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September 2010

Montana Prairie Journaling Part Two

RoseViewfinder DonnaSolo
Journaling is a solitary activity, usually. Even when in a class, participants manage to find a little solitude. On the left, Rose Toth uses her viewfinder. Donna Shockley, on the right, sketches at the edge of one of the ponds.

Time dedicated to drawing, design and reflection  will yield work worthy of sharing. Here are more examples from the Montana Prairie Journalers' weekend in Billings, Montana at the ACEC on September 25th and 26th. Click on the images for larger views: 

MargaretArt SandyArt1
Above, Margaret Myhre's journal shows a mixed media approach. Numerous field sketches will also be enclosed in her journal case.

On the right, Sandy Haney's delicate pencil and watercolor sketch attached to the inside of her journal case is complemented by a beautiful, completed journal page. 


BethArt   MaryAliceArt  



Both Beth Lee's work, on the  left, and that of Mary Alice Spencer, above, have a neat, graphic appearance. Fitting their own texts to the illustrations was well done by both artists. Shown here are Beth's pretty Italic calligraphy in a burnt sienna, and Mary Alice's "architectural printing" in monoline ink.


Below on the left, Kathy Hewitt, new to landscape sketching, captured depth, shadow and perspective in her full-page Montana scene with an added bit of writing. All the students utilized the helpful limitations of a 2" square template for their initial drawings.

MarilynArt  KathyArt   
On the above right, Marilyn Overby cropped her beautiful pen, ink and watercolor sketches so that her favorite areas were featured in the "final cuts." They are well set off with a bit of text inbetween and a finely drawn border.


Please click here to see more beautiful pages

by this group of 22 journal artists.

Montana Prairie Journaling Part One: 22 Artists Gather in Billings

The spirit of the Montana woman was in evidence last weekend as 22 hard working and talented artists gathered in Billings to study together at my workshop sponsored by Big Sky Scribes, the state calligraphers' guild. Eight of the participants were from Billings; the other 14 drove long distances over the plains and prairies to be there. From a wide range of skill levels came an outpouring of beautiful nature journal work. Working both outside from the paths and on the micro-prairie (shown above, with 4 workshop students) of ACEC (Audubon Community Education Center), studious work was also done in the classroom. Each participant completed several small journal pages plus a decorated case for those pages. The paper had been pre-dyed with tea, giving it a warm color that enhances watercolors with an autumnal undertone. Each student also did numerous contour drawings and landscape sketches on ordinary paper.

Photos from the weekend, with captions, are below. I took more photos than I usually do when teaching, so another post will include additional images of the journal pages:

For some, landscape sketching was a new and slightly terrifying skill to learn. Small viewfinders isolated sections of the softly-hued surroundings, helping keep the scale of the sketches suitable for journal work. In this photo, all of the viewfinders are a noticeable red.


BeckyArt To the right are three pages created by Becky Smith. Students varied their page layouts, practiced pen and ink shading techniques, worked to enhance color, and incorporated handwriting, lettering, and decorative capital letters into their compositions.

 On the left are Cyndy Aten's pages showing field notes, various monoline lettering styles, and a bold palette of colors. A unique heart-shaped stone is featured on the page of Cyndy's own reflective writings.



Edie Owen's pages to the right show a variety of layouts, careful landscape studies, and the addition of spatters and freely painted lines.

Please come back to see more examples from the workshop. I'll be posting another collection tomorrow. Thank you!

Destination: Stehekin, Washington

Legendary and evocative, the tiny community of Stehekin, Washington, is tucked in between peaks of the North Cascades at the north end of deep, glacially carved Lake Chelan. There are three ways to get there, none of which are by car. One can hike in (14 miles) on mountain trails, fly in by float plane from the town of Chelan at the opposite end of the lake, or, do as most of us do: take the Lady of the Lake II for a day-long cruise "uplake" and then "downlake," stopping here and there along the steep shoreline to pick up travelers. I took my tiny sketchbook with me and captured a few scenes:


The trip uplake is narrated just enough. One learns of the geology, the communities that have taken hold along the shores, the camping locations, and various historic events. As the ship is under way, fishermen proudly hold up their morning catches to show the Lady passengers. Good, stout coffee is sold at the concessions stand on board. Passengers move in and out from the bow or stern, catching the fresh air and perfect views of the mountain-surrounded lake. The strong engines of the vessel smoothly move the Edmonds, WA-built vessel along; she can take an impressive 285 passengers.

Chelansketch 1
When the ship docks in Stehekin, the Landing comes to life. According to the ship's captain, as soon as the Lady departs, the Landing (residents consider Stehekin to be a nine mile long community that includes the Landing, rather than a "town") once again becomes still and quiet. Moored at the end of a dock was a sunny, golden yellow and orange float plane, looking like an oversized, cheerful mosquito against the Prussian blue of the lake waters. We took the 45 minute-long tour on a cherry red bus that took us to several features found within a few miles of the Landing. The layover in Stehekin is a brief 90 minutes - not long enough to satisfy us - but long enough to give us an idea of what life would be like for the fewer than 100 year 'round residents there. A highlight: the Stehekin Pastry Company! Blackberry pie and a luscious brownie fueled us for the tranquil cruise downlake.

In the Golden Throat of the Lily

August Floral final


Last month I posted a detail of a watercolor and sumi painting I had started. As promised, I am posting "the final" version, although I'm not sure it is truly, finally complete. I think it needs something more, but I remember the cautionary words: If it looks like it needs something more, take something away.

Here is the text I have written: 

In the golden throat of the lily, and in the crimson folds of the hollyhock, lie the mystery of pigments - how from soil and water come such colors? A leafhopper, slim as a sliver - a green blade of a bug - leaps away. The garden in August sings and it simmers in color. The eye of the dahlia is a tiny sun, its gilded points lying in lavender waves. At this time, blossoms fade too quickly. The air is dry. September looms. But there are other pleasures: zephyrs scented with jasmine & honeysuckle. August so vivid, August so fragrant!

The painting is done on a full sheet of Arches 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, with Winsor & Newton paints and Yasutomo sumi ink.