Monday, March 23, 2015

A Change of Season

Spring is here! Flocks of robins are hopping all over our yard and the snow is finally gone!

8-1/2" x 11", ink & watercolor in a Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook. Drawings done with a black Pigma Micron 01 pen.

Last Friday was officially the first day of spring, and even though the temperatures were still in the thirties and the sun was hidden behind banks of clouds, I had the urge to head outside and see if I could find anything green in this landscape of greys and browns.

I packed my nature journal, folding stool and a few pens and pencils in my backpack and took off down the hill to the woods.

The naturalized daffodils are just beginning to push through the carpet of fallen leaves on the forest floor.

Here and there, I saw the starting growth of a green plant with cute little scalloped-edge leaves. Wild onions are beginning to grow. Soon they'll be everywhere in the fields and woods.

Last year's dark green moss has bright yellow new growth.

That's about all I could find growing in the woods, so I headed back to the house and found daylilies popping up in the flower beds. Trouble is, the deer have found them, too. They lo-o-o-ve fresh, crunchy daylily shoots. Time to mix up a batch of my special deer-repellant spray!

The primrose plants that border the front flower bed are starting to grow, too. Fresh yellow-green leaves are spiraling out from the center of the hardy perennial plant.

Even the grass is beginning to show signs of growth.

Come on spring! We're ready and waiting for you!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Classes at Summerhill

My students do WONDERFUL work! This daisy sketch is by Sandy Conley.

Spring is just around the corner, and I think we're all ready to shake off those winter doldrums, aren't we? If you'd like to revive your creative spirit, I've got two classes coming up that might be just the thing for you.

Sketchbook Journaling 101 is a comprehensive course on illustrated watercolor journaling, suitable for all levels. Advanced Watercolor Explorations is a skill-building class for people who want to gain confidence in painting with watercolor. (Read more about both classes below.)

Classes will be held here at my home teaching studio, a spacious room that's perfect for art classes. We're just off I-79 near Ruff Creek, PA.

So, come on out to Summerhill this spring and learn something new! 

Debbie, one of my students

April - May 2015
Sketchbook Journaling 101
8-week class
Wednesday evenings: April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
at Summerhill Studio, Ruff Creek, PA
Cost: $120.00
For directions and to register,
call 724-627-8044 or email Leslie

An illustrated journal offers a way to exercise your artistic creativity and celebrate your life. It’s a place to discover and document your world, and it’s a low-stress way to make art!

In this fun-filled eight-week class, I’ll start you off with simple materials and easy techniques to begin drawing the world around you. Then we'll move on to watercolor and play around with mixing, glazing, and spattering. To add some pizzazz to your sketchbook pages, I'll give you lots of great ideas for page layouts, borders, and lettering styles.

Sketchbook journaling is all about recording a slice of life, not painting a masterpiece. It's about being creative and noticing the little things that we too often pass by. This class will give you the tools you need to confidently express yourself and record slices of your life on the pages of your sketchbook journal. Even if you haven't drawn or painted since childhood, my hints and tips will help you to conquer your insecurities and start having fun with art again.

March - May 2015
Advanced Watercolor Explorations
6-week class
Tuesday evenings: March 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
at Summerhill Studio, Ruff Creek, PA
Cost: $90.00
For directions and to register,
call 724-627-8044 or email Leslie

If you're a watercolor novice who would like to move to the next level, or if you are familiar with watercolors and would like to further explore the medium, join me for this series of intermediate-level classes. Weekly step-by-step tutorials will help to build your confidence and improve your skills with watercolor, and the concepts learned will be applied to your own paintings. We'll practice painting a variety of subjects such as water, glass, pets, and skies. Soon, you'll be tackling even the most challenging subject matter with a smile on your face. With my guidance and encouragement, you'll be amazed at what you can do!

A full class at Summerhill Studio

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Travel Sketch Kit + Texas Travel Sketches

(Continuing my posting of sketches from the Monologue Basics A5 sketchbook that I reviewed here.)

My husband and I spent five days in Texas last fall visiting friends in San Antonio. I didn't think I'd have a lot of time to sketch, so I took a minimum of supplies, but it turned out to be all I needed. Here's the travel kit I used...

Click to enlarge

Everything except the sketchbook fits into an 8" x 4" x 2" cosmetic case. It takes up very little room in a carry-on bag.

Here's the set-up I use when sketching...

The palette is clamped to the sketchbook with a large binder clip. (This is an old Winsor & Newton Artists' Watercolor Compact Set that I refilled with new tube colors.) The water container is held in place with two magnets, one in the container and one below, under the plastic palette. They're fairly strong magnets, and they hold it securely in place. I just have to remember not to tilt the whole setup and pour water all over my page. (I only did that once!)

The travel brush (Isabey Pocket Brush) is a #6 round sable. It holds a good amount of water and has a nice spring to it. I prefer it to the water brushes that I carry, but sometimes I don't want to mess with a water container, and that's when the water brushes come in handy.

I usually sit to sketch, so I hold the sketchbook/palette combination on my lap or place it on a table. I always have a water bottle with me, and that's what I use to fill the small plastic water container. The Gerber baby food container shown in the photo has a snap-on lid, and, when I'm finished painting, I put my paint-spattered tissues in it to dispose of later.

Here are the colors I'm currently using in my travel palette:

Here are a few sketches from our trip to the Texas hill country, where I put my travel sketch kit to good use...

All sketches are done in a Monologue A5 sketchbook, 5-1/4" x 8-1/4"

On the flight home, I sketched a few passengers...

and doodled some border designs to use on future sketchbook pages.

Later, I added some more elaborate borders that I found online...

So even when I don't have a lot of time to sketch on a trip, it's still nice to be able to pick up a pencil or pen during the quiet moments and do a little something in my sketchbook. If I have it along, I'll probably use it. If I leave it at home I'll probably regret it, and I know I won't get any sketches done. Better to take it along just in case!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day!

We have a SNOW DAY! Yippee! I still get a thrill from being snowed in. We've gotten ten  inches of snow since last evening and everything is cancelled, so I thought I'd share a snowy sketch with you today. This is one I painted a few weeks ago of the view out our driveway...

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

That was one of those sparkling, crystal clear days, but there's no sunshine today, just gray skies and lots and lots of snow.


So peaceful and beautiful!

Monday, March 2, 2015

More Random Sketches

As promised, here are more random sketches from my Monologue Basics sketchbook...

I deviated from my usual technique in this marigold sketch. Instead of doing a line drawing, then painting light, medium, and dark glazes of color, I did a quick initial freehand painting with watercolor, then, after the paint had dried, I did my drawing. The color doesn't always match up with the ink lines, but I like it that way. I think it adds interest to the sketch.

Drawn with a Noodler's Nib Creaper Flex Pen and Noodler's Walnut ink

I used a Koh-i-noor Magic Pencil for this sketch of the front of our house.There was so much yellow in the pencil that it was hard to get a dark line, so the whole sketch is a little washed out, but it also gives the impression of the bright sunlight that was washing over the scene.

I cleaned out my ancient Winsor & Newton Pocket Box watercolor set and filled it with fresh paint, so I did this little sketch as a record of what colors I chose.

I hate wasting time sitting at a car repair shop or waiting for an oil change. There are so many other things I'd rather be doing! But at least I have the option of sketching to help pass the time. The guy sitting next to me at Monro Muffler and Brake struck up a conversation about what I was doing and ended up telling me all about his college art classes that he really enjoyed and how he'd like to get back into drawing someday. Who knows? Maybe he'll think back on our encounter one day and decide to pick up a pencil and draw.

My Chrysler minivan goes through brakes at an alarming rate, so I have quite a collection of sketches with titles similar to this one...

I always feel a little self-conscious sketching in church, but since I sketch so many other parts of my life, it seems only natural to sketch there, too. On this particular Sunday, I drew one of the pretty stained glass windows in the sanctuary, surrounded by Zentangle-like borders and the words from one of the praise choruses we sang that day.

I love how this next page turned out. The colors are so light and happy. I painted an overall wash of blue, pink, and yellow first and let it dry, then did the line drawing over it. Finishing off the painting was easy, because all the light tones were already painted. It was a simple matter to add the mid and dark tones to finish it off.

Farm along Route 221 in Lippencott, PA

Here's another sketch done with the Koh-i-noor Magic pencil - this one had a darker mix of colors in the lead.

Memories of fall....

More sketches from my Monologue sketchbook coming soon!

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