30 April 2014

downtown Brenham

Downtown Brenham, Texas is a National Register District. Graceful old buildings keep their historic style both inside and out --- great place to take a walk! Most buildings have plaques on the outside, telling a bit about it's history. Old buildings are re-purposed for modern businesses yet maintain their old-fashioned character. And there is even  free internet!

We pass this building often when we drive to town; it is currently undergoing a renovation.

29 April 2014

art toys waiting to be played with

While hunting down spring wildflowers to sketch in the wee Nideggen sketchbook, I have been sadly neglecting my regular art journal.

Moving to a new state, fixing up our new home, and getting used to a full-time retired husband being around means being too distracted to keep up with regular art time. And not sketching on a regular basis has lead to a lack of confidence in being able to do so.

This wooden basket sits nearby, filled with art tools. I think it's once again time to take up Brenda Swenson's 75-day ink sketch challenge. There's nothing like  doing a daily drawing with ink (no pencil first) to renew one's abilities and sheer joy of drawing.

28 April 2014

sketching in church

Fiddling around with a pencil during Sunday school . . . .

27 April 2014

yet more spring wildflowers

the spiderwort is growing in our own yard, though shorter
The huge explosion of Springtime wildflowers is just about over here in central Texas. I didn't capture them all in my wee sketchbook, but I've had fun trying. There are lots of pages left to maybe sketch summer and autumn wildflowers as well.
both of these are in our yard as well
took me a while to identify the sage
LOTS of pale pink primrose around, blooming all day, not just evening
haven't identified the two on the right
both of these spotted from moving car, just coming into bloom now

pill box palette

After deciding on what my best 5 watercolors are, to fill this pill box turned travel palette, I thought to myself "too predictable!" The 5 colors I chose are the same in most every travel palette I own. --- I had switched the quin. gold to some leftover transparent yellow, which can give a soft yellow or rich gold depending on how thickly applied.

So I decided to use up some paints I did not want anymore, that were just taking up space in plastic pans. I popped each out of the pans, put them in the compartments shown, and filled with water to soften and smooth the bits into the new space. (Some were in both half and whole sized pans)

The quin. violet, not a color I normally use, was sent to me by mistake; the company told me to keep it free of charge. With a warmer red in next to it, I have the option of both. Then I placed both burnt sienna and burnt umber side-by-side in another space.

And, just to be different, I grabbed the unused indanthrone (Schminke's dark blue indigo) instead of ultramarine. It makes surprisingly nice mixes! Some buff titanium added to the extra space and I have a totally different mix of colors, using up several paints I no longer wanted . . . that I now actually like!


23 April 2014

5-color limited palette


Recently this pill container ceased to be used for vitamins . . . which started me thinking of its use a travel watercolor palette. About the same time, I read an on-line interview with artist Joseph Zbukvic in which he mentioned John Singer Sargent's using only 5 colors (I forget the name of the blog this was found on; the link was found on Facebook).

Zbukvic remembered Sargent using cadmium red, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna . . . plus a fifth color he could not remember. (Looking at Sargent's paintings as well as a bit of googling, I wonder if cerulean blue was the other color?)

The interviewer then asked which five colors Zbukvic would choose --- He chose cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cobalt turquoise, ultramarine, and burnt umber. So I began playing with these colors in an extra sketch pad.





I tend towards cooler, more transparent colors. So I tried putting together five colors I thought would make the cleanest mixes, staying away from "mud".

Many artists prefer burnt sienna over burnt umber; I have tried both and still prefer burnt umber. I know it can be mimicked by mixing burnt sienna and ultramarine, but a burnt sienna color can also be mixed by adding a bit of yellow and red to burnt umber. And I just like the rich, chocolatey color.






After a bit more playing, I decided on quinacridone red, quinacridone gold, cerulean blue, ultramarine, and burnt umber. The plastic pill box holds six, so next I played a bit on the left to see what that sixth color might be. Still not sure . . . I like the subtlety of using just the colors mixed on the color chart. Maybe leave the sixth space open for now.

21 April 2014

more Texas wildflowers . . .


(Crow-poison drawn from a photo, as those in my yard are gone)

my favorite! especially scattered among bluebonnets
very papery petals, like regular poppies
the honeysuckle was an unexpected surprise in a wooded area
. . . and a random sketch, arriving too early at church.

18 April 2014

Texas wildflowers

Texans make a very big deal out of their wildflowers. Families take yearly photos of their children sitting among the huge patches of  Texas Bluebonnets each spring.

My current sketchbook is "ink only" due to the handmade paper but wildflowers require color! So I grabbed this wee coptic-stitch sketchbook off my shelf -- it was made mostly with leftover Nideggen paper. About 3" square, I've been painting some of the spring wildflowers in it.

as usual, the first pages show a palette -- this one in a vintage Prang box  


the Texas dandelion may actually be a Carolina false dandelion
the dewberry is tiny; the engelmann daisy is actually pretty large
not sure what the very tiny red-violet flowers are
This sketchbook also has a few pages made from leftover strips of Fabriano Tiziano, which I am using for some random sketching when this is the only sketchbook at hand.

I drew this Texas star during a homeowner's association board meeting. We attended the meeting to submit plans for Bill's new woodshop. It's pretty certain to be approved.

The fish sculpture below was also drawn during the meeting.


Following the meeting, we attended the Bluebonnet Festival in Chappell Hill. Then out to eat at Los Cabos, where this decorative lizard was climbing the wall near our table.

recent random sketching



Recently I have been sketching but not posting. We've been busy driving around, exploring our new territory and visiting some of our kids.

This sketch is of our log cabin's stair into the loft . . . more like a slanted ladder, open between the half-log steps. Our Scottie won't even attempt to climb it, which pleases the cat who thinks the loft belongs to him.

Following are a few more sketches from my current sketchbook containing a soft handmade paper.





I drew my purse drawn in church, while jotting down a few notes on the left. On the two following pages I had tested some plain wax-based colored pencils, which bled through the thin paper.

another church sketch with sermon notes
I lack confidence in drawing landscapes in ink, so I borrowed a book by Claudia Nice, "Drawing & Painting Trees in the Landscape", on my Kindle. I loosely copied of one of her drawings in the book, trying to get a feel for the process.

Yesterday I attempted to draw Mikala's new kitten in a rare moment when he wasn't moving. His name is Pumpkin, MacKenzie, or P. Mac . . . depending on who is calling him. He is a reddish gold with white face and legs. Sadly, Mikala's beloved kitten Oreo, adopted last year, died of a heart attack.

07 April 2014

small tree identified

While taking a stroll through the Antique Rose Emporium's garden last week, we were able to identify 3 of the small trees in our new yard.

These colorful trees are 'Warren Red' Possum Haw, a tree growing to 20-25 feet, a deciduous version of holly. Song birds are supposed to love the berries.

When we arrived in January, they were fully leafed out in green; then the tips began to turn red and twiggy sprigs popped out. Now those sprigs have opened up into white flower bouquets. Sweet!

(The wee tree seen under the left branches is our baby fig tree.)

sketching at church again

The plan was that as soon as we were settled in Texas, we would visit various churches in the area before choosing one.

Yet we keep returning to the first _and only_ one we have been to. This week, the pastor's wife, B.J., told us that once we have come twice we are no longer visitors; we are family.

So it looks as though Jubilee Christian Center is our new church home. Yesterday, I drew this eagle sculpture that was sitting on the floor while waiting for the service to begin.

01 April 2014

"new" old chairs


When we moved from Kansas to this small cabin in Texas, one of the things we had to give away was an old dining table and 6 chairs that had been in the family since Bill's grandparents bought it at a farm auction when they first got married in the 1920s --- the table is from the 1850s and comes with an oak crate holding 4 expansion leaves! They paid $6.

Having no room for it now, we gave the set to our youngest son who has been wanting it for a very long time. Now we are using my grandmother's old kitchen work table instead; with 2 drop-leaves, it easily fits next to this window. But I had no chairs for it.

While visiting in Pflugerville / Austin over the weekend, we found these ice cream parlor chairs at a vintage furniture store. The leather cushions are the same cream color that the table is painted, and they don't take up a lot of space. Perfect fit!

As I was finishing up this sketch, Bearcat jumped on the window sill so I quickly scribbled him in.
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