16 December 2017

testing pen nibs with a mug of cocoa

Yesterday I made some peanut butter fudge at our son Matt’s request; our daughter Kristen is hosting a family tamale-making day at her house and we all brought nibbles. After making fudge, I usually make myself a mug of hot cocoa, which I swish around in the empty marshmallow jar to melt the remains into. I make my own cocoa mix with powdered milk, a good quality dry cocoa, and stevia — mine is more chocolatey and less sugary than premixed kinds.

My cocoa mug is a delicate bone china mug that my daughter and granddaughter found at a British import store; they know I love Scottish Terriers! I didn’t want it stained with tea, so I only use it for cocoa.

The reason for the above sketch was trying out a variety of fountain pen nibs. I was looking for a more flexible nib with good line variability. I would love a fountain pen nib that performs like the Zebra G nibs in my dip pen, which is not convenient to carry with me.

Then I remembered altering a very cheap JinHao pen to hold one of my Zebra G nibs. So I dug it out of the back of my pen drawer and inked it up. Things were going well until I was half-way through the header . . . then I looked down to see my fingers covered with ink and no ink on the paper . . .

Oh yeah, that’s the reason I quit using that pen!

12 December 2017

a bit of Christmas

Yesterday, I sketched a very small portion of a floral arrangement at church. Several of us gather there on Monday mornings to pray for any specific needs we become aware of. I waited unti, this morning to add watercolor.

I’ve never been one to enjoy formal floral arrangements, either to paint or to receive. I prefer wildflowers in their natural setting, or perhaps a single rose that my husband cuts and brings inside to fill our home with the lovely fragrance. (We only grow antique types of roses that maintain the original scents placed there by the Creator.) But sketching just a wee bit of an arrangement is fun.

11 December 2017

tweaking . . .

I’m still using the same palette of watercolors that filled the top of the first page, but thanks to Maria of Expeditionary Art creating a new half pan size, I have added a couple more colors to my pocket palette: phthalo green for mixing and indanthrone blue just because I like it.

Having smaller amounts of phthalo blue and phthalo green just make sense, as powerful as these pigments are. You really need only a very tiny bit.

Now that I look at this new layout, I’m thinking I could easily get by with a smaller size of buff titanium as well. But what additional color would I add?

10 December 2017

a view out my window

A simple sketch of the view out my cabin window as yard shadows began their spread across the yard. I’ve had a persistent cough left over from allergies and the cough is causing a back ache . . . so I drew this without much thought as I relaxed on the couch.

08 December 2017

old geezers

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Bill and his buddies from church meet in Lions, TX for coffee. And a bit of breakfast for those who wish it. We affectionately refer to them as the “old geezers”, though a couple of them are only in their 50’s. Sometimes wives come along —

Yesterday I went with Bill, as we were heading to doctor appointments directly afterwards. (him, for pain management medication, and me for scalp psoriasis — my hair once fell out due to this and I still fight it at times). As we drank our coffee (make that TEA for me), I did a continuous line drawing of the things in front of me. My “critics” mentioned that I forgot the spoon next to these things which the waitress always brings with my hot mug of water, even though I never stir anything into my tea. I bring my own tea bags and she keeps bringing me mugs of hot water.

07 December 2017

a palette with fountain pen

I finally managed to put together a watercolor palette that my new Liliput fountain pen fits in.

Instead of my regular Schminke travel palette, I decided to use this flatter metal box from Daler Rowney. The new-and-improved metal pans from Expeditionary Art are just right —- I can even fit extra tiny pans in of colors I like but don’t use as much.

This is what the box looks like closed.

I removed the paints and plastic divider that came in the box, then attached 2 business-card magnets in the bottom of the box.

And here are the fountain pen and travel brush opened and ready to use.

06 December 2017

kitten games

Bardie Mac has to be the most playful kitten I’ve ever met. He’s always ready for a boxing match with Bill, standing on hind legs as he punches Bill’s fingers, or a fast-running game of soccer —- which used to be played with wadded-up balls of paper but is now played with ping pong balls. At a recent high school volleyball game, some of the players tossed small toy balls into the crowd and Bill caught one — that has become Bardie’s as well.

He also loves playing “tag, you’re It!” with me, softly grabbing my legs in a bear hug before running off, wanting me to chase him. I run after him and tag his fuzzy back . . . if I can! Then he pretends not to care until he can catch me again.

I often pick up this aqua scrap of baby blanket, placing it inside one of his cubbies or onto the cat tree. He hunts for it and eventually drags it back to his favorite night sleeping spot, the floor at the foot of our bed next to his scratching post. He often uses the base of the post for a pillow!

The scrap of blanket came with Bardie from his breeder. She gives a new baby blanket to each litter of kittens; a piece is cut off to be sent home with each adoption to calm the kitten as it adjusts to its new home, having the scent of its mother and litter mates on it. At 9 months old, the scent is probably long gone now, but Bardie still loves his blankie.

04 December 2017

my other early Christmas gift

Yesterday while watching a movie with Bill, I did a quick sketch of my new toy in its case.

My iPad was a third generation; new enough to run some cool apps like Paper 53 but so old there were no updates and other, newer programs no longer worked. So Bill bought me a new iPad Mini 4 with a monthly internet plan. It was given to me early so I could load everything on it, then cancel my internet service with Hughes. Accessing the internet through this tablet costs less than half of what Hughes cost and is unlimited (Hughes was metered). I love the smaller size! Fits in my bag and easier to read ebooks at night without my hands getting tired holding it. There's a night setting for the backlight to prevent eye strain --- after all, I mostly use it for reading.

03 December 2017

a commissioned sketch

After the October art sale that nobody came to, a friend of a friend contacted me through Facebook. Somehow she had seen some of my sketches and wondered if I might draw her Christmas card this year.

She is a realtor and recently sold this charming cottage, and thought it would make a cute card. So I drew it for her; she's buying the original and, after printing cards, she will gift it to the homeowners.

30 November 2017

a new wee toy

Because much of our family scatters at Christmas time, visiting in-laws still back in Kansas, we usually have an early get-together with gift exchange. With 4 grown children, 3 in-laws, and 5 grandchildren, that's a lot of gift buying for limited incomes! So we draw names each year.

This year, our daughter-in-law Misty drew my name. She gave me this new fountain pen, a Kaweco Liliput with an extra fine tip. Being German made (like my much loved Lamy Safari), the nib sizes run a bit larger than Japanese pens, so the finer the better!

For now, I'm using the ink cartridge that came with the pen, which is a water-soluble blue. When empty, I can refill it with my favorite De Atramentis Document inks that are waterproof.

The tiny Liliput writes extremely smoothly, starting up right away with no skipping or ink-blobbing. It is actually quite comfortable to hold, with the cap posting securely to add length (it screws on to prevent being knocked off). And it's small enough to fit inside a standard metal travel palette, right next to a travel brush!

Meanwhile, I am done with Hughes internet. We don't have many options, living in the country with all these trees around us. Even with an upgrade, we still could not stream programs and the least bit of wind caused us to lose connection. Not worth the high cost!

So our oldest son, Jason, set us up with a booster for our cell phones, mounted on the old pole next to the cabin that previous owners used for a TV antenna. With a signal boost, I can now use my phone or my new iPad Mini for internet, using a "hotspot" mode as needed for my computer. Hughes was metered; our family plan with my phone and iPad is unlimited.

My next problem was posting to this blog. Apple no longer supports the Blogger app and I couldn't seem to post things through their Safari browser. So I tried downloading the Google Chrome browser to my iPad, then selecting "request desktop site" from the drop-down menu. And so far, it works!

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