Tag Archives: sketching

All Things Tiny Watercolor


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.


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


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.


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!


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?


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.

New Year New Hike New Sketch


Shelf Mushroom at Willow Springs Woods watercolor

It’s been a while, huh?

After having the stomach virus, I managed to find a tiny piece of ice to fall on….right on my tail bone *oooooouch*. That left me sore for over two weeks! Soon Christmas arrived and the holiday parties kept me busy. All of these things kept me out of the woods for about a month.

Well, I’m glad to say I’m back on track!

Today I escaped to Willow Spring Woods for a quick hike. Here were my observations:


“The wind is strong but I am not cold. Bare trees above me creek loudly. Just above them a hawk silently glides sideways, pushed by the gusty wind. Intermittent snow flies making my inner child very happy.”


Many of the oaks have shelf mushrooms hanging on the trunk. I love to study the lines and the many different subtle colors.


The trees on the trail seem to speak as they creeeeeek in the strong winds. I like to stand beneath and stare at the tips which sway back and forth, back and forth.


This tree has been invaded by fungi. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this picture has awesome texture, separated in thirds!!!

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday with family and friends.

Now, let’s get back to business and pick up those paint brushes!!!!!!

Nature at Lake Katherine Sketch

flora and fauna lake katherine sketch

Do you want to go on a virtual field trip with me to Lake Katherine?!? Fascinating nature is ooozing from every corner this time of year and we’re loving every inch of it!


First, we’ll start in the garden. Black-eyed Susans, Purple cone flower, and ornamental grasses surround the butterfly sculpture.


And who enjoys the garden besides us? This tiger swallow butterfly enjoys the garden by drinking sweet nectar. I think this plant is Salvia, however I could be wrong.


The clearwing humming bird moth also loves this plant too.


Walking on the trail, I encountered this HUGE mushroom. The top was about 6″ wide and the entire mushroom had to be 6″ tall. I do not know what type of mushroom this is with scalloped edges. Or maybe perhaps it is so large that the top split on the edges when opening?


Continuing on our trail…..look who’s crossing! A milkweed tussock moth caterpillar…..WHOA! He looks like a tiny (1″ long) yellow pipe cleaner with white and black hair tufts. NEAT!


Finally we reach the lake and see our swan family. Dad, mom, and 6 juveniles swim together. The young fish for something good to eat and I love to watch them.

I hope you enjoyed this quick get-a-way to Lake Katherine in Palos Heights, IL.

Trees of Turtlehead Sketch


Nov. 3, 2010
54°F, clouds coming from the west, wind
Turtlehead Lake

I find a group of trees along the orange trail that holds my attention, I make myself comfortable and sit right down. The sun at my back is starting to fade as a thin layer of clouds arrive bringing with it a stronger wind. I must sketch quickly before my light jacket fails to provide warmth.

The electrical wires to my right are giving off a loud buzzing noise. Not annoying, just different.

A blue jay lands 20 feet from me on a branch. He immediately lets out a loud, “SQUAWK!” A second blue jay from across the field quickly answers. He looks in that direction but doesn’t move. He starts to wipe his beak off using both sides of the branch in a quick motion. Did he just have a snack?


Here is what I was looking at. I like the oak trees to the left, they have beautiful gnarly twigs and the grasses in front are a brilliant amber color. I was out for an hour and a half before the wind got to me. I finished the sketch at home using a black micron pen. Maybe you would like to make a quick sketch of nature too?