International Nature Journaling Week 2023 ……… A Sensory Safari ….. Day 1: Color

June 1 – 7, 2023

It’s that time of year again …… International Nature Journaling Week (INJW), and I’m excited to be taking part in the fun. Beginning June 1st, a full week of nature-inspired workshops, interviews, prompts and other activities will be presented by an amazing line-up of nature journalers, artists and environmental educators from around the world. The host, founder and organizer of INJW, is nature journaler, teacher and environmental educator, Bethan Burton. This year the theme of INJW is a “Sensory Safari,” and Bethan, who also hosts her own podcast, Drawing with Nature, will take us through each day as we explore how nature engages at least seven of our senses: Color, Texture, Aroma, Song, Flavor, Movement, and Heart.

It’s not too late to get involved and there’s no cost for participants, so check it out! All workshops and resources, the schedule and links to videos are available at

Day 1: Color Across Continents

Imagine your world in black and white. Color brings life to our visual party and defines our sense of place. When I think about or see the colors of New Mexico …. the rusty reds and buff-colored rock and sand, the greens and blues of piñon pine and sagebrush, the lemon yellows and violet reds of spring wildflowers, all framed by vivid intensely blue skies ….. I know I’m home.
After Verena (a naturalist from Berlin) and Bethan (who is from Queensland, Australia) talked about the use and how-to’s of color in a nature journal, Bethan presented a mind-blowing workshop on color mixing, color theory, and the Magic of the Split Primary. Admittedly, I’ve been a hit-or-miss approach artist when it comes to color mixing; struggling to achieve a color match with my surroundings. But there was something in the way Bethan explained color theory and the use and mixing of warm rather than vivid primaries; and all at once I was mixing those elusive sage greens and brick reds! It was a real “duh” moment for me; color theory definitely is something worth understanding!

Below is the practice page I created during the workshop guided by both Bethan and Verena. For fun, they even encouraged us to make up names for our color mixes ….. names that conjure up an image of the color based on a familiar object, such as Rusty Bike, Brick, Cotton Candy, Moldy Cheese (you instantly know those colors, right?!).

Then we were invited to create a journal page with colors of home. I quickly swatched out colors I’ve seen all Spring. Then borrowed on some of my photos captured while traveling about central New Mexico, adding in a few wildflowers and one of the most decorated bird to visit our feeders. When I look at this page, the colors truly warm my heart. This for me is a bit of what nature journaling is all about. But just a bit. I know this week will go a long way to reveal more of the “bits” that have made nature journaling such an important part of my world!

Thanks for taking a look! I hope my pages spark in you a sense of curiosity and wonder, and that you would like to learn more. A good place to start is by visiting the INJW home page at


Chapter 230603: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. The Full “Strawberry” Moon of June.   

mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmmm ….. 

Strawberry Fields Forever ……. John Lennon

I tried to resist, but why? And that’s exactly what Flambé thought when on this night of the Full June Moon, a delectable “forever” buffet of royal red strawberries glistened with sweet goodness before her. Read on to discover how Kat finally decided which one of the countless strawberry confectioneries sprawling before her, she indulgently picked. Spoon optional! 

Continue reading “Chapter 230603: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. The Full “Strawberry” Moon of June.   “

….. when out of the blue ….. Roadrunner!

May 29, 2023

Seems we’re now beyond the first exciting blush of Spring ….. the first new leaf, the first flower bud, the first darkling beetle; the first feather duster seed head of the Apache plume, the first hummingbird territorial battle, the first frantic squirrel noisily defending her nest.  

Having logged all the new flower species, insects, birds and mammals encountered on our favorite local trails, it’s now easy to daydream while hiking; easy to let your guard down and wonder about things like “where are all of the snakes hiding?” and “why haven’t we seen any roadrunners?”

It was while pondering these interesting questions along a stretch of trail bordered by oak scrub, that out of the blue, a short 10 feet in front of my next step, a roadrunner glided by and hop-jumped aboard a granite boulder! Shocked at how close and calm he was, I froze in place, not wishing to spook him.  Having such a magnificent bird so close is a rare (for me) and crazy cool encounter. After a moment of stillness and observation on both our parts, I dared to take a photo. That bird didn’t care one bit, and was so incredibly unconcerned about my presence that he began preening his feathers, ruffled and shook, and started scanning the landscape for lunch. 

Well, about a dozen or more photos later, it was time for me to resume my hike and catch up with Roy and Luna. I excitedly shared my encounter and photos with them (Luna wasn’t impressed) and wondered again, out loud, why we haven’t seen any rattlesnakes yet.  Surely that roadrunner was hungry. 

…… and then, out of the blue was the snake! About 5 minutes further along the trail was a 3 foot western diamondback rattler with 7 furiously rattling buttons on the tip of his tail! Luna jumped sky high, Roy came to a skidding stop, and I quickly (but oh so cautiously) approached to take photos! A very cranky snake he was too! 

It was a good day for a hike!

“The Felix” 2023: Escapito #1

Come on along with us for 5 days of camping fun in the Land of Enchantment, where we had some weird and close encounters with botanical beauties, a bare-butted gopher, a swarm of bees, and voracious leaf-footed beetles! All this, and more while exploring a National Conservation Area, a Desert National Monument, and a New Mexico State Park, all within the Chihuahuan desert ecosystem.

Continue reading ““The Felix” 2023: Escapito #1”

A Sandia Mountain High

Sunday, May 7, 2023

After having just returned from a fabulous week in southern New Mexico (blog posts to come) where we hiked and hiked, and got reacquainted with the Spring-time desert flora and fauna, we seemed to be craving pine and fir trees and some mountain air. How high do we dare hike? Would there still be snow? These and more questions rattled about in my mind as we headed the truck up the 13 mile long and winding Sandia Mountain Crest Road (central New Mexico).  Ahhhhh …… so invigorating!

Satisfying our craving (at 8500 feet in elevation) and answering the question about leftover winter snow (not a single snowflake to be found), we pulled up to the Tecolote Trail trailhead and began our ascent, in shorts and T-shirts. The first half mile up was brisk, both in temperature and pace, but after I was well warmed up it was time to open my eyes to investigate anything and everything growing, sprouting and blooming.

This was the earliest date (May 7th) in the Spring we’ve hiked Tecolote, so I was hoping to see a variety of wildflowers that were new-to-me species. I wasn’t disappointed! Blooming beautifully were the minuscule Pygmy-flower rock jasmine (in the primrose family), Arizona valerian (a species of honeysuckle), along with lance-leaf bluebells (borage family), and White Mountain bladderpod (a brilliant yellow 4-petaled member of the mustard family). Covering the slopes everywhere we’re the bright yellow flowers of Oregon creeping grape (aka creeping mahonia), and common along the trail were flats and flats of the dwarf purple and white lousewort (in the broomrape family), it’s flowers growing close to the ground amongst its deep green dense and curly margined fern-like leaves.  Perky Sue (a happy yellow daisy) and the soft-like-a-teddy-bear prairie pasque flower (a type of buttercup) rounded out the bloomers that I could find.

These pages in my journal focused on the shrubs and trees showing growth alongside the trail, drawn from snippets collected during the hike.

It was a perfect morning for a hike! Wished you’d been there with us.

Until next time …… How’s your Spring is shaping up! Do you have a favorite plant that’s blooming, or a singing bird tending chicks? I’d love to hear your story.

P.S. This journal page layout was inspired by an amazing nature journaler, artist and teacher, Jean Mackay who loves all of nature and sharing her discoveries through illustration. Thanks Jean!

Chapter 230505: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. May’s Full “Flower” Moon

“The Full Moon of May brings bright brushes to paint the Earth canvas with infinite flowers. In the Full Moon light of this month, the flowers are said to grow at night, and even dance in honor of the moon.”

Kat and an entire family of hares …….

Continue reading “Chapter 230505: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. May’s Full “Flower” Moon”

A “Snow White” Spring Super Bloom … Albuquerque Foothills

April 2023

Oh my goodness! What a brilliant Spring Super Bloom is on display mere steps east of Albuquerque. 

Alas, I found myself lamenting for months over the long and snowy wet winter we just climbed out of here in the East Mountains of central New Mexico. It seemed the back-to-back snowstorms since last November were never ending; snow shoveling every morning became the norm. But I know better than to whine. An abundance of winter moisture always results in a spectacular abundance of spring flowers.  And this Spring has proven that true.

Scrambled Eggs

The last two months we’ve seen a mad splash of sunshine yellow from the blooming of a native winter annual called Golden Corydalis, aka Scrambled Eggs (Corydalis aurea). This member of the poppy family quickly converted the dusty hillsides from brown to a glowing yellow as the many-flowered stalks of this plant seemed to shoot up over last season’s dried grasses. Scrambled Eggs was the plant I thought would be our Spring super bloomer.  

But, oh no!

During a full two weeks of being distracted by the glow of all that yellow, all around our feet, 1,000s and 1,000s of blue-gray-green rosettes began to grow. I noticed these rosettes (the very same mystery rosettes I described in my January journal), were rapidly expanding outward to make room for flower stalks heavily laden with little rosy orange buds. And then one day one of those buds unfurled into a brilliantly white 4-petaled flower.  In the center of that flower were 8 lemon-yellow pollen-heavy anthers surrounding a 4-fingered lemon-yellow stigma, ripe for pollination. Of course …… now I knew with certainty ….. the flower blooming atop the pretty winter rosettes is the White-stemmed Evening Primrose (Oenothera albicaulis)!

One of my January posts included this page where I illustrated a mystery rosette (top center) that seemed to be everywhere.

Also known as Whitest Evening Primrose, it wasn’t long until more flowers began to appear. “But, wow, was it possible that all those 1,000s and 1,000s of rosettes would each produce a bouquet of flowers?” Hiking these foothills every day paid of.  As the excitement of possibility steadily unfolded, hundreds of thousands of large 2-4” white flowers unfurled each evening about sunset to greet potential overnight pollinators, and to welcome hikers the following morning. 

My journal page illustrating the abundance of white-stemmed evening primrose
A vista of white
white-stemmed evening primrose

In about a week since I noticed that first open flower, this native Evening Primrose was carpeting the hillsides in white as brilliant and sparkly as newly fallen snow. The ground became “Snow White” with flowers, out-performing the still profusely-blooming Scrambled Eggs. 

white-stemmed evening primrose
white-stemmed evening primrose

And the show won’t end any time soon …. there are still an unbelievable number of White-stemmed Evening Primrose buds awaiting their turn to enter the play from stage right! Now that’s what I call a true Spring Super Bloomer.

A detailed page of my dissection of white-stemmed evening primrose

What marvelous transformations have or are happening outside your world this Spring? 

Urban Sketching … Out and About In and Around Albuquerque

Late February to mid-April

Fascinated by the work that so many urban sketchers turn out, and further inspired by a few Sketchbook Revival 2023 sessions, it’s no wonder I wanted to try my hand at Urban Sketching. Joining the Albuquerque Urban Sketchers, my first outing was to a very iconic New Mexico shop called Jackalope. In some ways, this was a great place for lots of newbies (we didn’t have to brave the still freezing February temps), but then again it was very challenging. So many things to choose from! Here’s a few of my sketches. Because there were so many interesting trinkets, I decided to spend no more than 15 minutes on each, including some quick watercoloring.

This one was sketched from a life sized sculpture of a roadrunner. Meep! Meep!
This was sketched from a very typical Santa Fe-style painted wood cabinet. To me this style always looks like the furniture was hooked up to the hitch of a pick-up truck and drug down a dirt road at breakneck speeds! Luckily the very large rooster clay pot wasn’t hurt in the process.
Someone captured a photo of me working on my frog trivet sketch. You can see my dilemma deciding what to sketch! Stacks of trivets, all different, to choose from!
This was one of my attempts to urban sketch “solo.” I found a bit of early spring buds while waiting for Roy to finish up a doctor appointment.

All of that was really fun, but not as easy as some urban sketchers make it seem. So I began practicing and searching on-line for a bit of sage advice.

On Saturday (April 15th) the Urban Sketchers met again, this time at Old Town Farm, downtown Albuquerque. With the chance of sketching some rusted farm equipment and broken down barns, I wanted in on this event. And besides, the breezy day was supposed to be warm … ideal for a bit of plein air sketching! Well, on a Saturday, this place was buzzing with visitors, ranging from bikers and hikers; people sitting and enjoying a morning coffee and carrot cake; several teams playing something like bochi ball; venders; puppies for adoption. This definitely broke my fear of public sketching while giving me an opportunity to improve on my people sketching skills. Here’s what I found to draw in a few hours.

This was a pretty cool old barn, and still in fine shape. Looks like I could use lots of practice sketching old buildings! But I did meet several delightful women also trying their hand at barn sketching!
When I realized my barn sketch was going wonky, all I had to do was turn around and find this action scene! There were 2 teams of bowlers playing Pétanque (like bocci ball) in the dirt behind the barn, Here’s my quick sketch trying to capture their action and conversation. This was very fun. Afterwards I walked over to show them what I had done. The team leader was very excited about the sketch and asked if he could take a photo to use it as the team banner on their Facebook page! Of course I said, “Absolutely!”
Hard to resist drawing an old truck. Although not a rusty heap, this beautifully restored 1939 Ford V8 was just begging to be sketched. I had a little fun with the character of this truck, and never intended to make it a perfect replica. But this really suits my style. Have I found my happy style?

Hope you enjoyed my urban sketching efforts! Look for more posts in the future.

Chapter 230405: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. April Full “Pink” Moon

April 5, 2023.  The April Full “Pink” Moon

“An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different.” -Oscar Wilde

Well, that’s turned out to be the understatement of the month! Read Flambé’s full post to learn why her Misadventure resulted in a colorful twist!

Continue reading “Chapter 230405: Flambé’s latest Misadventure ………………. April Full “Pink” Moon”