Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cedar Waxwings

Our kayaking trips on the lake are proving to be very fruitful to observe the variety of bird life around.
A particular highlight was watching a group of Cedar Waxwings move from one small island to the next and feeding on the resident evergreen trees as well as taking flies and other insects on the wing.

Due to being in a kayak we were not quite confident enough to take our Canon camera so made do with our small 'point and shoot', despite this the photos will still be good enough to do sketches from.

I've never been lucky enough to see the visiting Waxwings at home (they normally appear around the corner from where we live!), but I come all this way and hey presto !

Friday, 27 May 2011

The 'Other Hampshire' - New Hampshire Wk 1

We have returned to New Hampshire as part of our honeymoon and have enjoyed the first week relaxing at Pawtuckaway Lake, exploring the adjoining state park and kayaking daily on the lake.

Exlporing the area by kayak has huge advantages and means that we get to creep up on the birds roosting and flying between trees.  One delight has been watching several pairs of Baltimore Orioles flyinng between the islands on the lake and we were lucky enough to see one close up in front of the cottage.
A Flycatcher of some sort is also nesting in the overhang of the cottage and it has been great watching the pair out looking for food, twisting and twirling in the air catching flies.  The nest is very small and is composed of moss and small pieces of vegetation.  Inside there are two small white eggs which hopefully will survive this year, as last year the chicks were taken from the nest.
 Baltimore Oriole                                                                       
One of the things that I wanted to do this year was to look for Slipper Orchids.  Previously we have always visited in the Autumn.  We have come out at just the right time, and as we ventured into the State Park on Wednesday, within two minutes we were seeing the orchids dotted around the edge of the woodland and in open glades.
The walk to see more ended up with us suffering for our cause and we are now covered in mozzy bites, despite having plenty of insect repellant on.  Anyway one of my dreams has been fulfilled and we managed to get some great images, although sketching was impossible because of the mosquitos.

As for sketching, I have started to get a few pieces of work done, which will make an interesting addition to the exhibition at Swanwick Lakes in October.

One piece of work I am particularly pleased with is a painting of some stones and a maple seed found on the shore at North Hampton State Beach.  There were not many other scraps to be found on the strandline, but I know further up coast there can be an array of treasures to be found.

I have started to use some of my Daniel Smith watercolours and the effects they can give are very good.  Some of those made from completely natural minerals have really good qualities, such as granulation, with other colours appearing as the paint granulates on the paper.

Other sketches have included a collection of bits found out on our first kayak and a sketch of the Slipper Orchid (Moccassin Flower) completed from photographs.

My sketching table is set up on the veranda of the cottage on the edge of lake and luckily is covered in mesh so the mozzies can't get me!!  The best time to be out here is at 5am watching the sunrise and listening to the Pileated Woodpecker making its way around the trees bordering the lake.

I'll sign off for now.  Next week we are travelling along the coast of Maine, so there may not be a posting until we return to New Hampshire the week after.  Cheerio !

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The 'Other Hampshire'

On Monday I will be off to the 'other Hampshire' - New Hampshire in the US on our honeymoon. As I have said before my art kit will still be coming with me ! So I thought that you would like to see what I take.

Most of my art materials fit into a folding storage pack, that I find really useful. I picked it up in a popular art store in the sale and it has proved invaluable for travelling.
Items include: brushes ( I do not take my best sable brushes), water brushes, masking fluid, sponge, craft knife, pencils, cotton rag, watercolours, lightweight plastic pallet and a selection of drawing pens that include fine -tipped and brush pens in sepia and/or black.

I tend not to take this pack out on a daily basis when we are travelling, but just take out the items that I need and create what I consider a sketching kit.

Included is a very small sketch book of heavy weight cartridge paper, which is ideal for making thumbnail sketches and colour notes. Rather than take a large heavy sketchbook, I tend to carry a few sheets of watercolour paper in a small portfolio. That way it is not too heavy and I can vary the paper I use to the subject matter.

I have never been to New Hampshire at this time of year before, so it will be great to see it in a different season. In northern New Hamsphire at the moment, the daffodils are only just finishing blooming and other wildflowers that we would generally see earlier in the UK ( or at least this year anyway) are only just emerging. One flower I do want to see are the Lady Slipper Orchids which are not uncommon, particularly the one called the Moccasin Flower or Pink Ladys Slipper Cypripedium acaule (Orchidaceae), that tend to grow in pinewoods.

Our base is normally a house on the edge of Lake Pawtuckaway, which is adjacent to a State Park of the same name and we often visit some of the Audubon Reserves in the surrounding area. For those of you that haven't heard of Audubon, as an organisation they are very similar to the Wildlife Trusts in this country.

We are also going to be travelling up the coast of Maine to spend a few days on Mount Desert Island, which predominantly consists of Acadia National Park. During the time when we are there, the Arcadia Birding Festival is taking place, so we will be going on a couple of treks and also a boat trip to identify sea birds and whales.

Follow the link to see what the birding festival has to offer:

Well, I had better sign off. I hope to post some of my sketches whilst we are away and they will also be able to be seen at the exhibition in October at Swanwick Lakes.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Kimmeridge Bay

As part of a very calm hen weekend we had a picnic at Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset.

It is an amazing place and when the tide is out the rockpools are fantastic.  There are also fossils visible on the surface of some of the rocks.   The seaweed left on the rocks, in the pools and on the shore was so colourful - like a rainbow, and even the photographs do not do it justice! (see at the bottom of this posting)

On the clifftop and edge above the shore there were also some lovely clumps of Sea campion and thrift.

I have decided that come the latter part of June I am going to spend a day at the bay with my sketchbook and paints, although I feel it will take more than a day to really cover all of the subject matter!