Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Catching up…

Time has been slipping by so quickly – which is what happens when you are busy!  In Florida, our busy season reflects an increase in population when our winter visitors flood the city and beaches.  So I’ve been busy on several other fronts, which leaves me little time for sketching and posting.  So…maybe I can catch up here!  Here’s an update if you’re interested.

Butterflies, gardens and nature journals
In November I was invited to speak at the 14th Annual SW Florida Butterfly Conference held at the EdisonFord Estate in Fort Myers, Florida.  I shared some inspiring journal pages from various artists on gardening for butterflies, with observations on caterpillars and nectaring butterflies.  I also included some images of early and contemporary naturalists as well as butterflies interpreted through an artistic lens.  I left feeling that participants were inspired to start their own nature journals, perhaps documenting their own butterfly gardens or just capturing images from their travels.  I was inspired in turn by the warm response and friendly comments, and learned quite a bit about butterflies!

Watercolor Pencil Workshop: Botany Through Art
Through November and December I had the opportunity to teach a workshop on watercolor pencils via nature journaling at the fabulous NaplesBotanical Garden.  We had a wonderful group of participants, each one adding a unique viewpoint to experience.  I love the mix of perspectives: a college science teacher, a pulmonary physician, artists whose specialties are acrylic and watercolors, a professional writer, and more.  Each of us sees the world in a slightly different way, and our journal pages are shaped by our personalities as well as our life experiences.  Each week was a joy.

Something different! 
I was invited to paint a ceramic piece for the annual Empty Bowls Silent Auction held in January.  For every dollar that they raise, the Harry Chapin Food Bank turns it into $6 worth of food for the local food banks in Collier County.  Painting on clay is a very different and challenging experience!  This is the third year I’ve done this, and each time I’m delighted with the variety and creativity of the ceramic pieces offered.

A twisted bald cypress tree at the edge of a cypress dome.
Back to the Fakahatchee
Our sketch group met for one more time in the Fakahatchee in January, choosing the same location as last November.  Last fall Ipainted a view of the Lake Gloria extension, edged by a cypress dome on one side.  This time I chose a lone cypress tree that caught my eye.  All the trees around were straight and tall, but this particular tree had such an interesting twist to it.  The morning sun caught each ridge of the delineated trunk.  What made this tree grow so differently?  Why the twist?  It seemed a striking testament to the will to survive and thrive, each curve and twist reflecting some event in its growth cycle.  Sort of like the scars, gray hairs and wrinkles we accumulate as we move through the events of our lives.  I could relate to this tree!

Environmental Art and the Food Forest
Later in January I was invited I was invited to share my sketch journals and give an introduction to watercolor pencils at a class at Florida Gulf Coast University.  After a slide show and short discussion we adjourned to the Food Forest to sketch.  This is an amazing place, and I cannot possibly tell you all about it here.  Look for more details in a future post.  I was so impressed by the groups of students in the class as well as the students who created and maintain the garden.  Let me say that if you are interested in gardening and what young people are doing with it, you need to read more or better yet, arrange a visit.  You can visit their webpage here, see the listing on the FGCU site here, and finally, check out their Facebook page for the latest news.  I appreciate Professor Mary Voytek for arranging this wonderful opportunity, and for encouraging and inspiring her class of artists and environmental studies students to explore their natural surroundings through art. 

Also in January
I had an opportunity to share my sketchbooks and talk about nature journaling at the Family 4-H Day event, Lehigh Acres.

I presented a Nature Journal Workshop for the FNPS Coccoloba Chapter at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.  I met a group of friendly and native-plant knowledgeable folks who did a great job with just a few hours of introduction to a new media. I can only visualize how far they’ve taken their new skills and where they will take them!

A gopher tortoise emerging from his burrow.
And in February…
A group of us went to TheNaples Preserve to sketch.  I had a chance to meet and sketch with an online friend, and we ended up taking part in a promotional film clip for the Preserve.  The Preserve is an amazing place, a little patch of scrub and pines right smack in the middle of the city.  If you live in or visit Naples, you should visit this rapidly disappearing habitat. 

And now for March…
I started another Watercolor Pencil Workshop at The Naples Botanical Garden in March, which is ongoing through April.  We have another great group of artists of all ranges and backgrounds, and I’m enjoying this class as well!  There are old friends and new, and the Garden is at it’s flowering peak.  One of our challenges is that there are too many subjects to sketch!
Leaf demonstration in watercolor pencils at the Enabling Garden..
At some point I hope to get back to sketching more regularly.  I get so much joy from teaching and sharing what I’ve learned, though.  I just need a few more hours in each day…

Thanks for stopping in to catch up!

The above sketches are done with:
6 x 9 inch Aquabee Super Deluxe sketch pad
Various watercolor pencils: Faber Castell Aquarelle and Albrecht Durer, Derwent Inktense
Mechanical pencil
Micron Pigma 01 black ink pen

Click on any image to view larger.