Monday, June 19, 2017

Post Workshop Studio

This morning in the studio I face the aftermath of a weekend in the mountains teaching a nature journaling workshop. We had a great time together making our own journals from the cover to the watercolor sketches and personal notes inside. See my new scarf hanging over the back of my chair? It's printed with a hand painted map of the North Cascades National Park. What a perfect souvenir!
Stay tuned for lots of photos here on my blog and in our Watercolor Workshop Flickr album as well as through the North Cascades Institute and Learning Center social media. Okay, so now back to unpacking!

Check back often as I have more of my sketches to add and will be adding photos that come in from students. I trust they will be sending finished pages from their journals and action shots they took along the way. I hope those who saw the bear captured it on their camera. Workshop students should ask for the private journal link for more than what the public sees in this Flickr Album.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Forest Discovery

At noon we took our sack lunches on a short trek to Buster Brown field. We spent a wonderful afternoon sketching in the meadow. On the return hike Sylvia and I discovered a bracket fungus growing near a woodpecker hole.

We have some growing on our birch trees, too. I actually saw and heard the northern flicker who made the holes in our tree when he did it.

The fungus in the N. Cascades National Park looked like a set of steps and with the moss covered "porch roof" over the hollow spot, reminded me of a fairy tale house that a tiny gnome might live in.
I added the sketch to my nature journal page for the day along with some swirly gnome-like writing. During lunch I sat on a fallen log, shared by some big black carpenter ants. I'm not sure yet if I'll add them to this spread.

Bracket fungus, lichen and moss share the bark on this tree in the forest.

Nature Trek to a Mountain Meadow

Handmade Nature Journals by my Watercolor Students
On the second day of my Summer Watercolor Workshop at the North Cascades Learning Center, we finished up our journals and took a sack lunch to Buster Brown field for some nature journaling and sketching.
Our naturalist guides Evan and Hannah, gathered our group together at noon and led us up the trail.
We all pretty much stopped in our tracks as the scene opened up and the overwhelming beauty of our outdoor studio revealed itself to us.  After I gave everyone a moment to explore I started my watercolor nature sketching demonstration.
I used my DIY Altoids mini watercolor palette, Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. CP watercolor paper and my Pentel Aquash waterbrush. As you can see this portable set up is easy to use while standing and slips into a pocket or day pack when not in use.
Here are my students working on their watercolor sketches at Buster Brown field. That's Pyramid Peak in the distance. More photos and stories here in my Flickr album.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Visual Timeline at 4th and Madison with USk Seattle

It wasn't raining (!) and there were actual patches of blue sky among the clouds on Friday morning when the USk Seattle Ad hoc outing took place. It was a bit chilly (59/60°F) out on the 7th floor terrace of the 4th and Madison building. We had a fantastic panoramic view in any direction which included most of the iconic landmarks one associates with the city of Seattle.
Almost everyone succumbed to the easterly view of St. James Cathedral, so tiny compared to the monolithic skyscrapers framing it on either side. As I sketched, a Boeing Jet briefly appeared through the gap on its way to SeaTac airport.
I love the way we have buildings from so many eras standing side by side in the downtown core. I sketched the Seattle YMCA (1930), the cathedral (1907) and the Former First United Methodist Church Dome (1910) as well as the Space Needle (1961) and the Darth Vader building (1979). The original 120 ft. dome of St. James Cathedral collapsed in 1916 and was never rebuilt. The present dome of the First Methodist Church is destined to become part of the new SLS Luxury Hotel, slated to open in 2017. Oh, and I snipped the Smith Tower sketch off my business card and added that previously sketched bit since it's my favorite building anyway. It's the oldest skyscraper in the city. You could see it easily by looking past the south side of the terrace.
We had a great turnout for a Friday. I am always impressed by the hidden gems that urban sketchers find to explore in the city. This lovely public garden is certainly one of them. A personal touchstone for me was the joy of sketching in the terrace garden with my granddaughter who is graduating high school this month. It was her first time with USk Seattle but I trust not the last.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sketching at Bay View Nursery

Sketching while standing in the greenhouse cactus garden.

I found a tropical blue cactus at Bayview Farm and Garden on Whidbey Island today. Had to look it up to find out the actual name, though. 

Pilosocereus azureus, native to Brazil in semi-tropical areas, forms arborescent specimens to 20' in height. Beautiful blue stems with golden spines along ribs. White nocturnal flowers that are pollinated by bats and sphinx moths. Beautiful specimen for landscape or patio in temperate areas. Requires porous cactus soil with adequate drainage. Bright light to full sun with ample airflow. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Protect from frost.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Periscope Demo Today, Tomatoes

How many colors does it take to paint a tomato? Let's find out!
Live demo and discussion of watercolors used to paint tomatoes. 
Today I did a live broadcast on painting a plate of thickly sliced Roma tomatoes. Watch the replay at
Here's the result of my live demonstration in watercolor.