Monthly Archives: February 2012

Feb 2012 Sketch Class Results


Last Saturday morning greeted us with a brisk biting wind and a mere 20°F.

We love nature but we’re not crazy…so we decided to sketch from inside the nature center.


Each of us found a spot we wanted to paint from and got to work.


The hard part is balancing sketchbook, paints, brushes, water, etc, etc…


The group did an amazing job painting the display of mama deer and her baby. We started with the lightest colors first, then medium, lastly darks and then touched up spots with a micron pen. We also used masking fluid for baby’s spots. Still life is much more difficult than landscape, but you couldn’t tell that these artists weren’t pros!


Here is a close up of my baby sketch.


And a close up of mama.


Photo by Alanna. (Michelle, Myself, Alanna, Katie, and Amanda)
We had fun, even though we couldn’t paint outside. That didn’t stop us from taking a hike afterwards though!

Hopefully next month will be warm enough to be outside. Maybe you would like to join us? No experience necessary!


Coyote Skull Sketch


Oh the treasures in nature!
How can I express such joy from my adventures in the woods with simple text? Not possible.

Well, let’s try…

Yesterday I decided to walk the yellow trail from Pioneer Woods. It was a cold but strong sunny day. In the late afternoon light, the bare trees took on a golden glow and at their feet cast long deep shadows.


The sun was warm on my face. I noticed the field along side of the yellow trail had recently had a prescribed burn. It was my opportunity to go off trial and explore.


This particular dead tree caught my interest. Walking closer I noticed bright white on the ground.
A skull!!!!


This coyote skull measured about 5-6 inches long. The one long sagittal crest on the top confirms that this is a coyote and not a fox. The larger the sagittal crest the stronger the bite into prey. The male’s crest is usually higher than the female’s, but without a comparison I do not know if this is from a male or female.

Large clumps of bright green moss was growing from the orbital fossa (eye sockets). In total I found this skull, one rib bone, one vertebrae, and one femur bone. All were left to continue its natural process back into the earth. Not only did this coyote no doubt nourish many other animals, but it did also for the tree as well. The Father’s plan…His work in progress.


I love the warm colors. With each passing hour, more oranges seem to emerge.


In the field I notice a bird house. Naturalists must have put this up years ago, as the paint has weathered off. There was a nest inside but no activity. Too early in the year perhaps…maybe a spring resident will clean the nest and create a new home.

I hope you enjoyed this hike on the yellow trail from Pioneer Woods. It was my pleasure bringing you along! Try to get out and hike for yourself. Bring a piece of paper and pencil with you to record what you hear, smell, and see. A camera helps too, but your words will really bring you back in memory.

If you can’t get out because of health reasons, that’s OK you can always come back to this site and take a virtual hike with me and explore in the woods. It’s soooooooo much fun!

St. Francis Woods Sketch


Being a hectic weekend, I couldn’t get out, so these sketches are from photos of last weekend at St. Francis Woods.

St. Francis Woods is a peaceful place which holds a retirement building for nuns. A highlight of the grounds is a wooded lot which runs along Hickory Creek. This is where I found a tiny plot of pines and the owl pellets.

They have many programs and even cottages for a secluded retreat (must check into that!). They also have an 1876 chapel, stations of the cross, and a labyrinth to visit.


Yes, I spelled labyrinth wrong on my sketch! Isn’t the first, wont be the last…hahahaha!

Despite my spelling this structure is very intriguing. There is only one path to the center. Walking this path with no short-cuts reminded me of life. Sometimes you don’t get very far, but are repeatedly turned around very quickly. Other times you gain great distances and time. This is how life is. Sometimes life throws you around and you do not see the end path or the purpose. And then other times you seem to accomplish a lot and feel good. Neither are bad, neither are good, they are all on purpose from the Creator of your path and you must just go through it, trusting that the Creator has a purpose and a lesson for us to learn.

Here are some photos from my visit:


The Labyrinth took about 15 minutes to complete…no cheating! In the center you are suppose to say 6 prayers, then exit on the same path.


Here is Hickory Creek. It was flowing pretty fast and had a lovely trickle sound.


Here is one pine of a group which the owl pellets were found. This picture will be a painting one day.


I love dilapidated statues. The ones which are weathered and worn have such character.


This is tiny and cute Heritage Chapel, which was dedicated in 1876. It’s charming and is in working order.


A view from inside.


A view out the window.


And finally, one of the stations of the cross which you can visit along a paved path and revisit Jesus’ death and resurrection.

St. Francis Woods is a very neat nature and spiritual place to visit. Highly recommended!

I hope you enjoyed this hike at St. Francis Woods and I would like to thank my friend, Alanna, who introduced me to this neck of the woods! 😉

Owl Pellet Sketch


I FOUND them!!!
Owl pellets.

After years of knowing what to look for and searching diligently, I got them! Whoooo Hoooooo! Yessssssss.


Owl pellets are regurgitated fur and bones. Owls cannot digest them. It’s really not gross at all. If you have a cat, it’s just like a hair ball.

I collected 2.5 pellets. When I started to dissect them with tweezers, there was a definite smell, just like rotting fruit. I don’t know why this is, but it was there. Over the period of 2 hours I carefully separated several bones and was in nature heaven!


How To Look For Owl Pellets:

Owls LOVE pines trees on the edge of a field. When you see this inspect the pines. This picture is white wash not sap. White wash is owl poop. Many people assume this is sap because it is on a pine. When you see this on a tree, inspect the ground around the tree. That is where you will find the pellets.


Here is a pellet. It looks like poop but it is not. Sometimes you can even see the bones sticking out of the pellet. This one was very dark and about 2 inches long. That information is important because it can tell you what type of owl it was. I don’t have that information but in the future I may try to find out.


Here are some of the bones I cleaned off. I did not even save them all. WOW. Let’s just say W O W!
Can you find one single tooth, it has a root on it…how cool. I’ll give you a clue….near the top left corner. I cleaned 6 skulls in 2.5 pellets. I believe I have 2 rat skulls and 4 mice skulls, but not sure.

Now that you know how to find owl pellets, keep your eyes open when hiking. You too can have this much fun in nature!!!