Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working on Projects

Well she still isn't finished but I have made progress on her. First I put her aside to finish the pen and ink work, then I got distracted working on Nature Journal pages and trying to figure out varieties of oak trees by looking at leaves and acorns. I promise I will get her done, as I think she is coming along rather nicely. I find the patterns on the feathers beautiful though I admit a pia to draw which is why she is taking so long.

Above is one of those Nature Journal pages that I have been spending so much time on. I actually used a bit of colored pencil on these pages which feature two types of goldenrod's that I have been seeing on my walks. There are a lot more varieties of goldenrod than just the 2 I was featuring here but these two were mainly what I was seeing at Daniel Webster on my walk. One is more suited to the shade of the red maple groves and the other was growing along the sunny edges of fields, and was more of a small bush than one slender stalk with flowers.

The other image is my standard one of the tree stump in the panne. This week the water level hadn't changed much from what it was the previous week. Meaning it was a bit higher than the low point I had seen earlier in the summer.

All drawings are from my September 10th visit to Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA.

Above is my figure drawing from Monday nights session in the Studio. I am much happier with my drawing this week. It might be the pose or it might be the lighting. I found the strong light from directly above the model to be something I didn't particularly enjoyed drawing. I said so at the start of this weeks session and the several of my fellow artists took me to task. They said they enjoyed the changes and that the same light week after week gets old. Hmm, I understand what they are saying, I don't want to draw the same pose from week to week, but I think my objection to the lighting is still valid.

Fairly close up photograph of one of the Goldenrod's I have been seeing in the sanctuaries I visit. They are pretty yellow flowers and the bees love them. They don't seem too attractive to butterflies, unless they are the only blooms around. I expect the flowers don't have much in the way of nectar, so the pay off for visiting is lower. The bees also want the pollen so find the flowers more attractive. As an aside the pollen that most people are allergic to this time of year is ragweed, goldenrod pollen is too heavy to float in the air.

Photograph of a landing seagull, made at my local Brockton park. This is probably a first year gull as it has a lot of brown on its head and body. Mature Herring gulls are white with some black and grey, and just a little  brown around the neck in winter.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Has Arrived

Here north of the equator fall has officially arrived with the Autumnal Equinox yesterday. So today is officially the first day of fall. From now until December not only will the dark of night be longer than the period of daylight, but it will be getting longer each night. I fear it will feel like a long six months before the Spring Equinox arrives.

Above is the finished pen and ink drawing of the Cape Cod Canal and the Sagamore Bridge. I posted an in-process image of this last week, and am happy to say it is now done. Not sure how I feel about it. I think it works, but might have been a better drawing if I had placed a boat in the canal to add some interest, or maybe a seagull flying above the canal. Some times I focus too much on the overall subject and not enough on the details. At the time I felt there were enough challenges to rendering this subject and didn't even think about it lacking a focal point other than the bridge.

I used an old fashioned dip pen for this piece. Now that I have finished it I need to find a new subject to use for this type of ink work. Working with the dip pen for this drawing I have rediscovered how much I enjoy using it.

Still catching up with my nature journal, though I am beginning to see the daylight on this one.

I have two pages to share again today. The image above is from a visit to Daniel Webster, MA Audubon Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA on September 3, 2012. Saw quite a few birds, from hawks to various ducks, mallards, blue wing teal, wood ducks, but wasn't able to make any good photographs of them. So my images in the journal are fairly mundane. Top image is my usual tree stump, water level in the Panne was down a bit from the previous week. The other image is of a log bench on one of the boardwalks. It has a fern growing out of the side which has so far survived our dry summer. I wouldn't say it is thriving, but it is alive.

Later that week I made a visit to Borderland State Park over in Easton. I am happy to say I found and picked up quite a few acorns. After the almost total lack of acorns last year this year, while not a banner year, is at least proving to have a noticeable crop.

The journal page for that visit documents several of the ones I found. I hadn't realized prior to my acorn hunting that there was one more common variety of oak that I should have added to my list. I knew about White Oaks, Black Oaks, Scarlet Oaks, Northern Red Oaks, but the Pin Oak was a new one for me. On this visit I didn't identify any particular leaves with the acorn so will have to keep my eyes open when I visit other sanctuaries.

My other image is of a clump of mushrooms growing by the side of the path. It looked to me that they were growing out of some horse droppings. There are a quite a few horseback riders who ride the main paths at Borderland. It must be a lovely way to spend a few hours as the park has some lovely views.

The figure drawing above I actually drew last Monday, meaning that I am now caught up with my figure images. Not totally pleased with this image, seems I am alternating on weeks, though this isn't quite a bad as the drawing from a couple of weeks ago.

Scott was playing with lighting. This week the light was directly over the model. My issue this week was even slight position changes would cause major changes in how the shadows fell. making it hard to get a good drawing of her face. I don't love the pose either. Maybe if I had moved to a slightly different position. I would have enjoyed it a bit more and created a more successful drawing. Have to think about that during my next session.

The above photograph is from Borderland State Park, and shows one of the various bridges that are located in the park. Most of them are strictly for walkers. You can see that some of the trees are just starting to change colors. I am hoping that we get a hard frost soon so that we have better color this fall than we did last year. Weather last fall was just too warm, in a way it was nice but the warm weather made for an odd winter.

The above photo shows some blooming fall asters. These are small white asters that bloom along the edges of paths and roadsides.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One down more to go

One down, meaning I have finished one of the 3 drawings I was working on last week. Above is the finished drawing of the Green Heron standing on a rock at the south end of the Panne at Daniel Webster. The background doesn't look like water because it was covered with duck weed at the time and in the photo actually looks green not blue or grey.

Not sure how the heron could see anything to eat through the duck weed but it manage to catch some thing so the problem is probably my perspective. They are such hansom birds, and I am quite pleased with how this drawing came out.

I have two Nature Journal spreads today, as I am catching up with my drawings in the journal and need to get them posted. Both pages are from August and both were for visits to Daniel Webster.

The above page is for a visit I made on August 20th. Saw a frog in the pond, so tried to draw it for the top image, not totally satisfied with it, but it will have to do. The plant on the lower left is Motherwort, it was in bloom out at Fox Hill, and I find it an interesting plant to look at. The plant is a member of the mint family and was brought over from Europe thought it actually originated in Asia. The plant is another of those that were used by early settlers for medicinal purposes. The final drawing (lower right) is the tree stump with attendant turtle. I have to say the south end of the Panne doesn't have as many turtles hanging out now as there were in the spring, not sure why, I usually see more turtles at the northern end of Panne.

The images above were for a visit on August 27th, thus wrapping up my August visits. Top image is of a Northern Mocking bird sitting on a bench that is placed on the path heading toward the South Blind. The bench has a view of the natural pond, and I suppose would be a nice place to sit, if the mosquitoes aren't too bad and the weather nice. Bottom image is again the tree stump in the Panne, again with just one turtle hauled out.

Another figure drawing:

The above figure drawing was made a week ago Monday, so I am almost caught up with posting these. I rather like how this one came out. The face sort of looks like the model and I like the way the legs/feet are rendered. She had a pillow behind her back so was really supported in the chair.

Two photographs today, the one above was made in August when I was visiting the Long Pasture Sanctuary on Cape Cod. Image is of goldenrod blooming in a field with trees behind.

This little guy is a bit out of sequence as I actually made this photograph on Monday at Daniel Webster it is of a Bush Katydid, though the exact species is a bit up for debate, it is either a Split tailed Bush Katydid, or a Treetop Bush Katydid. Without the actual insect it is a bit hard to tell for sure. Since I don't capture the insects I find I will just have to wonder. Such a lovely green (probably female) bug, not so little actually, about 2 inches long sitting on a milk weed leaf.

I have found a wonderful site for ID'ing insects, BugGuide.Net  OK, I know insects aren't everyone's thing, but I find some of them beautiful and many fascinating. I admit mostly when they are outside and not on me, but under those conditions they can really draw my attention.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pen and Ink works

 Above is a scan of my third in-process work. This one is pen and ink instead of pencil. The real deal, I am using a crow quill pen and bottle of India ink. I did cheat, well some people consider it cheating, by doing a pencil under drawing before I started inking. Outlines for placement of posts, the canal and shores, and in more detail the bridge and its structure. I did lighten the drawing quite a bit before I started the ink work.

The view is of the Cap Cod Canal and the Sagamore Bridge, which is the northern bridge of the 2 vehicle bridges over the canal. Built in the 1930's when the Army Corp of Engineers widened the canal it is still a popular way to cut off miles of travel from NYC, Providence and other points south to Boston. Though mostly now a days what you see on the canal is small non-commercial traffic. The canal is no longer deep enough for the really big ships.

I have more work on the far shore to do, also the water in the canal and the grass area in front of the fence still needs work. I need to darken some areas to the right to offset the mass of dark on the left. I sketched this view this past summer and wanted to see if I could render it in pen and ink.

Another catch up Nature Journal page, this spread is from a visit to Daniel Webster back on August 13th. I use ink for these but either technical pens or Microns, both quicker to use than the dip pens.

The top left drawing is of the bird house near the South blind with a male cardinal and one of his just fledged young sitting on it. Daddy was bringing insects to the young bird who while able to fly didn't seem totally ready to be out on its own. I have to think that dad wasn't going to cater to this young one all that much longer but it was fun to watch and listen. Daddy was the male cardinals bright red, and the youngster was more of a redish brown, so I don't know if it was a male or a female. They spent a while on this bird house then the young one few off into some nearby bushes and dad followed it there.

Upper right drawing is of the family of mallards I have been watching this summer, they were swimming all in a row next to the tree stump in the Pond.

The last image is that self same tree stump showing a slightly higher water level that week, and one turtle that was resting in the sun.

The above figure drawing is from September 3rd session. I am not at all happy with it. I am not pleased with the models face, doesn't look at all like her, and usually I catch more of a likeness. I also think her head may be a bit too large and the leg that is on the floor isn't done as well as I would like. All together I think I was having an off week. We all have them, but I find them frustrating when I do. For some reason I think I should be exempt, which is silly, even the painters who have been at this for years have off weeks. Just have to put this drawing aside and go on to the next one.

Look closely at the above photo and you will see the American Painted Lady who is sitting on the black eyed susan. The colors almost match so the butterfly blends in. For those who might have visited my flickr account you have seen this image before, but I thought I would post it here for those who haven't visited there. Photograph was made at Oak Knoll in Attleboro, MA.  There were actually about a dozen painted ladies flying around the butterfly bushes in the garden that day, so I had a good time photographing butterflies.

Above is a photograph made at Stony Brook, another MA Audubon site that is in Norfolk, MA, fluffy clouds, blue sky, blue water and green trees, just a pretty picture. One tree in the distance is just starting to turn yellow. Photograph was made late-August so that tree was changing very early, not quite sure why, as while we have been a bit dry I wouldn't say we have been in drought conditions, for some reason that tree must be stressed.

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nature Journal, still catching up

Today I thought that instead of an update on the Mallard Female I have been working on (and I have been working on her) I would show you one of the other drawings I have in progress.

Above is a Green Heron, I used the image of the heron I used for my Nature Journal page in my last Blog update. The herons that day were relatively close and I was able to manage a pretty good photo. The drawing isn't done. The legs/feet and rock it is standing on need more work, also I need to decide what to do about the water background. In the photo the water looks green because of duck weed covering the surface of the water so I have to decide how to handle it. Right now I am just thinking of applying a light tone, I don't want to distract from the image of the bird.

I have two Nature Journal pages today. Above is from a visit to Daniel Webster on July 30th. It was a beautiful sunny day with a temp. in the upper 70's a nice break from some of our heat. First image is of the mallard family that I saw so often this summer. They seemed to prefer the south end of the pond  and were often to be found grooming themselves on rocks exposed by the lower water levels if they weren't feeding on the duck weed.

The bottom photo is of a Great Blue Heron. I don't often see them at Daniel Webster in the man made pond, they really are shy. This one which was quite close for a Great Blue but took off as soon as it either heard me or saw me in the blind, so I only managed the one photograph.

This next spread is also Daniel Webster, this one from a visit on August 6th. I wasn't able to make any good bird photos this week, all of the birds I identified were too much in the distance, Canada Geese, various hawks, Mallard Ducks, Wood Ducks, a Green Heron and a Spotted Sandpiper. It was a good bird viewing day, if not a good day for photographs.

So the top image is my usual tree trunk in the water (which was about the same as last week) and some thistle flower heads. Daniel Webster has a couple of different type of field thistles growing, mostly the smaller flower Canada Thistle (an invader from Europe) but there were a few of the larger Bull Thistle plants. The Gold Finch love Thistle seeds and will go after them as soon as the seed heads have dried out.

Another figure drawing, this one from about 3 weeks ago in August. I am relatively happy with this drawing, and don't have much else to say about it. A couple more posts and I should be caught up with these.

Above is the photo of the Great Blue Heron that I used as my reference for the Journal sketch. It wasn't really all that close to the blind, but still too close for the bird to be comfortable once I arrived.

For my second photo today I thought I would show off one of my Butterfly photographs. This is one of the several Skipper Butterflies that can be found here in MA. They can sometimes be tricky to identify so usually I don't even try. The flower it is feeding on is Blue Vervain. These guys are only about an inch long so I am very pleased with this photograph.

Per usual comments are always welcome.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Starting to Catch Up

I seem to have regained my desire to draw now that summer is on the wain. Above is a drawing of a female mallard that I started last spring. This week I pulled it out and have been working on her, she obviously isn't anywhere near done, but progress is being made. I also have a couple of other projects in the works, a larger version of the Green Heron I drew in my Journal and a pen and ink drawing of one of the Cape Cod Canal bridges.

I enjoy drawing birds just wish I could get better photographs of the more unusual birds that I see on my outings. I suppose what I need to do is make friends with some of the other photographers I see at various MA Audubon Sites and ask if I can use some of their better photos as reference for my drawings. In the meantime I will continue to draw using my better photos even if the subjects are every day birds.

Above is a catch up spread I drew this week in my nature journal. The visit was in July so you can tell I am weeks behind with my drawings. Subjects have all been selected, I just have to do the work.

Top left corner is a drawing of two morning doves sitting on the fence around the parking area. Normally they are quite shy so getting a good photo of them can be tricky. They are really kind of funny looking birds with small heads and rounded bodies. If they are on the ground their buff colored bodies they do tend to blend into the background.

Middle right is my old standby of the tree trunk in the Panne. Water level was about the same as the week prior, but I was able to make a photo of the mallard family swimming in front so I thought I would use it.

Bottom left drawing is of a Green Heron, there were actually 2 different Green Herons in the sanctuary that day. One was a young bird who sometimes had difficulties figuring out how to eat what it caught. There was at least one fish that got away. It had slightly different coloring through the breast (more white) than the older more experienced bird. It was so fun to watch them, and I did manage a couple of good photos, not sure which bird this was, not a good enough view of the breast feathers.

The figure drawing above is slightly out of order, meaning that I made this drawing the week prior to the drawing I used in my last post. I am still a couple of drawings behind when it comes to posting. This pose was a bit tricky, with the head angled away from me so I was looking at the underside of her jaw. I am not sure that I got the distances just right with the features. There are other issues with this drawing, but there are also some areas I like, legs and feet for one.

Above is a frog I photographed this summer at Houghton's Pond. Usually frogs jump in the other direction when they hear me coming, but I must have been quiet enough to not scare this one. It actually hopped toward me and was sitting right next to my shoe. I lowered the camera and was just shooting blind for this photo, one reason for the odd angle, though I actually rather like it.

A photo of a field at Daniel Webster, made the same day as my Journal visit above, in July. They mow most of the fields at least once every summer. If they didn't the trees would take over and the open habitat some of the birds require would be gone.

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day 2012

Happy Labor Day to everyone here in the States. I am hoping you don't have to work, but if you do, hope it is at least a good day for you. Here in MA. we will have a lovely partly sunny day while we wait for the remains of  the latest Hurricane to drop a couple of inches of rain on us in the next couple of days. We can use the rain, though we haven't been as dry as the central US, and hopefully won't have the flooding they have down in the Gulf States.

Above is another of my mallard duck drawings. I was up at the Trailside Museum in the Blue Hills over the weekend and was photographing mallards. I managed to capture some different poses with the ducks this week so I thought it would be fun to draw one. A fairly quick drawing done in my sketchbook. The male mallards are starting to molt into their breeding plumage. The one above is starting to darken through the head and lighten through the under body/back.

Above are a couple of photos of mallard males, the lower photo was made this weekend and the top one last winter when the males were totally in breeding colors. Not sure that the lower male was the same one that I used for my drawing, there were several in various states of molting, but you get the idea. A couple of weeks ago all the males looked pretty much like the females except for their bills, female bills have black/dark areas on them.

I am slowly working in the Nature Journal trying to catch up. Not making a lot of headway, but at least I am not getting further behind. Above page is from a visit to Daniel Webster back in July. A glossy Ibis was back for a visit and feeding in the shallows.

The top drawing is of the tree trunk. You can tell from the amount of exposed trunk that the the water level in the Panne had really fallen that week. We have since had rain and it was back up a bit higher these past couple of weeks.

A figure drawing from one of the Monday night drawing sessions in August. I almost have her face as a portrait, It wasn't an easy pose for her to hold and she was able to hold it quite well. Scott seems to be into no frills poses since he got back from VT. I look forward to seeing what is in store for us tonight.

Here is the photo of the Glossy Ibis that I used as reference for my journal page. I didn't get the head shape quite correct, but I suppose it doesn't matter too much.

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