To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Monday, December 31, 2007

My Hawaii Nature Journal -- Day 2 -- 12/19/2007

On my second day I got up really early, about five, thinking the sun would rise at 6. But it got light closer to seven, so I had time for a nice leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I picked a seat where I could watch the sunrise over Diamond Head as I slowly woke up over my good cup of hot Kona coffee. Be sure to click on the pictures for close-up viewing.

Since my plane didn't leave until ten thirty, I had time to stroll on Waikiki Beach, examine and sketch an outrigger canoe, visit the Queen Kapiolani Park right across the street, and do some birding before catching the airport shuttle. There are some picturesque open-air trams that run through Waikiki, and next visit I would love to ride on one of those.

I love the banyan trees in Waikiki, with their multiple trunks and great, umbrella canopies. What treasures! I never did get a good photo of one.

The flight to The Big Island went off without a hitch. So far, beautiful, sunny weather. But coming into Hilo I saw the sunshine wasn't necessarily going to last. Well, Hilo is on the windward side of the island, and there's a REASON it's so green, lush, and jungley! As soon as I disembarked, I called for my car rental pick-up -- the rental cars based at the airport are handier, and you could drive right off in one, but you pay for that privilege -- and my agency arrived within minutes to take me to my car-for-the-week, so it wasn't an issue.

As soon as I had gotten my car and checked in with Emma, with whom I planned to stay the night, I took off down the highway to the south-eastern corner of the island to explore. I kept noticing wonderful scrubby trees with brilliant red bottle-brush flowers -- they were EVERYwhere. Later I discovered this is the tree favored by the fabled Hawai'ian honeycreepers, the ohia lehua (oh-HEE-uh LEH-hoo-uh). I found ohias throughout the big island, mostly small, but sometimes up to 80' or so. I love the name -- it rolls off your tongue like syrup.

I also noticed vigorous vines with huge leaves which reminded me of houseplants. Sure enough, they turned out to be monstera, commonly found in pots in office buildings here on the mainland. They really know how to climb a tree!

I was headed for Kapoha Tidepools, where lava meets the sea and makes some interesting snorkeling (which I didn't plan to do this trip). Nearing the tidepools I was amazed to see trees with huge orange tulips on their branch tips. I stopped to take a photo and pick up some spent blossoms to sketch later, and got into BIG trouble (see the journal page with the orange "tulip" flower on it.) Here's a photo of the tree branch... The flowers are a good 4" long!

It rained off and on all afternoon, but only when I didn't plan to be out in it (except once when I stopped for lunch and needed the help of a woman with an umbrella to make it back to my car without getting soaked). I don't mind a little rain, and I was fully expecting to get wet -- brought along a little plastic poncho for just-in-case.

Okay now, to keep from getting confused, read the right-hand page with the yellow noni-fruit on it before reading the left hand page with the business card from KALANI on it. This was a page spread that didn't go quite as planned.....

After my adventure with the tulip tree, I took my rescuer's advice and headed off southwest down the coast to 1. try to find the retreat center where I might be able to hold my Journal Sketching Workshops and 2. see where the lava flow buried the road.

On the way, I drove along a magical tunnel of a road with trees meeting and tangling overhead. I did find the Kalani Oceanside Retreat(YES!) and after leaving off my business brochure and description of my workshop (as I'll be teaching it in Costa Rica in February -- hey, come join us!), I emerged into the open where the sea once steamed great clouds as lava rushed into it.
I did find the sudden end of the road, but it's demise was years in the past, and there's not much to see. But you can sure get some great ice cream in the little store at the end of the pavement.

Then I high-tailed it back to Hilo to meet Emma so she could guide me to her wonderful house in the jungle for the night. I ate my first dinner on The Big Island accompanied by good conversation, sketched all evening as we talked, and was later lulled to sleep by the "Bo PEEP?" call of the coqui frogs ( from Puerto Rico, but they still sound nice). Wonderful day! Warm thanks to Emma, Manny and Ophelia for a perfect evening.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Hawaii Nature Journal -- Day 1 -- 12/18/2007

Aloha! Here I am, back in Oregon, with the results of my Nature Journaling trip to The Big Island of Hawaii. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and since the object of the trip was to produce interesting journal pages, I'm going to include the actual pages instead of typing in the journal entries and adding the sketches (as I did for last spring's Costa Rica journal -- see the first entries on this blog, May 2007).

Here I am, all my traveling gear attached, and ready for my Hawaiian adventure.

Some things to keep in mind as you follow along: 1. I was traveling alone so I could do anything and go anywhere the urge struck me. 2. I was determined to be adventuresome, try new things, learn all I could, meet people and ask lots of questions, and I did. 3. The object of this trip was to create an interesting journal -- not necessarily "beautiful," but one that would keep readers turning the pages to see what happened next, plus be fun for myself to go back to later on. 4. Days in the tropics are about twelve hours long, so there's not enough time in the day to do/see/do everything -- but evenings are perfect for journaling. 5. I didn't go to Hawaii to swim

That being said, Here We GO! [The front cover of the journal is in the last blog.] In that last blog, I showed the inside of the front cover, but before I left home I added a clear-plastic pocket to hold flat things I might pick up during the day. The plastic is stiff (you could use a square cut from some bubble-packaging) and taped down on left and bottom edges, so things just slip inside and stay nicely in place. I was keeping an eye out for things to glue onto the pages, and used this pocket every day.

The first leg of my journey was from Oregon to Honolulu, where I stayed overnight in a hotel on Waikiki Beach. Click on the image to bring up a large enough image to read. Nearly all of the sketches in the journal are done in ballpoint pen, which keeps me from obsessing to get everything perfect, as I would with a pencil and eraser.

For the first page, I sketched all my gear the night before, laid out on the carpet ready to go. That's my entire outfit, and although it weighed only 19¼ lbs, I'm pretty sure things secretly multiplied in the dark pockets, because it seemed MUCH heavier by the end of the trip.

The next morning on the plane, I tried out my gold calligraphy pen to letter the initial cap for the journal entry, and outlined it with the ballpoint. I glued on my ticket stub as we flew.

Airports are great places to work on sketches. It beats the boredom and people stop to watch and chat. I met some really nice people, which normally I wouldn't have. The second page talks about the third page, and also gave me a place to draw my plane out the waitingroom window.

If you want to draw people, you have to be reasonably discreet and try not to stare too much. But if they catch you, you have to fess up. I was really taken with this beautiful child and tender parent.

The trip to Hawaii was over ocean, nothing to look at, so I read in my paperback novel -- the only time I even took it out during the trip. Upon landing (no baggage to claim!) I went out and caught a generic airport shuttle to my hotel, arriving about dark. With the whole evening ahead of me, I went down on the boulevard which fronts the beach and just soaked in the ambience; then after sushi dinner in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant (for $8.50) I picked up some fallen flowers, leaves and seedpods from the trees along the beach, and some coral from the surf to sketch in my room later.

Remember, I'm not here for the night life!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Prep For My Nature/Journaling Trip to Hawaii

Hello! I've been nose-to-the-grindstoning the last two months to get my new book The Southern Swamp Explorer ready for press. Every day, all day, no weekends off. Finally, yesterday, I sent off the last three proof copies to my proofreaders and turned off the computer for the day. Boy, does THAT feel weird!

While it was off, I started, finally, collecting together what I want to take to Hawai'i -- wait. . . .I don't think I've mentioned the trip I am taking for nine days over Christmas to scout out Hawai'i as a possible nature sketching/journaling workshop site! That's a NASA photo of of The Big Island at right. It's about 50 miles across.

One of my recent students has a house on The Big Island in Hawai'i, and I'll be staying there for part of the time. My idea is to take this trip using all of the tips and techniques I use in my Nature Sketching/Journaling class, taking in the wonders of each lovely spot and recording them in my sketchbook. Normally I travel with someone else, and that kind of dictates what you end up doing. I'll miss my traveling buddy Daniel, but by myself. . . well, I'll try new ideas out.

I am traveling l.i.g.h.t. I want to be able to carry everything in my backpack and fannypack -- on the plane, while I travel in my rental car, etc. So I've been paring down everything I can, and the process is amazing.

In this blog I am going to outline my travel kit, and when I get back I'll tell you how it worked. Here's the plan for right now.

All of my drawing supplies need to fit in my fanny pack, so I got a sketchpad that is 6x9, the Robert Bateman Cover Series with 100% recycled paper (which is marvelously heavyweight and smooth) -- I used one like this in Costa Rica last spring (see blog #1). To prepare the sketchbook, I scanned in a roadmap of The Big Island from Hawaii, The Big Island Revealed, by Andrew Doughty (looks excellent, comes highly recommended) which I will also take. With the map on the cover, I'll always have a convenient map handy. I also decorated it a bit with the Hawai'i banner across the end just to pretty it up. I haven't yet covered it with clear package tape, but that's the next step. I'm expecting it to get rained on, and the tape will repell rain for quite some time. It weighs 13 ounces.

Inside the cover I've fastened a light, clear ruler and two business cards in case I lose it.

Next comes my drawing kit. Here's a scan of it. The stuff all fits in my clear plastic "cosmetics" container, which I use as a bug jail for sketching bugs. Actually,all the sharp goodies are put first into a little snack baggie to keep them from scratching the "jail" -- I need it scratch-free so I can draw insects I put inside (only briefly, to draw; this ain't death row!).

Here's what I put inside: magnifying glass on a colorful string so I don't lose it, business cards to give away, mechanical pencil, extra leads, kneaded eraser (that blobby gray thing at top), paintbrush with water in the barrel (it's blue, LOVE it!) , blue wipe cloth. eraser in pink barrel, a pencil sharpener for colored pencils (at bottom), a couple of pencil smudgers (tortillons, at left), safety pin, paper clips and a rubber band. That weighs 5 ounces.

I was going to just take my watercolor pencils in their flat metal box, but then I realized that, weightwise, the box could be replaced with a whole slew of other pencils, so I added a lot of in-between colors from my workshop kit. I've tried several different brands, and they mostly work fine. These are Staedtler (which I haven't used before) and Van Gogh and Faber-Castell, both of which are great. All together, they still don't weigh as much as half the original pencils IN the metal box

I'm taking my gold calligraphy pen (in center) with which I can make lovely initial caps. They really dress up a page.

All these things go in the fanny pack. Also in there is my smallish flashlight (4 ounces). Hawaii is in the tropics, and the sun will be going down around 6pm, so I might get caught out. I'd like to see the lava eruptions at night (if there are any) and it could come in handy. A flashlight is also super for looking into crevices for insects. Next, I have a very thin 9"-12" foam pad which weighs less than an ounce, a 3"x5"x ½" little packet with an emergency poncho in it, and a couple of energy bars. There is a pouch to carry a water bottle which slips on the belt, and I'll get a bottle for it when I'm there.

The whole fannypack, without the water, weighs 3 pounds exactly, and I'll probably stuff some other things in it, too (chapstick, sunscreen, deet, etc.). And maybe my little binoculars, which still will probably total less than four pounds.

Then, in a separate camera bag slung over my shoulder, I'll carry my camera bag, which weighs in at just under a pound. The camera is an iffy thing. I've noticed that when I have the camera sometimes I'll take a picture and skip drawing. So I may have to ration camera use. I probably should clip my cell phone onto my belt, too, in case I fall off a cliff. Well, I may look like a burro with all that gear, but I'll have everything I need to have fun with.

Sometimes I wear a fishing vest instead of using the fanny pack. It distributes weight evenly over the shoulders and is more comfortable than the fanny pack. I'll have to think about it. I don't wear it when I'm with Daniel because he thinks it looks goofy, but hey, I don't care.

So there's the sketching end.

For the workshop end, I'm taking along my workbooks from both the nature sketching workshop and the nature journaling workshop. I can show these to anyone who is interested, because they really do outline what I teach in the workshops. As well, I can give away my business cards (see inside the sketchbook cover) which have this blog address and my workshop website address on them. (By the way, I got those business cards at for free -- you just fill in what you want them to say, choose a design, and click. All you do is pay shipping and handling, $3-$4. Don't they look nice? And no, I didn't get paid to say that -- I just think they're a terrific deal!)

Now, as for the clothing, Hawai'i has ALL the climate zones except one, I understand, from sea level to the top of Moana Loa. I'm told that in addition to shorts and T-shirts I will need my fleece jacket and jogging pants. So, since it's December in Oregon, on the plane I will wear the jogging pants with my summer-weight safari pants over them. The safari pants have zip-off legs to make shorts, and lots of pockets, perfect to travel in. And I'll wear several layers of tops including my jacket. . . hey, maybe my change of clothes can consist of a swimsuit, a pair of sandals, a sun hat and some extra underwear! I'll have access to a washing machine if I need it. Cool!

So there it is. I think everything else (paperback, comb, first-aid kit, teeny travel towel, toothbrush, maps, addresses, sunglasses, bird book, cellphone charger, etc.) will fit in my pack which I can skooch under the seat in front of me on the plane.

Now I must clean the house for the house-sitter and make her a list of what to do in emergencies. (and hope Jesse doesn't pounce on her like he did the last house-sitter). Jesse says he will get along just fine without me, and he has already hung his stocking (in progress, at left). Well!

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, dear friend! I will blog again when I return, with results of my trip.

Here's a grab-bag of other entries...

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