Door County Sketches

This past weekend I enjoyed a quick trip up to Door County with Dad and Connie. The only mar on the weekend was a cold in my nose. still a very nice trip.


I did a bit of doodling in my Moleskine on the drive up. It was cumulative—a silo here, a tree there.


Dad and Connie went to buy some groceries, and I hung out at the cottage enjoying a little time to sketch the fireplace. Later in the evening, the fireplace was put to good use while the snow fell in the silent woods around us.


A small sketchy still life of items on the mantel.

Thanks for stopping by!

Datebook 5-15 thru 22


Time flows backward on the blog when I have several dates to cover, and it seems strange to me. Seems strange when I reverse the order too, so what’s a girl to do?

Anyway, Monday I came home after a wonderful weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. The folks have a cottage up there, so all I had to do was bring the bike and whatever other fun things I wanted. This included a couple of movies and sketchbooks.

The quote: “It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.” —Sam Levenson (1911-1980)

This quote, if you know my Dad, suits him very well—both in the way he was raised and in the way he raised me. It’s not a warm and fuzzy concept, but it certainly builds character, self-reliance and, by extension, self-confidence.

This morning the quote has a bit more poignancy because I watched the movie Pursuit of Happyness last night. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, you should.



I drove up to the cottage Friday night, and Dad and Connie didn’t come up until Sunday. I’d planned out a great Saturday of sketching and cycling all over the peninsula to complete some sketches for Sketchcrawl 14. Unfortunately, I awoke Saturday morning to a driving downpour.

The Sandpiper in Baily’s Harbor opened for breakfast at 7 am, and I was there with morning newspaper in hand when they did. Ate way too much for breakfast and sucked down an entire pot of coffee while alternately reading the paper; working the crossword puzzle; and staring out the window at the birds in the feeders, the rain pouring from the sky and the many shades of gray of the lake and sky.

I couldn’t loiter forever, so I headed in to Sister Bay to pick up a few groceries, and then returned to the cottage. I’d recently purchased the miniseries The Impressionists, so I fired up my notebook computer and popped in the disk—what a great series!

Around noon, the clouds began to part and the sun actually made an appearance. I flew out the door and grabbed the bike from the car hoping to finally get in some miles. I took a small sketchbook along too, just in case I was inspired to stop along the way. As it happens, I was inspired to stop along the way, but I didn’t because I could see a new crop of clouds coming in from the west, and it felt so good to be riding those quiet roads past the blooming cherry trees that I just didn’t stop.

I was only out for about an hour, and the clouds had closed back in bringing with them some cooler temperatures in just the last half hour of that ride.

Inspired by the part of the miniseries I’d seen so far, and floating on a small endorphin high, I sat on the floor by the sliding glass doors and started to paint. My sketchbook holds up fairly well to watercolors. I dove right in with the paints without doing a preliminary sketch. I spent the rest of the afternoon at it as the showers came and went and the temperature continued it’s downward slide. I’ll post the results in a separate post.

Around 4 or so, I decided it was going to be cold enough for a fire, and went outside to bring in some firewood. I got the fire started, poured myself a glass of wine, cooked up a small Thai chicken pizza (yum) for dinner and ate it in an easy chair with my feet propped up on the hearth. Life is occasionally well beyond good and into the realm of ideal, for which I am deeply grateful.

Coming down the stairs Sunday morning, I happened to catch some movement out of the corner of my eye. Outside in the yard was a wild turkey, preening! Cool! I watched it for a while, and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere so I walked toward the back of the cottage to the kitchen to get some breakfast. When I looked out the kitchen window I saw the male. It was very obviosuly the male because he was in full display mode. He was farther away from the cottage than the female, but he strutted here and there while she seemed to ignore him completely.

Dad and Connie drove up Sunday, but they got a later start than anticipated. I headed out the door to do some shopping, stopping at Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim for lunch. In all the many years I’ve gone up to Door County, I’ve seen the place and wanted to go in but it’s been so busy. Nothing like a little cold and rain to keep people inside, added to which I got there around 11:30 in the morning—a little early for the lunch crowd. The service was very fast, so I really didn’t have much time to scribble out my little sketch.


H.D. Thoreau’s May 17, 1858 journal entry:
“The rain is good for thought. It is especially agreeable to me as I enter the wood and hear the soothing dripping on the leaves. It domiciliates me in nature. The woods are the more like a house for the rain; the few slight noises more hollow in them; the birds hop nearer; the very trees seem still and pensive. The clouds are but a higher roof. The clouds and rain confine me to near objects, the surface of the earth and the trees.”

Little did I know when I read this entry and it struck such a chord in me, that I would be experiencing it firsthand just a couple of days later. I love the phrase, “It domiciliates me in nature.” It evokes such a great feeling of belonging to a moment or a place no matter where you are. It’s a familiar feeling, and very comforting.


The quote: Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” —John Lennon (1940-80), Strawberry Fields

The pencil sketch was done from the front seat of my car in the train parking lot. I pulled into the space and looked up to see a tree sprouting lamps. I had to chuckle, and then I had to draw. I think I might have continued to chuckle while I drew because the lamps are terribly crooked. I like that, though, because if they did grow out of the tree they certainly wouldn’t have been perfectly straight.

Thanks for reading!

Watercolor Project

As a Christmas gift, I did a watercolor of my folk’s cottage in Door County for them. I’m fairly pleased with the outcome, but of course, there are things I would tweak if I could. I took pictures, and scanned the piece as I went (with varying degrees of success). I experimented a bit in my sketchbook first, completeing each step as I thought I would in the final project to see if I liked the overall effect. I’ll post it later (since I don’t have that sketchbook with me today). Click on any of the pictures to see ’em bigger.

First, the final result (unframed and scanned) The scanning process increased the richness of all the colors, and I did some correction for that, but it could even be toned back a bit more:

The pencil sketch was very faint, but it’s there (if you squint):

There was in intermediate step in which I penned in the cottage outline and some of it’s details using a black Micron 005. I personally like the definition that the pen line gives to the piece. I was glad to have experimented in my sketchbook first, because it gave me an appreciation of how much pen could be too much and give the piece too much of a cartoony look.

In addition to my sketchbook rough, I also did a watercolor rough. I’d only ever used pan watercolors before, but had a set of tube watercolors I was itching to use. I tried them out on the rough, and although I liked the colors I got, I had a hard time adjusting to starting with a liquid instead of a solid. As a result, I reverted back to the pan watercolors for the final painting. The cottage ended a bit bluer that the blue grey it should be, and the chimney ended a bit redder than I would prefer. Paint goes on the page:

Here ’tis in its frame:

The cottage has been named Mole End as a nod to the Mole End of the Wind in the Willows series of children’s books by Kenneth Grahame. I chose to incorporate my sign and mole into the “matte” instead of the painting itself because it certainly has a cartoony quality, and it’s entirely my interpretation—which might be completely inaccurate since I never actually read the series. Personally, I think he’s kinda cute (as far as any mole can be considered cute). Detail: