27 June 2014

a different paint arrangement

Recently I was exporing Jane Blundell's blog -- she is so knowledgeable, besides being an extremely talented artist! I especially found her arrangement of paint interesting, separating each color group into cool, warm, earth, and dark. (Most of her paint choices are from Daniel Smith; I happened to have their sample sheet to replicate her choices in my sketchbook.)

So I tried the same arrangement using my current 20 paints. (Actually, I added phthalo green and removed Hansa yellow light. And I added my own mixed dark gray as Jane does, using my quin. burnt orange and ultramarine.) --- A bit messy, but who cares?

* I just noticed that where I originally planned on sap green for my warm green and undersea green for my earth green, I changed these at the last moment to serpentine green and sap green. Then forgot to correct it in ink. I also changed burnt sienna to quin. burnt orange.

26 June 2014

Dallas road trip

For my birthday (not till next month), our daughter invited me to join her friends in going to Dallas to hear our favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, on a speaking tour promoting her latest book "Written in My Own Heart's Blood". What an amazing, generous, and beautiful woman she is! A highly entertaining story-teller, both in print and in person.

It was an amazing time just hanging out with Kristen and her friends. Lovely young women! These are the same friends who, along with their husbands, went to Scotland together last year, sharing a rented house on Loch Ness. In fact, one of the husbands said to be sure and thank Diana Gabaldon for their trip to Scotland --- it came about after reading the Outlander series.

Before leaving for Dallas, I had a large cup of Earl Grey green tea and one of Mikala's lime cookies.

I sat in back so I could try sketching Kristen.

20 June 2014

playing at Lake Somerville

Jayna and Bill swam in the lake the other day while I sat on a picnic table trying to paint the landscape. Not very happy with the results . . .

The local drought seems to be over, the lake up to its normal level. Lots of grass can be seen in the water from when this part of the lake was dry ground. Strong winds caused lots of waves to come this way.

Many of the sites along the lake are heavily wooded, but this eastern edge is more open.

 I soon gave up on the landscape and waded out into the water. Found lots of interesting bits of "flotsam and jetsam" washed up by the waves along the sandy, grassy shore. The remains of several fish that had fed local vultures, a T-shirt someone lost while out boating, a soda can . . . and this bit of driftwood and some old fishing lures.

I love Stillman & Birn bound sketchbooks . . . but I wish they were Coptic-sewn like those I make myself -- to lay open flat when working across a 2-page spread or when photographing it.

18 June 2014

loft lizard

I finally found a Texas lizard in our new home . . . . Unfortunately, Bearcat found it first. Jayna found this dead lizard in the loft, just next to where the slanted ceiling rafters met the floor. So I sketched it, while the cat glared at  me for taking away his wee toy.

17 June 2014

painting with Jayna

Granddaughter Jayna is visiting us this week. Tuesday afternoon was too hot and humid to spend much time outside. (We had been running errands most of the morning.)

So Jayna and I sketched a bit. She painted a favorite butterfly from her folding field guide.
And I drew a dragonfly from a photo online.

As a small child, my favorite movie was Sleeping Beauty. I especially loved when Aurora lived in a wee cottage in the woods, with birds, flowers, and wild animals. Now I find myself living in similar surroundings.

We even have our own wee dragons --- swarming clouds of lovely red dragonflies have been visiting the yard this week.

Kayak for Michael

For Father's Day, our son-in-law Michael received an inflatable kayak. He and Mikala tested it out on Lake Somerville on Saturday.

13 June 2014

no peaches

After being told that we had a peach tree, a fig tree, and an orange tree on our land, we were especially looking forward to eating fresh peaches. Unfortunately, the deer ate every last one of the baby peaches before they could develop. (The orange tree died over winter and the fig tree shows no promise.)

Noodler's polar brown ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

12 June 2014

Texas Seafood & Steak House

Yesterday we had no power most of the day as the rural electric company installed a new pole and reworked our service to add Bill's new woodshop. By the time they were finished, we really didn't feel like cooking . . . . so we decided to try another new restaurant, this time in Somerville.

We are constantly amazed at the choices of unique family-owned places to eat in this area! El Dorado, KS was approximately the size of Brenham (and 9 times bigger than Somerville) yet they had no restaurants left at all, only fast food places. Even tiny Somerville has 3 family restaurants with real cooking from scratch!

This time we tried the Texas Seafood & Steak House. Very good food in generous portions; very low-key interiors. The only wall decoration was this very large striped bass, possibly caught locally. Somerville is a small town near a very large recreation lake. The server glanced my way several times, clearly curious about what I was doing, but did not realize I was drawing the fish until I pulled out a paintbrush.

Noodler's Lexington ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

10 June 2014

beginning a new sketchbook

I recently finished filling my latest art journal and needed a new one. I have some new signatures partially sewn together for handbound ones but no covers made yet.

So I chose to buy an Alpha series sketchbook made by Stillman & Birn. Summer is a bit hot to tote around a lot of stuff so I decided to go a bit smaller; this sketchbook is 4 x 6" and fits easily in any bag.

Today I sketched a couple of pages, drawing palettes as I usually do on the first pages, to test the paper. I thought that the Alpha would not work as well with wet media as the Beta I've used before --- I was wrong! Fountain pens and brush pens glide smoothly and watercolor works beautifully without wrinkling pages or bleed-through.

Along with a smaller journal, I'm trying to go lighter in what supplies I carry. A tiny palette made from a plastic pill box, a Lamy pen, a tiny mechanical pen & kneaded eraser, a waterbrush, and folded paper towel. I prefer using real brushes like the one on the first page, but when away from home, I don't always want to carry a water supply.

I don't normally carry the 2 brush pens shown, but wished to test them on the paper as well. They might be added to the bag once in a while -- I like using the one with gray ink for shadows. I need to practice a lighter touch with these brush pens though.

Lamy Safari fountain pen with Noodler's Lexington gray ink, Pentel pocketbrush pen, an unknown Pentel brush pen with "soft black" ink that is more gray, and a bit of watercolor in a Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook.

09 June 2014

random weekend sketches

In the same yard as the railroad spike roadrunner (in my previous post) is this funny "grave" marker, under an old oak tree. Apparently the homeowner had trouble with his firewood disappearing?

sketching at church

The mosquitoes of Texas have finally found me. I apparently have an allergic reaction to their saliva so it's back to anti-histamines and anti-itch ointments. I drew these last night while waiting for the anti-histamine to kick in --- beats scratching!

07 June 2014

a dozen mailboxes and a roadrunner

We have been trying to walk every morning before it gets hot. Billy usually walks both morning and evening, but I wimp out if it's too hot and humid.

The farm-to-market road near us is curvy, has lots of lake traffic, and no shoulders to walk safely on. So we walk the circle of this small development. Adding the lane that cuts through the circle, we walk a figure-eight to equal nearly a mile.

Often we see rabbits, occasional deer, and once we found a young coral snake --- already dead, thankfully. I've heard that they no longer make an anti-venom for this deadly snake because it is not profitable. The living snakes usually run away from humans.

The entrance to the community has a roadrunner-crossing sign --- this in the only one we've seen so far, along with it's twin on the other side of the covert.

A few of the mailboxes we pass on our walks:

02 June 2014

a bit of ink and gouache

Bill needed to pick up some electrical connection bits for his woodshop at the hardware store in Somerville. The parking lot was full so I thought I would have a good chunk of time to sketch.

Bill found his items, paid for them, and was back in the car in less than 10 minutes. So much for a leisurely sketch!

My grandmother had chairs like this glider -- that's what drew me to sketch it first.

This morning I did a quick continuous line drawing of my breakfast. I had just picked more strawberries from our patio garden bed to go with my cup of tea. They are very good with a dab of chocolate almond butter on them!

Gouache was added later on both sketches, after the initial 10 minute sketches.

clean-up time for gouache

My gouache palette had become a sticky mess, some colors were chalky, and one of the brushes I keep just for gouache did not fit inside. So I cleaned it up over the weekend, purging the colors that were chalky and those that were too close to another. Those I ended up with are all from M. Graham or Schmincke -- these have no opacifiers and if thinned with water (on good watercolor paper, not this handmade paper), they can be almost transparent like watercolor.

After removing the pans (and cleaning up their mucky undersides) I cleaned the plastic palette box with some soft scrub and Q-tips, making sure to rinse it well before attaching the pans with rubber cement.

These are the colors I began with, several left-over bits from Winsor & Newton that were heavy and chalky. The buff titanium is actually a watercolor but it comes in handy.

Some of the colors, while excellent pigments, were too close to each other to waste space in the palette. I can interchange them if I wish to later.

I learned a lot of information about these paints from Roz Stendahl's blog. She really KNOWS gouache and uses it beautifully.

Here, I tested greens before eliminating one yellow and deciding on which of two blues to keep.

BTW, I wrapped the handles of the three brushes I keep inside this palette with red electrical tape. That warns me that these brushes are for gouache only, not watercolor. I try to get them clean but gouache has bigger pigments that could mess with watercolor.
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