Join the Journey

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We’re having fun in my weekly email video course, Journey Through the Natural Year.  I thought you might like to see our most recent projects: summer cottage garden (above) and watercolor koi (below).

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Upcoming lessons (which land in your inbox every Thursday) include sketching autumn landscapes in ink and exotic birds in watercolor — and every fifth week is a hand-lettering project. The cost is $30 per month, and you can start anytime. Click here to find out more.

Crow or Raven?

Crow or Raven art - Copy

This week’s email video art lesson uses ballpoint pen to explore the differences that set apart two geniuses of the avian world: the crow and the raven. Of more than 800 bird species in North America, these two are the only who are completely black… and, perhaps for that reason, people tend to mix them up.

Sketching them quickly reveals some enormous differences: the raven is four times the crow’s size, for example, with an imposing wingspan of up to four feet. The raven has a massive beak and a shaggy ruff beneath his neck. He tends to be a solitary fellow, while the gregarious crow likes to fly in raucous groups.

Both are delightful to draw. (Registration is still open for the weekly email course, Journey Through the Natural Year. For info, click HERE.)

Scancrow - CopyScanraven - Copy

Ballpoint Botanical

Val Webb ballpoint botanical

This week’s email video lesson featured the humble ballpoint pen… a simple tool capable of creating soft, velvety shading — perfect for botanical sketches. Our subject was the prickly pear cactus and its frequent parasite, cochineal insects. (Spoiler alert: dried and ground-up cochineal are the source of the food coloring Red No. 4. Enjoy that bowl of pink yogurt!)

Next week, we’ll go fast and loose to draw summer birds. See you then!

For information on receiving weekly video lessons and illustrated printables, click HERE.

Countdown: Three weeks!

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Simplify, simplify!       — Henry David Thoreau

I love a supply list that is short and sweet. My newest course, Journey Through the Natural Year, spans 52 weekly art videos and uses only 10 items plus the paper or sketchbook of your choice. It’s a back-to-basics approach that will help you discover new and surprising uses for the humble drawing pencil, the kneaded eraser… even the ballpoint pen.

I’m always excited with the approach of a new course, but this one is special. A video lesson will arrive in your email every week, season after season, steadily building a full year of videos you keep forever. I love the format because it can follow me as I travel and camp, including a kaleidoscope of plants and animals from a wide range of locations.

If you’re curious about the complete supply list, here it is:

JOURNEY Supply List


A gift for you


If you love colored pencil as much as I do, you will have fun using sgraffito — a technique borrowed from pottery making — to create a cozy nest cradling a clutch of little eggs. The video lesson below will take you through the process step-by-step, and I have included a color printable pdf with the steps as well.

Happy drawing!

The video password is nest


…And here is your printable pdf:

3-13 Colored Pencil Nest


Start anytime: JOURNEY Through the Natural Year

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All new content, all year long… Get video lessons and printables in your inbox every Thursday. Botanicals, birds, wildlife, nature journaling, pencil, ink, watercolor — and the course is yours to keep forever.

Love hand lettering? One lesson each month includes a new, original hand-lettered alphabet project.

The course will follow the changing seasons. Draw and paint the lush beauty of summer, the gentle winding down of autumn, the hidden life of winter and the explosion of new life with the return of the spring. If you took my previous all-year course, Draw Paint Letter, this will follow a similar calendar, but with all new material.

Deepen your understanding of the natural world and sharpen your creative skills. Explore watercolor textures and masking, realism in pencil, expressive ink and much, much more in 52 weekly videos.

The supply list is very short — just 10 basic items plus the paper or sketchbook of your choice. See it here:   JOURNEY Supply List

The cost of the course is $30 per month, with new lesson cycles always starting on the 20th. PayPal invoices will be sent out monthly. Stop anytime or continue all 12 months.

Journey through the natural year with me! Click to sign up:
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Fresco update: almost done!

fresco update

It was awfully hard to put down my paintbrush last night. Layering the magenta, brown, pink and green to build up another tulip is such a mesmerizing process… light, then dark, then light again and suddenly a flower has formed on the plaster surface! I am learning with every brush stroke, and looking forward to teaching this medium to you.

Watch for a post of the finished fresco.