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July 2009

Nature Journaling in the North Cascades: Two Photo Montages

How best can I describe the experience of four days in the splendid environment of the North Cascades Institute, located amid the granite peaks and lakes of the North Cascades mountains? I've begun by creating two montages of images shown below. I have more photos and information to add, but will offer these for now. My exceptional group of 15 Nature Journaling students got right down to the task of making their own journals using smooth watercolor paper. The moment the books became functional, we were off to the forest for sketching exercises. The next day, we were up into the mountains for a sketching excursion. During non-classroom hours, students were working in their journals, with many of them having numerous pages filled by the time Sunday lunch came and it was time to leave our temporary home by Diablo Lake.  (Click to enlarge ~ the captions will be legible that way):


One of the changes from the 2008 class's curriculum was the addition of a van excursion for the purpose of practicing plein air sketching. I wish I had taken more photos of the sublime views in our four locations! Thanks to Liz for sending me the photos of the wildflowers, especially. And thanks to NCI's Allen and Katie for cheerfully and safely driving us and catering to our plein air whims.


Psalm 98:4-6 & How I Avoided Straight Lines of Calligraphy

From time to time I'll still do a calligraphy commission when the assignment beckons. Earlier this month I accepted one that was to be given to a retiring church choir director (I've removed the dedication line from beneath the piece for the sake of privacy). The exuberant scripture and the request that the calligraphy not be on straight lines (how often does this happen?!) piqued my interest. Here's the finished work, with a few notes beneath it (click for a close-up view):
Psalm4blogA The recipient's favorite color is green, she loves her garden, and she also loves instrumental as well as choral music. Plus, she is relatively young so I decided that a youthful, lively rendering of this Psalm might suit her well. I first made a pencil sketch which was presented to the client, and after a couple of minor adjustments were made, I proceeded to the final artwork. While not having to adhere to straight lines is fun, it does require careful plotting out of the spacing and the curvature of the lines. The central passage in Italic lettering could use improvement, but after weighing the pro's and con's of starting over, I decided to carry on. One of my favorite things about this work is the turquoise watercolor I used for the first time: cobalt teal blue. The final gold touches on the lettering and illustrations are dots of 23k gold leaf. I used hot press (smooth) Fabriano paper, and lightfast Winsor & Newton watercolors.