Getting out to sketch

It was time to get out out to do some sketching. We took Mack for a ride to sit on the causeway. You can always find a nice breeze here. Even in the middle of summer, we still get a breeze.

As I am writing this, an osprey just snagged a fish out of the water. There were terns earlier. Mack is barking at some dogs and their people. How dare they walk so close to our vehicle! He’s sitting on John’s lap getting his belly scratched and protecting the Realm.

We pulled into a shady parking spot but the sun slowly dropped beneath the horizon. We should go on the North side and look for the meteor shower.

A photo of my twilight sketch complete with the on location photo…

Pen and ink with watercolor sketch of palm tree overlooking the Indian River West bank in Jensen Beach by Gina Lento
Jensen Beach Causeway
Pen and ink with watercolor sketch of palm tree overlooking the Indian River West bank in Jensen Beach by Gina Lento taken on the dashboard of our car after finishing the sketch
Sketch on location

Jekyll Island Map

I wanted to do this map sooner but other projects got in the way. I am taking Mike Lowery’s “Getting Paid to Draw Course” and I am doing it as a repeat because he has a whole new group of artists and special guests for 2023. I started the class early because we are going to be busy over the next couple of weeks so I wanted to ensure I had my projects done for this class and what I had going on in the studio. I have lifetime access to last year’s class so I am able to rewatch the lessons before Mike releases them in this year’s class. This way I can timely submit my class work.

This map was on my “to Do” list so I finished it as I was listening to the second week’s lessons. The nice thing about repeating this course is I get updated information in the design and illustration world while working in a class environment which helps inspire me to create more work.

This is not an art class. It is a class for artists wanting to learn how to get their work out there to art directors of companies needing illustrations and designs. It’s fun because you get to talk to other artists and Mike has mini workshops and drawing sessions throughout the year after the course is over. The course itself runs 8 weeks but it’s great when Mike does additional Zoom parties that are really helpful with keeping us on track with our goals.

Mike is a great instructor with a lot of information and he’s very supportive with his students. The registration for the class is over but if you are interested, I am sure he’ll run it again next year.

This map is from our trip to Jekyll Island and I wanted to do it to keep honing my map making skills.

Illustrated map of Jekyll Island, GA using paint pens, pencil and ink.  Colors used are a light orange, a blue violet background and black ink.
Illustrated map of Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

Pen and ink sketch with images of our weekend at Jekyll Island.  Images include a golf tee water tower, wild mistletoe, birds, a landscape, flowers, azaleas and some historic buildings like the Mistletoe Cottage and the Jekyll Island Club Resort
Jekyll Island Sketch Page

John and I went to Jekyll Island this past weekend to get away and to also celebrate his birthday. It was a spur of the moment decision. The weekend’s forecast for Jensen Beach for this past weekend was high 80’s, possibly hitting 90. We were vegging out and decided on a whim to go exploring so we made reservations and departed North to Georgia. We just weren’t ready for summer yet.

Packing for this trip was a little tricky because although it would be shorts weather when we arrived, it would be cool the rest of the weekend. We threw a little of everything in the suitcase and away we went.

We took Mack with us because it was a last minute getaway. He still misses Chloe, as we all do, but the three of us are coping with her loss. We commented on the trip up what she would have been doing in the car. It was our first road trip without her.

Jekyll Island is about 30 minutes above the Florida State Line which was awesome. It is a very small quiet island that you have to pay a toll (they call it a parking fee) to enter. It is surrounded by salt marshes and the island itself is not very developed so there are a lot of trees. Our hotel was in the Beach Village which is right after you enter the island. We checked in to our room and we immediately went out onto the balcony. We had a nice view of the ocean but what really struck me was all of the bird calls. This was very exciting because some of these calls I haven’t heard in a long time. We could sit outside on the balcony and also hear lots of birds! So AWESOME!

We grabbed dinner and took Mack for a walk. It was getting dark so this walk was a bit of a challenge. The island is very dark at night, especially since they use sea turtle friendly bulbs. We could see a lot of stars and we walked along a path that runs along the beach, which is very nice. They really have the Beach Village planned out nicely.

On Saturday the three of us took the nature trail to check out the historic part of Jekyll Island. The nature trail had sooooo many birds chirping and singing. My app was going berserk identifying all the calls. We came upon a clearing that was roped off and there was a huge gator lolling on the banks of a large pond. Whoa! We expect these guys in Florida but we forgot that they can be found as far north as North Carolina. Good thing we didn’t meet that critter the previous evening!

We checked out the little shops and strolled by the historic homes. We saw people playing croquet which was fun. We got attacked by no see ‘ums until we stopped and bought a spray. We even sprayed Mack. They were brutal.

What we really liked about Jekyll Island is the layback atmosphere and that you really didn’t need a car. Once you park the car, you can walk or bike to everything. We didn’t bring our bikes but we will the next time we visit.

I liked the salt marshes which reminded me of New Jersey. We came upon a park that was along the back bay/salt marsh side of the island and I wish I had brought my plein air gear because it was the sort of landscape I would have painted. It’s in the sketch above.

One last thought, we saw mistletoe “balls” in the trees everywhere. I sketched the Mistletoe cottage because of all the mistletoe we saw. They also have water towers that looked like giant golf tees! And it was March and their azaleas were blooming. That was pretty cool! We definitely want to go back.

Jensen Beach Map

I was playing around in my sketchbook trying to work on some illustration “to do” lists and one of the items on my list is to do more maps. I usually go very project detailed and would post them on They Draw and Travel but sometimes just freeing up my creativity to play in my sketchbook and allow myself to make mistakes takes the pressure off to explore, play and create art for the fun of it.

A playful hand drawn map of Jensen Beach, FL with blue, light orange and teal green color.  Done in a square Plumchester Sketchbook.  Image has not been digitally retouched to remove imperfections.
Map of Jensen Beach, Florida

I started the map the beginning of the week and made all these really cool icons. However, I decided to do the map while in the car when John and I were out and about. We were listening to the Yellowstone Podcast. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing until I realized that the paint marker I used was awful for this project. I didn’t like how the first map looked and the acrylic was shiny, not matte and you couldn’t write or draw over the acrylic. Well that was big a fail.

When I came back to the house, I had to go back to the drawing board, pun intended, and redo how I thought my map should look, minus the shiny marker. (The shiny marker came from an Artsnacks box.) I have Posca paint pens and Molotows which are much better for what I wanted to do. I drew the whole map again in pencil, playing with my placement of few things and I like this one much better.

I have included the image along with a version that shows what supplies I used. My Lamy Safaris are filled with Carbon Ink so they were perfect for this project. One Lamy is an extra fine point and the other is a medium point and I am really happy with how the map came out. There’s a few things that I would correct digitally but overall I really enjoyed doing this map.

Sketchbook spread of the art supplies used to create the hand drawn map of Jensen Beach.  Posca pens, Lamy safaris and Molotow pens were used,
The full page sketchbook spread with supplies

Dog Children and Grieving

Today is the first day that I have been able to sit down and type this.

On Monday, January 30, 2023, our beloved Chloe moved on to the Rainbow Bridge. John and I are still trying to make sense of this. One day she was normal and the next, we’re saying good-bye. She was only 12. Chihuahuas can live much longer than that.

Chloe was a spunky Chihuahua that we had since she was two months old. John and I had been married a little over a year and Chloe was our first “We” dog. She was so tiny but she had such a huge personality. She let us know from the beginning that she was a little Princess but she was also fragile and vulnerable and needed us for love and comfort,

Portrait of Chloe the Chihuahua.  Lavender background with fawn colored dog, pink collar looking off to the left

When you take a dog or cat into your life, and fall in love with them. You know from the first day, that you have to make ALL of the days count. When we are younger and have families, we sometimes forget this and miss bonding opportunities with the four legged family members. We forget in the chaos of life that our four legged friends are only here for so short of a time. But they wait patiently and unconditionally for that love and attention. We take them into our lives, knowing that we’ll have good times, and then we have to make the hard choices for when they become terminally ill. When you bring a dog into your life, you “sign up” for the whole enchilada; the beginning, as well as the end.

Fortunately, Chloe had the best life ever for a dog. We could work from home. There was always someone home because we also shared our former home with my husband’s parents, who lived downstairs. If John and I went out, there was Nanny and Pop pop downstairs. Two of our daughters were still living at home so Chloe always received a lot of attention.

When we traveled, many times, Chloe came with us. She was smuggled into places like Panera and fancy Italian restaurants. She watched her “daddy” drive his racehorses from the backstretch at Monticello. She’s been to the beaches of New Jersey, Virginia and Florida. She rode on a bike in Cape May, helped with horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay. She rode the Cape May ferry and even flew on an airplane. She’s been to Chincoteague and many hotels too countless to mention, She even traveled to Key West.

Scientists say that dogs have a limited vocabulary. That’s a bunch of BS. They didn’t know Chloe. She knew every meal related word, she knew our names, she understood so many words and when some words got too well known, we started to spell them and she figured those out, too. She would stand in the kitchen, look at us then up at where her food and treats were kept, and then back at us. “Hello, Human, feed me,” her eyes would say. When we didn’t react quickly enough, there was a sharp bark to keep us in line until the humans were trained better than she was.

She had a daily schedule and we were trained to stay on it. In case we would forget, we would get pre warning alerts. Especially for meals. We would crack up with the pre meal alerts.

She would stay, sleeping in our bed until SHE was ready to get up, then I could make the bed. She and her half brother Mack (who came into our lives a little later) had a doggie door so they could go in and out whenever they wanted to. Chloe was trained to go potty on command and then we were trained to give her a treat after she went potty. (My daughter swears that Chloe would “fake Pee” to get a treat.)

When we moved to Florida and she didn’t have a doggie door, she would walk to the door and announce that she had to go out. Usually this happened when an episode of our favorite shows were on and when we just at down to veg for the night. Chloe had a bewitching hour around 8PM where she wanted to play and move around.

She was healthy and her passing was like having the rug pulled out from under us. She was fine over the weekend. The only bad thing that had happened was that she fell down stairs back in November but she seemed ok. She had a nice Christmas. During January we noticed a cough. We called the vet to have her checked and we mentioned the fall but there appeared to be no ill effects from it. However, from that vet visit on a Tuesday, to a second visit on Thursday, to another visit on Saturday and then off to the pet ER that same day, she went from a cough to the tough decision of doing the most humane thing for her.

Her last day, we took her home, and spent the day with her. We took her for a car ride. Gave her whatever she wanted to eat, although the growth surrounding her trachea made it difficult to eat hard food. The tumor in her brain was killing her as well. We held her and loved her and kissed her and in the hour before the end, we took her to the park so she could see the squirrels one last time and then she was gone.

It’s been one two weeks and we are still in shock. We are still adjusting to life without her. We didn’t realize how big of an impact she did have until she was gone. There was no one to remind us to feed Mack. No one to wake us up early in the morning. No Chloe to keep us on schedule. No yips or yaps. No gentle snoring from under my desk when I work. No more cuddling her in bed at night. It took me a week to be able to sleep without her snores. No little doggie sleeping in the living room. It’s so quiet now.

Mack has had to adjust to a life of being without another dog in the house. He’s spent his whole life with Chloe, going from his biological family to Chloe. He used to drag Chloe, bed and all, across the floor just to annoy her or to try to get her to play with him. He used to lay in her pretty floral bed just to annoy her. He won’t go near her bed now. He comes in now and grumbles when it’s meal time. But he doesn’t sleep at my feet and I miss that so much.

The French call pets “l’animal de compagnie.” I think they have it correct. Dogs aren’t pets. They are companions and our dog children.

Don’t forget to hug your ‘animal de compagnie’ today and every day because each day you have them is a blessing in disguise.

That’s Right WoodChuck Chuckers…


Groundhog Day was always one of those days that you acknowledged but didn’t make much of a fuss about, (unless winter has been an especially cold and snowy one…) until the movie “Groundhog Day” came out.

I fell in love with the movie immediately. We even had a VHS version, then a Blue Ray version of the movie in our library. If the movie wasn’t on TV on February 2, then I would pop the movie in and watch the video version with my family.

My children were small when the movie came out but as they got older, it began to be a tradition to watch it in our house. It wasn’t just that the movie was funny. It was philosophical and theological. What would you do if you relived the same day over and over? Is there a Supreme Being reliving days over and over and that’s how they know everything? I am sure Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis were thinking more along the lines of poking fun at the day when they wrote the script, but the movie became so much more that I am sure they intended. It was done so well and it really makes you ponder life as you are being entertained.

The lines in the movie are classic. How can you ever look at a groundhog and not think “don’t drive angry?” That line was so hilarious in that setting. And my special favorite was Bill Murray when he’s on the phone “What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!” OMG, that made me laugh. I am sure many of us sitting at desk job have thought that very thing.

The music, too. As soon as the opening theme comes on the TV, it doesn’t matter where you are in the house, you know what movie is coming on. It’s as distinctive as the James Bond themes.

If you are working from home today, the movie is on repeat on the AMC channel.


Groundhog Day sketch done in a Hahnemuhle sketchbook using Arteza brush pens and a Lamy safari with Carbon ink.  Hand lettered.  Groundhog looks like he could pass on the whole day.
It’s Groundhog Day!

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th and I decided to play around with my Arteza brush pens. I used a sketchbook made out of the Arches Text Wove paper which can be a little temperamental for using the brush pens.

Black cats are not bad luck so I thought this kitty would be purrfect for today….

Water brush and ink sketch of a seated black cat with a collar that has the name Lucky on it

Carve December – Day 31

Yeah, today is the final day! Here is today’s stamp, which is inspired by my three flowering aloes. I never knew Aloes got flowers and mine must be pretty frisky because they keep flowering multiple times a year!

I also took a photo of all of the stamps (all 31 of them!) and it’s nice to see all of them together. There are 31 stamps that I created for me to use in other projects. I already used some for patterns and Christmas tags. I am really excited about them and adding them to last year’s collection!

This is also my final post for 2022. Happy New Year’s Eve!