Water Colors Accepted!

Another sunny, chilly day in central Virginia!  Here’s a look back on last summer and fall, thru water color.  These are the five pieces I submitted for Bon Air Artist Association’s February jury process. To exhibit with the group, you must be juried in for the media you wish to show.  I was successful on my first attempt with photography. Watercolor, however, has been a challenge.  I think I finally wore them down, or maybe I’ve improved – take your pick!  Now I have to get serious!  I kept a journal over the past six months of sketches for possible larger pieces and I feel that really helped my composition.  If it doesn’t work small, chances are its not going to work large.  There is still much for me to learn.  I found this great quote from Robert Wade: “Watercolour is a lifetime pursuit…mostly uphill.” Another one I like from Selma Blackburn: “In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you’re in trouble.”

On my list for this week is a visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to check out their exhibit of watercolors by John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper. To close, here’s a quote from Edward Hopper: “If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”




Watercolor Adventure Continues


It’s a warm, foggy morning in central Virginia! Is winter finally releasing its grip? I doubt, but there’s always hope! Speaking of which, tomorrow I’ll try once more to jury into the Bon Air Artist Association for watercolors. I’m already exhibiting my photographs with the group, which you’ll be able to see at the Artful Healing show on Sunday, February 28 at the Jepson Center, University of Richmond. The barns shown above are ones I did for the September jurying; the chairs on the porch of the mountain house were for a ‘threes a charm’ challenge. I’ve been working to add a wider range of values and enhance my composition – we’ll see how it goes! Next week I’ll show you what I’ve done so far this year!

Sketch Pack / Water Color Kit Tutorial

In my last post I included rough notes on how I made my water color kit. Here’s more detail on a simplified version, with illustrations. Hope you find this helpful! The dimensions are the same, but I didn’t cover the canvas or bind the edges. I’m using this one for my nature journal!

Water Color Kit for Half-fold Sketch Book

This kit will accommodate one or two half-fold sketch books, a small water color palette, and multiple pens and brushes.

¼ yard of canvas or denim
1 old t-shirt
10” piece of ¼” elastic
24” of ¾” satin ribbon, or a couple of old shoelaces
a ball point needle for your sewing machine (optional, but will work better on the t-shirt fabric)
safety pin for threading elastic

You may wish to rip the canvas fabric rather than cutting it for a softer edge.
All seams are ¼”.

Cut (or tear for canvas)
E – main piece: 9 ¾” x 14 ¾”
B – left pocket: 9 ¾” x 6 ½”
A – palette pocket: 10” x 6 ½”

T-shirt (see cutting layout):
C – pocket for pens: 7 ½” x 6” so that one 7 1/2” side is hemmed
D – right pocket: 6 ½” x 10 ¾” so that one 10 ¾” side is hemmed

1. Fold A/palette pocket with 6 ½” edges together. With fold at bottom, stitch along the left edge. (see figure 1).
2. Pin safety pin to one end of elastic. Thread elastic thru the hemmed edge of D/right pocket and tack or pin both ends.
3. Lay C/pocket for pens on top of B/left pocket, aligning left, bottom and right edges. Tuck along bottom of C/Pocket for pens as needed. Stitch around left, bottom, and right edges. Make additional lines of stitching from hemmed edge to bottom of C to form pockets for pens. (see figure 2).
4. Layer B/left pocket on left side of E/main piece; D/right pocket on right of E/main piece. Tuck along right edge of D/right pocket as needed. Pin in place matching outside edges. Lay A/palette pocket on top of B/left pocket with stitched side to left, a ¼” from left edge, and fold toward bottom; pin. Cut ribbon into two 12” pieces. Slip end of one between E/main piece and B/left pocket at middle of left edge; pin. Slip end of other piece of ribbon between D/right pocket and E/main piece at middle of right edge; pin. Stitch around outside edges, being careful not to catch left edge of A/palette pocket. Stitch around outside edges a second time. (see figure 3).

Sketch Book Kit

I saw a pocket water color kit by Maria Coryell-Martin on the Artist Journal Workshop facebook page and was fascinated. Her kit is scaled for a small moleskin watercolor sketch book, but I was looking for something to fit my half-fold homemade journal.  I ordered her credit-card sized palette, and made my own kit!  I’ve very happy with it so far.  It has room for two journals, or a journal and pack of additional pens as shown in the photos.

I’ve included rough directions for any of you who may wish to make your own. If you do, and have questions, send me a note for clarification.

I started with canvas as the base to give it some stiffness, then covered that with one of my favorite fabrics.  The pockets are made from t-shirt scraps for the extra give.  The large pocket on the right has narrow elastic threaded thru the left hand side to more firmly tuck in the journal.  Happy sketching!!

Pine Needle Basket

Pine Needle Basket

Pine Needle Basket

In follow up to my last post about the longleaf pine restoration project in Sussex County, here’s an entry from my original Yahoo blog on a basket I made several years ago.  When I was gathering the pine needles with my cousin, he explained to me the difficulty of handling longleaf pine seedlings – they have a very long tap root that’s easily broken. Finally cone shaped packaging was developed that would protect the root thru shipping and handling and allow for successful plantings.   This little basket is 4″ in diameter and 5″ tall.

Friday October 6, 2006 Blue Ribbon!

Of my eight entries in the arts and crafts section of the State Fair, I took one third, three seconds, and a first place!  Latter, as you can see above, was on the pine needle basket I made from the 18″ pine needles cousin Jesse and I collected last November in Patterson, Georgia.  The hen feathers are from a jaunt with Julia and Debra to the mountains in 1998 – found them when we went gem hunting.  You can’t see from this angle, but there’s an eucalyptus nut on the other side of the pine cone from Los Angeles; probably collected around 1987.  Life is good!

Hike: Chub Sandhill – long leaf pine, resurrection fern & salamander eggs!

Last Thursday I joined ten others for a Chesterfield Parks and Recreation hike thru Chub Sandhill Natural Preserve in Sussex County, Virginia. I love hiking with these folks! The pace is moderate, the company is good, and our fearless leader, Mark Battista, is an enthusiastic, well-informed naturalist. The hikes are listed in the county program guide and fill very quickly.

The first leg of our hike was thru a long leaf pine restoration burn. The loblolly forest we walked thru shows remains of old sand mining and has been planted with long leaf pine seedlings. The burn had been done in the previous week and cleared out the underbrush. We could see the long leaf pine seedlings, yellow on the outside from the fire but with strong green buds in the center of each. This is called the ‘grass stage’ and the seedlings look like long tufts of grass. Just before we pulled off for the hike we passed a growth several years older – the needles are so long and soft looking! Each needle can be up to 18″ long – excellent for weaving pine needle baskets! Click here for a site that describes the growth stages of the long leaf pine.

For lunch we drove a bit further down the road to a boat ramp at the Nottoway River.  Highlight of that stop was the discovery of a resurrection fern growing on a sycamore tree along the bank of the river.  This plant shrivels up during dry times, then unfurls when it rains.  I saw a lot of it in Charleston, SC last spring but I hadn’t seen any in Virginia.  This specimen had both a unfurled area near the base of the tree and a drying portion further up the trunk.

Our next jaunt was thru a mature loblolly forest with several vernal pools.  The path was cushiony soft with pine needles! This area has been a preserve since the mid 90’s, and scattered throughout were old dumps of jars, bottles and rusted cans.  Not far from one of the pools we discovered an old jar and can that had been undisturbed for so long that moss and ferns have taken up residence! Nature’s own terrariums!  In another of the pools Mark pointed out spotted salamander eggs – and pulled out a bunch to show us!  They looked like orange jello with tiny raisins scattered throughout!

I’m looking forward to two more hikes in April – hopefully wildflowers will be blooming by then.  Destinations are Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County and Hickory Hollow Nature Preserve in the Northern Neck.  Stay tuned!!

Spring at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

I stopped by Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens earlier this week to check out the nature journaling exhibit in their library. As always, I found so much more! I taught a nature journaling class in February with a friend at Covenant Woods, and her notebook pages are included in the exhibit. I hadn’t realized that some of my water colors are also in the video accompanying the exhibit! That was a fun surprise. In the corridor outside the library is an exhibit of recent crocheted/nature pieces by Hillary Waters.  I’ve included above my favorite piece. See her website for a portfolio of more works.

As I wondered thru the gardens, I discovered a bicycle sculpture, topped by a small pedal airplane! The mania for the UCI Road World Championships in September has started!

Flowers are beginning to bloom – dwarf irises, daffodils, crocus! Spring is here?!