19 October 2018

my cats are mighty hunters!

And some “prey” I’d really rather they leave alone! Today I found the remains of another scorpion they caught during the night — that makes 4 in the past month or two.

Actually, two of them were still alive; I have taken to using a flashlight if I walk around in the dark at night.

I’m not sure how to convince these silly kitties that these are not safe to play with.

18 October 2018

Baylor, Scott and White clinic


Today’s Inktober sketch — back to the clinic for Bill’s cardio rehab. Only three more appointments and he’s done! Meanwhile, I decided to sketch outside from the parking lot instead of the waiting room. That’s the hospital building towards the back on the right.

Best Lil’ Hairhouse in Texas


Bill and I had both been needing haircuts but have been too busy with rehab and doctor appointments. Yesterday I sketched while Rosie cut Bill’s hair . . . but it took a lot longer to finish that crazy zebra pattern!

16 October 2018

another waiting room sketch


Just a simple sketch of a patient waiting in the physical rehab department, this time using a Pentel Pocketbrush Pen. I think the man was getting a cast removed from his leg, as he had brought along another shoe. He moved around a lot as I started sketching; perhaps he guessed what I was doing?

15 October 2018

to be read . . .


I love books. Whether they are bound books or ebooks, it doesn’t matter — I have large lists of books of both varieties “to be read”. Many of the bound books are found at used book stores. This is only one small stack of books waiting for me. From the top down, these titles are:

The Broonies, Silkies and Fairies by Duncan Williamson
The New Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories edited by Ian Murray
Reportage and Documentary Drawing by Veronica Lawlor
Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower
In Season by Wayne Jacobsen
Good Morning, Holy Spirit by Benny Hinn
It Was Good; Making Art to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard

14 October 2018

tea at church

Finally we are back in church, for both discipleship class and the regular service. Bill is no longer feeling weak and lightheaded since they took him off of blood pressure medicine (that he apparently did not need).

I really should bring my own cup from home for my tea — it would certainly be more interesting than a styrofoam cup!

13 October 2018

a simple contour line


It’s been a busy day so for today’s ink drawing, I did a simple contour line of my two new journal binders, with no pencil guidelines. Just letting the slow ink lines help me relax . . .

new (temporary) journals


Even though I’m not quite halfway through the two Stillman & Birn sketchbooks I’m currently using (an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2” Zeta and a 3 1/2” x 5 1/2” tan toned Nova), I spent today putting together two new sketchbook journals using papers I had stashed away. Cathy Johnson has started a new “Sketch With Me! group on Facebook, and recently challenged members to put together some simple sketchbooks. She included video instructions for a simple no-sew folding journal.

I went a different route: recently I purchased a cool leather binder that held removable folios by using elastic bands. Each page equals 4 1/4 x 8 1/4” — a rather odd format on its own but working across a two-page spread makes the working surface roughly a square. I removed the lightweight writing papers it came with and cut Fabriano Artistico and Stonehenge watercolor papers to fit. For now, these folios will be held in place with the elastic bands (no sewing!), but after they are done, I can sew the folios together and make a new permanent cover for this new journal. And then I can fill the leather cover with new papers.


I had an unused package of a lovely textured Khadi paper that I didn’t want to cut down smaller. But when each paper is folded in half, the resulting folios fit this old leather cover to the planner I used years ago. Extra elastic bands can be found on Amazon so I just need to buy four of them to hold the folios in this binder, whose pages measure 6 x 8 1/2”.



12 October 2018

some autumn color . . . in rocks


Today I was just in the mood for color in my daily ink sketch. So I picked up some rocks as Bill and I walked the circle drive where we live. (OK, only half the circle but it’s progress — Bill is not light-headed any more since the doctor dropped his blood pressure medicine.) The small rock in front looks very dark in the photo — it is actually a bright red jasper.

The ink sketch is with a sepia ink that I mixed from Noodler’s polar black and polar brown. But the rich watercolors in my earthy granulating set seem to take over, obliterating the ink lines!


11 October 2018

an October rose


We still have some deep red old-fashioned roses blooming next to our cabin door. The expected thing in sketching one is to use watercolor . . . so I tried to capture it using only black ink.

Not sure if I like the result or not, but it was a fun try!

10 October 2018

waiting at cardio rehab


Sitting at sketching once again at Baylor, Scott & White clinic, College Station . . .
No matter how careful I am, I end up smearing the ink at some point.


By the time I added color, my “model” had left.

09 October 2018

wild lantana

I found this lantana growing wild between some of our oak trees. When we bought the cabin, the previous owners had planted several cultured varieties of lantana around the patio — every one of them died when the past two winters turned colder than normal. But this wild version blooms on . . .


This late in the year, the lantana has more berries than blooms on it!

08 October 2018

“artist dude” Lego


Some days, I’m just too tired to sketch much. Nothing big going on today; just normal chores and errands to run. I really should plan on doing my daily Inktober sketch earlier in the day, not after I’ve rn out of steam! This Lego artist dude lives on my bookshelf next to books published by Cathy Johnson, Danny Gregory, Hannah Hinchman, Andrea Joseph, Nina Johansson, Liz Steel, and a few other online artists.

07 October 2018

soon-to-be kitchen lights!


I’ve finally caught up with the actual date of the Inktober challenge! I’m not following the official drawing prompts and I began a few days late, but this sketch is my #7 drawing and I actually drew it on the 7th!

When we bought our log cabin, it had lots of ”fru-fru” type lights and decor  — even a silly chandelier! Definitely NOT our preferred style for a rustic log cabin in the woods! One by one, we have made changes that better fit a simple country cabin.

The current kitchen lights are frilly-looking glass shades on lots of chains — chains that collect lots of grease and dust! After thinking through lots of ideas and visiting lots of antique shops for inspiration, Bill found a vintage chicken feeder and milk strainer on Etsy. He plans to wire them with LED lights and hang them upside-down from the log rafters: the large milk strainer as the central light and the chicken feeder as a task light over our main work area.

more from the bookshelf


Another section of my bookshelf, this one features vintage editions of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, tourist copies featuring illuminated manuscript and bits from the Book of Kells, several Bibles,  and some tiny books that just fit the space. Our bookshelf fits snug under a log ladder-stairway so the left side of each shelf tapers down to a sharp angle.

My wee Lego bagpiper stands guard.

06 October 2018

on the shelf . . .


After a busy day with friends stopping by to visit as well as friends helping mow our yard and haul away trash bags, driving into Brenham to  refill one of Bill’s prescriptions, and other regular tasks, all I had the energy for was a quick ink sketch. So I drew some items on our built-in bookshelf. The knitting is up there next to the clock when I’m not working on it to avoid my very active kitten, Scottie, from adding a few stitches of his own.

05 October 2018

a random sketch for Inktober

Today was a busy errand-running day, plus my 6-month eye exam. Dr. Horton switched one of my eye drops from the once-a-day gel-forming solution to a twice-a-day liquid version —- and I couldn’t believe the difference in price! Even with insurance, 5 ml. of the old one had raised in price to $98 (which lasted me almost 4 months since I only needed it in one eye); the new one is $8 for 10 ml. without insurance! (These plus another type of bedtime eye drops are to treat glaucoma.)



Anyway, instead of putting a lot of thought into what to sketch today, I kept it simple and drew the eye drops, old and new. And jotted down a quote I read today from last month’s issue of “Drawing Attention”, Urban Sketchers’ online magazine.


04 October 2018

Inktober #2 and #3


This morning I sketched a new toy that arrived this week in the mail. I found this leather travel binder on Amazon. I have lots of odd bits of watercolor papers that I’ve been meaning to sew into sketchbooks but haven’t found the time to do so yet. So I thought I would replace the notebooks that came with the binder with loose folios of watercolor papers. Later on, they can be sewn into sketchbooks with new covers . . . and I can refill this binder with more paper.

The orientation is a bit odd for single pages but a double spread makes a nice nearly-square to work on. I like the special clip holding the pen to keep one of my fountain pens attached to my journal.


This afternoon, Bill had another cardio rehab appointment — so I sketched the waiting area.

03 October 2018

Inktober tools, first sketch . . . and an answer to prayer


Having been a bit distracted lately, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take part in the Inktober sketching event this year, but today is only the third day; I decided to begin today with a sketch of the tools I plan to use. There just might be a bit of watercolor (such as the gold accents on my Kuretaki brush pen) but only when the sketch calls for it. Instead of following the drawing prompts for this year, I’m going to keep it simple and just draw whatever I want each day — less pressure that way!

The quote written in the lower left is a line from a fictional ebook I recently read: “What good is it to pray and plead for a miracle and then ignore what could be the answer.” It struck me because of my husband’s situation.

Bill has suffered with chronic nerve pain down his right arm for almost 5 years — It began soon after his first bypass surgery. We were told it was a pinched nerve, later that it was a damaged nerve, and that nothing could be done for the pain. Yet since his recent bypass, that pain is gone!

Two separate doctors have now speculated that perhaps it was a symptom of heart trouble, not a pinched nerve, the pain being caused by that nerve not getting adequate blood supply. One doctor said it was possible that the graft that failed, necessitating this repeat surgery, probably failed just weeks after his initial surgery 5 years ago. That artery was not a complete blockage at that time; it took 5 years to become completely blocked. And the nerve pain began about that time.

No one knows for sure but it is a curious thing. We have prayed for healing and relief from the constant pain in Bill’s arm for so long . . . . What if this bypass surgery is actually the answer to those prayers? Something that looked like a horrible thing to go through has actually been the thing that ended the chronic pain! Whatever the truth of the matter is, we are praising God that, except for normal pain following a major surgery, Bill is free from pain at long last!

02 October 2018

simple autumn color


Trees around us are still lush and green with usual daily temperatures in the upper 80s with occasional 90s. But every now and then I find a leaf trying to put on some autumn color. These were found and sketched over a couple of days.

30 September 2018

simple mushrooms


With all the medical drama of past weeks, Bill and I are both . . . simply tired. So yesterday I sketched a simple sketch, of some mushrooms in our yard. The larger ones seemed to be wearing wee caps atop their caps.

Drawn with a Noodler’s Creaper flex nib fountain pen and J. Herbin Lie de The water-soluble ink and a bit of watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook.

28 September 2018

to lose a building


When we bought our cabin almost 5 years ago, it came with this additional wooden shed. At first, we put it to use storing tools and materials from Bill’s wood shop. After his new shop was built, for a time we worked on plans to turn this shed into a guest house but that fell by the wayside as there were other improvements we wanted more, such as tearing down the two ugly car ports and replacing them with one unobtrusive one.

The log cabin got a bit lost among the ugly car ports on one side and this shed on the other; we wanted the cabin to be the first thing seen. And I wanted to see the ranch across the highway from my window, with the longhorns, donkeys, and horses among all those trees — not a big brown wall.

So we let it be known that we’d give the building away free to anyone who would move it. There were three different parties who wanted it but none could find anyone willing to move it. Until a neighbor’s cousin heard about it — he had a smaller shed for his hobbies and his wife wanted to use a corner of it. So he gave her this one! They found a Mennonite guy willing to move it and within one week, it was gone! It was fascinating to watch this one guy maneuver the building all by himself, attaching large wheels and pulling it out to his truck’s trailer.









24 September 2018

in search of entertainment


For today’s random sketch, I drew our very dead blu-ray DVD player.

Upon coming home from the hospital, we found that our satellite receiver had died. It had been making static noises on a very few stations once in a while but now it was dead. After a very long, drawn out phone conversation, walking me through steps I could not do because the receiver is in fact dead, the company said “no problem, we can get someone out to take care of that!” . . . in another week and a half!

Bill doesn’t have energy for doing much more than an occasional walk around our property and to watch TV. So we decided to watch movies, using our blu-ray player. We watched Medicine Man, yet again (we both love it), and started an old western . . . and the player stopped. No amount of button-pushing or unplugging / replugging would convince it to come back to life.

So apparently our entertainment was going to be watching two very silly cats and listen to the rain fall. I read a lot of books but Bill just doesn’t have the patience to read much at the moment.

I texted our son Jason to let him know it was too wet to mow — he had planned on mowing our weed jungle for us and bringing us movies to watch. No answer.

Next thing we knew, he and grandson Josiah showed up to run a weed eater over the worst of the overgrowth . . . and not only movies but a new player as well! And set it up to play Netflix using my phone’s hotspot as a wireless network.

Our daughter Kristen had brought us some groceries and a wonderful grain-free, low-salt casserole she had just made up (it was fabulous!). A friend from church treated us to our favorite brisket, ribs, and 2 slices of coconut cream pie. A neighbor and his wife brought us a flavorful salt-free chicken dinner. They also came back with a cousin who checked out a shed on our property that we have been trying for 3 years to give away to anyone who can move it. Finally someone who knows a guy who moves small buildings professionally! It will be gone by the end of the week.

We are feeling blessed . . . and rather spoiled!

22 September 2018

home but distracted 🤪


We are home! (Hurray!)
But I’ve been a tad bit busy and didn’t get around to posting this sketch celebrating Bill being released from the hospital. As paperwork was processed, I went to the hospital pharmacy to pick up Bill’s medications — and saw that it was raining in buckets and sheets! So a quick visit to the gift shop for a cheap umbrella, having parked at the far side of the lot.

A Very Large, friendly Native American dude in a security uniform was behind me in line. Seeing me grab this chocolate, he warned me they can be addictive . . . as he grabs one himself and a root beer. Then as the clerk rang my items up, he insisted on paying for mine! I said it wasn’t necessary; he just grinned and said “pay it forward!”

The drive from Scott & White hospital in College Station to home takes about 40 minutes. It took us about 1 hour 45 minutes! There had been a huge wreck on Wellborn, one of the main highways we take, closing all lanes in our direction; they deterred us off the highway into a residential area . . . past three schools as they were just letting out! Being unfamiliar with the area, it took me a bit of time to find my way out and back to highways I knew, through Very Busy traffic.

Since then, I’ve taken Scottie to the vet for his third series of kitten shots and rabies shot, and have been busy cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. The cats seem to have tracked wee bits of litter everywhere in the week we’ve been gone. Also, the girl who was supposed to take care of them didn’t touch the litter boxes. I normally scoop them daily; a full week without made such an odor I had to completely dump them out, sanitize, and start with fresh.

Meanwhile, Bill is healing very well. Sleeps so much better at home, with a better appetite. We are both so thankful that, though this bypass was longer and more complicated than the first, his pain and discomfort is actually much less! And what is truly strange: the chronic pain in his right arm from a damaged nerve seems to be gone! They took a graft from his right forearm and there’s some discomfort from the way they manipulate the arm out of the way during surgery, but no nerve pain at all! We know it’s not the pain killers he’s on because he’s tried the same before and it does not help nerve pain at all. No explanation we can see other than God at work.

20 September 2018

finally home . . .


Tonight we are home from the hospital, at long last! I think Bill sort of got lost in the shuffle between heart surgeons scrambling to cover the workload after Bill’s surgeon was hurt in an accident — complicated by the switch-off from his problem being a heart “plumbing” issue (supervised by a heart surgeon) to a heart “electrical” issue (requiring a special type of cardiologist).

Anyway, things finally worked out and we are home. The drive that normally takes 45 minutes took more like 1 1/2 hours! All northwest-bound lanes of our main route were shut down due to a bad accident; the detour was through an area full of schools letting out and areas we aren’t familiar with.

We were never so glad to get out of that car!

Too crazy of a day for sketching, but this is what I did in my journal yesterday as I sat on the couch in Bill’s hospital room. Every room at Scott & White has one of these tiled niches. I wasn’t sure what the purpose was; I used it as a stash for snacks and a Kindle that Bill watched movies on. Our daughter Kristen later told me it is a space to set flower arrangements patients are given.

18 September 2018

still here . . . maybe home today?


Bill’s recovery was proceeding along so quickly that everyone expected him to be released yesterday. We waited extra-long on a surgeon to sign his release — they are understaffed due to Bill’s surgeon having been in a bicycle accident Saturday (he is now an in-house patient with broken ribs).

Before one of his colleagues could sign Bill out, he suddenly went into atrial fibrillation (Very thankful it didn’t happen after we left!). Apparently this happens about 15% of the time in the 5 days following bypass surgery. Oral medication failed to correct his heart sinus rhythm, so back to an IV drip. Within a short time, his heart beat was once again steady but they kept him another night for observation.

Where yesterday morning, he felt almost back to normal, now he feels like someone used his heart as a punching bag . . . or a soccer ball kicked hard down field. Otherwise, he is doing well and once again we are waiting for a doctor to sign him out — this time a cardiologist specialist The surgeon said he takes care of the plumbing, the cardiologist takes care of the electronics.

17 September 2018

update to previous post


Before adding my personal contact information to this first journal page, I decided to include the new limited palette I recently put together.


And for those unable to read Cathy Johnson’s quote on the inside front cover, here it is enlarged. I love my newly mixed turquoise ink but maybe it’s a bit light for writing text?

new journal


Over the past few days I’ve started a new sketchbook journal, adding a bit here and there. This time I’m trying out a Stillman & Birn Zeta in landscape format, 8.5 x 5.5”. First is a quote from Cathy Johnson on keeping art journals, with a random stack of sketchbooks.


The box on the far right is to enter personal contact information in case the journal is lost.


Then, as always, I drew some sketching tools on the first page — this time, a collection of granulating pigments I put together (listed to the left of the palette). Autumn is approaching and it always puts me in the mood for earthy granulation in watercolor.


We are still “living” at Scott & White hospital in College Station following Bill’s second bypass operation. A new bypass procedure was required when one from his surgery five years ago failed; they also found another questionable area forming a possible future blockage and decided to take care of that while they were in there. He is recovering much quicker than the medical personnel expected — this surgery, while much longer and more complicated than his first bypass, has been a much better experience with considerably less pain and discomfort.

Bill brought home one of these insulated water mugs when he had disc surgery, and has loved using it for iced tea. But that mug is finally separating and broken. I thought this a rather drastic way for him to get a new one!

We are so thankful Dr. Kirby was able to fit Bill’s surgery in an already busy schedule! From everything we’ve heard, he is the very best heart surgeon in the area, practicing at all three hospitals. Bill’s surgery was on Thursday; on Saturday, Dr. Kirby had an accident on his bicycle . . . and now he is a patient here as well, dealing with some very painful broken ribs. (He is the same age as me, 64. Maybe he should slow down?)



14 September 2018

a limited palette for autumn


I love playing with new combinations of watercolor — made especially easy with the magnetic pans in these Pocket Palettes from Expeditionary Art. And in the autumn, I’m drawn to rich, earthy, and granulating pigments.

José Naranja makes incredible art journals in a very precise, detailed style using ink and a limit palette, along with stamps and other added bits. Found in his tiny watercolor set are indigo, (burnt?) sienna, a red, turquoise, and a grey/black. I love the colorful brilliance of combining these colors with multiple colors of ink!

Though I have a small bit of cobalt turquoise light, I haven’t found a lot of uses for it, but it just seems to fit this combination of colors. Not owning any indigo, I substituted Persian blue. I used both burnt sienna and a natural (raw) sienna, plus titanium white gouache for working on toned paper. Then there was one small hole left so I added a bit of leftover Jadeite genuine. I LOVE Jadeite but won’t be replacing it because the price has gone too high.

13 September 2018

been down this road before . . .


So far, so good. It took no time at all after meeting the heart surgeon to setting a date for Bill’s bypass. Dr. Kirby’s expertise is in demand at three large hospitals in Bryon / College Station, yet he made room for Bill less than two days after seeing him.

The surgery is still in process (expected to take at least 5 hours; it takes longer for a second bypass surgery, having to work through all the scar tissue, etc.). One of the surgical nurses came out to speak with us a little bit ago, telling us where they are presently in the procedure and that everything is going very well.

Our heart-felt thanks to all who have prayed for us and for him specifically — God is good! He is answering those prayers. Expecting a great outcome!


And here is the sketch from pre-op prep five years ago . . .

11 September 2018

this morning’s cup of tea


For this morning’s cup of tea, Bill made me a mug of Scottish Breakfast tea (loose leaf from the English Tea Store) with a splash of milk. I do own one real tea cup and saucer, but these mugs hold 2 cups each; brewing a pot of tea makes 2 full mugs of tea, in case Bill is in a rare mood to share a cup of tea with me instead of his regular coffee.

And this is the last page of this Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook. Unless you count the random stuff entered on the inside cover:




mixing inks


While we continue to wait with Bill’s medical issues (meeting with the heart surgeon later today), I distracted myself yesterday with a bit of ink play. My most used inks are De Atramentis Document Black and Brown, and Noodler’s Lexington Gray. But I also wanted a water-resistant “burnt sienna” ink so, following color charts on Jane Blundell’s blog, I mixed one by adding a bit of black to Document Red.

A few months back, I bought a sample of Document Violet to use in my dark lilac Lamy Safari fountain pen, but it was just a bit to red for what I was after. So I added a smidgen of Dark Blue, making it a rich purple. I wasn’t using the blue ink anyway so this is a good purpose for it. The lines remind me of when I used to sketch with a deep purplish colored pencil under watercolor washes.

Before writing text on my journal pages, I normally draw faint pencil lines — yes, I’m a wee bit fussy about writing in straight lines. At least most of the time.

Anyway, these lines are later erased and I’ve been playing with ideas to eliminate the erasing step. The text on the above page was drawn in with a Derwent Blue Grey watercolor pencil but it would need sharpening too often. I read somewhere that Liz Steel was trying out a turquoise ink fit her text lines but it was water-soluble; I get messy with unwanted splashes and smears at times.

So I remembered having a sample bottle of Document Turquoise/Cyan ink and, again following Jane’s charts, added just a bit of Brown to it for a rich turquoise ink. LOVE this color!


After playing with my new colors a bit, I think the turquoise, though beautiful, is not quite light enough for text lines. So I’ve ordered a bottle of De Atramentis Dilution solution to “thin” the color a bit. I decided that the “burnt sienna” was still a bit red so I tweaked it with a few drops of Yellow, which I also had a sample vial of.

Then to finish out the page, I used purple ink to draw the linked chain Bill’s Grandpa Williamson carved as a gift for his grandma when they were courting. The two links are carved from a single piece of walnut. Grandma’s maiden name was Stanley; mine was the same name, though as far as we know there is no relation. So she gave the chain to us — uniting another Stanley and Williamson.

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