30 November 2015

Saturday in Nacogdoches

Following our Thanksgiving gathering, we drove Jeff back to college over the weekend. The undergrowth trees in Davy Crockett National Forest is showing a lot more color than trees in our area in central Texas. Many leaves such as this red one are misformed but still lovely colors.

We ate lunch at the Mexican cafe around the corner from his apartment, where I drew a Very Wonky Window where customers can watch the employees make fresh tortillas. I was visually drawn to that stack of flour and cornmeal bags!

28 November 2015

one last quote from Sherlock and what to read next

This random quote from Sherlock Holmes ___ I just finished reading every case of his ever published ___ speaks of old fashioned moss roses. None of my roses are blooming presently, it having been a very tough year for gardening, but I have lantana blooming in abundance! So I added my favorite color to the page.

On the other side, the current "to-be-read" stack of books on my nightstand. Not counting a time-travel book our daughter loaned me -- it's in the drawer so the cat won't lick the edges. Also not counting 8 or 9 books on the shelf from the used book store. Or the multiples of ebooks on my Kindle.

I'm actually currently reading two of these in the stack; I often have 2 or 3 books going at the same time of different genres. At the moment, the top book about Victorian missionary Lilias Trotter, and The Urban Sketcher by Marc Holmes.

27 November 2015

why no, I did not need another travel palette . . .

But I put a new one together anyway! This is a flat metal Auqufine box from Daler Rowney with the plastic insert removed. I attached two business card magnets inside so it will hold the metal "jumbo" pans from Expeditionary Art, leaving just enough room for a squirrel travel brush and shortened Cotman rigger brush.

True to form, as soon as I painted the color chart, I thought of making a change: ultramarine blue and indanthrone blue make similar mixes so I might exchange it for a raw umber. Or two smaller pans of raw umber and buff titanium.

And here is my most recent sketch bag and travel kit: 

The light-weight tie-die bag with Celtic knot has a very wide shoulder strap -- I have narrow shoulders and this stays in place comfortably. It is also long enough to cross my body if I wish; it's actually a shopping bag. Much lighter than most of my smaller bags and holds any size sketchbook. Even room for a sweater or my favorite plaid wrap for cooler days.

I found the pocket protector on Amazon to hold pencil and pens. The zip bag holds paper towels, palette, waterbrushes, eraser, and a smaller plastic proxy-brush container that holds three half-pans: two watercolors matching my shades of ink plus a white gouache.

In case the text is hard to read in the photo, the upper left are two quotes from Sherlock Holmes:

"To the man who loves art for its own sake," remarked Sherlock Holmes, tossing aside the advertisement sheet of The Daily Telegraph, "it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived . . ."
(from 'The Copper Beeches')

"Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms."
(from 'The Greek Interpreter')

25 November 2015

bowl of blessings

Every November our church has what is called Bowl of Blessings where everyone brings a dish that is eaten from a bowl such as soups or chili. But before we are allowed to eat, every person present must tell the others something they are thankful for. Even the tiniest child (who usually mumbles a short word or two). One of the things we are constantly thankful for is finding such a wonderful church family to share with.

I sketched these table decorations at this year's celebration this past Sunday.

22 November 2015

virtual sketchcrawl, 21 Nov.

Having lots to do on Saturday, which was  Artist's Journal Workshop's virtual sketchcrawl, I stayed close to home. Between stripping and documenting our worn-down mattress for warranty replacement, laundry, baking a pie for church, getting ready for Thanksgiving, and computer bookkeeping, I stepped out into our yard to draw these mushrooms. They are actually more orange than shown here; for some reason the orange watercolor shades don't photograph true to color. 

This is only half of our "crop" of these gorgeous fungi --- I love how they look more like large fluted-edge flowers!

21 November 2015

another random leaf

After a full day in College Station this past week (we actually went there and back again twice in one day!), I picked up this pretty-but-torn leaf in the road and just had to paint it.

We drove to this town roughly 30 miles away to meet with a Scott & White medical insurance representative. Our current Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is forcing everyone to go to an HMO plan . . . which would be okay except they don't recognize our doctors or any of the fine nearby hospitals. They would force us to drive 1 1/2 to 2 hours away for the nearest allowable hospital!

After signing up for the new insurance plan (about $300 less per month than we currently pay, though we now pay a bit more in prescriptions), we had several errands to run. There are stores in College Station that are not in our small town of Brenham, such as Target, Kohl's, and Petsmart where I picked up an updated dog tag for Ceilidh. She now lives with our son, Jeff, but they don't have a tag machine in his small town either.

After buying groceries and returning home, we returned to College Station to celebrate a dear friend's birthday at Pei Wei. Then ate too much when we decided to go out for pie and coffee (tea for me) at Cracker Barrel. A busy but fun day!

20 November 2015

last Friday's road trip

Last week a group of us drove to Lakewood Church in Houston to attend Joyce Meyer's conference. Traffic was horrible but we had a great time anyway. Thank God Ms. B.J. knew how to get there and where to park! I roughly sketched some things in my journal in pencil along with jotting down some notes --- then took the rest of the week to clean the pencil mess up and add a bit of color.

Afterwards we couldn't drive home the way we came due to Highway 290 being closed after 10:00 pm for ongoing construction. We were also hungry! Debbie showed us an alternate route to Cypress but by then nearly every place to eat was closing and those still open were crowded. Finally ate at an IHOP, which was closing soon. A very long night! Arrived home around 2:00 am. Fun adventure though!

19 November 2015

a new beginning

I've worked a few pages into a new art journal in the past week but haven't finished some of the sketches yet. Meanwhile, this is the book --- handbound of Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press paper inside (plus a few toned pages of Mi-teintes), covered with handmade papyrus I found at Jerry's Artarama in Austin, the spine made of simple bookcloth I made from cotton fabric.

BTW, that book "bracelet" bookmark looked so beautiful against the papyrus, I decided to use it to hold the book closed in my bag.

And as usual, I began the new book with a palette sketch. Or rather, three palettes since they were all on the table in front of me. The inside facings are leftover Mi-teintes paper; watercolor looks more like gouache on this paper but I only used a bit of white gouache on the palette tins.

16 November 2015

the end of the journal

During the long dry summer, we let our small garden die off. There was a burn ban throughout this area so we never bothered to clear out the dead plants and new weeds that popped up.

Now Autumn rains have been plenteous, the burn ban has been lifted, and we gathered the dead stuff for burning . . . and found these three large tomatoes! Oddly, they were the best tasting of the whole year. Made a great pot of chili!

Months ago I wrote out the words to my favorite hymn on the final page of this leather-wrapped journal, thinking that I would later add some illuminated decoration on the border. But now I think I'll just leave it as-is. Maybe I'll come back to it someday.

15 November 2015

a sunrise, redone

This is a re-do from a photo of a previously painted sunrise that didn't work out. I'm still not very happy with it . . . But every time I try, I'm learning a bit more.

I tried using two brands of masking fluid here. The one from Daniel Smith was a bit globby going on, dried patchy, and tore the paper in places when removed. In a few smaller places, I tried a new Molotow masking pen. This one really works well, though it looks a bit weird being blue.

14 November 2015

frivolous foolin' around

After recent events in France, this post seems too frivolous. But I am trying to post each of the remaining sketches from my leather-wrapped journal before moving on to the new one. After jotting down some artist quotes I wished to remember, I just scribbled down the palettes and brushes laying before me.

I began working in a new journal yesterday (a square case-bound book covered with papyrus), but the sketches were done in messy pencil at Joyce Meyer's Houston conference. I need to clean up my notes and sketches before posting them.

13 November 2015

a few more leaves

A few of us ladies from church met at Ms. Billig's house this past week in order to clean it for her. And in her driveway, I found some red leaves --- not a colorful red as the maples in Kansas but red enough to make me wish to paint them!

12 November 2015

Veterans Day in Pflugerville

Our grandson Quen invited Bill to take part in his school's Veterans Day program. We thought it would be something like we've been to in the past, such as special concerts where at one point they ask all veterans to stand and everyone applauds.

Wrong! All veterans attending where grabbed before entering the auditorium, then they all entered together, each with their own branch of service, and sat in special seats on the stage. There was one vet present who had served in World War II as well as several active service men and women. 

After the special speakers and music, there was a reception in the foyer, then we went to Quen's third grade classroom, where Bill talked to the kids about going through boot camp and school, then serving on a subtender, repairing submarines. The kids had some hilarious responses to some of Bill's questions! Such as the difference between a ship (the subtender) and a boat (what they called the fast attack subs): boats move by oars and ships need wind in their sails. Bill grinned and told them he's not quite __that__ old!

11 November 2015

boxes, boxes, and more boxes

It will soon be the gift-giving time of year and, living in the country away from shopping centers, a lot of my shopping is done online. Nearly everyday the mailman has been bringing another box or two.

We do quite a lot of our regular shopping this way now. Everything from grain-free cat food and vitamins to my favorite brand of tea. All found easier __and cheaper__ by ordering online.

10 November 2015

a bit more of Autumn

Most of our circle's trees are still holding on to their leaves and green. In fact, recent rains seem to have given them fresh life. But I was able to find these interesting leaves yesterday during a morning walk.

09 November 2015

a random sketch, my favorite skirt

This long knit skirt has become my favorite skirt. But what a weird hem! Or rather, lack of hem. After I bought it, I realized that there was no hem --- the lower edge just curls up. I asked the seller about it and she said it's supposed to be this way, that this is what's popular now. Seems strange but the skirt is so very comfortable!

08 November 2015

turkey season

The summer dry spell with its burn bans is over and we are once again in the very wet season. So wet that a few camp sites at the lake are under water . . . again. Due to flooding last May, the lake was closed from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Wishing to see how things looked at the lake, we recently drove to Somerville by the back road which goes over the dam. As we drove through the town we saw a yard full of wild turkeys. There must have been over a dozen of them! We were on our way to meet friends so all I had time for was a quick photo with my iPod.

05 November 2015


I was being discreet. Really I was! We dropped in at Just Like Heaven for lunch (I had a yummy Mexican quiche!) where I began to draw the Western Auto sign. It's been a long time since I've seen one!

I continued on to draw the old guys sitting in the booth, being careful to look away as much as possible (causing them to look a bit wonky). But as they got up to leave, one of them came over to me and said they had been teasing about who was the handsome one I was sketching. I was busted! And a bit embarrassed to be caught in the act, even though I know it's silly to feel that way.

03 November 2015

Sunday's sketching in church

While jotting down notes on Sunday morning, I had an urge to draw a lion to illustrate the message. So I googled a photo on line . . . Later on, I plan to do a watercolor of the lion so I decided to leave this as just an ink sketch. 

As a child, my favorite animal to visit at the zoo was a lion named Rufus. This was at Wichita's old Riverside Park zoo. The year I got married (1972) and moved to San Diego, CA, Wichita was building a new zoo and sent Rufus into 'retirement' to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. So my old friend followed me! I remember a photo in the newspaper of him afraid to come out of his travel cage. He had been captive in a concrete cage so long, he didn't know what freedom to roam the new park was like. Also, waiting outside the cage were several young lionesses checking him out!


Finally finished binding these new journals. Now back to working in my current one . . .

02 November 2015

book binding

Today I'm finishing up on binding a few sketchbook journals. I would have finished on Saturday but ran out of glue. I normally use old-fashioned Elmer's glue, a bit thinned with water --- easier to find!

Two books are finished, seen in the lower left. I used 2 sheets of Fabriano Artistico 140 # cold press watercolor paper per each of the larger (7 3/4 x 8") books, adding a few pages of toned Mi-teintes to each. One sheet of the Artistico paper makes up each smaller (5 3/4" square) book. Covers are from two sheets of hand-made decorative paper I found at Jerry's Artarama in Austin -- the tan one is papyrus! The bookcloth on the spines is leftover from previous bindings that I made myself ironing a paper substance to cotton.

Not having any mull cloth, I used thin cotton fabric cut from an old cloth diaper to strengthen the spine on the larger books. For the smaller ones, I'm trying some open-weave dry-wall tape -- probably not archival but is that really important to me? I don't expect my family to care about my art journals after I'm gone.

To dry glued pieces under weights, I use a heavy book (Lord of the Rings, illustrated edition here) and two antique sad irons. 

One tool I've found really helpful is this glue spreader from Rockler's woodworking supply. Bill ordered one once but they sent two by mistake so I got one. The "brush" is soft flexible silicone and works great; the other end can be used like a bone folder to crease the edges of the paper and smooth the glued bits down.

I mostly get my "how to's" on bookbinding from Gwen Diehn's book, Real Life Journals: Designing & Using Handmade Books. But there are many other good instructional books and YouTube videos out there.

01 November 2015

now available for pre-order!

Cathy Johnson (aka Kate) has a new book coming out and I am blessed to be included as one of the sketchbook artists! Now available for preorder on Amazon
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