Author Archives: Nancy Leigh-Smith

Plastic, Cheese Cloth and Sea Salt

I recently made these 12 cards from 1 large piece of 140 lbs Fabriano Artistico cold pressed watercolour paper. I divided the paper up using masking tape and painted each section. Some were done wet on wet, others wet on dry. I tried various techniques. I placed plastic wrap scrunched up on several. On two I placed some cheese cloth; on one I sprinkled sea salt. These were all left to dry as well as the three I left alone. After the paint dried I removed the plastic wrap, cheese cloth and salt. One of the ones with the cheese cloth had no discernible effect. I touched up some of the paintings with a second layer and splattered some paint on some. I then removed the tape and cut the sections and glued each one to a folded 1/2 piece of 8.5 x 11 card stock. I had printed the backs of the card stock with my name etc. before cutting and folding them.

These are a gift for a friend with whom I exchange handmade gifts.

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Out the Back Window

I have two suet feeders because a few years ago one disappeared a week after I put it out. I bought another one and the next spring I found the original one at the edge of the lawn. So I put both out. One at the front of the house and the other hangs just outside the dining room window at the back. The front one is more popular. The back gets most of its activity when the Hairy Woodpecker is occupying the one out front.

This Downy Woodpecker is a frequent visitor to both.

Early Morning Fog

As the days get shorter it is easier to get up with the sun. The fog and the slanted rays from the sun made for some interesting photos. This watercolour was painted from one of them.

 

Yellow

This piece was started by needle felting wool roving on cotton. I then sewed various free motion shapes on water soluble stabilizer and once the stabilizer was dissolved out I sewed them on over the felt.

The subject was inspired by a tree I saw while driving to my cottage.

Watercolour

I walked my usual route but in the opposite direction and it looked very different.

Great Blue Heron

Last weekend I took a course given by Megan Cleland on needle felting animals. The course was given at Fibrefest in Almonte. It was a small class and Megan gave excellent instruction and demos. I chose to do a Great Blue Heron from one of the photographs taken on a morning walk. I thought I was finished when I left the class but since then I’ve done the back ground 3 times. I then removed a lot of it because it was too busy.

Needle felted Great Blue Heron.

I’ve painted the heron in watercolours several times and that helped me in doing this picture. The felting is easier but takes longer to do even if you don’t remove what you’ve needle felted in place several times.

It is now pinned up on a wall so I can look at it and decide if there is anything else I need to add or change before I mount it.

Butterflies

There were a lot of Monarch Butterflies around this summer. There is a field nearby full of milkweed and whenever I passed I paused and spent some time watching the Monarchs flutter from plant to plant.

Closer to home, I found this butterfly on a milkweed beside my driveway. I had to look it up to discover that it is a Pearly Eye Butterfly. I took a photograph of it and used that to sketch it using pen and ink and watercolour pencils.

Sketch of a Pearly Eye Butterfly done with watercolour pencils

I had taken lots of photographs of the Monarchs and milkweed on my walks but hadn’t yet tried to paint them when I found a dead butterfly on the road. I picked it up and took it home to sketch.

Watercolor sketch of Monarch Butterfly

Next I tackled a Monarch from one of my photos. I did the background wet in wet first and added the butterfly afterwards.

Watercolour sketch of a Monarch Butterfly.

Skies, Water, and Trees

I carry my fountain pen filled with waterproof ink and my homemade sketchbook with me on my morning walks. When I do an ink sketch I also take a photograph, usually with my cell phone and use watercolours later when I’m home to finish them. I also take photos with my camera to paint later.


The two watercolour sketches above were done from photographs taken about 30 minutes apart. One facing east, the other west.

The next two were sketched in ink on location and coloured in later with watercolours
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Grassy Bay

These are some recent watercolour sketches I did from photographs taken on my early morning walks.

Watercolour of osprey in nest back lit by early morning lightThe ospreys are not always at their nest. If they are, as soon as  I appear around the corner, they usually take flight and cry alerting me to the fact that they are there. They fly out over the road and then circle back and away from view.

watercolor of great blue heronThere is usually a Great Blue Heron fishing in Grassy Bay. It is shy and will fly away as soon as it sees me. If it feels safe enough to stay I usually have to use my binoculars to find it.

The picture I based this painting on was taken on a sunny morning. The light made the reeds glow.

Sketching San Francisco Architecture

Here are some very loose ink sketches done during my recent trip to San Francisco. My idea was to sketch these buildings using pen and ink on location and then paint them later with watercolours.

ink sketch of building in San francisco's ChinatownThis one was done in Chinatown. I don’t have much patience with buildings and so I only did the interesting parts and left out a lot of repetitions.

ink sketch of building in San Francisco
I liked the balconies and the fire escapes on this one but they make it harder to sketch. This building was around the corner from where we stayed.

sketch done with ink and watercolour pencils of one of the painted ladies in San Francisco

One of the Painted Ladies. The trees have grown up so you can only see the upper parts of the building. This was the only brightly coloured one. I sketched it in pen on location and coloured it later with watercolour pencils.

 

ink sketch of San Francisco buildingThis one was easier to do as I was able to sit down and so it is more complete.

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