More Sketch January – bird, fish, Annie

sketch january 13 raven

On January 13, a raven from Yellowstone National Park was inspiration (taken from my photo).

sketch january 15 fossil fish

“Dreaming Diplomystus Dentatus” on January 15.

An ancient fish that appeared to me to be sleeping, lost in a dream. Worked from my photo from Fossil Butte National Monument.

sketch january 16 sleeping annie

My dog Annie was too content and cute not to draw on the evening of January 16.  All dogs should be so happy.

Sketch January Highlights

After seeing a Twitter posting on a sketch January challenge, I decided to give it a go. Here’s a sampling of favorites:

sketch january 11 copy

“Gray Jay”  – pen and graphite pencil, 2015

Taken from my photo at Rocky Mountain National Park a couple springs ago of a very friendly gray jay, who sat by me, while I painted a mountain. I made a watercolor of him, too, at the time, since he was such a willing model.

The drawing/painting was created with Faber- Castell PITT pens, which are essentially india ink in pen form. Wonderful to work with, as they act like watercolors with their layering possibilities and drawing media for the control one has with line. The other two images below were drawn with the same media, along with a white wax pencil to add highlights.

sketch january 10 magpie copy

“Magpie” – pen, white wax pencil and graphite pencil, 2015

Another friendly bird who engaged me at Rocky Mountain National Park that same spring. I got out of the car to find this bird walking about me, displaying and showing off. I did not even offer him food. A special experience it was, though it normally is with most corvids. I guess he knew I loved magpies and his relatives.  :) He was starting to curve his head down in this moment.

sketch january 8 spider copy

“Spider on Cacti” – pen, white wax pencil and pencil, 2015

I found this little orb weaver amongst cacti at the botanical gardens when I was in Dublin, Ireland a couple years ago. I did not have time to sketch at the time, so she has finally been recorded here in a fine art format.  :)

As always, your respect is appreciated so please do not copy and reproduce without permission.

Thanks and happy drawing!

Milwaukee Public Museum Butterflies

sketch january 5 butterflies from MPM

“Milwaukee Public Museum Butterflies” by Kristin Gjerdset

Watercolor, pencil and ink, 2015

Yesterday, I painted a milkweed pod to turn my thoughts to spring days. Today, I experienced the warmth of summer, indoors, at the butterfly pavilion of the Milwaukee Public Museum. The subjects were much less cooperative in terms of sitting still, than would a dried botanical subject. However, the challenge is always good, to observe with care and attention. My only disappointment is that it was difficult to do justice to the complexity of their wing structure and pattern. But it was a joy to have them flying about, momentarily landing upon my arm, as I worked.

Here are photos of butterflies I saw:

MPM january buttefly 4 MPM january butterfly 1 MPM january butterfly 5 group view MPM january butterfly 5 MPM january butterfly 6MPM january butterflly 7

Milkweed Seed Burst

milkweed seed burst

“Milkweed Seed Burst” by Kristin Gjerdset

Watercolor, pencil and ink, 2015

With the ground now covered in white and the temperatures dropping to teens, I wanted to be reminded that spring will come again. Making an image of a milkweed pod I had collected in the fall seemed like a good remedy. And it was. As I worked, I thought about all the sleeping seeds and other animals underground, resting before they rise again. An essential rest so they will be strong and vibrant when the warm weather arrives. So I must be patient and appreciate the necessity of dormancy.

The Owl Pellet


“The Owl Pellet” by Kristin Gjerdset

Watercolor, pencil and ink, 2014

Walking the dog, I often find interesting subjects on the sidewalk; this owl pellet being one of them. I decided to make a study of the pellet itself then take it apart to determine what had been eaten.

In the top portion of the image, the largest blue and black form is the pellet intact. Scattered around are the hair and bones I found within. Much to my surprise, I found the hind foot of what looks to be from a cat. I was told by a local ornithologist, it is quite possible that this Great Horned Owl found a small cat for a meal!

Don’t Despair If You Find Your Goldfish Upside Down…

goldfish watercolor of upside down

….give him a green pea. Yesterday morning, I found my goldfish, Peter, struggling to swim, periodically floating to the top and turning over. I could tell he was in a great degree of stress. I recognized it as a bladder condition. I did a Google search for advice on treatment. Multiple sources noted to give him a green pea with the skin removed. I dropped a couple in. While he had trouble stabilizing his body to eat, he was successful in grabbing one, much to my relief. Additionally, I replaced the filter, did a water change and put in a teaspoon of salt per gallon. This morning, Peter was back to normal. As celebration, I painted this watercolor of him swimming comfortably and calmly once again. Thanks to the goldfish experts of the Internet for helping remedy my fish!

Discovery World Creatures

discovery world creatures

On a Sunday afternoon, I visited Discovery World in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a part of museum swap day. Of course, I headed to the aquarium section immediately! The first animal I painted was a bearded looking fish (located in the top portion of this composition).I did not notice him initially, as he was so well camouflaged under the bark, rarely moving. Most fascinating were his eyes reflecting yellow and orange and the mossy looking extensions under his chin and the top of his head. He looked like a type of frog king, crowned with two sets of headpieces. I then added a fish with lines of dots along its sides. I could see him below my feet, as the floor showed through to an aquarium. It was fun to watch visitors come through, hesitant to “walk on water.” I have to admit I was a bit un-nerved by the pathway as well, as it has the illusion you will fall in.
Next, came the aquatic turtle, who was also a very still, willing model. I wondered what to with the remainder of my page, however, when I had finished with him. The museum was warm and crowded, so space to work in was both challenging and limited, but then I noticed a TV, under an alcove, playing a movie about planktons. No one was there. It was the perfect spot and subject. The movie was about what one finds in a drop of water, creatively filmed. Different types of brine shrimp, daphnia shrimp and other plankton were shown at close range, swimming and sometimes struggling about. To make the composition of my sketches complete, I added these microscopic scattered around the three larger forms. They allowed me to playfully and rhythmically finish the arrangement.

“Lunch with Guests” – Mixed Media Artwork

Lunch with Guests

“Lunch with Guests” by Kristin Gjerdset – mixed media

Invited to participate in an art exhibit requiring the use of brown paper, a lunch bag immediately came to mind. I knew I wanted to add insect life in a way that made sense. Implying a picnic seemed the best answer. Included are the usual “guests” – a fly, ants, hornet, a little red clover mite and the drop-in spider.

As always, thanks for visiting and please respect my images from one creative to another. Please ask for my permission if you wish to reproduce my original image in any way.


Transect No. 2: Veteran’s Park – September 1

transect 2 veterans park

Transect No. 2: Veteran’s Park, Colored Pencil, 6″ x 6″

Created after viewing Kandinsky’s retrospective at the Milwaukee Art Museum, it was a joy to get out and draw. I found his work such an inspiration, particularly his smaller images where he gathered shapes, lines and dots in intricate, imaginative combinations. I have much to learn from him and believe I have found a kindred spirit.

Compared to my backyard yesterday, I found it much more challenging to find insects in a mowed park space. But I did with patience. Here is a list of what I encountered:

  • unidentified species of bee
  • hover fly
  • unidentified species of ladybug like beetle (plus it moved so fast, as if it was late for an appointment)
  • clouded sulphur butterfly
  • unidentified species of skipper butterfly
  • three types of mushrooms
  • two types of damselflies
  • japanese beetle (non-native species, considered destructive)
  • hornet searching for prey (He moved with great speed across the surface of the grass, occasionally stopping to investigate a possible food source but I did not witness him catching anything. i think he lost patience with me following him because then he suddenly zipped away and he was gone.)
  • slug in crevice of tree
  • fly
  • red dragonfly
  • yellow flower I should learn the name of
  • prairie clover
  • bumblebee
  • red mite (?) – those funny, really tiny little spiders that crawl across you, yet seemingly oblivious to you

In the process of recording as many insects and biological life as possible in a limited timeframe, the image became challenging to arrange the random encounters in a somewhat balanced way. I have yet to learn how these types of studies will best be realized. 

As always, thanks for visiting and please respect my images from one creative to another. Please ask for my permission if you wish to reproduce the image in any way, as they are my own originals.