Watercolor Journaling

I’ve pretty much fallen in love with journaling.  Although I like to write and always thought I should keep a journal or diary, it just didn’t happen. Filling an entire page with words seem intimidating. So did art journaling, at first.

But, it’s just paper! I can fill it however I want…words, drawings, paintings. I might even start taping things into it. Some things just beg to be painted, like the man in the hat at the pool. I’m not sure he realized he was begging to be painted, but I just had to do it.DSC_0888 2-001

In trying to paint each day, I’m finding it a bit challenging to find subjects. It was time to paint the Portland Head Light again, this time for me. I felt very brave and sketched this one in pen first. No pencil!DSC_0890 2

Working from my photographs is really wonderful. It brings back all kinds of memories and is a way to notice each detail once again. This nuthatch was one that I photographed on Christmas day one year at my son and daughter-in-law’s house. As much as I love the bird, this also brings back fond recollections of our time with family.DSC_0886 3

Next, I worked from another photo to paint a building in Sarasota that reminds me of Italy. I got even braver and did this one by painting without sketching first at all. I added some ink lastly.  This one I need to do again, on location!DSC_0934 2-001

While looking for subjects, Matt kept saying, “Why don’t you paint the roses I gave you?” Those beautiful red roses of love looked really difficult to me. So, I put it off until they were on their last legs and then thought, “Why not try?” I laid these three on the picnic table and gave it a whirl.DSC_0944 2

Now, I’ll always remember the lovely Valentine’s gift from my sweetheart! So glad I tried it out!

One last watercolor to show you. I’ve been working in journals that are made for watercolor and thought they were fine. But I am enjoying being part of a artist journal group on facebook and kept hearing about Moleskine journals and how wonderful they are. I decided to get one and try it out. What a difference! I think I’ll be using Moleskine from now on. What better way to start the new journal than with one of my favorite creatures?DSC_0948 2

Have you kept a journal? I’m sure glad I started. Already, I love leafing through the pages I’ve completed. It shows a journey of art and adventure. Well, I’m off to look for another subject…

You may enjoy another post about watercolor painting here and this one too!

Searching for Sharks’ Teeth and Finding Beauty

After church on Sunday, Matt asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of the day. I told him, “Look for sharks’ teeth!” We just happen to be staying near one of the best places in the world to find sharks’ teeth. We headed to Stump Pass Beach State Park. Even though it was clear and sunny when we left Sarasota, we headed into a thick fog as we drove south. It created a mysterious, fun atmosphere and most likely made it so that we didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for a parking spot. We lathered on the sunscreen and headed to the beach.DSC_0895 2

Now, I’ve always said that I’m more of a mountain girl than a beach girl, but I’m beginning to see that maybe I’ve just not experienced beaches in the right way for me. Since I lived in PA while growing up, we went to Ocean City, NJ a few times. Each time it was really hot and crowded. I don’t like being overly hot and I’m not thrilled with crowds. And laying on the beach while my skin sizzles is not enjoyable to me. DSC_0900 2

But sticking my feet in the Gulf in February, now that I enjoy! I’ve also come to the realization that all beaches are not created equal. They each have their own personality! The beach closest to us here is the one on Siesta Key and it has sand that is so white and fine that it feels like flour. The sand at Stump Pass was grey and had so many shells and pieces of shells. It was among these pieces of shell that supposedly contained sharks teeth.DSC_0902 3

We walked along the beach for a bit over a mile to get a geocache. We had a hard time not stopping along the way to look for teeth. Could the black triangles be teeth? Matt didn’t think so, but I had the advantage of having seen ones that my parents had found awhile ago. I assured him that sharks teeth were black. We had much to learn and stopped to talk to people along the way. One man caught a Sheepshead fish. It had some interesting teeth to look at!DSC_0903 2

Lovely birds crossed our paths while walking along. I took photos of some of them hoping to identify them later. Matt thought this one was a Killdeer, but it didn’t seem right to me. Now I’m thinking maybe it’s a Ruddy Turnstone.DSC_0916 2

If it is, I had never identified one before! I love collecting new birds to my identification list. And this one, an American Golden Plover in winter plumage.DSC_0920 2

I’ll never know what some of these birds look like in their summer plumage! One more, that I’ve seen so often on Siesta Key Beach, but there it sure showed up a lot more on the white sand. I was intrigued with the soft gray beauty of this Willet.DSC_0925 2

What a gorgeous day it was with the beautiful fog.DSC_0929 2I was loving every second of walking along, talking to people and stopping to look for teeth.DSC_0912 3

You might be wondering if we found any. Well, yes! Quite a few. We watched as a wave came in and you could see them in the water. We quickly jabbed our hands in the water to grab the tooth. Here are some of the best ones we found.DSC_0940 2

And the teeth are shades of black. But that is because they are fossils! No one seemed to know why so many teeth show up at the beaches here. I’ll be reading up on it on the internet. Our really fun day came to a close. I set out to look for ugly shark teeth and instead found lots of beauty: birds, waves, fog, people, breezes and even pretty teeth. What a fitting end to the day, the sky on fire. Yet more beauty!DSC_0933

Practicing Watercolor Painting

Between going through torture at the physical therapist’s for my frozen shoulder, yoga, doing laundry and sight seeing, I’ve been practicing painting. So much to learn about the play of color with water over the paper. I’ve just jumped right in with painting from photos I took.

Here is one based on a photo that I took in Annapolis, MD. I thought the flowers looked so lovely coming through the railing.DSC_0854 2DSC_0839 3

Although I was happy with my sketch, the colors seemed to compete with each other. Hmmmm, I must make sure to keep whatever is the main object to stand out more. Next, I worked from a photo of a butterfly in my garden.

Such a gorgeous butterfly and flower! So fun that they were in my garden. I’m wishing I had left more white paper on the page. Also, I want to learn to add more depth. But all that will come with practice! I may try painting from this photo again.DSC_0846 4

One of the classes here at the RV park was teaching about mixing colors. It only took part of a page, so I practiced some continuous line drawing. Without lifting my pencil, I drew the tulips, leaves and bottle that they were in. I was surprised that they turned out that well! Hand lettering is a challenge for me. I am so used to typing on the computer. Maybe if I slow down when I write and think of each letter as art too.DSC_0853 3

I thought I had purchased good watercolor paint, but at the art class, the teacher told me that I had student quality paint. They seemed good to me, but I decided that I wanted to experience some artist quality paint. After pricing tubes of paint at Michaels, I decided to purchase a small palette of pan paints. These will be great for using while traveling. And who knows how long I’ll stay with painting anyway! I had fun painting my palette and making a color wheel.DSC_0845 3

It seems challenging to find subjects for painting in our camper. I finally put some fruit on a plate along with our weird blue knife. I had it laid out just right and someone came along and ate some of the slices of orange! Took a bit of rearranging to get the composition the way I wanted again. I used the continuous line drawing method again and as I was drawing it I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to turn out well. But, look! I’m actually pretty pleased with it. I drew a decorative birdie that way too. Practiced a bit more on lettering.DSC_0848 3

I want to work on painting some everyday. But on this particular evening, I was very tired and couldn’t find anything in the camper to draw. I finally just doodled this and painted it. It was a blessing to write things I’m thankful for around the outside.DSC_0842 3

Finally, I’ve always wanted to paint on site or “plein air” as the art community calls it. Since I now have a little palette, I decided to jump in again and give it a go. John Ringling made his home in Sarasota, Florida and I find the mansion intriguing. What better subject to practice on then one with lovely colored windows?! I told Matt that it was quite intimidating to sit out in view of other people and paint. Very vulnerable. But what a way to learn. As I sat soaking in the bright sunshine, I became oblivious to whatever  was going on around me. Total absorption. A few people did come over to see what I was doing and they were sweet about it. Some day, I will be better at it….if I keep practicing!

You may enjoy another post about watercolor painting here and this one too!

Love My Florida Birthdays

February is an interesting month to have a birthday if you live in the north. There have been many a birthday that included a snowstorm. And often I had a bad cold or flu. In fact, once Matt had to make me go out to dinner on my birthday. I just didn’t want to because I felt so sick. Little did I know that he had a surprise party planned! I was exhausted by the time we came home from dinner and was looking forward to going to bed. When we opened the front door, our home was filled with people! I certainly was surprised! All that to say, I’m pretty thrilled to have spent my birthday in Florida for the past three years. No snow and I’m not sick!

My day started off with this view.DSC_5098

What a great present! Those windows sure did need it. So thoughtful of my sweetie-pie. Then he asked what I’d like to do since he was taking the afternoon off from work. I really wanted to do something we hadn’t done yet here in Sarasota. But we have done a lot! I thought about seeing the art at the Ringling museum again or going to the botanical gardens. I kept thinking there had to be something fun that I hadn’t found yet. A quick search on TripAdvisor did the trick. DSC_5101 2

As in so many areas around the country, Sarasota and nearby Venice turned railroad tracks into bike paths. We only have cruiser bikes with one gear, so nice level paths are just the ticket. (Get the railroad pun?! lol)

We started south of Sarasota in Venice on the Venetian Waterway Park at Caspersen Beach. It was beautiful riding along watching boats glide by in the water. We saw many birds, including scrub jays and we saw this gopher tortoise! DSC_5127 2

The path led to the historic Venice Train Depot. Of course there was a geocache to find.DSC_5109 2

Took a bit, but he found it! Then we enjoyed resting a bit at the train depot.DSC_5115 2

We were at the end of the Venetian Waterway Park, but it was just the beginning of The Legacy Trail. We rode for about a mile on this trail, just to say we did. Part of it took us up on a bridge over the highway. It sure was fun coming back down. One woman yelled, “It’s almost like being in the Olympics!” as she passed me going down as I was making my way up.DSC_5121 2

It was time to head back. Again, I was thankful for the level path! I made it back thus completing 10.6 miles! Four years ago, I was so sick that I never thought I’d be doing something like this again. I’m so glad I changed my diet to gluten free. The healing continues!! But eating GF does make it difficult to eat out on your birthday. DSC_5181

Sharky’s On The Pier has a gluten-free menu! At this beautiful location, no one seems to mind waiting to be seated. The beach is known for sharks teeth, but we didn’t have time to look for any. DSC_5131 2

Instead, we strolled down the pier, watching fishermen try to snag sting rays for bait. They didn’t get any, but we were able to enjoy the birds that were begging for bait.DSC_5141 2

We watched dolphins play in the water and Matt thought this one might have a geocache in its mouth. But it didn’t. DSC_5132

A man was nice enough to snap our photo together.DSC_5158 2

We enjoyed a lovely meal outside on the deck. What a great way to spend a birthday, watching the sunset over the beach!DSC_5162 2

Yes, I have another year added to my age, but what a day of celebration!

Art Endeavors at Sun-N-Fun

As you’ve probably already figured out, I enjoy art in many forms: making jewelry, photography, mixed media collage, crochet, embroidery and scherenschnitte. I’ve made attempts at drawing and painting, but have so much to learn. My time here in Florida gives me opportunity to work on it. There are several free art classes here in the park that are led by very talented volunteers. I have gone to two drawing classes. The first one covered perspective.DSC_4953 2

The second one did too, but he also had us look at our hand and draw it. We had to start drawing and never look at our paper and couldn’t lift the pencil either. The teacher said this sort of exercise would help train our observing skills. Here is my attempt.DSC_4961 2

The class has not taught us any painting, but I really want to learn how to use watercolors. I ordered a DVD, but it hasn’t come yet and all my books are at home. Unfortunately,I don’t remember anything I learned when I did it with the kids for homeschooling. I decided to break out my little watercolor set and just give it a try.DSC_4860 2

First I played with each color in my art journal. It gave me something to do during the Super Bowl!

DSC_4945 2

Then, I decided to sit outside and draw the mobile home across the street. I figured it would be good practice in perspective. The spiky palm trees were more difficult than I anticipated.DSC_4960 3

I feel pretty vulnerable putting that one out there, but thought I’d just share my painting journey with you. Next, I decided to add color to a sketch that I did in Maine at the Doubling Point LighthouseDSC_4957 2

It was fun to add color and to think back on our Maine trip. I think each time I use the watercolors, I am learning a bit more. Maybe I’ll get brave and go to the class tomorrow where people just bring something they are working on and learn from others. Can’t hurt to go once, right?!

Speaking of art, I got a package in the mail. It was from Matt’s niece, Melissa. I have only seen her a couple times but we are facebook friends. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. It was something handmade!DSC_4962 2

Melissa said as soon as she saw the fabric that it just said my name to her! There are butterflies on the outside and look at the fabric inside. I love the words: cherish, be inspired, be joyful, be grateful.DSC_4967 2

It’s a gorgeous quilted tote bag! Beautifully made! Just perfect to carry all my art supplies to my classes.DSC_4950 2

Thanks, Melissa! That sure does make me inspired. Now, should I paint something or start a new embroidery project?

Geocaching Old Florida

There is so much to do here in Florida! No need to ever be bored. First, I love our new site. We are in a completely different part of the large RV park, Sun-N-Fun, and at first I wasn’t sure I’d like it as well. But we are closer to a creek and wildlife comes right up to the camper. These ibises had juveniles with them.DSC_4874 2

But who wants to stay at the camper? The first night that it wasn’t raining, we decided to run out for a quick geocache. I have a facebook friend that lives about 30 miles south of Sarasota and she suggested that we try to find a micro cache that she and her family couldn’t find after about 10 attempts. Micro caches often give Matt and I a hard time and we leave disappointed. I was afraid that we wouldn’t be much help. So, as we headed down the road, I posted on her facebook timeline to wish us luck. What a surprise we had when we arrived at the coordinates. Carla and her hubby, Mike, were there to help us look! As Carla told her woes of not finding it, Matt shared stories with her of unusual finds we have encountered. As they chatted, I looked while I listened. One cache that Matt told about was an especially tricky one. It was in a small hole in the ground that was covered with a bottle cap. Our son, Philip, had found that one. Still searching, I noticed a plastic cap on the ground. Surely this one wouldn’t be the same type. But on a whim, I turned over the cap. Guess what I found!DSC_4854

Needless to say, both Carla and Matt were astonished that I had not only found the cache, but found it so quickly. I was surprised too! Usually, Matt is the one that finds the cache while I take photos or daydream. I hope Carla is still my friend. She was relieved and sort of frustrated that the cache was found. As we said our farewells, they pointed out that their car is a travel bug. See that sticker?DSC_4855 2

Our first Saturday here turned out to be a good geocaching day too. It had been raining ever since we arrived in the sunshine state. But on Saturday, even though it was cloudy, the rain was gone. Off to Myakka River State Park we went with our bicycles in the truck bed. This lovely park shows what “Old Florida” was like, untamed, wild, and features lots of biking trails. Amazingly, there are tons of geocaches along these paths. Before we could park and get out the bikes, we saw several people out along the roadway. We stopped to see what the fuss was about. Alligators!DSC_4891 2

They were huge. The longest one was probably 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. Such amazing animals. Sort of remind me of tires flattened out with legs.DSC_4896 2

They must not have been hungry as birds came very close to them and they didn’t even move. Just across the water, men were fishing for tilapia. A heron was helping them. Okay, maybe he was hoping for a scrap of bait.DSC_4900 2

Myakka’s beauty is everywhere you look.DSC_4901 2

But enough of enjoying the scenery. We were there to bike and geocache. We cycled through a green tunnel.DSC_4905 2

We did find seven geocaches during our bike ride. This was my favorite, a hole drilled into a coconut!DSC_4908 2

Riding along, we noticed some hikers heading toward us. Suddenly, they stopped and darted into the brush next to the path. Matt figured they had to be geocachers. Sure enough, when we reached where they were, we found out that this couple, Caviar42, were the ones that hid most of the caches that we were finding. It’s always fun meeting other geocachers!DSC_4911

Here is another one we found. The surrounding sure looks like “old” Florida, don’t you think?DSC_4914 2

Well, I thought I’d write about what we did on Sunday too, but another time. Hope you enjoy our geocaching adventures!