Saturday, March 25, 2017

Burn Baby Burn

I think I've mentioned that I just cannot drive by the Alligator River Refuge without pulling in for awhile to wander the gravel roads, watching birds, bear, and whatever else may be about on a lovely spring afternoon.

So after teaching another class on field sketching in Hertford, I pulled into the refuge to see billows of smoke rising up from the horizon behind the fields. I did a couple of sketches and watched for awhile, puzzling as to where the fire was.

Upon pulling back onto the road home, I found the source; a control burn of the marsh. Driving by it was awe inspiring; a curtain of wavering air and flame. Controlled burns are common here, and after doing the sketches I decided to do a finished painting from them back in the studio.

The Burn

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Foiled by Rain

spring trees at the pond
I am so used to getting outdoors everyday to walk and sketch that it's a real heartbreaker when I wake up to the sound of raindrops.

I had planned to venture down to Coquina Beach today to beachcomb for an upcoming class I'm teaching on drawing beach finds. I certainly have a large enough collection that I don't really need to go out to look for more shells, mermaid purses or driftwood. But I can't resist. Who knows what could have washed ashore over the last day or two. And with the season fast approaching, I need to make the most of these days that aren't filled with visitors.

So I decided to reserve Monday for the beach. I still spent my day at the beach painting, only it was from my sketches from my sketchbook. I am quite pleased with this one of East Bonnett St. dunes from a sketch I did a couple of days ago. And I didn't get any sand in the house!

Both of these paintings were done with watercolor on Yupo.

Dunes   Copyright E.M. Corsa 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Over the River and Through the ... Swamp

Nothing is nearby.

My island is two hours away from everything. No Barnes and Noble here to squander an hour or two browsing through racks of books, no Target or Pier One to purchase those necessary things you don't really need, and no museums to haunt for inspiration. The lack of these things keep my island charming, but sometimes you just need a fix of traffic, people, and clothing without starfish or dolphins on it. 

This week I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop on Drawing Birds in the lovely town of Hertford - over two hours away. Four or five bridges, (I lost count) and mile after mile of swampland later, I finally reached my destination and was greeted by 10 of the most talented women ever. Their 20 hands produced some incredible art that day.

Drawing birds is hard work. Getting the proportions correct, the posture, eyes, beaks and bills, etc. It took a bit of time but soon everyone got the hang of how to accomplish what they were after. Nothing makes me happier than to see people realize how gifted they truly are. 

One student told me she could look at the first drawing we did and see how much she progressed in three short hours. That made my heart swell as did the fact that two students are coming back for the field sketching workshop in two weeks and two others are joining me at the bird park workshop in April.

If I'm going to drive two hours for a reward, I think I found the best one in Hertford, and I can't wait to go back in a couple of weeks. 


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jockey's Ridge, one more time

As I say over and over again, nothing is as fresh as my first sketches done on location. You can see why I say that by scrolling down to the original sketch of this dune posted a little while ago.

But the value of those sketches is this. Not only do they bring back the memory of that gorgeous day, working in a light breeze as the dune changed colors, but these sketches allow me to go back and work from them. No, I do not like this as much as the sketch. It's too "finished," too careful. But it will be turned into a concertina book, and I think when it's extended out on a table or mantle, it will still have that aura of the dune about it. And perhaps it will still carry a memory or two of a visit to Jockey's Ridge for whoever purchases it.

the finished book

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Merry Mermaid

As I pulled out a stack of mail from my post office box, hope ran high. Maybe there would be something really cool among the advertisements for pizza and car tires and the usual clutch of bills. Perhaps there would be a real letter or even, just maybe, a check!

As a child I loved to get mail as most kids do. I was happy to be handed all the occupant mail and when a birthday rolled around, I was thrilled to receive a stack of cards wishing me much joy and many happy returns.

Now as children, we've all gotten notes from the Tooth Fairy and perhaps a letter from the big guy himself, Santa. But what about a letter from a mermaid at that beach where you vacationed. You swore you saw her once, playing in the waves just offshore.

So I have partnered with The Merry Mermaid who resides right here in the waters surrounding my island to bring a little birthday wish to a child. She and her friends have joined up to host a seaside birthday party. Check out the letters in my Etsy shop:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Eruption of Spring

More than any other season here on my island, Spring erupts almost overnight with no regard for what the temperature may be or what the date is on the calendar. And Spring has landed.

I too feel an urgency to try to capture everything about the first few weeks before the lightning fast changes occur. I can't seem to get enough. I find I look at everything differently, even the humble little honeysuckle shoots under the pergola, their translucent "skins" drinking in the sunlight.

It's like I woke up and realized the world had turned to living color. I suppose only another artist would understand this. I am not gifted enough to write cohesively about what it feels like. But Dorothy would understand. She felt it when she landed in Munchkinland.

Herons are everywhere, tiptoeing through the marsh now that the frogs are abundant. Their heads and necks remind me of an arrow; pointing then released to strike.

Yesterday, after my morning walk at the pond, I just couldn't bear to return home and head into the studio to work. So I ambled off to Jockey's Ridge, the largest, living, sand dune on the East Coast. The new grasses closest to me were shining with greens, catching the early spring light. And a glorious cloud bank was building behind the dune to the west. I hoped I'd be lucky enough to catch those clouds in a painting when I returned home. But alas, as clouds are fleeting it didn't happen.

I did a couple of sketches and at last, finally felt full, ready to return home.

Jockey's Ridge

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Into the field I go!

My first love, as most of you know, is field sketching. Nothing can take the place of being out in nature and studying your subject firsthand.

I teach a lot of workshops on location, a joy for me, and my students come away happy and fulfilled. The first question I am always asked is this: What do I bring with me in my pack.

So here goes. First off, I have a Walkstool. It is a fabulous, lightweight stool with three telescopic legs. But any lightweight camp stool would suffice. I also wear a baseball cap to help with the sun's glare. And I bring a large bottle of water for me and to use if I decide to add a splash of watercolor to my sketches.

Now for the inside of my pack. My Canson sketchbook with spiral binding is the one item I cannot live without, followed closely by my Pitt Artist Pens, F, S and assorted B tips. I also add a General's Sketch and Wash pencil, Papermate mechanical pencils, and ball point pens.

I have never taken to watercolor pencils. So I took an old watercolor container and outfitted it with my own Daniel Smith paints and a few old brushes. Can't forget the paper towels and water holder. Another old container carries a few sticks of Nupastels for some color accents. And finally, a pack of post cards. I love to do one after I'm done working in my book.

All of it fits neatly into my old thrift store bag. Of course I better not forget my glasses!

And that's it. Easy enough to carry and chock full of everything I could possibly want in the field.