06 December 2019

yet another iPhone card

With my recent post about switching my studio palette from “rainbow order” to a grouping of 4 different “primaries + green + neutral”, I guess it’s inevitable that the card in the back of my phone case reflect the change as well.

I actually started a sketch outside, sitting next to the pool enjoying the sunshiny day — that was 2 days ago! I was distracted by other things that needed doing and places we needed to go and appointments to be kept.

Isn’t that how it normally goes? Perhaps I’ll get back to that poolside sketch tomorrow. After a trip to check out a tile store in Houston and a meet-up with our daughter and a wee bit of gift shopping . . .

01 December 2019

studio palette, reorganized

Since I first began playing with watercolor in 2005, I have arranged my chosen colors in “rainbow order”. Pigments have come and gone, but the order always ran from cool reds to warm blues or violets, followed by neutrals running from lights to darks. (Maybe because my mother’s family is related to Sir Isaac Newton who explored the colors of the rainbow?)

A few years ago I saw one of Jane Blundell’s palettes arranged in four rows of primaries plus greens and neutrals. The image stuck with me — so I finally switched my studio palette to a similar pattern. Those three pans on the far right are just extra colors for fun.

This large metal Schminke paint box came with dividers to hold the pans of paint; I removed them, freeing the space up for whatever configurations I choose. At first I attached pans with rubber cement, then I switched to blu-tac. Now I have attached flat magnets to each pan bottom. (I gave away most of the Schminke paints; I prefer Daniel Smith.)

The lines of the ink sketch are very wonky but that made it more fun to draw. There’s actually plenty of room — I may move the pans close together to make room for my most used brushes.

My choice of colors from top to bottom of each column:

REDS: quinacridone rose, pyrrol scarlet, quin. burnt scarlet, lunar red rock
YELLOWS: Hansa yellow medium, quin. gold, monte amiata natural sienna, raw umber
GREENS: Prussian green, serpentine, green apatite, perylene green
BLUES: phthalo blue GS, ultramarine, cerulean blue, indigo
NEUTRALS: grey of grey, buff titanium, burnt sienna, Jane’s grey

EXTRAS: cobalt turquoise light, phthalo turquoise, carbazole violet
I may add potter’s pink to these “just for fun” colors.

30 November 2019

Mexican plum tree color

I’ve been very slow at finishing this journal page . . . ‘‘Tis the season for procrastinating!

While at the cabin this past week, I found that the recent hard freeze (unusual for this area) had caused the leaves on the Mexican plum trees to become quite colorful.

27 November 2019

new journal, partly bound

My next sketchbook journal is only partly put together. This leather cover is meant to hold refillable traveler’s diary pages, with elastic bands holding folded folios together. I folded pages of Fabriano Artistico and Stonehenge 150# watercolor papers, sewing them together as I normally do. But instead of making a cover for it now, I’m putting the book block in this leather cover while I fill it. After the pages are filled, I’ll make a permanent cover for it.

After folding papers and creasing the folds, I like to let them sit under these antique irons for a few days. They once belonged to Bill’s grandmother.

The leather cover came with a binder clip and pen loop, but my regular fountain pens don’t fit in the pen loop. My Kaweco Liliput fountain pen does fit though!

The elastic band holding the journal closed is built in.
As per usual, I added a watercolor palette to the first page — but instead of sketching one of my palettes or a few pens, I painted random dots of the colors I’m using in this book.

For years, I’ve arranged my palette in “rainbow order” but I’m shaking things up this time. I just arranged my studio palette after Jane Blundell’s studio brass palette — 4 rows of limited palettes, cool, warm, earth, and dark. Plus 2 or 3 other colors just for fun.

Maybe I’ll sketch it after the leaves I’m working on.

23 November 2019

final pages, mixing a gray ink

The final “page” in my current journal, a 4” square Field Artist watercolor journal that I found on Amazon, is actually a fold-out landscape page — just in time to fit the branch Bill brought me this week to sketch. We have had very windy days lately and many oak trees seem to shed bits of branches as often as they do leaves.

I was also testing a medium gray ink that I just mixed. On this smoother side of the paper, it looks to be the exact shade I was trying for. That’s the mixed gray in the text, written with a Duke 209 fude nib fountain pen. The branch was drawn in a continuous line with De Atramentis Document brown.

But on the reverse side of the paper, which is a bit textured, the new gray seems a bit darker than expected. When I tried it on plain white paper, it seems about right in person, though it looks dark in the photograph. The black of the top line is very black but doesn’t look so dark due to being written with the very fine nib of my Namiki Falcon pen. The bottom line on the white paper is written using Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, which I also used in the light areas of the ink bottles and shadows.

I am following fellow sketchbook artist, Larry D. Marshall, in learning to mix my own gray ink. His blog post can be found HERE. I had just purchased a new bottle of De Atramentis Document Black ink, so I thought I’d give it a try with the little bit of ink left in the old bottle. I added 5 parts dilution solution to 1 part black. Overall, I’m happy with the outcome, but it seems to depend on the paper what the medium gray will actually look like.

BTW, you can find lots more on mixing this brand of inks on Jane Blundell’s blog, found HERE.

21 November 2019

a wee Maine Coon

A couple of weeks ago, we drove to Sealy to see granddaughter Jayna perform with the Needville marching band. Arriving WAY TOO EARLY (Bill always says if you are 15 minutes early, you are late!), we checked out an antique store (high prices, nothing interesting to us) and ate at the local restaurant, Tony’s.

Still had time to kill, so we wondered in to Tractor Supply, looking at pellet stoves. We may put one in our barndominium. Just before heading to the stadium, I spied a Maine Coon cat figurine!

My last Maine Coon, Beorn Bearcat, was this same “blue” color with those huge feet, though Bear had a classic tabby pattern on his sides. Our other granddaughter used to collect Schleich figurines, mostly horses, but I doubt she ever found a Maine Coon (even though she is claimed by 2 of the breed). So I decided to buy it as a pet for my wee mohair teddy bear, Jeremiah.

The ink sketch was done at the cabin as I waited for the laundry to finish. Then I added color today at the farm. I’m still not sure which I prefer: sketch in ink only, ink with watercolor cat, or watercolor wash on everything.

19 November 2019

an odd hearth

The fireplace here on the farm was apparently seldom used. Why else would they build a hearth out of wood? Not exactly fire-safe! We aren’t sure what changes our daughter and son-in-law will make here — maybe a real stone hearth? Or a simple fix would be to cover the top with ceramic tile.

Too bad it’s not safe to use at the moment — we would need to have the chimney inspected by a chimney sweep. A fire would be lovely for when everyone meets here for Thanksgiving.

18 November 2019

Veterans Day, a week later


Hidden in the bottom of my purse today, I found this flattened crepe poppy. Last week we spent Veterans Day in Needville, attending programs to honor relatives and friends of the students that served or are still active in the military. Not only students, actually — a Coast Guard serviceman in dress uniform came at his mother’s request (she’s a teacher).

Ceremonies were held at Judah’s elementary school, Josiah’s middle school (theirs was actually held at the high school), and Jayna’s junior high school — which kept us busy running from school to school! Bill is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served during the Vietnam war.

BTW, the Kaweco Liliput fountain pen shown in the picture was skipping badly, even after cleaning the nib with a pen flush solution and installing a new ink cartridge. After fighting with it the past week, I suddenly thought of trying a Waterpik made to clean between teeth. The tiny pressure-jet spray of water worked! The pen now writes very smoothly.

16 November 2019

battle of the birds

On Friday evening we drove to Bryan __through Horrible Traffic due to Texas A & M hosting a home game in College Station on the following day__ to watch our granddaughter Jayna’s halftime performance in high school district playoffs. Jayna is not in high school quite yet but her band director wants her to play with the marching band.

It was very cold in the stands with the recent arctic front bringing winter weather to our part of Texas, but the band did great and the Needville Bluejays beat the Canyon Lake Hawks, 40 to 33.

I carried my sketchbook, a colored pencil, and a small Kaweco Liliput fountain pen in my pockets but my fingers didn’t want to play in the cold . . . So I took photos to sketch a few images when we returned home, to remember the time in my journal.

15 November 2019

my temporary art space

Eventually this side room in our daughter’s new house will be our son-in-law’s office, but for now I have claimed it as a makeshift art studio. There are even some built-in bookshelves high on one wall that hold some of my journals and art books.

The taboret on wheels that Bill made me is meant to sit beside my table (which was actually the desk my grandfather used to hold an old-fashioned cash register in his barber shop) and pulled out as needed. But for now it sits in the corner with a wall shelf sitting on top for additional storage. The wall shelf came out of one of the bathrooms but our daughter didn’t want it.

My large studio lamp is still in storage, but that wee flip light on top of the shelf works fine for when additional lighting is needed. The window faces east and allows for plenty of natural light. When we move to the barndominium, my art space will have north facing windows as well as one on the west.

Now if I would just make the time for some serious art-making . . .

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