Nature iPad Explorations: Recording Observations

During this second week of iPad explorations, I focused on the iPad as a tool for recording explorations and discoveries. Here are some of my favorite FREE apps from this week’s nature explorations:

Ink Flow

This was definitely one of my favorite apps for fomenting my questions and discoveries. I found that the pen control was much smoother than some other journal/sketchbook apps.


Adobe Ideas

This was another great journal/sketchbook app. Pen control wasn’t quite as smooth, but I did like the ability to add photos into my notes.


Shadow Pup

I saved the best for last! Shadow Pup is a great app for recording observations because it allows for voice explanations of pictures. I have used this app in my classroom as a way for students to talk about their work! Here’s a link to one of my recorded observations:

There are many other wonderful apps for recording–some of which I will mention in weeks to come! If you have come across a great go-to app for recording observations, I’d love to hear about it! For next week, I will focus on the iPads ability to explore movement and change in nature! I’ll include some fun animation apps in my explorations!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

August Nature Art Challenge: WHERE’S PACO?

I have finally returned from a most relaxing vacation on Isla Mujeres, an island near Cancun, Mexico. Along with finding time for snorkeling, visiting parts of The Underwater Museum (AMAZING.), and exploring the island via golf cart, I spent time artfully ¬†exploring the island–Where’s Waldo-style!

During the last week of my stay, the weather took a turn for the worst (thank you, Hurricane Ernesto!). After the storm had passed, birds (particularly pigeons) seemed to swarm the beach! Thus, the inspiration for my artful explorations hit! Most of the birds were brown and black–or some combination of the two colors. So when I noticed an interesting black-and-white spotted pigeon, I knew I had found my Waldo (or “Paco”).

Here is the resulting composition, titled “Where’s Paco?”:

Along with hiding “Paco,” I also hid (true to Waldo drawings) 10 keys, 15 other birds, and a few other comical characters. As I was adding details to each of the four sections of this drawing, I tried to maintain a balance between my observations and cartoonish exaggerations.

I hope some of you will give this challenge a try! I had a lot of fun adding details and hiding “Paco!” Through this exploration, I found that I was forced to observe both the small details and happenings around me, as well as the larger picture (when composing my background).

After completing this challenge, I would offer two suggestions:

1. Don’t add color until your composition is COMPLETE!

2. Try to fit in as many details and textures as you can. These help in hiding your “Waldo!” After I had finished drawing as many objects as I could, I tried to add sand and water textures to make the drawing look more complex.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer! Take a walk. Snap some pictures. Have a picnic. Enjoy the beauty around you, wherever that might be!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

Nature Watercolor Challenge: DAY TWO!

I’m a sucker for special effects, so today’s challenge proved to be a fun and exciting one! Using regular table salt, the tip of a mechanical pencil (no lead), and a plastic square that I scrounged up from my odds and ends drawer, I painted the following picture:

All of the dotted areas (mostly on the left side) are the result of the table salt. The trees, branches, and grass were created using the sgraffito techniques, and paper towel was used for reverse printmaking on the ground. Not only was it a lot of fun to explore these special effects, but it also gave me a lot of great ideas for ways that each can be used for my nature explorations! (I could definitely see the “magic” factor of the salt (or rubbing alcohol) going over well with my students!)

For tomorrow’s challenge, explore a natural texture that you find interesting! Find the texture and then take several photographs or sketch it. Then, try to recreate that texture using watercolors! You can try using the special effects that we explored today, or try new techniques to recreate your natural texture.

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Nature Crochet Art Challenge: DAY SIX!

Well, once again it’s time to start wrapping up another month’s nature art challenge! For today’s explorations, I added details and outlines to my crocheted shapes using a thin, dark brown string. Here is the result of today’s explorations:

For the final day of the Nature Crochet Art Challenge, create a border, frame, or support for your canvas. Consider the materials, colors, or patterns that you might use to complement your composition.

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Nature Zentangle Art Challenge: DAY ONE!

Happy first day of this month’s ZENTANGLE art challenge! The goal of today’s challenge was to draw the outlines of natural objects to create the framework for your Zentangle-inspired work!¬†

So, this afternoon I ventured out my door with an open mind to whatever happened to catch my eye. During my wanderings, I ventured upon a lovely patch of clovers, as well as several very interesting leaves–all of which I incorporated into my composition.

While I drew the various objects that I found, I didn’t worry about the overlapping pencil lines. After I had added all of the objects into my composition, I traced over my lines using a black ink pen (try to use one with a smooth ink flow). I only traced over the lines that I decided to keep. The overlapping lines were then erased. Here is my resulting composition:

For tomorrow’s challenge, it’s time to start collecting textures! Grab a piece of paper, fold it into 8 sections, and head outside to begin searching for natural textures. When you find a texture that you like, draw it into one of your sections. If it is a complicated texture, try to simplify the texture.

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations! AND happy texture hunting!

Nature Animation Challenge: DAY SIX!

Lights, Camera, ACTION! Today’s challenge was to finally shoot the animation, after 5 days of planning and set preparation. All told, I ended up shooting a little over 100 still images for my animation. Here is one sequence that I shot:

For tomorrow’s challenge, it’s time to put everything together to create your animation! Since I use a Mac, I will be putting my images together using iMovie. There are, however, other programs that will work just as well. MS Powerpoint would work–it’ll just take you a little longer, since you’ll have to insert your images individually onto slides. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see how it all comes together!

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Nature Animation Challenge: DAY TWO!

After successfully creating my main character yesterday, I focused today’s artful explorations on the storyboard, or visual script, for my story. The story almost seemed to write itself, as I thought about my little flying character and his interests/motives/actions. In line with my suggestions for the storyboard, I decided to limit my board to 6 frames. I kept the sketches relatively simple and quick. (The entire 6 frames took me approximately 10 minutes to draw). Here is my resulting storyboard:

For tomorrow’s challenge, work on the background/stage for your animation. Be sure to include something for a backdrop and base/floor. Using your storyboard and main character for inspiration, create a background that will not distract from your storyline or subjects, but will rather enhance everything.

‘Til tomorrow..happy explorations!