tackle it.

Not totally thrilled with how this turned out, I didn't get the value of the trees in the mid distance correct so they don't stand out from the distant mountains. Ah well there are parts I like, I like the cabin, and I think the fence works. I maybe should have brought the photo into photo shop and then changed it to grey scale, I might have done better with those mid values. Maybe next time I will. Done on Stonehenge paper with a Prismacolor Fine line Marker (005).

The squirrel is just one of my animal drawings done because I need the practice. I have been drawing only birds or plants it seems lately so felt it was time for an animal, and I had a fairly good photo of this squirrel to work from. Done with graphite pencil in my sketchbook, and I didn't labor over it all that long.

My Nature Journal spread from Monday's visit to Daniel Webster. It was raining for most of this visit so I didn't get much further than the two blinds. There wasn't a lot of wild life to observe either. I think I only saw one Canada Goose, a most unusual occurrence, as there are usually groups of around 20 or so someplace either on the ponds or dining on grass, but not Monday. There were goose feathers on the paths. I think the geese are molting, as it was just scattered feathers here and there. But they were the large flight ones which I don't normally see.

The top image is the journal is the flower head of some Field Garlic, I say flower head though it has no visible flowers, just those strange green tendrils and purplish bulblets. There was a lot of this growing along the side of the path on the way to the North blind. Wouldn't have been good in the hay, at least not in hay meant for cows since it can flavor the cows milk. Probably wouldn't be noticeable today since Milk processing is done on such a large scale, but I can remember it happening occasionally when I was a kid.

The lower drawing is a couple of those feathers that I saw on the path.

I have two photos to share today:

A photo of a rock in the man-made pond, you can just see the top of it, but not much more. Last week I think it was totally underwater so despite the rain we have been having the water level was down a bit on Monday. But note how green everything is. Love this bright green of early June.

The swan photo above I made in my local city park. For some reason this swan doesn't have a mate and was by itself on one of the lower ponds. I just like its pose, and the lighting with the perfect shadow. That whitish area toward the upper left is just reflected cloud.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lady Slippers and a figure drawing

My local weather has been chilly and wet, very wet for the past week or two. Spring this year seems to be reversing itself weather wise, with warm dry days early in the season and now with summer almost upon us we are getting chilly wet weather. Don't get me wrong we need the rain, our early spring was too dry, but I am hoping we soon have a dry spell so I can get out and about again. We were lucky enough to have one beautiful sunny day last Friday so I took a trip down to Massasoit State Park in East Taunton, MA. to look for lady slippers. I was not disappointed

Drawings in the Nature Journal above are on top a low shrub with white flowers and some green berries that I noticed by the side of a path. At first I thought they were blue berries, but on coming home and checking in my various wild flower books I am more inclined to think they are actually Deerberry. If I can remember to go back and check that path in a couple weeks when the berries will probably be ripe I should be able to tell for sure by their color and can make a note in the book.

The bottom drawing is of a Pink Lady Slipper. This particular flower/plant was one of three. I made a lot of close up photographs of Lady Slipper flowers, and I am thinking that this year I have finally managed to capture a bit of their beauty. Lady Slippers grow in acid soil, usually found in Pine or Oak woods. Since Massasoit trees are primarily either oak or white pine it is an excellent home for them. They also require undisturbed soil. The Lady Slippers that used to grow in the Blue Hill Reservation are all gone now, a fire went through that area and I am guessing killed off the soil bacterial that the Lady Slippers need to thrive. So sad, as there used to be a bunch of White Lady Slippers in that area, gone, all gone. Well at least the Pink variety seem to be thriving at Massasoit.

Above is my figure drawing from Monday night. The model is a slender young woman, well muscled, who I believe is recently out of the Militarily where she served in Afghanistan. She is fairly long waisted. It was a lovely pose for a well attended session.

Below are a couple of photographs from my visit to Massasoit State Park.

Above is the Lady Slipper photo I used as reference for my drawing. The flowers are complex so I decided to draw just the one. I find that even though they are this lovely pink when you are actually in the woods looking for them they can be easy to over look as the colors blend into the background. One reason why I find it so difficult to make a good photograph.

Thought you might like to see a close up photo of one of the flowers.

My last photo is a close up image of some white Rhododendron flowers that were blooming at the Park Entrance area. I usually see pink or red flowers on the Rhododendrons, but this bush was a lovely white.

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Photoshop Trick and couple of drawings

Not much new art today. Every now and then life gets in the way of art and that has been what has been happening to me this past week. So above is a small, and I do mean small pen and ink drawing that I added colored pencil to. Not a lot of color, just some blue and yellow. Done on white Stonehenge, size of the center is approx 4 inches square. No opinions on my part for this one, it was just something I did to give me something to do while my mind was distracted by life.

Above is a drawing from my sketchbook of a Great Blue Heron. I believe this will be the center of the border piece I was working on this spring.

Thank heavens for Photoshop. Since I have scans of both the heron drawing and the finished border I can combine the two  in one file (different layers) and using a layer mask on the scan of the borders show off the drawing in the center of the border as it will be in real life. This allows me to play with the size of the drawing as it shows in the center. See the two images below:

Not sure which size of the Heron I prefer, I think the one on the right. Note that I didn't spend a lot of time cleaning the edges with the brush tool, so you can see some areas of paper from the scan of the border which is on top of the drawing scan. 

For those with Adobe Photoshop who want to know what I did, I opened the file, made a copy of the image so the image is on a layer that can be modified. Then I added a Layer Mask to that layer, I used the reveals all option, then switching the color swatches so that black is on top and active I selected the brush tool and proceeded to wipe out the center of the scan. The drawing scan was then copied over into the border file, placed so that it was underneath the border. Then I played with the size of the drawing image until I liked what I saw.  I hold down the shift key while dragging corners, that way the drawing doesn't get distorted. If I had taken more time with the brush tool I could have had totally smooth edges around the border. In this case I don't really care so didn't bother.  

This is a very quick and useful way of combining and modifying photographs.

One last image today:

I spent some time walking to various locations this past week, and when the day is sunny I always haul the camera long. Above is a photograph of some blooming peonies in a neighbors yard. I love the sight and smell of blooming Peonies, we had them in our yard when I was a kid. Don't love the ants that also love them for their sweet sap, but the flowers are beautiful. I think this pink and white combination is esp. lovely.

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