Monthly Archives: June 2011

Suddenly Summer

Pastorale scene with sheep
Bald Hill Pasture
 Sunday late morning I sat on the bench just off the Bald Hill trail and lost myself in the sweet scent of blackberry blossoms and the song of bluebirds swooping and diving over the pasture.  It was truly “pastorale”.  I learned a lot, too, as I sketched and painted and chatted with passersby:
  1. Sheep cannot be counted upon to stay still.  Although they are not darting about like bluebirds, they are in constant steady motion.  So the moral is, draw the critters first.
  2. Always take a paint rag because you never know when you’re going to stick your thumb into the gooey blue paint.  Also, find a better tin for water colors.
  3. Order that nifty “water brush” that holds water in its handle that you can supposedly sqeeze out while you paint.

After my resident art critic pointed out that the wire fencing didn’t look “like it should”, I re-visited the piece and added more colored pencil.  I like the result but it still has plenty of room for improvement… for one thing, true to the actual motion of the animals, the whole piece looks like it’s in danger of wandering off the right side of the frame, like a Harry Potter photograph.  I think if I had made the grasses in the foreground blow to the north instead of the south, it would have been a more stable composition.  The mid-day lighting was tricky, too, putting shadows directly beneath the objects – never realized how that warps perception.

Yellow Plague

colored pencil sketch of scotch broom

Yellow Plague

One of the many invasives that dots our hillside trails and paths, the Scotch Broom is in full bloom now, and marching on the offensive.  True to its name, of course, a dead branch of the plant makes a terrific broom/rake for fallen leaves, better than any noisy old leaf blower.  Our “advanced” culture ignores that potential, however, so it is relegated to the status of invasive species, and hardly anyone appreciates the intricacy of its blossoms and pods.  Tsk.

chicken coloring page

Feeding Time

colored pencil sketch of hen

Feeding Time


 I’m having fun with coloring pages again!  This intense hen was sketched from a photo by Aaron Jay, he of recent duck acquisition fame.  The lines were simple enough to make a fun coloring page.  But once I got started doodling around with feather patterns, the lines got more and more complex… and the colors got a little wild.  But it was fun!  So here’s the more complicated coloring page as well:
colored hen 

coloring page hen

Color me Hungry!


Finally – Ripe!

strawberries on a tiny plate

... the ones the slugs missed

In spite of the slugs, in spite of the lack of sunshine, the strawberries are ripening!   They could be sweeter, they could be bigger, but I’m not complaining – they’re juicy and bright red enough to drive away the gloom of a cloudy June.  Those little shiny bits around the seeds are tricky to capture on paper, though…

California Poppies & Elf Hats

Sketch of poppies in hand thrown vase

Waiting for the Elf Hat to Drop

I planted California poppy seeds last year on the tiny hill we made above our backyard pond.  This year there are so many poppies that it looks like the goldfish have all taken wing and are hovering above the pond!  Not only do they brighten the grey days we’re having out here in Oregon, those little bud covers that pop off as the blossoms open are the perfect size for Elf Hats… there have been no Elf sightings recently, but the neighbor did see a big raccoon in our garden early yesterday morning.

Cascade Autumn

4 sketches of Mount Jefferson

4 Versions of Mt. Jefferson

My friend Wendy gave me a print of a photo that her friend Johannes Schaefer took of Mt. Jefferson in the autumn of 2009 (I think – maybe 2008?)… been meaning to sketch it ever since!  So here it is, Wendy, the original colored pencil sketch and three Photoshop renditions.


sketch of redwood tree and leaning pole

View from Our Front Window

The sun shone all afternoon, giving me both time and inspiration to finally sketch the redwood in the park across the street.   I’ve sat and stared many hours at the huge, beautiful trees, trying to decide how to make a good composition out of this strange little park.  It is the oldest city park in town, dating from the late 1800’s.  The trees keep it green and shady year round.  It is surrounded by motley little houses built beginning in the first few decades of the 1900’s, and by the pickups and beaters driven by college students too cheap to pay the university parking fees.  “No Dogs Allowed” the sign says, but a much more appropriate sign would be “No Males Between 14 and 24 Allowed.”  The dogs that play in the park are too busy chasing Frisbees or rolling in the grass with their children to do any damage.  The young males, however, are Hazards to themselves and society.  They spit, they pee, they shout obscenities, they break whatever they can reach.   There are exceptions, of course, but not many!

But I digress.  The tree itself leans slightly south, the utility pole is teetering north.  The combination is unsettling as I step out the door each morning… vertigo anyone? I also wonder about the dead top of the tree, which judging by the overall shape has been blown out or zapped off more than once.  The city arborist assures me it can and will grow a new top.  I hope so!

This sketch was created in colored pencil, then manipulated in Photoshop.

Decorated Ducks

outlines of 3 ducks

Aimee's Ducks

Once upon a time, Aimee and her Daddy went to the store for milk… but one thing led to another, and they found themselves at the Farmer’s Market talking to the duck man.  He had three ducks left, and he said that ducks get very lonely without other ducks.  So Daddy, taking leave of his senses momentarily, which to be honest happens with some regularity, bought the three ducks.  Home they all went, and just imagine Mummy’s surprise when Aimee ran shouting into the house, “Guess WHAT?  We have three DUCKS!”  The ducks are named Samantha, Gobble, and Sprinkle, for reasons known only to Aimee.

We may never know whether or not anyone remembered to buy any milk.  But Grandma Kerry was so delighted with the photo of the lovely ducks that she made a coloring page for Aimee and all of the other talented children she knows.  (If you ask your parents to print out a coloring page, you can color it and send it back to Grandma Kerry, who will be delighted! and who reminds you to use the crazy part of your brain as you color!)   And Grandma Kerry liked that coloring page so much that she colored one herself, and here it is:

ducks with designs

If ducks had tattoos...

… and the moral of the story is, always send an adult to supervise shopping trips!