Hiking Huckleberry Point, Giant Ledge, and Panther Mountain

tephen and I had a great day hiking in the Catskills today! He took the day off work and we hiked up Panther Mountain. The views from the summit of Panther are pretty impressive, but halfway up there’s a series of ledges, called Giant Ledge, with really nice views where we could actually see more. That’s where I stopped to sketch, both on the way up and the way back down.
Looking east from Giant Ledge
Near the summit of Panther we first heard, then saw a Blackburnian Warbler– such a brilliantly colored, beautiful bird! We’ve only seen a Blackburnian a couple of times, so this was a real treat. This bird didn’t seem too wary and even came down closer and sang just above us. We mostly saw him from below, so my sketch (done from memory a little later) is of that angle.
Blackburnian Warbler Panther Mountain 071017
This was my first time using one of the new soft-cover Stillman & Birn sketchbooks, and I am sold on them! I’ve filled many of the hardcover Stillman & Birn sketchbooks, but this one weighs so much less than the hardcover sketchbooks, and, at least with the Beta paper I was using, I had no problem with it being firm enough to paint against. 
Last week, on the Fourth of July, we also went hiking in the Catskills, that time to Huckleberry Point. That was a pretty easy hike with a beautiful view and many delicious wild blueberries. As usual, I sketched while Stephen figured out what mountains we were seeing, then I added the names into my sketch.
Huckleberry Point view

After today’s fairly long hike (6+ miles) I was really hungry, so we detoured through Rhinebeck on the way home to stop at the Matchbox Cafe, my favorite place to get a burger and fries. It was a great finale to a great day of hiking and spending time with Stephen!

Bear Mountain State Park

Today is Stephen’s birthday, and he wanted to go to Bear Mountain State Park. We’ve never been there, other than to drive through once, so we wanted to see what it’s like. It is beautiful, with the kind of rock outcroppings and exposed granite slopes that I love, along with fabulous views of the Hudson River. We climbed up in the Perkins Memorial Tower at the summit of Bear Mountain, where there are 360 degree views. In the very distance we could see the New York City skyline, rising above mist like a fantasy city.

We found a few quiet, shady places to sit and paint (me) and muse (Stephen), where we wouldn’t bake in the sun. Orange granite sloping below us, fragrance of pines rising around us, vultures soaring through the view… It could have been a perfect place to spend the day, BUT we realized that if we want a peaceful, pristine experience of nature, we need to go north toward the Catskills, rather than south toward the city, at least on a beautiful Saturday. It seemed as though the city had emptied itself into the park, and with the mass of people came the blaring of car horns, radios, and motorcycles; along with people everywhere and scattered trash. Oh well… we made the best of it, seeking out some less populated spots, then headed north to Cold Spring to have lunch.

Despite the crowds, we had a great time together, just hanging out, enjoying each other’s company. I am so thankful for my wonderful husband!

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

The Thinker…

Bear Mountain State Park Queensboro Lake
Queensboro Lake from Bear Mountain
Iona Island from Bear Mountain

Acadia Artist Retreat 2016- Great week of sketching!

I’m just home from a fabulous week of sketching and painting at Acadia National Park, mostly on the Schoodic Peninsula. Schoodic is beautiful no matter what the weather is doing, which is good, since the weather changes quickly and rarely seems to do as predicted. I love the softened atmosphere of foggy and rainy days just as much, as the brilliant colors and contrasts of sunny days.

There were three wonderful instructors who each gave us an hour and a half of instruction and tips the first three days, and the rest of the time was unscheduled time for painting– a wonderful way to structure the week. Meal times were great for sharing adventures and thoughts about art and nature, and a couple of times we had sessions where we shared and discussed the art we had been doing there. I loved seeing what everyone was doing, all very diverse styles and mediums, and I learned a lot from observing and from hearing how the other artists thought about their work.

During the week I got the wonderful news that our new granddaughter, Elizabeth, had just been born, which made me walk around the rest of the week with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. I’ll be heading to San Francisco to meet Elizabeth in two days, and have much to do in the meantime, so this post will mostly be photos of my work. I did very few actual paintings, focusing instead on filling two sketchbooks with landscapes and with field sketches of wildlife.

Click on images to see them larger

Meander journal of meandering through Schoodic -side 1
Meander journal of meandering through Schoodic- Side 2
Sketching at Schoodic Point while Elizabeth was being born
Masked Shrew (found dead on the road)
Schoodic rock study (on Little Moose Island)
Raven’s Nest
Field sketches of Black-throated Green Warbler and Eastern Wood-Pewee
Ranger Kate leading us on a geology walk
One evening’s activity- figure drawing!
Peregrine Falcon field sketches
Peregrine Falcon field sketches
Little Moose Island from Blueberry Hill


Acadia National Park: More Wonders all the Time

I can’t believe I’ve already been here a week and a half, more than half my time. I could stay here for months and not see and experience all I’d like to, but I am making the most of every day I have in this rich place. 
Today the wind is blowing hard and it is raining. The rain started when I was in the middle of a plein air painting, sitting out on the rocks of Schoodic Point, painting the tremendous surf. I’m not sure yet how I’ll finish that painting, but it’s likely to have some interesting effects from getting rained on.
Earlier this morning I saw the otter family again. They cavorted their way around the edge of their pond, then saw me and waited a while, swimming back and forth and sticking their heads up to look at me, making occasional squeaky sounds. Finally they came up the bank and loped across the roads– so funny looking! 
Shortly after I saw the otters, I saw a huge number of gulls along the shore, some on the water, some on the stony shore, and some in the air (all in the air when an eagle flew by). While I was looking at them, I saw a bird in the water that stood out as something different. Heavy, thick bill, very clear black and white pattern with a small whitish area in the black of the side of the head. About the size of a small duck, but with straighter neck and bill held out fairly straight in front. When it dived I saw a sharp black tail. Razorbill! Another new bird for my life list!
Below are some of my sketches and paintings from the past week. If you click on the image, you’ll see a larger version.
Great Black-backed Gull field sketch (he posed for a long time)
Herring Gull field sketch (also posed patiently)

Raven’s Nest- beautiful but scary place to paint
Rocks and Surf (artistic license with colors)
Rocks on Little Moose Island
Sunset from Cadillac Mountain
Rock and autumn blueberry bushes

Northern Flicker

A chunky, yellow-tinged bird flies in and lands on top of one of the deck posts (we made the deck with eight foot tall posts to hold bird feeders), calling with a loud wik-wik-wik rattle-like sound. He then flies to the suet and stays there, feeding enthusiastically, for a long time, unlike the other large woodpeckers, who feed briefly then fly off to a nearby tree.

This time of year we see Northern Flickers at our feeders pretty much every day. Usually just a male or two show up, but occasionally we see a female. I nearly always stop what I’m doing to watch them– I love these large woodpeckers who have such a commanding presence.

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
Male Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)


Blood Moon (Lunar Eclipse October 2014)

(I just realized I’d never published this post, so here it is, out of order and much later than the actual event, but the sketches were done while watching the eclipse that day.)

Yesterday morning I woke up earlier than I had intended, at 3:15, and was so excited about the eclipse I couldn’t go back to sleep, even though the eclipse wasn’t starting until 5:15. It had been pouring earlier in the night (we got an inch of rain in the earlier part of the night), but the clouds were starting to clear away by the time I padded onto the deck in my bare feet.

I watched from my deck until the moon was too low behind the trees, then I drove to a nearby hill and watched until just before sunrise, when I could no longer see the moon (which was about to set by then). I ran out of space on my page toward the end, so just took notes then. It was an awesome sight!


Wilbur in Watercolor

Charlotte’s Web has always been one of my favorite childhood books, and I’ve been wanting to play with soft color to build expression on a pig. We also have a family member who loves pigs, so I painted a small pig for her for Christmas and then painted this slightly larger version.

Meet Wilbur:

8″ x 6″
Available for purchase


I started this painting in Stephie Butler‘s watercolour portraits workshop here last August, but then got busy with life (a new grandchild) and didn’t have a chance to finish it until yesterday. I also often take a while after a workshop to let the ideas and instruction settle in my mind as I practice the techniques on other subjects, before I go back to have another go at the initial subjects. This woman’s smile and obvious joy captured my attention as soon as I saw her photo (by Steve Evans), so I was eager to paint her and attempt to share some of that joy in watercolor.

Delicate Arch

We visited Arches National Park a few years ago and hiked out to Delicate Arch in the late afternoon. Once there we sat quietly for a while, just absorbing the immensity of the place. I just painted this from a photo we took when there, all the while remembering the wonder of what that world is like.

Delicate Arch Watercolor Painting
7″ x 10″
Available for purchase