Monthly Archives: September 2011

Cricket Poem and Watercolor Sketch


I can’t sing. I couldn’t carry a tune if you paid me. But when something touches you so wonderfully, when you find yourself caught in a moment in nature that inspires you soooo much….you just want to belt it out!

Well, luckily for you, I don’t sing… I paint and when I want to treasure something I experience, I occasionally write poems about it.

That’s what I did last night when I heard the melancholy song of the lone cricket. He sang for hours. Alone by himself his chant was very, very slow. It was pretty chilly last night so that explains the pace. I kept thinking…is he sad winter is approaching? Is this his melancholy song?

Melancholy Song
I hear a lone cricket.
He sings a slow tune,
For the night is cold,
And the frost comes soon.

Anyway, there was something profoundly peaceful about hearing one insect’s voice in the dead of the night. I will treasure it forever.


Sketch Class Results Sept 2011


Beating the rain, the sketch class went forward to celebrate the autumn trees and the nature center which brought us together.


Sitting under a tree as the chickadees watch, they are the audience and we are the performers.


Versatile, we adapt to any situation and make ourselves comfortable.


The groups artwork...a work in progress.

Penwork was finished at home. The moisture in the air made drying difficult.


Now that we are finished, it’s time for a hike! What will we discover?


Tiny yellow cup-shaped fungi growing on the fence. Very cute.


Puff ball mushrooms were also found. These are growing on a decomposing log.


Last but not least, this fuzzy white caterpillar was right off the trail. I love finding treasures in the woods. Each hike contains new discoveries.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s sketch class and hike. Maybe next month you would like to join us?

Free Museum Day Saturday 09-24-11

This Saturday only (9-24-11), museums around the country are participating in Free Museum Day hosted by Smithsonian Magazine.

You must choose your museum, have the ticket emailed, and print. Good for two people in a household.
Click here for ticket info.

Not only can you go to a museum for FREE, but in the morning if you are near Chicago you can paint for FREE!

Join us at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs, IL at 9am, where I will be hosting a free plein air sketch class. Click the class page for more info, supplies, and address.

Free, free, free….I love free!!!

Let’s Paint Evidence of Autumn!

Look around you…this time of year you can see evidence of autumn. Look at the very tips of the trees near the top. Do you see it?

Yes, just a hint of autumn. My favorite time of year.
Well, I’m not going to waste any time. Every day from now until the end of November I will savor, because I know it won’t last. This precious time will go blazing fast…so let’s preserve this moment in time by painting “Evidence of Autumn”, using soft pastels…..


Step 1: Make a rough sketch using a charcoal pencil. This is a 7×5 Ampersand Pastelbord. Do this step fast and don’t worry about detail. Most of this will be covered my paints anyway, I just do it for a road map to where I’m going next.


Step 2: For the underpainting, we will use watercolors, it’s quick and it spreads. The blue sky is indigo blue at the top and cerulean blue near the horizon.


Step 3: Mix some alizarin with your indigo and paint some boughs on your tree. While you’re at it, paint the distant trees in the horizon.


Step 4: Fill in the tree with some sap green. Fill in the field with yellow ochre, burnt umber, and indigo blue. Be carefull because the watercolor wants to spread like crazy on the Ampersand Pastelbord. Use little water and more pigment. It will dry light.


Step 5: Using cobalt blue watercolor, drop in some color in the distant trees and a touch in the shadow of our main attraction, the autumn tree. This will be the last time we use watercolors. Our underpainting is done. Let dry completely.


Step 6: Now the fun begins! When your underpainting is completely dry, grab a dark blue pastel and scribble in the sky near the top of the painting. With a medium blue, scribble in the horizon sky. With your finger, blend the two.


Step 7: On the sky, scribble some light blue pastel. Go ahead, go crazy. It feels good, don’t hold back. Blend with your finger.


Step 8: Using an electric blue pastel, paint the shadow areas of the tree. Add some light purple on the ends.


Step 9: Take a dark sap green pastel and paint sections of the tree. I like to use nice up and down strokes. Use what ever feels comfortable to you. This is your style.


Step 10: Take a dark blue pastel and paint in the trunk. Blend with your fingers. For the distant trees, paint them with a light and dark purple pastel.


Step 11: Now we dazzle! Highlight the tree with a lighter green. Keep in mind which direction the light is hitting: left to right.


Step 12: Did you ever want to kiss a tree with autumn colors? Well, now is your chance! Fly up there and touch the ends with orange and yellow. This is living!!!


Step 13 Final: Add the sun! The brightest colors go last. Use the lightest orange you have to highlight a few leaves. Use the lightest yellow you have to highlight a few leaves over the green. As in, “a few leaves”, I mean: dot, dot, dot.
In the field paint some goldenrod by painting some yellow touches here and there. You’re finished! Now that wasn’t too hard was it?

I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step pastel demonstration. I know when I am painting, I feel more alive than I do any other time of my life. It is soul nourishing. I can’t live without it. I hope I can help you feel that way too.

“Evidence of Autumn”
original pastel
no mat, no frame
(includes shipping in US)

Click here to see availability.

Help in Troubled Times – Free Download – Faith


Negative thoughts kill success.

Do you have them?
Sometimes I unconsciously say them in my head without even realizing what I am doing. For example, “Oh, you’ll never be able to do that….” or “That problem is too big and will never be solved…you’re screwed!”

Doubt is a form of fear.
So I say, “No thank you fear, crawl back in the hole you came from.”

The good news is that when you trust in God, you don’t have to have everything figured out. Give it over and He will take care of the rest:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.  Prov 3:5-6

Thank goodness! The pressure is off.
Our faith pleases God. We really can’t give anything else. It opens the channel of communication and allows us to hear / know what to do.

So if this has helped you out, feel free to download a full resolution (6×4) .pdf file by clicking the link.

Don’t forget to save the file. I hope it helps when you think things are impossible, for nothing is impossible with God.

Creative Commons License
Faith, No Doubt by Christine Novak Kane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.