Autumn in Alaska

Snow is creeping down the mountains in the North as the earth tips away from the sun. I find myself leaning toward the equator. Mornings are stunning this time of year as the golden aspen leaves sing against the brilliant blue sky.

Anthracite Ridge

Anthracite Ridge, behind our house.

Our greenhouse produced lots of beautiful tomatoes this year. I brought this clump in and sketched them. A red tomato just glows, doesn’t it? I didn’t try to stay in the lines with this one. It sits contentedly in my sketchbook, but I’ll carefully cut it out if you would like it. For sale here, on my Etsy site.

The last tomatoes from our greenhouse.

“How Do You Like Them Tomatoes?” 7″ x 9″ watercolor

Sketching the Change of Season

The Sketch Project was quite an accomplishment and your kind words of encouragement helped so much. Thank you for cheering me on. The sketches will be on display in Cape Town, South Africa during the month of October. They will return to Alaska, then finally land in Kihei, Hawaii where the buyer lives. Amazing how such a piece of art can get around.

Seeing that I was able to sketch every day with such great response, I’ve decided to sell one sketch a week. I haven’t done this before and I will admit I’m a bit nervous. I’m not nervous about sketching, but the commitment of getting the image up for sale on a regular basis. It isn’t really that big of a deal if I look at it one sketch at a time, so with that confession, I’ll show you this week’s sketch. This is an original and I’m not planning on making prints because that is a commitment I don’t even want to look at right now. Here is the link to my Etsy store if you would like to purchase it. I’m going to put it on Facebook tomorrow, but I wanted to give my blog friends first opportunity. I’m going to keep the cost low on these because I want you to have a chance to buy them and it will motivate me to sketch and sketch.

"South Fork Sketch" 5" x 8.5" original watercolor and ink sketch

“South Fork Sketch” 5″ x 8.5″ original watercolor and ink sketch

The leaves are turning and some have blown off the trees. Last week I took this photo.

Sept 20 1 web

Last of the Thirty Sketch Challenge

Finished! All 30 sketches are complete and on their way to Cape Town, South Africa, to be displayed there for the month of October. The booklet of sketches is on Ebay and the winning bidder will receive them when they return in November. Here is a link to see a thumbnail of all the sketches.

Down on the Matanuska River

Down on the Matanuska River

Clouds...because.

Clouds…because.

Day 29 web

Our fireweed signals that summer is over.

Our fireweed signals that summer is over.

Sketchpack

This gives you an idea of the layout and the size of the sketches. There are sketches on both sides. Each sketch is 4 inches wide by 3.5 inches high and they all fold into a small little packet!

Thank you so much for joining me with these sketches. Your comments are so kind and encouraging. Now I’m off on another project. You’ll just have to wait and see!

Sketching a Mailbox, Rose Hips, and a Glacier

Day 21 through 26 of the Sketching Project. I tried to choose a variety of subjects, but I tend to spend as much time outside as I can since winter is just around the corner.

Our son's mailbox looked so pretty in the sun.

Our son’s mailbox looked so pretty in the sun.

The Matanuska Glacier with the river in front as it converges with Caribou Creek.

The Matanuska Glacier with the river in front as it converges with Caribou Creek.

Rose hips are plump and red now. I'm thinking of making some syrup with them.

Rose hips are plump and red now. I’m thinking of making some syrup with them.

Wonderful GrandView Lodge, where they serve the best coffee, pizza and pie!

Wonderful GrandView Lodge, where they serve the best coffee, pizza and pie!

How I love laundry dried outside...

How I love laundry dried outside…

Thought I'd make a stunning arrangement with these dried four foot beauties. Placed them carefully on the back seat of the car. Started to drive then pulled over to heave them out of the car. Wow, did they stink!

Thought I’d make a stunning dried arrangement with these four-foot beauties. Placed them carefully on the back seat of the car, then started to drive, then pulled over to heave them out of the car. Wow, did they stink!

Almost to the end of the month. Five more days of sketches to go.

Sketching Berries, a Bottle, and a Bus

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking over my shoulder during this sketching challenge. You might wonder how I choose what I’ll sketch. During the day I’m on the lookout for interesting subjects-interesting to me and to you. Sometimes sunlight will land on an object and I’m just drawn to it. Sometimes I want to share a view or something like these luscious blueberries with you.

I nibbled on nearby berries as I sketched these, then I ate them!

I nibbled on nearby berries as I sketched these, then I ate them!

I’m sure the neighbors were wondering why I was staring up at this power pole.

This bottle of olive oil looked so humble in the light.

This bottle of olive oil looked so humble in the light.

This is a bit of a self-portrait.

This is a bit of a self-portrait. I drive my big yellow studio about 200 miles a day. I often stop and sketch after I’ve dropped off the students.

Our living room and the door to my studio inviting me in...

Our living room and the door to my studio inviting me in…

At Eureka Summit I stopped and sketched this in my big yellow studio. The poles are there to mark the road during snow storms.

At Eureka Summit I stopped and sketched this from my big yellow studio. The poles are there to mark the road during snow storms.

On the Glenn Highway, there is a section where the land flattens out and little lakes dot the landscape.

On the Glenn Highway, there is a section where the land flattens out and little lakes dot the landscape. I always feel like yodeling here. It’s a bit Narnian, isn’t it?

Hiking and Sketching Near Glaciers

Our windows look out to the Chugach Mountains, where sunlight bounces around, revealing fissures and snow packs . Monument Glacier rests deep in the crags like a jewel in a setting. Surrounded by higher peaks, it glows with reflected light. I sketched it while the sun made lovely shadows on the ice. Monument Glacier  Sketch This has been a busy summer with lots of outdoor activities. We hiked near the Matanuska Glacier, just ten miles from us. There is a knob, known as Lion’s Head with a trail leading to the top where you can see for miles in every direction.

July 14 13 056

Facing east toward Eureka Summit, Glennallen and the border.

July 14 13 063

Looking south into the glacier toward Prince William Sound.

July 14 13 068

Facing west toward Palmer and Anchorage. Our house in the upper right.

Sketching the City, the Flats, and a Race

Sunshine has been abundant in Alaska this summer and I’ve been out sketching like crazy. My sketchbook is with me in the car in case I find interesting scenes to sketch. The image below is near the train station in Anchorage. The metal red salmon swimming up the fence are so cool.

Christensen Drive in Anchorage, Alaska. Notice the metal red salmon on the fence.

Christensen Drive in Anchorage, Alaska.

Between Anchorage and our house I drive past the Palmer Hay Flats where wild iris, also known as Siberian Flag, bloom in profusion. It was one of the hottest days of the year and I sat on my little folding stool in the sunshine sketching in delight.

Iris Sketch

Last week the Fireweed 400 began. It is a bike race beginning at Sheep Mountain Lodge, eighteen miles east of us on the Glenn Highway. This race isn’t for the faint of heart. Contestants in the longest part of the race travel two hundred miles to Valdez at sea level then back to Sheep Mountain Lodge over mountainous roads.  I was sketching in the gravel on the side of the highway while racers zoomed past. One racer yelled, “Suzie, is that you?” It was the owner of the lodge, Anjanette, who has also run the Iditarod- the dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome. She’s one tough lady and only a little over a hundred pounds. This is one of the views the bicyclists see on their route. Fireweed is blooming all over the state right now.

Fireweed sketch

Last year Anjanette commissioned me to paint two images of the racers on the road. These are the paintings.

Sheep Mountain web 1

Glenn Highway heading toward Gunsight Mountain

Glenn Highway just east of Sheep Mountain Lodge. Matanuska Glacier and Lion's Head in the distance.

Glenn Highway just east of Sheep Mountain Lodge. Matanuska Glacier and Lion’s Head in the distance.

Sketching an Alaska Winter Moon

Winter in Alaska is so unique. It isn’t dark all the time, just most of the time. For a few hours the sun drags itself from southeast to southwest and we see a glow, but not direct sunshine. It isn’t awful and it isn’t miserable; it’s just a little pathetic. I noticed at noon right now it is as light as it is at midnight in June. That’s pretty pathetic.

I stopped to sketch this at about four o’clock in the afternoon facing southeast from Eureka Summit, Alaska. It was -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of blues and purples with an orange glow in the sky.

Winter Eureka Moon at Four O'Clock

Alaska Winter Moon at Four O’Clock/Eureka

Along with many other people, I’ve been thinking about goals and direction at this beginning of a new year. My favorite thing to do is to teach in a way that encourages students. I love to see people “get it”. I want to get some watercolor demonstrations on this blog and I’ll get around to it. I also want to teach more workshops.

I want to use art to help you to encourage others and this is what I have in mind: I’m going to give twenty-five of my art prints away to your friends!  The only charge will be for shipping: $5.00 in the USA./$7.00 everywhere else. (I also had to charge 1% to make it show up as an item)

Here are the rules:

1) I will ship one print to your friend and charge you only shipping, but remember, it is a gift to your friend. You only get one (one print, not one friend). The site will allow you to order more than one, but I’ll only give one print for this offer.

2) You have to tell me something encouraging to write on your choice of print (ie: “To my amazing Cindy from your ever-loving Tom”, “Thank you for being a friend”,  etc)

3) I’m offering this to my blog readers first(that would be you), then over to my Facebook page in a couple of days, but I’m limiting it to twenty-five of my thirteen prints.

Here is the link.  At checkout, use the code: MyFriend for this offer. You will see where to apply it on the right, near the credit card icons in a blue font. Let me know if you can’t find it by making a comment.

What Color is Alaska in the Winter? Sketches From a Warm Car

Although it has been cold and windy here, I was determined to get out and paint the soft colors of winter in Alaska last week. I gathered my sketch bag and tootled off in our car with the heater on high.

The sun has long ago abandoned us and only touches the mountain peaks during the middle of the day.  I stopped to sketch the Matanuska River from the Glenn Highway. Most of the river is full of ice and the reflections are from ice polished by snow as it blows down the frozen river. Water is flowing under and around the ice, being fed by ground water and springs. No glacier melt adds to the flow when the thermometer hovers below minus ten degrees day after day.

Winter-Sketch-2

WInter-Sketch-4

Mount Wickersham glows in the sunlight, causing colorful shadows.

Spruce trees are almost navy blue against the glow of the deciduous tree bark being lit by the weak sunshine. The sky is pale and silvery.

Alaska Winter Sketch 5

Winter-Sketch-3

I wasn’t sketching very long before the sun set at three in the afternoon. The weak blue in the sky gave way to a warm peachy glow as I sat snuggled up in my car, happy as a cat as I sketched with the heat on.

What color is winter where you are?

Winter-Sketch-1

Late Autumn or Early Winter?- A Sketch

Caribou Creek Hill

Yesterday the sun was blazing over the tops of the mountains. As it sinks lower and lower into the southern sky, it will soon be skipping between peaks and we will count the few minutes of sunshine.  I make feeble attempts at gratefulness for any sunshine we get, but it is so harsh and lacks any real warmth. It is similar to glaring into high beam headlights. It isn’t really winter until we shovel snow and so far there is just a dusting on the ground that will most likely remain until April. This is late Autumn or early Winter. Ice but no snow.

The robins and songbirds have all left and the swans and geese have packed their tiny bags for their vacation in the relative warmth of the lower forty-eight states. Deserters. Chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers flit around the bird feeder and the sun sparkles on their puffed out feathers. Perhaps I’ll sketch them next.