28 May 2016

sketching at church

Wednesday evening I tried drawing a couple of friends at church --- capturing a likeness of friends and relatives is always hard for me! Maybe because it's so hard to put their personalities on paper, maybe it's simply a fear that the person being drawn might be offended.

This didn't get posted earlier due to unreliable internet and phone signals. We have recently had torrential rains here in central Texas. Our own cabin has remained above the flooding, though there was a 'river' running through our patio at one time.

26 May 2016

44 years . . . and still in love

At least we thought we were in love. Now we know that being truly in love comes with lots of time and experiences shared. Today is our anniversary -- this photo was taken a few days after we were married, when Bill took me to see his ship at Point Loma, San Diego.

25 May 2016

a book & date night

After finishing this fun little e-book, I jotted down a few quotes from it that I liked . . . then decided to sketch the book's cover . . . afterwards, Bill and I had a date night, so I added those sketches as well. Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers seem to have followed us to Texas. We remember when they were only in Wichita and El Dorado, Kansas. Now the chain seems to be popping up everywhere! We drove to Houston to eat at this one, then to Hobby Lobby for a few items.

Then the date's real event: we went to our son-in-law Michael's spring band concert. He is the head director for Eisenhower ISD high school, after having taught in the district's middle school for years. Which means he had some of these kids from when they first picked up an instrument to this, their senior performance. And what a fabulous performance! Three jazz bands, orchestra, symphony, and wind ensemble --- every piece was fabulous!

23 May 2016

church doodles and 2 new toys

Facebook can be full of temptations, at least in the private sketching groups I belong to. Like most sketchers, I love seeing the tools that other artists use. Recently someone wrote about a miniature fountain pen they were trying -- I didn't know they even made mini fountain pens! I've always had a love of small things. I tried both out on these church doodle pages, along with a Uniball Signo white gel pen.

I was ordering a bottle of ink from Jet Pens anyway, so I bought two very cheap minis -- the Pilot Petit 1 and Jet Pens Chibi 2. Both pens' nibs write amazingly smooth for such cheap pens, at least on this Strathmore toned paper in my journal. The Pilot Petit 1 has less line variation, but it can be converted into an eyedropper pen to hold more ink. There is a how-to video on the page link.

I prefer the Chibi 2's line variation and finer line, which does not really show well on this darker paper. I got a Monteverde mini converter to use in this pen after the cartridge it came with is used up. Very tiny supply of ink and the converter seems a bit flimsy, but the barrel contains a few 'air holes' that prevent it from becoming an eyedropper pen.

21 May 2016

a furry visitor

While our youngest son is finishing up his geologist degree at Steven F. Austin University, his furry friend is visiting us. The final 'class' is field camp -- over a month of camping in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Studying the geology in places such as the Davis mountains, Carlsbad, the Grand Canyon . . . (yes, I'm a wee bit jealous -- does it show?)

Meanwhile, his cat is visiting us for a while. Named Mist for her foggy, misty coat coloring, she is a rescue cat that is part Maine Coon, part unknown. Because of her shorter legs & tail and general round shape, I've wondered if she is part Scottish Fold or British Shorthair. She decidedly does NOT like other cats; she has taken over our bedroom and bathroom, while Bearcat (who would very much like to be friends with her) has the livingroom, kitchen, and loft. So far peace reigns.

20 May 2016

a fallen jewel

Hummingbirds are the hardest bird to draw from life --- they just move too fast! The bird drawings in my previous post were sketched from a couple of field guides.

Unfortunately, this sketch was sketched from 'life'. Bill found this dead hummingbird in his woodshop. We aren't sure why it died.

The colors are iridescent green or black, depending on how the light hits it -- very hard for me to depict in watercolor! This is a female black-chinned hummer; the black chin or hood appears only on the males.

19 May 2016

our hummers, always hungry!

Since we switched from the red-dyed hummingbird feed that is easiest to find in stores to an all natural kind without added coloring, hummers keep coming in droves. Often we will be dive-bombed when we go out to our patio or our back door! Especially when the feeders are near-empty! They know where we live and are sure to tell us to refill.

Recently I purchased several ink samples from Goulet Pens, trying to find a water-soluble brown that would bleed in a subtle way when touched with a bit of water or watercolor. I have decided on the J. Herbin Lie de The because it was not only subtle, but it also gave a bit of an antique feel to sketches. I came close to choosing De Atramentis Tobacco brown ink but it smells! Why anyone would think ink needs to have an added fragrance (this one is scented like tobacco -- yuk!), I do not understand.

Mostly ours are the smaller ruby-throated and black-chinned variety, but sometimes we see the larger broad-tailed hummers as well. Sadly, today Bill found one of the wee birds dead in his woodshop. Not sure what happened -- I will sketch it later today.

16 May 2016

variations in green

Even though the best greens are made by mixing other pigments, I still like to have a few greens in my palette for convenience. That said, I still 'tweak' tube greens before adding them to a sketch. I thought it would be useful to make a chart in my journal of the variety of greens made from adding one other pigment to each of those I sometimes have with me. I can then keep a photo of this page on my iPod for quick reference.

The cleanest, brightest greens come from mixing phthalo green with other colors; in fact, my sap green is actually phthalo green and quinacridone gold. So I could easily stop carrying the other greens with me. If I chose only one other, it would be Serpentine genuine. All these paints are from Daniel Smith, though I've found just about any artist quality phthalo green to be the same.

15 May 2016


. . . some mushrooms recently found growing in our yard, next to a decaying tree stump. Our yard was once covered with oak, pine, and cedar trees -- several stumps reveal where trees once stood before the cabin was built.

14 May 2016

Cretacolor WC pencil play

Quite some time ago, just after we moved to Texas, I had a 'splurge' day at Jerry's Artarama in Austin. Among my purchases was this fat watercolor pencil containing 4 colors. For some reason, I never got around to playing with it . . . until this week.

It is actually a lot of fun to sketch with! I like letting go of color expectation, allowing the color just to happen. And the subtle effect of just touching a damp brush to singular areas only. I added watercolor to the flower blossom in the upper right corner just to see how that worked; I also added watercolor in the sketch of the pencil and sharpener.

My favorite is this quick sketch of Beorn Bearcat, with just a hint of green watercolor added for his eye, plus a bit of black ink for the pupil.
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