Sanibel’s Amazing Shells

Sanibel Island is one place that I have wanted to visit ever since I heard of it. This beautiful island off the shore of Fort Myers, Florida is regularly listed as the best place in the world for shelling. Where we stay in Florida is about 2 hours away and we just never seemed to get there. Finally, we had a day when Matt didn’t have to work, so we took the trip to see what we could find. We got up much earlier than I usually do, so I enjoyed seeing the sunrise and had to take a quick pic out the windshield. It was going to be a lovely day!Sunrise on the way to Sanibel Island www.joyfulwonder.com

Many things were in our favor this day and that was the reason we chose it. I had been researching, especially here, about the best times for shelling. It is said that after a storm is best and just before low tide. Then there are also the factors of the moon phase and wind. Plus it is wise to get there to find the shells before the crowds arrived. Everything was just perfect! We munched on hardboiled eggs and cold bacon as we drove the miles to this famous beach. Would we find anything? I’ve been to several beaches where I never found a whole shell. I was excited to see if this beach would live up to its reputation. We were early enough to find parking for our huge truck, Sherman, but we were definitely not the first ones there. I should have gotten up earlier. Maybe all the shells were already taken. Here was my first glimpse of Sanibel Island’s beach.Lighthouse beach at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It sure looked like there was a lot of something on the beach. I ran down and started looking. There were a LOT of shells! I picked a pretty one up, but the animal was still living it. One rule of shelling is to let the ones with live animals alone. So, I put him back on the sand. I picked up another one. Yikes, another animal! The shells were beautiful, but partly because they were still occupied and useful to their owners. I was getting an education on what these fascinating creatures were like. This shell, called a tulip shell, was just gorgeous…and still occupied.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We always chat with the other people on the beach and we were privileged to meet Ken. He volunteers at the shell museum on Sanibel Island and was a wealth of information. He explained which shells were more rare than others. I joked with him that I planned to find a junonia shell. He looked at me like I was crazy since those shells aren’t found very often. I’ve heard they are found once a week, but Matt said once a season. Anyway, Ken said I probably should have gotten to the beach a bit earlier than 8 am to get a junonia. Here he is holding some tulip shells.photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

While chatting with him, I found a tulip with another shell hanging on to it. He told me to take a photo of it. I had found a tulip animal eating the animal from another shell and Ken said you didn’t see that very often.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We saw many other types of shells too. Scallops, penshells, olives, fighting conchs, clam. Matt found a horse conch shell which is the Florida state shell. It still had its bright orange gastropod occupant.Horse Conch shell with gastropod photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There were so many shells most of which still had live critters in them. We did find a few without, but were starting to wish we could find a large empty shell. The tide was at it’s lowest and Ken had explained that a sandbar would become accessible. We tried to hurry over to it, but by the time we got there, many others had been there before us. There were indeed many shells, but every single one of them had already been turned and left because they were live. I wondered what treasures the early birds had found before us. Matt found a big horse conch that had a hermit crab in it and decided to move it for me to take a photo. It slipped from his hand to the sand and when he picked it back up, the crab fell out of the shell. It was not alive. The shell was ours! Horse Conch shell on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

After shelling for a couple hours, we decided to get a geocache. There was one close to the Sanibel Lighthouse.Sanibel Lighthouse photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Matt found it quickly. His first geocache of 2016!Matt geocaching photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I decided to look at the beach right at the lighthouse. It was even more cluttered with shells than the other part we had been on. Look at all the fighting conch shells.Shells at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The beach was just covered with stuff and the birds were feasting.Beach on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

But it was time to go on. I still wanted to see the shell museum: Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Here I was able to see the elusive junonia shell. Probably the only ones I’ll ever see.Junonia Shells photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And we saw record breaking shells. Matt at the museum photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Lion’s paw shells were another that I would have loved to find on the beach, but at least I saw them at the museum.Lion's paws and angel's wings photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We took a break from the exhibits and went to two different talks they had there. I learned so much about shells and the animals that made them. Really fascinating. I’d highly recommend the museum. After the talks, we saw shell art. Cameos.Cameo photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Cameo photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And Sailors ValentinesSailors Valentine photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

But it was getting late and we had a two hour drive yet to do. It was time to go back to our camper and see what we had shoved into our bags while on the beach. Here is our haul.Sanibel Shells photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Did I have a great time at Sanibel? Yes! Did it live up to its reputation? It was amazing! Do I want to go again sometime? You bet!!Janine with shells from Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

 

My Birthday, Creativity and Gasparilla State Park

Some friends tell me that they don’t want to hear about our adventures here in Florida while they are freezing back at home. But I know there are a few that love to look at photos of a warmer place during the winter. Plus, please know that I really just wish you were all down here with me! That said, I had a lovely birthday here in Sarasota. My parents treated Matt and me to the circus. At the circus

The entire show was amazing, but my favorite was watching the Wallendas perform. You may know of Nik Wallenda, the famous tight rope artist that has crossed Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. But he is part of the Flying Wallendas, an incredible family of acrobats.Wallendas

Before the circus started and during the break, videos were shown about the Wallendas including one of them performing a seven-person chair pyramid in 1962. As we watched the video, we saw one of the Wallendas falter and the whole pyramid collapse. Three people died and two were severely injured in this fall since they perform with no nets. These videos certainly had us all prepared to watch this talented family! I must admit, it was thrilling and yet utterly frightening to see them perform the seven-person chair pyramid for us. Nik’s mother, Delilah, is the one standing on the chair. That woman must be at least  in her 50’s! They asked that everyone be quiet while the Wallendas performed the pyramid and I’m sure I held my breath the whole time.The Flying Wallendas seven-person chair pyramid

The circus was a few days before my actual birthday, so my hubby took me out for dinner at Marina Jack’s. Oh, how lovely to watch the sunset over the water, birds fly and dive for fish, and dolphins swimming. And the scallop dinner was scrumptious!Marina Jack's

Most of the time we’ve been here it has been cold and rainy, but last weekend’s weather was finally the kind we came down for. It started out with a lovely sunset on Friday night which included an unusual conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars. Mars is a bit difficult to see in the photo, but it is there just up and to the right of Venus.Conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars

While searching for a new place to ride bikes, I came across Gasparilla State Park. It was an hour drive away, but so worth it!DSC_1182

We have never seen a beach with so many shells.DSC_1187

Matt went out into the water and found this shell. It was still housing a creature, so we threw it back.DSC_1181

I took a break from the treasure hunt on a bed of shells.DSC_1196

We had come here for a bike ride and so far I had been completely distracted by the shells! We did ride for 6 miles and found a geocache at the range light.DSC_1202 DSC_1203

Our trusty bikes waited for us under a palm.Our bikes

We were set to go on an adventure with my folks the next day back to Fort DeSoto. But I was in love with Gasparilla State Park! So the next day, we took Mom, Dad and our friends, Ray and Nita, back to the island. We hadn’t gotten to see the light house, but we did this time.DSC_1219

You know I love lighthouses! Well, even though this one is quite squatty, it still offered a wonderful view.DSC_1211

We all had fun shelling. Here is just a part of my treasure. I’m contemplating what crafty thing to do with them.My shells

And speaking of creativity, I’ve been busy, as usual. There was a craft/art show here in the RV park. My jewelry was well received as well as Matt and Dad’s 3D printed projects.Art show at the RV park

I finished the punch needle owl project. After looking for a frame, I ended up buying a canvas, ribbon and push pins. Instead of a $30 frame, I spent $6 and like it a whole lot better.punch needle project

After deciding NOT to bring my rug hooking materials with me on this trip, that’s all I wanted to do! So, here is a new rug project I’m working on.rug project

Finally, I’ve been loving doing the Bible Art Challenge. What a wonderful way to spend time with God and contemplate his goodness. This one is for John 3:16. I wanted to illustrate that God’s great love for all mankind led to his sacrifice for us.John 3:16

Then we studied I Corinthians 13. Here I focused on the words about true love.Love never ends

I John speaks a lot about love, especially God’s perfect love for us and how we should love each other. I have watched bluebirds and they look out for one another in such a tender way. Perfect love

So, I think we are all caught up! Today, I might make yet another trip to the craft store. I’m filled with ideas for those shells! Hope you all stay warm and happy wherever you are and remember God loves you more than you’ll ever know!  Please leave me a comment! 🙂

Windmills, Delft and Lighthouses

Our seven week trip to the mid-west was nearing an end, but I had one more town I wanted to visit: Holland, Michigan. With my maiden name being Updyke, I have always been interested in all things Dutch. Since I doubt I will ever get to the Netherlands, I decided that we would go to Holland. Plus, we needed to capture a lighthouse along Lake Michigan. We settled into the Oak Grove Resort Campground and decided to find Big Red. It was nearby and there were bike paths, so we peddled our way to the shore.Big Red Lighthouse, MichiganWhat a beautiful area! There were bike paths everywhere. We found a few geocaches and Matt took a photo of me in my new hoodie. We had found it in Leland and in my quest for more color, I couldn’t resist it.New HoodieI saw this building in the distance and took a quick pic. Isn’t it marvelous? I never did find out if it was a home or a business.DSC_9329One more day in Holland made it possible to explore Windmill Island. I was eager to see De Zwaan, the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States.  This 125 foot tall windmill is 250 years old and still grinds grain today.DSC_9382 2 De Zwaan means “the swan” or “graceful bird” and it looked beautiful against the striking sky.De ZwaanDelft, the blue and white pottery, was another interest that brought us to Holland. I remember calling a crewel piece I had made delft and our son thought I made up a word! Actually, our sons have accused me of inventing that word ever since. But no, it is blue and white pottery that was originally made in Delft, Netherlands since 1512. I was intrigued by it because of the family heritage and had heard that there was a Delft factory in Holland, Michigan. DSC_9348 2

DSC_9375 2I was hoping that we would be able to tour the factory to see how Delftware was made and sure enough we could! Deb spent quite a long time explaining the process. She obviously loved working there and appreciated that all the methods they used were authentic.DSC_9349 2This photo shows each step of the process.DSC_9352 2Every piece of delftware in Veldheer’s Delft Factory is completely handpainted. Even pieces that are imported from the Netherlands are often not hand painted. Bonnie has been painting delftware at Veldheer’s for 35 years!DSC_9369 2They also acquired equipment from the Netherlands to make wooden shoes. Travis demonstrated the machinery and explained that the shoes were made from green wood, poplar and willow. DSC_9361 2We bought a shoe as a souvenir and Thoa decorated it by woodburning our name onto it. DSC_9370 2In the shop, I found this tee shirt. I’ve heard my dad say this many a time!DSC_9373 4As much as I loved being around all those Dutch things, it was time to keep going. We had one more stop. I still needed a lighthouse along Lake Erie to complete getting ones at all the lakes. We stopped at Sandusky, Ohio. Our day at Marblehead Lighthouse was beautiful and relaxing.DSC_9420 2e DSC_9441 2c

We could see Cedar Point amusement park across the water. That’s the closest we got though.DSC_9427 2It was finally time to go home! What a glorious excursion; seven weeks of adventure. We often spoke that getting our 5th wheel camper was one of the best things we have ever done. Traveling is a challenge with my dietary restrictions. But with a roving kitchen, that problem is solved. In seven weeks, we ate out only once. What a blessing to be able to be together, exploring our great country! One that we will never take for granted. Until the next trip, peace to you!DSC_8277 2

Mackinac Island: A Step Back in Time

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? I have. I’ve thought I would have fit better in the horse and buggy days when life was much slower. But then I’d think more about it and decided that I probably would have been one of those wives that wouldn’t have made it on the Oregon Trail. So, I’ll stick to traveling with our rig! Our next stop was just over the bridge to the mitten of Michigan and then to an island that is a bit like stepping back in time, Mackinac Island.Mackinac Bridge

First we crossed the Mackinac Bridge, the Mighty Mac. This 5 mile long suspension bridge is the longest one with two towers in the western hemisphere. I was a bit apprehensive about driving the rig over this bridge. That is a long time to be over water and I wondered if that would freak me out a bit. We started over the bridge and I realized that I would have to deal with another unsavory driving issue: construction. Now, I don’t have any idea what the bridge is usually like since I have only crossed it this once, but our direction was down to one lane and that lane had a metal grating sort of thing to drive on. This surface was not easy to drive on as it pulled and shifted the truck and camper. So much was I focusing on keeping the rig in the middle of the lane, that I had no time to notice how long we were over the water. We did reach our next campground, Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground, on the lower peninsula in Mackinaw City. I loved our spot on Lake Huron with a view of the bridge.Mighty Mac

It looked beautiful in the sunset too!sunset with Mighty Mac

Our next day was a work day and I had laundry to do. I guess I’ve gotten sort of spoiled and thought every highly rated campground had laundry facilities. But this one did not because of waste water restrictions. So, it was time to wander off by myself. Thankfully, the laundromat was clean and right near a lighthouse I wanted to see. I had made it my goal to see a lighthouse by each Great Lake. I’m not sure if Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is technically on Lake Huron, but I’m counting it as my Lake Huron lighthouse. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Finally, we had a free day to explore and Mackinac Island was our destination. I had heard lots of good things about this island. No motorized vehicles, except emergency ones, are allowed on the island. This sounded like my kind of place. First we needed to ride the ferry. We chose the fast one that shot water out the back.Ferry to Mackinac Island

As we flew along, I shot a quick pic of this pretty little lighthouse through the window. Maybe the Round Island Lighthouse could be my Lake Huron lighthouse? Round Island Lighthouse

As we docked on Mackinac Island, Matt and I debated as to how to spend our day. Would we walk everywhere, hire a horse drawn carriage or rent a bike? Biking sounded like the most fun, so we rented 3 speed cruisers and took off. What a beautiful 8 mile ride around the edge of the island.Biking on Mackinac island

We stopped many times for beautiful sights along the way. We climbed 207 steps in order to see Arch Rock and it was worth it!Arch Rock on Mackinac island

Building cairns were encouraged in the biking literature. We had seen these rock formations in so many places on our travels, but we had yet to build one. It was past time.Our cairn on Mackinac Island

Of course there were geocaches along the way and my crazy man tried on sunglasses that were in one cache. Looks great, don’t you think?My geocaching man

We found our 600th geocache on Mackinac Island! Our 600th geocache!

So we celebrated it with a kiss.A kiss on Mackinac Island

On we biked and came to a stone marker. I had read that this island was the filming place for a movie that I had enjoyed when it came out in 1980, Somewhere in Time. The main character did step back in time and it was all on Mackinac Island. When I first saw the movie, I remember thinking that I wanted to see this beautiful place. Now, I was here, in the very spot where Jane Seymour said to Christopher Reeves, “Is it you?”Somewhere in Time marker on Mackinac Island

I must admit that my memory of that specific event was sketchy, but I watched the movie a couple days ago, and it was fun to see that these trees are just like this in the movie, but a bit smaller.Somewhere in Time trees

We had to see the beautiful hotel where most of the movie took place. We turned in our bikes and hiked up the hill to see the Grand Hotel with it’s 660 feet of porch. That’s the world’s longest, and I dare say, most elegant porch!The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

I did indeed feel as if I had stepped back in time as I watched the hotel’s horse drawn carriage approach.DSC_9137 2 DSC_9140 2 DSC_9139 2

We finished the day with some fresh fish from Lake Michigan, lake trout. As we paid for the fish the man asked where we were from. When we said Maryland, he was shocked. “In my 30 some years of working here, I’ve never served anyone from Maryland!” He was not the first to be shocked to learn that we had driven all the way from Maryland.Bell's Fishery

But was going to Mackinac Island worth the drive and ferry ride? A resounding Yes! I truly enjoyed my step back in time.At the Stone Arch, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Pictured Rocks in Michigan

Rocks definitely seem to be the theme of our trip this time. I have never been to so many places that were this interesting geologically. Our next stop was Munising, Michigan. But first I needed to drive the rig again. It works out so well for me to drive and Matt to work in the passenger seat. A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. But with a mobile hotspot and cell phone coverage, he is good to go! Sometimes, I freak out a bit when I look at the size of the rig and think, “I drive THAT?!” It’s amazing how easily it drives though. Just take wide turns, brake slowly and take your time.Our rig

I’ve been amused by the different road crossing signs we’ve seen here. This combination kept me busy watching for awhile.snowmobile crossing

Matt says I’m usually right about things. But I should have listened to him on this occasion. We were eager to see the Pictured Rocks and I wanted to go on a sunset cruise for good lighting. I decided that we should go the evening of our arrival. The sun was shining, a bit, and I was eager. Sure, the forecast was for more sun the next evening, but I declared we should go. We bundled up, but it was still cold up on the top of the tour boat in CLOUDY 45 degree weather. This was one time that I wished I had my winter coat with me! I was glad for wool socks.On the Pictured Rocks tour

We passed a pretty little lighthouse on Grand Island. I snapped a quick photo as the tour guide declared that one of the lightkeepers raised 7 children in that small house. I dreamed of what that would be like, on an island, in cold weather.Grand Island East Channel Light, Munising, Michigan

Soon we were coasting along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lighting was not good for photography since it was completely cloudy. But here are some that I took.Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Water sculpts the soft sandstone through time.Pictured Rocks, Michigan

It is said that this one was frightening to the Indians as they thought it looked like the profile of a chief. Pictured Rocks, Michigan

We were surprised as they took the tour boat into a tiny cove. It really didn’t look like we would fit!Pictured Rocks, Michigan Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Trees were growing in interesting places.Pictured Rocks, Michigan Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Minerals seeping through the rock caused fascinating colors! Once again, I was amazed and awed by God’s creativity and beauty!Pictured Rocks, Michigan. Colors caused by minerals

The next day in Munising was a bright sunny one! Thankfully, there is a lot to do in the area. First on Matt’s list was to find a place to purchase a yooper delicacy that we had been told about, a pasty.Muldoon'sOde to da Pasty

Muldoon’s was a fun place and had friendly people too! Matt bought two pasties to heat up back at the camper. He said they reminded him of chicken pot pies that he had as a kid. Quite delicious.Muldoon's pasty

Off we went to find more beauty. Here is a waterfall with a lovely sandstone cave.Memorial Falls, Munising, Michigan Memorial Falls, Munising, Michigan

We drove along the lakeshore and stopped at various overlooks. See how nice and sunny it is?!Pictured Rocks

A beautiful lighthouse, Au Sable Light Station, was on my list to see. The park service has kept this lighthouse furnished and as remote as it was in 1910. One must walk 1.5 miles one way to visit the lighthouse, but it is worth it! We got there just in time for the last tour of the day and our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Of all my lighthouse tours, I think this was the most entertaining. Volunteers are sought to stay in the lighthouse and operate the museum. That sounds like fun!Au Sable Lighthouse, Michigan

Shipwrecks lined the shore by the lighthouse and some were even right on the beach. Tours are given in glass bottomed boats to see the many wrecks. But I just couldn’t go. Shipwrecks just make me sad.Shipwreck near Au Sable Lighthouse

Finally, we had to hunt for agates. We were no longer in the best area along Lake Superior, but I wanted to try. We met another couple as they looked for the elusive stone. Merritt and Susan wandered the stone covered beach with us for quite awhile. The men were intent on agates, but Susan and I just couldn’t resist all the lovely stones. Such treasures! She even tried to talk me into taking a class on geology as she had. “It changed my life!” she said. Susan found pleasure in knowing how all these different rocks were formed.Susan and Merritt

We got his and her pics of us looking for agates!Rock hunting along Lake Superior Rock hunting along Lake Superior

And here is our haul. We do think we found a tiny piece of agate. And a few more pretties! rock treasures

Michigan is a beautiful rock treasure!

Can We Please See Minnesota?

Since we were this far away from home in Wisconsin, I thought why not head on over to Mt Rushmore? That’s a place I’ve always wanted to see! Our original plan was to see something of Wisconsin, drive up and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then make our way back home. I couldn’t convince Matt of such a big change in plans, but then I started saying things like, “Well, we are so close to Minnesota, don’t you want a geocache from that state?” And then, “We could camp just over the line and then we could count Minnesota as a place we have camped in too.” It wasn’t much out of our way and compared to trekking over to Mt Rushmore, I guess it didn’t sound so far. Minnesota

Our first view of both Minnesota and Lake Superior was when we crossed the bridge and entered the harbor town, Duluth.Duluth

We stayed at a KOA near Duluth and then I looked for things to do in the area. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Minnesota. I hadn’t known anything about it! We were just a few miles away from Jay Cooke State Park, so we went to check it out after Matt finished his work day. First we crossed a swinging suspension bridge over the St Louis River.DSC_8254 2

Of course, Matt had to make it sway! But it was sturdy and didn’t move much under his weight. This park was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple hours before the sun set hiking the trails and skipping stones.DSC_8294 2

Then it was Saturday and we had a whole day to explore Minnesota. After a bit of research, I realized that there was a lighthouse nearby on Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse.DSC_8509 2

This lovely lighthouse is built high on a cliff that is made of anorthosite which is extremely hard and erosion resistant. We got to the park in time to watch a well done video about the lighthouse and then take a tour. The light station was built in 1910 in response to three terrible Great Lake storms in 1905 that resulted in 116 deaths. It was explained that Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and it’s water temperature stays around 39ºF. As I heard several times while near Lake Superior, “The Lake never gives up its dead.” Violent storms, cold temperatures and a booming shipping industry were a combination for disaster. Lighthouses were needed to save lives. DSC_8375 2

We climbed the stairs and enjoyed the view from the top of the lighthouse. Here was the view out of a window part way up.DSC_8377 2

The fresnel lens is no longer lit up, but it still turns.DSC_8379 2

And makes rainbows on the wall.DSC_8389 2

Here we are at the base of the lighthouse. A great view even without climbing the stairs.At the top of Split Rock Lighthouse

After the tour, we climbed down to the shore to take photos. Such a picturesque lighthouse!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN

But I wanted to also capture the lighthouse in evening light. We had hours to kill, so we hiked trails in the park to complete a multi-cache. We stopped every once in awhile to take pics.Canoe in Lake SuperiorTaking a break by Lake Superior

After hiking 6 miles and completing the geocache, our feet were hot and tired. Matt decided to stick his feet into Lake Superior. He didn’t keep them in that cold water very long!Matt didn't keep his feet in Lake Superior very long!

Finally, the sun was low on the horizon and I was able to capture the lighthouse in the evening light. Such a beautiful site, especially since it helped save lives!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN in the evening light.

Even though I only had a couple days in Minnesota, I loved the scenery and the friendly people. I’m so glad I convinced Matt to go! Guess we’ll have to catch Mt Rushmore another time.

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!