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!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Mosquito Solution

Mosquitoes really know how to ruin a perfectly lovely outing. They're masters at it. I'm a total mosquito wimp, and in many locales that's a very good thing to be due to Lyme disease, [oh dear! Kathy Walker has corrected me on this ~ see her letter below and substitute "West Nile" for "Lyme disease" above! ] etc. (to say nothing of the problems engendered by scratching your arms off at the elbows ~ it's SO hard to sketch and journal, after that...).

I first wrote about my problem with the mosquitoes on this page:

So whilst being plagued by the little beasties as I sat in my sit spot one day, I dreamed up the perfect solution. It required a trip to the garden shed and an additional trip to the camping goods section of Bi-Mart, plus a few of those paper clamps (see (d.) below.

Oh yeah, wire cutters were needed, too, and six of those "twistems" ~ the wiry things that fasten loaves of bread and clumps of celery shut.

When I was done, I journaled the results in my journal. Since I'm not certain it's totally clear how it is constructed, I've also created some diagrams to make the directions easier to follow.

You'll need:
  • wire cutters or pliers which will cut heavy wire
  • a cone-shaped wire tomato frame (see a. below)
  • a 5'x7' piece of mosquito netting (it comes this size in the package, but you might want a bigger piece)
  • 6 pieces of light wire, twistable by hand
  • 3 or more paper clamps, clothespins, or some other fastener
  • a comfy chair to fasten everything to.
Cut the middle and bottom hoops of the tomato frame open, next to one of the legs (b.) and spread out the cone until the legs are in a more-or-less straight row. Fasten the wire legs to the chair, and bend the frame as needed to make the top hoop level (c. and e.). You can bend up the cut ends of the two wires to make hooks ~ I hang my glasses on one to keep them inside the net (f.). You could hang your false teeth on the other hook, mebbe...

Fold the mosquito net in half and put clips along one side, starting at the fold (as shown in d.) . You don't have to clip the entire side, as gravity will cause it to fall down and close itself.

Open up and drape the net over the frame, with the corner with the first clip above the center of the top hoop (f.). The drawing isn't perfectly accurate, because there's a bit of a corner splayed out on the ground on each side of the chair.

Even with this size of netting your feet might not be totally covered. So you'll need to wear socks if the beasties are biting your ankles. I was wearing 2 pairs of socks on my final day in my #2 sit spot, which I think is what finally did me in there, since I had simply SWARMS of mosquitoes around my net ~ so many that I could feel their tiny little vibes yearning for my blood. It was unnerving. But for lesser visitations, it's great!

This only takes a few minutes to make once you get the tools and supplies together, and it is so light that you can carry it in one hand from one spot to another. Sitting inside your little haloed dome, there will be no netting dragging against your face or head or hands or sketchpad, and you don't have to wear stinky repellent. You'll need to wear pants, though, since your knees will be against the netting and the little boogers will notice this right away (oops!).

I hope this turns out to be useful to you, if you live in a skeetery place. If you make one and try it out, I'd love to hear your experience with it. Mine makes it possible to sit out on the deck on a warm summer evening in perfect comfort, reading sketching, etc.

Of course, it's not nice to sit on the lawn under your net to chat if your chatee doesn't have a net, though, so you may need to make nets for everyone to be polite.

Let me know if you try this, okay?

BTW, I've replaced, moved, and changed the box where you ask for notifications when I blog ~ now it's on the right near the top when you first enter the blog. If you signed up for but haven't been getting notices, enter your email again now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Madrone trees and shiny beetles

Have you ever visited a nearby spot and discovered something major you've never even heard of? For instance, the first time I traveled through the South I was amazed to see the miles-wide blankets of kudzu draped over the trees like green quilts. I'd never even HEARD of kudzu before.

A similar thing happened to me when I moved to southern Oregon. I'd previously lived in various parts of Oregon: Hood River (on the northern edge by the Columbia River), Corvallis (west-central Oregon) and Eugene a bare 120 miles north of my place) and I'd neither seen nor heard of the magnificent red-barked madrone trees with their green skin which tans just like human skin during the hot days of summer.

Since my house is nestled deep in a madrone forest, madrones are now a major part of my scenery, and I thought I'd share their fascinating beauty with you, writing from my sit spot underneath and beside their glamorous trunks and branches (to say nothing of the midsummer leaf fall now descending in glorious golden cascades).

There's an actual piece of bark glued to this journal page because their color is so obviously impossible I thought I'd better prove it. But as you can see, I didn't even go as far as reality in my painting. The bark comes in many shades, though, so the color I chose is accurate for many of the trees.

What about the green? It's true! The skin is really that green on many of them at this time of year, while others have a more subdued tone, and all of them tan with age until they're the deep orange or red of the peeling parts ~ the red bark is LAST year's green skin.

And then, of course, I discovered some little black beetles so shiny that when I looked at them through my magnifying glass I could see my reflection looking back at me from their polished black backs!

I hope you like this journal page. There are lots more to come, including a journal page about my invention of a mosquito net contraption that's easy to make and could allow you to sit on your lawn or deck in the worst of mosquito times ~ without slathering on stinky insect repellent.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sit Spot Ear Envy

Humans have such duh ears! I am really jealous of wildlife who have decent sound detectors. In fact, I spent one whole session meditating, journaling and sketching about our rotten ears and my Do-It-Yourself invention to put us humans on a slightly more level playing field.

Here is the journal page for your enjoyment. I hope it gives you a giggle, because I had a lot of fun creating it.

Of course, as I was sitting out in the woods at the time I did it, I looked up (and listened up!) frequently to make sure I wasn't missing anything. And since it was a VERY quiet day, without any passing-through deer or brouhaha in the bird world overhead, and with nothing but mosquitoes pestering me, I had plenty of time to devote to this important page.

So, click on the image to get a readable size, and I beg of you, experiment with your ears for a few minutes to find out what I'm talking about ~ and then maybe even make yourself a decent 'Earing Aid as shown. NOTE: If you are a Grown-Up, abandon your dignity and try this.

All you need is one or two yogurt containers or paper cups, a pair of scissors, and some glasses ~ an old pair of specs without any lenses in them will work just fine. If you (or your kid) wear glasses, you have an instant advantage.

Cut the cup as shown, flatten it on the side that will go next to your head (a paper cup would have the advantage here, but you can just lightly squash a plastic yogurt cup with pretty good results) hook it over your ear, and slide the glasses on, poking the earpiece THROUGH the big end of the cup and out the "bottom."

And then, go outside and play. It's a lot of fun, and if you have kids, they'll have a blast with it! Especially if you do it with them. Try whispering to each other across the yard. How far away can you hear a whisper?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poison Oak is Turning

This morning marks my 20th page from my Sit Spot, and to celebrate, I herewith offer it up.

Here's something funny that happened. While drawing this I accidentally wiped a drop of "water" from my sketch page, not realizing that the water-droplet-looking-thing was poison oak blood from the broken stem. Then I realized what I had done. Duh!

Still, there's a wonderful antidote, Tecnu, a solvent which you can rub on, even hours later, then wash off, which nullifies the oils so that you don't bubble up like a pudding and itch like crazeee! So I continued to work, but I was hypersensitive about touching the leaves in any way.

Later, when I had finished coloring my sketch of the red leaf and the lower green one, and was painting the top green one, I happened to set the side of my hand down on the lower green leaf of my drawing ~ and SNATCHED my hand back up (don't touch the poison oak!). Then, of course, I laughed and laughed. I wonder what my brain was doing to process that. Does that mean my subconscious thinks my sketches are the real McCoy? Weird!

Interestingly enough, over the course of about an hour and a half, the poison oak "blood" darkened from colorless through orange, cinnamon, dark-brown, to nearly black where it was concentrated. The less concentrated area is still brown. I wonder if it will all darken to black.

And I did remember to apply the Tecnu as soon as I returned to the house about an hour after contact. So far, so good. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Prdibit In Sight

I tried an early sit this morning, getting out to my spot before seven, waiting in the dim dawn light with sunshine on the mountains in front of me. Read my journal page to experience my morning adventure (that's a slight exaggeration, but be kind to the poor puzzled sitter, please!).....This page looked a bit pale since I haven't yet had time to add color, so I did some "painting" in Photoshop before I saved it:

Below is the original version. Do you have a preference? (let me know with a response below, if you don't mind!).

So there's today's adventure. Yesterday I found a teensy stinkbug trapped in an Agoseris puff (like a big 2½" dandelion puff) but it had escaped by this morning. Ooooooo~ big deal! (:-O

Still, I am so enjoying these silent waits. Even if nothing extraordinary passes by, I feel as though by observing, considering, sketching and journaling I am more a part of the real world than I am when I sit inside at the computer all day.

Let me know what you think of the two versions above, if you don't mind.

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

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