22 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

OK. Enough of being "dogless". I have paid a deposit on a new walking partner. These past few months have proven that I simply will not stick to daily walking without the needs and encouragement of a wee friend. Besides missing those wonderful puppy antics! Scotties just make me laugh --- so full of charm!

(this photo card was designed by the breeder, Pam Spicer-Lindloff of www.scotties-n-greys.com/ )

For those who don't know, I took my 4-year old Scottie, Maxwell, with me to Texas for an extended visit with one of our sons and his family last spring. While there, 4-year old granddaughter Jayna asked if Maxwell could stay and be her dog. How could I say no?

Actually, I had been warned ahead of time that she would ask. She and Max have been buddies since they first met as babies --- she was 10 months and he was 7 months. And Maxwell NEEDED children in his life. When we went for walks, he would look so longingly at children or even yards where they had played.

I adopted Max from a Scottie rescue group --- the first 6 months of his life had been spent in a cage at a puppy mill. He was never peopled and was fearful of everything --- definitely NOT a Scottie trait! But the owners of the puppy mill had grandchildren who would play with the new puppies. So he bonded with children and not adults.

Now that he has lived with 2 children, he is 100% Scottie --- full of energy, mischief, confidence, and joy. I am so happy he is now living the life he was meant to live . . . and thankful that our son and daughter-in-law were willing to provide all that he needs. I do miss him . . . he is coming for a visit this week!

Meanwhile, I went as long as I could without a dog in our home. Bill finally said "you want one so just do it!" I found a wonderful breeder in Oklahoma who is obviously as in love with the breed as I am. No, my new baby is not one of these puppies --- she hasn't been born yet. There is a waiting list so I won't bring one home until maybe March or April. But she is on the way!

19 December 2010

from last week's mtng.

Like most people, I've gotten busy with pre-Christmas activities and forgot to post my doodles from our weekly prayer meeting last week. Because of scheduling conflicts, we met on Thursday instead of Wednesday.

This was the last meeting for this year; we'll start again in January.

I remembered these notes and doodles today --- after hearing that one of our members' husband had a heart attack. So we were each praying again on our own this morning. He is scheduled for a triple by-pass next week; this happened just before they were to leave town on a trip in their camper. I'm so thankful it didn't happen after they left!

We are trusting the Lord to show Himself strong on their behalf and provide all that's needed, including healing.

16 December 2010

waiting with Mom

Tuesday I drove Mom to another eye appointment, where she is getting a series of injections in her right eye.

After a very long wait, she finally saw the doctor; he said her eye was doing so well that she did not need her shot this time. Yeah!

14 December 2010

almost done

For some reason I have a hard time finding motivation to work on any form of quilting. Or even hand-sewing nowadays . . . something I used to love to do.

Thankfully the newest grandchildren stockings are nearly finished. Just stitch together with the linings at the top, add some decorative cording, and a few more buttons / charms to embellish the crazy-patch.

I sort of like the insides of the crazy-patch, where some of the embroidery shows through the muslin backing and some doesn't.

12 December 2010

Neocolor tin's palette

For those interested, these are what I found to place in this skinny palette. I filled it with some extra pans of watercolor I had stuck away in a drawer. Some are colors that will be replaced with better pigments after they are used up. Others are favorites (like American Journey's ultramarine and burnt sienna).

11 December 2010

Visual Journal in old planner

Life has been busy lately . . . normal for this season's preparations. I haven't had much sketching time. This journal spread was from Wednesday's prayer meeting, but I hadn't had time to post it.

Lately it seems easier to carry my sketch journal inside this old Franklin-Covey planner cover than to carry a purse. There are pockets to tuck an ID, credit card etc. I can just slide my current journal into the pocket where the calendar section used to go.

The watercolor palette is an idea borrowed from Cathy 'Kate' Johnson --- a Neocolor II watercolor crayon tin, spray-painted inside with white enamel, and outfitted with the basics. My tin is a bit larger than Kate's, having come with 15 crayons instead of 10. But it still fits in the back zipper pocket of the planner cover.

The WC pans are attached with rubber cement; if I wished to, they could be removed and the WC crayons put back in --- painting the inside cover white makes a handy mixing area for them as well.

You can see more on Kate's tin by clicking on the following links:
outside tin
attaching WC pans with rubber cement
an early assembling of tools

For more on my using this old planner cover, you can click here.

08 December 2010

morning tea

Preferring infused tea over using tea bags, I own several infusers. But this silly little spoon infuser is the one I most often grab. Just stick it in the loose tea leaves, close it on about a spoonful, and stick it in the mug.

I once sketched a tea mug while the infuser was in it . . . . looked like I was stirring my tea with a large safety pin!

02 December 2010

new journal

I really should be working on Christmas sewing projects, but a new sketchbook was calling . . . . As usual, I first do some kind of illustration of my current palette. These are the most basic tools I use.

(Yeah, I was using water and paint on our upholstered footstool without any protection underneath. My kids would have been SO in trouble for this.) ;^D

Following Liz / Borromini's idea, I'm going to try doing light preliminary sketches with red lead instead of graphite. As soon as I find red lead for this mechanical pencil, that is. Until then, I am using a red Col-Erase pencil made by Prismacolor.

Another trick learned from Liz: that paper with heavy grid lines --- even with this 140 lb. paper, I can faintly see the lines through the paper, making it easier to write in straight lines. Thanks, Liz!

last spread of this journal . . .

. . . some notes and an angel from Wednesday's prayer meeting.

01 December 2010

Saturday in the country

Bill was told by a friend that there was a light commercial sander available on Craig's List. We drove 40 miles east to see it on Saturday.

While they drove to another farm building to check it out, I stayed in the farmyard with two sweet border collies, sketching.

In a back pasture lies this strange little hill with a cross on top. The rancher said it's where their church meets for sunrise service. He also told us that the hill has been there longer than their family can remember (several generations) --- rumor has it that an old American Indian was buried there on top of his horse. I also found this old hedge stump fascinating.

29 November 2010

time to pick another one

a journal page . . . of journals!

I have only 2 1/2 pages left in this current sketchbook journal, so I gathered all the unused ones off the shelf. Those on the left side are purchased sketchbooks; those on the right are hand-bound. The upper 2 of these still needs some kind of embellishment on the outer cover.

I think I'll try out Strathmore's Visual Journal next. I often pick up manufactured sketchbooks when I see them, just in case I don't have time to bind any new ones. I'm also curious about how differing brands handle ink and watercolor.

The little book bracelet is something new found at Border's. I hadn't heard of them before, but our granddaughter asked for one for Christmas. Fun way to mark the next page to be sketched!

25 November 2010

taking votes, anyone?

First of all, let's get one thing straight (besides my hair, that is) . . . . I am about as excited about self-portraits as I am about having my photo taken. In other words, NOT AT ALL!

That said, an explanation about why this pitiful attempt is in my sketch journal. For a couple of years, I have been protesting all those style police who say no one over age 30 should wear long hair (I'm 56). --- I also went along with those nameless people for years when they said no one with baby fine hair should wear hair below their shoulders. Mine is extremely baby fine but I have a lot of it. But I like long hair!

OK, so I'm ready to admit that the longer it gets, the flatter and straighter it hangs. Been thinking of cutting a few inches off. Want to vote on it? Leave a comment below!

I have never colored my hair and I actually DO have a few gray hairs finally. I guess it to be around 8 or 10 hairs; Bill says more like 4 or 5. I refuse to color it ever . . . . maybe I refuse to grow old as well.

BTW: I found out that burnt sienna plus a bit of purple makes a pretty good brunette (plus some sepia in the shadows).

21 November 2010

Sunday scribbles

With a simple Pilot ink pen and a touch of white gel pen, I have finished this Moleskine sketchbook today. Yeah! Now on to better paper . . .

Oddly, the page on the left side is glued down a bit at the spine, causing the previous page to show a bit. This was the page I came to today while taking down a few notes in church. After church, we ate at a re-opened restaurant in town so I sketched their logo while waiting to be served. And take-home boxes; too much food to eat in one setting.

Don't understand my need to finish each sketchbook even if I don't like the paper --- Maybe it's because there have been so many projects in the past that were begun and never finished?

I like my newer habit of at least attempting to finish everything that I've started. It's all a learning process in one way or another. But I also learn from my mistakes and will never again try one of these popular little books with nasty paper.

17 November 2010

Wednesday morning

praying with friends, as usual . . .

I love this terra cotta pot of Ginger's, covered with rough tree bark. So a quick scribble sketch.

BTW, gouache wasn't working much better for me than transparent watercolor on the Moleskine sketchbook pages, so I've switched to watercolor pencils to finish the book with.

16 November 2010

getting serious . . .

. . . or at least thinking about getting serious. I lost a bit of weight just before and while visiting Texas last spring. Then gained it all back after returning home to Kansas.

A while back, Liz / Borromini inspired me to be more aware of what I eat by drawing it. I've decided to return to that for a while, though I may not post every day's sketch.

Slowing down to sketch while eating gives the body time to realize it is full. In restaurants where they serve endless appetizers such as chips and salsa, I often sketch to avoid eating those mindless calories. And I'll have a record of everything I have actually eaten --- perhaps helping me to decide NOT to add something unnecessary at the end of the day.

I also started walking again. After a good beginning, I had stopped due to rash problems on my ankles (itchy, oozy eczema that made wearing shoes and socks unbearable). But that is finally clearing up and it's time to get moving again . . .

15 November 2010

a night hat for Quen

Who really knows the mind of a three-year old? Our grandson told his mom he needed one of these. So I knit one.

In fact, I'm glad I had this to work on this weekend, as a sinus headache kept me from doing much else. I had the yarn left over from a purse I had knit for granddaughter Mikala. Both of her parents and Quen's dad are graduates from K-State so the purple and white were good.

Working with double-pointed needles isn't so hard after the four pairs of wool socks I knit a few years ago. But I can't seem to remember how I used to make tassels; I need one for the end of the braided tail. Can't be all that hard.

By the way . . . . Besides his love of wearing hats, Quen also loves button-down shirts and ties. No, his dad doesn't wear them. Just decided on his own that it's the look for him.

11 November 2010

another morning at Ginger's

A few of us gather at Ginger's home on Wednesdays to pray for needs we hear about during the week. I often write down some of the prayer needs . . . and add a quick sketch while I'm at it. Color was added later at home.

This time I walked instead of driving. The wind finally calmed down and the sun was shining --- nice! Today it is much cooler and rainy.

I decided to use the color swatch card because that's the only metallic gold watercolor I have and the bronze candlesticks had some gold trim.

The bronze color was a bit of a challenge, especially since this Moleskine paper isn't the best for watercolor. First I put down the quinacridone gold, then added burnt umber shadows, and topped it off by dabbing in a bit of the olive green, letting the colors mingle on the paper. Seemed to work.

07 November 2010

another K.C. museum

One of the many steamboats that sank in the Missouri river, the Arabia hit a snag in 1856 and quickly sank in 5 minutes. No human fatalities, though one forgotten mule drowned. All cargo was lost. Even though the water was not deep, the boat soon disappeared from sight as it went further and further down into the deep muck of the river's bottom.

It wasn't found until 1988, in a Kansas farm field. The river had long since changed its course. The boat was now lying 45 feet underground, 1/2 mile from the river's edge. Just excavating it was quite an engineering feat!

Years ago we went to this museum, not too long after opening its doors. So long ago that we decided to go back there last weekend. The exhibit has grown immensely and is still growing. There is a restorer's lab on site, where you can ask questions and observe them restoring artifacts.

A humorous side-note: I had seen the introductory film years ago. But this time, I recognized one of the actors dramatizing the boat's history. Years later, she was director of a history museum that hired me as special project researcher! I knew she had done a bit of reenacting . . . . how funny to see her in action years later!

03 November 2010

more from our K.C. trip

What a moving experience the World War I museum was, with both of us having a personal connection to this war through grandfathers. One of the most incredibly designed museums I've ever seen. We went both Friday and Saturday to take it all in. The main exhibit is underground, surrounding the tower's base.

I was fascinated by the sculptures flanking the sides of the tower and the guardian spirits on the upper part of the tower. The Liberty Memorial (217 ft. tower) was built in 1926 to honor those who served in WW I. We climbed to the top on Saturday -- I would have taken photos from the incredible view except that was when I realized I had lost my camera (we found it later).

The 4 guardian spirits in the upper sides (sculpted by Robert Aitken) symbolize Honor, Courage, Patriotism, and Sacrifice. At night, there is a "flame effect" coming from the tower, using steam and special lighting.

The 2 Sphinxes facing east and west stand for Memory and Future. "Memory" shields its face from the horrors of the battlefields; "Future's" face is shrouded because the future is yet unseen.

On a lighter note, the first stop when we reached KC was at an art supply shop. We came in on Interstate 35, so this was the first planned stop we would come to. I had purchased a set of gouache on eBay but was sent some wrong colors; the seller refunded me and I came here to replace them. And cool! I had just been e-mailed a 50% off coupon for the first 3 items!

As we stopped here, Bill noticed the hamburger-mobile parked in front of the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill. I told him the burgers are supposed to be really good; he determined to have one before we left town. So that's the last thing we did Saturday afternoon . . . . and they ARE great!

31 October 2010

at the Savoy

After an August visit to the Savoy in Kansas City to meet up with Liz, Kate and Joseph, I knew this was a great place to bring Bill for his birthday. I didn't make it to Kate's sketchcrawl this weekend, but had a mini sketch crawl of my own with Bill

Our oldest son, Jason, was also in town from Houston, attending an educator's conference. We met him for supper at a little Japanese restaurant.

The Savoy's breakfast is humongous! --- your choice of several items on the menu all included with the reasonable room fee. And no rush . . .

While in town, we also went to the World War I memorial & museum, a return trip to the Arabia Steamboat, and playtime for Bill at Architectural Salvage. More sketches to come, though they will be from memory and photos.

27 October 2010

empty larder

. . . on the trees, that is. The squirrels' larders must be busting to running over by now.

Bill tells me that it's a sign of a very cold winter ahead. He noticed that all the walnuts from the tree behind his wood shop have already been cleaned up by squirrels.

26 October 2010

weekend's surprise

We knew that Jason and Carrie would be attending their college's 10th reunion in Bolivar, MO last week, but they planned on driving straight there and back to Texas.

What a pleasant surprise when they phoned Friday evening and asked if they could have a bed overnight on the way home Saturday! (Well, of course . . . did they really think we would say no?). It added quite a few miles to the drive home, but we were so excited to see all of them, even for a short time. Jayna and Josiah are always adorable, as are their parents.

Josiah has grown so much since I was his "nanny" in the spring . . . now he doesn't want to be out of Mommy's sight --- but he loves to explore. He soon found out that the little door in this tiny cupboard in the sketch can open; now it houses toys. It used to be on a Victorian gentleman's dresser -- behind the little door is where a top hat was kept. But we use it as a small side table.

25 October 2010

Sunday BBQ

After church a few of us usually eat out; this rooster lives on the shelf at the local BBQ place. Our food arrived before I could sketch much more; I added color later at home.

I tried painting this with a bit of gouache instead of transparent watercolor, though the red is regular watercolor. I ordered a set of gouache on eBay but was sent a few wrong tubes. The seller refunded me but I still need to buy some reds.

Gouache seems to work a bit better on this yucky Moleskine sketchbook paper, yet not as easy as watercolor pencils. It still must be applied fairly dry.

22 October 2010

Friday morning . . .

. . . and a few things I picked up.

It's hard to believe these are the first Autumn leaves I've sketched this year. Leaves changing colors is my favorite part of the season.

While watering some freshly planted shrubs, I noticed more rogue morning glories intertwined among the perennials. They certainly have been persistent, given that it's now been 3 years since I planted some in window boxes. Seeds fell to the ground and they've been popping up ever since.

18 October 2010

more of Bill's playtime

Having no large woodworking projects to "work" on after finishing the bed frame and night stands, Bill next took my old cedar jewelry box and built interior sections and a lift-out tray, using scraps of lining-cedar. Before, it was just a plain box with everything jumbled up within it.

Seemed a good time to "play" with some of my jewelry. I really don't wear jewelry very often . . . maybe one of the crosses in my collection (they hang on the wall). Mostly I save things for sentimental reasons. And to sketch, of course.

photo sketching vs plein air

An unfortunate attitude has crept into my thinking . . . . that sketching from a photo is not art and sketching in person is. But I don't always sketch on-site, for whatever reason. In the summer and even these warm days of Autumn, it's to avoid bugs. Their bites cause a spreading allergic eczema in my skin that is unbearable.

Other times, it's because I don't wish to make others who are with me wait while I finish a sketch --- I am a very slow sketcher, even when drawing straight with ink, without blocking in with a pencil, like in these sketches.

So is it any less art? I'm beginning to change my thinking. I enjoy sketching both ways. I think I'm going to be easier on myself.

16 October 2010

Bill's artistic work

Bill has been at it again. He just built me an early Christmas present --- a gorgeous red oak bed frame and night stands in the Mission style we love. Actually, I knew he was making it for the past month or two --- I wrote the bills for all that wood and stain! But his talents continue to amaze me.

Early this year, he built an Adirondack chair and footstool for us, as a trial run for one he built a co-worker.

That was so much fun, he built a porch swing to match.

And he still says he isn't artistic???

12 October 2010

new use for old planner

I used to carry a day planner regularly --- LOVED the soft leather cover of this planner from Franklin Covey, along with all the pockets to organize stuff. After seeing how "Pooja" repurposed a journal for use as a sketchbook, I was wondering if there's a way to use mine.

Then I remembered that the ring section comes out of mine. And hey! the sketchbook I bound myself slides right in! This is the most common size I bind because it uses 2 full sheets of WC paper without waste.

Pockets hold all that's needed, or I can tuck a small metal palette in the back zip pocket. Or I can easily remove the sketchbook if I just want to tuck it in my purse.

In the envelope are Sheer Wonder sheets (found here) with watercolor crayon scribbled in squares (you can pick paint off these just like a regular palette). I learned the Sheer Wonder palette trick from the same site, but have lost the direct link for the palette. The watercolor sample card is an old one from Daniel Smith, with actual watercolor dabs on it. These can easily be made with your own watercolors or with colored pencils, as shown recently on Laure Ferlita's blog.

11 October 2010

watercolor 101

I began going back to the basics this weekend, wanting to be more solid in watercolor techniques.

The first book I grabbed is an older book from 1979 by Alwyn Crawshaw . . . . it really touches on basics. I could handle the brush-control exercises fine, but over and over I tried to paint a smooth flat wash and still can't do it without streaks!

But as a good friend, Carol, pointed out . . . . how often do I really need a smooth wash in a painting?

06 October 2010

strengthening skills

This is an early watercolor study I did in 2007 from a photo I took at McKinney Falls near Austin, TX. I was first introduced to watercolor in August 2005 but have only played around with it. At that time a group of us amateurs met every Tuesday, set up some kind of subject matter, and tried to paint it. Not really a class for learning as much as a social get-together of WC enthusiasts.

Since then, I took one WC landscape class in Wichita, but didn't learn much. I would love to attend workshops and meet regularly with a real class to study and improve skills, but nothing is available in this area (or on the rare occasions it is, it's priced out of my range). The group I first began in has since broken up.

So the next best thing: all those books on watercolor I've picked up the past few years in the used-book market. Last night I went through several and was surprised at how many did NOT have how-to demos to follow.

Yet some did, so I'm going to start working through those, aiming at one book per month. A friend in Utah who teaches oil painting recently told me that the best way to learn is to paint over and over and over. I'll try to take his advice . . . .

04 October 2010

working forward . . .

I've camped here long enough; it's time to move forward.

Now, if only I knew in what direction . . .

As a member of a small group of artists seeking to move forward with our art, I have been challenged recently to actually look at where I am and where I wish to go. For me, that means acknowledging that I AM an artist regardless of the opinions of certain close family members.

I guess I've had the attitude that "real" artists have paintings that are entered into shows or hang in galleries. My favorite art form is sketching in sketchbooks with pen & ink. I have no desire to enter shows --- that would tend to make me paint to please someone else (the jury or judges) rather than myself. Some of my adult children accept that I am artistic, but I long to have the respect of a certain other child who seems to think this is only a hobby.

I would love to touch people's lives with a book in the fashion of one I read last year: "A Blossom in the Desert", a 2007 collection compiled by Miriam Huffman Rockness of the sketches and writings of Lilias Trotter, a Victorian missionary / artist. A combination of watercolor sketches and words --- insights, quotes, and Bible verses scattered among the illustrations. I don't care to go the traditional publisher route; self-publishing or publishing on-line works for me.

Meanwhile, I know I have a lot to learn in technique. Attending workshops would be a wonderful way to hone in on my strengths and gain confidence. Not usually available in the middle of Kansas. (Actually, I found that there is a watercolor workshop with a well-known artist this week in Wichita --- but it costs over $400 and I simply don't have the money.) I'm exploring my options in other ways of learning. It's also past time that I learn how to design this blog in a better way and learn how to use it's options.

I'm also re-reading Danny Gregory's book, "The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are". And I'm thankful for this and other encouragements I've found through the on-line artist community.

03 October 2010

waiting for gouache

Though I don't plan on ever using another Moleskine sketchbook (unless it is reloaded with decent paper), this one still resides in my purse. Good for discreet sketching in public.

I added a half-pan of white gouache to this wee palette for this paper, plus a couple of other neutral colors. And a tiny bit of soap --- I learned from other Moleskine users that it helps paint "stick" to this paper.

That got me thinking . . . . wouldn't a bit of gouache be better, not only for yellow-toned paper like this (I someday want to bind a journal of Niddegan paper) but also for use on darker Mi-Teintes paper I'm adding to some sketchbooks?

When the tiny bits of paint in this palette are used up, I'll switch it to gouache. I'm currently bidding on some on eBay. No sense spending a huge amount of money in case I don't like working with opaque paint.

01 October 2010

an old treasure

I don't recall ever seeing Bill's mom read a Bible. I wasn't sure she even owned one.

But his younger brother, Dean, found this old, battered Bible among their grandmother's things, with their mother's maiden name engraved on the cover. It's a huge volume, a teacher's edition. She must have used it as a young teenager, since she married at age 16.

Dean treasured the old book. He died a few years ago from cancer and his wife gave it to Bill yesterday . . . . now it is a special memory for Bill of both his mother and his brother.

28 September 2010

Sept. sketchcrawl

We drove to Excelsior Springs, MO on Saturday to join others for a sketchcrawl with Cathy "Kate" Johnson (Bill enjoys getting out of town and reads instead). Arriving early, I sketched Olde English while waiting for others to arrive. This is the gallery that handles Kate's art.

I had barely sketched it in pencil when others began to arrive. We had planned on meeting at the museum, but found it locked. Thought we could move next door to the art gallery but it also was closed.

Planning to sketch Ray's Diner, we moved down the street and set up across the street. People asked if there was a parade coming, seeing us with our portable chairs lined up.

We had just barely sketched in the details (only John had actually moved on to watercolor) when it began to rain. The plan was to head to the Mercantile later for a bite to eat and time to share our sketches with each other. We just headed there a bit earlier than planned and continued sketching while waiting for our food.

Obstacles don't slow us down much; what a great group of friends, new and old, to get together with! Kate & Joseph, Christiana F. & her daughter Beth, John P. & his wife Wilma, Jeanette S., Bambi, Connie, Keith, Bill & me.

I added ink and watercolor later on at home. Good time to remember all the fun we had!
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