Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sweet Pepper Bush

I planted this flowering shrub years ago, and it continues to spread throughout the small garden where it's located. Every few years, I dig up a clump and relocate THAT elsewhere on the property.

It's in full bloom now with a heavenly, strong aroma that perfumes even the hottest and most humid of summer days ...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Sister - Mary Ellen

After I sent the earlier sketch of Mary Ellen to my other sister and she gently said, "I wouldn't recognize her' ... I decided to try an adult version.

While I still have much, much further to go -- I am thrilled beyond belief to be able to recognize my sister from my final attempt! To come to RECOGNIZING someone I've sketched after only 13 months sketching and much less experience with watercolors ... I am truly grateful that I can SEE my sis in this sketch.


I'm eager to see what ANOTHER 13 MONTHS of practice might bring!

Friday, July 28, 2006

My Sis

It was a productive day -- got laundry done, crafted some soap, sketched, made some banana pudding to suprise my husband, and worked on my sister's surprise birthday album. Her 50th birthday is in August, and I wanted to do something special for her -- so I've gone through the photos I have of her -- from babyhood until adult -- and worked on her birthday album.

When C got home, he encouraged me to attempt a sketch of her as a gift. I thought I'd fall on the floor laughing! But, he was serious, and so, I put pencil and watercolor to paper ... and while it isn't all I wish it was ... it sure is a lot better than I could have done last year! My other sister said it was unrecognizable -- SIGH ... but I was fairly pleased and realize I have far, far to go.

There'll be more practice in my journals!!! LOL I think I'll attempt an adult portrait and see if going at this again can get me closer -- at least to recognizable!


Strawberry Basket

It hit almost 100F today with humidity to match!!! But after sketching from photos most of the week (late nights and late work!!), I wanted to get back to some plein air. So I sat on my shaded porch and sketched my strawberry basket (sketchbook style).

A wren has built a nest camouflaged within its leaves, and as I sketched, the wren gave me quite a scolding!! But she eventually returned to her five eggs and left me to my painting.

The nest is doing a bit of damage to the plant, but I've decided I'd just as soon watch the wrens!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


After frustrating myself with earlier watercolors, I'm determined to practice this artform until I can figure out what I'm doing ...!

To that end, I've attempted something a bit more difficult for me ... ice cubes. I found a really neat photo to practice from ... and while the cubes are mighty kerwonkety, I've learned a bit more about wetting the paper first ... letting it dry... scrapping .... removing ... etc., etc....


I sketched this river scene from a photo reference for EDM 77 "COOL" - and loved the photo I found for it (modified by the errors I made!!!) -- I like this sketch better than my azalea garden, but I have a LONG way to go ....

So last night after what SHOULD be my last 15-hour day for a while, I sketched the glass of tea (also for cool!), also from a photo since it was too late for caffeine and there wasn't any at the B&B!

Here in the south the automatic choice of a 'cool drink' is ice tea - almost all restaurants serve this beverage highly sweetened! A glass is rarely left long before being refilled.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grandkids again

I got to the B&B last night before dark!! HORRAY! So I sat down to sketch. Not feeling overly tired, I attempted my weekly grandchild portrait. The one of Nick reading I'm pretty pleased with -- it 'looks' more like him than the one of Emily and Charles.

Nonetheless, these simple images are so precious to me! I LOVE to read as does my grandchildren's father. Their mom reads to them all the time, so to see Emily and Nick enjoying books just thrills me! And having these sketches of the grands memorializing such a quiet moment with their focus on books just makes me smile!

Azalea Garden

I found a photo of an azalea garden and it so reminded me of my 20 years of living in Charleston. I attempted a simple (HA HA) watercolor. The 'lighter' version I did first, smearing it as I scanned it. After spending too much time trying to FIX it, I'm going to LEARN from it (the darker version)! LOL If I did it over, which I will soon, I'd use a lighter touch, add more white space!!!, and lighten the background so it doesn't look so gloomy. I did learn, though, that I have a tendency to 'blot' on the watercolor -- and that smoothing it makes for a finer image.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rebecca's Flowers

After crawling to the B&B following another very very late day and night, I found this wee vase of flowers on Rebecca's table. Since her husband was moved to an Alzheimer's nursing home and he was usually the one who fashioned these vases, she hasn't had too many of them around her home. Finding this one yesterday was a delight, and even though the hour was late, I HAD to sketch it!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

EDM 76 More Flowers

I plucked a stem from one of my many rose mallows to bring indoors to sketch yesterday. These shrubs were given to me by my neighbor and seem to multiply like rabbits when I'm not looking. Most of them are way above my head in height and so I think this year I'll have to give them a good 'cut.'

I brought the blossom indoors to sketch as the heat and humidity was quickly wilting both the blossom and me. Unfortunately, these flowers don't last long in water, and so I had to snap a photo to complete the sketch before the petals completed closed and withered.

This morning, I noticed that my purple balloon flowers were opening. These are so unusual - they begin their lives as balloon-ish looking, yellow-green buds that swell and resemble a balloon being inflated. The few plants I do have are surrounded by rudbekias, also in bloom, and I couldn't get my chair close enough to the balloon flowers to sketch them. I opted to snap a photo by tenderly wading into the bed trying to avoid crushing the thick clusters of flowers. I snapped a few photos and sketched this from both memory and photo.

I have to admit that I am always in a dilemma about bringing my flowers indoors. I just LOVE walking around the property and seeing the pretty blossoms -- they tend to surprise me with color and scent. And though bringing some of the blossoms indoors to grace the house would also be delightful, I tend to leave them in their beds for the insects to enjoy as well.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Keeping the Grands

We sat for Emily and Nick Thursday night and Friday ...It was so very hot, that I introduced them to a 6" plastic pool complete with balls and watering cans. What a SPLASH! Literally! I took a ton of photos of these sweeties as they tenderly tested the water, put only their feet in the 3" of water I put in the pool, splashed and watered themselves, until they finally sat in the remaining water and played! Needless to say I was as wet as they were!

In keeping with my commitment to keep sketching these precious grandchildren of ours, I sketched my husband and Taylor from our trip to visit my daughter two weeks ago, and then combined two photos of Emily and Nick to create this 'sketchbook' style rendering.

I hope that by this time next year, I'll be closer to rendering the grandchildren's faces!! LOL

Friday, July 21, 2006


Sunflowers! How they remind me of Italy -- fields of yellow mirroring the bright sunlight of the place. Cheerful -- bright! They make me smile!

(I decided to keep the background white (though the paper tends to scan a bit gray) so that the shadow and highlights show up better.)

More Veggies

Although the photo I partially used to do this included parsley, if I had drawn this from my kitchen, I'd have included BASIL and Parmesan cheese for a typical Italian ragu. The tomato was from my own refrigerator -- a bit on the underripe side!


I've been asked by a few fortunate folks about chiggers and what they are. How lucky for those who don't know their acquaintance!!

Chiggers are wee insects that pierce the skin and inject an enzyme to dissolve the skin tissue for ingestion and nourishment. The body's response is to send some sort of enzyme to the area that causes intense itching. While I (and others) used to think that the chigger had 'gotten under the skin' and required suffocation, this article ( dismisses the 'under the skin' myth. Chiggers like to get into the most 'sensitive' areas like the panty waist lines and legs .. nasty nasty things!!

Folks in these parts cover the chigger spot with nail polish or something similar. I used a product called "Chigger-Rid" -- a nail-polish type of coating with an anti-itch ingredient -- it helped -- but had to be applied every few hours since the itching would return, I'd scratch it off and have to reapply the stuff. During this spell of chiggers (I get them constantly with my fieldwork!) I was coated with shiny bits of 'plastic' from head to toe! Yep, quite a site -- even though the Chigger-Rid is clear -- I sort of 'glittered!!!' LOL

As Laura suggested -- the Farmers Market for blueberries!! LOL

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I remember the first time my botany professor introduced us to wild blueberries -- I was so EXCITED and they were DELICIOUS! I marked the location and returned days later with my children. We picked TONS of blueberries on a sunny, warm day.

Later that night all of us came down with the worst case of CHIGGERS!!! It was the most intense itching we'd ever experienced!

We decided that store-bought blueberries were good enough!

(Blueberry sketch based on a photograph)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


One of my favorite vegetables -- corn on the cob! We roast it on the grill (dampen ears with water, wrap in foil or leave in husks) and roast for approximately 20 minutes. I often freeze the ears in their husks and when cooled, I freeze these so I can have that fresh roasted taste in the middle of winter!

I'd like to thank my friend, Starr, for her invaluable help with shading and shadows. I've been admiring her work for so long, and I appreciate her encouragement!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


FINALLY! Home to a quiet two days of grant writing .... but also home before 9:00 PM to my own desk, lamp, and supplies! YEAH! And finally a bit more time to sketch this week's EDM challenge.

When my husband and I visited my daughter and her family, I bought several pots of flowers for her property. One of those was a bright yellow, orange, and pink lantana. She placed it on her steps to await planting, and I snapped a photo of it. I used it as a reference for this picture, but changed the pot from black to brown.

11:00 pm sketching

What do you sketch for your daily commitment after a workday that ends after 10:00 PM and you crawl into a rented bed, sans contact lenses, with nothing but your sketchbook, wallet, and pencil?

The room I was in at the B&B last night wasn't my ususal one, so I didn't have a desk, lighting, or anything close enough to me to SEE without my contact lenses, so all I could do was prowl around my wallet to uncover SOMETHING I might have at hand that I could hold 2" from my nose to sketch.

I found a photo of my grandson taking his wobbly first steps into my arms ... and decided that fatigue be darned, I was going to sketch! So here's what happens after a 15-hour workday and a commitment to sketch SOMETHING no matter what!

I'll be writing grants for the next two days -- BUT I should have at least a bit longer to sketch! I HOPE!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Ol' Iron Plow

An old iron plow we found at an auction and brought home sits in front of our driveway entrance to welcome guests to our humble rock in the woods. The wood is so old and fragile!

This part of the front bed hosts Ilex vomittoria ssp. Nana (compact shrubs), a white and a purple butterfly bush and a struggling birch tree.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gardening Angel

In the middle of one of my herb beds sits this lovely angel given to me by a friend. She's surrounded by mint, strawberry fields (globe amaranth), agastache and day lilies.

She gazes into her golden ball contemplating I know not what. To me, she's enjoying the flowers as I enjoy her.

Another Warm Morning

Already sultry on the porch at 11:00 am, the tree frogs keep me company in the hot quiet of the morning. No breeze stirs the trees; insect buzz and hummingbirds sip at the sugar solution in the feeder.

I sit in the swing and struggle to capture angles.

More Veggies

A few more vegetable sketches for the monthlong challenge.

I've had to rely on photos for these as our vegetable bins are empty and the garden has been forgotten due to all the hours we are spending at work.

Good thing they serve veggies where we go out to eat!


Though my concentration has seemingly been on vegetables this month, I don't want to forget flowers! And snapdragons are some of my favorites! I love their 'snappy mouths' that are such a delight and make them a wonderful addition to children's gardens!

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Quiet Morning

Soft breezes with high humidity, the shade of the porch balmy, fresh scent of warming flowers and their perfume, I bring some figs outdoors to sketch. In between glazes, I start the preparations for fig jam.

As the day grows into its scorching afternoon lethagy, I finish my sketch and return to the air conditioning and a kitchen I'll heat up with boiling jam. Still, after such a long, late, busy week, this quiet moring with time to sit, sketch, share a recipe with my daughter, and relax, is a gift of grace -- deeply appreciated and gratefully relished -- along with the cut figs of my sketch!

EDM 75 Fig Jam

Although our figs are quite small, we usually are able to gather a handful of ripe figs from them. A good friend of mine suggested I harvest some of her Brown Turkey figs from her 15 foot high bush! My goodness -- what a DELICIOUS feast!!!

I've sketched the recipe for fig jam -- my project for the weekend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I worked on this section of a lima bean pod and I just couldn't get it to look like anything more than green eggs!! SIGH! So after a 13 1/2 hour day (what a week!!!) I got to the B&B and looked for another veggie to complement the beans or replace them --- NOTHING!!! But I ran across this jar of jelly BEANS and decided though they weren't quite a vegetable -- they were BEANS!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My granddaughters

I'm beginning to think that my better children sketches are those I do after 14-hour days and just before I fall asleep. Perhaps I'm not trying as hard?

I sketched these in 20 minute segments just after two exhaustingly long days, no contact lenses, and poor light .... sure is something to think about! LOL

Monday, July 10, 2006

Another Landscape

Family lore told me that my maternal grandfather lived near or in Sciacca, Sicily; so when C and I visited last year, we stopped in Sciacca and explored this harbor section of a large, busy city. The guidebook described Sciacca as a 'poor working village,' and indeed, while there were some beautiful sections, so much of the city could have used a paint and a 'clean-up.'

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Challenges

My challenges continue to be people sketches and landscapes (among other things) I'm not sure this one of Nick is improving as I continue to practice the same one over and over ... but I've added watercolor and will leave 'children' for a while and work on other sketching issues I have-- such as landscapes.

I love scenes like this one ... rural scenes so make me feel the roots of HOME, especially the landscapes of Italy. I've sketched this one and while I like it, I'm not sure I've gotten sufficient contrasts or 'something' to make it sing ....?

Saturday, July 08, 2006


On the way to see my dd, we brought a number of plants for her home: Bright Pink/Red Knock-Out Roses, Sweet Winter Daphne, Yellow and Pink Lantana and a gorgeous Bouganvilla. I've sketched just a bit of it.

Carrots and Nick

I'm continuing work on the monthlong vegetable challenge from Kate's classes and enjoying them immensely ... probably, as folks have pointed out, because like flowers, I'm very familiar with vegetables!! So here's another -- carrots!

Also, while visiting my daughter, I decided late last night to keep my commitment to practice sketching my grandchildren at least once a week. So at 11:15 PM after a five hour drive, dinner, playing with Taylor, catching up with my daugher, I picked up a pencil and captured this first image of Nick ... I was so thrilled I woke up my husband to show him!!

So, undetered (fool that I am) I tried again this morning -- okay but not as good in my humble opinion. So, I'll try again later today and then I'll add a watercolor wash just to show my courage!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I began with these tomatoes (the darker set) and tried by adding DOZENS of washes to get the colors as intense as I wanted ... I overworked the poor paper! But I let it dry -- (novel idea!! LOL) then gradually built up the layers again (drying in between) ... added a bit of ink .. and I really like it -- even though it's overworked!

I was reading tonight about intensifying colors by adding the colors NEXT on the color chart to the color you are want to intensify .... So I decided to do this sketch again (another set of tomatoes -- the lighter version) using that principle -- it seemed to work as I didn't need as many layers to achieve a better intensity. Learning can sure take a long time!

EDM 74 Clouds

I painted these last night -- more from memory than anything else ... NC has been so hazy these days that the skies are a perpectual plain GRAY! So instead, I did this memory cloud sky. BTW the green things are SHRUBS!


There's a group of us in Kate's alumni group who are sketching vegetables for the month of July. Here's my mushrooms!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Herb Bed

I tried to sketch this plein air, but when the temperature reached 92F with humidity to match, I took a photo and retreated to the shaded porch where I could sketch a bit more comfortably while still viewing the herb bed. Charles made two octagonal beds for the front yeard, and I have been growing herbs in them for years.

This bed has a nicely established stand of purple coneflower, thyme, and orgegano (blooming). The bird bath has pebbles in it and won't hold water -- but I like it anyway!

Summer Garden Bed

My sundial is COMPLETELY buried under Salvia ugligonensis (sp?) Argentine Skies, so I sketched it from memory; the rosemary is three feet high; the Sedum Autumn Joy is budded with flowers for bloom later this summer; the Chaste tree is in full bloom; and the pink Lady Balsam is in its third generation! I tried this without pencil before hand ....!!! YEAH ... growth!