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.

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.

Fish of the Reef !

Sketching at the National Museum of Natural History- Day 20/31 – #WorldWatercolorMonth

A trip to D.C. always entails a quick stop at a museum or two on the way back, and this time I had an hour to spare and decided that a visit to the Reef tank at the National Museum of Natural History was where I’d spend it. I’d forgotten it was summer and that the summer campers would be out there and of course the Natural History museum is top on the list. Not surprisingly getting up close to the aquarium wasn’t possible, for as when one wave of yellow kiddie tee shirts left, along came another group in green and then another in blue and so on…It simply was amusing to watch the kids arrive like a swarm of bees, park themselves in front of the tank, squeal and point and chatter on about Nemo and Dory, and then just as sudden as they arrived, they quickly moved on to the next exhibit.

it was impossible to stand close without blocking the kids, so I found a spot across from the aquarium and tried sketching the exotic salt water fish. They darted about so quickly it was hard to stay focused on any one of them. My only recourse was to skip about the page from fish to fish filling in details as the swam by. Of course this means the paint dried in between strokes! Oh well, I’ll get to do this again soon.

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. 

Looking up from down hill

Day 13/31 – #WorldWatercolorMonth

The heat and humid of the past few weeks with intermittent thunderstorms every two to three days surely says it’s summer. That being said, the usual summer blooms on the meadow garden are a bit late and just putting out color. The  rudbeckia, coreopsis and a few culver’s root are out but generally there’s a lot more than yellow and white – there are purples, pinks and mauves, reds and oranges of the allium, Joe Pye Weed, milkweed, aster, sedge, fern, turtlehead, sunflower, goldenrod, verbena, monarda, penstemon, mountain mint, ironweed, and more, dispersed through the hillside on the meadow gardens by now. Still I’ll settle for some color any color on a hot sultry day like this. 

Brandywine Valley in brights!

Day 12 /31 – #WorldWatercolorMonth 

On the way back from the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum, I stopped for a really quick sketch of the lovely Brandywine Valley as seen on a partly cloudy day! The stunning sketches and paintings of Wyeth were still swirling in my head, and I was in the mood for a landscape. Although Wyeth used a much subdued palette for his landscapes, And subjects, I was in the mood for colors with a punch! What I wanted to capture was really the atmosphere rather than recreate the actual scene. To that effect I condensed the perspective a bit and tried to convey the mood that it represented to me as the sun sulked in and out of the stormy clouds casting a shadow sometimes and then taking it away…

Chagall – a small panel of America Windows 

Day 6/31 #WorldWatercolorMonth 

Paying homage to Marc Chagall – who was born on this day (well yesterday actually, but my site was acting up and it didn’t get posted on time for some reason!!!) 

The brilliant stained glass windows – America Windows or the Chagall Windows, as they are popularly know are a signature feature of The Art Institute of Chicago. They were forever made famous by their appearance in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

For me the blue of these windows is just off the charts! 

I used one panel for this sketch and used YInMnBlue as well as other pigments made at Oregon State at Mad Subramanian labs.