31 May 2014

an early birthday gift and books

My birthday isn't until mid-July, but yesterday my gift from Bill arrived by post . . . all the way from Scotland! He gave me a sterling silver ring, an open-work design of Celtic knots with tiny wee thistles between them.

He had given me a choice of gifts: this ring I saw on-line or the upcoming semester of Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool. Very difficult decision, given the quality of teachers! But I think he secretly wanted me to choose the ring.

(Drawing my right hand when I AM right-handed isn't easy, but I didn't want to take it off.)

Bill has been reading an e-book on my Kindle but prefers holding a real book in his hands. So we went to our local book store, The Book Nook, where a sale is going on.

We took in 5 books for trade; we came back with 9 books and 2 freebie give-a-ways. Several items not sketched are for the "grandkid zone" in the loft. All our grandchildren are book lovers and I want to have some for when they visit.

30 May 2014

new sketchbooks to be sewn

Just before moving, I folded and tore down my stash of watercolor paper. It was for binding into art journals anyway and it would be easier to move this way. And it has remained tucked away all these months. I will soon finish the sketchbook I am currently using, so I pulled the stack out to get ready to sew them together.

With the addition of some toned Stonehenge paper recently bought in Austin, I think there will be 5 journals total. Two larger, almost squarish, made of Kilimanjaro paper from Cheap Joe's, and three portrait-oriented journals of mostly Fabriano Artistico soft press with some Stonehenge thrown in.

Normally I fold and tear down full sheets into 8 pieces, ending up with a book roughly 6 x 8". Not sure when I will get covers made --- I need to find some heavy cardboard for that. I may put it off a bit and use a Stillman & Birn sketchbook next.

progress on Bill's woodshop

After delays in finding a contractor (we finally found a great guy named Ed), waiting for him to have some free time, letting the pavement cure, and lots of rain -- we are finally seeing real progress on Bill's new woodshop. My first priority in house-shopping when we planned on moving to Texas was that there be a usable space for his woodworking. The Lord had other ideas with our ending up in this log cabin . . . and no woodshop. But with the cabin sitting on 3 lots, there was room to build one to Bill's specifications. He decided on a 20 x 30' building with a wrap-around covered porch he can also work on. I sketched Ed's employee, Joe, hard at work yesterday afternoon.

And this is how it looks this morning. Joe is a bit of a work-a-holic -- he stayed until dark last night getting this bit of roofing in place. That's him on the far left side, already busy this morning.

29 May 2014

Independence, TX, part 3

Yesterday, I did a couple more sketches from photos I took at Old Baylor University in Independence, Texas. These ruins of the kitchen / dining hall are all that is left of the women's dorm.

This early Texas home, a dog-trot log cabin, was moved on the site to protect and preserve it.

And later at Bible study, I sketched one of the lights on the ceiling before the lesson began . . . then added my notes.

Uni-ball Signo gel pen on handmade paper

28 May 2014

a little urban sketching

Bill had a doctor's appt. yesterday. While he was there, I went to the grocery store for dog food and coffee.

When I returned, I had about 10 minutes left so I did a very fast ink sketch of the clinic, "ala Liz Steel". (I am amazed at the speed in which she puts drawings on paper! I tend to be slow.) A bit of gouache was added later at home.

Test results show Bill's cholesterol levels are great. The new cardiologist did not like his previous levels and had doubled his statins. But when we later tried to refill the Rx, our medical insurance would not pay for a double dose.

Bill went without the drug for over a week, then went back to the lower dose. He also greatly cut back the amount of simple carbs he ate (especially bread) and began walking 1 1/2 miles a day. Obviously that has made a larger difference than the silly drugs.

late-night sketching

Not sleepy yet, so I grabbed a Pentel pocketbrush pen and drew what was handy.

A candle came in this heavy glass jar, shaped in an oval. When the candle was used up, I kept it to hold pens on my bedside table. It is heavy enough that the cat hasn't knock it over. Yet.

This paper's bleed-though property can be seen on the far left --- I wrote sermon notes on this side but some of what is there is from the ink drawing on the other side.

27 May 2014

weekend sketches

Over the weekend we had what we moved to Texas for . . . . ALL of our kids and grandkids together here for a cookout (all except for son-in-law Michael who was with his band kids in Austin). Being closer to all the kids makes it easier for everyone to get together even with their busy schedules.

I feel a bit intimidated trying to sketch our kids in person -- most of them still think my sketching is dumb. I often sketch with grandkids but this time they were much too busy! Playing croquet, a water-gun fight, playing with old-fashioned toys from Target's dollar section (and having a blast with them), climbing the tree house, toasting marshmallows for s'mores . . . .

 As always, there was also time to build with Legos. I think this knight with a jet pack was Josiah's.

I try to pick up a few new Lego sets now and then to add to the stash. This time we added a digger/excavator (sort of like the one that helped put in the foundation to Bill's new woodshop that is being built) and a train. Quen and his daddy, Matt, made these.

Judah loves rocks. He loving carried this, his latest acquisition, around with him. No one had the heart to tell him it was actually a piece of concrete that had broken off the camel rock (see below).

Josiah eagerly showed me a tiny shell he found. I showed him some extremely tiny snails that had climbed up a large crock's side. So he proceeded to pick off each one of them, ready to pop them in his pocket to take home. He "shared the wealth" by also leaving some on his uncle Jeff's bed sheets in the loft.

Josiah's new friends

Some families have heirloom dishes, silver, or jewelry. We have an heirloom rock. The "camel" rock (or Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, depending on the viewer) was first found on Bill's great-grandmother's farm, just laying on the ground. It was set upright and has since been sat on or played on by generations of kids (and sometimes even adults). So of course we had to bring Nessie to Texas with us.

We finally got it set upright and settled in over the weekend. VERY heavy and awkward! Sadly, the tail portion broke off but Bill thinks he can fix it. The nose has become fragile due to erosion; it is currently held stable with shrink-wrap until Bill can strengthen it with epoxy.

The rock hadn't been stabilized a full minute before Josiah hopped on.

25 May 2014

our kitchen, part 2 . . . or is it 3?

Previously I tried sketching our kitchen from this view (posted on 14 May) . . . and it was completely wonky. Then caught just a glimpse of it from the bedroom in a sketch posted 18 May. I decided to give it one more try, this time adding a touch of color.

A bit later, I saw a photo of this view from somewhere in Scotland on Twitter and decided to do a quick sketch of it. I'd love to visit places like this some day.

22 May 2014

more lichen

While walking home from our neighbor John's house (after sketching the owl house), I picked up another twig full of lichen. At least FOUR different types of lichen in muted, earthy shades of red and green. After discovering that gouache works well on this handmade paper (as long as it is kept very dry), I took another try at watercolor, using it more like gouache. And it worked!

 I sketched the piece directly in gel ink, then used a regular graphite pencil to fill in the shadow. Next, I mixed a bit of each color with buff titanium, making the color more opaque. I kept all paint very dry and applied it with a light touch.

ink sketch in progress

21 May 2014

owl house & breakfast

Last night we were sitting with our neighbor John on his patio. I had my sketchbook and was drawing this old owl house up in his tree.

Now he thinks I am amazing (Bill says he has a crush on me . . . John is in his late 80s) just because I sat there and drew in a book on my lap. He seems to think artists must work at drawing tables and easels in studios. I try to explain about the millions of sketchers out there in the world, but he just shakes his head in disbelief.

His owl houses no longer house owls --- he hasn't been able to climb a ladder to clean them out for years --- but now and then a squirrel will stay for a while. Squirrels chewed the edge of the door hole a bit.

Jeff came to visit for a few days; this morning we ran errands in Brenham and took Jeff out for breakfast . . . at John's favorite cafe hidden behind the train depot.

Their service is so quick I didn't have time to draw more than a quick continuous-line of a few of the items on the table. We know we are in Texas when this includes hot pepper sauce and a jar of pickled tabasco peppers.

20 May 2014

yesterday's sketches

Spent yesterday running errands and Bill going to a new dentist. I spent a few moments sketching, this time using a Pentel Pocketbrush pen with its brush-tip.

This is one of many gnarled, bent live oaks we found in the small township of Independence. Seemed to have a distinct attitude in its stance! At the end of this post is a photo of Bill climbing into another one.
While Bill was at the dentist office, I ran some errands. Then had just a few moments to sketch in the waiting room before he was finished. This small vase on the shelf seemed like a good quick study.

18 May 2014

sketching in church

a bit of a plant at church; color pencil added later at home
I carry my journal with me to church mostly to record sermon notes.

more journal tests

I previously tried my Lamy Safari fountain pens in this journal containing hand-made paper --- the nibs did not glide smoothly, like they were fighting the paper, and the ink feathered. So I had not thought of trying this Lamy Joy with its calligraphy nib.

Turns out that it writes smoothly even over this soft paper. A bit harder when trying to draw a finer line with just the edge of the nib, but bold lines are no problem. As long as the paper's "lint" does not cause trouble, I'm going to try drawing with it. Currently I have it filled with Platinum Carbon Black ink, a "wetter" ink than the Noodler's Polar black I'm used to. Had to do a bit of adjusting with the nib to prevent an ink leaky mess on my hands.

And how did I forget to try painting with gouache in this sketchbook? While watercolor just sits there refusing to move, absorbing palely into the paper and loosing it's "fresh" look I love, gouache seems to stay very bright. As long as I remember to use it very dry, as shown in that first wet dab of quinacridone violet paint. Not sure I can paint subtle, romantic landscapes with these bold colors, but maybe have a bit of fun with brightly colored subjects.

recent sketches

I was a bit bored as I sat in our bedroom the other day, listening to an audio book. Not that the story is boring, but my hands had nothing to do.

So I sketched the doorway into our kitchen. The dark log beam ceiling is a bit hard to capture. Beyond the butcher-block counter-top is our cabin's front door.
And I sketched a necklace that just came in the mail. It has a bit of plaid --- my favorite "color" is plaid! --- and says "Sassenach" on it. A derogatory term for anyone living south of the highlands of Scotland. My ancestors came from England and the Scottish lowlands, so I guess I am a sassenach.

The term means "Outlander", also the name of the series of audio books I am currently listening to as I wait for the 8th book in the series to come out next month.

15 May 2014

just for fun

I found this large, funny looking rock near our fire pit and decided to draw it just for fun.

It reminded me of our son Matt's comment when his family recently camped out at the lake. We were talking about music we liked --- Matt spoke up with a serious look in his eye, "I've been listening to a great new group . . . Simon and Garfunkle."

twigs, moss and lichen

This past week has brought thunderstorms through our area, breaking off bits of the local trees. I picked up a couple of broken twigs during a walk yesterday, wanting to sketch the odd moss and lichen growing on them.

Both types grow in abundance on the trees here, but I am not familiar with either one of them. I've been looking for a field guide of moss and lichen but have not found one as yet.

I especially like this tiny lichen that grows on metal boxes and rocks as well as tree branches. An odd shade of pale gray-olive green, it looks a bit fey.

I'm really a bit bummed this morning . . . I declined to accompany Bill on his morning walk because I woke up with a slight sinus headache. He returned, saying he ran into FIVE DEER walking down the lane we walk on.

14 May 2014

more Texas wildflowers

The spring wildflowers around here have gone to seed, making way for the early summer varieties, scattered in the local meadows and pastures and along the highways.

journal silliness

Some days nothing I try to sketch seems to work. I decided to draw our little kitchen as I sat on the livingroom couch . . . . It soon became apparent that nothing was lining up correctly. So I declined to add darker lines, wrote "wonky kitchen" and turned the page.

Then I tried a pencil sketch out of a tutorial book on drawing landscapes. Either the book is uninspiring, or it just isn't my style of working. I added the book to a pile to take to the used bookstore.

Then I really had some fun! Even though this sketchbook does not take to watercolor, I still use a page now and then to think through palette changes. I miss watercolor, can you tell?

After reading some recent posts on Liz Steel's blog, I found that she is going to a smaller "Bijou" type metal palette box. They are very hard to find these days --- I have one but was curious if any others were for sale on eBay. I ran across a different WC set, a square tin from Daler Rowney, that positioned a travel brush on the slant. DUH! I had once turned this Neocolor II tin into a WC set but did not like that my favorite travel brushes did not fit inside. But of course they DO fit . . . on the slant!

Another of Liz's posts mentioned her chosen "basic" palette. So I thought it would be fun to try to put her choices in this tin and call it my "Liz set". The pans are attached with thinly stretched poster tac, but rubber cement might hold stronger. Nothing thick or the lid does not close properly.

I do still need to spray-paint the inside of the lid a white enamel, the better to mix paint on. Click on the picture and I think the list of colors can be read.

12 May 2014

weekend sketches

Some random sketches from this weekend . . .

This old abandoned gas station is located near Old Baylor University women's building in Independence. I sketched it from a photo I took last month.

The following two sketches were drawn at church. I still feel intimidated to draw the people there, so I drew my bag. And later, a wee coin purse that was given to each mother present.

The middle one shows where the pages were tied into this hand-made journal, though I have yet to figure out the sewing pattern. The leather lace holds in five folios with stitches going through the spine of the leather forming the cover. The sketchbook was a gift from my son.

10 May 2014


Sometimes I just have to pick up a pen and draw something . . . anything. Whatever is nearby.

09 May 2014

Old Baylor University, part 2

On May 4th I posted a couple of sketches from Old Baylor University, the remains of the women's building. Today's post is from the men's side of the former campus, located in Independence, TX.

This structure is the old bell tower; all the buildings are now gone but the present park shows the outline of where they once stood.

This old well once served the whole campus. Even in Texas' current drought conditions, we could still see lots of water deep inside.

Baylor University eventually left this area, merging with the university in Waco, TX.

07 May 2014

Mother's Day cards

I painted these postcards as a way of sharing a couple of our roses with mothers back in Kansas and Arkansas. Popping them in the mail today . . . neither my mom or our adopted mom in Arkansas are on the internet, so I thought I'd go ahead and post these. Happy Mother's Day to each of you!

Five of our roses in bloom, shades of coral, white, yellow and pink.

05 May 2014

waiting for paint to dry . . .

I woke up this morning realizing that my brother's birthday is only 2 days away. Arggh!

I always paint a card for him. So this morning I grabbed a recent photo I had taken of a cow down the road from us and began. Paint sure dries slow when I need to hurry.

But eventually I did finish the card and it is in the mail. (I don't think he even knows I have a blog, so I know he won't be seeing this.)

the finished card, portrait of one of our new neighbors

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...