28 May 2015

a few more wild flowers

Yesterday we took a drive along the eastern shore of Lake Somerville . . . at least as far as one can drive before reaching water. Texas flood conditions continue with many lakes beyond capacity and overflowing. This lake is closed for at least the next two months --- water is well over campsites with their electric hookups and boat ramps. Many hidden obstacles out there to run a boat into.

We were able to drive to the overlook next to the spillway to take a look. Even the wildflowers are stressed from too much rain, though I found a few to draw anyway.

27 May 2015

bookbinding inspiration

Reading through comments on a recent post by my dear friend Kate (aka Cathy Johnson), I remembered a pack of sample watercolor papers purchased several years ago from Legion Paper. Kate mentioned binding a journal of a similar sampler pack.

Nearing the end of this journal, I've been considering buying more paper to bind a few more. But why not use what I have? First I cut the Bockingford tinted samples in half to make a smaller purse-size journal. Then I used most of the other sample sheets as-is, folding once to form signatures.

I checked in the old steamer trunk that holds my bookbinding materials for cover boards, planning on binding both of these with an open spine & Coptic stitch. But I found these two book covers, bug-chewed text blogs removed, that were rescued from a discard pile at a library sale years ago. Totally unexpected, BOTH of them fit the signatures I just made! The only adjustment needed was to remove two papers from the larger set, since the original book was rather thin. With the title "Near to Nature's Heart", the small book may be dedicated to nature sketches.

After cutting and folding new signatures, I leave them under this weight (an antique iron from Bill's grandmother) a few days before sewing. It helps the paper hold it's new shape.

26 May 2015

latest book read

When I'm not using my free time for sketching, I am reading. A lot of reading. Books were my best friends growing up and I've never stopped.

Recently I was given a gift certificate ebooks for my Kindle --- one of the books purchased is Susanna Kearsley's new book, A Desperate Fortune, and I loved it!

23 May 2015

virtual sketchcrawl, May 2015

Today is "virtual sketchcrawl day" for those participating on Facebook and Urban Sketchers Midwest. I had considered going somewhere interesting to sketch, but we are busy getting ready for a family get-together on Monday. Bill is smoking a brisket early (in case of rain . . . which we seem to be having daily), and we have been cleaning patios. Also cleaning his shop, where we will set up all the food. Our one-bedroom cabin is just too tiny for 4 kids, 3 in-law kids, 5 grandkids, 1 or 2 dogs, our cat, and two or three additional friends we've invited.

So sketchcrawl is at home today, a sketch of our smoker at the back door with Bill's woodshop beyond. A bit wonky but fun to draw.

Corpus Christi skyline

This is Corpus Christi as seen from the Texas State Aquarium. An artificial barrier has been built along the sea wall with mangroves and other plants, much under water from recent heavy rains. Waves wash over this barrier, sometimes trapping fish and other sea life. Usually there are plenty of seabirds taking advantage of easy fishing, but this was a particularly stormy day.

21 May 2015

Texas State Aquarium

Last Friday we visited the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi. Sadly, nearly 400 fish were killed last month during routine maintenance due to mislabeled chemicals, but there were still some amazing creatures to see. 

Sketching on site wasn't going to work --- there were noisy excited children bobbing in and out everywhere, on school field trips. So I took a few photos to sketch from later. The sea turtle was my favorite!

20 May 2015

a bit more from Ingleside on the Bay

We were able to watch some beautiful herons as they enjoyed the gulf region as well. And the gulls were just comical!

The Bed & Breakfast we stayed at also rents out this wee shack on the sea wall -- we want to stay there next time! It used to be used by the shrimp boat's crew for storing gear, but has been turned into a very charming cottage.

19 May 2015

watching the ships pass by

While staying at Ingleside on the Bay, we spent a lot of time relaxing out on one of the decks, watching the sea birds, boats, and ships. And two REALLY BIG structures being moved towards Aransas Pass and out into the Gulf.

18 May 2015

shells, shells everywhere

There were lovely sea shells everywhere we turned, some at least 12" across. Shells on tables, in baskets, on railings, sitting on top of posts in the parking area . . . . Literally everywhere! Upon returning from eating out one day, I grabbed these three from one of the decks to sketch. 

17 May 2015

sitting on the side of the bay

Much of our time at the Gulf, we sat out on one of the decks or gazebos relaxing, watching ships and boats of all varieties moving through the ship channel. 

Here I sketched the view between ship traffic. BTW, the water is level in the sketch --- it's that bit of island with the bluffs across the water that make it look slanted. On the far right horizon is Mustang Island, where our kids camped on the beach in March.

16 May 2015

a-shrimping we will go

Just across the lane from Our Place on the Bay, the Bed & Breakfast we are staying at, a shrimp boat was waiting for its next trip out. So I sat nearby and drew her. Early each morning the crew takes her out, then returns to load up their trucks with the day's catch.

15 May 2015

back to the Gulf of Mexico

For our 43rd wedding anniversary, we booked a stay at an out-of-the-way Bed & Breakfast in Ingleside on the Bay, just north of Corpus Christi. It's been very rainy and overcast all over Texas, so I left the brighter colors at home, refilling this wee travel palette with some of the muted granulating pigments --- they have been my favorites to play with lately.

13 May 2015

recent bird sightings

Mostly we have cardinals and chickadees this year but over the last few days I saw these three birds (not in scale). The Great-tailed Grackle was in a parking lot in Brenham; the wren and woodpecker showed up at our cabin.

The Bewick's Wren flew down, landing just two feet away from me as I was taking a photo of my sketchbook. (I try to take these pictures in outdoor indirect lighting.) He watched me for a short time before flying to a nearby crepe myrtle.

I heard a couple of loud thumps today --- the tiny Nuttall Woodpecker had crashed into the window and was looking a bit dazed, sitting on a glider. He sat still looking at me as I came outside to look at him. After coming inside to paint him, I checked again and he had flown away. There are several common varieties of woodpeckers in this area but this one is not among them.

11 May 2015

a mother's day gift, well spent

I was given a gift certificate yesterday to spend on e-books for my Kindle Fire. One of my choices was Danny Gregory's new book that has been on my wish list for quite a while.

It inspired me to grab the nearest thing to me this morning and sketch it NOW. I used Noodler's red-black ink (water soluble) and my granulating earth colors palette. Letting ink run a bit fits today's rainy day and I love playing with these paints!

Our multi-talented son Matt made the wooden bowl for me years ago (there is a plastic liner in it to protect it from the terra cotta pot's water seepage). The African violet plant is a descendant of a cutting my mother once gave me. Seems a fitting choice as I think of her on Mother's Day.

I gotta draw somethin'!!

We have been having an over abundance of rain, week after week. The drought is over; the monsoon is on! I wanted to draw something ___anything!___ but rain falling in heavy sheets tends to blind the view. So I drew this historic building from a magazine photo. 

The Fayetteville Precinct 2 Courthouse, built in 1880 --- the only example of a precinct courthouse in Texas. The second floor has a two-cell calaboose that normally held over-indulgent drunks on a Friday or Saturday night; there are still shackles on the floor for any overflow.

06 May 2015

red lilies

Last spring, soon after we moved into our log cabin in central Texas, we found some type of bulbs growing next to the back door. Not sure what they were, we waited patiently for the tight buds to open up. But one morning we woke to discover that every bud had been eaten by some type of wildlife -- probably deer.

This year they left the plants alone and we discovered we had red lilies! I didn't even know they came in this color; wild ones in the area are white to pale pink.

04 May 2015

wee garden worker

The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas has the loveliest exhibition garden! This is just one of the "workers" busy at work. 

03 May 2015

we give up

We switched to using cell phones when Bill retired, when he returned his other cell phone to the company. At the time we did not know we would be moving and the service was fine.

Then four months later we found ourselves living in central Texas in an area that that particular provider does not have good coverage. Calls are dropped on a regular basis, or they go directly to voicemail without ringing. To make calls, we have to go outside, walking around the yard to find a signal. Yet the provider says their computer shows we have available coverage so we are stuck in our contract.

Part of the problem is probably having cheap flip-phones, but we are tired of fighting it. So we took our son Jason up on his offer --- he gave us an iPhone under his contract and we just pay him a (much lower) fee each month. 

Not a very interesting sketch, but drawing it in my journal will help me remember when we got it.

02 May 2015

Chinese for lunch!

We drove to Houston to "hang out" with granddaughter Mikala while her parents went to hear Elton John in concert. But first, a bit or errand-running and shopping, then we had lunch with our daughter Kristen. Of course I had to choose Chinese --- we lack a good Chinese restaurant in Brenham. I liked the simple style of these vinegar and soy sauce cruets.

01 May 2015

people-drawing practice

I'm not real comfortable drawing people, especially when drawing from life, so I could use some practice. These are from photos found in a local publication, showing some reenactors at Washington-on-the-Brazos state historical site --- fun to sketch!

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