18 September 2018

still here . . . maybe home today?


Bill’s recovery was proceeding along so quickly that everyone expected him to be released yesterday. We waited extra-long on a surgeon to sign his release — they are understaffed due to Bill’s surgeon having been in a bicycle accident Saturday (he is now an in-house patient with broken ribs).

Before one of his colleagues could sign Bill out, he suddenly went into atrial fibrillation (Very thankful it didn’t happen after we left!). Apparently this happens about 15% of the time in the 5 days following bypass surgery. Oral medication failed to correct his heart sinus rhythm, so back to an IV drip. Within a short time, his heart beat was once again steady but they kept him another night for observation.

Where yesterday morning, he felt almost back to normal, now he feels like someone used his heart as a punching bag . . . or a soccer ball kicked hard down field. Otherwise, he is doing well and once again we are waiting for a doctor to sign him out — this time a cardiologist specialist The surgeon said he takes care of the plumbing, the cardiologist takes care of the electronics.

17 September 2018

update to previous post


Before adding my personal contact information to this first journal page, I decided to include the new limited palette I recently put together.


And for those unable to read Cathy Johnson’s quote on the inside front cover, here it is enlarged. I love my newly mixed turquoise ink but maybe it’s a bit light for writing text?

new journal


Over the past few days I’ve started a new sketchbook journal, adding a bit here and there. This time I’m trying out a Stillman & Birn Zeta in landscape format, 8.5 x 5.5”. First is a quote from Cathy Johnson on keeping art journals, with a random stack of sketchbooks.


The box on the far right is to enter personal contact information in case the journal is lost.


Then, as always, I drew some sketching tools on the first page — this time, a collection of granulating pigments I put together (listed to the left of the palette). Autumn is approaching and it always puts me in the mood for earthy granulation in watercolor.


We are still “living” at Scott & White hospital in College Station following Bill’s second bypass operation. A new bypass procedure was required when one from his surgery five years ago failed; they also found another questionable area forming a possible future blockage and decided to take care of that while they were in there. He is recovering much quicker than the medical personnel expected — this surgery, while much longer and more complicated than his first bypass, has been a much better experience with considerably less pain and discomfort.

Bill brought home one of these insulated water mugs when he had disc surgery, and has loved using it for iced tea. But that mug is finally separating and broken. I thought this a rather drastic way for him to get a new one!

We are so thankful Dr. Kirby was able to fit Bill’s surgery in an already busy schedule! From everything we’ve heard, he is the very best heart surgeon in the area, practicing at all three hospitals. Bill’s surgery was on Thursday; on Saturday, Dr. Kirby had an accident on his bicycle . . . and now he is a patient here as well, dealing with some very painful broken ribs. (He is the same age as me, 64. Maybe he should slow down?)



14 September 2018

a limited palette for autumn


I love playing with new combinations of watercolor — made especially easy with the magnetic pans in these Pocket Palettes from Expeditionary Art. And in the autumn, I’m drawn to rich, earthy, and granulating pigments.

José Naranja makes incredible art journals in a very precise, detailed style using ink and a limit palette, along with stamps and other added bits. Found in his tiny watercolor set are indigo, (burnt?) sienna, a red, turquoise, and a grey/black. I love the colorful brilliance of combining these colors with multiple colors of ink!

Though I have a small bit of cobalt turquoise light, I haven’t found a lot of uses for it, but it just seems to fit this combination of colors. Not owning any indigo, I substituted Persian blue. I used both burnt sienna and a natural (raw) sienna, plus titanium white gouache for working on toned paper. Then there was one small hole left so I added a bit of leftover Jadeite genuine. I LOVE Jadeite but won’t be replacing it because the price has gone too high.

13 September 2018

been down this road before . . .


So far, so good. It took no time at all after meeting the heart surgeon to setting a date for Bill’s bypass. Dr. Kirby’s expertise is in demand at three large hospitals in Bryon / College Station, yet he made room for Bill less than two days after seeing him.

The surgery is still in process (expected to take at least 5 hours; it takes longer for a second bypass surgery, having to work through all the scar tissue, etc.). One of the surgical nurses came out to speak with us a little bit ago, telling us where they are presently in the procedure and that everything is going very well.

Our heart-felt thanks to all who have prayed for us and for him specifically — God is good! He is answering those prayers. Expecting a great outcome!


And here is the sketch from pre-op prep five years ago . . .

11 September 2018

this morning’s cup of tea


For this morning’s cup of tea, Bill made me a mug of Scottish Breakfast tea (loose leaf from the English Tea Store) with a splash of milk. I do own one real tea cup and saucer, but these mugs hold 2 cups each; brewing a pot of tea makes 2 full mugs of tea, in case Bill is in a rare mood to share a cup of tea with me instead of his regular coffee.

And this is the last page of this Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook. Unless you count the random stuff entered on the inside cover:




mixing inks


While we continue to wait with Bill’s medical issues (meeting with the heart surgeon later today), I distracted myself yesterday with a bit of ink play. My most used inks are De Atramentis Document Black and Brown, and Noodler’s Lexington Gray. But I also wanted a water-resistant “burnt sienna” ink so, following color charts on Jane Blundell’s blog, I mixed one by adding a bit of black to Document Red.

A few months back, I bought a sample of Document Violet to use in my dark lilac Lamy Safari fountain pen, but it was just a bit to red for what I was after. So I added a smidgen of Dark Blue, making it a rich purple. I wasn’t using the blue ink anyway so this is a good purpose for it. The lines remind me of when I used to sketch with a deep purplish colored pencil under watercolor washes.

Before writing text on my journal pages, I normally draw faint pencil lines — yes, I’m a wee bit fussy about writing in straight lines. At least most of the time.

Anyway, these lines are later erased and I’ve been playing with ideas to eliminate the erasing step. The text on the above page was drawn in with a Derwent Blue Grey watercolor pencil but it would need sharpening too often. I read somewhere that Liz Steel was trying out a turquoise ink fit her text lines but it was water-soluble; I get messy with unwanted splashes and smears at times.

So I remembered having a sample bottle of Document Turquoise/Cyan ink and, again following Jane’s charts, added just a bit of Brown to it for a rich turquoise ink. LOVE this color!


After playing with my new colors a bit, I think the turquoise, though beautiful, is not quite light enough for text lines. So I’ve ordered a bottle of De Atramentis Dilution solution to “thin” the color a bit. I decided that the “burnt sienna” was still a bit red so I tweaked it with a few drops of Yellow, which I also had a sample vial of.

Then to finish out the page, I used purple ink to draw the linked chain Bill’s Grandpa Williamson carved as a gift for his grandma when they were courting. The two links are carved from a single piece of walnut. Grandma’s maiden name was Stanley; mine was the same name, though as far as we know there is no relation. So she gave the chain to us — uniting another Stanley and Williamson.

10 September 2018

trying a new tea


Unlike the others in our discipleship class on Sunday mornings, I do not drink coffee. I prefer tea brewed from loose leaf blends but keep tea bags in my purse for when we are away free m home. (Just try ordering a hot cup of tea in area restaurants! Like no one has ever heard of such a thing!)

Yesterday morning I tried a new tea: Numi Organic - Chocolate Pu-erh. My usual, Tazo Cocoa Mint Mate, has become increasingly hard to find. I prefer the Mate but this one isn’t bad at all . . .

08 September 2018

yesterday’s sketch


Just a simple sketch from the hospital waiting area yesterday, as Bill had an echocardiogram. The upholstery is really ugly but the view from the oversized windows is lush and green, and there was a guy playing guitar and quietly singing folk songs. Hospitals in Texas often invited various musicians to perform in their lobbies. Our son-in-law Michael, who teaches band, often takes his jazz band to perform in Houston hospitals — the swing music of the 1940s is especially popular.

Bill’s test results were good, so now we wait for the heart surgeon to set up an appointment. It looks like he will be going through another bypass to repair the one that failed.

07 September 2018

walking in the fog


I have always loved fog. Its mystery, the way its moisture gently kisses my face, the way it hides the ugly and mundane of everyday life. But it’s very difficult to capture in watercolor!

Yesterday I read a devotion on Wayne Jacobsen’s blog and wished to remember these words, so I wrote them down in my journal. On a side note, my recent “foggyness” shows in that I failed to notice that I was holding my journal upside down!

I decided to attempt to paint the scene in the photo from Wayne’s blog. The distant forest disappeared in the fog more than I wanted — not strong enough pigment laid wet-in-wet. But it captures the mood I was after so I like it, upside down and all!

Wayne is a wonderful Christian author and speaker, one of two ghost writers who helped write “The Shack”. I met him several years ago in Newton, Kansas as he did a series of meetings at our missionary friend’s barn. And of course I drew him during the meetings!


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