25 July 2014

a neighbor's birthday

One of our new neighbors is celebrating a birthday in a few days. I once sketched an owl house in one of his trees while visiting on his patio and he couldn't believe I was drawing on-the-spot like that. So I later shared some of my sketchbooks with him, which he loved.

I painted a card for him this week. He and his wife, recently deceased, made many lovely memories fishing together on Lake Somerville.

Wednesday's mini-date

All small towns here have a Dairy Queen. In fact, around here they are advertised as "the stop sign of Texas".

We went there for ice cream on Wednesday. Normally I try to match exact colors of things but this time I used the muted granulating palette I recently put together.

After ice cream, we drove around the small town . . . and saw two young deer feeding in someone's front yard. Not afraid of the car at all.

23 July 2014

new color arrangement

Since I was first introduced to watercolors about 9 years ago, I have arranged my colors in a "rainbow" order from cool reds to warm blues or purples, followed by neutrals from light to dark. This order just made sense to me. Maybe being related to Sir Isaac Newton who studied prismatic colors influenced me?

But ever since studying Jane Blundell's excellent pigment information, I have been rethinking how I order my palettes. For limited or warm-and-cool palettes, I still go with the rainbow arrangement. But in palettes holding 20 colors, I'm now arranging them according to color and whether they are cool, warm, earthy or dark.This has been very helpful in quickly working in an all-cool or all-earthy color theme.

I keep the above chart pinned to the wall in my "studio" space (in the loft of our log cabin) to remind me of each pigment's properties. The colors in the top row are "extras" that I just happen to have --- Some I will definitely keep (love the potter's pink!") but I won't be replacing all of them when I run out of what's on hand. The blue apatite or lunar blue are very similar --- I'll probably keep the blue apatite, being a single pigment rather than a mix. That's the reason I finally gave up my favorite sap green from Daniel Smith, replacing it with green apatite genuine. Nearly the same color in a single pigment.

UPDATE: I'm getting rid of the sepia but adding Daniel Smith's permanent orange to the "extras" --- When mixed with phthalo blue, it makes amazing clean greens!

21 July 2014

crepe myrtle and a couple of wildflowers

The 3 crepe myrtles in our yard are in full bloom . . . and actively sending up suckers aplenty. As I trimmed these out, I found one in full bloom so I sketched it. The myrtles we had in Kansas were left to grow naturally for at least 70 years -- I never bothered with trimming or pruning. But those in our yard here in Texas were trained to 7 - 9 trunks only, so I guess I'll keep it up. I do NOT cut the tops severally as is the habit around here though. I still prefer a more natural style.

And I found 2 new wildflowers during our walk today. I'm not sure what the gold one with tiny red stripes is but it is popping up in yards all over. No leaves except the 2 tiny ones on the stem, yet the stem sticks up about 12 inches from the ground.

19 July 2014

a muted, granulating triad

I've been playing with a different muted primary triad recently --- one using granulating pigments. This was suggested to me by Jane Blundell, though she used a different "red". Raw umber violet was what I had on hand. I also added a green and a neutral, both granulating, for convenience.

(BTW, this palette had another fold-out mixing area that I removed to make it lighter. Didn't use that area much anyway.)
I'm not happy with the greens mixed from goethite and blue apatite.

So I tried replacing the goethite with monte amiata natural sienna --- much brighter but still a muted, granulating pigment.

On it's own, I love how goethite looks when painted in large areas but I'd like better greens without resorting to the sap green.
I also could not paint the bright gold of two of my favorite paint brushes using goethite, but the natural sienna works pretty good.

Even when I am sketching at home, I find myself grabbing my travel brushes rather than those in my "studio". I just prefer how they work.

18 July 2014

our resident wren

When we moved in to this log cabin, there were two ornamental log houses left on the bookshelf by the former owners. I needed the space for books, so I moved these outside to a plant shelf in our covered patio. It sits in the corner, up against the place where corner logs meet and overlap.

Recently I was messing about with a plant on the middle shelf when I was surprised by a wee bird flying out from the larger of the two houses. (OK, Bill said I jumped and shrieked.) Apparently a Bewick's Wren has moved in! I haven't seen a wren since I was around 6 years old in Illinois.

I've now seen a pair of wrens sitting on the back of a porch swing, the female having a bit of food in her beak. So I'm wondering if there is a baby inside?

16 July 2014

yesterday's sketch, La Grange jail

Continuing to explore our new environs, we recently drove south-west to the small town of La Grange. In Fayette county, named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (that I just read about in Diana Gabaldon's latest Outlander book), the town is named for the general's home.

We were searching for the Texas Quilt Museum so I can later take my mother there when she visits later this year, her being an avid quilter. We came upon this old county jail -- which happens to be the visitor's center now. Amazing old structure with quite a history!

Also lots of info about the infamous Chicken Ranch, the local bordello that inspired "Best Little Whore House in Texas", but the local town people would just as soon forget that part of their past.

15 July 2014

a few summer wildflowers and butterflies

In my wee wildflower sketchbook (3" square), I've been continuing to draw wildflowers found near our new home. Summer seems to have mostly yellows, with a few leftover white prickly poppies and orange Indian blankets. Not much difference between black-eyed and brown-eyed susans, sharing the same Latin name, but one has tiny brown markings near the base of the petals.

I also drew a few of the butterflies we've seen in our yard. Lots of black swallowtail caterpillars have been eating my parsley and dill, but I'm wondering if the birds are in turn eating them.

07 July 2014

Freedom Biker Sunday

Yesterday was Freedom Biker Sunday in Somerville, Texas. There was an awesome gathering of believers at our church, Jubilee Christian Center and a great message!

Judah concentrating

Grandson Judah was totally concentrating on his game . . . but still managed to roll around, changing position as soon as I caught a line or two. Luckily, he returned to the upper position often enough to get a reasonable sketch.

Pentel pocket brush  and aquash pens in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook.

02 July 2014

Quen time

Our grandson Quen (otherwise known as "Q") has been visiting us this week. Very busy . . . but at the end of each day, we can barely remember all we did. Sign of getting older? Or not being able to keep up with a very active 7 year old?

Today, after a trip into Brenham for a little shopping, we went out to the lake. Bill and Quen swam while I tried once again to paint the view.

01 July 2014

some random sketching

Another week with a grandchild -- Quen this time -- and we are finding ourselves worn out on a daily basis!

Quen is my budding artist who loves to sketch, but I don't seem to be doing much sketching with him. Maybe tomorrow . . .

Meanwhile, these are some random bits from last week and Sunday.
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