Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fun in Florida!

I felt a teeny bit guilty leaving home when winter storm Jonas was on its way, but I had to go. After all, I was teaching in Florida!

4" x 6", ink & watercolor in a hardbound Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

I had an early flight out of Pittsburgh, and since I had a long wait at the gate, I pulled out my little Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook and did a simple sketch while I waited. I even had time to paint it using a waterbrush and my small travel palette.

I had a layover in Atlanta, so I grabbed some lunch before my flight to Tampa...

5-1/2" x 8-1/2", ink & watercolor in a hardbound Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

I always talk to my students about using a thematic border on their sketches, so I took my own advice and bordered my page with a knife, fork, and spoon. I think the red dots outlining the silverware really helped to bring the page together.

I had a day to relax with my friend, Judy, before I began teaching on Thursday. We went to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to set up my classroom.

I was blown away by the gorgeous location. Here's the view from the Great Room, where my classroom was set up...

View of Sarasota Bay from Selby Gardens

So inspiring!

After Judy and I got things squared away in the classroom, we strolled around the gardens, taking in all the amazing tropical trees and flowers.

We had lunch at the Selby House cafe, then did a little sketching. It was so peaceful and quiet...and warm! Here's the view from the terrace where we ate lunch...

 4" x 6", ink & watercolor in a hardbound Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

We took another walk after lunch, then sat down to sketch the Selby house. I was drawn to this view of palm tree shadows on the stucco wall.

5-1/2" x 8-1/2", ink & watercolor in a hardbound Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

Thursday was Day 1 of my "Sketch Your Life!" workshop, and the students dove right in and got down to business, drawing their art supplies for their first project, after I gave them some preliminary instruction about including borders and lettering.

Look at the great job they did!

Some of them had never drawn or picked up a brush before. It takes a lot of courage to sign up for a class like this and try something completely new. But it's never too late to begin!

We did another project wtih color boxes and bands. As they designed their pages, I encouraged them to include one of the interesting lettering styles I had taught them.

The next day I started out with a lesson on quick sketching and gridded layouts. It was one of the students' favorite projects (and not just because it included candy!)

Here are their "sweet" sketches...

More lessons, projects, fun and laughter followed our adventures in Candyland, including an exercise in painting a subject from varying views and a quote page.

We posed for one last group photo...

They made me strike this silly pose!

and then it was time to say goodbye. I've been invited to return soon to teach some new classes at Selby Gardens, and I can't wait! The beautiful location, supportive staff, and enthusiastic students made this workshop so much fun.

And I've finally come to understand why people flock to Florida in the wintertime - it's pretty awesome!


  1. I love seeing your students' work. Their sketches are wonderful!

    What kind of tree is that in the third photo down? I've never seen anything like it--so beautiful!

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Can't wait for our class at Cheap Joe's!

  3. Your class looks like great fun and a wonderful learning experience! I enjoyed seeing your student's work.

  4. Leslie's class was totally awesome. Great lessons, wonderful hand outs to get you going and awesome class members. It is good when you find your tribe!! Do not hesitate to sign on. Thanks again, Leslie! Colleen


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