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.

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. 

 

Fish of the Reef !

Sketching at the National Museum of Natural History-┬áDay 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.