"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ,
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference."

(Robert Frost)

 

 

 

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On The Nightstand
  • The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature
    The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature
  • One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives
    One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives
  • LaRose: A Novel
    LaRose: A Novel
  • Felicity: Poems
    Felicity: Poems
  • Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures
    Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures
Thursday
Jul142016

Sketching in Nature

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
(Frank Lloyd Wright)

 

I am enjoying my time spent sketching and paiinting so very much. I haven't taken many trips outside of our own woods since our rescue Mojo has been receiving his heartworm treatments, but I'm refinding the joy and wonder that I felt when my husband and I first moved to this beautiful area of Michigan.

We used to pack our vehicle and camper, and head to the northwoods as often as we could to recharge our batteries, but that hasn't been the case since we moved. This is such a beautiful and scenic area that we really feel no need to wander very far. We have over 100 inland lakes in our county to fish on and the flora and fauna is simply breathtaking. Since the neighboring forest was logged off last spring we don't see as much wildlife as we used to, but it's still here. We just have to look a bit harder and listen a bit closer than in the past.

But what better way to spend ones time?



 

My sketching skills are still quite primative, but I'm totally ok with that. My handwriting hasn't improved a whole lot, but as long as I can read what I write, that's fine too. I started this as a means to keep my creative spark alive as much as I can while Mojo recovers from the effects of his treatments, and it has been a wonderful exploration, not only into our local natural history, but it has strenghtened the bond between Mojo and us as well.  So I guess that is a win-win for everyone.

For me, nature journaling is about staying in the moment. To put aside the many distractions that we all have in one way or another,  and focus on something that I find beautiful and worth watching. 

To embrace the moments.

 

Monday
Jun272016

Adventures in Watercolor

"and if I have any advice to give to anybody it’s this: take up watercolor painting." 

 
— Charles Bukowski

 

As often happens with so many explorations, my interest in mixed media has veered off in a totally different direction. I am in love with watercolor paints! I have been keeping a nature journal of sightings at home and afield, and discovered quite by accident that I love to sketch, and my sketches at times are actually quite pleasing to my eye.

Who knew?

 

 

I've found the instructional books by Cathy Johnson and John Muirs Law to be invaluable tools in jump starting my nature journaling progress. I have kept nature journals for many many years,  but felt my sketching skills were so very lacking, so I added photos to the text instead. This has opened new doors and possibilites for this 'once intimidated by white paper' naturalist.

 

 

 

Our companion Mojo has to be on-leash at all times during his heartworm treatments, and he's still a bit fearful of my large pro camera, so carrying my Iphone for quick snapshots for documentation purposes and later quick sketches has served me well. I find myself paying closer attention to my subjects, even more so than I did with a lens in front of my eye. With photography one can get wrapped up in compostional aspects and camera settings so much that the attention can shift from the subject to the camera, so I find these simple techniques so very refreshing. I've always enjoyed just watching a bird be a bird, for me that is what spending time in nature is all about.  Paying attention.


Mojo is a good teacher in that regard as well.  

 

 

Yesterday was the anniversary of our beloved Phoebes' passing, so I did a quick sketch of one of my favorite photos of my sweet girl. She was playfully waiting for me to play catch with her blue kong toy, a daily ritual for us. I didn't quite capture her beautiful energy in the way I wanted to, but that intimidation of the blank white page is not so large as it used to be, and I'm learning so much by practicing every day. There are times when it is difficult for me to put my paintbrush down, I love the process just that much :)