09 February 2020

Wilbur the unicorn


Meet my unicorn! Actually this is Mikala’s goat, Wilbur, at the F.F.A. livestock show last week — shaved, bathed, and waiting to show his stuff. He and another goat, Norbert, were playing a bit rough, causing one of his horns to be broken off.


Yesterday a total of six F.F.A. goats were brought out to the farm. They were purchased by supporters who wanted to help the kids out but did not wish to keep the goats. Usually the goats are turned over to the meat packers — after all, they are raised as meat goats. But our son-in-law told the kids at Cypress Creek that if any wanted to donate their goat, we would give it a home. We ended up with five of their goats for now plus one wee runt from another school — and later on we’ll be getting a seventh goat who is currently serving as a companion to a lamb.

The weather is cold at nights and these goats have had their winter coats shaved off to show the judges how “meaty” they are. They’ve also been living in indoor pens. So for now they wear goat coats, which our daughter says looks like a pasture full of M & Ms!

Our rescue donkeys seem to know they are the goats’ guardians, having a successful meet-and-greet today. The tiniest goat, Mikey, has become Tater’s special friend!

07 February 2020

comparing fude nibs

I have a bit of a love / hate attitude towards fountain pens containing a fude nib — a nib whose tip is bent at an angle to create a variety of line thicknesses.

I have tried the popular Sailor Fude de Mannen but I didn’t like how the feed interfered with a broad line, adding an unwanted “ghost” underline, so I gave it away.

My first fude nib pen was this Hero M-86, a gift from my sketch crawl buddy, Cathy “Kate” Johnson. Very stylish and a great nib, but the body is heavy and unbalanced __a bit clumsy__ and the cap doesn’t always post well.

So I tried what Kate did with hers: put the Hero nib onto the body of a Noodler’s Creeper. Her blog post can be found HERE. Her’s became a quick favorite; mine, not so much. Maybe my Creeper is to blame — it is very hard to get any ink to flow smoothly and the ink refill mechanism doesn’t work very well.

Nina Johansson’s Instagram videos of drawing with various fude pens can be quite mesmerizing! So after giving up on these pens for a time, I find myself returning for another try. She posted a Lamy Safari hack, actually bending a Lamy nib in a vise. I tried this and it works well . . . but the Lamy barrel is a bit too awkward for switching line width smoothly. My previous post on the Lamy conversion can be found HERE.

Larry D. Marshall once mentioned a Duke 209 fude pen on his blog and I like this one a lot. Always quick to start up again after being ignored and smooth to manipulate for various line width. But it tends to make “railroad tracks” if I draw a line too quick and the metal barrel tends to slip out of my hand. I suppose it is still my best choice. But just for fun I refilled the Hero M-86 with ink. I may play with it a bit more . . . .

04 February 2020

slowly but surely . . .


Lately my sketching seems to get slower and slower. Not the initial sketch — I drew the basic lines above rather quickly during our Sunday morning Bible study class. But I didn’t get around to adding watercolor until early this morning. (I think it was around 4:00 am — I couldn’t sleep so I gave the wee cats a treat and then painted a bit.)

Not sure what type of paper this is in the middle of my hand bound sketchbook; maybe Stonehenge? It seems to show a lot more texture in my paint mixes (this is mostly burnt sienna and ultramarine). And my Kaweco Liliput fountain pens won’t write smoothly on it at all! This bit was drawn with a “Frankenpen”: a Hero M-86 bent nib in a Noodler’s Creeper body (Cathy Johnson’s instructions can be found HERE).


And here’s my main distraction that pulls me away from my sketchbook: my main “job” at the moment is to tame these two donkeys. Tater and Tot came from a farm (near Austin, I think) where the old man who owned them had died and a donkey rescue group re-homed them with us. They come to us for carrots and cucumbers but so far they haven’t allowed us to touch much more than their faces. We need to get them halter-trained before the vet will come out for a check-up.

So I’m spending time each day just sitting in the east pasture, allowing them to get used to me (As I just typed the last few sentences, Tater came right up to me, curious about what I’m doing — or hoping for another carrot?). Today we need to do something about the stinging nettles in the pasture — it seems to be irritating the jennies’ legs a lot. Bill unknowingly caused it to spread by his constant mowing before we adopted them.

Another “distraction”: we signed a contract on selling our cabin so we’ve been moving the rest of our stuff to the farm. For anyone curious, the new listing can be seen HERE. After the previous 6-month listing getting us nowhere, with this agent it sold in only 16 days!

01 February 2020

at St. Joseph’s


Recently our doctor sent Bill to a new neurologist, this time at St. Joseph’s in College Station. His previous neurologist at Scott and White seeks to help patients through surgery; this new one tries to help with pain management specifically for nerve problems.

We waited for his new MRI in a separate building where there is a wooden statue of St. Joseph holding his carpentry tools. We overheard a tiny boy excitedly exclaim “Look, Mommy! It’s Jesus!”

BTW, the new doctor has tried a different pain killer and this one is actually working! Bill is able to sleep at night again, for which we are very thankful.

27 January 2020

our falcon


Over the past few weeks, we have had what we at first believed to be a Peregrine Falcon visit our pastures. The first time we saw him, he sat quietly on a fence post up near the ranch house — we kept watching him through the binoculars, with no thought of grabbing a camera or sketchbook.

He has returned several times but now perches up high in one of the north pasture’s oak trees, too far for a decent view. Sometimes we hear his cry, which sounds a bit mournful.

Since I couldn’t get a good sketch from life, I drew these from online photos*. And found that we were wrong — apparently he is an Aplomado Falcon, a breed that once was prevalent across Texas but had gone down in numbers for a time. Texas Parks and Wildlife and the nonprofit Peregrine Fund have worked since the early 1990s to restore the population of these gorgeous birds.


* The two photos I used were attributed to the following:
   Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Los Fresnos, TX
   Peter K Burian, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

20 January 2020

feeling a bit tweedy


Even though I might use this wool bag any time of the year, for some reason I tend to grab it when the weather is cold — along with my tweed cap. Our daughter bought the bag for me when she was in Scotland nearly 7 years ago. The hat came from Ireland via The Celtic Ranch, a cool import shop we often visited in Weston, Mo. It turned really cold with snow flurries during one of our B & B trips to this old Irish town so I grabbed the warmest hat I could find.

17 January 2020

a different view


Our wee log cabin is on the market again, listed with a new realtor. Her photographer took some overhead shots using a drone — it’s interesting to see our first Texas home as the Crested CaraCaras and Great Blue Heron do!

The large pond to the center right is one of several ponds at the ranch across the farm road, home of the Longhorns, horses and donkeys we love watching. At the horizon is a portion of the lake.


That’s our cabin with the darker colored roof and covered patio seen in the lower center in this second shot. The building with the metal roof is Bill’s woodshop, and the new carport can be seen under an oak tree left of the cabin.

11 January 2020

what I’m reading


When I am reading a book, I sometimes pause and think about what I have just read. That’s what I did after only one chapter of this book — and I sketched the book in my journal as I was thinking. My friend Kate (Cathy Johnson) mentioned this book a few months ago and I was able to find a used copy of it. I haven’t read very far into the book yet but I already totally agree with where the authors are coming from!

People often tell me that they wish they could draw. Often my answer is to ask them if they can sign their name. Then tell them that is a form of drawing a line. And ask if they could do it right away or did they have to practice doing it over and over? Lastly, I ask if their signature looks like someone else’s or is it uniquely their own?

So it is with drawing: we learn by doing, and our art will never look like anyone else’s, it will be uniquely our own.

10 January 2020

a bit of daily sketching


Some days are without any real inspiration in choosing what to sketch but that seldom stops me from a simple drawing. One day we received a phone call from our friend Eugene, who would be driving through our new area — so we met for lunch. The napkin holder reminded me of playing with my brother’s wood-burning tool as a kid.

And the wee Scottish Fold kitty in a box? I was ordering some things from jetpens.com but hadn’t reach the magic $25 limit to qualify for free shipping . , . . So I bought this silly sticky note pad rather than pay for shipping. Too cute to write on and throw away; they may be used as bookmarks.

09 January 2020

updated Gansai palette


Last month I received this Kissho Gansai Japanese watercolor set and I’ve finally tweaked it to where I want it. I normally paint out a color chart, or map, for my palettes to remember the arrangement, but  I decided to do one in my sketchbook journal this time instead. It is very hard to differentiate between some of these colors in the pan so a color chart is a necessity.

Some of the colors that came with this set seemed redundant, so I removed them and added three of the Kuretaki Gansai paints I previously had. Then I added two smaller Akashiya Gansai pans — I already had a metallic gold so why not a silver? And of course I had to try the turquoise!

I grabbed my neglected Pentel Pocketbrush pen (I use this rather than buying the traditional sumi ink), restocked some Etagami postcards from jetpens.com . . . . Now I’m all set to make more Etagami cards. This Japanese folk art is a simple way to warm up before more demanding sketches, and an easy way to make art when I don’t seem to have time or patience.

Deborah Davidson (dosankodebbie) has been a great source of information about Etagami, with her book, blog, and Etsy shop. All are highly recommended!
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