Welcome to Birchtree Studio, an art studio based in historic Exeter, NH. I illustrate mostly natural history subjects but also provide a variety of other art services. Take a look around these pages. Enjoy the visit.

My home page will feature a different watercolor sketch each month. This is a way for me to show what I do in my sketch book, although sometimes the sketch might be on a sheet of watercolor paper, or it might be produced from a photograph. It’s unpredictable. I never know what kind of art might come through me. One thing is predictable: I will always be producing art.

I hope you will become as excited as I am to find out each month what shows up on this page.

Sandy McDermott

From my sketchbook...

Roadside Sketching

It always amazes me how lit up a forest can be on a gray day in autumn, like every leaf has a tiny but bright light bulb somewhere inside of it. Couple that with the dark chocolaty color of bark on a gray, wet day in autumn. What a stunning combination.
On this day I went out early in the morning with my daughter, a photography student, to find some roadside spots where she could practice shooting in the low, gray light of morning. We left pre-dawn and drove to some spots along a back-roads route I had run just the day before. When the sky began to show first signs of daylight we were both skeptical of anything coming out of this questionable adventure. Why did we get out of bed? I continued on, retracing my running steps backwards, to get to some of the spots that stood out to me the morning before; spots that caught my attention as I moved at a much slower pace than we were currently moving. Yesterday the light was completely different; sunny and bright with a clear blue sky. Today, in this early light at 30mph, everything seemed dull and not worthy of getting out of the car. Still, I persevered as did the coming daylight. We arrived at one of those spots and got out of the car. Blinking with still sleepy eyes we wandered along the edge of the road, she with her camera and me with my sketchbook.

After several more stops we each ended up with stuff we liked. And we were both delightfully surprised by that. The lesson I was reminded of: there's always something of interest to observe outdoors in all sorts of weather; in your backyard, urban parks and, yes, even alongside the roads we travel every day. Stop and look. It's worth the effort.