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!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling IS READY!

FINALLY! Hot off the press, friends! My latest Workshop Workbook ~ Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling is ready. I am extremely pleased with this one. It is chockablock full of good/new stuff, and I feel that it does justice to the original workshop.

Here's a giftie for ye: if you go to its page, you'll find a PDF page of decorative borders and motifs you can download to use even if you don't purchase the book.

I was thinking about this, and I realized that my fondest dream would be to have a comfortable enough income that I could GIVE these workbooks away ~ free downloads. That would please me the very most. But I can't, so there's the little freebie of decorative borders (see the image at left), at least, to please both me and you.

If you do purchase the journaling workbook, I'd love your feedback on it.

This has been a hard-working month, nose to the keyboard as April has played itself out in fits and tantrums of storms and drizzles and windy blasts interspersed with an occasional bit of cold sunshine. It was warmer and far nicer in MARCH, for pete's sake! aieeeee!

However, two of the sunny days we had chose to appear on the dates of my SwanSong Workshop. This was a Nature Sketching Basics workshop for the local Calligraphers' Guild, and had been arranged for way back in 2009, and was (and I say this with a little quaver in my virtual voice) My Last Workshop. I want to thank Cynthia for providing the lovely lettered name tags for each person, each one different, and on beautifully crafted and colored hand-made paper.

The workshop was held at a lovely Day Retreat, residence of one of the calligraphers, overlooking the valley we live in, The Rogue Valley, as it is locally called, and there was a lovely view of it from our classroom and the deck just outside. If you could see over the hill into the distant canyon, you'd see my house, (see the arrow) a few miles up the canyon from Talent (which isn't in the picture), being just off to the right.

The Calligraphers are great folks ~ I had a journaling workshop with them last year and it was a real party for us all. Since they all know each other, there's none of the hesitancy and warming up period of the usual class, and that gives it a sort of family feel. The warm, homey atmosphere of the Retreat also contributed.

Here they are, all twelve of them, hard at work on the second day. I forgot my camera the first day, which was too bad because they produced some wonderful cattail drawings (I gave them the cattails to take home ~ I won't need them again...). Even though I remembered my camera the second day, I felt so laid back I took hardly any pictures.

It was warm enough to eat our lunches out on the deck, then try sketching the shrubbery to learn various textures of leaves, small, large, pointy ~ and how just a few repetitive stroke patterns can show the different character of each kind of vegetation. You merely have to observe and determine what they are then practice using them.

In the afternoon they drew their masterpieces as I circled around behind them, pointing out places that needed attention and helping where needed. They are admiring the results above, as indeed they should.

Usually I post a gallery of the results, and their drawings were right up there with the best, but with this large class I had to spend most of what would have been my photographing time dispensing help and advice, and only had enough time for this one photo, representative of them all. Thank you, JoAnn!

The Guild presented me with a Swan Song gift, a delightful hanging twig basket Cynthia made with a large brown egg (paper-covered) in it, plus a little packet of molded paper "buttons" which you can glue onto a journal page (and which I definitely shall ~ in fact, I think perhaps I'll glue the name tag I wore onto the front of the journal, as it is so beautiful and a reminder of my "former life").

I think I will consider the nest and egg as a symbol of my post-workshop-life hatching out new possibilities (glad it's a BIG egg!). And I've had an idea: now that I'm "retired" ~ I think perhaps I shall save every penny I make on the workbooks and when I amass enough I will take sketch journies, crafting a sketch journal during each one to share with you on my return. I shall upload them onto the web and make them available to y'all as samples of Nature and Travel Sketch Journals at a Very Low Price, maybe $5.95 or something.

There are a number of good things about this. First, it will keep me lively and active and plying my craft. Secondly, it will give me an excuse and impetus to travel. Thirdly, it will give YOU new examples of sketchbooks (and maybe even intimate views of places you want to visit). Fourthly, if I charge a little bit for them I can consider the trips as necessary to my income and I can write the expenses off and not pay taxes on them. Plus, they will contribute funds toward the next Journey.

Hmmmm.....maybe I can include a tutorial in each one on how to do something that's in the journal......hmmmm......Wow! That little brown egg is really working overtime!

Okay, my NEXT project is to start uploading my already-made sketch journals for you to download if you want. This might take a couple of weeks, as with my new idea (the previous paragraph) I will have to craft a tutorial to go with it. This could be interesting!

With that.....I'm off think about the new bunch of goodies!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking a short break with a frog....

Little froglet in the water,
don’tcha think you really otter
save that croaking for tonight
when you’re safely outta sight?

Though I love your creaky chorus
pulsing through the springtime forest,
how I hope a hovering hawk
will not end your earnest grok!

Soon, I hope, a loving mate will
come to join you. I can’t wait till
all your fertile eggs are spread,
safely in their waterbed.

Okay, I just had to get that out of my system. I've just finished the 8th proof/edit of Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling and I just had to take a break and do something else for awhile.

The weather has been cold and wet except for a few bright days, just enough to get our hopes up here in southern Oregon, then dash them back down again. We've had 4½" of rain in the last couple of weeks, so that sort of shows you where the gloom gauge is set.

However, it is GREAT for frogs. Just outside my studio door is a pretty little pond I built many years ago, and about 40 feet away is a tub I sank into the forest floor and filled with water. The rain has kept them to the overflowing mark lately.

Each of them has a resident boyfrog, who has spent the last two weeks producing operatic extravaganzas, hoping to attract girlfrogs to their little ponds. Using binoculars, I can see them floating, chins pumped up like balloons, creating concentric, radiating rings on the still water with each croak (except when it's raining, then you can't see the vibes).

In the Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling workbook I've been crafting and endlessly (it seems) proofing and editing, there's a page on creating simple poetry in your journal, and I'd just finished polishing the rules for the umpteenth time (I can't chance ANY misunderstanding of the material in these workbooks because I'm not there to explain if the text isn't clear). So I thought I'd just try out the instructions. The froggy poem was the result.

There's a BUNCH of great stuff in this workbook. It's my best one yet, and longer than the others by a couple of pages. I've put some examples from my Costa Rica, Oregon beach, and Hawaii sketch journals, to clarify stuff I talk about. It has given me a major yen to travel.

I'll include one of my most unlikely sketches here. It's an Indian water buffalo, pulling a wooden oxcart filled with picnickers down the beach. As they passed in front of my amazed eyes, I had the minimal presence of mind to snap some photos, but there was no time to draw them, of course. That evening I sketched the picture into my sketchbook off the screen of my digital camera.

Hope you like it. And my froggy poem. You can copy the poem and use it for anything you like. I don't care. Have fun!

I'll be uploading the Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling workbook this week, so keep an eye out for it. You'll get a notice if you've signed up for one in the right-hand panel.

Oops! I accidentally uploaded this to the Sketching in Nature blog! Well, I'm sorry if you see it in two different places! Many apologies!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Slight Ooops!

One of my valiant students has pointed out that the workshop workbook Nature Sketching Basics has a problem with page references ~ and boy, is she correct! (thanks Lorna!)

I figured out what happened: I inserted this lovely page with sketches of stilts and avocets (birds I drew at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) as page 2 after everything else in the book was proofed and ready to make into the PDF ~ and I totally forgot that this would necessitate changing ALL of the page references by one page.

In other words, if it says "go to page 17," you have to go to page 18. I can't believe I missed that. I've gone back through the file now and reloaded the corrected workbook to my site. I THINK I caught them all this time.

Well, if you already have your copy and it doesn't bother you to make the mental leap, okay. However, if it does give you fits, drop me a line that you'd like a replacement and I'll cheerfully send you a free replacement link. My contact email is on the workbook page, right at the top.

Hope that makes it okay! Sorry 'bout that. At least you know I will make things right if I have goofed, and also that I appreciate people pointing out any glitches they run across.


On a jollier note, I'm making great headway on the new Sketch/Journaling workbook.

This one is a lot of fun ~ mainly because I'm replacing many of the small b/w example pages in the old workbook with larger full-color ones ~ and that means that I'm riffling through all my travel/nature journals from Costa Rica, Hawaii, Iceland/England, New Zealand, and the Oregon Coast to spot good examples to use. Reliving all those wonderful adventures is a real kick. What a terrific little armchair vacation!

The example here shows how you can glue in a photo (this one has been cut out to make it more interesting) then draw out from it to blend it into the page. It's a stunning effect. You can draw the additional part in b/w or add color if you want. People always go gaga when they spot one of these in a sketchbook ~ it's an easy way to make people think you're pretty hot stuff with the sketch/journaling, and it's lots of fun to do. This one is straight-forward scenery, but you could make funny or amazing ones, too, with monsters creeping up or by creating unlikely juxtapositions of photos/drawings.

A few more weeks, and that workbook will hit the ether, too, so keep in touch if you want a copy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Workbook ~ Drawing Eagles, Hawks & Owls!

It's ready!
I redid (totally) the Drawing Raptors book into the Drawing Eagles, Hawks & Owls Workbook, and I expect it's going to be popular. If I hadn't written it, I might want to buy it m'self {grin}. Actually, it's the birds that make it so attractive. Talk about scene stealers.

Looks as though it's taking me about a month to prepare these workbooks. I thought they'd go a lot faster, but I don't want to do a slap-dash-hope-it-works kind of job, so.....

There's a lot of meat in this one. It is probably most useful for intermediate artists, although a determined beginner could probably do just fine with it. As usual, I suggest starting out first with the Nature Sketching Basics Workbook to get a good grounding in basic drawing techniques (by the way, I've decided to leave Nature Sketching Basics at the lower $9.95 price indefinitely so people won't hesitate to start out with it, the price being so reasonable).

Most people
have trouble drawing birds because they can't quite envision the bird's structure underneath those feathers and how it affects the way the bird stands, moves and flies. I know it made a lot of difference to my bird drawings after I tucked some bird anatomy into my skull.

So I've put in a couple of skeleton diagrams (one is actually flying) from my days of working at the Fish & Wildlife Forensics Lab years ago. And I've gone into detail about how the eyes work so that the artist can figure out how to position them in the raptor's face. There are pages about wings and feathers, talons and foot scales and tails ~ how they work and how to draw them, plus the three obligatory pages of Sketching Basics,
Drawing Tips, and Shading Principles.

The best part, to me, was reconstructing a sketching session I'd had with a horned owl last year.
I included a 3-page step-by-step tutorial on the making of the owl's portrait (along with photos I'd serendipitously taken at the time), including my thought processes as I went through each step. There's another tutorial on how to get the best sketches when working with a moving target, with a page out of one of my sketchbooks showing my process with a wiggly screech owl.

And if you know anything about my teaching style, you'll expect me to have included some practice with eye, foot, and beak templates to help you jump-start your sketching process.

The idea is that
, like a musician, if you memorize your scales and practice your fingering, you will have the basics for quickly learning a music piece. If you start out with no practice, it will take you ages to figure out each tune. So yes, there are templates up the kazoo.

There are also some good feather exercises,
to give you some "stock movements" for quick creation of feathers. You can change it to fit the situation, but you already know how to draw that feather texture, so a slight twitch will give you a brand-new look.

There's even a bit on note-taking as you sketch. I just have to include a note I found next to a sketch I made of a young vulture.
I'd completely forgotten about it (well, it WAS twenty years ago) but when I read it the whole scene came flooding back: "...defensive sound, much like a man snoring or water going very fast down drain -- a rattling hiss. 3-4 seconds on, 1-2 seconds off, continuous when very upset." I not only could recall the sound, but also remembered that I did a super-quick outline then withdrew from the enclosure where I'd been sketching so that the little guy could relax again. I got the rest of it by peeking at it through a crack in the door. Even so, it has to be one of my favorite sketches of all time.

I know that people who download this workbook will be eager to go out and sketch eagles and hawks and
owls, but I strongly suggest doing a bit of preparation and learning some stuff at home before going out to sketch live raptors, particularly if someone is going to be holding the bird on the fist while you draw.

Knowing the basics will make it a much more enjoyable session with vastly better results than if you go into it cold. I speak from experience, and from the experience of my students ~ they always wished we'd been able to schedule at least another day of workshop to practice drawing the birds from photos before we went to the raptor rehab place to draw.

To that end, I've included a gallery of copyright-free photos of
hawk, eagle and owl for the artist to practice on. These are pictures I took myself at Wildlife Images (see the previous blog entry), so I have full control over their copyright. This eagle is a sample, as is the owl photo above.

The hardest part of creating Drawing Eagles
Hawks & Owls was having to leave a lot of really cool stuff out. For instance, I really wanted to include these little sawwhet owls in the workbook, but there just wasn't enough room. So here they are just for fun. Aren't they sweet?

So there you are, the latest in my Workshop Workbook Series. Like the others, I have it up on the Workshop Workbook Page at the lower introductory price ($9.95) until April 20, when all the prices go up to $15.95.


I still have a couple of workbooks to go:
  • Natural Landscape Sketching Basics
  • Travel and Nature Journaling (both sketching and writing)
But I might take a little break, a couple o' weeks, mebbe, before I sail into those. I think they'll both take a little longer to do, and besides, Lorna, one of my workbook "students" (she just downloaded Nature Sketching Details yesterday) asked me to slow down a bit so that she could save up for the next one.

And it's surely going to be spring out there someday, although it snowed for awhile this afternoon and then it rained and then a huge windstorm roared through. I've just about despaired of ever getting outside to the wildflowers again (if there still ARE any!). This is Oregon, for heaven's sake! It's supposed to be warm out there in April!

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

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