31 December 2017

walking thru the neighborhood

We live in the country, about 4 miles from one tiny town and about 12 miles from a slightly larger town. Our small lake community of about 30 houses sharing a common water well is just off of a busy farm road with lots of curves and no shoulders to walk on __not safe for walking__ so when we walk, it’s generally around the circle of homes.

The location of these two homes were at one time a busy path for local deer. We often saw them run through here if we walked early enough in the morning. But since moving here, more new residents moved in with loud barking dogs — the deer have decided to move on.

Yet, at the nd of December, we still have wildflowers! In fact, as we drove to Houston this past week, we saw huge masses of them along the roadside.

30 December 2017

Bardie making peace

When we arrived at our daughter’s home, Bardie got a hiss or two in upon confronting her dog and three cats. All very well-behaved, friendly animals but Bardie is a spoiled “only child”. We closed him up in the guest room while we ate out. Two of the cats, Pumpkin and Reece’s, were especially interested in establishing friendship with this strange, round cat but Bardie was a bit stuck up.

Later, we left the bedroom door open and just walked away. Eventually Bardie came down the stairs on his own and staked his position behind my chair, sitting on the low fireplace ledge. At least he no longer growled when cats came up to greet him.

I think Bardie prefers their scratching post to his own, even if he has to get on tiptoe to reach the top.

By yesterday evening, he came seeking them out, wanting to play. That’s him peeking up at them in the above photo. Pumpkin, a gorgeous red Maine Coon, is in his favorite spot above Mikala’s head, part-Maine Coon Mocha is giving himself a bath to the far right, and Reece’s the rescued street cat is ready to play with Bardie. Later, each of them took turns chasing and playing together, while ignoring Bradley, the Great Pyrenees / golden retriever mix. Bardie even got to where he didn’t flinch as much when Bradley barked Very Loudly.

28 December 2017

on the road

Bardie Mac is perfectly content to go for a drive with us. Little does he know that there is a large dog and three cats at the end of the journey. 🙀

26 December 2017

more Liliput fun

When I first received my brass Liliput fountain pen, I tried it out with the blue water-soluble ink that came with it. Fun to use to break in the pen but the color ran too much to use with watercolor, and I’m not that fond of sketching in blue ink.

I tried a couple of international-size short converters but neither one worked well with this particular pen, so I used a blunt-tip syringe to clean and refill the cartridge that came with the pen. I filled it with a dark gray ink that I had mixed of leftover Noodler’s Polar Black and Polar Brown, making a slightly more subtle color for standard sketching than using a harsh black ink.

Then I began looking at what refill cartridges are available for this pen. I love the “antique” feel of sketching in a water-soluble brown ink and watercolor. So I ordered three shades of brown ink from Jet Pens: Terra de Feu and Lie de The from J. Herbin, and a brown from Colte (this brand is 10 cartridges for only $2.80!).

I have tried the Lie de The before and love the subtle golden cast, something like a raw sienna. The Terra de Feu is a bit redder than the coppery brown I was looking for. But surprisingly, the very cheap brown cartridge ink from Colte is perfect — a burnt sienna / coppery color (Hmm . . . would be lovely in a second Liliput in copper, wouldn’t it?).

I tried each color ink on this 2-page spread, then had to leave it before getting to test watercolor. So the ink actually had all day to dry before finishing the test. When I came back to it, the ink on its own bled quite a bit with a waterbrush. But when I added watercolor to the quick apple sketches, there was very little bleed — just a subtle effect. I like all three colors, so will have fun with them over the next few weeks.

25 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!  2 Cor. 9:15

Have a richly blessed Christmas, dear friends!

24 December 2017

continuing to play with Liliput

I am still playing with my new fountain pen, a Kaweco Liliput — finding any excuse to write or draw with it. On the left side of this spread, I sketched my favorite hair clips. These beaded wire clips are based on those old leather and wooden stick things we wore in the late 1960s - early 1970s, designed by Lilla Rose. I found them at a local Bluebonnet Festival the year we moved here.

Then I drew my minimal sketch kit. Because the Liliput is so tiny (easy to lose) and rolls off surfaces, I bought a wee leather sleeve to store it in. There’s also room to store a travel watercolor brush next to it, in case I come across a glass of water while out sketching.

Basically: a small soft-cover Stillman & Birn sketchbook, the Pocket Palette, a waterbrush, my Liliput and travel brush, and a folded paper towel.

23 December 2017

autumn’s last hurrah

Though it is now technically winter, we spotted these last jewels of autumn during a walk this week. A bit more color than is usual in our mild climate where even some of the oak trees are evergreen.

22 December 2017

Shirley’s hand

Our friend Sandie is dealing with some very tough stuff. Her mother Shirley, a good friend of both Bill’s and mine since we were teenagers, is living with dementia. Her husband George is also on the downward slide, but not as deep as Shirley. And hers is a “mean” form; she says cruel things to her daughter that she would never say or mean if her mind was lucid.

Sandie recently posted a photo on Facebook that I used to sketch this memory in my journal.

20 December 2017

at Macy’s game . . .

Yesterday we went to our young friend Macy’s basketball game in Caldwell — she’s a freshman playing on the junior varsity team. While watching the game, I sketched a nearby parent who was watching her phone instead of the game.

Macy’s team won, 53 / 10!

18 December 2017

a Mustang Island sunrise

After jotting down the quotes on the left page, I went through old photos to find something that fit. This sunrise view is from a photo I took of our grandson Quen walking along the surf on Mustang Island. We camped on the beach a couple of years ago and the sunrises were spectacular!

16 December 2017

testing pen nibs with a mug of cocoa

Yesterday I made some peanut butter fudge at our son Matt’s request; our daughter Kristen is hosting a family tamale-making day at her house and we all brought nibbles. After making fudge, I usually make myself a mug of hot cocoa, which I swish around in the empty marshmallow jar to melt the remains into. I make my own cocoa mix with powdered milk, a good quality dry cocoa, and stevia — mine is more chocolatey and less sugary than premixed kinds.

My cocoa mug is a delicate bone china mug that my daughter and granddaughter found at a British import store; they know I love Scottish Terriers! I didn’t want it stained with tea, so I only use it for cocoa.

The reason for the above sketch was trying out a variety of fountain pen nibs. I was looking for a more flexible nib with good line variability. I would love a fountain pen nib that performs like the Zebra G nibs in my dip pen, which is not convenient to carry with me.

Then I remembered altering a very cheap JinHao pen to hold one of my Zebra G nibs. So I dug it out of the back of my pen drawer and inked it up. Things were going well until I was half-way through the header . . . then I looked down to see my fingers covered with ink and no ink on the paper . . .

Oh yeah, that’s the reason I quit using that pen!

12 December 2017

a bit of Christmas

Yesterday, I sketched a very small portion of a floral arrangement at church. Several of us gather there on Monday mornings to pray for any specific needs we become aware of. I waited unti, this morning to add watercolor.

I’ve never been one to enjoy formal floral arrangements, either to paint or to receive. I prefer wildflowers in their natural setting, or perhaps a single rose that my husband cuts and brings inside to fill our home with the lovely fragrance. (We only grow antique types of roses that maintain the original scents placed there by the Creator.) But sketching just a wee bit of an arrangement is fun.

11 December 2017

tweaking . . .

I’m still using the same palette of watercolors that filled the top of the first page, but thanks to Maria of Expeditionary Art creating a new half pan size, I have added a couple more colors to my pocket palette: phthalo green for mixing and indanthrone blue just because I like it.

Having smaller amounts of phthalo blue and phthalo green just make sense, as powerful as these pigments are. You really need only a very tiny bit.

Now that I look at this new layout, I’m thinking I could easily get by with a smaller size of buff titanium as well. But what additional color would I add?

10 December 2017

a view out my window

A simple sketch of the view out my cabin window as yard shadows began their spread across the yard. I’ve had a persistent cough left over from allergies and the cough is causing a back ache . . . so I drew this without much thought as I relaxed on the couch.

08 December 2017

old geezers

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Bill and his buddies from church meet in Lions, TX for coffee. And a bit of breakfast for those who wish it. We affectionately refer to them as the “old geezers”, though a couple of them are only in their 50’s. Sometimes wives come along —

Yesterday I went with Bill, as we were heading to doctor appointments directly afterwards. (him, for pain management medication, and me for scalp psoriasis — my hair once fell out due to this and I still fight it at times). As we drank our coffee (make that TEA for me), I did a continuous line drawing of the things in front of me. My “critics” mentioned that I forgot the spoon next to these things which the waitress always brings with my hot mug of water, even though I never stir anything into my tea. I bring my own tea bags and she keeps bringing me mugs of hot water.

07 December 2017

a palette with fountain pen

I finally managed to put together a watercolor palette that my new Liliput fountain pen fits in.

Instead of my regular Schminke travel palette, I decided to use this flatter metal box from Daler Rowney. The new-and-improved metal pans from Expeditionary Art are just right —- I can even fit extra tiny pans in of colors I like but don’t use as much.

This is what the box looks like closed.

I removed the paints and plastic divider that came in the box, then attached 2 business-card magnets in the bottom of the box.

And here are the fountain pen and travel brush opened and ready to use.

06 December 2017

kitten games

Bardie Mac has to be the most playful kitten I’ve ever met. He’s always ready for a boxing match with Bill, standing on hind legs as he punches Bill’s fingers, or a fast-running game of soccer —- which used to be played with wadded-up balls of paper but is now played with ping pong balls. At a recent high school volleyball game, some of the players tossed small toy balls into the crowd and Bill caught one — that has become Bardie’s as well.

He also loves playing “tag, you’re It!” with me, softly grabbing my legs in a bear hug before running off, wanting me to chase him. I run after him and tag his fuzzy back . . . if I can! Then he pretends not to care until he can catch me again.

I often pick up this aqua scrap of baby blanket, placing it inside one of his cubbies or onto the cat tree. He hunts for it and eventually drags it back to his favorite night sleeping spot, the floor at the foot of our bed next to his scratching post. He often uses the base of the post for a pillow!

The scrap of blanket came with Bardie from his breeder. She gives a new baby blanket to each litter of kittens; a piece is cut off to be sent home with each adoption to calm the kitten as it adjusts to its new home, having the scent of its mother and litter mates on it. At 9 months old, the scent is probably long gone now, but Bardie still loves his blankie.

04 December 2017

my other early Christmas gift

Yesterday while watching a movie with Bill, I did a quick sketch of my new toy in its case.

My iPad was a third generation; new enough to run some cool apps like Paper 53 but so old there were no updates and other, newer programs no longer worked. So Bill bought me a new iPad Mini 4 with a monthly internet plan. It was given to me early so I could load everything on it, then cancel my internet service with Hughes. Accessing the internet through this tablet costs less than half of what Hughes cost and is unlimited (Hughes was metered). I love the smaller size! Fits in my bag and easier to read ebooks at night without my hands getting tired holding it. There's a night setting for the backlight to prevent eye strain --- after all, I mostly use it for reading.

03 December 2017

a commissioned sketch

After the October art sale that nobody came to, a friend of a friend contacted me through Facebook. Somehow she had seen some of my sketches and wondered if I might draw her Christmas card this year.

She is a realtor and recently sold this charming cottage, and thought it would make a cute card. So I drew it for her; she's buying the original and, after printing cards, she will gift it to the homeowners.
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