Monthly Archives: July 2012

Roadtrip to Starved Rock and Sketch


Last weekend I had the chance to take a road trip to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. It’s the perfect get-a-way…not too far…not too close…1.5 hours from home is just right.

I had the day planned (so I thought) by printing out a map and selecting many trails. Too many actually. I didn’t come close to hiking as much as I wanted. The trails kicked by butt and the day was hot, leaving me exhausted.

First stop was Tonti Canyon. I read on the Starved Rock web site that if you had any chance at seeing a waterfall Tonti Canyon was a good bet. That’s our first stop.


Ooooo, don’t you love that golden wall of rock! Yeah!

Unfortunately, Illinois (and much of the country) is going through a terrible drought. Luckily that morning, Utica just happened to have a storm. Luckily for us that meant a trickling waterfall!

I took a video with my camera

There’s nothing better than a nature shower. And that is exactly what I had, a real shower from nature, as I stood under the gentle waterfall and let the water soak me. It felt great on this hot day.


I love the niches at the base of the rock that you can hide in.


Along our trail ran the Illinois River. One day these pictures will become a watercolor sketch. For now, we just take in the beauty.


This is looking at Owl Overlook. Owl Canyon is near by. Believe it or not, we did not see any owls but we did hear one!


You can’t go to Starved Rock without going on Starved Rock. So here we are. I took you all the way up to the top. This view is looking South.


And this view is looking Northwest. Can you see the people in the canoe? We are very high up and it was super, super hot….I was sweating buckets actually….now where is that waterfall when you need it.


After a long day hiking, it is time to retreat at the Lodge for a nice dinner on the deck. What a gorgeous view! Can you see Starved Rock in the sketch? Because of the drought, many of the trees on top of Starved Rock are totally brown. Some are changing prematurely, probably from stress.

I hope you enjoyed this quick trip. Sometimes getting away and taking a break is exactly what is needed. And I agree.


Tree Swallow Sketch and Poem



When on my bicycle
I am the swallow.

The wheels are my wings
Propelling me faster.

Swooping, swaying, hugging curves…
The wind rushes through my hair.

Faster. Faster.

O  tree swallow  who needs no heap of metal…VICTORY!

You, the acrobat in the sky
While grounded still am I.

Just a quick poem about how I feel on my beloved bicycle. There is a certain freedom that I could only express through poetry. Usually that’s how it works, when I am so happy and emotional (in a good way) about something, it calls for a poem.

Sketch Class Results June 2012


Thunderstorms raced throughout the night before, leaving this morning’s sketch class pretty warm and steamy. It didn’t bother us a bit. Matter of fact, under the cool shadow of the forest, the most delightful aroma of sweet, wet, earth played with our senses. We all agreed how wonderful it was.


Here we took shelter, hiding from the sun and was serenaded by morning song birds as we painted nature. They make their own classical music.


(Artwork: Katie, mine, Mary Ann)
Our small group finished in record time and made some pretty amazing pieces of art…even though the goal is not the end result, but being apart of the process and communicating with nature. Free therapy and healthy for the soul.


We were done so fast (1hr) in fact, that we had ample time to hike and discover surprises on our trail. Here we found this butterfly on purple cone flower. Looks like this could be a painting one day.


Long John Slough is adorned in white and pink flowering water lilies. A beautiful summer look for a tranquil slough.


This red-wing black bird landed within a few feet of us, proudly displaying his decorated colors.


But the most amazing part of this hike were the tiny frogs that hopped across our trail. Katie stopped and pointed one out. I didn’t have my glasses and though it was a cricket…it was that tiny…but no…to our surprise a 0.5 inch frog!


This little little guy didn’t realize he was going to take a ride on a human! I caught him for a quick picture and then let him go.

It was wonderful to slow down and enjoy this brief trip. I always look forward to the peace it brings.


Here is a close up of my sketch. Another beautiful day at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center.