landscape sketch

Woodard Bay

My favorite thing about living in Olympia is that I can be on the Puget Sound, in a dense ferny, mossy forest, on miles of trails or a lake within 15 minutes of my suburban home. Last week we “discovered” Woodard Bay Conservation Area which provides habitat for shorebirds and songbirds, harbor seals, river otters, bald eagles, a large maternity colony of bats, and one of the most significant heron rookeries in the state. 

And boy could we hear the birds! The trail to the rookery is temporarily closed but it was unmistakable what was going on across the bay with all the ruckus. This week we hope to take the kayak back and explore the shorelines.

replica of indigenous tribe’s canoe

Yes, it was tempting to hop in the canoe and get out on the water, but it wasn’t going anywhere!

fountain pen and watercolor

So we sat a while, listening to the birds and the harbor seals and sketching!

And Andrew caught this picture of me, unposed, relaxed and in my Northwest element which suits me so well. I kept feeling my father was with us and remembering my early experiences of fishing with him in the Canadian wilds. He would have so loved this place. 

Kortum Trail

From my house, heading east, this week you’ll need sunglasses, not just because of the sunny days but because nature is yelling  Yellow! at the top of its lungs. Yellow against the black vines; yellow against the violet mountain backdrop, yellow yellow yellow! Mustard, oxalis, acacia, daffodils. . .like it’s been saving up for this season’s festival of yellows.

And if you travel instead west from here you run into the beach. That’s where Andrew and I were last week for a rare break from. . .well, I’ll get to that in a minute. We walked along the bluff above Shell beach and found this lovely spot which we had to ourselves for an hour of sketching and picnicking. There was less yellow and more blue!

Andrew on his perch above the ocean!

We were taking a break from the gardening and house painting and clearing out of things for the important project of getting our house ready to put on the market this spring. The plan is to move north to the Puget Sound area in Washington. Leaving our beautiful home and art studios and nature refuge after 21 years is a big deal, as you can imagine.

Through this pandemic I have realized that distance is not an insurmountable obstacle to friendship. It is no obstacle to reading a blog, and I plan to continue art-ing and blogging indefinitely. There may be longer gaps in my posting frequency at times when I’m actually “on the move”, but not for long. So I plan to take you with me, through the excitement and uncertainty, and the impossible goodbyes to a place I have come to love passionately for its people, nature and (for the most part!) climate.   I hope you’ll hang in there with me!

Landscapes of near and far

. . .just to get the sketchbook and watercolors outside in nature,

to set up the three legged stool and have it sink into the soft forest bed,

to use the lap as a table and the eyes as a sponge to soak up the shapes and colors of the trees and plants,

to forget that it’s just a bit too cold in the shade,

to remember to include what is of greatest interest before you,

to know that you will not forget it when it goes into the sketchbook

where it will always be there to fire off distinct sensory memories of those moments along a trail on a winter afternoon. . .

The sketchbook rarely comes along on nature walks these days. The walks are more about exercise and contemplation. But for a change, last week, a stop along a trail. . .at a complex forest scene, as seen looking down into a ravine from a distance . . .

watercolor, Gray Fox ink, white gel pen in field watercolor journal 8 x 8″

While on an earlier page of the sketchbook, a precious memory from a trip to Ireland four years ago:

Painted from one of my photos taken on the trip. It made me remember how much I loved being there, in a way that will never leave me, and surely bring me back one day.