22 December 2011

memory of an old friend

The doctor's office where my mom's eyes are treated have lots of small stuffed animals for sale, to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. I couldn't pass up this sock monkey, remembering all those hand-sewn by my great aunt Lucile. Of the many she made, only one was left in our family -- one she gave to our daughter. I was hoping that Kristen would forget about it when she went to college, then on to Texas to begin her career.

After all, I have so many memories of my great aunt, who was also my childhood pen-pal and one of the only family members who regularly encouraged me. But after Kristen & Michael bought their first home, she asked me to bring her monkey to her. Still, I have the precious memories, if not the actual monkey. And this new little guy can remind me of them.

21 December 2011

waiting room sketch

Another trip for my mom to the eye doctor -- she is getting treatments for macular degeneration. Usually we have a longer wait, but today was relatively quick due to wintery weather cancellations.

Even so, I was able to sketch this and add most of the paint as I waited. Skipping the pencil under-sketch really saves time!

When I sketch around family or friends, I feel intimidated and don't do my best work. But some of the strangers in the waiting room were watching me work and I found myself enjoying it. One lady and her mother even asked to look at it up close when I finished. It was fun! And much more enjoyable than the obnoxious show on the TV.

18 December 2011

trip to the lumber yard (?)

We went to the local lumber yard in search of drawer guides for Bill's brother's kitchen project. The best lumber yard in town (locally owned) closed last year; the chain store taking it's place is bigger but never has anything that Bill is needing.

So we came away without . . . except for some fresh produce. Now, why in the world were they selling produce at a lumber yard??? I don't know, but the grapefruit I ate last night was wonderful!

16 December 2011

final drawing class

A good friend of mine was giving informal drawing classes at a Wichita church. The final one was last night --- the selected model (his wife) was sick, so we talked John into posing for us. This was the first drawing of the evening to warm up. The photo quality is poor due to it being regular graphite pencil on newsprint.

We next did several timed drawings of 2 minutes or less -- this is only one of many. I usually work very slow so this was a real challenge. (The above sketch took 90 seconds.)

Then came the blind contour drawings, which I always enjoy. I chose a softer pencil this time, so it shows up a bit better. Too bad his shoulders didn't seem to get together. Then his head went missing completely.

I don't know that I improved much, but it was a lot of fun. So much so that we talked John into some watercolor lessons, beginning in January. John is the one who introduced me to watercolor 6 years ago, with a group of people meeting in the same church --- not for formal lessons; just meeting once a week to paint something together.

13 December 2011

Bill has been busy

While I am furiously stitching away on a stocking for my brother's new grandchild, Bill has been busy building a kitchen-full of new cabinets for his brother, Dale.

Dale and his wife are renovating her mother's Victorian farmhouse outside of Manhattan, KS. They chose oak cabinets similar to what Bill built me, except my cabinet doors are flush with the framework and theirs is not.

There are even more pieces hidden behind the long section shown in the sketch. Bill is just about finished with everything; now he's waiting on the men hired to put up drywall. He plans on hauling it all up in a trailer for installation; Manhattan is a 2-hour drive away from us.

09 December 2011

taking a break

My sister-in-law asked me to make a Christmas stocking for their new grandchild, so I am furiously stitching away instead of sketching.

I made stockings for my brother's family years ago . . . . when the new baby's daddy was the baby. I no longer do much embroidery; in fact, I gave away all my supplies. So this is a bit challenging, trying to remember how I designed the other stockings.

I limited the watercolor in this sketch because I used a water-soluble ink that would bleed a bit. And it just didn't seem to need any more.

07 December 2011

just for fun

Playing with the Daler Rowner watercolor set I carry with me most often . . . and a couple of new toys. The paper strip in back holds the kid paints I popped out of the tiny toy palettes --- they are glued in place so they stick to the paper --- and made me sticky as well.

06 December 2011

family Christmas get-together

Early each December, the Williamson extended families get together, taking turns whose house to meet at. This year we were at Bill's baby sister Leanna's.

This is Bill's other sister, Elaine, and our niece Amy. Both moved before I quite captured their likeness. So I moved on to the snow people . . . being very polite, they held still for me.

30 November 2011

how I spent Thanksgiving day

Bill has now been "on-call" for 5 Thanksgiving days in a row. (It's just how the calendar schedule comes up on a 4-day rotation; his boss doesn't see any reason to change it.) When he is "on-call", he can't leave town in case someone needs propane (he's the service-tech, not a deliveryman, technically making him "on-call" 24/7 anyway --- too bad he isn't paid doctor's rates! He doesn't even get overtime if called out on holidays because it counts as fewer than 40 hours for the week).

Enough griping . . .

All of our family is out-of-town, so we make no plans on Thanksgiving day, knowing Bill will probably be called out at any moment. I've now developed a habit of watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show every year. This year Ceilidh watched with me. Really, she did! She actually stood up for a closer view like this at one point, though it was when the Great Dane was shown, not the Scottie.

26 November 2011

limited palette, late 19th C.

* I replaced the first photo of this page after using a wet brush to tease out a wash
from each color. It is easier to see how these would work in a painting now.

My version, that is . . .

I've been going through a huge stack of past issues of Watercolor Artist magazine, trying to weed out those I probably won't read again. I will either save a few copies intact that have multiple articles I want to keep, or perhaps create a subject file of clipped articles.

Meanwhile, I found one article that featured a brand of watercolors marketed as pigments used by artists of the late 19th century. Those in the brand are ground of natural pigments; instead of looking for that brand on-line, I compared colors I currently have and came up with this basic matching set, placing the full pans and one half pan in my bijou box. Then I added 3 extra "convenience" colors to fill the empty spaces. I'm going to have some fun playing with this set -- I used them for everything but the bright red in the previous post.

I do wonder, though, if old masters' works just appear dark because of aging?


The greens in the previous post looked a bit dull. I found that Cathy 'Kate" Johnson had the same red and yellow in her muted palette, but chose indigo as her blue. I have no indigo, but I had Indanthrone blue, so I tried that. Much better greens now, which is seen better in person than on my computer screen,

I have put together similar primary triads before, but only played around a bit with them. This time, I'd like to try actually painting with them.

a new toy for a blustery day

OK, I admit it. They suckered me in. As I was waiting in line to pay for some purchases last week, I saw this wee snow globe. And HAD to buy it. Another impulse item . . .

20 November 2011

Sketchcrawl, 19 November

It was a windy, blustery kind of day in Excelsior Springs, driving those of us meeting together for sketchcrawl inside Redmond's, a local furniture-antiques shop. The shop has two floors plus two balcony areas overlooking the first floor, all filled with interesting displays of furnishings and antiques. So much to sketch, so little time . . . .

This old stove caught my eye right away, looking so much like the one we had in the first house we bought. LOVE the design of these old appliances! This one still had a perfect cooking chart on the inside oven door.

18 November 2011

random sketches & notes

Believe it or not, I actually went several days without sketching. But I did write a few notes down in my journal, leaving room for possibly adding sketches later.

While in Texas, Mikala introduced me to this new game --- and I won, even when her mom joined her against me! Now, winning a crossword game against an 8 year old might seem a walk-in-the-park to some, but this particular 8 year old is VERY smart and VERY competitive and beats everyone in nearly every game played with her.

Here are two more random sketches on pages of note-taking.
Click on any image to see larger.

 My friend, Ginger, is such a creative home decorator! Their artificial Christmas tree fell apart last year, so this year, she drug home large bits of a dead tree, propping them up in containers on her front porch and in one corner inside --- and added crab-apple cuttings and bows. For Christmas, she is going to hang her ornament collection on them instead.

The vase of sticks was added last night at Church of the Savior, while waiting for my drawing class to begin. It is part of a display of items made by the youth department, for sale to support missions. There were wee pottery ornaments hanging on the twigs.

17 November 2011

"Trunk or Treat" in Texas

I forgot to post the last sketches from our trip to Texas the end of October. Our daughter's church holds a "Trunk or Treat" neighborhood outreach every year as a safe mode for trick-or-treating. Everyone lines up their car trunks, filled with goodies, in the parking lot. Son-in-law Michael held a putting green; hit a hole in one and win an extra piece of candy.

Mikala made her own costume this year: "It's Raining Cats and Dogs". Her umbrella had black felt dogs and cats "dripping" off, each glistening with sparkly "raindrops".

These are a few of the neighborhood kids who passed by.

11 November 2011

2 more from Texas

Bill carved Mikala's pumpkin, while Kristen saved out the seeds for roasting. And Mikala? She wasn't coming anywhere near Papa when his hands were covered with pumpkin guts! (for good reason . . . . he threatened to goop her nose with it!)

Mikala helped blanch the pumpkin seeds before roasting them.

07 November 2011

more Texas sketches

At Bill's birthday party in Houston, Josiah happily carried any number of balls around with him. Meanwhile, we watched the K-State game . . . . but they lost to Oklahoma.

(click on pictures to see larger)

Later at Kristen's home, the girls asked me to paint this stuffed kitty while they painted postcards. At first Mikala said the cat had no name . . . . but after I wrote the heading, she quickly gave it one, giggling the whole time. I had made up this travel watercolor set for grandkids from a Sucrets box and some Cotman half-pans. Two come-apart Koi waterbrushes fit inside also. Add some watercolor postcards and they are ready to make art.

06 November 2011

some Texas sketches

We drove to Houston to celebrate Bill's 60th birthday with our kids and grandkids last weekend. Only Misty and Quen didn't make it, having already made plans to spend Holloween in Kansas City with her family. First we drove to Jason's for a short visit, where we met grandchild # 5, Judah. Later, we headed north to Kristen's.

Bill's birthday party was held at Kristen's church, Jersey Village Baptist, in their youth's "Warehouse". Catered fajitas from Los Cucos, playtime with the grandchildren, and watching the K-State game (3 kids are alumni). Too bad they lost.

04 November 2011

my two Scotties

Maxwell was my Scottie until I took him on an extended stay to our son's home SW of Houston last year. Our granddaughter, Jayna, asked if he could stay and be her dog. Maxwell really wanted children in his life (children were the only people who gave him attention in the puppy mill he was rescued from) so it was easy to leave him.

My new Scottie, Ceilidh, has adjusted well to living in an apartment without children . . . . but she LOVES visiting Maxwell and running free in his backyard. It seems Maxwell has befriended the rottweiler on the other side of the privacy fence. He sticks his nose through the broken board in greeting.

After leaving Jason's, we headed for Kristen's home in NW Houston . . . . and a basset-beagle named Peaches.

03 November 2011

on the road for Bill's 60th birthday

We just got back from a quick trip to Texas --- Bill requested a birthday party and that means going where all our kids have moved. Usually we make the drive all in one day; this time we left after Bill got off work Thursday, driving only part-way and getting a motel room overnight.

Because her legs are so short, we don't let Ceilidh jump on beds. A vet once told us that jumping off could hurt her back. So she claimed the overstuffed chair in the room as hers, until bedtime when we still kennel her. She's still a puppy, after all.

We prefer driving back-roads when we can --- nearing Jason's, we pass this grain elevator in Richmond. I've always wanted to sketch it. This is not accurate at all (drawn in ink without pencil first) but it was fun. Maybe I'll try again later.

25 October 2011

newest journal

This time, I chose one of the two sketchbooks covered with "peacock feather" paper. The landscape orientation is due to the inner paper's grain running the opposite direction as the usual paper I use -- When folding papers to sew into a book, the grain should run the same direction as the spine. I try to tear whole sheets down to journal size without wasting any. This is filled with Fabriano Artistico soft-press paper -- a wonderful watercolor paper that is somewhere between hot-press and cold-press in texture.

And the first page, as has long been my habit, shows my current favorite travel palettes.

My favorite pigments are in the upper right. The smaller palette in the lower left holds the original quarter-sized pans it came with. I am liking the richness of these paints from Daler-Rowney but I don't like some of the colors. When these are used up, I'll rethink how to fill it.

23 October 2011

random quotes and sketches

I just finished filling another sketchbook --- the final two spreads contain mostly random quotes I wish to remember and random sketches. After spending time listening to Wayne Jacobsen speak in person a couple of weeks ago, I re-read The Shack . . . and found his "fingerprints" all over the writing! He is one of two un-credited authors who helped Wm. Young write the book and get it published.

Before passing the book on to a friend, I jotted down some quotes for my own remembrance.

We are heading to Texas later this week, for Bill's 60th birthday party. We will also finally meet Judah, who was born 12 Sept. Bill built this dresser for him (and no, the real dresser is NOT warped on top! I was drawing in ink without pencil -- a bit of wonky!)

As we pulled weeds from the mostly dead-looking perennial bed, Bill found one tiny echinacea bloom. A "happy thought" that flowers will return next year.

19 October 2011

Autumn leaves

One of my favorite things about this time of year is painting the leaves. But the drought conditions make me search longer for leaves to sketch.

Not much color this year. Many are dried and crinkled before falling from the trees.Others fall while still green.

Some seem to fall as small branches instead of individually.

18 October 2011

late night ink drawing

Due to lack of confidence, I regularly grab a pencil to lightly sketch things before ink . . . erasing the pencil before painting. While this is a valuable process when working out an illustration project, it just slows me down in daily sketching.

Doing Brenda Swenson's 75 day ink sketch challenge proved to me that I am able to work in ink without pencil --- the final little sketch at Saturday's sketchcrawl did also. While it is wonderful for those who like using pencil lines first, I would really like to be free from it.

So . . . back to Brenda's ink challenge. Maybe not daily this time; perhaps adding a wash of color. I'm determined to get past my lack of confidence.

I've been gluing some Daniel Smith color sample dots on watercolor paper in a small binder, where I can learn about each paint's properties. This sketch shows where I stopped for the night.

17 October 2011

33rd Worldwide Sketchcrawl

Saturday was our regular planned sketchcrawl in Excelsior Springs, MO, and also the 33rd Worldwide Sketchcrawl day. I arrived too early again (just over a 3 hour drive)' while waiting, I sketched the front door of Saint Luke's, across from the parking lot.

We had planned on driving out to a small waterfall to sketch, but it's currently dry. So we headed downtown to sketch buildings. Kate wanted to sketch an old building she heard may be torn down, whose roof can be seen to the lower left. I liked how this old Victorian home peeked over the rooftops. Turns out it belongs to Kate's friend, Betty, who I once met at the Hall of Waters --- another Scottie lover!

We then headed to the Mercantile, where we met up with Joseph for a light meal and some great live music. As usual, my lack of confidence when sketching outside made me grab a pencil first to lightly sketch things before adding ink. But I drew this wee flower arrangement with ink first --- proving once again that I should save time and skip the pencil.

10 October 2011

more from The Loft

On Friday I went once again to hear author Wayne Jacobsen talk in open conversation with a bunch of people, meeting in The Loft, an actual barn loft belonging to our missionary friend, Penny, of New Jerusalem Missions. This time I was listening and writing notes more, sketching less. Not really working at capturing anyone's true likeness.

I was blown away when a guy later peeked at this page (in pencil only at the time) and says "That's my wife, Shannon!" --- then I find out that he taught illustration at Wichita's WSU. How he could identify her from this sketch, I'll never know.

People came from all over --- this bald guy lives in the same small town as I do, though I'd never met him. (By the way, I found out that bald heads are not as easy to paint as I had imagined.) Another new friend, Faith, has a sister-in-law who teaches at the same high school in Sugarland, TX that my son teaches at!

07 October 2011

at The Loft

Our friend and missionary Penny of New Jerusalem Missions has an old barn loft in Newton, KS converted for meetings. Wednesday through tonight, author Wayne Jacobsen has been there for informal conversation with whoever comes.

He is an un-credited co-author of one of my favorite books, The Shack by William P. Young.

I went Wednesday and plan to return tonight (drawing class kept me away last night). Great discussion among a widely diverse group of people, all believers in relationship with God.

UPDATE: Since attending Friday night's event, I've been listening to some of the free teachings that Wayne has available on his blog. Such rich truth about the Lord! I recommend others listen as soon as possible!
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