Sketching in Biscayne National Park

During our time in South Florida, we used a campground in the Everglades as our base and visited nearby parks. One of those was Biscayne National Park, where we spent a day exploring.

The boardwalk goes out a spit of land into the bay. At the end we could see a lot of water birds, looking for their dinner. As with so many water-centric drawings, I feel that this sketch would be drastically improved with a splash of color added… Still on the boardwalk, I had fun sketching the trail itself (though here it’s a rocky trail and not a wooden sidewalk). Ashley enjoyed the view over the water while patiently waiting for me.

Though we didn’t get to take a boat out to the Keys, we did visit while Park after Dark was being held, so we waited around until dusk for the festivities to begin. A couple hours at the picnic table resulted in this palm tree sketch.

Sketching in Congaree National Park

After wrapping up Ashley’s contract at the hospital, we headed to Congaree National Park in South Carolina. With only about 20 miles of hiking trails we only visited for two days (especially since we don’t have a canoe/boat to explore the waterways) but while there I quickly added some more sketches to the little black moleskine.

While checking out the boardwalk, we heard, and saw! three owls that were talking back and forth quite expressively. They were too far away for me to sketch, but I did get a quick sketch of the boardwalk itself, meandering through the flood plane with cypress trees (and their knees sticking up!)

This fabulous national champion Loblolly Pine was right next to the trail and I scribbled its outline in just a few moments before we continued on and I added in the bark texture and root details while walking.

Though there is no RV overnighting available, there are two tent campgrounds. We were able to snag a site for the night and leave the RV at the visitor center. Here’s a couple minute sketch of our home for the night.

While hiking out to the Congaree river, I sketched this image. The trail meandered through the flood plane, between the towering old-growth trees. During our lunch break on the river bank I added some details and shading with the marker.

Hospital Helicopters

With a week to go till the end of her contract, Ashley recommended a new place to wait as she finishes up her shifts at the hospital – a lobby up on the 4th floor which overlooks the main entrance and the helicopter landing pad.

I was only able to make it up there twice for a sketching session. Both times I opted to draw the same view, focusing on the helicopter.

Here’s the first sketch, in pencil and then finished with ink and marker:


After the fact, I realized that I spent too much time worrying about the dimensions of different components (which didn’t turn out accurate anyway!) and ended up with a stiff drawing. No sense of flow, no energy or life. Plus, if you don’t already have an image of the area in mind, it’s a bit hard to visualize.

So my focus on the second drawing was to capture more of the area and loosen up a bit.

Again, here’s the pencil sketch and then the finished ink and marker version. (It’s all one image, I simply do a quick sketch in pencil then ink over top of it, erase the graphite, and then add shadows with the marker.)


I think that this was a much more successful sketch – with everything fitting together better and giving a fuller representation of the view that I saw.

The second was drawn on Ashley’s last shift, so there won’t be any more hospital sketches at Cape Fear Valley. Horray for more adventures!

Sketching on dates

I love having my little pocket sketchbook, and the ability to carry it around with me everywhere.

While waiting for the movie to start, I quickly sketched out the theater, minus the commercials that were playing… It certainly helped me enjoy the delay more!

Ashley and I like to swing by a Starbucks that is close to the hospital before she heads into work. It might not be our favorite coffee but it’s convenient and a great chance to sneak in a date on a work day. She looks something up on her phone while I look at her.

Playing with a (new) Marker

Yesterday we went downtown and walked about to see what we could see. Ran across a nice little bookstore/art gallery and also a paper store. I picked up a gray Tombow dual brush pen/marker. I’ve been curious about these for a few months now and finally saw one in a store. This should allow me to quickly add a bit of shading to my sketches while not adding much bulk to my carry-around items.

After walking in the park, we headed to the hospital because Ashley had a quick training session. We arrived early and sat in the cafeteria until they closed it for cleaning. Upon arriving, Ashley realized she had a voicemail and listened to it, while I sketched her.

I’ve realized that I just sketch when I have time – and that drawing expands to fill the amount of time available. So I have no idea how long each of these sketches take! So yesterday I tried to pay a little more attention. This quick portrait was roughly 5 minutes.

Ashley headed up for her class, so I drew another view of the cafeteria.

Have to say, I’m getting a bit tired of drawing those chairs… But they’re so prominent it’s hard to omit them! After finishing the sketch I added some shading with my new marker. Here you can see a bit of the contrast of the before/after. Really adds some visual interest!

Ashley actually recalled the time incorrectly (we were thirty minutes early), so she came back down and joined me. That means that the above sketch took roughly 20 minutes.

They close the cafeteria a few times each day for cleaning/restocking/etc. This was one of those times, so we headed out to the lobby. Ashley headed back upstairs for the meeting shortly after we arrived, so I spent about 30 minutes sketching the StarBucks kiosk, along with some of its patrons.

While sketching I had one woman stop by and ask if she could be nosy and see what I was drawing. She really liked seeing this and the other cafeteria views, and was impressed with Emily’s portrait. I had just started adding some shading when Ashley arrived and we headed on our way.

I’m loving my marker! It’s nice to have the option to quickly add some shading. I’ve been carrying around a little travel watercolor set but haven’t broken it out yet – it’s both a bit time consuming and quite intimidating to add color. But with the success of this new marker, I think that color is the next step!

Hanging out in the Cafeteria

Spent some more time in the hospital cafeteria, waiting for Ashley to escape from work. Over two visits I sketched the view in front of me, trying for a bit of a different angle than before.

During the first wait, I sketched the right table and the woman grabbing a bite to eat, the frame around the condiments counter and the ceiling fixtures.

The second visit saw the addition of the counter itself, the items on top of it, the two ladies in front, the left table and chair and the decorative tree.

Already having something started certainly makes it easier to sit down and just get to work. Especially when it doesn’t matter if there are people in sight or not!

Sketching at Cumberland Coffee Roasters

During a delightful day with the rare combination of warm, sunny weather, Ashley being off work and awake during the day, we enjoyed time wandering about town together and stopped by my favorite coffee shop in the Fayetteville area for a break.

While Ashley caught up on some emails I quickly sketched my favorite model. Perhaps a bit too quickly. If I were titling sketches, this one would be Why The Long Face seeing as how I stretched her nose and hand a bit too much in my haste. Never-the-less, it’s always fun to get a sketch in. 😀

Myrtle Beach on Paper

Took a quick weekend trip down to Myrtle Beach, SC to meet up with Jackie. Had a fabulous time and even snuck in a bit of sketching…

We stayed at the Myrtle Beach State Park campground. The park includes a section of beach, just a minute’s walk away from our campsite. It was pretty empty as we enjoyed a stroll along the sand.

This sketch was done while walking…

We went on, actually leaving the park, before returning. Up on the pier we had a fabulous view of the sunset. Ashley sneaked a picture of Jackie and I – the sketcher in action! 😀

Finished sketch in front of the captured view.

Details of the sketch. I have in mind to add some color but am scared to. I’m not very practiced with watercolors and the paper’s a bit thin for such a wet medium. But with such a sunset it’s a shame to skip those beautiful colors!

The Trixie Trilogy

Mom asked for a portrait of her new favorite child, her dog Trixie (a puptrait?) While my sister and I have been replaced -le sigh- at least Trixie is cute. Here’s the process from draft to finished sketch.

I started with pencil in order to work out proportions and general placement – especially with all of the strands of hair, trying to make sure ahem every hair is in it’s place.

Then I pulled out my drawing pens and began to go over the sketch, adding more detail as I went.

While most of the lines are done with an 05 Micron, I also used an 08 for really solid areas like eyes and nose and the 03 for finer details such faint shadows.

Getting closer! Just a few more details, now.

And the final step is to go back and erase the sketch guide-lines so that only the ink remains.

Add a signature, write a note to accompany it, and then carefully pack it and send it on for Mom and Gary to enjoy!

Ashley’s new favorite hat

For Christmas, niece Bailee received a hand-made (with love!) hat from Aunt Joni. Ashley really liked it and was, dare I say, jealous. For giggles, she pretended like she might be taking it with her when we pulled out. We snapped a picture and, instead of drawing the cafeteria the other morning I sketched out Ashley enjoying Bailee’s gift. 😀

Joni loved that Ashley loved it, and we’re eagerly awaiting the mail man’s arrival. He’s supposed to be delivering a hat of her very own some time later today. 😀