23 December 2012

tree cookies

When our small apartment-size Christmas tree wore out, we replaced it with a real goose feather tree (you can see an antique one HERE), just like Bill remembers his grandmother having. This year, we decided to only decorate it with tiny sugar cookies and candy canes . . . . the grandkids might leave one or two still on the tree by Christmas!

19 December 2012

a good report

I drove my mother to the eye clinic Tuesday, where she's been receiving treatment for macular degeneration. For the second exam in a row, she did NOT need the injection and her eye shows improvement. Hurray!

17 December 2012

a Christmas wish

Over the weekend, I was looking through a small collection of antique Christmas cards . . . . which sort of inspired this little sketch in my sketchbook.

I hope each of you have a very merry Christmas full of all of the Lord's blessings.

14 December 2012


I've been getting several spam "comments" lately, but don't want to set security steps in place because it is so hard to read some of those codes they ask you to type in.  I want people to be able to freely comment without working so hard at it.

But as I was deleting some of the spam comments, I mistakenly deleted ALL comments that have been recently made on my blog. Sorry, friends! I really should take time to learn how this blog really works . . .

13 December 2012

waiting to be shot

After several mis-steps and a completely wrong diagnosis re: the pain and numbness in my leg, a second opinion showed a tiny cyst on one vertebrae. Two surgeons at the Joint & Spine center in Wichita think that one steroid injection will solve the problem.

Can't wait to be able to stand and walk freely again!

12 December 2012

EDM #279 - something that begins with the 1st letter of my last name

W is for wizard!

Not one of those wicked kind that practices black magic, but Gandolf, a proper wizard who follows the path of Eru Ilúvatar, the one God. In J.R.R. Tolkien's myths, Eru means "The One", or "He that is Alone" and Ilúvatar signifies "Father of All". (Tolkien was a devout Christian and bits of the faith can be detected all through The Lord of the Rings).

Sometimes I just want to draw something but am not particularly inspired . . . . so I do a few more Everyday Matters challenges, in the order they are listed. I began keeping sketchbooks in 2007 by doing these challenges but have never finished the list.

11 December 2012

family Christmas dinner

The Williamson family gets together each December for a Christmas dinner, normally at a home. This year it was Elaine's turn but her house is in a bit of chaos -- so she hosted all of us at her favorite restaurant.

It was lovely seeing everyone (we had an upstairs room all to ourselves) but Bill and I really don't like their food. The two musicians were good though.

05 December 2012

comparing burnt siennas

I recently "ditched" burnt sienna in favor of quinacridone burnt orange . . . . but wanted to make sure.

I recently picked up a couple of brands not yet tried at a recent sale, so after church I compared all those I had with q.b o., mixing them with my blues.

I love the rich color of Utrecht's b.s., but it does not seem to mix smoothly with other colors. Maimeri Blu is probably my top choice of b.s. for mixing . . . but q.b.o. is still the best for both smoothness and mixing.

30 November 2012

"dead" bay laurel tree

. . . or so I thought when I set it out on the porch months ago. Then one morning this week, I noticed a fresh green sprig popped up.

Is it trying to teach me something?

Thumper the slug

Also known as our Maine Coon, Beorn Bearcat. sometimes he sleeps all spread out, feet in the air, while twisting the rest of his body and paws so everything is tucked out of sight.

I find it curious that sometimes my Noodler's polar black ink is waterproof and sometimes it is not . . . . even when using the same paper and letting it have some drying time.

28 November 2012


I had an appointment with a doctor Tuesday to discuss the results of x-rays and MRI on my hip and back --- only to find out that the MRI department had imaged my hip but not my back, even though both were ordered. So a pointless appointment and once more being stuffed like a sausage in the tube . . .

I was determined not to sketch more waiting rooms, but drew this decoration as I waited out of sheer frustration. His goofy grin helped me calm down and even laugh about the mistake.

26 November 2012

some morning reading

This year is almost done, as is my reading through this devotional. I have copied bits from this book into my journal pages this past year. Somehow, the act of writing it out by hand helps me remember things better.

I bought the stretchy "book bracelet" at the same time that we bought one for our granddaughter who is an avid reader. Fun way to mark my place!

20 November 2012

a new beginning

I've started a new sketchbook, with cleaned up palette and re-filled watercolor pans . . .

This handbound journal contains mostly Fabriano Artistico 140# hot press paper, plus a sample of Canson Dual 140# (cold press on one side, rough on the other). In the binding process, I forgot to add end papers . . . and found that I actually prefer it this way, using the same watercolor paper for end paper as well.

Though I'm no longer limiting myself to 3 primaries + 2 neutrals, I have larger pans of them in this palette. But I dropped Payne's Grey, switching to Monte Amiata Natural Sienna as my second neutral --- mixed grays and blacks are so much more interesting.

19 November 2012

time for levity

Last spread of this journal . . . Looking back through its pages, I see way too many waiting rooms and medical stuff. Moving on!

Time for some laughter! I found these two books by Rhoda Janzen, the top one for only 99 cents! The author grew up Mennonite and writes with amazing humor while going through some very tough times. The titles are "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" and "Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?"

A good way to end this sketchbook journal.

13 November 2012

one more sketch from the weekend

A parting cup of tea with Kate and Joseph at the Mercantile, then we headed to a farm south of Manhattan where Bill has been doing a remodel for his brother Dale and Dale's wife Gail.

Gail grew up on this farm, which goes back three generations. While going through her mother's things upstairs, she found an antique Scottie bank . . . and immediately thought I would like it.

12 November 2012

Excelsior Springs getaway

On Friday we drove to Missouri to attend Cathy 'Kate' Johnson's art show.

After checking in at a local bed and breakfast, we ate supper at Ventana's -- I have often sketched here during sketchcrawls but had never drawn the chef statue before. He holds a blackboard for menus and daily specials.

Arriving at the gallery, we learned the sad news that Ellen, who runs the gallery, had lost her husband in a car crash the day before. She insisted that the show go on, but it was a bit subdued in mood. I had planned to sketch at the show on this 2-page spread, but somehow it didn't feel right. Ellen's daughter had died unexpectedly just one month earlier. Very sad time.A tragic season for them.

(The black onyx earrings drawn on the lower right page were made by Kate; I have had my eye on them for quite a while and decided to go ahead and buy them.)

The following morning, we went driving with Kate and Joseph, ending up at Watkins Mill to sketch a bit in the museum. I had planned on drawing weaving tools or loom, but ended up drawing some items from a domestic display.

Sometimes the sketches I intend to draw just don't happen.

the Black Aberdeen

In one of the used books I recently bought, I found this quote from Rudyard Kipling. I have wanted a copy of his dog tales for a long time, both for the Black Aberdeen stories and the illustrations. "Aberdeen" is the old name for Scottish Terrier.

I had planned on drawing my living Scottie on this page but she wasn't cooperating. So I drew some small figurines -- the one on the bagpipes is a Christmas ornament.

06 November 2012

autumn joy

With this on-going drought, I wasn't sure there would be much variety in color for our Autumn Joy maple tree. But for the last few days, color has finally blossomed . . . . and will soon be blown away in this week's winds.   (Still working with the 3 primaries + 2 neutrals limited palette.)

04 November 2012

joy and sadness

This past spring, while Mikala was visiting us and her other grandparents in town, her cat back home in Houston died. Tigger was 14 1/2 years old with many health problems.

Our family has long loved Maine Coon cats -- and they were able to find a breeder with 2 for adoption at a reduced price. Mikala has been looking forward to this weekend a long time, when she would be able to bring her new babies home. Last month she was able to meet them -- I sketched this from a photo taken of them in her lap. The black & white is named Oreo and his brown tabby sister is named Hershey.

Sadly, Hershey has developed a hernia and won't be able to come home yet (if ever). She is too tiny to operate on; a vet tech is nursing her, hoping to add some weight so she can survive the operation.

Because Hershey is now living at the vet's for an unknown time period, the breeder has determined that she is not available for adoption --- but the vet tech taking care of her has already committed to becoming her "forever" home should she pull through, which at this point is unknown. The breeder is giving Mikala first pick for the next litter for Oreo's new playmate.

03 November 2012

National Fountain Pen Day, 2 November

Who knew?

Apparently Kate did. mentioning it on Facebook. So I drew my 3 favorites, filled with Noodler's inks: polar black, red & black, and polar brown. Not shown, a charcoal Lamy filled with Lexington Gray ink.

01 November 2012

bits of sketching this week

a yearly eye exam, a trip to the local used bookstore, and a physical therapy appt . . . .

This year's health challenges have just passed into ludicrous. I now have a cataract forming in my right eye. Possibly related to having been on steroids during treatment of both the vertigo and seborrhoic dermatitis? The doctor stressed that it was not the age-related type.

No one can possibly have this many health issues within a 6-month period. Impossible! Before this year, I never even had to go to the doctor. Yet the Lord is still in control: the vertigo is long gone, the dermatitis under control, the hair fall has stopped (it will be a while before regrowth is noticeable) --- So regarding the cataract? This too shall pass!

 (My new motto this year: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.)

I'm having physical therapy for a pulled hamstring muscle that hasn't healed. The look on the therapist's face when he saw me drawing the foot skeleton was priceless!  He thought it was in honor of the day (Halloween) but I was simply drawing what was in front on me -- one of several display models in the exam room.

mikala as alice

For my blog readers who knew I was asked to create a costume for our 9-yr old granddaughter, here is a photo taken of her yesterday morning. Mikala is VERY camera-shy; her daddy took this one on the sly, hiding around the corner in the dining room.

I had to sew the dress without being able to try it on her (she lives in Houston, I'm in Kansas) -- it's a bit big on her and it looks like her daddy couldn't tie a proper apron bow. But doesn't she make a beautiful "Alice"?

Her school does not have Halloween parties, but they had a "dress as your favorite book character" on the 31st, so she was all set, along with her toy Cheshire cat from Disneyworld.

30 October 2012

another waiting room

I'm certainly seeing my full share of waiting rooms this year! I jokingly call this my "Job year". Thankfully, NONE of these problems are life-threatening --- just annoying. I'm also thankful that the vertigo and scalp dermatitis are gone, and my hair has stopped falling out. Not much visible re-growth yet, but I know it will come soon. And hey! it's a great season for hats!

This time it was to see an orthopedic doctor about a pulled leg muscle that hasn't been getting any better after 3 months of resting and icing. The waiting room was empty except for me, one highly obnoxious TV program, and this scarecrow. So of course I had to draw him, being the only interesting subject available.

26 October 2012

one more color chart

Phthalo blue is SO INTENSE -- though I love the clarity of the color, it has intimidated me and I have used it very little in the past. So . . . . one more day of color-play using the limited "3 primaries plus 2 neutrals" palette before plunging into the challenge.

24 October 2012

color chart for tiny pill box palette

The half-pans in my pill box primaries-plus palette are left-over paints I wasn't using elsewhere. Slightly more subdued than the primaries-plus colors in the first-aid box set. I think these would brighten up considerably if I exchanged the cobalt blue deep for phthalo blue.

I haven't actually started using the limited primaries-plus palettes due to daily busyness and wanting to finish working on the toned papers that came next in my sketchbook. But I'm looking forward to using the limited palette for the next month or so. It's a fun little challenge a few of us are doing prompted by this post by Cathy "Kate" Johnson.

20 October 2012

new minimal, lightweight palettes

I have put together limited primary palettes before but I never really got into using them on a regular basis. I've decided to give them more attention in the next few weeks, placing them in very lightweight plastic. The full kit is a travel-size first aid kit; the ultra-tiny palette is a wee pill box, which I can easily carry in purse or pocket with a waterbrush and paper towel.

In the first aid box: permanent rose, Hansa yellow medium, phthalo blue, quinacridone burnt orange, and Payne's grey. Plus 3 pencils, a tiny dip pen, 2 brushes, an eraser, and sponge.

In the pill box, I'm using up extra half-pans not being used elsewhere: rhodonite genuine, Hansa yellow medium, cobalt blue dark, quin. burnt orange, and Payne's grey. With the addition of a waterbrush, paper towel, and pen, I'm ready to go.

14 October 2012

how I spent the 37th International Sketchcrawl . . .

. . . and the previous day. We took a quick trip to visit old friends now living in Arkansas. They were like parents to us when we were teens and in need of a caring, listening adult. Very dear to both of us.

It rained the whole time, but Ceilidh was still able to have fun running circles in the huge backyard, chasing squirrels, birds, chipmunks, and deer. I also saw a pair of pileated woodpeckers, though not long enough to draw them.

Our friends live in a forest near Norfolk Lake -- lots of tall oak trees which were just beginning to turn color.
Here, a quick sketch while waiting to eat breakfast before leaving for home. Very thick fog soon changed to more rain and heavy winds -- we stopped for a late lunch in Parsons, KS where I drew this Texas longhorn skull hanging on the wall.

09 October 2012

random shopping on-line

Bill wanted some pencil clips for work --- He constantly loses pencils from his pocket. I found some at Amazon but they were so cheap, it would double the price for postage. So of course I took the opportunity to buy a few things to get the price up to "free shipping" at $25, right?

I saw this small travel stool in Tia's blog (from Singapore) and found that it was very inexpensive. Then found out when it arrived that it was made 30 miles from home, in Wichita! Just a bit larger than my sketchbook, it seems perfect for sketchcrawls. I'd like to add a shoulder strap for carrying, though. It sits a bit low, but that makes it easier to reach my supplies on the ground.

I like carrying mechanical pencils --- this clutch pencil is much more comfortable in my hand. The lead is so wide that it quickly shades thumbnail sketches in all tonal values; love the built-in sharpener in the top too! And it came in a neat little pencil tin.

The little book is on sketching outdoors in pencil; I thought it might help me improve my ink sketching on location. I tend to feel overwhelmed when "out there", unable to focus on what would make a good sketch.

03 October 2012

EDM #274 - the cover of my favorite book

Another Every Day Matters sketch from the challenge list, to draw the cover of my favorite book. Unfortunately, the book is so epically huge, it does not fit on the page. ;^)

This copy of "The Lord of the Rings" is illustrated by Alan Lee's wonderful watercolors. Enough said.

01 October 2012

sewing . . . if I remember how

It's sort of funny that after giving away my sewing machine's cabinet, I find myself sewing --- I really haven't sewn clothing for 25 or 30 years! But our oldest granddaughter wants to be Alice in Wonderland for Halloween. She has long blond hair and a new stuffed Cheshire cat. (I've heard our grandson in Austin is dressing as the Mad Hatter. It'd be cute if they could get together!)

Who knew it would be so hard to find a pattern? I assumed you could just turn to the costumes section of pattern books and find a licensed Disney version of "Alice". But I discovered the costume patterns go from infant to size 8 --- then skip to adult! What about size 10 girls still in grade school???

I finally found a suitable dress pattern; I'll try to make the apron myself without a pattern. My bigger challenge? Mikala is in Houston and there's no way to try it on her while sewing. I'm not even sure if pattens fit true to size anymore.

The reason I quit sewing is that my children thought it was dumb to wear home-made garments. Mikala is just the opposite --- she wishes her mom could sew and actually WANTS something sewn just for her! Nice to be appreciated . . . . . as long as I remember how to follow the pattern.

28 September 2012

random sketching this week

Sometimes drawing directly in ink works; sometimes not so well. The small planter of grasses and a corner of the clinic's waiting room were drawn directly in ink without a problem.

The sketch of my old sewing cabinet began well . . . . until I started on the iron support structure. I tried drawing it in single wide lines with my Hero M86 pen --- as I proceeded, I saw how truly wonky it looks!

I remember sewing at this cabinet as a young girl. It held my mother's machine then and was hidden under layers of ugly brown paint. When she gave it to me, we stripped off the paint and found it to be solid oak with carved designs, without the veneers that so many of these cabinets have.

I'm trying to get rid of things no longer needed or used, so I'm giving this to one of our renters -- a sweet college girl who loves vintage furnishings. I know she will cherish it. (I kept my machine but use it so seldom, it can live in it's portable case in the closet.)

26 September 2012

EDM #272 - a line from my favorite song

an Old Irish hymn from the 6th century, "Rop tu mo Baile" (Be Thou My Vision")
translated to English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, 1905
versified by Eleanor Hall, 1912

Drawing a few more Everyday Matters challenges --- the entire English text in verse to this song was included in a recent sketchbook, shown below:

22 September 2012

back to knitting

It seems as the weather cools off a bit, I tend to pick up where I left off knitting. Last spring, I started this cotton bath mat, then set it aside for the summer. Today I finished it, except for tidying up the stray ends.
Now on to a new knitting project: a beret or two.

19 September 2012

more from Belvoir Winery

I took a few photos while in Liberty, MO on Saturday --- so I used a couple of them to practice using my new Hero pen. No pencil guidelines this time and I like the effect better than what I drew so carefully on site. The upper sketch is one of the abandoned buildings; the lower shows detail over the main entrance doorway.

17 September 2012

sketchcrawl, 15 Sept.

On Saturday, Bill and I drove to Liberty, MO for a sketchcrawl with Kate & Joseph. No one else of the "usual gang" were able to make it this time. We met at the Belvoir Winery housed in old buildings originally home to the Odd Fellows Lodge. Lots of interesting artifacts and photos are on display from the lodge days . . . including the skeleton of George, an early lodge member, in his glass-topped coffin!

I did not get very much down on paper --- there's just so much to draw in this place, it is hard to focus on one thing. We definitely need to return to sketch more. The cup of tea and turnpike ticket were drawn during the 3-hour drive from home in Kansas. (A bit wonky in perspective).

Here, Kate is sketching one of the old buildings that is still in a state of decay and neglect, while sitting on what used to be a twin chaise lounge. Bill doesn't sketch, but he enjoys getting far away from the hassles of work (where they like to call him even on his days off). He brings a book to read and finds places to relax.

13 September 2012

Kansas State Fair

Bill manned a booth for the Propane Association at the State Fair last Friday --- which meant free admission for both of us. And during the 4 hours he was stuck behind a booth, I wandered and sketched a bit.
I sketched this concession stand, standing under a tree, and the wind blew seed pods down on my head. They hurt a bit when they hit, even through a hat! But fun to draw.

Across from Bill's booth, a merchant, "Soya Essence", sold essential oils made locally in Wichita. I bought a couple of items and they are incredible! No more sinus headaches in the morning since using the "Breathe Easy" at bedtime. I'm going to try a blend they recommended trying for the dermatitis on my scalp.
And of course, our favorite part of the fair is the livestock --- whether exotic babies in the petting zoo, or ordinary farm animals. We both love cows! And it would be wonderful to be able to own some chickens (fresh eggs!) and maybe a llama (I love knitting).

08 September 2012

altered Winsor & Newton field box

Flickr pals, Julie, Kate, and Fred have been discussing changes to this little watercolor box:


Mine came with a leaky water bottle so I decided to take the plunge and alter it. But I did not wish to lose that extra mixing space --- so I cut the top of the bottle off and simply inserted a few pencils and a tiny bristle brush. It still fits in place to provide the third mixing area and there's also space for an eraser.

The center bar that held 4 half pans was removed, as well as the plastic tab that held it in place. Now I can choose whether to insert 8 large pans, as shown, or up to 18 half pans as Julie did.

06 September 2012

Ceilidh's Wednesday

Yesterday just wore Ceilidh out; she spent the whole afternoon snoozing in this old overstuffed chair.

First, I combed through her shaggy coat -- which she does NOT enjoy. Then I took her to the groomer's for a haircut. While she was there, I drove to a local shop that had replaced our windshield --- it rained last night and the windshield leaked.

They fixed the leak but had not finished drying out the car, so I took the car to pick up the dog, go buy dog food, then take it back for them to finish.

I walked home (only 7 blocks), which Ceilidh did NOT want to do. She is getting so lazy!

This is the final page of this sketchbook; time to go start a new one.

05 September 2012

EDM #270 - something I'd like to preserve

I miss my great-aunt Lucile a lot. She was my pen pal when I was growing up, and always did such interesting crafts. And she grew the most amazing strawberries, to make the BEST preserves ever!

Aunt Lucile was the crafter and family history buff -- she traced our genealogy back to Scotland. Her younger sister, my grandmother, was the family artist, painting in pastels. I take after both of them. (My father takes after Aunt Lucile; he traced his dad's side clear back to a knight fighting under William the Conqueror!)

After stopping for over 2 years, I am once again drawing some of the Everyday Matters challenges. Currently, I am doing them in an Earthbound Recycled sketchbook with brown kraft paper --- this is the second of two sketchbooks that were devoted to EDM challenges. I began drawing these challenges in 2007; this is what gave me the experience and confidence to draw nearly anything I want to.

30 August 2012

switching purse palette

Yeah, I did it again. With all the leaves falling, it seems more like Autumn -- so I switched to more muted colors in my Bijou box ("subtle" colors fit my mood lately). Mostly a simple primary, sepia, and payne's gray --- then 4 convenience colors.

I ran out of whole pans, so I had to fit in 2 half-pans for the quin. burnt scarlet and sepia.
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