Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pond Stories

I am discovering a new love - walking. It's been a few weeks now, and I spend at least five days of the week walking around the pond behind my post office. At first, it was a chore. Then I began to look forward to it. It gives me a chance to clear my mind and be present in the moment, noticing things like the turtles and leftover cattails.

But it has now become more than that. As a reward for walking the five laps, I then get to sketch something around the pond. I have just realized I will be documenting this pond throughout every season and hopefully every year. This to me is invaluable. I will learn more about the trees and plants and life in and around the pond. I am preserving my memories of a favorite place, sketching the changes taking place on a daily basis.

I have done this once before when I painted clouds "en plein air" every day for a year. It was fulfilling. This is giving me the same feeling. And each day offers a story.

Today, there were six people walking the pond, and one by one they veered off back to their cars or other destinations. Soon I was alone. Suddenly, about 8 seagulls swooped in on one end of the pond feeding eagerly for a few minutes. I have no idea what they had found, and I had never seen them there before.

I spoke with a policeman who told me he walks miles here every day though I hadn't seen him before. He had his full uniform on and was walking in his street shoes. I learned he has done marathons wearing his complete uniform because he is proud of who and what he stands for.

Spring is inching its way onto my island. It arrives early here. The light is changing and the first, pink blush has seeped into the branches and bushes. Spring is dipping into the pond, weaving trails through the air currents, and fluttering last year's dried leaves. It even wrapped around a handsome older gentleman who offered to pose for me.

So much to learn and enjoy just by walking.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pond Stalker

Yes, I am proud to say I am still walking.  I have not given up as I have years past, and I now walk 5 laps around the pond behind the post office each morning. That is a bit over a mile at a brisk pace. I'm feeling great and sleeping like I used to as a teenager. And I have a stalker.

I've begun to notice this one turtle, a large,Yellow-bellied Slider that is nowhere to be seen on my first lap around the pond. But by lap two, he has appeared on his log and is looking right at the pathway as I go by. He does not look away or change position.

He watches me as I round the bend on each lap. And at the end of my walk when the show is over, he disappears beneath the water. This has been happening every single day. This morning I brought my sketch book and as soon as I was done, I grabbed my book and pencil and raced back to the spot where he resides and did a quick sketch. He posed for a few minutes then disappeared under the water once more where he no doubt tells all his friends about the old lady huffing and puffing her way around the pond. He's most likely thinking, there goes the neighborhood.

We're due for two days of heavy rain this Saturday and Sunday so I won't see him over the weekend. But I'm guessing he'll be there on Monday.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sit and Sit and Sit

I sit a lot. I am either meandering around the swamps or sitting at my worktable all day. It's the nature of my business I guess. I had thought roaming the marshes and doing yard work would suffice as far as exercise goes. But my son, the surgeon, had a long talk with me and suggested I begin a regular walking routine.
One of my favorite spots.

I complained of course; I don't have time, my hips hurt when I walk fast, It's boring, etc. He wasn't moved by my excuses. He said I could make the time and suggested I give up watching Project Runway. How dare he! Not a chance that's going to happen. He also said the pain would ease up once I got going.

As much as I hate to admit my child is smarter than I am, he was right. I now walk briskly for 30 minutes a day. The hip pain is almost gone and to defeat the boredom of walking the neighborhood, I have a little pond I love with a walkway. I have taken students here and sketched this pond numerous times. It's right behind our post office so when I check mail in the morning, I swing in and do 4 or 5 laps. And it's actually enjoyable. I put all the day to day stuff aside and breath in the fresh air, listen to the wind and watch the local otter at play.

But I will never give up Project Runway!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Year Round Field Sketching

Like everywhere else, it's cold here. I've been sketching the birds through the windows because it's just too cold to do so outside. But I'm happy to report that things will begin warming up tomorrow.

This coming Saturday I have six brave souls signed up to take a field sketching class. I have been concerned about what the weather would be like in mid-January. Our days here on the island range from 70s and sunny to 20 degrees with a strong wind. But all looks good for Saturday.

As I have said over and over, field sketching is my favorite thing to do. It keeps me inspired, in practice and brings a freshness to my studio work. It's also a wonderful form of meditation for me since I put everything aside and focus on the present moment.

I love teaching and seeing the look on students faces when they realize they can draw and create a pleasing page in their sketchbook. Years from now, they'll be able to look back at that page and remember what the day brought them. Hopefully it will open a new world up to some of them, and they will continue to use their sketchbooks for the rest of their lives.

If you're ever in my area, give me a call. We'll pack a lunch, and I'll take you to some of favorite haunts where we can spend hours observing and sketching the wildlife. Now doesn't that sound like a fun day?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Summer Moment in the Midst of Winter

Each year, my Mimosa tree is laden with butterflies, perched on the pink, 
filigree blossoms. I sketch them over and over and take lots of photographs 
but have never done a painting of one of them.

You all know how I love all things with wings so here in the midst of a raw, rainy day, 
I began a painting of a butterfly. I thought I'd share it in steps for you.

I first sketched in the butterfly with suggested markings, and there are lots of them! Then I began to lay in the background and the blossom, not fussing too much.

Next I decided to begin my collage work since the placement is crucial to the whole piece. I take my time with this step, choosing colors and texture carefully to be sure 
one part doesn't take the focus off the subject.

Now it's time to begin developing the blossom, adding the layers of paint in just the right color, reaching deep into the blossom to create the right shadows.

And finally, I put all my efforts into the butterfly with a touch up 
here and there and it's finished.
Hope you enjoyed seeing how I put this together.

Monday, January 2, 2017

And We're Off

There are both American and Chilean Flamingos here.
Off and running head on into 2017!

Though I always look forward to the new year, this holiday season was one I'd love to hold onto. I got to spend time with all of my children which is the perfect way to end a year and a great way to start a new one.

On New Year's Eve, my oldest son Josh and I spent the day at one of my favorite places; Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. I have visited this park numerous times and have been fortunate enough to have exhibited my work there. I have gone there with my youngest son and his wife, took my friends there and now shared it with my oldest son.

So I thought I would start this year, taking you to the bird park too. These are only a few of the birds that live here. If you are ever out this way, make this a stop on your trip.

You can be sure some of these birds will become subjects in my paintings!

Horn Bills

The "Landing Zone" allows you to get close and personal with a wide variety 
of birds including these little Budgies as well as flamingos which you can 
hand feed as you see my son doing.

Fairy Crane

Victoria Pigeon