To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

2nd Day's Class

April 23

second day of class, 8am-2:30pm

Today in class we covered landscape drawing. After breaking down the elements of a landscape into parts and textures and ways to put them together to get the desired results, I set my students to drawing their choice of landscapes using a little paper frame to pick a scene. The landscapes around here are spectacular, so using the frame helps to isolate the best composition and to keep the whole scene from overwhelming the artist.

I think they surprised themselves with how well their scenes turned out. Normally, since I teach this workshop on consecutive Saturdays, we use photos for this project, then students go outside to sketch their own actual scene during the week as homework. But since this workshop is being given over four consecutive days, I deleted the “working from photo” step and went straight for the on-site pleine air jugular. I was pretty pleased with their results, because a massive jungle scene or the endless beach can be intimidating to a novice.


I wanted to get in some more practice time to maintain my proficiency with the watercolor pencils, so I’ve sketched a bamboo orchid near the pool. The landscaping here at the lodge is colorful and fascinating. Much of it is native, but some is grown for colorful foliage and flowers to put on the restaurant tables each day. This orchid is exquisite, and a perfect model for trying out the pink and purple watercolor pencil colors.

Because this remote lodge runs on batteries and hydropower, I dried the wetted watercolor pencil painting by placing the page face up on the dark flagstones of the patio for a few moments . The rising heat dried it quickly – in fact, it worked much better than the hairdryer I usually use. Hairdryers, which use great amounts of electricity, would overtax the lodge's electrical system.

Later: When I finished the orchid I took a dip in the pool, then a waiter came around asking if we’d like mango smoothies. Well, of COURSE! So I spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and sipping and chatting with guests and my students, and watching macaws, parrots and toucans fly over and call from the trees overhead. Joel gets out the spotting scope when anything interesting comes around (that includes macaws and toucans and parrots) so we can all get a good look at them and watch them eating fruit in the trees. I tried photographing a macaw through the scope with limited success. Troops of capuchin and spider monkeys passed through, too, and we got to see them swinging effortlessly through the branches, some with tiny babies riding jockey-style on their backs.

This is the life! The incredible meals we are served (most of them with local produce like chayote and fresh-caught tuna) are presented with élan by the Tico chef, with each portion artistically arranged on the plate with julienned red pepper strips, sprigs of herbs and other chefly garnishes – just like meals in a 5-star restaurant. I’ve never eaten better (or prettier!) in my life. I’m afraid I will return home looking like a balloon....


Just after dark (remember, the sun sets around 6:30!) Daniel and I went with the naturalist Irené and a small group on a “night-walk” with headlamps and flashlights. We spotted all kinds of spiders – if you hold the flashlight beside your eyes pointing out into the forest, the spiders’ eyeshine beams back incredibly brightly – some spiders had leg spans as wide as 4” (but none of them were “out to get us”). We saw sleeping crickets and katydids, two whip scorpions down in the stream bottom, a small gray snake, little shrimps in the stream, beetles and a large spotted moth. At one point some creature high in a tree shat down a collection of rat-a-tatty turds which, I am thankful to say, missed us entirely.

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

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