Tag Archives: morton arboretum

Mighty Oaks Watercolor Sketch

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On the advice of a Dove Candy wrapper (sea salt caramel & dark chocolate), I got lost on purpose….

Swallows dance above Crabapple Lake. Even though it is an overcast day, I can still see their shadow on the surface of the lake as they swoop within an inch of the water.

The wind pushes northward and along with it, a single cottonwood seed, floating in slow motion above my head.

The crabapple trees look thin. One looks as if it has changed prematurely, a brilliant red for autumn. But on closer inspection, half the tree has lost all it’s leaves and the only thing that remain are the brilliant little crabapples dangling in clusters.

The mighty oaks across the lake stand firm. Strong, thick, and firm.

How does one strengthen their faith as strong as the mighty oaks on Crabapple Lake?

By denouncing emotions and relying on the Word instead….

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Isaiah 26:3

oaks
Crabapple Lake

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The brilliant red crabapple tree

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Bumble bee on goldenrod

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Here’s wishing you many happy adventures when we get lost on purpose.

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All Things Tiny Watercolor

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93°F
Hot Humid

Journal Notes:
I found a bench in the shade and it’s ALL MINE. I claim it.

A healthy breeze keeps me comfortable, despite the heat.

A charm of American goldfinches keeps my spirits exceptionally high as I notice their hilly flight pattern above my head. Suddenly, a blasting car horn in the distance abruptly ends my trance on the goldfinches. Grrrr……
But my goldfinches pull me back. My mind happily flutters up and down with them in the air as if I am sailing right next to them. Their cheery song while cresting high and falling low is no match for a bad mood.

Circular ripple patterns in the lake grow outward but I missed what caused it.

The air in my nostrils is warm and humid but sweet all at the same time. I am forever thankful for this moment in nature.

My mission as of late is to dwindle my watercolor supplies for the field to a bare minimum. I have become lazy lately and have not taken healthy hikes because I use the excuse of my supplies being too heavy.

Well, no more.

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Introducing my tiny watercolor field supply kit. It fits in your two hands. Light weight, portable, and can wrap around your wrist.

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All of these supplies fit nicely inside. One watercolor cold press pad (6″x4″), one Daler Rowney watercolor field kit, two aquabrushes, one pencil, one black micron pen (not shown), and a paper towel (not shown). Total weight is probably three pounds. This kit will remain in my car. Now I will have no excuse for a spur of the moment venture.

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And here is my new tiny kitten. I call him: Little Baby Turkey Stuffing, but his real name is Niles. Niles does not fit into my tiny watercolor field supply kit. He waits for me to come home so that he can bite my supplies and my hand. Bad Baby Turkey Stuffing!

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Here is the reference photo of what I was looking at when I painted the pines. I took the pines in the distance at the beautiful Morton Arboretum and used artistic license, weeding out the background to create the tiny watercolor sketch.

What about your sketching strategy? What does your kit include?

Melting Snow at Crabapple Lake Watercolor

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Crabapple Lake
Morton Arboretum
Lisle, IL

The midday sun did its best to melt the snow,
But only the hilltops relented, exposing green of grass.

Did remaining snow call in clouds for help?

Thaw on pause…
For now.

The day before Thanksgiving my workplace closed early, giving me the opportunity to steal some sketch time. I’m taking it. It’s rare. Sitting in the car looking at this gorgeous view, I had to capture this very moment before it is lost forever.

With the radio off and the precious silence of nature, I have to fight down worry creeping in the back of my mind. My home is host to out of town relatives and tomorrow is a big day with big duties, entertaining, and commotion. I have to literally quiet my mind to be able to paint. It’s a tug of war honestly and I wonder if that is why many people feel so uncomfortable with silence….it forces you to deal with the problems in your head. Silence demands attention.

Worry demands attention too. But what is worry?

This morning on the way to work, I was listening to an interview with Steve DeWitt (Pastor of several churches in Indiana) on anxiety. He said that when his child was a baby, she had a specific pattern when she was upset. First, she would flail her arms, hit her leg, then let out a big cry. He would always tend to her needs whether it be change her diapers, feed her, or the like….then he said something really interesting… He had this tremendous urge to somehow let her know that all of her needs are already met. He had cases of diapers in the basement, food ready and waiting, warmth, clothing, available.

Then he posed this question: Are we like this with God? Do we flail our arms and work ourselves up?

God has supplied all of our needs already. He sent His Son to take our punishment and make a way for us. Once we repent and accept this, we become heirs of God. If you can take a step back for a second and contemplate what this means, it will fill your heart with abundant joy in the midst of struggle. You have eternity with God.

This world is hard. There is chaos, killing, and evil, as we’ve seen in the news recently. Free will is allowed so there are such things,  but look what Jesus said:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Not only has He overcome the world, but He wants to meet your needs right now. As a child of God, you can go to Him for your needs and not worry.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matt 6:26

What is worry? It’s a form of fear. Fear is:
False
Evidence
Appearing
Real
There are hundreds of verses in the bible lovingly telling us to “fear not”. So friends with that, hang in there, don’t give up. You are loved and will be taken care of. Fear not. Put your trust in Jesus, and you too can overcome. Reread this every time you need to remind yourself.

 

Let’s Paint Pines by a Lake!

The November landscape has inspired me to create a soft pastel painting. Do you want to paint one with me? OK! Here we go!

First, here is the scene that inspired me (minus the rocks)…

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Now, before we begin, here is a sneak peak of all the steps in a time lapse…

Like it? YOU CAN DO THIS! Here we go.

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Step 1: I am using a gray Ampersand pastel board 20×16. Why gray? For no reason other than I had it laying around. Using a pastel pencil, any light color will do because this will get covered completely, draw a rough sketch. I am using Derwent Pastel Pencils. ***Note: You can use ANY pastel brands you have and any colors. You don’t have to run out and buy the brands I use. 🙂

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Step 2: Lay down color all over the board just to have a base to work with. Don’t worry about which color is the right color to use. Most of this will be covered. The secret to painting with pastels is, lay down “harder” soft pastels first then top with “softer” soft pastels. You will find certain brands are harder than others. I mainly use Rembrandt and Unison brands. Rembrandt is harder than Unison so they go on the bottom. However (there’s always an exception), Unison brand seems to be darker. The darkest Rembrandt can’t get as dark as a dark Unison…so if I need to go dark, I will use the Unison first.
In this step, I used all Rembrandt pastels and wasn’t too concerned with exact color.

After you cover your board, take a fat paint brush, like a cheap one you paint your walls with, and turpentine and paint over the pastel scribbles. You’re just spreading and moving the pastels around. Don’t worry about direction of brush stroke or anything.
Also, don’t worry how dark it will look. When it dries it will become lighter. Here is what it looks like dry:

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This is completely dry. This step is important because it covers a lot of ground in little time with little pastel pigment.

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Step 3: Now we are going to start layering. Using Rembrandt (medium blue) #506,7  make horizontal likes in the sky near the top of the board. Then take Rembrandt (light blue) #570,9  and paint horizontal lines in the sky above the horizon and in the center.
Going lighter, paint Unison #grey 33, in the sky on top and Unison (light blue) #A53, over the horizon and center of the sky.
Time to wake up your inner child….with your finger blend these colors in the sky back and forth horizontally. Fun! I know!!

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Step 4: Now we are going to paint the base of the pine trees. Using Rembrandt (dark green) #627,3 paint in some pines leaving “sky holes”. You don’t want one solid mass.

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Step 5: Now I notice, I have to go much darker. So, with these colors I overlap my pine boughs Unison (dark blue) #A37, (dark green) #Green 13, (dark purple) #DK 14. Looking great!

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Step 6: Here we are going to highlight the pine, here and there, not covering the whole tree. Using Unison light green, paint in some pine tips.

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Step 7: Using Derwent Pastel Pencil #Spectrum 11F Orange, draw in some birch trees over the lake in the distance. Go lightly.

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Here is a close up so you can see what they look like.

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Step 8: OK! Let’s anchor those pines to the ground by painting a dark color underneath them. Using Unison (dark blue) #A50, also paint the water by the edge of the ground to darken this area. Blend with your finger. Now using that pastel pencil for the birch trees, paint in their reflection in the water.

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Step 9: Using Rembrandt medium blue, like the sky and Unison (light blue) #BV8, paint over the water, lightest color in the middle. Blend with your fingers.

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Step 10: Now we are going to start layering the grasses. Darker color on the bottom. Using Dark Brown Rembrandt #408,3 and dark blue Unison #A49 scribble in some grasses. The lighter grasses I used a medium olive green Rembrandt #227,3.

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Step 11: Here we are layering the grasses with lighter colors and highlighting the pine bark. In the grass area, scribble using a light sage Rembrandt #202,3, beige Rembrandt #236,3, and yellow Rembrandt #227,5. For the pines bark, I highlighted with a red Derwent Pastel Pencil #Deep Cadmium 6D.

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Step 12: Let’s paint the lightest blades of grass and make reflections in the water. The lightest blades are light yellow Unison #Y15. Take some of your grass colors and paint them in the water. Then, take your finger and pull down.

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Step 13 Final: In this step I added more punch to the pines. Using a very light yellow-green Unison highlight some pine tips. Then, sneak in some other striking colors like hot pink and purple…it gives it life. And you’re done!

If you would like a print or greeting card visit below:

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I hope you enjoyed this free step by step soft pastel demonstration of pines by the lake! Remember, you can do this!

Lake Marmo Winter Tree Watercolor Sketch

Lake Marmo Winter Tree

An inviting bench next to a lonely tree…I accept.

still
gentle
calm
by a frozen snow topped lake
the trees don’t make a sound…
contemplating their position
recognizing that this again is winter

Now that winter has stripped the leaves clean it’s time to really study the character and structure of trees. What makes them different from one another? What makes them unique? What flaws do they have? How does the color of the bark differ from its neighbor? What side is the sun hitting and how does the shadow cast? What color is the shadow? Is it windy? Are the shadows dancing?

I love winter for the fact that the trees are exposed. When the snow falls ever so gently on each branch, they are dressed in their winter garments like a fancy white laced dress you only wear on special occasions. And every one of them looks different! I can’t wait for some snow.

Take some time to study the trees. They’ll reveal themselves to you.