30 September 2016

getting ready for Inktober

Liz Steel's recent blog post inspired me to join in with sketchers all over the world participating in Inktober --- a challenge to draw and post one ink sketch a day for the 31 days of October. Since I just began watching Paul Heaston's Craftsy class, "Pen & Ink Essentials", the timing seems perfect.

I meant for my grandma's sewing rocker, which has been in my bedroom since high school, to be a simple contour drawing. But having a 'thing' for plaid, I just had to add that to the shawl thrown over the back. I also found out how messy I can be with juicy-wet ink!

For a recent 'snack and yack' gathering at our church, Ms B.J. once again made special creations -- this time, pumpkins made of cheese and tangerines. I love the stems she added, made of a bell pepper stem and stalks &a leaves of celery.

28 September 2016

randomness, in search of autumn

On the left side of this spread, I continued to play with my Sailor Fude de Mannen pen. It is amazingly easy to switch from the broad strokes of the bent nib to comfortably writing with a very fine line. The ink is the water-soluble cartridge that came with the pen. As soon as it is empty, I will refill it using a syringe with a water-resistant ink.

Autumn arrived here on a day still in the 90s. The common trees in our woods are a variety of oaks, pines, and cedar. Even some of the oaks are 'evergreen' so we don't see much autumn color. But I found a bit of color during a recent walk.

27 September 2016

Sailor fude, water-soluble ink and a muted palette

Last week we went to a Houston greenhouse in search of tomato plants for a fall garden. Up till yesterday, it's been in the 90s here in central Texas and we had heard that there are two growing seasons here, before and after the big summer heat.

We found no tomatoes there . . . Apparently fall gardens are put out in August and they had sold out. But we were able to find some nearby at Home Depot. Bill also found this purple leafed perennial ground cover he wants for the planting box he built next to his woodshop's porch. We're trying a couple of these plants, along with some tiny pink lilies our friend Ron recently gave us, to see if either one likes the location. And whether the deer like them. Whichever wins gets to fill the bed.

I'm continuing to play with my inexpensive Sailor fude de Mannen pen with its water-soluble ink cartridge. When the cartridge is used up, I plan to fill it with a water-resistant ink using a syringe. I also used my muted granulating earth watercolors on the plant . . . then wished I hadn't. The leaves and flower should have been a bit brighter.

24 September 2016

rehabbing an old friend

Last year I took my vintage Prang box, refit with my own choice of tube watercolors in pans, to Mustang Island, camping with the family. With it being so exceptionally windy and the sandy beach so fine, my paint box was literally sand-blasted -- a real mess! Not sure what to do with it, I set it aside.

This month, I finally took the paint pans out, cleaning them as best as I could with damp paper towels; most of the paint was still good. Then I sanded the inside surfaces with the fine-grade sandpaper that came on my pencil-sharpening block. 

I taped off the black edges with masking tape to keep them black. The black finish was worn with age even before the beach trip.

After several thin layers of white enamel spray paint, the inside is clean and ready to go. Pans were set in place with a dab of rubber cement, leaving room for a blue-gray watercolor pencil and a #7 round sable travel brush. My tweaked color choices:

permanent rose, pyrrole scarlet
quinacridone gold, Hansa yellow light
sap green
cerulean chromium blue, ultramarine blue
yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber
mixed gray (ultramarine and burnt umber, stirred together)

and half pans of:
Indian red, perylene green, and buff titanium.

22 September 2016

more Epsilon testing

My new Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook has a smooth plate surface and is designed primarily for pen & ink or pencil. But I decided to test really soppy-wet wet-in-wet watercolor on a page to see what happens. Then I thought, why not see how masking tape and liquid masking fluid work as well? Water literally floated on the surface as I dropped in a few granulating watercolors and let them move around.

As you can see, it did remarkably well! After the paper dried, there was very little warping. The masking tape pulled up without any damage to the page's edge. Even the liquid mask _would_ have worked . . . I thought it was completely dry (the surface felt dry), but apparently there was one spot the under layer was still damp enough that rubbing the mask off tore the paper.

I was using this older set of granulating earth colors that I put together a few years ago. These colors just sing to me "Autumn!"

Later at church, I was fiddling around on the back of this page with several fountain pens. The extreme wet treatment of the painted side did not effect the back side's paper at all!

19 September 2016

a new bag

I think I finally found a large bag that does not feel like a large bag. Big enough to carry a large sketchbook and even my iPad, yet very light-weight canvas. And lots of convenient pockets in locations that work for me.

I tried a wet-in-wet wash on this 2-page spread of my new Stillman & Birn Epsilon book, seeing how much ripple the paper might give. Apparently not very much. This is using the granulating earth palette I just put together, though I removed the mixed gray and replaced it with Daniel Smith's Lunar Blue. Still gives a feeling of black or dark gray, but a bit livelier.

15 September 2016

new toys

I received two new sketching toys, so of course I had to draw them! 

Bill's cousins, Mike and Georgie, came for a visit last week from Missouri. Mike makes gorgeous wood pen and pencil sets on a small lathe --- he gave me this mechanical pencil made of birdseye  maple. It feels wonderfully sleek and light in my hand!

Then I received a Sailor fude de Mannen calligraphy pen. Someone on Facebook posted about it and I was wanting to try it out. Like my Hero M86, it has a bent nib. I compared the two a bit on this page; the Sailor fude is much easier to manipulate in my hand and the ink feed is a bit smoother. Right now it is loaded with the water-soluble ink cartridge it came with --- rather than find a converter, I plan on using this cartridge up, then filling it with water-resistant ink using a syringe.

14 September 2016

new journal, first pages

I still have one more un-used hand-bound journal on my shelf, but this time I decided to use this Epsilon sketchbook from Stillman & Birn that a dear friend gave to me. The paper is made more for ink than watercolor, but light not-too-juicy washes work well on it. And my fountain pens simply glide over the smooth paper!

Every one of Stillman & Birn products are a dream to use, and the binding lasts no matter how rough I get with it.

As always, I drew my current sketching palette on the first page. Actually, this is the second 2-page spread -- I left the inside covers blank for collecting random quotes. Lately I have been carrying a larger purse than my norm, allowing me to carry a full-size sketchbook and this pocket art toolkit from Expeditionary Art inside the bag. Smaller bags only hold my tools and I carry the book separately. 

In the kit are two fountain pens (one with water-resistant ink and one with water-soluble ink), a waterbrush, two travel brushes (a #8 round and a dagger), a mechanical pencil and tiny case holding a kneaded eraser, a tiny stencil brush for spattering, a shortened white pencil, a shortened blue-gray watercolor pencil, a re-usable towel for wiping, and two pocket palettes, also from Expeditionary Art. I can switch out either of these palettes with a third one: one holds a basic warm/cool limited palette, one holds granulating earth colors, and one holds gouache. Not shown is a 4th set I made myself using a business card case that holds a basic palette of 14 paints.

Just after putting together my pocket palette set of granulating earth colors, Jane Blundell posted one she put together . . . so I had a bit of fun comparing our sets side-by-side. I have a set of Daniel Smith color dots that I used for the colors she uses that I don't own. She also recently put together a set for urban sketching along with some suggested options, so I added that just for fun.

I think I am done trying to post using my camera and computer. Overnight, the editing program used to adjust for bad lighting, crop photos, etc. changed yet again. The new format is not as user-friendly for me; my iPad is much easier and I can use it anywhere wi-fi is available.

08 September 2016

practicing faces & this journal's end

One area of sketching that is pretty weak for me is capturing a person's likeness. Drawing faces in general is a challenge, and the chance that they will actually look like the person is very slim. So on this last toned page of this journal, I tried to draw from a photo I found online . . . and, no, it does not look like the person in the photo.

I would love to be able to capture my family members or friends in the light, seemingly effortless manner I see some of my artist friends sketching in. (Cathy Johnson comes to mind!) Why is it so hard for me? I know I tend to "niggle" it too much, but the likeness-thing always alludes me.

The inside cover's end papers were blank when I began this journal, except for the white strip with my palette choices. Bit by bit, as I work my way through a book, I add random quotes, this time in white gel pen since the paper was so dark. (That Field Notes book is covering my personal contact info in case the book is lost.)

And here is the back end paper --- the stickers are identifying the toned papers I included among the regular pages of Fabriano Artistico CP paper I used to make this book. I tested a limited palette and some inks on the white strip.

04 September 2016

playing in black & white

Over the past several days I have been using just black and white ink in this Field Notes memo book, along with a bit of Lexington gray ink in a brush pen. Easy for spur-of-the-moment sketches on-the-go.

This is a new friend, Heather, who sat in front of us Wednesday night. Her name is also my favorite flower. Bill used to buy me heather each spring, and I tried to grow it once. Probably too hot to grow in central Texas.

This vineyard shrub grows behind our cabin -- not sure what it is. I drew this sprig as Bill drove us to College Station in a very bumpy truck ride. I was returning an unneeded router to Best Buy.

And this is from this morning in church . . . We usually sit near the back, so I see the back of people's heads. Easier than drawing their faces!
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