Thanks, Mel. Those are most interesting drawings. No doubt your eye/brain combo has learned a lot in gaining the skills displayed. I'm just beginning to understand how much more a person who sketches what is seen really must observe, and not just a quick glance. Concentrating on what is seen so that you can assemble a drawing demands focusing one's perceptive powers to see relationships, colors and diffuse elements.
As yet my only drawings have been of star clusters. So that only requires placing stars where they are seen and deciding how big to make the dot. Hopefully later I can learn the skills needed for nebulous subjects.
I really enjoyed reading your take on the progression of techniques for visual compared to photographic observations.
I for one would definitely give up the high-tech inventions in exchange for dark skies. This would be especially tempting if I had a greater degree of youthful flexibility, eyesight and stamina. But one modern phenomenon I really enjoy is Cloudy Nights, which has helped me escape from my "silo". Still 99% of the time when I'm under stars, I'm alone except for wildlife or neighborhood cats. While many friends express a desire to look through the telescope, most aren't able to join in for various reasons. It's not something I can make definite plans for an observing party. All too often here on the Oregon coast, after sunset the wind brings fog off the ocean from the northwest. So it's a last minute invitation - "can you come over, it looks like it's going to remain clear tonight".
Another hindrance is we are all so busy with other activities, such as family responsibilities. Special events in the night sky often happen at inconvenient times. The Gemini meteor shower happens in late Fall, when Pacific NW weather doesn't usually cooperate. Yet 2 years ago I finally observed the year's best meteors over two full nights - quite spectacular. Yes, it was inconvenient to stay up all night for two nights in a row. This was especially challenging since I had to drive 1-1/2 hours to my dark site. More often now I observe from home and make the best of conditions. At least I can see the Summer Milky Way overhead on a clear night. Others have it much worse for light pollution. Still I often force myself to observe on the only clear night in weeks, even if I'm inconveniently tired from the daytime activities.
Mel, I hadn't planned on such a rambling reply. But one another subject comes to mind. Have you ever considered arranging for commercial versions of your rich field telescopes? It must take many hours just for the mirror. But seeing the results you are enjoying with sub-f/3 mirrors, perhaps there would be enough interest warrant a small production run or even special order one-offs. I see you have employed smaller RFTs which could be of interest to some visual observers. Realistically though such an endeavor wouldn't be a big money-maker for the producer. Also it would leave less energy available for more enjoyable activities like sketching IFNs. But it was just a thought.
I hope you continue to enjoy success in observing and sketching celestial objects seldom seen by others.
All the Best,