19 November 2018

leaves for remembrance


We had a fun time with our daughter and son-in-law yesterday in spite of damp, drippy weather. They have been considering a move to the country recently and we have been going along to look at properties with them. Between Kristen being a highly experienced mechanical engineer and Bill having been a master plumber, heating & air guy, propane tech, and a skilled woodworker with additional knowledge of electrical wiring systems, they can pretty much learn quite a lot about a property’s condition!

They have been looking at properties that include an in-law house, hoping that we will join them. At first we made jokes and just laughed about the idea. But they are serious. Our oldest son and his wife already live in a similar arrangement with her parents in an in-law suite attached to their home. Given the number of properties we’ve seen that include such a house, it appears to be a common thing in this part of the country.

Given our lack of confidence in the HOA in charge of upkeep on our common well, which is not in compliance with state mandates governing community wells, we are giving the whole idea some serious thought. I love our little log cabin and the improvements we have made here, and I would miss it. We would also miss being so close to our friends and church family.

Meanwhile, all 4 of us liked the property we looked at yesterday very much — if only they can negotiate the price down to a reasonable level. The main house needs lots of repairs and updates, having been built in the 1960s. We had fun talking over the details and imagining changes. Kris and I even started talking about raising dairy goats and learning to make cheese together! As we were leaving, I picked up these leaves to sketch, to remember a great day, regardless of the outcome.

18 November 2018

a cup of cocoa, please!


I love quickly mixing a cup of hot cocoa but the packaged instant cocoas sold in stores are way too sweet! They also have added ingredients I’d rather not consume. So I came up with my own instant mix using Sweet Leaf stevia. A bit more care is needed stirring to make sure it dissolves, depending on what brand of powdered milk and cocoa is used. Some brands won’t hardly dissolve at all.

My recipe:
2 cups nonfat dry milk (I don’t necessarily want nonfat but it’s all I can find)
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sweet Leaf stevia sweetener (or 3/4 cup sugar)
dash of salt

Mix very well and store tightly covered. Slowly stir boiling water into 1/4 cup mix; top with real whipped cream.

This gouache sketch is the final page spread in this sketchbook journal, so back to my larger journal. And perhaps I’ll add another small one to my bag.

17 November 2018

gouache travel palette


This sketch shows the pigment selections for my travel-sized gouache palette, shown in the previous post’s photograph. Gouache from tubes was squeezed directly into the 12 compartments along the sides, a combination of M. Graham and Schmincke brands.

Whenever the quin. violet and van dyke brown are used up, they will not be replaced. I will probably get rid of either the gamboge or titanium gold ochre also.  I don’t think I really need both of them — I haven’t decided which of the two to keep. And now that I look at them, do I really need both cerulean blue and helio turquoise?

I placed a flat magnetic strip down the empty center space to hold 4 metal pans from extra Pocket Palette pans, and a regular half-pan of titanium white. I don’t believe that this Pocket Painter empty palette is available anymore; I bought a couple of them from Wet Paint Art Supply years ago.

16 November 2018

a bit of ice from Cincinnati


Our youngest son, Jeff, now lives in Cincinnati and he often sends me photos he takes around the area. This week, he sent multiple shots showing the ice he woke up to and challenged me to sketch them. An entire tree and a very full shrub looked a bit too challenging to me but these branches seemed fun to try. I greatly simplified the sketch on toned paper (Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook in beige toned paper) and then added a bit of gouache.

Jeff also sent a video of snow flurries, excited to now be living where it snows on a regular basis. I sort of burst his bubble by telling him that we had snow flurries just 20 miles north of our home here in the center of Texas on Tuesday. At least we didn’t have ice and the flurries did not last, but we had a wickedly cold wind earlier in the week. Today, back to the 70s!


Here, my iPad Mini can be seen with the original photo open on it. The purse-sized gouache palette is a Pocket Painter Palette that I bought years ago from Wet Paint. I don’t think it is offered anymore. I added a thin magnetic strip down the center to hold 4 additional metal pans from ExpeditionaryArt and a half-pan of titanium white.

13 November 2018

a sweet worker


As I waited in the waiting room today during Bll’s cardio rehab, a sudden movement on my right side caught my eye. I had not noticed that the lady next to me had a service dog with her. The sweet dog came around her walker to stand at attention. Even after the lady told her to sit, she remained as she was, looking at her lady with the most lovely sympathetic brown eyes. I think the lady had ALS.

12 November 2018

dinner with our church family


Last night the members of our small church ate out together at a Brenham restaurant as an early Thanksgiving. Each person shared something they are particularly thankful for this year — mine is obviously Bill’s safety through surgery and strong recovery. I’m also very thankful for friends all over the world that prayed for us through the whole ordeal!

We were sitting near some of our church kids, Blake and Kathleen. As I carried on a conversation with Kathleen, I drew my glass of water (with lots of lemons!) in one continuous ink line, as well as a few things laying next to it. A bit wonky but it amused the kids. I had already enjoyed a cup of hot tea (bringing my own tea bag, of courseTexas restaurants don’t always understand people drinking HOT tea!) but it was gone.

11 November 2018

deep in . . . Sherwood Forest?


Last weekend we went with our daughter and son-in-law to look at several properties outside of Houston. They are wanting to move out of Houston’s suburbs to live in the country on 3 to 5 acres, hopefully in an area that won’t be swallowed up by Houston’s future expansion. Our son-in-law would also like a small in-law house included on the property, hoping to talk us into joining them — not sure what we think about that.

We love our log cabin, our church, and this area. But we do not have confidence in the home owners association controlling our community well. It needs to be brought up to current code and they seem to want to bury their heads in the sand and do nothing; the state could come in and shut us down at some point in the future, or demand compliance in a very short window of time which would mean paying top dollar for the work rather than getting bids for the best price.

The three houses were located in a forest and the roads have names like “Little John Circle” and “Robin Hood Lane”. The above property was a definite NO, as there was a creek that regularly floods the house. But I thought finding a Renaissance wagon there was fitting!

10 November 2018

Mexican plum tree leaves


This week has been very wet, very windy, and a bit cooler. More leaves are falling off of the smaller trees on our property. Mostly we have oak, pine, and cedar — some of the oak trees are actually “evergreen”, holding on to their very green leaves until springtime brings new ones.

As close as I can figure, three smaller trees are Mexican plum trees. Hummingbirds love to nest in these as well as one of our crepe myrtles near one of the feeders. When we first looked at the property 5 years ago, there were tiny berries on the bare branches — oddly, they have never shown up again.

Anyway, I picked up a few leaves on my way in from the mailbox (squishing in the very soggy ground) and painted them — ink blob, smeared paint and all.

09 November 2018

a red shirt day


Yesterday it was back to therapy for both of us: Bill’s continued cardio rehab and my “sketching people in waiting room” therapy. I name it such because the more I do it, the less intimidated I am at drawing people . . . and to be doing so where people can see me.

This is how far I got before my subjects all left. I still feel more confident doing a quick pencil layout sketch, even though I don’t draw exactly the same lines in ink.
And this is how far I got adding a bit of color before Bill was ready to leave. Which means that overall, I took about an hour.

Text was added after arriving home. . . . Well, after stopping to shop at H.E.B, picking up a pizza, arriving home and eating, reading a bit, watching a movie, washing dishes. In fact, I didn’t actually add the text and take the top photo until a thunderstorm woke me around 2:00 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep and love listening to the rain.

04 November 2018

copy cat palette


I admit it — I am a copy cat. When I see something interesting that another artist is doing, I borrow the idea and adapt it for my own use. Maria Coryell-Martin of Expeditionary Art is now selling a special edition pocket palette (here) in collaboration with Samantha Dion Baker, author of Draw Your Day (here).

I already own several pocket palettes and I love putting together new configurations of paints in them. I copied the idea of the special edition palette using the paints I have on hand instead of those sold in the official one. Then I added 2 more greens — I like to be able to just grab a green when sketching instead of taking time to mix, and let the colors mingle together on the paper.

My changes:
quin. magenta —> quin. rose
cad. red scarlet —> transparent pyrrol scarlet
cad. yellow deep —> new gamboge
cad. yellow lt. —> hansa yellow med.
Jap green —> serpentine genuine
                       sap green
                       Prussian green
manganese blue —> cerulean blue
cobalt blue —> ultramarine blue
indigo —> indanthrone blue
buff titanium
iridescent gold —> monte amiata natural sienna
transparent red oxide
sepia —> raw umber
lunar black —> my own mixed black or payne’s gray
white gouache


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