Showing posts from May, 2012


I´ve just arrived from crossing the border Spain-France with my watercolour box. More images here:

California Flowers

May 2012: Treasures, a photo by apple-pine on Flickr. it seems that many people around me are moving towards wild flower garden - lots to draw, lots of new plants to see!

Red Poppies - Lin Frye

Red Poppies, a photo by linfrye on Flickr. 1/4 Sheet
Arches 140#CP Rough

Though a bit late for Memorial Day, it still seems fitting to post these poppies! We had the opportunity last week for a short visit to two gardens last week - both filled with wonderful poppies. From red to purple, pink, blue and California orange - the poppies were plentiful. Even along the highways of North Carolina, poppies dress the landscape ....

Poppies often represent beauty, magic, consolation, fertility and eternal life. The Egyptians included poppies at funerals and in burial tombs. The flowers were used by the Greeks in the shrines of Demeter and Diana. But more than anything, the red poppy has been associated with Flanders fields as an emblem of those who died in World War I. The tradition of poppies to memorialize our fallen soldiers continues as we remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have kept our country free. May we continue to remember and to honor them ...

Lin Frye
North Carolina

a sketch in Villa Borghese, Concetta Flore

A beautiful day, yesterday, in-between rainy days. So I took advantage of the sunshine and went a-sketching with husband and friends at the historic park of  Villa Borghese in my hometown, Rome.This is the "ancient"- XVIII cent. temple built on a small lake where people go rowing.


BBCWildlifeArtist of the Year2012Ihavestopped....BUTANYWAY..I AMoverjoyedalready working onnext year!

Thank you somuch forsendingme yourhighresfor thefinaljudgingroundof theBBCWildlifeArtistof the Year2012competition.

I'mso sorry,thisyear,yourartworkhasnotBeenAwardedin theInternationalCategory.

However,You Should Beveryproudtohavegot tothefinals.This year,thestandardwas extremelyhigh,

Tawny Owl

We have them in our area and at night we hear them: Tawny Owls.  This is the red morph. Some are greyish-brown.  Paula Kuitenbrouwer at

I like these cold days - Maree

I like these cold, gray winter days.  Days like these let you savour a bad mood. ~Bill Watterson

Three trees on our smallholding that got caught in one of the fires we had on our smallholding a couple of days ago. It spread from the neighbours even after we thought that one had been extinguished properly - obviously not so. It always amazes me how the smallest spark can appear from nowhere....

A gathering of lizards

I've read that Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) tend to be loners, defending their territory fiercely. There's a rocky place at Howarth Park where I like to sit and watch lizards, birds, insects and the occasional California ground squirrel go about their business. In winter the lizards are tucked away under rocks and in the ground but when the sun warms up those rock, the lizards come out of hibernation.

One morning in early spring I arrived just as the sun hit the rocks and was pleasantly surprised to find a gathering of several lizards andl Western skinks (Plestiodon skiltonianus) hanging (literally) together on the vertical face of the rock. As I watched a few more emerged from holes in the wall and within an hour most had dispersed and could be found hunting within view.
Entranced, I returned several mornings in a row. The first couple of days the gathering was large. The weather became unseasonable warm and by the time I arrived (between 7:30 and 8 a.m…

BBC Wildlife Artist of the year 2012!!

Beautiful andunexpectednews!!
MyDalmatian pelican(single drawingsent) who believed discarded by was actuallyselected!!2 daysagocame thewonderful news!Iinterpretedthe silenceas a negative responseinstead: myartworkhaswonthroughtothefinalsof theBBCWildlifeArtistof the Year2012 Competition!Mypaintinghas beenselectedas afinalistin theInternational ArtistsCategory!
Thisis mybeautiful dream,whichstillhardlybelieve it!

Soaring fire - Maree

“Life has loveliness to sell, all beautiful and splendid things, blue waves whitened on a cliff, soaring fire that sways and sings, and children's faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup.”  - Sara Teasdale 

We've had our first veld fires as early as the beginning of April, but this one was a bit closer to home - our neighbour's smallholding had a small fire yesterday, luckily distinguished very quickly. 


The Prairie is Blooming

On my morning bicycle ride, I circled Big Woods Lake. The trail took me through the 10 acre Rotary Prairie Reserve. The Wild White Indigo was the most showy plant in bloom. This one stood about 2-1/2 feet tall. Mosquitos (the summer scourge for plein air sketchers in Iowa) haven't arrived, but the gnats have. I found a spot with enough breeze to keep them off me to set up my folding stool. 
 Iowa, in the middle of the United States, is part of the Great Plains. Before it was tilled and became some of the planet's most fertile cropland, it was prairie. I have lived much of my adult life in the Great Plains and have come to love and appreciate the delicate beauty of the prairie. Only patches of it have been preserved and restored. This prairie is a joint project with the Rotary Club, The University of Northern Iowa, and the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.
I love this plot of land. It gives me a sense of peace and calm each time I come. Watercolor and ink on 140lb hot pres…

A day in the country--Paula in VA

Our sketching group visited a member's farm on Saturday. It is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was lovely. We shared sketches/tools/ideas inside for a while (the Ball jar was sitting on the table so I sketched it while we talked), then went outside to sketch.

Some of the inhabitants of the farm.
They raise miniature donkeys at the farm and they were so cute!  These sketches are in a handmade journal and it's falling apart. I guess it wasn't made to take the abuse my sketchbooks get. The paper is lovely to paint on but it bleeds through to the next page so I've decided to paint on every other spread and when I'm done, glue the blank pages together. That way I not only get rid of the bleed-through problem, but also finish the book faster so I can move on to a better one. I'm going back to the tried and true Moleskines.




A detail of one of my paintings about Iris germanica. This flower has bloomed in my garden few days ago

Iris germanica - watercolour on "Papier D'Arches" 300gr - hot pressed

Solly's house - Maree

A couple of years ago I was cleaning out the garden and threw out some Cannas, of which I had far too many. I was glad to see some of them growing in front of Solly's house (our indispensable handyman/mechanic). His peach tree was also full of fruit and he even has a little patch of corn from which I managed to beg two ears. Behind his house stands the Cereus jamacaru (Queen of the Night) cactus which is still destined to be chopped down. 


Workshop on naturalistic drawing

Short excursionunder the rain  to the Observatoryof the Morette,Marshesof Fucecchio, sketch oflandscapedesignedbythe slits...
Workshop in Fucecchio Marsh, different points of view of the German model, positioned among the students. Really not a simple exercise...

Virginia Rail, Linda C Miller

Virginia Rail
Watercolor on HP 300 lb. Paper

15 inches wide by 9 inches high
Bodie Island Lighthouse

After class at The Elizabethan Gardens this past February, my husband and I went to one of my favorite birding sites - the Bodie Island Lighthouse. There they have a wonderful boardwalk that takes you up to a two story viewing platform. We came up on this bird who was "looking for supper." I was able to take at least twenty photos and then we walked on. Once home, we looked "him" up in my field guide. It is always a joy to add a new feathered friend to my list.

Happy Painting, Linda
Linda C. Miller Artist, Naturalist, and Instructor Williamsburg, Virginia

Oxford Hay and Barn - Lin Frye

Oxford Hay and Barn, a photo by linfrye on Flickr. 1/4 Sheet
Arches 140#CP

The hay, tall, golden, incredibly beautiful, is starting to be cut and rolled, and scenes like this (a combination of Oxford farms and fields) are my ride home companions. Each and every one thrills me to my soul, touching some core element of my being that, having been raised in the city, cannot be explained. I like to think that some of my family's earlier generations, growing up in rural parts of Italy, tended such farms, and their love of the land and working with its elements has somehow been passed through time to me.

This week, my housemate delighted us with a Netflix movie that took place in Italy (the name escapes me at the moment). Toward the end of all the action, the camera panned fields of hay - and as tired as I was after another too-intense week, I was immediately seized with emotion and an overwhelming sense of 'homecoming.'

I don't understand it ... but I do embrace it.... and tr…

Rhino horn myth - Maree

(Ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm - done from one of my photographs taken at one of our local Game Reserves)
All we ever read in the media is statistics of all the Rhino atrocities, and nothing as to what can actually be done to stop this. Education is and always will be the best tool. 
With today’s network of communication tools, such as social media, it is now possible for scientific studies to reach a global audience like never before – and we can move closer to busting these persistent myths about rhino horn, which are indeed the root of the rhino crisis. By raising public awareness and educating others about the truth behind rhino horn, we can make a difference.
As part of continued efforts to set the record straight on rhino horn’s so-called 'curative' properties, three scientific studies were re-introduced, confirming that rhino horn has no medicinal value. The studies were conducted by different teams of researchers at separate institutions. In each case,…

Sphodromantis viridis - Maree

When I got into my studio yesterday morning, I found this large Green Praying Mantis sitting on my art table. I don't know if she was cold, but she was very sluggish and not keen to move at all. So quickly out with the sketch-book. She obligingly stayed still for a full half-an-hour, even allowing me to get in some colour. As she started moving, I deposited her on the window sill in the sunshine and watched as she seemed to warm up. She stayed in my studio for most of the morning until I took her outside roundabouts lunch time - I thought that would give her enough time to find a protected spot before nightfall. 
I identified her in my Insect book and she is Sphodromantis viridis - S. viridis is native to West Africa south of the Sahara desert. Did you know it is kept worldwide as a pet? I found some websites giving full instructions on how to take care of your Mantid pet! Its common names include African mantis, giant African mantis, and bush mantis. 
"Mantodea (or mantises) i…

View from my Studio window - Maree

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. ~Doug Larson 

We've had some lovely Autumn days, but I think winter is now really settling in. And when it's too cold to go outside and sketch, the next best thing is the view from my studio window. I've used some artistic licence here and left out the tractors and implements I sometimes have to stare at (but it is our bread and butter, so I don't really mind!) and instead enjoy the Dandelions and birds that forage around in the grass.


Another slug

A few weeks ago it had rained a bit and, as I sketched a Banana slug (Ariolimax columbianus) devouring the leaves of a Wild cucumber (Marah oreganus) plant, this little fellow ambled across the rock I was sitting on and buried itself in debris that had built up in a crevice in the rock. It was gone before I had a chance to sketch it but I lucked out the next day when I saw a white mushroom glowing in a patch of Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and went closer to inspect it. Not only did I find fungi but I found two of these little slugs having a feast. I was able to pick up the mushroom and take it out of the Poison oak and sketch one of the slugs while it ate, then return the mushroom to it's original location with the slugs still attached.

Though slugs don't actually have tails this native species is called Reticulate tail dropper (Prophysaon andersoni) because they're able to self-amputate the back end of their bodies much in the same way that lizards release thei…

Salmon Berry Blossom

This is a quick sketch I did in watercolour of a Salmon Berry blossom while I was visiting Victoria.

Rubus spectabilis

walking on badlands

May 13: afternoonon the fieldwith friends (and colleagues artists) Robertoand Cristina, walk through thebadlands nearhome withEmberiza hortulana and Lanius collurio, smell of gorseand orchidsin bloom,little time tosketch a view on my sketchbook Fabriano with watercoloursand pencils.

Slug and Manroot

A few weeks ago we were having unseasonably cold weather and I found myself looking, though unsuccessfully, for Banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus) as I walked in the cold, gray early mornings. Then it got a bit warmer and rain gave way to blue skies and sun. I gave up on the slugs and went off to look at a Manroot or Wild cucumber plant (Marah oreganus) that I'd been admiring in a somewhat secluded rocky area.

I noticed an odd color in the depth of the plant and lo and behold! I'd finally found a banana slug! Wild cucumber produces upright stalks of small white flowers and the deer scat near the slug told me who had eaten nearly every flower off of the plant. As the sun rose higher in the sky the slug began it's journey home. I was thrilled because I've often wondered where these creatures go when the sun is out.
The slug moved slowly, producing enough slime, as it traveled, to help carry it safely over dried leaves, twigs and rocks. I had plenty of time to admire it&…

Yellow Field Roses - HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! Lin Frye

Yellow Field Roses - HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!, a photo by linfrye on Flickr. 10" x 13"
Arches 140#CP

To all the mothers - the aunts, sisters, grandmothers, nonnas, daughters and those whose role is that of 'mother' - a most joyous and wonderful 'HAPPY MOTHERS DAY'!

The celebration of mom, for me, always brings me to flowers. My mom and dad had a small garden, barely more than foundational plantings. But of those, dad planted roses and lilacs - my mother's favorites. These field roses, painted to celebrate the beauty of less cultivated plants, are dedicated to my mom -- for her beauty, tenacity, strength and love. And more, for that bit of 'non-domesticated' wildness that enchants, surprises and manages to thrive in all manner of conditions - a celebration if you will, of the unpampered that is in all of us.

I came late to gardening, learning first to appreciate the wild species of things - enjoying the surprise of flowers and plants that grow without …

May 2012 - Yellow Bush Notes

May 2012 - Yellow Bush Notes, a photo by apple-pine on Flickr. After a little research I think this bush is Fremontodendron

Here is a photo of my sketching process:

New Pages in Sketching in Nature


I'm adding some new pages to our blog...Contributor News, Nature Centers and Sites, and A Nature Artist's Bookshelf, so far.  I may add one on tools and equipment, supplies, journals, sketching aids, binoculars, folding field stools and such.

Please, correspondents, if you have news of any classes, shows, travel or other event you'd like to share, let me know and I'll get it up in our Contributor News!

I've put links to some of my local sites and plan to add more--please, readers, let me know what opportunities for study or sketching are in your area!

I've added a lot of my favorite books, as well as some I've written...if you've got recommendations, let me know and I'll check them out!

Have fun poking around...and please help me out with this!

Buggy about Bugs: My First Post

I love to closely examine natural forms. Nature objects, picked up on walks, are scattered about my house. Sometimes I'm moved to draw them. I have followed and admired this blog for quite awhile, enjoying what other nature lover/artists focus on. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my apropos work here.  I post all my work, as it comes forth, here.

I found this bit of wasp nest on a trail that borders the Cedar River, not too far from my house, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA.  It prompted this drawing, done in a collaborative sketchbook for  moly_x_international. It's in Masha Kirikova's, theme book, Those Who Live. Masha (from Moscow) is also a contributor to this blog.

In my basement, I found an old collection of insects my daughter had put in a shadowbox for a junior high school science project. (She's now in her 20s!). It was fascinating to examine what specimens were still intact and to draw them.

Journal Sketches from the Midwest...

Of course I had to try my hand at that "SuperMoon."  We hopped in the car in our nightclothes and drove up the hill for a better look!  It just glowed...30% brighter and 14% larger-appearing at its perigee, closest to the earth.

Old Oxford Barn - Home - Lin Frye

Old Oxford Barn - Home, a photo by linfrye on Flickr. 1/2 Sheet
Arches 140#CP

I am back home - and what overwhelms me most is the incredible quiet. That rich, peaceful, serene stillness that is in the very air I take into my lungs. The PEACE of it is so rich, so magnificent, that I am brought to tears for the very serenity it brings.

I unpack my bags and walk through my now-bursting colorful garden. The breeze is rich with honeysuckle and privot. Birds twitter and sing their nesting songs. Insects buzz. And the sun warms my skin and makes each flower a blaze of color.

I am home - and this peacefulness is as much a gift as seeing my mom doing so well.

The yellow fields of spring are fading and the hay in the fields is turning from green to bronze. The farmers have begun baling... and I am in my glory to see hay bales once again!

Feeling this 'home-coming' -- from the air to the flowers, to the fields to the bird song - is a salve. The miles between my mom and sisters and my h…

Dressing up to do battle

One afternoon, at the end of March, I went looking for one of my favorite spring wildflowers, Marah oreganus, also known as Manroot and Wild cucumber. It sprawls along rocky places and I had recently discovered that it grows wantonly  in a partially quarried rocky area in Howarth Park. As usual, I had trouble figuring out how to draw this long, sprawling plant and was thinking about giving up when I heard a tiny ruckus on the next rock over. I looked up to see two Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), in colors I'd never seen before, fighting and posturing with great vigor. I thought there might be a female involved and I soon found her, peering out of a crevasse on a ledge below the action. The males continued to interact with one another for quite a while. Then one of them left, only to return again, and they picked up where they'd left off. A bit later they both went to opposite ends of the slab and rested up for the next round. The female had climbed out of the …

Technology and Country Living

A track leading up to a friend's farm - dodging the rocks and ditches in the road is quite a feat. The Roads Dept. has long since stopped grading most of our farm roads and it's up to the individuals living along that stretch to maintain the road. And the telephone poles don't actually have any wires, that's artistic license - those have been stolen long ago and not been replaced by Telkom. So, the general mode of transportation around here is 4 × 4 and the general method of communication is the iPhone as technology meets up with Country Living.