The cold realities of winter did not hinder our love for art and nature. All eager participants showed up bright and early on this frosty January morning, ready to get to work play. We did however, agree to sketch from inside the nature center as the wind was fierce and the wind chill was in the teens.
Here is the class studying the frozen Long John Slough. We talked about the different colors you find in the distance and the foreground and the beautiful colors hiding in the shadows on the slough.
The class did a wonderful job of representing the slough and as a result produced a moment in time, freezing it on this frozen day, and took home a lovely piece of artwork. I’m very proud of each one.
Here is a close up of my sketch. I try to enforce the rule of there being no rules. Our artwork may not look exactly like the real thing, but that’s okay. We are capturing a feeling not a photo.
After class a few of us agreed to a winter hike. Here Katie and Michelle are bundled up and ready to go exploring!
How blessed we were to have a fresh inch of snow cover every single limb and tiny branch the night before. I think to myself, it is no magic (although it looks like it), the Father places every snowflake in its ordained position with care. I am truly thankful and in awe.
We stopped on the Black Oak Trail to study the shadows and listen to the tiny trickle whispering from the pond. This very much feeds our soul and renews our spirits…a much needed rest from a hectic work week.
Don’t let the cold stop you. The next class is Saturday, February 25, 2012. If the weather is too cold we will sketch from inside. I am however always willing for a hike afterwards!
I decided to change up my mediums and practice sketching with something other than watercolors. General’s Sketch & Wash pencil (made in the USA, yeaaaaaah!!!) is a nice change of pace and I highly recommend it as a quick, yet fun sketching tool.
It acts just like a pencil, however it is watersoluble, which means you can take a clean water-filled brush and move the graphite around.
Kitty Profile - watersoluble graphite pencil
You do not need watercolor paper either. I drew this in a sketchbook with 70lb paper.
Between the two sketches, I think I prefer the simple line contour drawings over the heavily shaded profile sketch. Quick and fun!
As the sun peeks out from the clouds, the snow is transformed into glitter. Glitter, literally.
It is falling soft and slow, straight down for there is no wind. A calm hush prevails.
It is a very holy moment.
As I sketch this scene from my window, a foreclosed house is in my view. There is no smoke from the furnace pipe and the eyes of the house are black and cold. My anxiety rises thinking of how many of these are on my block. Will mine be next?
But this moment is truly holy for God is trying to teach me how to be still, to appreciate this very time filled space and be happy in His wonder.
I close my eyes and praise Him for who He is. In the midst of all the problems, my anxiety fades away. I open my eyes and watch the sparkle of the snowflakes. Those tiny mirrors reflecting the sun, how amazing. I am happy. I am living in this moment. I am living under His care.
Come hike with me on the blue trail at Bullfrog Lake!
Click to listen (hiking on gravel trail with dried leaves)
There, now you’re hiking with me!
It is very calm. There is no wind and the trees are mute.
Can you see the peach color in the sky just above the horizon? I LOVE that! Blue grey above us, but peach in the horizon.
It doesn’t smell like January outside. It smells just like March, when winter hangs on but the thaw of spring is in the air. It is so mild (41°F) that the trail is covered in mud. Does that mean we should stay off? NO! We put our waterproof hiking boots on and prepare to GET DIRTY!
I stop by the bridge and walk down to the water. Only when the nearby cars from Archer Ave stop, you can hear the tiniest trickle from the creek. Ice fills the creek and bright green moss covers the rocks. The sound is small, but the peace is grand.
Chickadees are out in full force. They warn each other of my approach. The call sounds something like this: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee. The more “dee’s” you hear the stronger the warning.
Don’t worry little chickadees, I mean no harm.
I hope you enjoyed our hike at Bullfrog Lake on the Blue Trail. If you cannot hike on your own for health reasons or such, just turn up your volume, listen to the sound of hiking on the trail, and look at the trail photos. Soon you will feel like you are out in nature!
I painted this for my friend’s step-daughter. She is visiting from Costa Rica. This is her first time in America.
So what does a girl from Costa Rica need from Chicago?
Unfortunately as it turns out, this is the mildest winter Chicago has had in a very long time. Mild and dry. Right now it is 53°F, downright hot for a January day in Chicago!
Oh well, we will bring the snow to her in the form of a watercolor painting! I hope she likes it! I wrote her a note on the back of the painting:
I do not speak Spanish. I totally cheated and went to Google Translate (hahahaha) and typed in this paragraph:
“Welcome to Chicago in the winter-time. I hope it is not too cold for you. I am happy to meet you! Your new friend, Christine.”
Maybe my Spanish speaking friends out there can tell me if I did okay?
The original painting is a gift, however if you are interested in an archival print or a greeting card with this image, please visit my page on Fine Art America: