Category Archives: sketch book

Room to Grow American Basswood Drawing

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45°F
Overcast, Fog

Chorus frogs sing in the background. Heavy fog in the air. Moss covers trunks and branches so thick, it’s as if spring is crawling up the trees.

The wind sways low basswood branches causing them to move side to side, like the nodding of the head implying, no.

Steady drizzle now.
There is peace in the trees as they grow their moss…a slow calmness. Slow is nice.

American Basswood

The American Basswood takes advantage of the space when it has room to grow. Lower limbs grow downward and sprawl out far. This particular basswood had many lovely burls and a carpet of moss and lichen covering them.

American Basswood

The drawing in the first picture was done with graphite and pastel pencils on Strathmore Toned Tan paper.

Hidden Lake Watercolor – It is Well with My Soul

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Driving home and not intending on stopping, something told me it was deeply necessary. Necessary because the world depends on it? Well, no. But rather necessary because my soul needed it. It’s been a while.

But I don’t have time!
Stop.
But I’m expected home right now!
Stop anyway.

With art supplies in the back seat, I was able to focus on this scene and contemplate nature…the way the horizon looks a tinge peach even though I am facing east and it’s an hour from sunset…the way the dried golden grasses reflect in the water…the way the tiny foreground tree has tiny gnarly twigs…
And suddenly it is well with my soul.

I am learning lately to relinquish control and listen to that still small voice. I cannot fail if I trust in God even if I cannot fully see the situation. Today was a favorable situation and I enjoyed my quick impromptu painting, but can I still have that same positive attitude with a less favorable condition? Do I trust? Can I let go of control? Will it still be well with my soul?

Now that would be some kind of faith.

To trust in God, to trust He has a plan even when things don’t go my way or perhaps when suffering is involved, if total control is relinquished, that’s not only courageous faith, but peace and freedom too. And that faith will not go unaided, for He said:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor 12:9

Amen.

Hearth in the Woods – Watercolor Sketch

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In the Midwest where chill reigns for a quarter of the year, you will find a solemn hearth if you’re lucky in the midst of the woods. Not every preserve has one, but when you happen to spot one, it’s like a treasure. This one is located at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, IL.

On this day, I only wish I had wood and permission to start a fire, like I did a few years ago at Heller Woods.  Click here to see photo.

Instead of seeing the warm glow against the oak trees, I will settle for the warm sounds of nagging nuthatches with their nasally, “heh, heh, heh, heh” keeping me company in those oaks.

How is their sound warm, you ask?
It keeps me there a minute longer, no matter what the temperature, and suddenly the cold disappears.

Ice Fishing on Herrick Lake Watercolor Sketch

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Cold weather, dark gray skies, and the occasional flurries might put many in a gloomy mood. It will force some to stay locked in their houses, giving them an excuse to watch TV for hours and hours.

Then there are the adventurers….
Some extreme adventurers laugh at weather conditions, drill through ice, and sit for hours waiting for that bite. Some weaker adventurers (like myself) laugh at weather conditions just the same, but sit in a nice warm car and sketch extreme adventurers at play. He, he, he.

Winter is truly beautiful, even on the most gloomiest of days. It makes me happy to be out even if it means I have to sketch from my car to keep from freezing. I can appreciate the beauty of nature just the same looking through the window.
Maybe you can try it? If you feel as if you have cabin fever, get in your car and drive to the nearest forest preserve or cemetery. Just sit for 15 minutes and look for interesting things. Can you spot birds? Which way is the wind blowing? Follow the sway of branches. Notice the shapes of dried weeds….they’re all so different. Try to write down what’s going on or maybe even create a little poem. In just a few minutes your mood will suddenly be uplifted.
Goodbye cabin fever.

For the Love of Winter Trees

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Winter brings out the true character of a tree, exposing every branch, every twig. It reveals the very essence, divulges hidden secrets, and leaves you in a trance as you try to follow one branch with your eyes…from the trunk to the very tip of its tiniest twig. It’s a challenging maze and no two trees are the same.

It is perhaps that challenge of recreating the spirit of the tree on paper which brings me so much joy, but I can only fully understand it in the wintertime. Exposed and silent, it confesses that spirit and somehow I feel as if I’m communicating with its Creator.

That is the mystery of art. Although done in solitude, you are not alone. Your creativity begins a conversation with nature and with God and the best part is, they speak in return.

This apple tree had the setting sun turn selected twigs a golden yellow, while others blushed with rose, and yet a few had a cobalt glow. A downy woodpecker feasted on the suet cake at the feeder, filling up before twilight. That’s the story it told me.

On another day, I chose to study this mulberry tree by drawing in graphite with branch pencils my daughter gave me for Christmas.

Branch pencil art

Neat pencils! It’s like I’m drawing a branch with a branch.

Branch pencil art

This winter mulberry tree has a hard lean to the right. Most of it’s branches grew from the right side. To the left of the mulberry tree is a thick evergreen tree. There is  struggle for sunlight, resulting in the mulberry’s shape and that’s the story the mulberry tells me.

Let’s go out and paint nature, but more importantly let’s hear the stories nature is trying to tell us. Enjoy.