Tuesday, August 23, 2016

YOU hold the keys to your enchanted life!

"You will not find wi-fi in the forest, but you will find a better connection." - unknown

I'm so proud of my 12 students this past Saturday morning! I taught Nature Journaling at the CT Audubon Society in Pomfret, CT.  It's beautiful countryside up there - but the things I teach can be taken anywhere.  Watercolor and a sketchbook is so wonderfully portable.  It's a wonderful habit to grow and develop.  Some came with lot of current skill - and found new vistas and things to try.  Some were refreshing old skills that had gone un-used for over a year.  Some were bravely learning a brand new skill that very day!  One was eager try out a new medium once she saw the fun that others were having.  

All came away with some very 'zen' moments of the day, recording this beautiful place on paper and in their memory.  It was indeed an enchanted morning, the kind that starts with a bit of fog, fierce and interesting clouds, burning off to glorious sunshine.  This mirrors our emotional start when we start to learn a new task. 

I love to see the expressions on people's faces when they go from "that moment of doubt" to the "aha! moment of discovery" - and the joy on their faces with the knowledge that, "hey, I can DO this! It is a learnable task that I can do!"

I'm grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with the CT Audubon Society.  We're putting together the fall schedule there, and I'll be holding new classes and workshops in my home studio as well  - starting in late September, once I return from Ireland.  I'll be putting the dates on my website VERY soon! Check the link here for Fall updates! 

Besides the wonderful hay bales, here's some more of what our attendees were able to journal in their sketchbooks:
jewelweed or "touch-me-not" plant
which by the way, is a poison-ivy antidote!
a bundle of tiny rose hips from that invasive climbing rose that has escaped all over Connecticut, 
and a lovely hawk, who kept watch over us from above! 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I think I've found the "Fairy Glen" in Pomfret, CT!

"When we see with clear eyes, we know that we are surrounded by beauty."

"The scales have tipped and the days have more of early fall in them than early summer in them."  
- Edwin Way Teale

Yes, I am feeling the changes in the air after last weekend's sweltering heat.  And the length of day light is changing, too.  Sunset is coming around 7:45pm now, rather the the early-mid summer long days. 

Yesterday I spent the morning up in Pomfret, CT; sketching at the CT Audubon Grassland Bird Sanctuary.  The fields are in the process of being cut for hay.  Big round-bales dotted the rolling hills, a most wonderful sight for an artist I might add...or for anyone.  Why should only artists be privy to the "magic" in a beautiful view?  I'm looking forward to this Saturday, when I share this view with a group of people who are coming to learn about "sketchbook journaling" or keeping a nature journal.  With the fields mown and hay bales lying about, I think I have discovered "the fairy glen".  It's an area previously inaccessible to me. There's a large swath of shade that will last for the entire 3 hours of class - with interesting views in all directions.  Several types of wildflowers are still in bloom - the very last of the milkweed (though most are producing their big pods now), and an interesting yellow-orange flower that looks a bit like an orchid that grows on a climbing vine. (remember, you can click on any photo to enlarge it, and see up close!)
Turns out it is called 'touch-me-not' plant or jewelweed. It is found in moist areas where poison ivy grows and it's an 'antidote' for it.  Crush the watery stems and leaves in your hand and rub vigorously on affected areas. It soothes and helps prevent spreading of poison ivy oils. 
A cluster of pea-sized berries turns out to be the 'rose hips' of that  (invasive) species of climbing rose here in Connecticut (it IS a vigorous grower).
Along the edges of the cut field tall goldenrod spills its plumes. A hummingbird hovers to look at me before darting back to the yellow orchid-like blooms of jewelweed.
 In the middle of sketching, I hear, and notice a hawk soaring over-head. 
As I complete each sketch, I notice the deep calm I feel of my being here, in this one place....intently looking and listening.  Deep awareness - yet deep calm. I'm refreshed and invigorated from the experience (perhaps addicted) knowing that as soon as I drive away, I'll be wanting to return. 

For more info on the next class, see the calendar of events, click on August 20th, Nature Sketchbook Journaling here at this link.
I do hope you can join us!

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

A New 'Master Naturalist' - Sketching and Painting

High Tide Spring (available here) - based on a watercolor sketch at the Connecticut River
This year has been so exciting so far, and we're almost 2/3 of the way through!  And there's still more exciting things yet to come! 
Perhaps you can join me at the next "Nature Sketchbook Journaling" class at the CT Audubon center in Pomfret, CT. 
August 20th - Saturday - 9am to noon
$5 for CAS members, $10 non-members
This fee goes to support the center!
After completing the Master Naturalist class with the CT Audubon in Spring, I've been able to expand my role from simply 'nature lover' to one who shares with my community.  Currently my  role as master naturalist is to continue learning everything I can about our natural world here in Connecticut, and share/teach this to others in the form of sketchbook journaling. 
 I grew up in Florida, and always loved being outdoors.  From a lifetime of learning in the south, I felt I knew and was familiar with all of that region's 'flora and fauna' but knew little of my adopted home state here in Connecticut.  So I jumped at the opportunity to learn through the Master Naturalist program at the CT Audubon Society center in Pomfret, CT.  
As a painter and a naturalist, in a time when so many are dis-enchanted with our world and things that are going on...I wanted to help people become "enchanted" by our natural surroundings and help them develop a love and appreciation for it... perhaps helping them to see things in a new way.  When people see beauty (and learn to see it in places where they might not expect it), they are more likely to love and protect that place or thing. 
I spent the winter and spring in the weekly course sessions held at the CT Audubon center in Pomfret.  Like "drinking out of the fire hydrant" - there is so much material to cover! It made me realize how long it would take for me to feel truly competent!  Luckily, learning is a lifelong endeavor that we commit to.  Each class was fascinating and amazing.  I'd come home smiling those days, feeling like a happy 10 year old Girl Scout!  The teachers were excellent - I had found an entirely new appreciation of my surroundings - the courses had exceeded my expectations!
 Each of the new master naturalists is asked to give back 40 hours of volunteer time.  I am thrilled to be able to share and teach "nature sketchbook journaling".  As a painter, I love the look and feel of paint and ink on paper.  But as a life-long nature lover, I especially enjoy going back through old sketchbooks.  I can see what was blooming on a certain date the previous year, remember funny incidents like the antics of a chipmunk.  This little creature chased a group of sparrows all around a garden bench...while they continued to taunt him!  These painted sketches bring back so many more wonderful memories than most photographs ever do!
Sketching has a meditative quality to it, and sketching from life - out in nature - allows you to see things you would NEVER notice if you were just hiking through.  Time seems to stand still, while you observe things like a dragonfly trying to lift off the ground with a small crab he has captured; or a hummingbird that is hovering over your page as you paint red flowers! Nature is enchanted indeed. It cares not of our skill in drawing or painting, only that we witness it, and fall in love with it - and preserve and protect it!

 I'd love for you to join us in Pomfret on the 20th; call and reserve your spot
CT Audubon Society- 860-928-4948
and be prepared to be enchanted! 

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Mid-Summer Festival in Old Lyme-Saturday-July 30th

I hope you can make it!! For those of you living in traveling distance, take exit 70 off of I-95 in CT. Go to historic Lyme Street in Old Lyme. There's lots of events happening in several places here. I'll be outdoors under the BIG tent at Lyme Academy College of Fine Art with the other alums with many of my recent paintings; florals, landscapes, small, medium and LARGE.  

And, if you haven't seen my solo show "Touching Water" at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, now is a great time to visit! The weather is supposed to be fabulous, so come on out!  

For the full schedule of events, go to:
Please do come by and say "Hi"! I look forward to meeting you! 

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nature Sketchbook Journaling class -CT Audubon Society

 Join me this Saturday, July 23rd
9:00am 'til noon
at the CT Audubon Society
Grassland Bird Conservation Center
218 Day Road
Pomfret, CT
Nature Sketchbook Journaling! 
Cost - $5 CAS members, $10 non-members

This is my "give back to community" class, all proceeds go to the CT Audubon Society right there in Pomfret, CT.  It looks like it may be a 'hot one' outside on Saturday. No worries, if it does indeed turn out to be a scorcher, we'll stay inside in the BIG room (in the air-conditioning) and I'll show you how to make a gridded page of "found objects in nature".   
You'll spend time sketching and painting from nature/objects from nature, using pencil, pen and watercolor.  Learn new skills or develop ones you already have. I'll show you how to simplify what you see and teach basic drawing and quick intuitive watercolor techniques.  Enhance your creativity, observe nature, record the day and enjoy the meditative qualities of sketching! 

Materials you'll need to bring:
-pencil, eraser
-permanent, waterproof, black drawing pen (Faber-Castell PITT artist pens, or Pigma Micron pens are good brands) Sharpies tend to bleed through most papers
-watercolors (a travel size or kid's set)
-watercolor brush (you'll want to start with at least 1, choose anything between a size 6 to 10)
-watercolor sketchbook/journal (regular will buckle, make sure it says "watercolor or multi-media" on the label)
-water bottle
-small plastic container for rinsing
-camp chair or stool to sit on outside (if we end up outside!)
-sunscreen, bugspray, a hat with a brim/visor

 The center is in a beautiful, rural part of CT, with inspiring views. Even if we work inside (if it turns out to be hot and muggy), our room has a big spread of windows on 2 sides- great light and views. 

***You may want to bring some 'found objects' of your own, flower heads, seed pods, pine cones, abandoned bird nests, interesting twigs, shells, feathers, leaf stems. There's lots of fun ways to design a page with these little treasures of nature!

Hope to see you on Saturday!!


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Monday, July 11, 2016

Touching Water exhibit - opening

I'm so happy to announce  the opening of 
"Touching Water"
at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, CT 
this Friday, July 15th from 5-7pm
(click image below to enlarge)

 I've spent a good portion of the last year working on these.  My friend Judy Benson (journalist for The Day - our local newspaper) has collaborated with me on yet another series - this time, moving up the coast from Barn Island to the Connecticut River....my latest favorite paintings!  Seventeen new ones from various spots on the river, along with a few from Barn Island that I wanted to share again.  

I've also got several of my sketchbooks in the exhibit as well (though those are not for sale, only the oil paintings are). I'll be talking about some of my techniques during the "Gallery Talk" at 5:30 that evening! 

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Garden Sketches - Roses, Lavender, Peonies; all the favorites!

My favorite time of year here in New England - summer, glorious summer! This climbing rose is the most fragrant thing, right by our front door! The little nest had been abandoned, and built within the canes of the rose, mid-way up the pillar! Isn't that a romantic little home? Except for it being in a rather busy spot...and later being blown out by a storm! Now, as for the sketchbook itself, it's made by Nujabi, from India, and is a very soft beautiful handmade paper with a deckled edge. It used to be my favorite paper. But I've found one that I like much, much more! (which I'll talk about in a later post). I've been enjoying using a Lamy Joy fountain pen to draw with, and use a variety of watercolors (Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith, M. Graham). In some areas with finer detail I use a Pitt permanent pen.

The front garden is so inviting! I love being in this area! The fragrances are wonderful, and when one plant goes out of bloom, another is just coming into bloom! The peonies have just gone by, the roses are still hanging in there, and the lavender is just bursting open! Oh the color and fragrance!
We have 2 different varieties of peonies, one is pink and the other white (but do I remember the names?, no, that's what I depend on my garden guru hubby to do for me!...I remember the fragrance and color!).  The white variety in the front garden is heavenly! 
 Just a nice spot to sit for a short while...not to linger very long. But it certainly is inviting to come home to!

The pale pink rose is along the fence, it took a hit from a winter thaw followed by a snow storm. During the thaw, it was just long enough for things to start budding. Froze back most of my hydrangeas, too. The darker pink rose is wonderfully fragrant, and a lovely climber. We've trained it up the pillar on the front porch. 
 One of my lavender varieties, the darker purple Hidcoate is beautiful! I just love the color! It's shorter in height than the lavender grosso variety we are also growing, but the fabulous color certainly makes up for that! What are your favorite garden plants? I have to admit - our gardens have turned out to be so satisfying! The work never ends, but the results are so delightful!

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