Super Centennial

Happy 100th birthday, National  Park Service!

I decided to visit Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site for my celebration. There were dreams of cake and candles, but instead I was treated to a beautiful breezy and not too hot summer day, just perfect for painting.  I arrived at 9 am and promptly settled in on my favorite marble bench to capture the view of Mount Ascutney.

A slight turn to the right and the Little Studio comes into view. The grapevines on the attached pergola are heavy with grapes; surprising, considering we’re still in a drought.

Three stamps today!!!

As part of the National Park Service Centennial celebration they are generously offering free admission to all the parks through Sunday, 08/28/2016. Still haven’t figure out which one you want to visit?  Please find a park and schedule a visit soon.

You won’t regret it!    … even if they don’t have cake.

Easy Pickin’s

We went to two outdoor concerts this week, the final for this summer in each location.

It’s a long time ’till next summer but I know where the people go… I’ll be there with my sketchbook and pen in hand because there’s always someone who catches my eye and demands to be drawn… easy pickin’s.

By the way… Anderson East is the real thing!  He came with his 6 person band and blew us all away.  Be sure to see them if they’re ever near you!

What’s a Belvedere?

What’s a Belvedere? That was my question of the day.

Today I joined my plein air group as we visited Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont. Ten of us spread across the Terrace Garden, most choosing to include the central fountain in their work while I moved slightly further afield to sketch ‘The Belvedere’.

Merriam-Webster defines a belvedere as “a structure (as a cupola or a summerhouse) designed to command a view. It’s from the Italian, literally ‘fair-view’.  Bel as in ‘beautiful’… vedere as ‘to view’.

It’s definitely that!  The summerhouse sits above the garden with a lovely view of the nearby pool and the distant mountains.

Each time I sketch in a National Park I make sure to stamp my work with the park’s unique date stamp. It’s a little thing but it just seems to be the perfect ending to the outing. Today I was doubly happy to stamp my book… two stamps! One for the date and the other commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service!

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016. That’s next Thursday!

If you live near ANY location in the National Park System, I hope you will consider visiting to celebrate 100 years of nature, history and beauty.  I know I will. I’m planning a visit to Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site!

Where will you go? (Not sure what’s near you? Find your park here.)



It’s All About the Process

Today I’m sharing the process of my latest gouache spread. For once I took a few photos as I went along but I only wish I had remembered a bit earlier as I started to blend the body color of the birds.

Oh well… next time.

I started by creating a basic line drawing over a pre-painted matte acrylic background.

Even though I intended to cover my lines with opaque passages of gouache just having them there helped me feel more confident as the painting progressed.

Then there comes a time when you think you’re done but when you step back you realize you’re still not there.

What’s missing?  Now it’s time to critique. In this case I had plenty of medium and dark values but almost no lights. Daley-Rowney Pro White was the perfect addition.

And then there’s color theory. Violet and Orange are both secondary colors… two of the colors in the secondary triad. The other color in the triad?  Green. Eureka! I need leaves and an odd grouping of them across the spread.

A little Payne’s Gray for feather definition and I consider it done.

Witness Protection Program

I have more pages from my new favorite pocket sketchbook to share today.

It’s the Daler-Rowney Simply Pocket Sketchbook. I found it for $5 at Walmart and decided to give it a go. I consider it “Moleskine – Lite” since it looks and has all the elements of a Moleskine but with much thinner pages. The label shows all the particulars.

I don’t need the thicker pages… this is my pen n’ ink, people sketching, note taking, every day carry book. It’s great with all my black ink pens, but what if I felt like adding color?

Not an issue with standard colored pencils.

What about a scribble of watercolor pencils dissolved with the touch of a waterbrush?

No problem. The paper buckled a tiny bit but there was no bleedthrough. Granted, I didn’t flood the page.

I know this woman, we used to work for the same company years ago! I wonder if mutual friends will recognize her from my sketch.

… so much for the witness protection program.

Out and About

People… People who draw people.

Okay, okay. That’s not how the song goes… I get it.

But I want to be one of those people. I want to be able to capture a gesture and movement, not necessarily a likeness.  At least not yet.

How do I achieve my goal? Practice… each and every time I’m out and about.

Some Days are Better than Others

I am not a confident landscape artist.

That’s exactly why I continue to go out with my plein air group Thursday mornings! These days I’ve been working on losing my dependence on ink line and using real watercolor brushes. 

Even with the drought our rivers are lovely and have plenty of water. A perfect spot to enjoy a summer morning. 

When painting, some days are better than others.