26 December 2013

more apartment sketching

Still sketching bits of this apartment building when I find a bit of time . . . . things to remember when we leave it behind.

Originally the 1920 building had 4 one-bedroom apartments. We opened the 2 downstairs apartments into one large three-bedroom unit, removing a bearing wall between 2 dining rooms to create a large country kitchen in that space (plus an additional side room that has been an office & studio).

Where there had formerly been a doorway into a teeny kitchen, Bill built this oak sideboard --- the glass doors above hold glass from his grandmother's farmhouse. The former kitchen space is now a large walk-in pantry.

This table and chair set has been in the family 4 generations; we are giving it to our youngest son now as it will not fit in our new cabin. It has 6 chairs and 4 table leaves, held in their own oak crate.

23 December 2013

livingroom sketching

Some of our kids were driving here to Kansas on Saturday, through some really nasty winter weather. While waiting for them, I did some random sketching . . .

All arrived safely, though much later than when driving in normal weather. Now our livingroom is carpeted in toys, dogs and dog toys, random mittens, and multiple electronic gadgets.

The mantel and built-in shelving, as well as the mirror and wood trim shows some of Bill's handiwork from when we gutted and renovated this apartment building. I will miss all the extra built-ins he added. In a little over 2 weeks we close on our new home in Texas.

17 December 2013

a Missouri weekend

Visiting friends in Missouri over the weekend, we were able to stay in their new guest house next door. Actually it was a rehab project and is now an art gallery / meeting place / research library / guest quarters. A very comfortable, homey spot with lots of interesting bits to explore, especially the art and books! The bathroom is decorated with flamingos & palm trees so of course I had to sketch one. This cute car & camper salt and pepper set is from the kitchen

Saturday night, we went to hear The Copper Creek Band. We enjoyed this talented group, but the room was a bit small, making it hard to adjust the amps and speakers. Wish we could have heard the voices more -- they have a great sound!

Instead of trying to sketch band members, I tried to draw my husband, Bill, but he is VERY hard to capture.

Early the next morning, I drew the antique campaign table from the library; it forms a chair and has storage underneath for camping equipment. I thought that Bill might build one for our new tiny house since our dining set won't fit. The wonky sketch on the right are things that were sitting on the table.

14 December 2013

comparing water-soluble inks

Recently I went through my art supplies with an even more critical eye, reducing them to "essentials". The cabin we bought is very small; I will have a "studio" upstairs in the loft but not a lot of room for extras.

On these pages of my art journal, I compared my Noodler's inks that are water-soluble -- meaning they "bleed" when watercolor is later applied. One is "la couleur royale" (purple) and one is red-black. I thought I would give at least one of them away . . . . but I still like the effects so I'll be keeping both. So much for lightening my load! (click on picture to enlarge)

This vintage Prang watercolor tin is refilled with artists' pigments and holds some travel brushes and a wee sponge. Very lightweight for a metal paint box and fits easily in my bag.

10 December 2013

a Christmas cookie

Since we are decorating this year with cardboard boxes . . . LOTS of cardboard boxes . . . our Christmas cookies look a little different also.

A bit over-focused on moving to Texas???

09 December 2013

an early Christmas gift

Our son, Matt, and his family won't be coming home for Christmas --- they will be spending the holiday at Disneyworld. So when we saw them on Thanksgiving in Texas, we exchanged a few gifts early.

This is one of my gifts, a necklace made by daughter-in-law Misty. Under the key is a tiny reproduction of my own pen and ink sketch of our 1920 apartment building we just sold. What a thoughtful gift!

Another gift they found for me: a gorgeous leather-bound sketchbook of hand-made paper! Our grandson, Quen, watched me draw this necklace and wanted to know why I didn't draw it in my new sketchbook instead. I told him that I like to completely fill one book before  beginning a new one. (The new one is so beautiful, I might feel a bit intimidated to actually use it!)

the original sketch

03 December 2013

bigger on the inside?

For some of us, Thanksgiving was also an early Christmas. Our second son, Matt, and his family will be going to Disney World for Christmas. Since we won't see them then, we had an early gift exchange.

As part of his gift to our second son Jason, Matt hand-crafted this wooden box full of Jammie Dodger cookies. Jason is a long-time Whovian of the first order (a fan of the BBC series "Doctor Who").

I simply couldn't NOT sketch it. After all, I'm a long-standing Whovian also, having watched the show since the 4th incarnation of the timelord, played by Tom Baker.

30 November 2013

little log cabin, deep in the heart of Texas

After a week of looking at lots of houses in 5 different areas, we ended up buying the exact house we first drove by last June when we first began looking at houses for sale in Texas. Very surprised that it was still on the market, since houses in the area usually sell withing 1 to 2 months. Even more surprised when they accepted our first offer, quite a bit below the asking price. We both love log houses --- never thought we would actually get to live in one someday!

A VERY tiny house, just right for the 2 of us, near a lake. No woodshop for Bill yet, but with such a large yard (3 lots) we can build one ourselves . . . with a guest house attached for visitors. There is additional sleeping in the loft but not everyone would be able to manage the steep stairs --- more like the stair-ladders Bill knew aboard a Navy ship.

Part of the loft has a balcony & windows facing north-east -- that will be my art space. Along with the whole outdoors, of course. There are a variety of trees on our lot, including a small treehouse for grandkids. And a small planting strip along the sidewalk leading to the front patio, perfect for an herb bed. Provided the deer stay away from it. Not sure if they come into this housing development or not.

21 November 2013

autumn in Texas

I found a colorful autumn in this part of Texas after all. Though most of the trees are still fully green and there are flowers blooming everywhere, we found several trees and shrubs going through seasonal color changes.

Meanwhile, the house search continues. Many of the houses we found on-line where ruled out when seen in person, but there are 3 we are interested in. Lots to consider . . .

10 November 2013

date night

On Friday, we had a real date night . . . haven/t had one of those in quite some time. Good friends of ours have a Celtic band called Knocknasheega and they were playing at The Kiln.

The Kiln is a 501c3 organization, operated totally on donations of patrons. They are a Christian coffee house that also serves various teas, sandwiches, and desserts. All profits go to helping those in need. Those with musical talents are invited to share their gifts with others; a separate donation is given to the band when they "pass the pitcher".

Watching Knocknasheega perform is more like participating in an old fashioned Scottish or Irish ceilidh! Good friends getting together for a bit of song, story-telling and jokes (some groaningly bad) --- and they invite others to join them in their celebration of life.

This sketchbook is becoming a remembrance journal as I record different things I will miss when we leave Kansas. Good friends are definitely highest on the list.

08 November 2013

a few more leaves . . .

When Bill had his heart attack, he said his goal is to go to Arkansas for his birthday . . . . and so we did, visiting dear friends in the woods of Mountain Home.

We took several walks everyday, enjoying the signs of Autumn, bird songs, and peace. Makes us look more seriously at properties in the country when it comes time to buy our next home.

Mostly the woods are oak trees. LOTS of varieties of oak. These are just a few of the leaf types we saw. No burr oaks though -- that's the most common type in our Kansas neighborhood.

In a way, we were celebrating the changeable beauty of Autumn, which we won't see much of after moving to Texas.
We chose a different path driving home, going through Bolivar, MO where a couple of our kids went to college. Later we stopped to eat in Fort Scott, where my great grandparents' home was. I have very fond memories of visiting my great-aunt Lucile there. I take after both her and her younger sister, my grandmother. Lucile as also my childhood penpal.

29 October 2013

Autumn's whirlwind

It has been a real whirlwind around here lately. Today I paused to catch my breath and sketch leaves picked up on one of our many walks. Bill is walking as much as he can, slowly getting his strength back following his heart surgery. He is now cleared for traveling, so we plan on visiting our kids in Texas soon. While there, we decided to line up a realtor to look at houses. That led to us deciding to put our home on the market --- being a 1920 apartment building, it's a bit of an unusual listing and we had no idea what to expect trying to sell it.

One day after signing to sell, the sewer backed up. No problem . . . Bill can't do the work at the moment but a plumbing friend could ____ BIG PROBLEM. Turns out the outside line was broken and would need to be dug up and repaired. The sewer here is 20 feet deep and the city locators were no help at all. It was eventually found and repaired 8 hours later; now our backyard parking lot is a mud mountain. Hard to fit all that dirt back in when it had been compacted 93 years.

Meanwhile, we received an offer on the building, we counter-offered, and it was accepted --- sold in less than one week! As part of the deal they offered us 90 days from closing__rent free__to give us time to find a new home and move. Our heads are still spinning from the speed of it all.

09 October 2013

color therapy

I have made many color charts over the past 6 or 7 years, and have a pretty good understanding of what pigments mix into what colors. But sometimes working a gridded color chart can be just plain soothing. Which is the main reason I did these primary palette charts in my new sketchbook.

07 October 2013

here's to new beginnings

My summer sketchbook is finally filled. Packed to the gills with memories both good and bad, from time spent with our eldest granddaughter while her parents vacationed in Scotland to Bill's heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. I am happily moving on to a brand new sketchbook, this time trying the Stillman & Birn hardbound Beta series sketchbook. I've heard such wonderful things about this brand --- from sketching this first page, I can say that the paper is fabulous!

These are my two current favorite palettes. The one on the left holds every one of my 20 paints for serious sketching. Resting on top are favorite travel brushes which have a separate holder of their own.

The palette on the right holds it's own brushes. I recently put 2 primary triads in it, plus phthalo green and burnt umber. One triad is bright and one is a more muted, earthy set. I don't use phthalo green on it's own and had removed it from my 20 paints. But it makes lovely mixes and I had this leftover pan, so why not?

06 October 2013

Bill's new "main squeeze"

I've been planning to sketch this post-heart surgery pillow all week . . . but it is very hard to catch it out of Bill's arms. He has definitely learned to keep it close at all times, to ease coughing and moving.

Spelling was one of my favorite grade school subjects. So how did I ever spell "squeeze" without a "U"?

04 October 2013

the torture of healing

Getting well following major surgery hurts . . . . sometimes more than the condition requiring surgery. But it is all part of the healing process.

Bill was sent home yesterday, only 3 days after his double bypass. Still finds it hard to move and a good night's sleep eludes him. But moving forward none the same.

This does not look like Bill at all --- I need more practice drawing people. Those we love seem to always be harder to capture. I refilled my Lamy Safari pen with Carbon Black ink (I normally use Noodler's Polar Black). The new ink flows faster, making it difficult to get a really fine line even when turning the nib upside-down. It might work better in my pen with a flexible nib.

01 October 2013

moving on to the healing stage

Bill came through the 3-hour surgery smoothly, with all blockages repaired. Experienced a lot of pain afterwards in the ICU, but that's to be expected. Today he will be moved to a regular room and begin the long road of "rehab".

Knowing I'd be in this waiting room quite a while, I had thought to get in some practice sketching people. But knowing they were each there during a hard time in their lives, I didn't have the heart to draw any of them. One lady even asked if I was drawing her (sounding a bit worried) --- I assured her that I wasn't and even showed her the sketch.

I have felt no problems sketching people in other situations without asking their permission . . . . but somehow in a surgical / ICU waiting room, it seemed like an invasion of privacy.

30 September 2013

and it begins . . .

Checked Bill into the hospital yesterday . . . drew this thingy on the wall while waiting for "night before surgery" procedures. Now he is in being prepped (double by-pass) and I'm filling time in the waiting room. Expect to be waiting for the next 3 - 4 hours. Trusting the Lord to be right beside him.

24 September 2013

apartment sketches

Now that we soon plan to sell this old apartment building, my eye is continually drawn to bits we will leave behind. We purchased it in 2000, then gutted the thing inside and rebuilt it. First came the upstairs apartments, finished within 6 months, so we could have rent money coming in. Then we spent several years combining the 2 downstairs apartments into one large 3-bedroom apartment for us.

This is an old sketch I once drew of the front of the building. I used to grow herbs in the containers on the stoop. The 1920 brick building has a spacious 2-story front porch.

Upstairs, the woodwork is painted --- easier to keep up between renters. But downstairs we have gorgeous oak trim and built-ins. There is a structural beam in the kitchen where we took out one load-bearing wall . . . so Bill added two fake beams so the ceiling balances out visually. In the eating area, he built an oak sideboard with vintage leaded glass salvaged from his grandmother's old farmhouse. The nickel-plated brass light fixture is one of two salvaged from this building. We also salvaged 3 other original lights, as well as one of the original claw-foot tubs.

The walls are not really yellow --- they are a lovely paint called "Hyacinth White". But when the sunshine streams in from the south windows, it appears a warm yellow.

Bill made the bookshelf on the left side of the upper sketch from 2 discarded kitchen cupboard doors. A cabinet-making friend of ours had a customer who ordered them and then changed her mind. So Bill used them as doors for this cabinet.

Here is another sketch from the livingroom, showing the oak mantelpiece and side cabinets Bill built around the fireplace.

16 September 2013

simplifying and reclaiming

As we wait for Bill's bypass surgery, we are moving forward in plans to move to Texas. At the moment, that includes going through "excess stuff", getting rid of what we don't need to move with us. Over the weekend, we cleaned through a junk drawer in the top of Bill's dresser. Among the junk, we found this old belt caddy for a long-gone tool. As Bill was tossing it in the trash pile, I latched on to it --- It perfectly holds my three favorite travel brushes!

Which frees up a row in my favorite watercolor palette. Now I can fit in all twenty of my paint colors. Part of my simplifying and reducing includes cutting down on the number of watercolors I own. I once had around 40 --- ridiculous, I know, since so many were simply convenience colors easily mixed. While 20 still seems like a lot, it's greatly simplified for me.

While I'm at it, I went ahead and copied Cathy 'Kate' Johnson's idea of modifying this fountain pen. I took the bent flexible nib off my Hero M86 pen, which had an over-heavy cap that would not post on the end, and installed it in this Noodler's Creeper pen body. Much easier to use now!

13 September 2013

no longer cell phone free

I relished the fact that I was not in fact joined at the hip with a cellular phone. I do not like talking on the phone and do not like them interrupting my thoughts or whatever I am spending my time doing. But now, through no fault of my own, I am now the not-so-proud owner of my very own cell phone.

Bill's cell phone belonged to his company and has been turned in now that he is retired. We do like having one at hand when traveling, for emergency, so we went to buy a simple one for him. And found out that it is much cheaper to have two cell phones than to have one cell phone and one home phone line. So we got a two-phone package deal.

Of course, that means the end of my high-speed internet, which was through the home phone line. Now I have this wee device that provides internet wherever we are through the cell phone towers. Good for traveling but a lot slower. Maybe I'll spend less time on-line . . .

12 September 2013

First leaf of the season . . .

. . . a bit ahead of its peers. I noticed this leaf on the ground under our Autumn Blaze maple, though no other leaves have even begun to turn color yet. This is my favorite tree on our property. We have been looking at places for sale in Texas that have pecan and oak trees instead --- I love trees.

05 September 2013

retirement arrived sooner than expected . . .

. . . in a totally unexpected way. On Saturday, Bill had a heart attack.

While looking forward to taking early retirement the end of October, he was preparing to work on our daughter's new kitchen cabinets in his woodshop when he began to experience an unknown pain. Sitting down a bit did not help, so he drove home (about 12 blocks) --- upon entering our apartment, the pain increased tremendously and he said "take me to the hospital, I'm having a heart attack". Scary.

Instead, I phoned 911 --- and so thankful I did! The EMTs began treatment right away and, instead of taking him to the hospital 3 blocks from our home they drove him to a hospital about 15 miles away. I wasn't even aware of this medical center, it being only 10 years old, but they are set up especially for heart conditions. The Lord clearly prepared the way: both cardiologist and heart surgeon just happened to be there when he arrived.

After 2 stents and a few days in the hospital, he is now at home. The doctors conferred and decided that the best course of action is to have him on Plavix for 30 days, then double bypass surgery set for 30 Sept. (There is still blockage in one artery.) So far, his attitude is good. And the Lord is good.

The bit from a devotional penned on the above sketchbook page "just happened" to be the next daily entry from something I'm reading on my Kindle. It seemed to be timely words of encouragement directly from the Lord to me. I love when He does that.

26 August 2013

recent sketching

waiting room, KS Spine Hospital

More waiting room sketching on Friday as Bill underwent the "long-term" pain relief procedure, where they go in and "microwave" the offending nerves. Supposed to give a year free from pain before the nerves grow back. . . . . So why is he still hurting so much 3 days later?

Then I did a bit of random sketching at church yesterday while noting down bits and bobs.

23 August 2013

sewing again!

Though I sewed most of my own clothes during junior high and high school, I stopped sewing regularly many years ago, when our children thought home-sewn was dumb. The last clothes I made was an Alice-in-Wonderland dress & apron for a granddaughter last year.

Now I'm sewing a costume for myself, planning it out in my journal. In November, we are attending the Texas Renaissance Festival (never been to one before!) and I have decided to dress up for it, though in a very simple peasant style. The "blouse" would actually be the upper part of a long shift, but I've divided it up to a blouse and underskirt of the same fabric. This way, I can also wear the blouse later with jeans.

My mother will sew the bodice for me. She is a much better seamstress and I don't want to mess with the stays or boning or whatever it's called. Billy gave me a tartan stole for my birthday; we will be going to the Scottish weekend of the festival, so I'll pin that over one shoulder. Not sure if I'll mess with the kertch or not. Our son-in-law will be wearing his new kilt purchased in Scotland in June -- can't wait to see that!

22 August 2013

secret to quicker sketching

Normally, I am a very slow sketcher --- slow at choosing a subject and slow at determining how to place it on a sketchbook page. Usually penciling in the basics (or more) before ink, then inking in just the most important lines, erasing the pencil lines, and finally adding watercolor washes. Overall, a very slow process!

Lately I have been trying to streamline my process. I've been carrying a pen, one small plastic pill box, a waterbrush, and reusable cloth. I'm getting braver at drawing directly in ink, though sometimes I'll use a blue-gray watercolor pencil which does not require erasing. But the best thing I've found to speed things up has been to cut down to only 2 watercolors: ultramarine blue and burnt umber. The above sketch was painted using only these (except the tiny diagram of optional color). When drawing on-site, I add just the warm and cool shadows. Later at home, I can add a bit of color if I wish. This really lightens my bag as well as taking away distracting options that slow me down.

If I think I'll have time to add color on-site, the second pill box holds 3 half-pans of basic color: quinacridone red or rose, a cool yellow, phthalo blue, goethite brown umber, and quinacridone burnt orange. All my recent sketches have been using these, and I am actually getting better . . . more confident in drawing as well as faster. Maybe I'll get more than one thing drawn at the next sketchcrawl.

21 August 2013

Mikala has gone home . . .

. . . but not before I sketched her new mate, MacKenzie. Her parents brought this wee fuzzy friend home from Scotland. (plaid letters: fun!)

I doubt that her other best friend, Oreo the cat, has let her out of his sight since she arrived back in Texas. She has been away from home a lot this summer, with church camp and time in Kansas. But school begins Monday. . . . Sorry, Oreo!

14 August 2013

mining salt under the Kansas prairie

It's always good to know the way UP and OUT.
On Saturday, we took our granddaughter Mikala, visiting from Texas, exploring the underground of Hutchinson, Kansas. One of the world's largest salt deposits was discovered there in 1887 (though I'm sure that Native Americans knew of it much earlier), spanning across Kansas, Oklahoma, the pan-handle of Texas, and into New Mexico. Still actively mined today, they also have a museum and visitors' center in one of the older sections of the mine.

We let Mikala ride in the front with Bill (sometimes she gets a bit queasy in cars). I sat in back, sketching her bucky pillow (filled with buckwheat hulls), and the two of them as they teased and laughed with each other.

Mikala looked cute in her hard hat.
Lots of hands-on exhibits showed how the salt deposits formed (when an ancient ocean covered this land), the variety of salt found here, and unusual formations such as fluid inclusions (pockets of ancient sea water trapped inside particularly pure specimens). Hard hats were required to be worn by all, as well as our being issued emergency breathing apparatus in case of fire . . . . even though salt can not burn.

Lots of discarded mining equipment was scattered about --- workers were told "what goes in the mine, stays in the mine", the company owners not wanting to tie up man-hours and equipment for hauling it out. Piles of lunch wrappers and other rubbish from previous generations of miners are now museum artifacts. At the end of the "dark ride" through the tunnels, we were able to choose some bits of salt as souvenirs. Mikala found the prettiest red salt sample, as well as a pure bit with a fluid inclusion inside -- we didn't discover the water bubble until later at home, holding it up to the light.

sketching at church, 11 August

just a bit of sketching and sermon note-taking . . .

03 August 2013

Wichita Spine Hospital

Yesterday Bill had a repeat procedure at the spine hospital, to ease severe back pain. Both the doctor and the nurses agree that this will only provide short-term relief --- the effects of the first one lasted just a bit over one month. Unfortunately, our insurance company will not pay for the correct procedure that they are sure will provide long-term relief until he has undergone this particular type of injection twice. Stupid insurance companies once again think they know more than medical personnel.

The newly built hospital is all curves, chrome, and glass -- I wanted to catch the sunlight's patterns in this sketch. Level of care here is top quality -- he was treated very well by all.

31 July 2013

updated Bijou box

new color chart in sketchbook based on David Barker's limited travel palette
Several years ago, there was an article in Artist's Sketchbook magazine on artist David Barker's limited palette and how he used it in his travel sketchbooks. What really caught my attention was that he first used only ultramarine blue and burnt umber to establish values and temperatures in his sketches, then added color only as needed.
the original color chart and my Bijou box

 At the time, I worked out his chosen colors in a color chart. Recently, I found the chart while cleaning out old art supplies. I decided to try a similar limited palette in my Bijou box, substituting a quinacridone version of alizarin crimson, goethite brown ochre for raw umber, and quinacridone burnt orange for burnt sienna. I don't usually use yellow ochre or aureolin anymore -- these are leftover pans. When they are empty, they will probably be replaced with quinacridone gold and Hansa yellow medium.

30 July 2013

coloring in church

G. H. gave a devotional at church on Sunday. She likes teaching in ways that get listeners involved, using more than just hearing, so she passed out crayons and had us color verbs on a hand-out sheet. Sort of why I sometimes draw during church -- getting other senses involved help me remember things better.

23 July 2013

20 July Sketchcrawl

This month, our sketchcrawl group met at Kansas City's Union Station --- busy place with a traveling Pirate exhibit from National Geographic, a local art exhibit, all the regular points of interest, and those actually traveling by train. We met under this huge clock, then dispersed in various directions to sketch.

Bill and I drove about 3 hours to get there, taking our youngest son, Jeff, with us --- he has been on summer break from college in Texas. On the way, we stopped for cups of coffee or tea.

I had my ceramic travel mug with me just in case -- love all things plaid! This one is made to look like a paper cup and has a silicone band and lid.

It was so crowded and noisy in the station, I eventually wondered into an old waiting room where several people were waiting for their trains. A much calmer room with these lovely antique lamps --- I wanted to also draw one of the antique benches but ran out of time. We had reservations to eat at the Harvey House, located right in the station.
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