Monthly Archives: June 2010

Soothing Fountain Sketch


Rock Garden Fountain watercolor

What is it about the sound of trickling water? How can such an element possess the power of tranquility? It erodes the hard deposits of stress and whispers in your ear, “Everything is going to be alright.” 

I believe it every time.

In the southeast corner of my backyard, I have a rock garden which contains many rocks I have collected, some potted plants, and a small fountain sitting on a slab of broken concrete.  The fountain isn’t very large but it has such a wonderful effect on all who listen. Have you ever sat by a camp fire and caught yourself staring in a trance, unable to look away? Well, trickling water seems to have the same ability on your ears. Once you start to listen you cannot pry yourself away.


Rock Garden Fountain photo


Mushrooms in the Woods Sketch


Country Lane Woods Mushroom 1

Journal entry:

85°F mostly sunny, light breeze
Country Lane Woods, Cook County Forest Preserves Zone 6

The mosquitoes are vicious this afternoon. Humid wet conditions make them happy. I will put up with them for a little while and render my payment, a small donation of blood, to hear the trickling of the creek and the call of the blue jay above. The crickets in the grasses sing to me during my journey, I treasure their tune along the way. Today I find that my reward in the wood are several little mushrooms. Each posses their own personality, they are little gems on the forest floor.


Country Lane Woods mushroom 2

Last week I went to Country Lane Woods for a quick hike. Due to the many recent storms, conditions are perfect for mushrooms, finding them is always a treat! These were growing in rich black soil, I couldn’t resist entering them in my watercolor journal. Here are the actual photos:


Hike at Little Red Schoolhouse

There are so many treasures to be found while hiking. Let me share with you a secret on how to get the most out of your hike: Walk slow and be quiet, scan the ground as well as both sides of the trail with your eyes as you slowly pass by, you’ll be surprised at how much you can find.
I found several treasures myself at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center last weekend:

First we have a comma butterfly. Even though this guy is considered common in my area, I still get excited when I spot one. He held this wonderful pose as I took his picture. Then he let me see his comma!

He was very nice enough to stay in this position long enough for another picture! Can you see his silver comma marking?

Next we have some type of fungi, I believe. Not sure what type, but it has a striking bright red color and interesting texture up close:

Ewwww! Gross but cool!

Finally, I kept hearing this tiny raspy call. I had to stand still and figure out where the noise was coming from, taking a few steps in the direction of the noise and then waiting, taking a few more steps and wait some more. But I finally found it…

Awww! Isn’t he cute! This little guy was calling for his mom to bring him more food. He was just a foot away from the trail and at eye level. When mom (Baltimore Oriole) came back with insects, she was NOT happy with the large human (me) staring at her young! Ok Ok! I’ll leave!

Pouty Face watercolor sketch

I had to sketch his little pouty face hungry baby. FEED ME MA, FEED MEEEEEEEEE! Mom did feed baby several times, flying back and forth from the forest in search of more treats.

Had my mission been to just complete a hiking trail as fast as I could for some cardio benefit, I would have missed all of these wonderful things along the way. As I sit her and reflect, I think that had I been with some people, talking along the way, I would have missed these things as well. Sometimes it is just nice to escape by yourself and be real quiet and surprise yourself with how many things you discover.

Hike & Sketch at Lake Katherine

Lake Katherine watercolor

Today I had the chance to be at Lake Katherine in Palos Heights, IL. It has been raining for hours, but does that make nature any less desireable? Why, of corse not! Quite the opposite actually, less people and more wildlife!

I sat under shelter while sketching this scene. It took me about 45 minutes. Here is the actual photo:

Oh how peaceful it is, even on an overcast rainy day, to observe nature and make a connection.

As I sat painting, I noticed 7 male mallard ducks standing together:

  • 1 stands ahead as the leader, then…
  • 2 fly away together 
  • 2 more fly away
  • 1 flies alone
  • 2 last mallards fly away

When 2 mallards decide to fly, how do they know to do it at the same time? They were not making any noises, the how do they communicate to each other that at the exact same time, they should fly away?  To me it is a mystery.

Here is the observation deck over the lake. The volunteers and workers do a wonderful job with the landscape. I enjoy all of their hard work. I also enjoy that misty background, thank you afternoon rain!

This black crowned night heron stands perfectly still in the drenching rain, staring intently at the water looking for a meal. He doesn’t mind the rain and neither do I.

One solemn goose approaches me slowly and stops just 3 feet away looking at me closely. He is checking me out. Is he looking for food or watching for danger?

Leaving Lake Katherine, I take with me the sounds and smells of a constant rain. I am a little more at peace, I am a little more calm, and can endure the remaining day…whatever may come along.

Garden Flowers Sketch

The blessings of summer are abundant! It is just a few weeks away until the first day of summer and I am already enjoying  full blooms in the garden. How lucky I am to walk in my own backyard and reap the benefits. Truly grateful, I do not consider it a small matter.

Carpet Flower and Lavender watercolor

Here are a few carpet flower stems and lavender stems. I love the color contrast between the two. In my original, the carpet flower is not so orange, more of a yellow. I do not know why my scanner does that, it must not like certain colors. Anyway, yellow and purple are opposite on the color wheel, they compliment each other. Orange and blue are opposite on the color wheel as well, so the background color and the carpet flower color compliment each other also. When painting, try to remember how your color will play off each other and whether it is a good compliment or not so good compliment.

Have fun in your garden; if you do not have one, try visiting a city or village park…and don’t forget your sketchbook!!!