Tag: nature studies

leaves marker sketch

Free Fun Friday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden

green leaves sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Green Leaves (7/28/2017). Waterproof ink and Inktense colored pencils in large moleskine.
leaves marker sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Under the Meyer Lemon Tree (7/28/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens in large moleskine.

At the end of July, I took a day off from my studies to go out sketching at Tower Hill’s Free Fun Friday event (free admission for the public). As a member, I had never attended this event in the past before because I can attend anytime, but this time I was supposed to meet someone from the CPSA for a day of sketching. Unfortunately, I did not realize that there would be so many people that that facility would have to close the gates because there was no more parking.

In the end, the meeting never took place, but I did get to do some sketching on my own. Many people (at least 50) can up to me and either watched over my shoulder or struck up a conversation about my art. Many people would find this kind of attention anxiety provoking, but I didn’t mind it. I actually found it rewarding to talk to the kids about keeping a sketchbook and I think many of them were really inspired. I did find that I didn’t get as much sketching done as I would like because of the interruptions. I also made some pretty mundane sketches. I tried out my new Derwent Inktense colored pencils and did some experimenting with Stabilo Point 88 markers, which are both fairly new to me.

While this was not the ideal situation for nature sketching, I think showing up at an event like this to sketch and hand out business cards would be a great marketing opportunity to try in the future.

tree bark lichen sketch

Small Scale Specimens Drawn from Life

I spent a lot of time making slow-paced drawings from life during the break between the spring and summer semesters. These two drawings were of some things I found on my daily walks with Cate. I realized first hand how my eyes have changed as I’ve grown older–they don’t accommodate so well to looking through a magnifying glass. I had to take multiple breaks to rest my eyes.

tree bark lichen sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Bark with Lichen (5/1/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
crassula mucosa sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crassula mucosa (5/2/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.


tree root drawing

Deep Roots

tree root drawing
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Deep Roots. Pen and ink and watercolor wash, 4 x 6 inches.

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. -John Muir

This is a little drawing I made last July, from one of the photos I took at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in the springtime. I hadn’t used my dip pen in quite some time, and it was nice to get back to it. Drawing with a dip pen offers such a different experience than any other sort of pen. It is slower going, and there is more variation. It was interesting to draw the negative space (the dirt) around the various leaves. The end result is quite bold.

stones drawing

Sticks and Stones

These are some of my daughter’s nature objects that found their way into my bedroom, and then my sketchbook. I made the drawings in watercolor pencils, and then instead of using plain water to activate the pencil marks, I used a brush loaded with watercolor paint as well. It was an interesting experiment and fun. I used the same colors for the two pages so they have a cohesive look.

sticks drawing
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Sticks (7/31/2016). Watercolor pencil, watercolor paint and rubber stamping in large moleskine.
stones drawing
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Stones (7/30/2016). Watercolor pencil, watercolor paint and rubber stamping in large moleskine.

moss steps tower hill

Working Plein Air at the Moss Steps

I took my watercolors to Tower Hill Botanic Garden to try out working plein air. It was a sunny day and I was worried about getting burned, so I went into the wooded areas. I settled down at the Moss Steps and did this pen drawing and then painted it in watercolor. Although there was a chain blocking the steps off from people, I did see a chipmunk running around as well as a wood frog hopping down.

I usually add the watercolor at home, but it was a welcome change to paint in person (and more of a challenge). I brought water with me in a bottle and poured it into a plastic cup, but I had to bend down to use it as I put my water cup on the ground. The pine needles falling down on my head were annoying, but a small price to pay for such a nice time.

Next time I would like to try painting in watercolor without such a detailed pen and ink drawing first because it took a very long time.

moss steps tower hill
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, At the edge of the Moss Steps (8/5/2016). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
moss steps photo
A photo of the moss steps. I conveniently removed the chain from my drawing.
Some of the other interesting photos I took while walking through the woods.
Some of the other interesting photos I took while walking through the woods.

outdoor plants

Valuable Time Alone for Nature Sketching

To be alone with nature is to be one with nature. -Peter Ewart

I was able to get out of the house by myself for a few hours today. I used my time well and made three sketches. It was lovely.

My thoughts on the new moleskine paper

leaf shapes sketch
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Variety of Leaf Shapes and Sizes (6/26/2016). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
onion nature study
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Uprooted Onions (6/25/2016). Ink in large moleskine.

These are the first two pages I did in my new moleskine (a black one, this time). I immediately noticed a difference in the paper (it was advertised to be improved for paint). A short time ago, Roz Stendahl wrote an extensive review of the new paper.

My thoughts were that the paper was definitely whiter than the previous version, which I appreciated. I also noticed less buckling with watercolor. The paper handled ink nicely. The only thing I dislike about this paper is that it is noticeably thinner and “see through,” so that I cannot comfortably draw on both sides of the page. The paper also seems to wrinkle more easily. I am planning on only using one side of the page and I probably won’t do many double page spreads.

The reason why I like moleskines are that they look neat when closed and the elastic band keeps everything well contained. The large size is the perfect size for me to carry in a purse while still having a decent enough area to work with. I also have had a number of moleskines over the years and I like how they look stacked up. In the past, I have disposed of old sketchbooks, but I have decided to keep new ones going forward as I think my daughter would like to have them when I am gone. Also, I have more space to store them now, thankfully.

new guinea impatiens watercolor

Outdoor watercolor sketching on a greeting card

new guinea impatiens watercolor
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, New Guinea Impatiens (5/27/2016). Watercolor on a blank note card, 8.9 x 12.4 cm.

Lately I’ve been trying to expand my skills and get a bit out of my comfort zone. With that in mind, instead of sketching with pen outdoors as I usually do, I decided to paint in watercolor. There is so much information online about people’s ideal travel watercolor setup, but I never paid attention to it much because I never took my watercolors outside with me. Interestingly, my supplies weren’t the problem for me this time.

I used a size 6 Cotman III brush and my Winsor & Newton compact set. For water, I used my regular water cup. My seating was on the granite steps going down into the lake. I felt a little uneasy because I was sitting in an awkward position with the trunk of my body twisted in an odd angle to properly view the flowers. Minuscule bugs started crawling across the paper as well which concerned me because I didn’t want to squish them and then leave a mark on my card. I found that a strong puff of exhale blew them off my paper which worked nicely. It was late afternoon when people start taking their speedboats out, which generated pretty large waves and I almost got splashed a few times.

The whole experience left me feeling rather rushed and not relaxed. The next time I go outside to paint I am going to put some more thought into my seating location as well as my subject. I will pick something less detailed and easier to paint quickly.

tulips sketch

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

tulips sketch
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Tulips (5/11/2016). Watersoluble colored pencil and rubber stamping in large moleskine.
azaleas nature sketch
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Azaleas (5/11/2016). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

My mom, Cate and I visited Tower Hill Botanic Garden for the first time last week. What a treasure of a place! I can’t believe that I’ve never visited in over twenty years of living in Central Mass. There is a lot to look at and it changes seasonally with new things on display all year, even in winter I’m told. The tulip beds, planted in coordinated color combinations, were the highlight of the trip for me. There was also a display of fairy houses and an exhibit of watercolor paintings by wildlife artist Barry Van Dusen (on display until June 26, 2016).

I only took photos and didn’t get the time to sit and sketch this time. However, I joined as a member and will be visiting again soon with my sketchbook and a big block of (undisturbed) time.