Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Planting Fields Arboretum Return - Part I

On Sunday my friend, Susan and I returned to the Planting Fields Arboretum for another day of sketching. It had snowed lightly (again) on Long Island so we needed an indoor location. And the warmth of the greenhouse there was too good to pass up.

The arboretum has a main room to the greenhouse and then several smaller rooms that branch out off the main area. This room was filled with lots of bromeliads and tropical plants. I am not knowledgeable about the names of the plants. They are clustered so close together it is difficult to sketch them and differentiate the leaves of one from another. You may notice a stamp in the lower right corner...more on that in a minute.

I then headed into the main building. In honor of Spring the room was decorated with many different  flowers like daffodils, tulips, and hydrangeas. They were odd colors to find among the other tropical plants and the arrangements were a little contrived, but I didn't mind. They looked pretty along the steps coming down from the entrance.

While I was painting a woman was there with a young boy. They were looking for a stamp location in the room. Apparently there is a stamping section in each room of this greenhouse for kids. The kids receive a pamphlet about the plants in the different rooms and then get to hunt for the stamp for that room and use it in their booklet. I've been there many times and never knew about the stamps. I did go back and find a bromeliad stamp to go with the first painting. There was a hibiscus stamp for the main room, but I wasn't impressed with that one and didn't have any room for it on my sketch anyway. lol

After lunch we headed over to the camellia house across the arboretum. They have a wonderful collection of camellias that grow in the greenhouse and bloom starting in February. They were well past their peak, but I found a spot to sketch a few with the stone fountain behind them.

Don't forget...tomorrow IFJM starts. I will make sure to provide a link so you can visit there after you visit here tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2015

IFJM Is Coming and a Home Depot Sketch

IFJM (International Fake Journal Month) is coming, and starts April 1! For those of you who have no idea what IFJM is, here is a link to some information on Roz Stendahl's blog. Roz started the idea of the fake journal month in April.
If you are interested in participating it isn't too late...just contact Roz at the link above or sign up of International Fake Journals on Facebook.

I have participated a few times doing fake or imaginary journals. I started with "Angelina's Life in Venice in 2011, continued with "The Magic Feather" in 2012, and did "Chevy Road Trip" in 2013. I didn't participate last year (and felt like I missed something). My ideas have been churning and I am organized and ready to start. I will provide a link to this year's IFJ on April 1st!!!

Now back to my sketches...
Below is a sign that this winter has been too long. lol Saturday we had light snow all day again and I wanted to sketch some Spring flowers but the only way to do that was to do it indoors. I thought about going to a local nursery but figured it would be too crowded the weekend before Easter. So I headed over to Home Depot. That place is so big it couldn't be too crowded. I looked for Spring flowers which they had in assorted places but most of the spots didn't have a place where I could stand and sketch comfortably. Then I noticed that if I went to the patio furniture section there was a nice display of flowers in view that I could put into the sketch with a few chairs and an umbrella stretching into the scene too. I perched myself on some stacked lawn chairs that were just a little lower than standing and had a covered bbq with a flat top next to me to use to rest my materials. Lots of Home Depot workers came past, two even asked me to move for a minute so they could get a box down that was on the shelf behind me, but nobody said a word about me sketching. I probably could have set myself down on one of the cushioned comfy patio seats and nobody would have cared. lol

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mickey Creating & Using Gold-Leaf

I spent 2 days this week with my sister, Mickey, working on several art projects. We did plein air sketches of the barn that I posted and worked on adding gold-leaf to our watercolor paintings, a technique that was demonstrated at out workshop that we took in Myrtle Beach. While I was waiting for paint to dry I sketched Mickey across the table from me. This actually looks a lot like her.

Just so you get an idea...this is what I was doing with the gold-leaf.
This was step one. Here there is contact paper on everything except the leaves that are covered with gold-leaf. It is a long process because you are always waiting for either the adhesive to dry and become tacky, or waiting for the gold-leaf to dry overnight.

This was step 2. The contact paper was removed here. It needs a bit of touching up on the gold-leaf before I can paint the rest of it. I did that already and it is drying again. I'll post it when I finish the rest of the painting.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I was visiting my sister, Mickey, Thursday and Friday to do some art together. Her neighbor has two bird feeders...or maybe one bird feeder and one squirrel feeder that you can see from Mickey's kitchen window. I had fun watching them and sketching them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Upstate Barn

On Thursday my sister, Mickey, and I headed upstate to pick up our paintings from the North East Watercolor Society show in Middletown. When we drive up there we usually stop and paint a scenic barn along the way. This one was in Florida, NY. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015


It has been quite a few weeks since I was able to get to one of my portrait groups. Taylor posed for the Wet Paints Studio Group in Sayville on Tuesday. She came to the meeting with her sisters. She sat on the chair with her hands holding the edge of the chair and her arms stiff with her shoulders raised. You could tell she was very uncomfortable having people staring at her and she kept moving, especially her face and her mouth. It didn't help that when she looked at her sister she would start to laugh. t thought I would never be able to sketch her. After the first 20 minute session she finally settled down and I think I got a fair likeness of her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beach View

Just when I think the snow is almost gone it pops up in an unexpected place again. I was out on the east end of Long Island the other day. You would think that the snow would be gone at the beach but there are still large clumps of it tucked between the highs and lows of the beach surface. That's what all the white sections are in the painting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Boat Yard

I've sketched at this boat yard in East Moriches before, but I enjoy this spot. It is a definite throwback to the old days...nothing is modern and things are never neat. lol The place has definite character. I was surprised to see that even in the cold temps we have had lately there are still a few rowboats out. Maybe they are ready for Spring. At least there were no piles of snow left in that location, but there are still piles around locally.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Divine Cathedral

On Saturday the NYC Urban Sketchers headed to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Ave and 110th Street in Manhattan. Of course the snow from Friday night was supposed to have stopped before morning, but it definitely hadn't stopped here on Long Island. My friend, Susan, and I decided that even though it was snowing lightly the roads seemed to be really clear so we headed into the city in Susan's van. It had stopped snowing in Manhattan and they didn't have as much snow as we did out here. Susan had about 7 inches and there was about 3 inches by me. (A 10 minute drive can make a big difference in snow accumulations.)

These were some of the views outside the cathedral with snow all over.

I loved this sign about "Spring at the Cathedral" that was covered with snow. lol

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine is an Episcopal Church which is actually also an interfaith center. The building was started in 1892 and is still under construction. It is supposed to be the largest cathedral in the world, but that is disputed depending on if you are talking width or height. For sure it is one of the 4 largest in the world.

Having lived in the NYC area all of my life, this was still my first time visiting the cathedral. I must say it is very impressive, and you couldn't ask for a better location to be sketching. All day long there are choral groups from all over coming in and performing for whoever is there. I think there were at least 8 groups that we heard hailing from all over the United States. With the wonderful acoustics at the cathedral you felt like you were close to heaven.

My first sketch had to be of a choir. I used artistic license and only did part of the group which I believe numbered about 50 students dressed in black gowns or tuxedos. Each group performed about 8 selections to the delight of everyone. They really had wonderful voices.

Next I tried to do some of the architecture. I was sitting in about the center of the cathedral and did the view towards the front door and the rose windows. All those arches were a nightmare to sketch.

I had a few minutes left before we went to lunch and sketched a young girl in another group. She reminded me of the Degas ballerina. She was standing so straight. I sketched her with a blue watercolor pencil, but I liked how it looked so I didn't add any water or other color.

After lunch I wanted to sketch part of an art exhibit that had been hanging at the cathedral for the last year. Our timing was a little off. It was taken down on Friday. The exhibit was by a Chinese artist Xu Bing. Here is a little about the exhibit.

Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral - January 2014 – March 2015
Over the course of two years, pioneering Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing culled detritus from construction sites across the rapidly changing urban landscape of Beijing, and transformed it into his most monumental project to date: Phoenix (2008-10). A feat of engineering and ingenuity, Phoenix is composed of two birds, a male called Feng and a female called Huang, together weighing 12 tons and measuring 90 and 100 feet long, respectively. At once fierce and strangely beautiful, Xu Bing's mythic birds bear witness to the complex interconnection between labor, history, commercial development, and the rapid accumulation of wealth in today's China.
The birds that were part of the exhibit were resting on platforms on the floor of the cathedral. They were huge and I can just imagine what the exhibit looked like with them suspended from the ceiling.

My last sketch was one of the archways looking from one of the side rooms through the hallways across the cathedral. It is so hard to decide how much to include because there was so much detail to everything.

We had about 9/10 urban sketchers in total during the course of the day. I think it was the first time we went to lunch and then met again in the late afternoon to share our sketches over drinks where nobody sketched at the table either time. lol I think we were just too overwhelmed by the day.

We are hoping to return again when the weather is warmer to sketch some of the other buildings and statues on the property.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

All County Paving Company

I have passed this paving company many times since it is on a direct street between the post office and one of our main roads here in Holbrook. I have thought many times of stopping to sketch it with the wonderful lines, curves, and diagonals. There really isn't a good place to park but I pulled all the way over on the shoulder to get off the road. I wasn't sure what this actually was since there was no company name anywhere I could find. I wrote down the address and googled it and it said it was All County Paving. Who knew?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Roasting Again

On Wednesday the Patchogue Sketch Club made a return visit to Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Company in Patchogue for our sketch outing. It was just too cold to sketch outdoors even though it was almost Spring. I looked hard to find a view that I hadn't already sketched. Luckily it was still light enough outside for a view out the window and down the street...and this guy sat and posed so nicely.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Old Dock

Up on the north shore near Kings Park is Old Dock. It is a boat launching area for Smithtown residents. During the rest of the year it is open to anyone. What I like about it is that you can drive from the lower parking lot to an upper parking lot where you may be further from the dock but you have this great view across Long Island Sound to Connecticut. I sat in my car to sketch with the wind howling outside.

Today marks the first day of Spring and we are having snow. It started here about 1pm and now (8:30pm) it is still snowing lightly. I don't know if there will end up being the 2-4 inches they predicted but everything is pretty well covered in white. These are views I took out my front door at about 5 o'clock.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fink's Country Farm

There are a few nice farms in Wading River like Fink's Country Farm. I was looking for something a little different to sketch yesterday and stopped as soon as I saw the truck. The stand was still closed for the season. They have some browned Christmas wreaths still hanging. lol I have to tell you that I did edit the sketch. There were two cow statues on the roof of the shed. lol Hopefully Spring will eventually reach Long Island and things will be growing on the farms. Right now they are forecasting 2-4 inches of snow tomorrow afternoon to welcome the 1st day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chinese Buffet

Last night my husband wanted to go to go to the Chinese buffet for his birthday. He eats more than I do so I brought along my sketchbook to entertain myself while he was still eating. I did leave out most of the other food displays so it looks a little empty.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Carmen's River Deli

First of all Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!!! Here is a photo I took when I was in Ireland. 
Here is a toast to you.

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks,
May your heart be as light as a song,
May each day bring you bright, happy hours,
That stay with you all the year long.

Yesterday I went out for a quick, local sketch and ended up at the Carmen's River Deli in Middle Island. I sketched but didn't eat. lol

Monday, March 16, 2015

El Toro

The other night while we were in Fredericksburg we went to a Mexican restaurant called Pancho Villa. Since we usually stay at the same hotel we had eaten there before, and I knew there was a lot of color and interesting objects. Of course I brought along my sketchbook just in case.  I had forgotten about the huge bull head that was hanging over the stone fireplace, so when I saw it I made my sister switch seats with me so I could face it to sketch. I couldn't fit everything on the page so I concentrated on El Toro and the objects on the wooden mantle.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gallery Night and a Sketch from the Road

All good things must come to an end, and so did the workshop in Myrtle Beach.

The last night there is always Gallery Night and the work from all the students is hung up in the conference center. There were 5 instructors this week and about 24 people per class, plus one class of independent students. People dress up a bit more for Gallery Night than the paint-covered clothing they have been wearing all week. We have cocktails while we walk around and view the paintings.

Here are some of the pieces done by Michelle and I as well as some of the friends we made during the week.

Mickey with her completed painting and one that is not quite finished.

Me with all 3 of my paintings.

Here are a few other people we became friends with at the workshops.











And a final photo of Mickey and me.

I am finally home after dropping Mickey at her house in NJ. Last night we stayed over in Fredericksburg, Virginia which was about halfway home. I was getting antsy because I hadn't sketched in so long so I sketched the scene out the hotel window.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Judy Morris Workshop - Day 5

The sunrise photos I am posting are from the actual morning I post but the text about the workshop is really a day behind because it takes so long to put it together. This morning was our last in Myrtle Beach and we woke to rain, so we didn't get to walk on the beach at all. I took this photo from the balcony of our room.

The final day of our workshop with Judy Morris arrived. For part of the morning she finished offering suggestions for how to complete our paintings. Later she also did a silver leaf demo. She loves using it in paintings. Many of her paintings are mixed media and it is fun incorporating different media in our paintings. We also had enough time to work on our own paintings with the hopes of finishing them. I worked to get mine done.

Here is a photo of me busy at work.

Here are the original two I was working on as they look in their mats. We brought standard size mats for our paintings, but I couldn't get both sides of the border to show in the opening. So I matted it so the border shows on one side and the bottom.

I had also brought along a painting I had started after the first time we took a class with Judy Morris at Springmaid two years ago. It needed a bit more work, so I pulled it out and completed it today.

It was sad to have the class end. Everyone was so into what we were doing and I know Judy had a lot more wisdom to impart. We made so many new friends and had so much fun with the people in our class as well as the other classes. We all stay at the same resort and have 3 meals a day and cocktails together each night. You become really good friends!

The Springmaid Watermedia Workshop photographer came around to each class today and took a class photo. Judy is in the center holding the sign that says, "LET IT DRY!" That was pretty much our motto for the week. I am in the blue behind and to the right of Judy in the photo, and my sister, Mickey is next to me.

Tonight is Gallery Night. Each student mats their work to be hung upstairs in the Conference Center. We meet up there at 6:15 for cocktails and appetizers while we walk around and view all the work. It is always so amazing to see the amount of beautiful work that is created in one week. Then we head down to the restaurant for dinner, and then back upstairs for socializing and dancing. I will post some of the gallery night photos tomorrow.