31 October 2015

a subtle Autumn

Since keeping sketchbooks / artist journals, I have had a yearly ritual of sketching Autumn leaves. One sketchbook is even dedicated to these parting jewels.

Living in Kansas, I had lots to choose from, especially a large variety of maples. In our own yard we had an Autumn Blaze maple that was covered with yellow, gold, orange, "pink", red, and deep burgundy leaves! At least until the fierce Kansas winds took them all away.

Here in the woods in central Texas, we have oaks (and pines & cedars). A large variety of oak trees but mostly oak. Autumn's colors are very subdued, especially since the majority of trees are still a rich green.

30 October 2015

being messy . . .

I was adding a bit of paint to Wednesday's sketch . . . and promptly smeared the bit of red paint on the paper cup. Had forgotten it as I was working on the logo text on the far right. Oops!

Sometimes I try to replicate company logos and lettering for the discipline. This is also a favorite stop for us when in Brenham --- creative sandwiches, soups, quiche, and salads! Oh, and also homemade pie. This time we both had something they call sawdust pie. Fitting for Bill as he works on a shelving unit in his wood shop.

29 October 2015

a fine bone china . . . mug

I love the beautiful watercolor sketches I've seen on Facebook of delicate tea cups and saucers, especially those by Liz Steel of her wonderful collection!

But I don't own even one cup and saucer, preferring to drink my tea from a large mug. This fine bone china mug is as close as I get --- a gift from our daughter. Since tea leaves stains in every mug I use, I use this one for hot cocoa. 

28 October 2015

Ms. BJ's "doodling" & our new building

Our pastor's wife, Ms. BJ, does what she calls "doodling" --- she sees something somewhere and then goes home and builds it . . . without a pattern! I tell her she must have a mind of an engineer.

She made this gorgeous sculpture of an eagle out of barn wood. It used to hang in a hallway in our regular church building; now it has a place of honor in our newly renovated building next door, above the hall entrance from this new space to the offices and doors connecting this building to the other one. It goes perfectly with the "rustic" look of what is now our Bible study area, also used for social functions:

These "barn doors" give access to the display windows facing the street. Our church currently occupies three vintage store-front buildings in downtown Somerville, Texas.

26 October 2015

new pencils!

Once again I wore out one of the cheap ($2.00) mechanical pencils I normally buy.  So this time I decided to "upgrade" to a better one. On Amazon, I found a set of three Rotring pencils in three different sizes of lead. And they are so comfortable to write with!

Ideally, I want to use an HB lead in the 0.35 size, a B2 in the 0.5, and a B4 in the 0.7. A good range to draw with!

24 October 2015

last sketches from Mustang beach

I waited until coming home to sketch this heron from Mustang Island State Park --- I wanted to try using liquid masque on the waves. But my masque is a bit old and came out in globs. Oh, well . . .

We saw the heron when exploring the tidal pool area. He didn't seem to mind my getting very close for a photograph. I was also watching the man standing in the Gulf up to his chest, fishing. Sometimes waves washed up to his chin . . . I wonder if he actually caught any fish?

The tiny jellyfish was seen half-buried in the sand with the incoming tide --- I'd never seen one this color before.

This seems darker than previous pages because I had to photograph my sketchbook inside on a very dark and rainy day. Need better lighting!

21 October 2015

more sketches from Mustang Beach

Higher-than-normal wind and an increasingly high tide forced us to leave Mustang Island State Park a day early, but what an adventure we had camping on the beach! Bill and I set up camp Thursday afternoon, with Matt, Misty, and Quen arriving late that night --- so much fun setting up a tent in the windy dark by starlight and car headlights! 

The moon was just a tiny crescent slip but stars seemed enormously bright --- so bright that the wave tops actually glowed in the dark reflecting their light! Winds continued through the night, growing stronger through Friday when Kristen and Mikala arrived. 

By Saturday afternoon, the wind had partially collapsed two tents. But the weatherbug app said wind advisories would not be in affect until 9:00 that night? We were getting sand-blasted and the stronger-than-normal tides were rising. Normally there is a wide room for driving down the beach between the shore and the tent sites; this had already been covered by algae washed up during the night (the so-called red tide) and the tide water was quickly approaching the center tents' edges. So we decided to break camp early and head home a day early.

Loved camping on the beach in spite of the wind, even when our air mattress failed to hold air, my sunblock proved to be past its shelf-life, the dump cake burned beyond recognition in the fire pit, and family dogs Bradley & Scout both proved to be afraid of the water. Love the family time!

Next family camping trip, Lake Somerville . . . without the sand in our teeth.

19 October 2015

wee Jeremiah

We are back home from the beach, having been forced to leave a day early by an unusually high wind advisory and above average incoming tides. As we were leaving, tides were reaching the edge of our camp, two hours before "high tide"! And the winds had already collapsed two of our tents with much higher winds expected after sunset. Awesome adventure, though!

It will take a few days to finish my other island sketches. Getting rid of the excess sand alone is a huge job, being sand-blasted as we were! The park rangers had never seen it this bad before.

I forgot to post this little sketch I drew the day before our trip --- This handmade mohair teddy bear has been my favorite bear for many years. He stands 6" tall but prefers to sit. The tea cup is one Bill's grandmother played with as a child; someday I should sketch the others in her mis-matched set.

My son sketched with me!

Matt's sketch of Quen

Saturday morning at the beach I was sketching the dunes when my son Matt sat down near by with his own sketchbook and began to draw this sketch of his son, our grandson Quen. Wow!!! I've always known Matt is very artistic but he's never had much interest in drawing. He did some fabulous acrylic paintings in college that were a bit abstract or surreal, but his artistic bend was more in photography and furniture design.

A couple of my four grown kids think my being a sketchbook artist is a silly waste of time. I have struggled with a bad self-image and lack of confidence most of my life so their opinion matters to me. But having this beautiful son of mine sit and sketch with me meant the world to me . . . And I get a gorgeous copy of the sketch to keep!

17 October 2015

virtual sketchcrawl at the beach

A collection of things I found walking along the shore.

Still space for a bit more . . .

The sand dunes behind our tents. Not sure what the flower vines are but, like morning glories, they close up in the heat of the day.

15 October 2015

Mustang Island

Just before sunset we were surrounded by color as we camp here on the beach.

Earlier, I was being watched closely by sand crabs as I sat in the shade cast by our tent, sketching.

another Texas sunrise

I'm not too happy with the way this turned out --- there were strips of white edges in the clouds that were lost in the wet-on-wet washes even as I tried to be careful. Also, the blues weren't quite what I wanted. I think I'll try it again sometime using masque to keep the whites.

14 October 2015

packing . . . sort of

Some of our family is planning a camping trip to Mustang Island State Park, so I tweaked my primaries-plus palette with colors that might be useful on the beach.

13 October 2015

a special eagle

Pigeons and chickens tend to flock together but eagles soar alone. I'm thankful that our pastor at Jubilee Christian Center in Somerville, TX flies alone with God, listening as God leads. Being gifted with communication skills, Pastor Gary Faulkner regularly shares with the congregation and others what the Lord reveals to him. Then challenges us to move forward.

This past Sunday we had a pastor's appreciation dinner, part of which was a mailbox full of personal notes --- I painted this post card for him from a photo taken at the Texas Aquarium. The eagle had once flown wild in Alaska but had been injured. The rehabilitaters determined that, though healed from his injuries, he would not survive in the wild anymore so he lives at the aquarium.

12 October 2015

Sunday's sketching

During yesterday's church service, as we sang this Chris Tomlin song, this image came to mind. But I draw what I can see, not from imagination, so after coming home I found a photo of hands. Added the sparrow because it fit the sermon.

11 October 2015

wild morning glories everywhere!

My herb and strawberry / rose beds are very dead looking thanks to the huge flooding rains followed by much higher-than-average summer heat. Just too much shock for the plants, as well as wildlife foraging for anything available. Their normal feeding areas were underwater several months so we didn't begrudge them.

But now that it's beginning to cool off (70-80 degrees), wild morning glories are popping out everywhere! And some of my roses are even making a come-back.

09 October 2015

late night sketching

Just sketching what's in front of me . . . I fudged a bit on the view, drawing it from memory since the curtains were closed and it was dark outside.

On the table are folios of Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper folded into signatures and ready to sew together. I should be doing that but I'm a bit distracted by another fire ant bite.

Bill and I were setting up a new tent so we'll know how it works ___we are planning a camping trip to Mustang beach on the Gulf of Mexico in a few weeks___ and apparently a rogue ant thought I looked yummy. Why don't they ever pick on Bill?

08 October 2015

bucket lights

Our church remodel project is nearing completion and the discipleship class will soon be meeting in this building next door to our sanctuary. Both buildings are part of the original (circa 1880's) downtown buildings of Somerville, Texas.

The interior looks sort of "vintage industrial" with an original brick wall and ceiling rafters & beams left exposed. One cool feature the work crew came up with are these unique bucket lights. After pricing various lights in the retail market, they decided to make their own out of galvanized buckets, LED lights, and a bit of chain (One of the guys is a licensed electrician).

And this is the final page in the small sketchbook I carry in my bag. It was a bit crudely put together using scrap materials and a used notebook cover but I had fun filling it.

06 October 2015

morning walking path

This is one section of the circle road I walk in early morning --- There are some VERY BIG rocks for me to stumble over.

05 October 2015

Sunday's scribbles & notes

These are some wildflowers that randomly popped up near our cabin. Seems that wildflowers are blooming here every month of the year -- you just have to look carefully.

04 October 2015


In 2006 I adopted a wheaten Scottish terrier from a Scottie rescue group. At 7 months of age, he had spent the first 6 months of his life caged in a puppy mill. The owners, to whom he was nothing but a commodity, decided they no longer wanted this breed and had plans to get rid of him when the rescue group stepped in.

A dear lady at church, Sharon Maxwell, had once been a Scottie breeder and missed having them around. In poor health now, she was unable to so I told her we would share Maxwell --- and I named him after her. She enjoyed his visits for several years before she died of cancer.

It took several years to "people" Maxwell. He was very shy at first. I walked him everywhere, taking him in new situations, and he slowly learned to trust people.

But whenever we passed young children Max would act sad, even depressed. I learned that, though the puppy mill owners ignored the dogs, they had grandchildren who always played with the puppies. So he had a special connection to children from the start and missed having them in his life.

I took Maxwell with me to Texas when Josiah was born, to help take care of Jayna and Josiah for a few months. Before returning home, Jayna asked me if Max could stay there and be her dog. How could I say no to such a sweet girl? Maxwell thrived having young children in his life once again!

This is our next Scottie, Ceilidh, during a visit to our son's home. The two loved romping together!

On Friday we lost Maxwell to cancer. He will be missed greatly. But I am so thankful that he was able to live a life of pure joy with his children.

03 October 2015

knitting a cuppa tea

Since our daughter gave me a new glass teapot with it's own infuser, I have doubled my tea consumption in the morning -- usually Earl Grey Green. I used to brew one large mug; now I drink two.

That second mug of tea cools as I enjoy the first so I am now knitting a cozy for the pot from leftover bits of wool. After knitting, it will be felted (shrunk) in the washing machine. I chose a simple half-moon shape without holes for spout and handle -- this way it fits my vintage Staffordshire pot as well.

I had lightly penciled in lines for text. Then forgot to let the ink dry before erasing the pencil. I think smudges must be my trademark, whether they be ink or paint.

01 October 2015

a sad armadillo

Recently, as I was walking the circle drive where we live, I turned a corner near some trees and came across this huge armadillo. Sadly, he was already dead -- no sign of attack or damage; he apparently got turned over on his back and could not right himself.
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