pink hydrangea watercolor

Rooster, Sunflower and Pink Hydrangea

posted in: Birds, Plants, WIP | 0

Thanks to a new scanner I’ve finally been able to scan some recent work. The hydrangea blossom above was the most recently finished. Also included are this rooster and sunflower.

strutting rooster by rowntreestudio.comThe Strutting Rooster is ink and scratching on clayboard. The piece measures 5″ x 7″.

sunflower watercolor by rowntreestudio.comThis sunflower painting is watercolor on Arches 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. It measures approximately 8″ x 10″.

I’m working on getting reproductions of all three pieces available in my Etsy shop!

kaloakulua's nest site photo by Hob Osterlund

Kaloakulua Prints: Follow-up

posted in: Birds | 0

I fell in love with Kaloakulua the Laysan Albatross. After she fledged I made a little piece of artwork celebrating her time at the nest. I sold prints of that artwork (and one original, Albatross Pair II). Today I gave the Cornell Lab of Ornithology all the profits from those sale: a donation of $940. This is amazing to me.

I’m not surprised that other people love KK too. She is the most loveable bird I’ve ever seen, and I never even met her in person. What is amazing to me is that so many people were excited about the artwork that I had to reorder prints from the printer three times (so far). I had no idea what kind of response I’d get when I made the prints available and I have been blown away. I love what the Cornell Bird Cam program does and it’s hugely exciting that other people connected with both the birds and my artwork and gave me this chance to support the cams.

If you love watching the bird cams and are able to donate, please do. It’s very expensive to stream HD video 24/7 and the program relies heavily on donations to keep the cams running.

Thank you to everyone who purchased a KK print and to everyone who wrote to share their delight in KK and her family. It’s been pure joy to share this adventure!


(Above: at the empty nest site with my husband, photo by Hob Osterlund.)

  • scratchboard rooster by

Scratchboard Rooster

posted in: Birds, WIP | 0

I’m having fun with inks and clayboard! Yesterday’s project was this rooster with a serious expression and an amazing hairdo.

This piece and others will be available for sale soon, possibly first becoming available at the upcoming Woodinville Craft Fair.

Scratchboard Demo: Northern Saw-whet Owl

posted in: Birds, WIP | 0

After all the work I’ve been doing on the albatross and wheat artwork I felt a need to do something loose and relatively carefree. I turned to clayboard and a few colorful inks.

Above is a video of some of the work I’ve done on this little saw-whet project. I’m working on a 4″ x 4″ piece of Ampersand brand Claybord and working with Ampersand Scratchbord Inks. They dry quickly and really stick to the board’s clay surface. I’m working back and forth between inking and scratching, adding ink, scratching back, adding more ink, and so on. It’s a fun way to work, and it isn’t limited to inks for color. People use this same approach with colored pencils and watercolors (and probably whatever else they can come up with).

scratchboard, ink, saw-whet owl,

The tool I’m using for scratching is a number 16 X-acto knife blade. The edge of the blade can be used for shallow, wide scratches while the tip works for fine lines. By rotating your grip on the knife you adjust the scratch shape. The brush I’m using here is a small, inexpensive synthetic round brush. I’ve got water in a container too for washing the brush and for diluting the ink. My palette is just a plastic lid. The inks dry quickly so I don’t put more on the palette than I need for more than a couple minutes of work.

The other tool I’m using here is my camera. I haven’t done much with the video capabilities before so I’m experimenting with both that and Photoshop CS6 video editing tools. What do you think? Are you interested in seeing more work in progress?


Albatross Art

posted in: Birds, WIP | 0

Update 7/15:

I underestimated the demand for KK prints. The first run ran out in just two days! Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten one yet. I’ve ordered more from the printer and hope to have the listing up on Etsy again later today. This is not a limited edition print, so everyone who wants to purchase a copy will get one eventually, even if I have to go back to the printer over and over again. I’m delighted that there’s so much interest and it’s certainly great for the Cornell Lab!

Update 7/11:

Prints of Kaloakulua and her parent are now available through my Etsy shop. This link will take you there: KK on Etsy.


webs up by Elizabeth Smith
Very rough draft

As mentioned in a previous post, I couldn’t get enough of Kaloakulua and the other birds of Cornell’s 2014 Laysan Albatross Birdcam, and I’m celebrating the end of the breeding season with art. One piece is finished and I have a few more in mind. I’ll post updates here as additional pieces and prints become available.

Welcome and thank you to everyone who watched KK along with me!

(Pictured above is a very, very rough draft!)


Many thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Kauai Albatross Network.

Albies by Elizabeth Smith of

The Laysan Albatross Birdcam

posted in: Birds | 0

This has been an amazing year so far with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s live streaming birdcams. I was sucked into these cams two years ago when Cornell started streaming HD video of red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, ospreys and other birds, and two years later I’m just as hooked. I could go on and on about the birds and the cam program but I’m going to spare you that. Watch them and there’s a good chance you’ll be sucked in too!

This year Cornell teamed up with the Kaua’i Albatross Network and installed a cam on private property on the north shore of Kaua’i, streaming the amazing lives of a family of Laysan albatross. This year we watched Kaloakulua grow up, raised by her parents Kuluahine (Mom) and Kuluakane (Dad). She was born in late January and fledged on June 24th. Over those months we saw her explore her nest under trees and bushes on the edge of a lawn, then gradually increase her range until we sometimes needed people on the ground to go figure out where she was hiding out of cam view.

It was my great privilege to volunteer as a camera operator. I came into it late, but I joined an amazing group of people just as obsessed with the albatross as I am. I hope that next year we have another wonderful chick to follow!

The cam is off now for the season but should be back up in the winter.  If you’d like to see many, many screenshots and videos from KK’s months as a chick, check out my Twitter feed and the cam’s official Twitter feed. You can also check up on another chick (Mango) still in the area and find out about albatross news through the cam’s website.

I’m celebrating the Laysan Albatross Cam’s first season with artwork. So far I have one completed piece and I hope there will be more. The piece pictured above shows a very young KK with one of her parents. It’s meant to capture the sweet bond these birds share. The piece is small, only five by seven inches, and done in watercolor and colored pencil on paper. I’ll be making prints of this piece available for purchase with all profits going to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cam program. Stay tuned – I’ll let you know when the prints are ready to go.

Waterfowl at the Park: Lots of Bird Pictures

posted in: Birds, Photography | 0
greater scaup by Elizabeth Smith
Probably a greater scaup.

Winter is the time for waterfowl around here. In the summer we have mallard ducks, a few gadwalls and a batch of Canada geese. This time of year the mallards and gadwalls are around, plus a few more. Yesterday I went to a park down on the lake and saw a wonderful variety of waterfowl, plus some seagulls. I don’t have the camera equipment to get great shots of birds far out on the water, but I do take some not-so-great shots to use at home to help with identification.

This is what an afternoon at the park can look like:

winter day by elizabeth smith
A winter day at the lake.
Wigeons on the beach by Elizabeth Smith
A flock of American wigeons.
bufflehead by Elizabeth Smith
A male bufflehead


waterfowl by elizabeth Smith
Common goldeneyes, greater scaups and ring-necked ducks, I think. These were all diving birds.
common merganser by elizabeth smith
A common merganser
green-winged teal by elizabeth smith
A male green-winged teal
hooded merganser by elizabeth smith
A female hooded merganser
mallard tail by elizabeth smith
Mallard tail — check out those bright orange feet!
duck pond by elizabeth smith
A ring-necked duck and a hooded merganser cruise across the pond.
barge by elizabeth smith
A barge is pushed up the lake by a tug.
ring billed bull by elizabeth smith
A ring-billed gull. There are always seagulls around!

It’s hard to stay inside painting when it’s so sunny out! Sometimes I need the sun. I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at the local wildlife. Now I’ll get back to work on a watercolor painting that you’ll seen here soon.




Crows and Juncos and Bushtits, Oh My!

posted in: Birds | 0
A crow visits the suet feeder.
My firs visitor to the suet feeder.

Earlier this month I attached a simple suet feeder to my deck railing. I hoped to attract cute little birds, but you can see who discovered it first! I’m not convinced that the crows have any trouble finding lunch during the winter around here, so I’d rather they left the snacks for others.

My next visitors were more what I expected:

A junco at the suet feeder.
A junco at the suet feeder.

Juncos have been regular visitors to my deck and thistle feeder for a few weeks now, and they eventually discovered the suet feeder too. Sometimes I have more than a half dozen juncos exploring my feeders and planters at once. The cat and I both find this intensely interesting, although I’m not dreaming about eating the birds.

Finally I’ve gotten some even smaller visitors: bushtits!

A flock of bushtits at the suet feeder.
A flock of bushtits at the suet feeder.

These are very little birds. They travel in flocks, swooping to a feeding area and staying for a very short time before zipping off together to a new feeding spot. I’ve had about a dozen at a time hit the feeder, although they never stay long enough for me to grab my camera and get a shot of all of them together. So far they’ve only visited in the morning when it’s foggy and a bit dark, making photography hard. I get a kick out of their expressions, and I’m delighted that they’ve added my deck to their rounds!

Look at the expression on the face of the one coming in for a landing in the lower right!
Look at the expression on the face of the one coming in for a landing in the lower right! So determined!


Happy Assorted Winter Holidays!

posted in: Birds, Plants | 0
Junco and Amanita muscaria
Junco and Amanita muscaria

For holiday cards this year I decided to highlight a local bird and a local mushroom. Juncos have been taking full advantage of the feeders on my deck this winter and I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get good reference photos of them. My cat has spent that same time standing rigid with excitement at the window. He does not get to go outside, so the birds are safe. The mushrooms are Amanita muscaria. Found around here in the woods and even in town, their spotted red caps are striking but highly toxic. According to Wikipedia the mushrooms have been mixed up with Christmas in popular culture, although their popularity as magic toadstools in various media is more widespread.

The piece is about 4.5 by 6.5 inches and worked in watercolor, colored pencil and gouache on watercolor paper.