28 December 2014

final pages

A few weeks ago we saw three black vultures competing with another large raptor for road kill on the farm road near our cabin. At first we thought the other bird was a young eagle, but it turned out to be a Crested Caracara. Beautiful in flight! I had neither sketchbook or camera handy at the moment; this was drawn later with the help of a field guide.

And this sketch completes another sketchbook . . . unless the inner back page is counted:

The inside back pages in my journals collect all sorts of random bits. The rough drawing of a lamp is a style Bill would like to find for the porch of his woodshop --- no luck finding them as yet.

27 December 2014

a sycamore leaf & fickle Polar Brown ink

Yesterday we found a few ginormous sycamore leaves blown into our yard --- but we have seen no sycamore trees in the neighborhood. Not sure how far these have traveled.

Noodler's Polar Brown ink is fickle! Most of the time I draw with it using an extra fine nib and it is waterproof when I add watercolor washes. A few days ago, when I drew rocks to test inks, it had just enough "bleed" to get a raw sienna type wash. I wanted that effect on the sycamore leaf . . . and it decided to be waterproof again.

26 December 2014

from another Nativity crèche

We spent Christmas Day at our son Jason's --- these figurines are from daughter-in-law Carrie's nativity set. She bought them in Mexico back when she was a teenager on a high school trip.

25 December 2014


a few of our tree's ornaments . . . Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!

For those interested, the quote on the left page is from a little e-book I just read, "Christmas Stories You've Never Heard" by Sammy Adebiyi:

"I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."  Luke 1:38

"Mary chose to surrender her plans of having a normal life to the unknown, the unfamiliar, the mysterious, the unexplainable and the supernatural, and because she did, she experienced the unknown, the unfamiliar, the mysterious, the unexplainable and the supernatural.

Can you imagine what would happen if we dared to surrender to God like Mary did?

Every day, God calls you and me to trust Him for things that sound, feel and seem impossible from every angle. The Christmas story is a reminder that nothing is impossible when we trust God.

24 December 2014

testing inks

Recently there have been some interesting posts on some artists' blogs (see here and here) comparing fountain pen inks. I would love to try the new De Atramentis colored document (waterproof) inks but can't afford them yet.

So I am playing with the inks I currently have. Actually I've been interested in doing some ink sketches with only washed shading for tones so water-solubility is good for now.

Some of these inks (the Noodler's brand) have been mixed by me. The sepia shade from mixing Polar Black and Polar Brown is a favorite! I tried toning down the purple La Couleur Royale with either Heart of Darkness or Polar Brown but the purple dominates.

Lexington Gray and the Platinum Carbon Black are usually waterproof, but not on this BFK Rives paper. Even after letting it dry overnight. Good thing I actually __want__ it to bleed this time!


So many online sketchers have drawn lovely tea cup & saucers, especially after taking classes with Liz Steel. But I don't own any real tea cups with saucers, preferring to drink my tea from large mugs.

Unless you count the tiny tea set pieces left from Bill's grandmother's childhood set. I have several mismatched pieces that will be passed on to our granddaughters.

For years I have steeped tea leaves with the diffuser drawn on the upper right, balancing the little handle on the edge of my mug. But the handle broke off and tea leaves get loose in the mug. So Bill found this new diffuser for me --- Oversized to allow leaves to expand and it dimly clips onto the side of any mug. An added bonus: the attached handle forms a drip-tray so I can set it down anywhere without making a mess.

23 December 2014

Stonehenge in danger?

Yesterday I read an article online that told of a proposal to build a tunnel under Stonehenge --- to divert traffic away from the ancient monument! Does this make any sense? Wouldn't that compromise the very foundation ground it is built upon? Not to mention destroy the area archiologists have been studying of the earliest residents of Britain.

22 December 2014

Sunday's sketches

I sketched this from a photo on my iPod before church . . . then jotted down a few sermon notes as usual. I found lots of these orange mushrooms / fungi growing in the corner of our lot --- still haven't been able to identify what kind they are.

When I went out to take some photos of them, the local school bus turned into our housing community. Bad timing for me! Even though the speed limit in our community is only 15 mph, a rock was thrown by the bus' tire and hit me hard on the right temple . . . just a few days after surgery in that eye. Scary how close I came to real disaster, but I'm fine. Except for a lovely dark purple shadow over my eye and a painful bump. The eye doctor agreed with me: Someone was definitely watching over me!

Later in the afternoon our church held a "Bowl of Blessings" celebration. Before eating, some kids and I were drawing and coloring with colored pencils. This fooi8l-lined bowl of ornaments was in front of me so that's what I drew. I'm trying to teach the kids to draw what you see.

Then we all watched an old movie together called "The Ultimate Gift" . . . more notes jotted down.

20 December 2014

Blue Bell Creamery

Looking through this journal, I realized that the only page mentioning my mother's visit to Texas was her being in the hospital. But we had lots of good times before that!

The day after she arrived we took a fun tour of the Blue Bell Creamery, followed by a trip to the historic ruins of Baylor University in Independence and a stroll through the gardens of the Rose Emporium. I happened to have some photos from Blue Bell's lobby so I sketched from them. Including them in this journal is a good reminder of a lovely day.

19 December 2014

for Joseph

. . . who likes flamingos. Our daughter-in-law Carrie gave this to me, knowing I like Legos. These are MUCH tinier!

18 December 2014

holly in our neighborhood

Continuing to find bits of Christmas as we walk through our little community --- this time, a form of holly.

17 December 2014

a kissing tree

Beginning our walk a couple of days ago, Bill veered slightly off into a neighbor's yard to grab this twig off a tree. He wondered what kind of tree it was to have greenish white berries. I commented that it reminded me of mistletoe.

Later at home I searched online for Texas trees with white berries without luck. So I clicked on "images" . . . and there it was. It IS mistletoe, apparently a common parasite on central Texas trees! I guess I'd never thought about what mistletoe actually is or where it comes from, having a vague idea that it is from Britain.

16 December 2014


This sketch was begun in the waiting room of St. Joseph Hospital as I was waiting for my second cataract surgery. The tree in the lobby was filled with feathered birds and vintage-style glass ornaments. 

Afterwards, it took a few days rest and recovery time before I could finish with watercolor. But praise God, my eyes now work well together and I can see clearly!

15 December 2014

December roses

We have roses still blooming everywhere here in central Texas, including these enormous deep red roses at our back door. Their old-fashioned fragrance is the best I've ever smelled.

11 December 2014

more random drawings

My young friends came into our church last night seeing me sketch my cat from an iPod photo, and wanted to join in. Kathleen perched a couple of stuffed animals and ask me to draw them. Evie chose to draw her multi-color ink pen inu journal. Then it was time for church to begin so I added color later at home.

Earlier the same day, Bill took me out to lunch, trying another of the hometown restaurants in Somerville. This one actually offers choices in HOT tea! Most places in mid-Texas only ask "sweet or unsweetened?", meaning iced tea.

10 December 2014

learning to see

I still love finding and sketching twigs sculpted with various forms of lichen, but this week I'm not so good at seeing the details.

The new implanted lens in my left eye corrects my vision to be able to see clearly at about 12 to 14" away. When combined with 20/20 to be placed in my right eye, I will be able to see without eyeglasses. 

But I have been used to holding objects much closer when drawing fine details and I keep forgetting to move them further away. This is going to take practice to learn new habits.

09 December 2014

one-lens Nellie?

For this time between surgeries to remove cataracts, only the undone eye needs glasses. So Bill removed the left lens from my eyeglasses. Looks a bit weird! Looking forward to not needing glasses at all.

08 December 2014

slowly progressing

Now that my left eye's swelling is gone, I am better able to focus enough to sketch it. The "white" of the eye was very red, not from the surgery but from the "trauma" of being worked on. Not as scary as it looked!

My left and right eyes are not playing well together, with 2 cataracts still in the right one. But I have surgery on the right one this Thursday, after which I will be able to see without glasses. So worth it!

04 December 2014

sometimes a pocket sketchbook is needed

On my way to Bellville, TX for the first of two cataract surgeries, I knew I'd want to sketch but did not want to carry much with me. Random sketching is wonderful for calming nerves!

So I grabbed this tiny accordian-fold journal made from watercolor paper scraps. I left the first spread blank to fill in later with my current palette and a verse.

This is what I later added to that first page spread after coming home. Actually, a couple of days after coming home. When I could see a bit.

I will later add contact info here in case the sketchbook is ever lost.

My plan to sketch through nervousness was good . . . but it didn't work out. Just as I began sketching this wee lad sleeping in the waiting room, I was called away to take care of admission business. Then I was wisked immediately away to be prepped . . . including a nasty IV inserted in my RIGHT (sketching) hand. IVs and I do not get along so I didn't even try to move my hand.

So I later added the stuff given to me for after-care. The surgery on my left eye went very well; my two eyes just don't happen to be getting along at the moment. Next week the remaining cataracts (yeah, there are two different kinds on this one) on my right eye will be removed, then I hope to be able to get back to sketching and painting . . . this time without glasses.

a couple of new toys

I recently found 2 new toys . . .

France Belleville-Van Stone has a delightful little book out on sketching -- "Sketch!: The Non-Artist's Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life". Not wanting to wait, I bought the Kindle version but I later saw a print copy in a chain bookstore. It's fabulous!

Later, while goofing around on eBay, I found a very inexpensive watercolor kit from Daler-Rowney (sold way below retail price) to add to my little collection. The student-grade paints will be saved for grandchildren's use and I will fill this with my own choices from tubes.
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