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.
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