I can't stand rooting through scraps of paper in search of a subject to draw and watercolor. I have enough pieces of paper all over my studio and office. They drive me crazy. No matter how many times I straighten up, the pieces of paper pile up and so I have to surrender at least somewhat.
About a year ago, I acquired a large stack of relatively recent National Geographics via Freecycle. These bound pages offer a much more orderly reference than miscellaneous scraps. Plus, I learn things.
For example, the reference photo of this Polar Bear comes from an article about Franz Josef Land. I'd heard of Franz Josef Land but was not sure where, exactly it was or that it is part of Russia.
My reference photo for this entry is by Cory Richards and the caption reads, "Polar bears eat mainly ringed seals and bearded seals, captured on sea ice. On land they scrounge seabirds, eggs, even grass. This animal grazed for days below Rubini Rock—then chewed up the remote camera."
So that I am not at a loss as to what to draw and paint when I sit down to this new sketchbook, I've been going through scraps of images I've cut out of magazines over the past year for just this very reason. Not many still hold their appeal but this one felt seasonal and doable so here it is, a branch with apples.
I turned around the other morning and spotted one of these darling Red Efts on my screen. Naturally, I had to go meet the thing and look it over, up close and personal. Yes, I picked it up and held it in my hand.
When I was a child at camp in the Catskills, we would catch these what we called Salamanders in the woods and probably took them back to our tents for pets. Then, I had no idea but just learned that this is not a Salamander at all but a juvenile Eastern Newt who spent its larva stage in the water, lives on land while a bright orange juvie and then returns to the water as an adult. These creatures live for 12 - 15 years! Amazing!
I had to commemorate this only find of my adult life in an illustration. I am so impressed and delighted that once again, so many, many years later, I am living in the vicinity of the Eastern Newt and that one came to visit.
Sometimes things just line up nicely.
I had a new neighbor over for tea today on what happens to be my birthday. Although she was unaware that it is my birthday, she brought flowers and, what do you know? It's her daughter's birthday, too.
I've been threatening to start a studio journal, just for fun. Just to keep my drawing and painting in regular action while I work on landscapes and commissions. So I took this opportunity to use the flowers as models to get me started. Nothing too special. No need for perfection.
Starting a new journal or book or painting or new composition of any sort usually seems daunting as the blank pages loom ahead. But here I've made a start and sometimes that is the most important thing. Just to dirty up the first page a little.
The next most important thing, of course, is to start filling the pages and then, ideally to finish something. I like the idea of a studio journal to fill for fun without worrying about the outcome. This Stillman & Birn hardcover Beta book is perfect. Excellent quality paper and something I've been saving for the perfect project.
I'll post images from this sketchbook a couple of times a month for the foreseeable future. Let's see what develops.
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