Thursday, June 28, 2012


Hubby's favorite bird is the Kestrel.  I love the markings that are so distinctive on this tiny hawk, and the large dark eyes.  I used a variety of pens to draw this piece, and have got an urge to paint this beautiful face on a large canvas.  I was able to see some Kestral young at the animal rescue place last month, but I need to find a way to really study the grown bird.  They love to sit on electrical wires hovering over the cotton fields in our area, but they are hard to see close up.  I will have to look for an aviary somewhere nearby...possibly Memphis.  I wonder if the iris is visible, or their eye is all is details like that, that give credibility to my art.  I don't want to get any details wrong!  So much pressure!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


You know you are becoming a 'real' artist when you feel the need to pack more art supplies than clothes for a short vacation!  Hubby and I took off for a few days at the casino (we're not much on gambling, but the paddleboat rides down the Mississippi River are great, and the hotel was $29 a night in the hopes that we would gamble away our life savings!!!) anyway...I spent more time making sure that I had the right art pens, and a few watercolors than deciding what to bring to wear.  This is a field sparrow.  He perched outside my window several times in the hopes of catching a bug.  I relocated him to a bit of field grass to put him into perspective, and slightly changed his leg positions for some interest and movement.  I think his beak is slightly too big, but none of us are perfect...  Maybe he inherited his nose from his mum!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Returning again to the leaf journal, I did a combination of things for the elm leaf.  I did a rubbing, watercolored it, and added line work to bring out all of its interesting features.  I think that it is the most interesting of all of the leaves, and I remember working on it at the picnic table in front of the cabin, enjoying the cool breeze and a cup of hot tea!

The pin oak was fun, as I simply lay the leaf onto the paper and used a toothbrush to flick several colors of paint across it, making it a stencil.  The painting got rather out of hand, as all of us were enjoying the process to the point of flinging the paint on each other...rather a bonding moment! 

The dogwood leaves were painted with thickened watercolor, and then pressed onto the paper.  It is a real challenge getting just the right amount of paint, so that it highlighted the veins and outlines of the leaves.  You can paint your interpretation of a leaf in a painting, but the real thing is amazing to see!

And finally, the post oak.  We scrounged a can of spray paint from the owner of the cabins, and chose leaves with a lot of chewed out holes and character for this stencil option.  The real challenge? getting the leaf to stay in one place when we directed the spray at it!  I am so pleased that I kept this old journal.  Memories came flooding back, of good times and wonderful women.  The experience has helped to make me the artist I am today.

Friday, June 22, 2012


 I was cleaning out in my studio this week, and ran across some old leaf journal projects that I did on a women's retreat several years ago.  Looking at them brought back some wonderful memories.  We were trying to connect with nature, and find a place for ourselves in this world.  Leaves seemed to be the perfect solution, as it was fall in the Ozarks when we got together.  We stayed in a cabin by a lake, and listened to the wind in the trees, the loons on the lake, and the geese heading south.  For the top leaf, a sweet gum, I simply drew the leaf, trying to get to know it a bit.
 The second leaf, a sycamore, was an experiment in getting the feel of the leaf.  I did a rubbing of the leaf using good old Missouri dirt as my medium.  I used my fingers and a stick to work the dirt into the thin vellum paper.  I was able to feel each vein, and get to really know how it grew to such a large size.
This shingle oak leaf was covered in funny growths and distortions, making me think of the end of it's life.  I used watercolor to render it, and used a toothbrush to spray a bit of the mottling onto the leaf and background.  I am amazed at what character comes out with each leaf on this earth!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The Botanicals Art Class went beautifully.  I had some really enthusiastic students who were excited to get indoor and outdoor drawing of various wildflowers.  Some of the students were so motivated that they tried out drawing some of the more intricate flowers, like horse mint and passionflowers.  As usual, I learned something from the teaching experience.  By having to explain how to 'see' what you are drawing, I learned how to see all over again!  I was amazed at the variety of styles in drawing, as well.  You would think that if you were all drawing the same thing, it would come out the same.  Nope!  One of the students only saw the outlines, and nothing inside that.  One of the students saw the flower in a Victorian style, with heavy shadows and contrast.  One of the students was technically perfect in every detail.  The diversity was delightful and reminded me that each of us is different in how we see the world...our worlds.  Each persons' universe is unique.  What an exciting experience this was for me!  Thank you, thank you, for the chance to learn once again!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I am still trying to break out of my rut with a few more contour line drawings.  Most of them don't come out too good, but I rather liked this one.  It really showed the loving devotion of owner to dog, and dog to owner without becoming too bogged down in detail. 

Monday, June 18, 2012


I am so excited!  I found the cutest old pull toy at the flea market this week.  Cookie Pig is going to be perfect for a still life oil painting...I love the antique children's toys the best, as they always invoke a nostalgia, a happy feeling for most people.  The colors are bright and cheerful, and I can add other fun things in with it, a tall toy or maybe a jump rope...any suggestions, anyone?  What else do you think I should add to the painting?  I want to add something alive, as well.  Like the old Masters' Dutch paintings that added butterflies and bugs, I would like to add creatures as well.  Maybe a tiny chipmonk?  Or a bumblebee? 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Just a quick thanks to the folks in Selmer, TN who gave hubby and I an opportunity to put some artwork in to the new Lattha Building through Arts in McNairy for the Rockabilly Festival.  It was a last minute entry opportunity, and we are thankful for the efforts made to get hold of us.  Hubby put in a hand carved gun stock, and I added a tufted titmouse drawing.  There are opportunities all around us, if we are just open to them!

Friday, June 15, 2012


This rather tattered butterfly, distorted by life and heavy winds, was difficult to render.  I am always saddened by the shortness of life for some of the most beautiful of God's creatures.  I used two different types of ink on this drawing, a fine tip Sharpee to render the fur, and ink brushes to get some strong, dark shades. Nature is not always kind to it's population, and I am thinking that destruction of the more fragile in it's world is inevitable. I am going to call this drawing "Ethan's Butterfly" in honor of my grandson, who was in this world much too short of a time, and who was one of God's most beautiful of creatures.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


This drawing is an insignificant little piece, but a major experiment in my drawing process.  Just a few grapes left in the fridge, I wanted to draw the value, not the line.  I dug out my ink brushes and started too dark (I was out of the lighter grey ink) and tried to look at values and contrast in the grapes.  It is so easy to just draw the outline of something, forgetting that the most important part of a rendering is the light and darknesses.  It won't leap off the page, make an impression, become something more than an object, if it doesn't have contrast.  If all the values are the same, it kind of fades into the background, becomes a part of the wall. Or maybe I am just spouting nonsense....who knows?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I will be teaching a Botanical Art class, June 14, 2012  at the Missouri Conservation Education Center in Cape Girardeau, MO.  The class will include a brief history of botanical art, what uses it can have, and on location drawing instruction.  We will discuss applications for nature art journals, garden journals and identification purposes.  I am really looking forward to the opportunity to share my love of drawing and nature!

Monday, June 11, 2012


I haven't been happy with my work lately, whether it is the chaos surrounding me, or the fact that the work hasn't felt fresh and new.  Whatever the problem, I always go back to the basics when I am not happy, and for me, that is contour line drawing.  It goes back to the essence of the subject.  You are drawing on impressions and emotion rather than drawing what you 'see'.  I drew these two blind contour line pieces last night, and looking at them today, I feel a bit more excitement to be an artist.  They are filled with movement and interest.  I saw a contour line drawing at the Rockabilly Festival this week in Selmer, TN.  It left an image in my head that excited my imagination.  The artist did a large contour image...16x20, of a man's face whose beard was twisted and turned into a bunch of grapes.  The image was drawn in black ink, and then the grape beard was colored like stained glass in purples.  Altogether a fun piece, and worth exploring.  What do you, as artists or craftsmen, do when you are feeling stale and unfullfilled?  The creative process is a tricky one.  It always needs to be worked on and re-invented!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I always love getting to visit my mother for a few days.  She is also an artist, and is interested mainly in Chinese Landscape and Sumi painting, as well as watercolor media.  She studied under an artist by the name of Mi Shoo, who was a personal friend of Georgia O'Keefe back in the day...and who imparted a lot of wisdom to his students!  One of the things I continue to regard as great advice..."if you can paint a rock, you can paint anything else on this earth". 

As my mother is getting ready to teach a class on Sumi Painting this fall, with the Nature Arts program that she volunteers for...she and I started in painting bees and cattails, as well as birds and bamboo.  I am anxious to continue practicing with her over the next few months, as I am learning a great deal about simplifying my compositions and detail work!  I hope to be helping with her class, and getting more exposure to this wonderful, classic art.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Don't you just love the Farmer's Market season?!!!  Freshly grown veggies are my favorite thing to draw (and eat).  I love the way nature gives each radish a unique way to grow.  I am sure there are artists out there who say the same thing about people and portraits, but I find that vegetation is so much easier to please than humans..I just bought a book on fruit and vegetable portraits, and I look forward to getting in there and really studying the author's interpretation of it!  Are any of you out there doing some veggie drawings?  Let me know and I will try to put some on the blog!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Where do you go to take photos of wildlife (besides sitting in a blind for hours on end)?  I have been to dozens of zoos, have discovered people with exotic pets, and there are exotic animal parks in every state.  I was excited to visit this wildlife rescue farm, who take care of injured and orphaned creatures in Missouri, and eventually return them back into the wild.
These are by no means domesticated creatures...they are recovering from broken wings, poor treatment, and abandonment.  I was able to photograph them from fairly close up without disturbing them too much, though this owl was really upset by the crowd of people visiting, and making loud clacking noises!
The wonderful couple who have been caring for these creatures for over 50 years, get no payment and very little help for the expenses of food and medical supplies.  If you would like to contribute to them, just contact them through the info on the business card at the top of the page.

Some of the creatures will never be able to return to the wild.  This owl had contracted West Nile Virus, and it affected its' brain...most of the time it was confused, and very docile.  Not a good sign, as most captured creatures are aggressive.  The owners of the refuge were such loving and interesting people, and artists as well! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I was so excited to set up my work for the Missouri Conservation Education Department art show this week!  I hung 45 pieces, almost a year's worth of work for the show.  They will be up for the entire month of June, in Cape Girardeau, MO, if any of you are interested to go see them in person.  I can't tell you how wonderful the entire staff and volunteers are there, and how much they welcomed and encouraged me.  I was nervous, to say the least, as I usually do just one show a year, and not on this scale.  I am looking forward to going up later in the month for the 'Meet the Artist' and demonstrations.  Thanks to all my friends and family who have been so supportive.  I have learned so much from this process!