Throwback to Santa Barbara

A very short trip to Santa Barbara, but I couldn’t leave without sketching the Santa Ynez mountains. We took the afternoon drive up into the mountains. The Santa Yenez start off as volcanic hills that then transition into well defined ridges. On a bright sunny afternoon they brighten up the landscape and from the top looking down they are quite dramatic. Even in the distance you could smell the sage scrub and see the patches of green break up the rolling yellows and oranges of the mountains. The early inhabitants here were the Chumash people. There are many examples of rock art, we only got to see the Painted Cave. Didnt get to sketch these as we were short on time. But a great excuse to return!

Here then are the sketches of Santa Yenez .

Fall On Campus Way

Fall was in the air when last I went sketchwalking on Campus Way. There were quite a few runners, some skateboarders and some dog walkers. The air was crisp, the grass was still green but the trees on the distant hillside were turning and the colors of fall were peeking through. I managed to capture a few quick sketches on a somewhat sunny day, but got drizzled out by the end.

The first two sketches are of an extended clump or should I say stand of some really tall trees. I’ve yet to determine what species they are, but their presence is unmistakeable as most of the area around them is open grassy farmland, and they stand sentinel at the end of the stretch. I was fascinated by their intertwined branches outstretched high above and over the pathway,

I tried to convey a sense of their height and the atmospheric mood – the first sketch was the reflection of the bright sunshine atop their crown done on my way out, whereas the second one done on my way back was when the rain clouds had set in and turned everything to an almost grey scale. How quickly the weather does change around here!

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From here you get a clear view of Mary’s Peak, granted there aren’t any clouds of Course! Once again the sketches were intended to capture a specific mood and not a photographic representation. It was a clear day but had turned cold and windy by the time I caught the sunset over Marys Peak, and of course the rained out sketch with the rain’s contribution is obvious!



This last sketch here is the distant hillside, and yes the light drizzle by then had turned to rain!

 

Santa Barbara

With the Santa Ynez Mountains as a dramatic backdrop on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other Santa Barbara is a sketchers paradise. Everywhere you look there’s a sketching opportunity.

Even on a short short trip I got a lot of sketch time in. As always I’ll start with the views from my window. A few cloudscapes to start with.

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And I simply love the perspective of mountainscapes from 35,000ft. It’s totally mesmerizing. I see fractals everywhere!

I’ll follow up with more sketches of the Santa Ynez Mountains, sunset on the beach and downtown Santa Barbara in a later post.

Blue Mountains

Continuing with sketches from a few weeks ago, the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s a befitting name for these mountain ranges in western Pennsylvania, for as far as the eye can see is all shades of blue and the distant haze, and just a pop of bright green where the sun hits the Valley! Of course I had to stop to sketch.


Then on through into the Allegheny Mountains and the colors change to softer shades of greens.

The Sculptures at the main fountain

Day #29/31 #WorldWatercolorMonth

Taking a break from nature and looking closely at man made stuff – the restored Italian Limestone sculptures at the main fountain gardens. I’ve sketched some of these when they were crumbling and patinad from years of use and had fallen silent. Some of them had stopped working and had been cordoned off for safety. Now they’ve been restored and look brand spanking new and are gurgling again. 

This one, the lion faced gurgler was always one of my favorites. Here it is in its new revived form.

Catching Butterflies

Well figuratively…

Day 27& 28/31 #WorldWatercolorMonthThe meadows are filled with life, birds, bees, butterflies, and rabbits of course! They’re everywhere, enjoying the fruits and flowers and seeds of the land around them. 

I’m spending more time these days seeing, really seeing not just looking, so I can learn the nuances of the subjects before I begin to sketch. For me the best way to see something has always been to sketch it, with whatever tool at hand. I started with the wildflowers, I now know more about the native plants around me here than I ever did before. This year I’ve just managed the few that are currently in bloom, and more are on the way. But then I’ve gotten distracted by the butterflies. It started with the Tiger Swallowtails in mid-June early July and now the Sulfurs, and soon there’ll be Monarchs, dozens and dozens of them fluttering about among the wildflowers. 

The Tiger Swallowtails and the yellow Sulfurs sketches below are from the meadows. The Black Swallowtails have been fluttering about in my garden. Last summer there were four in my backyard and I had hoped they’d be back again. I’ve already spotted five this year! That’s a good sign. 

 

Poppies in the Wind 

The last of the few poppies swaying in the wind as I walked by, turned my head, but it was the numerous seed pods that stood sentinel over them that really caught my eye! As the poppies dropped over from their own weight, the seed pods stood upright,  ready for the next generation to take over! 

Wildflowers on the Meadows

Im still awaiting the arrival of the Monarchs, the Swallowtails, the Orange Sulfurs, Cabbage Whites, and the list goes on and on… Each year we see more species of butterflies on the Meadows Gardens at Longwood. As the meadow matures and the wildflowers multiply and spread, the wildlife here has abundantly exploded! And along with the butterflies and bees, so have the birds and other wildlife. You are more likely to spot several species of bird without even looking for them. Or hear the bull frog in the pond below, and occasionally if it’s  real quiet you’ll spot the Great Blue motionless on the Hour Glass lake patiently awaiting his supper to arrive. The songbirds serenade you as you walk along on the winding pathways and quite oblivious to your presence. A walk in the meadows is no longer just a walk, it’s a passage through time. Although it might appear to the novice that these meadows just magically stay alive there’s a silent crew of gardeners and specialists that tend to it to keep it healthy and going strong! A big shout out to these great people hard at work who make our lives just a little bit richer. 

🔙Back from a short break 💤

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better – Albert EinsteinOne of my all time favorite quotes! 

Sometimes I just need to take a break from things to quiet the mind and focus 🔬on other stuff. So every so often I take a short break (at times it extends into longer than expected) – a break from social media 📵. Turn off all external noise and focus on all things not social media! This frees up quite a bit of time⏱. (Ever wonder how much ⏳ we spend on social media 😜!

During these times I “do more things that make me forget to check my 📞📲⌚️”

I take that extra time to read 👓(read stuff not on social media) 📚, or spend time looking, 👀really looking🔎, and sketching 🎨in nature 🌿🌻🍀🍄🐞🐝🦋🐠, or take time to converse with family and friends🗣👥(not just txt) 🙇🏻‍♀️

Over the last four days I did just that. I finished two good books 📚 👍. I did lots of sketches 🖍🖍and studies en plein air 🏕⛰and quite a bit of gardening 🍃🎋🌾- in the cooler🆒 hours⌛️ of the day of course ! 

I sketch and paint everyday regardless of whether I post or not. A lot of these sketches never see the light of day 🌕 beyond my easel or sketch book. No matter, coz it’s the discipline that counts, right! 

If you haven’t guessed it already today is #WorldEmojiDay. I rarely use emojis! So it’s quite a comeback from a break on social media, wouldn’t you say!

Happy World Emoji Day or 😊🌎🌐🌕📆 

Here’s my favorite brushstroke done @hirshhorn of Roy Lichtenstein’s brushstroke!

Tomorrow I’ll post the stuff I’ve been working on over my break! 🚙 (interesting, that’s the emoji that came up for break- car brake! Hmmm) 

Fireworks on the National Mall 

Day 5/31 – #WorldWatecolorMonth

DC put on a spectacular show at the National Mall last night. Fear of thunderstorms had the fate of the fireworks in doubt, but we lucked out and the storm and rain held out long enough for the eager crowds to get what they came for and then some! I managed to capture a few splashes of watercolor in my sketchbook in semi darkness. I did several of these and then I just had to put down my brush and simply watch, and oooh and aaah with the rest of the crowd! This one came out better than the rest so I refined it a bit. 

I might just post the other splashes, if I feel bold enough…