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!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sketch Pages from My Sit Spot

I promised to show you some sketch/journal pages in my last blog, but before I do that I'll set the scene again. Here's the view from my Sit Spot:This scene is from my chair, looking down across a long meadow, with a fairly steep downhill slant. Although it's nearly invisible, my house is behind the trees at far right.

And here's a sketch/journal page showing the little sand chair I use (a short-legged, webbed aluminum frame designed for basking on the beach). Click on any image to get a larger view.

I've been going out for an hour or so every day, at different times, just to see what I can see. You'd think it would be boring, just sitting there looking around, but I find I am usually quite content for an hour or more, and it's often only the mosquitoes that drive me away.

I concentrate on watching for movements: birds, insects, lizards, anything that moves; sniffing the breeze for scents (deer, up close, smell like a barnyard!); watching the weather and noting the breeze direction and how it knocks down showers of madrone leaves; listening to the birds ~ alarm calls will likely alert me to incoming fox or bobcat (or bear) long before they arrive. The birds don't announce fellow prey animals like deer or squirrels, though.

In case you're wondering, the orange trees on my sketch pages are madrone trees. They have green leaves year 'round, and have smooth bark which is lime green when it is new, then "tans" to a lovely sienna or cinnamon color. Right now, at the end of July, they have tanned about as far as they're going to, and they'll soon start to peel, revealing the gorgeous new green "skin" underneath. The golden leaves you see are ready to drop, in mid-summer, because the new leaves are big enough to take over the photosynthesis.

The deer on this page were sketched quickly as they were passing through, but that was only possible because I've drawn deer so many times that I have a mental template for "deer" in my head that I can pull out of the bag whenever needed. I didn't even consider drawing the trees while the deer were still visible ~ they're not going anywhere, so they were drawn later. The color was added with watercolor pencils while I was watching TV the next night. But I decided I like it so much with just the cinnamon browns that I may not paint any more on that page. Maybe.

Sometimes it is very quiet, with nothing much happening, then I reach down beside my chair and pull up something interesting to draw. On this page, I didn't realize there was a tiny cricket on the vetch until I was well into the sketch.

Bugs, beetles, flies, bees, and other denizens of the woods occasionally offer themselves for a portrait, as well. Whenever I receive such an invitation to draw, I grab it. They may not stay for long! It helps to have a mental template for insect legs, and a general idea where they attach underneath, to allow you to get it down before the little critter makes its get-away. Actually, a nice see-through container might be useful for drawing insects. A magnifying glass would also be useful.

Be Prepared. I have a little pump bottle of mosquito repellent and reading glasses which I leave on the log next to my chair. On days without a breeze I tuck a mosquito net under my arm as I go out the door (mosquitoes can be really pesky when there's no breeze to blow them away). I keep something else important at my Sit Spot, too. But you'll have to read the sketch pages to find out what it is.

So far, I have created thirteen pages, and I know for sure that I have only dipped the tiniest tip of a toenail into the amazing pool of possibilities in that one spot. What insects will present themselves for a sketch? What kinds of lichens live there, and why are they mostly only on the oaks, not the madrones? What wildlife life will come by as I sit silently? From my studio window (from which I can SEE my Sit Spot) I've seen foxes, bobcats, skunks, bears, pileated woodpeckers, squirrels, deer, wolf spiders, goldfinches, juncos, rufous-sided towhees, Steller's jays, and any number of other creatures passing by. No reason I shouldn't see them from my Sit Spot if I'm just sitting there waiting for them.

I'm thinking that I might also draw progressions: a wildflower in bloom, then its mature seedpod or seeds, etc. Fawns now are about 24" at the shoulder, but I'll draw them as they get bigger, as well, if I stick to my plan. If I continue to draw through the seasons, what a record I will produce!

[BTW, to create a mental template of something you expect to be drawing frequently (like deer or bug legs) all you have to do is practice. If you don't have the genuine article in front of you, practice from photographs. After a few sessions and an occasional refresher if necessary, you can create your own set of mental templates. It's sort of like investing in a set of paints or colored pencils or pens you regularly draw with ~ and just as important.]

I'll try to blog some sketch pages from my Sit Spot every now and then.

See you later ~ I'm off to my Sit Spot to journal and draw!


Shirley said...

This is so interesting! Please keep showing your pages to us.

Irene Brady said...

Thanks, Shirley. I'm glad you're interested ~ I'll keep putting up occasional pages for that very reason.

Anonymous said...

I love your descriptions! Thank you for sharing. I'm developing a workshop on Nature Journaling with Children. Your blog is an inspiration.

Irene Brady said...

you might like to go to my website, as I've posted some slideshows of my sketch journal there. It's at .
Scroll down the page to find the slideshow, and enjoy!

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

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