sketchbooks

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I am still catching up with a few posts I had wanted to create, but didn’t make time for.  So going back to New Years Eve (yikes!) … some photos and a few pages from my sketchbooks.

To ring in the New Year, we decided to head to the mountains and spend a few days in a quiet cottage – with family, a warm fire in the hearth, and a little hiking.  Rather opposite of typical New Years festivities, with no ball drop and no glamorous champagne parties.  We didn’t even have television to speak of – just an old set with VCR and a few ancient videos.  With no internet connection or cellphone reception on the secluded grounds around the mountain cottage there was no email, no texts nor anything else – which turned out to be completely perfect.  We hiked, we played board games, we enjoyed wine and tea and coffee by the fire.  We gathered in the kitchen to cook  together.  We laughed and enjoyed each others’ company without unwanted interruption, which is exactly how it should be.  And so began 2014.

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The quiet days also gave me time to work a little in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, both in the cottage and while on my “nature” walks.  We had some lovely hiking on the Appalachian Trail, with clear skies, frost on the mountain tops – but the temps were quite cold with very gusty wind, so I didn’t do any mountain-top sketching.

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my thank-you in the cottage guestbook

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"nature walk" page - unfinished

I tend to be rather funny with my sketchbooks and journals … I concurrently keep a variety of types for a variety of projects (more to come about this).  As much as I have tried to condense things to one book for everything, it never works for me.  So for light travel, I love Moleskine watercolor journals and a small kit of pen and a few watercolors.

Back at home, I’ve been trying to expand my artistic horizons – trying out some new materials, working out of new sketchbooks/art journals, and even taking part in several online art classes.  It’s been challenging for me, but in a wonderful way. More to come…

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one day of winter

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In the South, it’s rare to see winter weather.  If it’s below freezing, it’s usually clear; seldom do we see snow.  One or two days a season – if we’re lucky.

For the first 30 years of my life, I lived in the North where snow, cold, ice and all things winter are the norm.  I confess that I miss it terribly; I’ve always been a winter person.  Someday I will return to live in a place where winters actually feel like winter.  Where I can ski and snowshoe, fish through a hole in the ice, watch the snow fall, and feel the cold air on my face.

For now, at home, I take a walk out behind our house and  rejoice in the rare beauty of this day – this one day where it feels like winter … a wonderful surprise.

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A Kauai Travel Journal (& Journey)

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I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but have been busy with a variety of other projects – many of them “on paper” things.  Journaling, photography, studying, sketching, painting, and even taking an online art class.   The fruits of my labor have just not made it into the blog … yet.  For today, I’ve decided to go back to a project that began in September – which I posted about, very briefly, in my vintage/modern travel journal post.  (If nothing else, if your weather is wintery-cold and snowy like our is at the moment, it’s nice to remember sun, warmth, and sandy beaches).

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Inspired by a wonderful travel journal and scrapbook put together by Melissa at Bursts of Creativity, I loved the idea of using this format for a trip we took in October and November (2013) to the beautiful island of Kauai.  The book was not only unique in construction, but was portable, expandable, and able to accommodate a variety of elements that I was interested in incorporating – from journal entries to photos to sketches and the typical collection of paper “stuff” (tickets, menus, brochures, etc.) that one always collects while wandering about new places.  Attached to the rings are souvenir key fobs, a landmark medallion, and a little cloth bag filled with shells.   As you can see, I think I filled my poor little book to the point of being a bit over-stuffed – but I rather like it this way.

a couple of on-the-go watercolor sketches and some vintage book pages

a couple of on-the-go watercolor sketches and some vintage book pages

underwater photo and vintage maps

underwater photo and vintage maps, journaling on a tag insert

Kauai Coffee: my photo and a brochure from the plantation

Kauai Coffee: my photo and a brochure from the plantation

Before we left, I de-constructed a vintage book of Hawaiian stories that I had found on-the-cheap in a local antique mall.  I partially filled the book with pages to journal and record on – a collection of saved illustrations from the original book, watercolor papers, writing paper, a couple of envelopes,  as well as some vintage Hawaiian postcards and ephemera I had purchased through Melissa’s Etsy shop.  But I saved plenty of room to “page-in” the many things I would collect and create while on my trip (the photos, brochures, menus, stickers, postcards, other sketches, etc.).

another on-the-go quick watercolor

another on-the-go quick watercolor

travel map, stickers and some notes

travel map, stickers and some notes

another quick watercolor, along the beach

another quick watercolor, along the beach

I took along a pretty simple tool-kit:  pencil, a drawing pen, a small watercolor palette and waterbrush, 2 rolls of washi tape, a hole punch, a glue stick and a tape runner.  I also took along a small-format block of watercolor paper; I found it easier to sketch/paint on the block and insert the pages later.  While I didn’t have any of my photos printed during the trip, it was easy to print them at home and insert them throughout the journal accompanied by travel notes I had kept on blank pages.

vintage postcards - with some space for journaling on the back

vintage postcards – with some space for journaling on the back

photo spread inserted upon return, with margin notes made while traveling

photo spread inserted upon return, with margin notes made while traveling

another photo-spread with notes

another photo-spread with notes

inside back cover lined with page from original book

inside back cover lined with a Glossary page from the original book

I also mailed a couple of postcards to myself during the trip – which was a nice way to write about what I was doing at a particular moment, where I was, what I saw.  Back at home, these postmarked and dated postcards were hole-punched and inserted into my little book – kind of an un-journal journal entry.

I loved being able to create this book quickly and easily while we travelled, filling it to brim.  It allowed me to enjoy all of the experiences of our trip with a minimal amount of time spent creating the journal.  It’s a great and flexible format for a variety of media – photos to written work to sketches – and I didn’t have to deal with a huge pile of collected brochures, tickets and papers when I got home.  I love the mix of vintage and present day in my little book.  But most of all, every time I pull it off the shelf I remember where I was when I was putting each page together … the sun, the ocean, the flowers and the beautiful island of Kauai.

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one of the most beautiful places in the world to reflect and record memories of travel … Kauai

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Appalachian

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We spent the past few days camping and doing a bit of hiking on the AT up at Roan Mountain, in the high Appalachians in northeast Tennessee near the North Carolina border.   The weather started out cool, crisp and sunny – but turned to clouds and mists in the mountains, and a bit of rain at night.  Somehow, I think hiking the Smoky Mountains in the mists is quite fitting of its name; it brings its own form of mysterious beauty.

Up on the mountain, the hiking was cool and damp as we were engulfed in swirling clouds.  We couldn’t see out across the mountains from the open balds, which normally brings some breath-taking views  – but mist provided a sense of wonderful mystery and almost a sense of disorientation at times.  Lots of backpackers and day-hikers were out, regardless.

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On the Trail near Round Bald, there is a memorial to Pierce Templeton situated among some rocks – with a Bat Cape tied around the cross marker.    Apparently he was known as Batman.  I don’t know if he was a local, a through-hiker, or a devoted day-hiker, or some combination of … but seeing the cape fluttering in the mist was both moving and a bit eerie.  Rest peacefully, Pierce.

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At Roan Mountain State Park we took some time to visit the historic Miller Farmstead.  The park was holding its annual Autumn Harvest celebration at the Farmstead, and we enjoyed getting to tour the grounds and the farmhouse, and also to parktake in some food and music.  A number of local craftspeople were on hand, showing their talents – from woodworking to soap-making to spinning.

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We enjoyed the sound of Appalachian folk music performed on the porch of the old farmhouse by a talented couple playing fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and guitar.

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porchmusic

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In the old Miller farmhouse – which was inhabited by the family’s descendents until the 1960’s –  the walls of the second-floor bedrooms are papered on old newspaper.  Remarkable to look at, and read the old dates, articles, prices of things in ads.  Apparently the papering was a cheap way to provide a little protection from drafts, maybe a bit of insulation.  As time has passed, it has yellowed and become tattered and peeling – yet I’m glad it remains.

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The Appalachians in the fall have such an indescribable air to them – whether you are able to enjoy the fall colors on a clear sunny day, or hiking through misty glades of rhododendrons and patches of autumn-red high mountain blueberries, traversing mountain creeks and open balds.  It’s a beautiful place; come visit.

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preys on hummingbirds?!

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This wonderful praying mantis was on my hummingbird feeder this morning … Fascinating to watch, look at, but apparently they (the bigger ones, like this one) have been known  to catch and kill hummingbirds – who knew?!

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I took some photos and left for a bit … when I returned, no mantis. And the hummingbirds were back at the feeder – no apparent sign of bloodshed. 🙂

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