18 March 2019

a messy sketch


Yesterday’s sketch turned out to be very messy . . . . I temporarily forgot that I drew this with a water-soluble ink, which got away from me when watercolor was added. It is meant to be a sketch of the Cross of the Scriptures in Clonmacnoise cemetery, County Offaly, Ireland — or rather, a sketch of its replica. The original cross is housed inside a visitors center to protect it from the elements.

I was wearing a silver cross made to look like one of these stone crosses so I looked them up on Google, curious about the real thing. (What did we ever do without the internet?). Ireland’s high crosses were sometimes left plain and sometimes sculpted like this one, with intricate panels illustrating Bible stories. This particular cross stands just over 13 feet tall and was carved from sandstone around 900 AD.

16 March 2019

my next journal . . . times two


Time to start a new sketchbook journal, and I’ve decided to finally break down and work in a larger sized book. Five years ago my beautiful friend Kate gave me this Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, size 7 x 10”. The label on the front had a wonderful watercolor sketch of an old wise woman, painted by Kate (also known as Cathy Johnson). Up till now I’ve been too timid to work any bigger than 5 x 8”; working in a larger size felt more “professional” and might require more perfection.

Such a silly idea!

But for those times when I need something to fit in a smaller purse or pocket, I also started a small Delta softcover journal, also from Stillman & Birn. This is the book I sketched our sharing pieces of pie in on the official PI day this past week.


I’m using the same basic palette for both books, though using larger full pans and bigger travel brushes for the larger journal. Since the ivory paper in the Delta book is nearly the same color as buff titanium, I switched it out to be replaced with white gouache in the small Pocket Palette.

I like drawing my palette or pens on the first page of each journal, sort of a record for what I was using at the time. After taking photos of these, I added personal contact info in case of loss.


14 March 2019

celebrating PI day



Our granddaughter Jayna has been spending her spring break with us, working on a display table she designed in Bill’s woodshop. Finishing it up today, we decided to take an impromptu trip into Brenham to take in our recycles and go to the used book store.

Then a stop across the street at Must Be Heaven for pie. After digging in, Jayna mentioned that today is National PI Day. There must be an official day for EVERYTHING!

I haven’t “officially” started a new journal __more on that in my next post, whenever that may be__ but this was too good not to sketch so I skipped the first page in a small Stillman & Birn softcover Delta sketchbook to sketch this.


a bluebonnet star


If you look directly down at a bluebonnet from above you can see a star. Not exactly like the lone star of Texas, but a very fanciful star. Not so easy to draw — but that’s why drawing botanicals can be so easy . . . If your sketch isn’t quite accurate, who will know?

This is the final page of my current accordion journal. As I worked through both sides, I kept the pages in a temporary leather cover. Now I’ve removed it from that cover and glued permanent covers to the front and back. The folded paper was the leftover bits after tearing down larger paper for a full-sized journal. Imagine my surprise when the size not only fit my leather cover — it also perfectly fits these cardboard covers I found at Hobby Lobby!



13 March 2019

wildflowers in our yard


While the undeveloped property up the hill from us begins its show of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, we have had two types of wildflowers in our own yard for a week or two. A large fairy-ring of meadow asters filled one corner under the fir trees with blue. Normally these asters are more of a deep purple; lighter shades of blue are unusual. Appearing sporadically in other parts of the yard was crow-poison. We sometimes have crows visit our yard but they avoid this wildflower . . . Think they know how it got its name?

Sadly, Bill mowed yesterday so these are only in my journal now.

11 March 2019

early bluebonnets


And so it begins . . . Bluebonnets have started showing up in the empty lots near our cabin, along with a few Indian paintbrush. Soon this undeveloped lot with only specks of blue will be a solid sea of bluebonnets . . . with a few Indian paintbrush thrown in.




10 March 2019

a continuous line cup of tea


This morning’s cup of tea — I couldn’t find my pencil (I usually sketch pencil guidelines before drawing in ink) so I guess it was time to do a continuous contour line drawing. As long as I begin in a good place where my hand doesn’t block my view and go slowly, it usually works out.

This is a “burnt sienna” color of ink that I mixed from De Atramentis Document inks — a favorite color for this kind of sketch! I think it’s red with a touch of black; I follow the mixing charts worked out by Jane Blundell on her blog.


09 March 2019

Macy’s track meet


 Our young friend, Macy, asked Bill if he would come to her track meet held in Giddings yesterday. He often goes to watch her play volleyball and basketball but this is the first track event we attended. In the past 5 years, Macy and her brother Blake have become like additional grandkids to us.

I began this sketch sitting on the end of the bleachers — we were early and things hadn’t begun yet. Macy saw us from the field and came to give us both hugs. But I had to finish later at home as I had forgotten a white pen to do the lines of the running track.

Macy placed # 2 in the Girls Junior Varsity high jump! The # 1 position went to her teammate. In fact, their school, Caldwell High School, did very well overall.

07 March 2019

a Pocket Palette collection


Since the first time I saw Maria Coryell Martin’s ArtToolkit, I have loved her Pocket Palettes. I quickly bought the original palette. Then a lighter weight version came out about the same time I was thinking about getting a second one so I ordered one of them. Next came a slight design change __the lower bar was reduced in size so as not to block the paint pans and a slight side edge added to the mixing area__ and I splurged yet again. Recently the palette came out in classic black . . . . This may have been a gift?

The green palette in the lower right position is not actually a Pocket Palette. It’s a Wellspring business card case that I found in a used book store but with the addition of a self-stick magnetic card and a bit of white enamel paint on the inner lid, it works the same.

Each time I did a new arrangement of paint pans, I made a color map to remember it. Now I’m getting quite a collection of those as well!

By the way, I challenged myself to work straight through a journal using the same palette I began with. Most journals contain a variety of palettes. I am now 3/4 of the way through my current accordion-fold journal and, except for a couple of dabs of buff titanium, I am still using the same earthy granulating palette as I started with (shown in the center front).

06 March 2019

Brrr! It’s cold . . .


This winter has been the coldest since we moved to Texas five years ago. Normally there might be a day or two of cold between a long length of sunny, moderate days, but it has been consistently below-average cold since early December. Not anywhere close to the frigid temperatures we knew back in Kansas, but it’s sure not the sunny warmth we have come to expect here!

Yesterday was Bill’s final day of cardio rehab in College Station. To say goodbye to his therapists, he took them chocolate peanut butter eggs (he says it’s for them having to put up with his orneriness). Then we went out for a late lunch date at Koppe Bridge Bar & Grill. Great hamburgers and chicken sandwiches! It’s so much colder than normal, the owners have cobbled together this old space heater attached to a tall wooden bench.

I recently found out that Pentel now makes a “flat” waterbrush so I ordered one — only to find out that the bristles have more of a “cat tongue” shape. But I decided to add color to this sketch just using this new waterbrush. Not the flat I was hoping for, but fun to splash color on with.
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