A Sunday Sketch


Last Sunday was one of those days with high soft clouds and the sun filtering through for a soft bright day.   It was warm, no rain or wind blowing so I packed up my art tools and drove over to Hammon’s Preserve  to sketch Cultus Bay.  I sat on a bench located at a higher level of the preserve giving me a terrific view of the wild grasses, old rugged apple trees covered with lichen  and bright red apples.  Most of the apples have ripened beyond their peak and dropped in the tall gold grass for the deer and wild animals to enjoy.  The deer had already harvested the lower apples from the trees.

First I just sat on the bench in the warm sun taking in the fresh fragrance of the earth while enjoying the view.  Then I started on the sketch with a soft graphite pencil onto sketching paper.   When I was in my small studio, I did a final sketch of the scene using a Fantasia Sanquine oil pencil onto tinted art paper.  Well the Sanguine was too light with little contrast on the tinted paper, so then I used General’s Charcoal which covered over the oil pencil perfectly to bring out the dark values.

The rising tide today


The early fall came in like a sea hawk with a few days of rain and wind the previous week.  The early strong winds always bring a change in weather.  So today it was clear sunny and crisp cool weather causing people to clothe themselves with warmer garments.  I challenged the weather by walking the beach on the eastern shores on Whidbey where the steep bulkheads are covered with wild brush, sturdy evergreen and alder trees, a small waterfall and lots of beach erioson.   Some of these tree roots had given up holding on to the bank crashing down on the beach from the stormy winter weather beating against the steep bulkheads.

When I started on my 1 1/2 mile hike along the shoreline, I was able to pass between the fallen trees and the tide line.  Being aware of the rising tide I didn’t walk further around the point concerned that I might be caught and unable to get by the fallen trees.   I turned around just in time because the tide had risen 12 inches and I could no longer walk around the large log since it was now in the water.   So I had to do a crab crawl under several fallen alder and evergreen trees and crawl over a large log to get through a difficult area on the beach.

It was a great walk with some small challenges along the way….loved it.



Scenes on Whidbey Island compacted into a mini journal


Creating journals, sketchbooks, notes, cards or any creative attempt using paper is one of my favorite art projects.  This mini journal is an compilation of my watercolor painted scenes that still exist on my island.   And, since there are still many lovely spots that have not been ruined by the increase of population, I’ll be painting and creating my own journals until I can no longer paint.  This journal is in the accordion fold or Japanese fold so it can stand on its own for display.   I just completed this project but it still needs  front/back covers which is the most difficult part of these projects since they need to be the introduction and relate to the inside contents.

The last days of summer



We love to take an afternoon respite on our covered front porch, where we are out of the  hot sun rays, watching the wildlife scene before us with a glass of wine in our hands.   During the sunny days of summer the dragonflies will perform their dances….zigging through the warm air catching bugs or just playing and doing aerobatics across the lawn.

We so enjoy the summer dragonflies but it’s always sad when they die away at the end of their short lived season.  Next spring they will arrive young, strong and colorful for more dances across our lawn while we sip our cool summer wine.

The dragonfly in the above sketch was found on the road during my early morning walk one warm August day.  It was a large insect three inches in length, fully intact and not making any movement.   So, I picked it up and brought it home to sketch with pen and a few added colors of yellow on its body.


A Green Tree Frog in the String Beans

ScanI love bright green tree frogs!  They display a brilliant shade of green with a light touch of yellow,  brown spots and creamy white on the its belly.   I will find them during the summer hiding in the shade in very unusual well secluded spots in the garden, under the table on the patio, in metal pipes, in flower pot containers holding water in the bottom…and, sitting on a large string bean leaf hidden in the shade.   This frog in the sketch surprised me when I stuck my hand deeper into the string beans to find a clump of hanging beans on a vine….There it was! sitting quietly and shinning its beautiful green color!   Fortunately, I was able to get a quick sketch before it decided its privacy had been invaded.   Thank you, little frog,  for visiting my garden…..I hope you also enjoyed a great meal of invasive bugs.

Fin Whale breaching in Puget Sound


During the first week of August several of my family members boarded the “Champagne Lady” Argosy boat for a private cruise from Lake Union through the Government Locks then into Puget Sound to celebrate the passing of my niece.   It was a beautiful warm sunny afternoon and the waters were calm like a mirror.  My niece’s ashes came on board with us and were carried by her sister to be placed in the water as we cruised further into the Sound.  The pilot stopped the engines so the boat would float with the current and give us some quiet time for meditation while my niece poured her siblings ashes into the water; then we all said our good byes.

Before the captain restarted the engines, she announced a fin whale in the distance.   We all watched the whale breach several times and then it dove deep into the water  (the depth in P.S. can be up to 600 feet) and didn’t resurface again for sometime.   And, then, we spotted it and this time the whale was quickly heading in our direction.  Yikes, several of us were a little nervous; it got so close, we could see its foot print on the surface of the water heading for the front of the boat.   Next thing we knew, the whale breached about 20 feet from the boat which startled all of us.  The whale was huge!  (Fin whales are the second largest living mammal on earth.   They will average 75 feet and are seldom seen in Puget Sound.)  Several of the relatives were able to get video and camera shots of it.

The day was special and we will all remember that Elaine’s spirit sent us her blessings:  She was safely home.  Thanks to Mike and Jody for such a special memorial ever!

Squirrels getting ready for winter storage



It’s late in August when the squirrels start climbing to the top branches on the Douglas fir trees to pick the cones off the branches and drop them to the ground.  As the cones glide toward the ground we can hear the loud clunk, clunk, bang as they hit and bounce off the large branches.   It almost sounds like a bat hitting a baseball.  The ground and road will be scattered with light green cones everywhere.  Then the busy squirrels will scurry down the trunk and if no cars or people are nearby they will sit and remove the nuts from under the scales on the parameter of the cone.   After they have gathered their cache, what is left is a pile of outer scales with the nuts removed and a demolished cone.

One does not select to pick up the green cones since there will be a sticky pitch oozing from under the spiky pointy scales. When the sun is low in the afternoon and shinning on the tall  evergreens, we can see the pitch sparkle in the sunlight like tiny diamonds  on the tips of the higher branches.

Drinking our morning coffee while sitting on the porch, we enjoy listening the chittering of the busy squirrels as they work throughout the morning removing  the cones from the trees.  We realize the reason for all the new evergreen starters on our property is due to the squirrels busy gathering season.   Bill and I tease each other to bring an umbrella or wear a hard hat during our morning walks.   We sure don’t need  a traumatic head injury from a falling cone.


A Prayer Quilt


It won’t be perfect, just a little “crazy quilt”


This summer, I am taking a break from my usual sketching and painting; I’m warn out from spending several hours daily, this past spring, on several art projects that needed to be completed.  Yes.  They are done.   So a break to do some reading, a little sewing, walking and spending more time on adventures with my spouse and family will be refreshing.

Stored away in my closet are several scraps of fabric that I would like to use  in a project (my sewing quilt days are almost in the past.)    There in the small stack were some 15 – 17 old quilt squares that someone had sewn together by hand.  They must have  been leftover scraps of material that were on hand in someone’s stash of goodies.  Some of the fabric pattern designs might be back in the 40’s?

I was fortunate to find these squares over 10 years ago while browsing through our local thrift store….I bought them at a fantastic price and swore I would put them together in the future.   The squares are three different sizes:  9 inch; 10 inch and 11 inch which really threw me off on how to put them together in a quilt.  So they got pushed under the pile of other stuff in the closet.    Then the other day they were rediscovered; I sewed strips of material I had on hand to each square under 11 inches square so all squares are now 11 inches square.   Now, I’m in the process of sewing, by hand, all the squares together.

In the slow process of sewing each square onto the next it made me reflect on the person who had originally started this quilt and why it was never finished.  What happened in their life that took them away from the quilting?  The process of sewing by hand is very meditative, slow, rhythmic, and makes me appreciate the days when modern tech life was non existent.  I find it a wonderful time to be relaxed and let my mind wander freely with pleasant thoughts.  It’s also a time to be spiritual……so when this quilt is completed I will call it a Prayer quilt:  I will embroider, by hand, onto the face of the quilt some of my favorite Prayers/Bible versus.

Similar to the prayer quilt is an old picnic yellow/white squares design table cloth my mother used at her large table when she entertained several guests.   Over the many years my mother entertained guest in her home, each guest had to sign their name on the table cloth along with the year they were in the home.   Afterward my mother would  hand embroider each of the names…so now I have that table cloth and the tradition continues with my family.










A Walk Through Nature; a watercolor journal observing wildlife in Earth Sanctuary

Last spring during the waterfowl mating season within the Earth Sanctuary located on Whidbey, my fellow bird watchers and I volunteered to monitor the Wood ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Gadwalls, Canada Geese, Opsrey, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and other birds plus a few turtles and river otter on the three ponds in the E.S.  We had a great time recording, documenting and learning about all these animals during our four month period until the birds started to migrate elsewhere.  This info will be used as a baseline in case any disaster should temporary destroy wildlife along the PNW.   So we volunteer each year to record our findings for future use.

I have downloaded the journal into this blog and I hope that you will be able to open the pages into your computer.   The journal is large with about 14 pages set in JPEG.  If you have any problems please inform me through bilomathews@whidbey.com.

A Wallk Through Nature 3

Baling the first cut of the season

The machinery noise kept getting louder and louder as I approached the empty field at the end of the road.  The farmer had already made the first cut of the season a few days ago.   Now, he was baling the tall grass for winter feeding of his cattle.  There is something about the sweet fragrant of newly cut grasses that make me pause and breathe the aroma with pleasure.