23 May 2018

Battleship Texas, part 2


A couple more pages from Bill’s memory book, a bit of everyday life for the sailors.

21 May 2018

Battleship Texas


This single signature sketchbook contains smooth Bristol paper that works best with pen and ink. Following our recent trip to La Porte and Seawolf Park on Pelican Island (next to Galveston), I decided to use this book for memory sketches of the three Navy vessels we explored. A special memory book for Bill who served in the Navy in the early 1970s — he was like a little kid as he climbed up, down, and all around the battleship, submarine, and destroyer escort!


The first pages are of Battleship Texas, formerly known as USS Texas BB-35, which is moored next to the San Jacinto Monument and Battleground in La Porte, Texas. All these sketches are done from photos we both took with our phones; the upper sketch of the ship is as viewed over the ridge from the parking lot. I planned on drawing it at the diner down the road as Bill and his buddies met for coffee . . . then realized that I had forgotten to bring a pencil for the loose undersketch. So I dived in with my Lamy Safari pen, loaded with a dark gray ink. Scary to go pencil-less!


We went up and down LOTS of these steep ladder stairs and our knees complained a bit! I teased Bill about how he used to practically fly down these things on the USS Sperry, sliding down the handrails. But that was over 40 years ago. You would think we’d be used to them — our log cabin stairs to the loft are just as steep.

19 May 2018

color play and a new challenge


I’ve been working on ink-only sketches in a separate sketchbook, but today I just needed color! So out came two Pocket Palettes and my current regular journal (Stillman & Birn Beta softcover). On the left side, I laid down colors wet-on-wet in the order they are placed in my current purse palette, below left, just to see them run together at the edges.

On the right, I’ve put together a palette loosely based on Marc Taro Holmes’ “desert island” absolute minimum colors for landscape and urban sketching. I bought small tubes of three of his color choices to try out, and picked close matches from others I already had. It seems very weird to not have a burnt sienna! I left two empty pans for additional mixing space but I might replace these with one larger empty pan.

Marc is hosting a 30 x 30 watercolor painting event for the month of June, and I’ve decided to try it. Maybe I will stick to this “desert island” palette or maybe I’ll switch back and forth? Instead of completed paintings, I plan to stick with simple sketches . . . but do them in watercolor only! No pencil guidelines, no ink. Scary, huh?


Meanwhile, my loft studio has abandoned the loft for now. With outside temperatures reaching the 90° range and higher, it’s just too hot up there. So a few essentials are kept on my grandmother’s old kitchen work table instead. Someday we hope to replace the cabin’s roof with a tin roof that will reflect the heat better. The “walls” of the loft are the underside of the currently dark shingle roof over log beams. No room to insulate without losing the look of those beams.


17 May 2018

and finally . . . seashells!


For the final spread in this small sketch journal, our visit to the gulf coast and Galveston Island isn’t complete unless I sketch some of the shells I picked up. I strolled along the beach and waded through the surf a bit before stopping to pick some up . . . and Bill still laughed, knowing I couldn’t resist them for long.

In this journal, I recorded planning an unexpected trip to Kansas followed by unsuccessfully trying to find an alternate flight when mine was canceled. I missed the funeral but later wrote this note to myself in the front of this journal.

I believe that a) I wasn’t meant to go to my stepmother’s funeral (I was only going for my dad who I do not have a close relationship with), and b) God wanted me to go through the frustrating day because He knows I learn best through experience.

I have forgiven my dad for the past and have done all I can to try to establish a relationship with him. I realize now that I was trying to get to the funeral to earn his approval — God tells me that I’ve done all I need to do; the rest is up to my dad. I already have God’s approval and that is enough.

16 May 2018

museum bits; a chimney in want of a building


On some of the last pages of this small travel journal I drew some small bits from the museum exhibit at San Jacinto. There were many other artifacts from previous civilizations but most seemed a bit daunting to sketch. And while I was tempted to sketch a life-sized bust of Sam Houston, I ended up drawing a few of his personal belongings instead — somehow, they seem more poignant.


In downtown Galveston, I found this old chimney standing strong, though the building was long gone. Not sure what type of business or factory it was.

discovering another sketching journal keeper



While at the San Jacinto Monument, I discovered a sketching journal keeper . . . and a bit of a rogue! Sam Chamberlain was a soldier during the Mexican-American War that followed soon after Texas won her independence; one outcome of this conflict was America gaining New Mexico, Arizona, and California territories.

Chamberlain kept a sketchbook with him and later did a large number of watercolors from his sketches and memories. Instead of recording them in a bound sketchbook, he often wrote down his memories on the backs of the small paintings.

He later wrote and illustrated his recollections . . . greatly embellished by imagination . . . and eventually his descendants sold the rights to Life magazine. The largest collection of his work can be found at the San Jacinto Monument.









15 May 2018

watching . . .


Sometimes we like to find a relaxing spot to just watch, whether it’s vessels entering and exiting the Houston ship channel or a lone snowy egret perched on piles of concrete waste on Pelican Island.

14 May 2018

messy beach shacks


Sometimes my journal sketches can be quite messy . . . . Especially when using a water-soluble ink (J. Herbin Lie de The) and forgetting to reassemble a waterbrush correctly. Normally I use Pentel Aquash waterbrushes, but this time I was using a Niji waterbrush with that wee black plug thingy that regulates how much water is dispersed. I removed it to refill, then forgot to put it back in.

The aftermath of last year’s devastating hurricane can still be seen on Galveston. The upper floor and roof of “The Spot” are still unrepaired and the palm trees newly planted. While a couple of the old palms next to the Longboard Pool Bar were still standing, the roof showed some new sections.

12 May 2018

61st street fishing pier


This fishing pier was across Seawall Boulevard from our hotel in Galveston, and we visited it after one of my beach strolls. Bill purchased a locally made craft beer which allowed us access to the upper deck. In fact, we had it all to ourselves and the view was lovely! There were many others on the long pier and the rock jetty leading out to the pier, fishing for their dinner. As were the many sea birds around us.

I used up what little masking fluid I had left to save the white of the waves; most of the bottle (from Daniel Smith) had dried up. I don’t use it much but I always make sure it is shut securely so I was surprised that most of it was wasted. My Molotow pen was also not working. I asked friends on Facebook what brands they recommended, and most say to try Pebeo . . . and to store it upside down.

The gutter down the center of this two page spread is not a clean fold due to the paper really being too heavy to fold into a sketchbook folio (200 lb. Cotman watercolor paper). But it was just some leftover paper I had on hand, and I really don’t mind — this is a journal of memories, not a fine work of art, after all.
Bill being silly on the pier


11 May 2018

breakfast at Miller’s . . .



. . . but still no Elissa.

Ever since our daughter took us to Galveston for the first time 20 years ago, I have wanted to go see the 1877 tall ship Elissa that berths in Galveston. She sailed cargo under the British flag and carried Texas cotton to the mills of England in the 19th century.

But either we didn’t have time to tour her or she was out at sea the various times we’ve been on the island. This time, Bill was determined that I would get to see as much of her as I want, especially since he was dragging me through a battleship, a submarine, and a destroyer escort!

But Elissa just returned from spring sea trials; she was undergoing refit, preparing for recertification. So she was closed to visitors and I still missed exploring her up close.

Bill enjoyed his breakfast of shrimp grits with smoked Gouda cheese though! Miller’s Seawall Grill is very busy serving customers even as they continue hurricane repairs to their building.

The Elissa at a tall ship event in New York

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