Blog Archives

Break Out of Your Shell and Fly

Lately I’ve been painting birds, trying to do them loosely but not very successfully. I get too involved in trying to make them look like what they are.

 

A Song Sparrow singing by the side of the road on my morning walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This spring, a pair of Baltimore Orioles visited my Hummingbird feeder, bypassing the Oriole feeder that was also out. (The Hummingbirds use both feeders.) I put out some oranges and the female was very assertive in not giving up her place to the male.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a large flock of Tree Swallows down at Grassy Bay just before the bugs got really bad. They flew too fast for me to get a picture of them flying but several of them rested on some reeds and I was able to get a photograph to paint.

 

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Sheltered Shoreline

I have tried several times to do this type of painting but they have never worked out. This one, done from one of my photographs is the best so far.

I think I used every green in my palette as well as a few mixes.

Spring Tree

The black flies are out but if I keep walking I don’t get bitten, much. Fortunately, Thursday morning, on my early morning walk, I only encountered clouds of non-biting midges. I stopped to sketch this tree with my pen and added watercolour when I returned home.

It looks like many of the branches may be dead as there are no leaves on them. Or maybe this tree is just a little slow.

Shadows

The snow is beginning to go. There are bare spots in the woods and on my driveway.  The forecast for today is calling for 15 – 20 cm of snow so winter hasn’t given up just yet.

 

I try to paint a snow scene at least once a year. This is my second attempt at this one. It’s from a photo I took a few weeks ago.

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.

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.

Rocks and Waves

Here are some watercolour sketches I did on my recent trip to California.  I was there for the NIADA doll conference. We stayed at the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.

Early each morning during the conference I went down to the beach with my watercolours to sketch.

For the first 2 efforts, I did an under painting the first day and went back on the second day to (mostly) finish it. I added the final touches later in my room.

I had just started this sketch when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. There were seals on the rocks to my left. I didn’t sketch them as they were difficult to see in the shadows on the rocks. I do have other sketches of seals and sea lions in my sketchbook form other locations.

For my third sketch, I did most of it on location on one morning and finished it in my room later.
I was in the middle of the sketch when I looked up and saw off to the side a deer and her fawn just a feet feet away. The mother was waking away but the fawn had its back to me and I was able to grab my camera and get a few shots of it before it went off to join its mother.

All of the watercolour sketches were done with no preliminary drawing.

Earth Goddess

My latest fabric sculpture is an Earth Goddess. She is inspired by the colours and shapes of the ochre quarries of Rousillon, France which I visited several years ago. There is no mining of the ochre now but you can visit an old quarry.

Fabric sculpture of an Earth Goddess

Poly: Earth Goddess – Fabric Sculpture by Nancy Leigh-Smith

I took this doll to the NIADA Conference in Asilomar, Pacific Grove, California, where I had a great time and met some wonderful doll artists.

In order to facilitate packing and transportation I used magnets to join the legs to the torso.

Cloth sculpture

Back view of Poly: Earth Goddess – Fabric Sculpture by Nancy Leigh-Smith

 

 

 

 

 

I painted her with watercolours before adding the face features with  pastel pencils. I painted absorbant ground on the base before painting it with the same watercolours.

 

Face detail of Art Doll

Face Detail of Poly: Earth Goddess – Fabric Sculpture by Nancy Leigh-Smith

 

 

 

 

I spun the yarn for the hair on a drop spindle before sewing it to the head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I randomly beaded the light parts of her torso, arms and legs.

Beading detail on Cloth Art Doll

Beading Detail on Poly: Earth Goddess – Fabric Sculpture by Nancy Leigh-Smith

She is named Poly because she has 6 fingers on each of her hands.

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