Thursday, October 31, 2013

Loving A Dog

A good friend of mine was devastated last week when his best friend and constant companion, a big black dog named Buddy, passed away suddenly. The shock of it still hasn't left us. As anyone who has loved a dog knows, it hurts to the core of your being when you lose them.
Buddy playing, 3" x 4-1/4" ink & watercolor

Buddy's abrupt departure has served as a reminder to me to pay a lot more attention to my own buddy, Buckley, our four-year-old golden retriever.

I've taken him too much for granted lately. I need to remember that he's not always going to be here. I need to pet him more, throw his ball more, and scratch that spot behind his ear that brings a smile to his face every time. I need to take him for a long walk every day, even when the weather isn't comfortable (for me...he doesn't care.) I need to give him more belly rubs and hugs, and kisses right on top of his big soft head.

I need to give him all the love I possibly can, because there will come a day that I'd give anything to have him back for just one more day, one more hour.

As I was thinking about all this today, I felt compelled to do a page in my journal where I could gather together some of my favorite quotes about dogs...

Felt tip marker in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman & Birn Delta series sketchbook

In fact, I've decided to dedicate an entire journal to quotes I like and find inspiring. I'll finally consolidate all those quotes I've been collecting for years, all the little slips of paper lying on my desk, stuck on the refrigerator, taped to my computer monitor, etc. Maybe some of the wisdom will rub off on me. (I can only hope!) I firmly believe that what we put into our brains - what we read, watch, and listen to - profoundly affects us, so I'll fill my mind with thoughts that are wise, inspiring, touching, and humorous.

While my heart grieves for my friend and the dog he loved, I'm trying to focus on the good. I'm remembering what a sweet dog Buddy was, and I'm thinking about all the wonderful dogs I've had, from Topsy and Hobo, when I was a kid, to Molly the Irish setter (our first "child"), and Lizzie, the fluffy little mutt who grew up with our children. Most recently, there was Tucker, our first golden, a sweet, gentle dog who left us way too soon. And now Buckley.

What can I say? He's all anyone could ask for in a dog. Playful, happy, smart, well-behaved, loving, and devoted. We're so lucky to have him. I won't forget it again.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Cape Cod: Days 6 & 7

We learned to plan our walks around the rise and fall of the tides while we stayed in Wellfleet. The beach at Pleasant Point Landing, just down the road from our cottage, was under four feet of water at high tide, but at low tide we could walk all along the shore on dry, sandy trails.

Ink & watercolor in a hardbound 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

The boat that bobbed so prettily in the afternoon sun would later be marooned in the mud,

And when the tide was out, hundreds (thousands?) of little fiddler crabs would appear, running to hide among the grasses when we walked by.

It was a wonderful vacation, one that was very therapeutic for a Type A personality like me. No work, no stress... just sun, sand, water, and the big blue sky. 

Ink & watercolor in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

A week of peace and quiet at a little cottage in the piney woods of Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

Pure bliss!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Cape Cod: Day 5 (continued)

Look who was hanging out at the beach with us on Day 5 of our Cape Cod vacation...

This big guy bobbed around off-shore all afternoon, riding the swells and watching us watching him. It was all well and good until Buckley caught a whiff of him and tried to swim out through the breakers to check him out. Eeek! Waves crashing, dog drowning - not the way I wanted to spend my vacation!

Ink & watercolor in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

He's a good dog, though, and came swimming back when we yelled for him, bedraggled and soggy but safe and sound.

High up on the cliff overlooking the beach sits Nauset Light. It's been moved further inland several times due to erosion of the cliffs, as have several other Cape Cod lighthouses. I'm glad someone is working to save them.

We spent a little time the next day wandering around Wellfleet where I sketched the local fish market. It's such a quaint old town.

I'll wrap things up tomorrow with another try at painting reflections on water, plus a map of the spots we visited on the Cape.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Cape Cod: Days 3-5

Any visit to Provincetown is guaranteed to be memorable. It has interesting people, charming historic buildings, a bustling harbor, fun shops, and dogs everywhere!

Ink & watercolor in a hardbound 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

I tried to capture some of its quirky vibe in this composite page. The whimsical lettering sets the tone, and the bright colors give the page a happy feel. I love that bright Leaf Green - it's almost fluorescent.

The 252-foot high Pilgrim Monument is one of the first things you see when approaching Provincetown, so I wanted to include it on my page, along with the beautiful bell tower of one of the downtown churches.

In front of the church was a row of gorgeous hydrangeas and roses. I've never met a hydrangea I didn't like - who can resist that deep blue color? And the way they turn to chartreuse and burgundy in the fall...don't they just beg to be painted?

The main street through Provincetown is open to traffic, but everyone treats it as a pedestrian mall. It wasn't too crowded when we were there after Labor Day, but it must be a zoo in peak season.

Our cottage was on the bay side of Cape Cod, but the ocean beaches were only a mile away. Off-season is the time to visit. The parking lots were practically empty and we had the beach to ourselves. Buckley ran like the wind, free and unleashed, the happiest dog for miles around. We couldn't stop smiling.

Ink & watercolor in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

The weather got warmer as the week wore on and we spent lots of time outdoors...

Ink & watercolor in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook

Sketching gave me a good excuse to sit in the sun and watch Buckley chasing his tennis ball. Back and forth, over and over again, Fred threw the ball and Buckley retrieved it, shaking salty water all over us then heading back into the water for another romp.

"Which beach should we go to this afternoon?" was the most pressing question of the day.

Nauset Light Beach won out, and tomorrow you'll see who was hanging out there all afternoon with us...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Cape Cod: Days 1 & 2

I've been away from blogging for a few weeks, finishing up my Cape Cod sketches and working on a new business venture which I'll be announcing soon. I also managed to slip in a little trip with my mom and sister, to celebrate my sis's birthday. I'm back now and anxious to share my Cape Cod sketchbook with you.

5.5" x 8.5", ink & watercolor Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook, hardbound

I always do the title page for my travel journals after everything else is finished. It gives me a sense of completion. Doing it after all the sketches have been painted and the text pages have been given a splash of color allows me to tailor the mood and style of the page to fit the content of the travelogue. Doesn't this title page just ooze relaxation?

I filled the first few pages of the journal with little mini paintings that I did during the 12-hour car ride from our home in western Pennsylvania to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (Read about them in this post.)

A friend had offered us the use of her cottage in Wellfleet, MA, and I jumped at the chance to explore Cape Cod and spend some time with my husband, just the two of us.

The house was a simple summer place with a hammock on the porch and a view of the waters of Cape Cod Bay. We spent the week basically doing nothing, and it was wonderful! We walked along the water, threw sticks for our golden retriever Buckley, sat on the porch, read books, and ate lots of seafood.

Oh, and I sketched now and then, and painted a bit. 

This trip offered lots of opportunities to practice painting water, something I've been working on lately. I think I might be starting to get the hang of it.


There are plenty of lighthouses to see on the Cape and we visited most of them. I never tire of painting them and, given the number of lighthouse paintings I see in shops in coastal areas, I'm not alone in that fixation. (See how I painted this one here.)

But Cape Cod isn't all sand and beaches. Most of the land is covered in forests, so I thought I'd include a sprig of pine on this page. Don't you love the scent of a pine forest baking in the warm sunshine? It smells like Christmas trees!

 I'll have more Cape Cod sketches to share tomorrow. Come on back for another visit!

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