Monday, January 25, 2016

Urban Nature, where I spend 80% of my waking hours!

I am delighted that after some years of work and thought, we've managed to create a tiny nature sanctuary right here in our old neighborhood.  We attract many species of birds, as well as raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and the very occasional white tail deer and fox.  We plant flowers to attract butterflies and bees, and there are many species of wildflowers and useful wild plants on our little lot.

Plus WONDERFUl sketching opportunities!  There is much more to our urban environment than buildings and people.

I do quick on the spot gesture sketches and often add color as the birds stay around.

I make my own art supplies from things that grow in my little sanctuary...note the more practical dip pens on the right!

My feeders are usually busier than this!

I learn a lot about my environment by sketching what I this case, a woodpecker's burrow caused the limb to break off so I could see how the nest was made.

Birds DO move fast, but we can sketch their basic shapes, just like people in a cafe or airport terminal, and add color as we have the chance.  I like to list the birds I see on any given day...

And record special events like this!  A white tail deer chasing my cat through the woods.  I was able to dash down their shapes as I watched, then added my familiar trees once they'd boogied on out of there...

Pilieated woodpeckers are making a comeback!  I've sketched him several times...even on my feeder, though I was told this big bird doesn't come to feeders.

These guys are ALWAYS good for a laugh, as well as fast sketching practice.  Here, mostly a Prismacolor dark grey pencil with washes added...

This kind of peanut feeder attracts a lot of birds...

I'm even doing a backyard Materia Medica of all the useful herbs and plants...

I've learned a terrific amount about what grows even here in town, and what benefits they offer.

 What nature can you find in YOUR urban environment?  It's precious, and we are nourished by it.

* I put this post on our Urban Sketchers Midwest blog as well, but I thought you might enjoy it here too, in case you don't see that one!

There is a program that gives certification for this kind of effort from the National Wildlife Federation, well worth looking into if you are interested.

And enjoy this site, The Urban Wilderness, for more inspiration--one man's effort in Kansas City's populous Brookside area. 


  1. What a lovely place to sketch! I also like your handmade dip pens. Your sketches are wonderful!

  2. Thank you very much! I love making the dip pens, I'm always experimenting with sticks I pick up, or feathers.

  3. I'm glad you posted this series of urban sketches here. They are all beautiful, and I love the stories that go with them--especially the one of the deer chasing your cat. The other day, I saw a woodpecker at our feeder for the first time. That was fun.

    1. That was SO funny, Susan! I've seen deer three times in the last couple of years, right here in the walked right down the street heading for our little downtown! I sketched it, too, as well as the one that stopped right across from the shed and regarded me calmly before walking off up the hill. The
      woodpeckers seem to LOVE our feeders, we have had every kind that occurs around here except the red-headed.

  4. In my new apartment I see a family of grouse every day and we have huge white jackrabbits, too. Oh, and the occasional sparrow flock. Makes winter quite interesting! Love my new home. :)

    1. I'm so glad, Rita! I've seen some pretty amazing stuff a flock of turkeys flying right over the yard!

  5. Lovely stuff here. I'm an artist myself but I'm no expert.. I'm looking for blogs and websites such as this for inspiration. And I am inspired indeed!

  6. Just discovered you and your website. Love your sketches just my kind of thing. Especially the nature journaling sort of sketching. Disappointed that I'm too late for a workshop I'm just learning to draw observe and record. Ill keep reading thank you


    1. Thank you! I do still offer self-directed mini-classes on my website though! :)


I'd love your feedback...please share your thoughts!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin