28 September 2014

2 trees + a wee tree house

These two trees are in the east corner of our lot, a cedar tree and a very tall, very old pine. I have counted 38 or 39 trees in our yard. Compare that to only one original tree left in our Kansas yard plus two trees we planted. This cedar tree was crammed full of cedar wax wing birds in the spring.

Several of the trees are an unknown variety newly planted by the previous owners and I am counting the three crepe myrtles which are technically shrubs but in Texas they grow into trees. But there are so many older oaks and pines as well!

This wee tree house was here when we bought the property, though too small for our grandchildren. Bill and our grandson Quen did a bit of work on it, taking off the roof so everyone can fit now. The fox squirrels seem to think it is their domain; their babies are so cute sitting on the ladder step!

27 September 2014

wild bird sanctuary

When we moved here to central Texas, there was a wee wooden sign posted in one corner of our property reading "Lake Forest Wild Bird Sanctuary". It has proven to be fact!

At our small 1920 apartment building in Kansas, we saw lots of house sparrows and, rarely, an occasional blue jay or cardinal. A year or so ago an unknown raptor nested in our old elm tree, scaring away all other birds (except those silly, brave sparrows).

Here in the woods, we have identified over 30 types of birds in our yard in the past 7 months, many more in the neighborhood. And they keep on coming! Of course, when I chose to sketch as many as I could see on Thursday, none showed up except the constant hummingbirds . . .

(Who knew they actually SQUEAK like a dog's squeaky toy?!? I knew you could hear the "hum" of their wings but our hummers perch in a nearby crepe myrtle and squeak at us!)

25 September 2014

sketching at church, 24 Sept.

This is one of our new friends at church. I sometimes sketch some of the people at church for practice . . . I don't think this really looks very much like John.

We are committing to pray 31 days in October for this country and her leaders; I thought this Bible verse fit the page. I also like the random comment our assistant pastor said: "Don't limit God! He likes coloring outside the lines!"

21 September 2014

loft art supplies

Before moving to Texas, I had accumulated 9 years of art supplies. I tried new things often, trying to find my way in this new hobby. Some where tried and never touched again.

So before packing, I went through everything, keeping just what I really enjoyed using. Art books were donated to the local library sale or a used book store. Supplies not kept were bagged up to give away to sketchcrawl friends and their kids.

I wrote a bit about my process on this journal page. One of the criteria was "did it fit in the box"? Years ago, Bill had this antique tool box sitting in our garage, collecting dust. So I confiscated it, cleaned it up, and used it at first to store embroidery supplies . . . then later, to store art stuff. Now it sits on a book shelf in my loft --- That's the slanted roof beam logs behind it in the sketch.

The logs are actually a dark brown with white bead-board between them. I haven't decided whether to leave the ceiling drawn in ink alone, or paint in the log beams. Any suggestions?

20 September 2014

late summer wildflowers . . . and a baby pecan

Last week I went on the hunt for more wildflowers, this time sketching them in my newest sketchbook instead of the tiny one I've been using for wildflowers. I'll probably re-draw these into that book later.

Most prevalent in the area now is Snow-on-the-Mountain. Huge swaths fill nearby pastures, truly looking from a distance like "snow". Studying it up close, I was surprised to discover that the white "petals" are actually bracts. The flowers are the tiny ones with yellow centers.

My favorite is the Scarlet Pea . . . so tiny, I almost didn't see it at all! Found while walking around Old Baylor University in Independence, TX.

I added the immature pecan from a morning walk . . . just because it was cute and fuzzy.

19 September 2014

modified blind contour Scots

I have been following along with Gay Kraeger's watercolor sketching & journaling class for the Strathmore Online Workshops, though I am not posting things in class because I am not using Strathmore products. Since high school, I have enjoyed blind contour drawing. When you aren't even looking at the paper, how can it be expected to look "right"? It's a very freeing exercise.

These two cast iron Scotties live on my kitchen shelf, in front of a framed vintage postcard of wheaten and black Scotties. The glass spoon holder sits on the counter, usually holding my cell phone. We have seen the same Scottie glass in antique shops listed as a creamer. But this one is from Bill's grandmother and she insisted that it is a spoon holder, holding nesting spoons ready to use on the table with the handles positioned over the head.

18 September 2014

lichen and rain lilies

We have had more rain this past week, leading to interesting forms of lichen on small branches broken from trees and rain lilies popping up everywhere, usually in groupings like this one in our yard.

Sometimes rain lilies are in color but this time all are pristine white . . . so I left them unpainted this time.


 A few days after sketching the rain lilies, Bill brought in one that had lost its petals, knowing I'd like to sketch it as well.

Still no leaves on the stem, but this odd bulb-like shape developed on the stem. Not sure how the reproduction works with these little wildflowers, but interesting to continue watching . . .

17 September 2014

home sweet Texas home

Last week I sketched our wee Texas cabin from the north corner as viewed from Bill's new woodshop. The balcony is just outside the loft where my art space is.

Every home we bought had red roses and this one is no exception. These two tall rose plants have had deep red roses bloom now and then, 2 or 3 at a time, throughout the summer.

art tools & folding stools set up on the woodshop porch

15 September 2014

watercolor first-aid, autumn color

While shopping last week for more hummingbird food (they are quite greedy little eaters, sometimes as many as 8 to 10 on our patio at a time), I found this very flat plastic first aid kit. Very lightweight and slim! So I cleaned up some other small kits, moving the half-pans to this little box. Lots of color for the coming Autumn, ready to slip into my purse.

11 September 2014

Wednesday's random sketching

Usually, when planning to sketch away from home, I just throw my few supplies into whatever bag I am using at the time as a purse.

But while shopping at Harbor Freight yesterday in College Station, Bill suggested this canvas bag for carrying my supplies. Way bigger than necessary ___even my folding stool fits inside___ but I guess that means there is room for a snack and a couple of bottles of water.

Later at church, I tried drawing my friend Angela's beautiful hair . . . and did not succeed. Her husband is all out of proportion as well, but he wiggles too much!

We came home to find a lizard (gecko?) on our front door . . . and two little ones inside the house. One of them I found as I felt something ticklish on my arm! Plotting a take-over? Or just friendly?

08 September 2014

new sketchbook, cleaned-up palettes

As usual, I started my newest art journal with a sketch of my current palette, which was just cleaned and color selection tweaked. Beginning each book this way gets me past the "I don't know what to draw / I don't want to mess this book up" attitudes. And it keeps an on-going record of paints I'm using.

I'm going to try to do more "on the spot" sketching in this book. Sensitivity to bright sunlight and sticky-hot humidity have kept me from doing so over the summer, but I need to get back to it and stop relying so much on taking photos. This re-purposed vintage Prang box is a favorite for taking along, with a couple of travel brushes already in it. Click on the photo for a larger view; colors are listed on the page.

I keep my travel supplies very minimalist but change what palette I'm using according to the season, the subjects I expect to sketch, how much room I have in my current bag, or simply by what mood I'm in. I don't keep a special bag to carry supplies, preferring to just toss some tools in whatever bag I'm currently using. Just add some paper towels and a folding stool and I'm ready to go. Colors and brands of paint are listed below, from lower rows to upper row in each box:

The larger box on the left page is full of granulating paints:
raw umber violet, DS
potter's pink, W&N
quin. burnt scarlet, DS
monte amiata natural sienna, DS
serpentine genuine, DS
undersea green, DS . . . will replace with sap green when this is gone
cerulean blue chromium, DS
blue apatite genuine, DS
buff titanium, DS
goethite - brown ochre, DS
quin. burnt orange, DS
burnt umber, AJ

smallest box, upper right, is a mint tin:
perylene maroon, DS
quin. gold, DS
sap green, DS
indanthrone blue (dark blue indigo), Sch
quin. burnt orange, DS
burnt umber, AJ

lower right Bijou box:
permanent rose, W&N
pyrrol scarlet, DS
quin. gold, DS
hansa yellow medium, DS
phthalo green, AJ
cerulean blue chromium, DS
phthalo blue, AJ
ultramarine blue, AJ
buff titanium, DS
goethite - brown ochre, DS
quin. burnt orange, DS
raw umber, DS

AJ = American Journey (Cheap Joe's)
DS = Daniel Smith
Sch = Schminke
W&N = Winsor & Newton 

BTW, each inside cover starts out with lots of blank space. By the time I finish a sketchbook journal, the front and back insides are usually covered with verses, encouraging quotes, random information & contact info, or comments.

04 September 2014

a couple more from Washington-on-the-Brazos

This is the reproduction of an outdoor kitchen. The interior was crammed with cupboards, work tables, and stores, and a huge open-hearth fireplace.

Hanging from two ceiling beams was a slave-powered "air conditioner" --- I don't think it would have cooled workers down very much.

In contrast, the slave cabins had an outdoor kitchen: a small work table positioned under an arbor covered with heavy green vines of some sort. Cooking done over a huge open fire with large poles to move the heavy pots.

I found the slave cabins' interiors more interesting than the "big house", showing how ingenious these people were with very little personal belongings.

Loved the stick-and-mud chimney!

03 September 2014

newly bound sketchbooks

Before moving to Texas, I had several full-sized sheets of paper stored in a flat box under my bed. Knowing it would be hard to keep them from crumpling during the move, I went ahead and tore each paper down to fold into folios for sketchbooks. Much easier to pack!

The 3 smaller books shown here are filled with BFK Rives with some toned Stonehenge. These papers were simply folded and torn down, ending with journals measuring roughly 6 x 8". After the move, I found the marbled paper at Jerry's Artarama in Austin and thought it would make nice covers. Bookcloth for spines was from leftovers in my stash. For added protection, I coated these sketchbooks with Liquitex matte gel after they were finished. I also found the toned sheets of Stonehenge at Jerry's, which I added for variety.

The leather-wrapped journal's paper, Kilimanjaro 140# watercolor paper from Cheap Joe's, was sewn directly into the leather using hand-dyed silk threads that show in the spine. I had a piece of soft leather in my stash so I thought "why not?". Haven't tried binding one like this before. (The leather thong tie was donated by Bill --- it came on a cowboy-style hat he bought here in Texas.)

02 September 2014


Recently we took our eldest granddaughter to see the museums located in Washington, Texas. In 1836, 59 delegates met here to establish the new Republic of Texas while defenders kept Santa Anna's army busy at the Alamo.

The unfinished frame building, a reproduction, is filled with tables laid end-to-end just as it was in 1836.

At the living history farm, interpreters depict life on an early cotton farm, where oxen are still used in the fields. I love the dog-trot framed house!

With a very humid 100° heat, I took photos to sketch later. I wanted to record these in my journal but it was just too hot to sketch on site.

After reading about astrolabes in a book, how cool to find one in the museum!

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