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April 2012

March 2012

From Salmonberry Blossoms to Sea Anemones: A Workshop Review from Padilla Bay


Drawing and photo by Libby Mills

On March 17th and 18th*, a group of twelve artists gathered with me at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Bay View, Washington. It's hard to imagine a place better suited to a weekend dedicated to drawing, painting and writing about the surroundings. The Bay, the softly-hued landscape, and the soaring evergreens against a dramatic sky provided plenty of drawing and painting challenge to the participants. The beautiful, on-site aquarium provided contrasting subject matter for our second afternoon. Broad variety in the shifting weather gave us everything from intensely cobalt blue skies to a full spectrum of grays as we captured on paper what we were seeing.

 Being at the Reserve on the brink of spring's arrival allowed us to begin our work by drawing the delicate but vibrantly colored salmonberry sprigs (Rubus spectabilis) collected Saturday morning and brought in by Mary Heath. 


Morning's work by Mary Heath

Groupviewfinder Throughout the workshop, page design was emphasized. To aid in designing, a 2"x4" viewfinder (we are all using them in the photo above) doubled as a template to create either vertical or horizontal rectangular spaces on the 6"x9" pre-cut pages. At the end of the workshop on Sunday, the pages were to be stitched together.





One of the techniques employed as a design feature for either a book cover or inside pages was fenestration, or the cutting of windows in the paper. In this example of careful design (right, and below), Nancy Liggett utilized a detailed painting of a salmonberry blossom, a handwritten poem, and a window revealing a watercolor sketch of the wild roses and a fir tree. Turn the page, and you see this trio of pen and watercolor sketches:

PBNancyLTreesNancy completed this pair of pages after the workshop was over. Reports are that several workshop members have continued working on their books and have planned sketching outings. One must continue to draw often in order to build skills. This cannot be emphasized enough. I am overjoyed to hear that the energy and rewards from the workshop have taken hold!

The object of doing the three vertical sketches was to do five-minute drawings of the same section of landscape. Repeating a subject will often lead to increased perception of it, the elimination of unnecessary detail, and confidence in being able to record something quickly. This was an optional exercise on day two.


At the Reserve overlook, I give tips on quick waterscape painting.
Pat de la Chappelle is surrounded by her pages as she approaches the time to stitch them into a book.







After gamely drawing while out in the weather, the group cheerfully walked through the breezeway from the spacious classroom to the aquarium. Open to the public, this room features new tanks for the intriguing creatures found in Padilla Bay. After sketching the breadth and depth of the outdoor vistas, the participants easily took to drawing the defined, colorful creatures in the pristine tanks. After I assigned two different page design approaches for these timed sketches, the artists filled their pages with drawings, then proceeded to paint them. Some continued the painting while in the aquarium, others worked in the classroom.


Mary Heath and Libby Mills sketch in the aquarium room.
Aleli Howell and others sketch creatures living in the largest tank.


Elle Romick rendered a fine journal page by including multiple sketches and notes, and by using a pleasing color scheme. 
Kay Reinhardt's delicate style was well suited to drawing and painting the Bay creatures.










Nancy Liggett shows her Bay sketch.


Rather hastily, because we had used all of our time, and after the books were stitched together and embellished with a few beads, each workshop participant showed her book to the group. In two days' time, an impressive amount of work had been completed by this dedicated, upbeat class of keen learners.


A special thanks to Mary Heath, Kay Reinhardt and the Padilla Bay Foundation, Anne Middleton. and Barbara Rozema for the use of her marvelous cabin!

*This workshop was entitled A Book of Days; Pages from Padilla Bay.



Feather and Bone: One-Day Drawing Class at the Burke Museum, University of Washington


Deer skullSm

As one of the spring classes offered by the North Cascades Institute, Specimen Drawing at the Burke Museum: Feather and Bone is now open for registration. Class will be held on Sunday, April 22, 2012, from 10 am - 5 pm. This is an opportunity for those especially interested in natural objects to practice drawing with me as your instructor. We'll be using the elegant forms of animal bones and bird feathers and wings as subjects. A naturalist will also be in the classroom to offer insights into the forms and functions of the objects we'll be working from. We'll pack in as much instruction and practice as we can in one day. Some art supply items will be provided so that beginners don't have to invest too much time or money in them for this short course. The central location of the museum, its inspiring collections and the one-day format will provide a novel retreat for the participants. To visit the Burke Museum online, click here.

 To register, click on the title above or the link below. Email me with questions!