26 August 2014

chapel in Round Top

On a recent day-trip we stopped in the tiny community of Round Top, TX. With a population of only 94, the town features multiple B&B choices, a concert hall featuring solo, chamber, and orchestral music, antique and boutique shops galore, a theatre barn featuring Shakespeare, and great restaurants! We indulged in pie for lunch --- mine was a savory margarita chicken; Bill had "Texas Trash".

This wee chapel is located in the town square, where there were tons of butterflies and flowers.

19 August 2014

baby squirrel chillin'


Recently I caught this baby fox squirrel cooling his tummy. He had casually wandered from the back of the Adirondack chair to the large covered crock where we keep birdseed, finally ending up on the cool cement floor of our covered patio. I began taking photos from inside through a window. He soon noticed me, gave me a worried look, and then vamoosed.

15 August 2014

primary & secondary, warm & cool


I've put together many palettes based on a warm and a cool of each primary. But how about one based on a warm and cool of each secondary color as well? Using the paints I have, I tried this in a classic color wheel. (Actually I only have a sample of the permanent orange but am definitely buying a tube of it --- It makes gorgeous clean greens when mixed with phthalo blue!)

I've been working through a few exercises from a little e-book borrowed this month from Kindle's Lending Library, "Paint With Intention" by Joan Hoffmann.

This exercise called for painting a simple apple form using the whole spectrum of color, from yellows to greens. Of course, I couldn't leave it at that --- I added some detailing after the paint dried.

My warm and cool primary wheels did not look as different from each other as the ones in the book. I used the primaries in the color chart above.

But I jotted down a few pointers from the book to have a record of it.

My favorite black mix is still ultramarine blue and burnt umber, but it's good to know a few more in case a painting calls for something else.

11 August 2014

Highland Legos

When I was a kid I thought Legos were the coolest toy with their red, white, and clear bricks --- the classic "house building" kit was all there was. The kids down the street had them but we never did.

So I now have a few of my own.

The rocks are from Loch Ness and the Black Isle in Scotland. Our daughter brought them back with her last year.

07 August 2014

Mom's birthday card & a church sketch


Today is my mom's birthday. This is the card I painted for her this year. Our daughter introduced me to an incredibly detailed series of historical fiction by Diana Gabaldon and I in turn introduced my mother to them. The first book has been made into a TV series that premiers this week. Doune Castle in Scotland is standing in for Castle Leoch in the series; I thought Mom might enjoy a sketch of it.

I also did this quick sketch at church on Sunday, adding a bit of color later at home. The wife in the sketch had gorgeous hair reaching past her waist when we met them this spring; she recently had it cut to donate the hair to be made into wigs. Still gorgeous but I wish I had sketched her earlier.

We are really enjoying our church and the people there. Awesome place to worship our Lord.

02 August 2014

a T.A.R.D.I.S., prickly pear, and a wee Lego artist


This past week was mostly humid . . . the kind that makes it hard to breathe. We have managed to take our early morning walks but after that, I have avoided going outside much. (Also, the intense brightness hurts my eyes -- I currently have 3 cataracts as well as glaucoma). So I've been sketching a few silly things inside. This Doctor Who version of Yahtzee was a birthday gift.


This sketch of a prickly pear cactus growing in one corner of our lot is from a photo I took in June. In all those past visits to Arizona, I never saw the desert blooming. My mother-in-law kept telling me how beautiful it was but I always missed it. So I made sure to take photos of this one. This one was probably planted on purpose but prickly pear grows abundantly in the wild around here.




Speaking of toys (as in the game above?), I always wanted Legos as a kid but never had any. So I have now collected a few of my own. Including this wee artist dude.

I was NOT happy with how this sketch turned out.






So I drew it again. A bit better this time maybe?

25 July 2014

a neighbor's birthday


One of our new neighbors is celebrating a birthday in a few days. I once sketched an owl house in one of his trees while visiting on his patio and he couldn't believe I was drawing on-the-spot like that. So I later shared some of my sketchbooks with him, which he loved.

I painted a card for him this week. He and his wife, recently deceased, made many lovely memories fishing together on Lake Somerville.

Wednesday's mini-date

All small towns here have a Dairy Queen. In fact, around here they are advertised as "the stop sign of Texas".

We went there for ice cream on Wednesday. Normally I try to match exact colors of things but this time I used the muted granulating palette I recently put together.

After ice cream, we drove around the small town . . . and saw two young deer feeding in someone's front yard. Not afraid of the car at all.

23 July 2014

new color arrangement


Since I was first introduced to watercolors about 9 years ago, I have arranged my colors in a "rainbow" order from cool reds to warm blues or purples, followed by neutrals from light to dark. This order just made sense to me. Maybe being related to Sir Isaac Newton who studied prismatic colors influenced me?

But ever since studying Jane Blundell's excellent pigment information, I have been rethinking how I order my palettes. For limited or warm-and-cool palettes, I still go with the rainbow arrangement. But in palettes holding 20 colors, I'm now arranging them according to color and whether they are cool, warm, earthy or dark.This has been very helpful in quickly working in an all-cool or all-earthy color theme.

I keep the above chart pinned to the wall in my "studio" space (in the loft of our log cabin) to remind me of each pigment's properties. The colors in the top row are "extras" that I just happen to have --- Some I will definitely keep (love the potter's pink!") but I won't be replacing all of them when I run out of what's on hand. The blue apatite or lunar blue are very similar --- I'll probably keep the blue apatite, being a single pigment rather than a mix. That's the reason I finally gave up my favorite sap green from Daniel Smith, replacing it with green apatite genuine. Nearly the same color in a single pigment.

UPDATE: I'm getting rid of the sepia but adding Daniel Smith's permanent orange to the "extras" --- When mixed with phthalo blue, it makes amazing clean greens!

21 July 2014

crepe myrtle and a couple of wildflowers

The 3 crepe myrtles in our yard are in full bloom . . . and actively sending up suckers aplenty. As I trimmed these out, I found one in full bloom so I sketched it. The myrtles we had in Kansas were left to grow naturally for at least 70 years -- I never bothered with trimming or pruning. But those in our yard here in Texas were trained to 7 - 9 trunks only, so I guess I'll keep it up. I do NOT cut the tops severally as is the habit around here though. I still prefer a more natural style.

And I found 2 new wildflowers during our walk today. I'm not sure what the gold one with tiny red stripes is but it is popping up in yards all over. No leaves except the 2 tiny ones on the stem, yet the stem sticks up about 12 inches from the ground.
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