Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Summer Workshops

My mom and I are doing workshops this summer! If you are in the area, and interested, let us know!



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nature Journal: The Rest of April

Our four weeks of spring nature journaling classes are over! It was a very interesting month since spring has come so late. I think we had snow for three of the Mondays in April? 


The Bloodroot captured my fancy this season. I'd never noticed it before. I love it's large white flower and its single leaf and the blood-red root which drips red juice.


 One week we practiced painting the forest (not so much green yet).


My nature journal pages:


Here's our classroom with all my posters on the wall and plant samples down the middle of the table.


I guess the Yellow Trout Lily could vie for first place in my spring flower affections. It's just stunning with its mottled green and brown leaves and bright yellow flower with red/orange stamens. I want to pretend God sends fairies out each night to paint the leaves in wet-on-wet technique with watercolor. :)


Here are more Bloodroots on a sunny day:


One day we stumbled upon these gorgeous red mushrooms which have several names. My two favorite names are Scarlet Elf Cup and Fairies' Baths. If the fairies come out at night to paint the trout lilies no doubt they stop here for their bath afterward.


Here are the mushrooms hugging the Dutchman's Breeches plant.


The kids were inspired by the mushrooms too....and the trout lily.


Here's how our walk looked on the last day of class -- such a huge change from the first week, and even a change from the third week!


Trilliums are everywhere -- I also love these with their distinct three leaves and three petals.


Mayapples cover the hillsides in great swathes and add quite a bit of green to the trail.


The kids all really liked the May Apples.


Some children chose to make a summary page for the month.


The Yellow Wood Poppies bloomed overnight.


The Large-Flowered Bellwort was another new-to-me flower.


We focused on leaf identification on our last day and matched the leaf shapes to the actual plants we found in the woods.


And look at this! The coveted Morel mushroom! This is from my friend's house, a few miles away. One of these years I intend to taste one of the special treats!!


And now art classes are over for the summer! My mom and I are planning day-long workshops for adults in June, July, and August and then I'll start teaching kids again in September. I'm already missing the woods.....(I need to go back).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nature Journal: Spring Wildflowers Week One

Despite spring being several weeks late, our woods is beginning to come alive with beauty and life! I went out last week to collect photos and samples for this week's first spring nature journaling class and was delighted to find six different varieties of flowers in bloom.

Here is the Bloodroot:


And the Cutleaf Toothwort:


And the Spring Beauty with its delicate pink petals and stamens:


After a two week break it was great to get back into classes with the children who attend. I had many first-timers this class and its fun to break out the supplies and the brand new paint kits!


Our first exercise was creating a personal "spring palette" of colors we thought we would use for painting spring. Our paint boxes have only six colors, but the options for mixing and creating are endless. Here was my palette:

Sample journal page:


 We talked about positive and negative painting this week -- negative painting is one way to deal with white or pale flowers. The kids really caught onto this idea.


I challenged the older kids and adults to come up with at least five different greens, preferably more. This student was brilliant!


The Bloodroot was by far the most popular flower on the table for painting! It really is a striking specimen with a single, large leaf and a beautiful, symmetrical bloom. The best part is the blood red root which is large and "bleeds" rust-colored juice. The Native Americans used the juice as a dye or paint.


The root definitely intrigued the boys!


It always makes me extra happy to see any work students have done throughout the week!!! One of the adults had this gorgeous page in their book!


Look at the colors here! Red roots, green leaf, and that wonderful negative painting which makes the white bloom just pop right off of the page!


Another version of the Bloodroot.


I walked over to see this student (our youngest) having drawn such a good interpretation of the Harbinger of Spring complete with negative painting! This was her first day in this type of class and I was so impressed!


It was too cold for us to attempt a nature hike this past week -- hoping the weather predictions hold out and we can try again this week!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nature Journal: Spring Bulbs


We ended our last session of the Winter Nature Journaling class with a focus on spring bulbs. It was certainly one way to brighten up these cold, winter-like March days.

Everyone painted their own nature pages but I also made a Spring Flowering Bulbs coloring poster for each child so they could paint it and take it home to watch and see when each flower first blooms. In case you want to print and color your own, you can download this Spring Flowering Bulbs PDF.

Each week I am fascinated anew with nature! I always think surely this must be the most exciting week. 

 In the adult class we experimented with masking fluid and everyone painted a little snowdrop picture.


We talked about "negative painting"  -- making something light in color "pop" by painting the background a darker color. This worked well for the snowdrops.

A lot of children enjoyed painting the primroses (not bulbs, but definitely spring flowers).


 This student painted a beautiful bulb -- hard to tell from the original!


Such cheery spring pages!


I've got to get some grape hyacinth's planted for next year! Drawing them made me realize I need to have them!


Everyone's style is different and I love to see the variations.


Now we will have a few weeks break before the spring nature hike and drawing classes begin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nature Journal: Birds, Nests, and Eggs

Last week we studied birds, nests, and eggs in my nature journaling classes. We focused on three of our most common birds here in central Indiana: the cardinal, redwing blackbird, and robin. 

The redwing blackbird appeared in our area about 3 weeks ago. We all just love his colorful wings. His female counterpart is a speckled brown and I wouldn't really recognize her!


The younger children in the class can often complete up to four drawings in the hour we have! Here is Laura's invention after she had painted the regular birds:


Since birds rarely re-use their nests it was safe for me to take a few nests from our woods for the kids to see in person. It turns out we found two cardinal nests in the woods. Cardinal nests have four specific layers: rough twigs, a leaf mat, grapevine bark, grasses. The nests we had showed these four layers very distinctly and I couldn't believe all the grapevine bark in use!


I always love seeing everyone's different drawings each week. I usually want to frame about 5 of them. By now my walls would be entirely covered.


In the older class we talked specifically about how to paint nests and eggs. It is always wonderful to see people putting things into practice.


I love how 3-D this nest became!


Everyone had fun with the speckled eggs.


A sort of collage page combining a number of elements:



An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston is the book we read aloud in class and then practiced painting eggs from. It is beautifully illustrated in watercolors and was the best guide to bird eggs I could find! I was quite disappointed that bird eggs don't appear in most bird guides. All the books in this series are well worth owning!

And that's it for this week's nature lesson. I can't wait to show you are spring bulb study!

Please note this post contains affiliate links.