Category Archives: ink and watercolor


A brief break from sketches of my Zambia trip – here are 3 dogs sketched from photos from a friend. I don’t know the dogs personally, but I think the photos caught their personalities, even if my sketches didn’t!

Emily - black lab mix

Emily is a black lab mix

Enzo golden mix dog

Enzo is a golden mix

Maxine cairn terrier mix

Maxine – cairn terrier mix – I think she looks like a cute cartoon dog!

Zambia – more art!

Not sure if you’ve seen enough, but here’s some more art made from my trip photos and sketches. I haven’t even gotten to the elephants yet, (my favorites, you may recall!) I’m saving those, and I may shed a tear or two while sketching as they are so dear to my heart. ❤️

Red-billed Hornbills

Red-billed Hornbills


Hyena – I wondered what he was looking at?


The giraffes were very tall!


Zebra – their black and white stripes were quite vivid.


The hippos are cute, but very dangerous!


Zambia – guests at the lodge

Our huts were mostly quite clean, and (I think I mentioned) the beds were quite comfy.  But somehow, these little guys (or gals, not sure) managed to enter and keep me company every day!
I even did a photo album titled: “There’s a frog in my …!”  And of course, one of them got sketched.

Tree frog

One of my guests – a brown tree frog

A sketch done inside South Luangwa Park-

Zambia Landscape

Zambia landscape


Zambia – inspired

Hello!  More than one person has asked me if this trip was “worth” it. Not sure how you could put a price on seeing elephants in their home, and not in a zoo.  If the leopard in the nearby tree doesn’t make your heart skip a beat when he stands up to check out your vehicle, then I have to wonder if you are even alive. Or how about seeing exotic birds that aren’t caged?  Hippos in the river next to your lodge?

Yes, it was more than I normally pay for a vacation, but hello, it’s AFRICA, and who knows if I’ll ever get back? (Although, I’m definitely hoping for a return visit!)

One thing I can say about this trip is that I came home truly inspired.  The experience seems to have opened up some creative faucet, and I hope it doesn’t turn off for a while!

Here are a few of my recent works:  Recent paintings

Top left:  Yellow- billed stork. Top right: Helmeted guineafowl. (With one of their feathers!) Middle left: Kingfisher (grey-headed?)  Middle right: Hippo. Bottom: Little Bee-eater

These are all ink and watercolor on Arches 7×10 cold pressed paper

Zambia – what an adventure!

With Zambia temperatures in the high 90s, the heat and dust made me wish for cooler weather. Waking up back home in upstate NY, the cool rain was exactly what I needed.
But – Africa, right? It’s now in my heart and in my dreams.

There is a lack of focus in these posts, so let’s blame it on jet lag, okay?
I’m not sure where to start, to share parts of this experience. It feels like words aren’t enough to describe it.  Well, of course there are sketches, but maybe I’ll start at the beginning.

When you’re my seat mate, or in an airport, know that you are fair game to be a sketch subject.  Asleep on the plane

Arriving at Thornicroft Lodge near Mfuwe, we had a perfect view of the river, with hippos and various birds.  View across Luangwe River

Our safari rides into South Luangwe Park started on Tuesday. My dream on this trip was to see elephants, and they did not disappoint!  So as not to overwhelm you, I’ll only post some of the sketches today. There were many fantastic opportunities to sketch, and we took advantage of them!
2017 Z Elephants 1    elephants 3  elephants 4

Positano mountain top view

A work in progress in my new concertina sketchbook, a gift from a visiting friend. (I tried to post on instagram, but it seems iMovie music is not copyright free, which is weird.)

Anyway, here is a short video with my inklines. This is the view from my terrace.  It starts north of Positano. Then Montepertuso, Nocelle and the city of Praiano is at the very end.

Note that the elevation difference required me to start at the top again towards the end!

A Few (mis)Adventures

Being here for a month on your own, is definitely not the same as a week’s vacation!
I’ve had a few things happen that have challenged my idea that I am an intrepid adventurer.

I do have so much free time here, it’s ridiculous. My only responsibilities are the 2 fur babies and watering the garden. I sleep in, feed the pets, enjoy my coffee, add salve to all the new mosquito bites and take up the trash. There’s usually a walk down to the beach, or if I’m lazy or it’s too hot, just a walk to the grocer up the street. then a nap in the pm, restoring my energy to prepare dinner.

Positano trash index

Positano trash requirements alter my idea of a simple life

Wrong way – again!

But the first time down to the beach, I took a wrong turn coming back up the (500-600) stairs, increasing my stair time. The second time down, I decided to return the same way I went down.
Yep, another wrong turn, and I’ve done this probably more than 20 times during previous visits!
So now I’ve made maps! Yes, the lady that used to make maps in a previous lifetime made maps for fun! And to prevent more wrong turns!

Positano map near Villa Franca

Map showing top of my 130 stairs relative to grocery, etc.

Positano map of stairs to beach

Map showing Villa Franca and dashed lines indicate STAIRS to beach. It’s more complicated in person, trust me.


Delays and a message

Even when I know where I’m going, things seem to purposely make me do more stairs. For instance, I went up to get groceries and a SIM card for a phone. First time up, got to the top, and it started sprinkling. It hasn’t rained here in months, so I was worried it might be a downpour, so back down the stairs to get an umbrella. By the time I got home, it had stopped. So back up, first stop was the SIM card. Kate TOLD me more than once that I needed my passport to get one.
Of course I forgot that. So I got groceries, brought them home and went back up and got the card.

Funny story about that phone. I got the card so I could text people in Europe, and not use my regular phone. The first time I tried texting, it worked once, then stopped. (I did buy a 5gb plan)
Next I tried calling a friend, only to get a voice message in Italian, and I never bothered to learn more Italian than prego, bongiorno, and ciao. As a super nerd, I used google translate and the mike to auto translate the Italian message. And here’s what it said: (I swear, I am not making this up!)
“If I can’t get my company can you come get a couple of my f*cking time I don’t like about it”
So, back to the store, where I let them listen to the message (in Italian, of course!) and they informed me I did not have a “plan”. I thought that’s what the gb thing was, so 5€ later, I had a working cell phone. Perfecto!

After posting this, I will get back to sketching to relax!

Positano life

I’m happy to say that several ‘solo’ days have passed uneventfully. Mr. Lizard was gone the next morning, and I started insinuating myself into Positano life.
I stopped at the local bread shop and picked up a focaccia bread with veggies on top. So delicious!  

The next day, I ambitiously headed down to the beach with Rose (furry friend, certain a sketch will follow soon!) and we went to Ferdinando’s, a beach restaurant. I ordered a spritzer (yes, I’m on vacation, no need to wait til 5 o’clock) and a pizza. I relaxed and did a quick sketch.  Ferdinandos

Not surprisingly, even though I used to create and work with topographic maps, I took a wrong turn on the way back up the stairs. Now, I’ve been here before, and have made a habit of counting the stairs – it’s either 500 or 600, depending on the route. This wrong turn had to add at least a hundred stairs, plus a short walk down the main road before arriving home.
A slight cold caught on the plane contributed to a lack of energy and breath as I climbed what seemed like endless stairs.
Note: I might be exaggerating here, but not much!

Finally, today found me with more energy, probably due to the slight decrease in temperature and a rejuvenating breeze. Rose and I headed to the hardware store where I purchased a necessary house item, then on the way back, stopped and got green grapes ( which were quite large and sooo sweet) and a cantaloupe (also so juicy and sweet) and a little cheese. So lunch consisted of cantaloupe, crusty bread dipped in olive oil and a bit of cheese.  grapes

After lunch came siesta, and not just for me, but also for my furry friends.
Here is Yogi, a very cuddly cat. Unfortunately, I just found out that the way he likes to snuggle his head under your chin – creates itchy red welts on me. I didn’t realize my allergies were from skin contact. I feel terrible, because he is so loving, but…don’t worry, I’m creative, I’ll find a solution!  Yogi the cat

Note: Sorry for the poor image quality. I’m using my camera and iPhone and am having trouble adjusting to find the white of the paper. These will all be scanned once I get home!

Italy. Again.

Getting ready for another travel adventure! Soon I will be back in Italy, again on the Amalfi coast.
Here’s a map showing the location: Italy watercolor map

I also prepared something to help me hold a moleskine sketchbook with my palette.
It’s a simple piece of sturdy cardboard, covered with contact paper, using clips to hold the items.
My brush and pencil case can stand on its own, or can be clipped to the corner of the board. Holder for palette & sketchbook

So – I should be set to tackle some serious fun, making art, enjoying the Italian wine and food, and soaking up the sun and sea.

Stay tuned for updates!