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 with a Policeman, a Biker, and a Friend

I’ve been asked to take part in a sketching project originating in South Africa. People from around the world are joining me to sketch every day in August in this sketch pack they sent. The owner of an art supply store in Cape Town, called ArtSource, invited me and I had to say yes. At the end of the month, we all will send our little packet back to her and they will be on display and for sale for the month of October. I’m posting my sketches daily on Facebook if you would like to follow me there. I’ll post here every week as I don’t want to overload your inbox.

Day 1 web

Our deck is going crazy with nasturtiums!

Our deck is going crazy with nasturtiums!

My guitar waiting patiently for me to stop sketching and play.

My guitar waiting patiently for me to stop sketching and play.

Palmer with the mountains as a backdrop.

Palmer with the mountains as a backdrop.

Most of the time while I’m sketching people just walk on by, but when I sketched the little scene of Palmer, above, a policeman, a biker, and a friend stopped to visit. The policeman wanted to tell me about his sister who paints, the biker thought I had a flat tire and stopped to help, almost deafening me as he went by (twice) on his motorcycle, and the friend was happy to just visit. The pastoral vibe in the sketch came from somewhere, but not from the atmosphere around me.

Day 5 web

I’m having a hard time not sketching just flowers because they are just amazing this year with our record heat.

I made a wonderful pizza on the grill last week and a peach galette. Maybe I’ll sneak in a post with those recipes for a change of pace. Food is always a good idea and it has been awhile since I’ve let you in my kitchen.

Painting Children as a Gift of Love

Every now and then an email falls into my inbox and I smile. My niece sent me a note with a photo of her two children on a beach in New England. Would I be willing to paint it as an anniversary gift for her parents? Oh, my…yes!

What I do with a photograph like this first is to just absorb it. It may sound odd, but I want to think of the sea, the breeze, and the birds before I even put the brush to paper.

candyce jpg

Next I crop the image, making the children the focal point and deleting anything that would distract from them. I wanted to give the children a more natural element to look at such as seagulls and I moved them closer to the water. Or did I raise the tide?

I liked the plaid of the little boy’s pants, but the dots on the little girl’s dress were just too distracting.  The blue of the sky and water is lovely, but I wanted more colors in the whole image so I washed a rainbow of colors through the water and sand.

Here is the final result:

Candyce Small

Humpback Whales Have it Right

We just returned to Alaska from sixteen sun-filled days on Maui.  Humpback Whales, who spend their summers in Alaska were there, leaping out of the water with abandon. Seems they eat until they are fat and full in our cold, but food-rich water, then turn around and head to Hawaii for a winter of birthing and mating. With all the celebrating, it is no wonder they are leaping and splashing about. We talked to a man on the beach who had watched a cow that morning (that would be the female whale for you who might not know. I’d hate to have you imagining an Angus leaping about in the water). The cow was holding her calf (yes, that would be the youngin’) out of the water after just giving birth.  Aren’t they clever to spend the winter in Hawaii? I think we should follow their lead. I’m so willing.  I just learned that they don’t eat much in Hawaii so I won’t follow their lead on that score.

On the last day of our visit, a turtle waved its flipper at us as we swam though the surf to shower and go catch the plane back to Alaska.

Here are some sketches of our trip. Have you been to Hawaii? What island did you visit and what did you love?

Charley-Young-Beach Kihei-church Kihei-on-tan little-sketches-Kihei

Sketching and Purring

Last year I took a break from “producing” paintings and picked up my sketchbook to record life around me. This decision was in response to an online class I took from Cathy Johnson.  I painted a few watercolor paintings, but I spent most of the year capturing pieces of my life and surroundings in my sketchbooks. It was like taking a vacation not to  frame pieces or consider their “sale-ability”.  After spending time away from creating larger paintings, I’ve decided what I really like is painting smaller watercolors and large collage and large fabric paintings. I’ll post images of them on this blog and sell them at my online store.

Heather's cat

Heather’s cat/Strathmore Aquarius II paper/watercolor/white watercolor pencil and Sakuru white gel pen for the whiskers

During the summer I visited my friend, Heather, and I tried to photograph one of her beautiful cats while we visited in her garden. He was behaving like a cat and wouldn’t sit still for a minute or would only give me his backside or tail to look at.

A few weeks ago Heather posted a photo of one of the cats and I couldn’t resist those eyes and whiskers. I thoroughly enjoyed painting on this for several hours. This would be considered more of a study than a sketch, I guess, because I consider a sketch as taking less than an hour. That is only my definition so don’t quote me.

I wonder if you have stepped back from something to refocus or regroup this year? Please share in the comments.

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.



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


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?


Golfing and Sketching Make A Great Marriage

I’ll never be a good golfer. I just don’t care enough. My husband, however, is all about making good shots and is much more serious about the whole process of getting that little white ball in the hole eighteen times in a row. Sometimes I will ride on the cart or walk the course with him and sketch. The only down side to this is I’m usually sketching when he makes a good drive. When he says, “How’d you like that?” I dumbly say, “What?” or “Oh, that was great!” whether I saw the shot or not.

While we were vacationing in Arizona earlier in November, we drove the “back nine” at Haven Golf Course together. Arizona has beautiful golf courses. Here are a few sketches. I sketched in pen then added watercolor later.



During our stay in Arizona, a sketching friend, Leslie, came to visit and we sketched for three days and had a wonderful time. You may see her sketches here on her fun blog.

Arizona Ranch Sketches

Today I get to tell you who is the winner in the drawing for the gift cards. I’ll tell you at the end of this post.

I promised more sketches from my sketchbook of our time in Arizona. We had such a grand time there. So warm and sunny. Here you go!

Inside this building is the wonderful smell of leather, horse sweat and dust.

Lovely views on the drive up Box Canyon Road…

I took two sketchbooks with me to Arizona. One is a sweet little 5″ x 5″ hardbound one made by Hand Book. I like it because it is small and there is the option of painting on one page in a square format or horizontal in 5″ x 10″.  This is two pages. I might fill in the blank space with something like a harness or a bit…who knows?

Little sketches from the ranch in the “Hand Book”.

Crimson Bottle Brush bloom. I really like to paint across the page.

And the winner of the box of gift cards is…..Peggy Saunders!  I love !  Peggy, you may email me at suziepaints at Yahoo dot com and send me your address and I’ll pop them right in the mail.

Next post will be more Arizona sketches. I’m remembering the sunshine during these cold, dark Alaska winter days.

Sketching a Ranch in Arizona

“Arizona Ranch” 4×6 watercolor sketch

We were vacationing in Arizona for the last two weeks. It was so sunny and warm. Such a nice break from the cold in Alaska. I rode my bicycle and sketched cactus from the sidewalk. I sketched the Santa Rita mountains from the valley. I saw coyotes and birds and smelled the incredible smell of the desert after rain.

Driving our funny little car up Box Canyon Road into the mountains, I would stop and sketch cows and the valley below. There was a driveway with “no trespassing” signs leading to a ranch and I longingly looked at the buildings, cows, and horses in the distance. As a teenager, I had spent several weeks on a ranch in eastern Oregon and my fingers twitched to sketch the familiar things from my past.

It took a little searching, but online I found a contact number and called the ranch. The owner was very pleasant but cautious about having me on his property. He said to come up so I went the next day. He very graciously gave me a tour for over an hour, then he told me to make myself at home and sketch wherever I wanted. I agreed not to post the name of his ranch to respect his privacy.

The ranch was everything I could have hoped for; beautifully stout red Angus cattle roamed among the rocks, trees, and grass in the warm sun as I sketched. And no snakes slithered about which made me very happy.  This ranch has been there for over a hundred years and I could feel the years of sun and wind on the structures and the land. There was a pleasing sense of new and old on the property.  I felt right at home as I breathed in the smell of leather and horse sweat in the tack room.

I’ll post more of my sketches in the next post, but because this is Thanksgiving week, I want to show how thankful I am to all of you who read these posts and take the time to comment. Thank you! I’m having a drawing for a box of my 5″ x 7″ gift cards. All you have to do is comment before Sunday, November 25th and you will be in the drawing.  And yes, I will mail them anywhere in the world.  Here are some images of the eight cards in the package:

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.