Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Ask Me.....

...why there's a clove of garlic on my cupcake! I've no idea. It just showed up. (Maybe it's a new taste sensation?) It's what the muse wanted and I'm not about to tell her she can't have a garlic cupcake! 
(ALL) Watercolor Sketch
3.5 x 5.5 inches
Moleskine Sketchbook

Could someone please explain to me what the attraction everyone seems to have to these Moleskine sketchbooks? This one is a watercolor sketchbook, and I cannot tell you how many times I've been tempted to pitch it! Or gut it and put in different paper. I do not like that paper. Or rather the sizing. It's darn unfriendly!

Anyway, hope this leaves you with sweet thoughts for the weekend!!

BTW, the original title was suppose to be "Would you like some cupcake with that icing?!!"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tea POT of Happiness, FULL of Joy

Watercolor over Ink
3.5 x 5.5 Moleskine WC Sketchbook

Here's something you probably don't know about me–I'm not a huge fan of black ink. It has its place, just not in my sketches. I'm not sure why I feel that way. Maybe because it's...well, because it's so dark? It seems stark to me. Now, in some sketches, other people's sketches, it looks great. Mine look....harsh. So why am I telling you this? Because I've started searching for an alternative (permanent) ink color to use in place of black. 

The teapot featured above is one of those little look-a-like Limoges boxes and is drawn with ZIG® Clean Color Real Brush Marker/Pen in Oatmeal. It's permanent ink, water resistant and can be blended. (BTW, did you know blendable is not a word? I didn't. The word is out there on the internet, but it's not in the dictionary. There, now that's two things you've learned today.) I like the oatmeal color, but I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for. 

I went with my Father-In-Law this morning to the eye doctor, well actually, to the surgeon as he had cataract surgery. I was the designated driver and I had about 2.5 hours to kill. On the way out of the door this morning, I was looking for something to sketch and my eyes landed on this little teapot. It was left over from the yard sale this weekend. I also took my computer as I had some work to do. When we arrived I pulled out the laptop and did my work. When that was finished I pulled out my little teapot.

I may have imagined it, but it seemed the volume went down for a second or three when I set the little  teapot on the table so I could see it to sketch. Now mind you, I was probably the youngest in the room by 25 years. Maybe 30. And I had the feeling that most of them were thinking "What is that young un' up to now?" (Remember, I'm in the South down here.) Finally, one brave soul leaned over and whispered loud enough for the other 21 folks in the room to hear, "Whutrudoin'? [Translation: what are you doing?]"

"Sketching," I replied with a smile. "Kinasee? [Translation: Can I see?]" she asked. I leaned over and showed her just the bare bones drawing (no paint). She looked at it a minute then stared at me a minute longer before saying, "You're not to good, are you?"

To which I burst out laughing and said, "No, ma'am, I gotta long ole' waystago."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wait! I Don't Do People!

As a general rule, I avoid people.

Watercolor & Pen Sketch
Moleskine WC Sketchbook
3.5 x 5.5 inches

Sketching them, that is! Especially out in public where you usually find people. LOLAM! (Laughing Out Loud At Myself!) I'll sketch a tree, a door, a window, a building, plants, even a dog, but a person? No, thank you! I think about sketching people. I even go so far as to sketch them in my what happened that was different this time?

This gal had a thing for her hair–it was very much a part of her identity. It was also quite breezy and she kept flicking it out of her face as she was trying to eat her lunch. The dark shades helped because I didn't have to try the whole face. I caught a decent "impression" of her in just a couple of minutes, but it's not an actual portrait. She was much prettier and with a lot of personality that I didn't capture correctly, but I managed (finally!) to sketch a person in public that looks like the individual!! Woohoo!

Okay, who's next?!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Foiled Again!

Working late at night, when I'm way too tired to be painting, can lead to thoughts of grandeur, illusions of prowess, imagined deftness of handling difficult passages, and a unrealistic satisfaction in a sketch that is short lived......

Watercolor Sketch
5" x 7" Cachet Sketchbook

.....upon waking and viewing the same sketch in the brilliance of the morning light. Not only is this not what I saw when I went to bed, "someone" stuck an extra "i" in my geraniums! How inconsiderate!

The cool thing about all of this is that I can simply say, "Next!" and turn the page......

"Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, 
for they shall never cease to be amused." – Unknown

Monday, April 26, 2010

Make Up Your Mind, Would Ya?!!

Watercolor Sketch
5 x 7 inches, Cachet Sketchbook

While waiting for KJ at Panera's on Friday, I decided to sketch this lovely "Panera Palm" that sits majestically in the courtyard. (Not sure if the majestic come through in the sketch.) KJ and I had talked about sketching the tree the first time we met at Panera's back in September, but somehow we were/are always too busy gabbing to paint. 

So why do I need to make up my mind? Well, because....

Back near the beginning of the year, I quit carrying my sketchbook around so as to "lighten the load" on my shoulder and switch to a small(er) bag. I felt like I had everything and the kitchen sink in my bag and I decided that nonsense had to stop. I was starting to list to the right. Besides, does anyone need 4 different colors of lipstick, a lip gloss AND a tube of ChapStick when all they ever really wear is the ChapStick? So I switched.....

...and I missed my sketchbook. Or more correctly, I missed a couple of great sketching opportunities.

Next, I tried switching bags to find one that was just big enough. I felt like Goldilocks... all the bags I tried were either too big or too little, too heavy, the wrong shape, the wrong color.....none were just right. (Sometimes, I just wish I could carry a wallet in my back pocket like my husband does. Until I went to put on my favorite capris and there was NO pocket!) Okay fine, I thought. I'll do the next best thing. I decided small was the way to go. Really small. But that didn't work either.

I still missed my sketchbook. 

So, I gave up and gave in. Now I'm carrying a bigger bag than I've carried in quite a long time, except there's just nothing in it besides my sketchbook, kit and wallet. And the ChapStick. It's still waaaaaay too big, but at least I'm prepared to sketch at a moment's notice. And I'll have room to take home those bagels from my visit at Panera's!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Art Tools....Paint!

Today's post is a continuation from the two prior posts where I've discussed waterbrushes and pens to be used with watercolor. The swatches above are from my new Daniel Smith* paints. The top one is Isoindoline Yellow and it is pure bottled sunshine!! The color just radiates! It is clean and smooth with no granulation to it. When my Indian Yellow runs out on my studio palette, this will be the color that I will be putting into that well. It is glorious!

The next swatch is Fired Gold Ochre which I keep wanting to call fried okra. It is a brick red with a lot of granulation. By itself it is unimpressive, but it makes some lovely mixes with Ultramarine and Cobalt blues. The brochure for the pigment states that it "makes an exquisite range of skin tones." I can see that, but I'm not sure that will make it a keeper. More exploration is needed before I will add it to my palette permanently.

Last is Mayan Red. It's a strong red with rose undertones at full strength going down to a very sublime pink. Again, rather unimpressive by itself. It does well in mixes, staying clean and vibrant. More experimenting will be needed before I decide it gets to stay.

Above you can see all of the pigments in mixes (please ignore the lower corner - that was another exploration unrelated to this one). You can click on the image to get a better view of the granulations and colors. All of these colors are single pigment paints rather mixtures of two or more pigments. I find that by staying with single pigment colors (for the most part) I tend to avoid making mud. Or at the very least, I have to work harder to make it!

Daniel Smith currently has "dot cards" with these pigments, so if you're placing an order be sure to request one!

*I do not work for Daniel Smith and I receive no kickbacks from DS for endorsing their paints. However, I have to say that I've used DS since the early '90's and have always been thrilled with their pigments colors and the quality. Should you decide to try them out, I don't think you'll be sorry!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Art Tools!

Continuing from yesterday's post, New Art Tools!.....

We're fortunate to also have a Michaels nearby to compete with JoAnn's and I decided to go and visit them once I found out about the brushes just to see if they might carry them also (forgot to mention this in the prior post) and they do! In different sizes though. (Thanks, Pam, for reminding me!)

The next fun thing I found was a VersaMarker Pen with dual tips–one for writing and one a brush! This is a watermark pen that is used a lot by stampers and scrapbookers. This tool allows for precise marks to be made on a stamp and then the stamped onto the paper. The "ink" is clear and creates a resist or it can be embossed with embossing powders. So what is a watercolor artist doing with this? Well, they say curiosity killed the cat, but what they don't add is that the cat died satisfied! It's a pen, right? I figured I could forgo the stamp and see what would happen when I added watercolor over the top!
VersaMarker and watercolor
on watercolor paper

The darker marks within the "bush" are from the VersaMarker. The ink absorbed the watercolor, making it darker in those areas. I had to create several samples before I find what would work. You have to let the ink dry completely (more than an hour) before watercoloring over it or it doesn't work well. I think this has future applications when creating designs, but is probably not going to be an "everyday" tool. I paid $3.99 for it at JoAnn's, and at this time, I can't recommend it. The VersaMark ink also comes in a pad usable with stamps.

Moving on, I found an Inkssentials Opaque White Gel Pen at Michaels. Yippee, I thought! My go-to white gel pen has always been the Uniball White Signo Gel still is:
The Signo is on the left and is significantly more opaque than the Inkssentials pen. Both pens will lift when washed across with water so it is best to add this at the very end of your watercolor work. However, one cool trick is to put the white ink down and then brush it lightly with water to help it "fade" back into the image a bit if the white is a bit harsh in your sketch. I purchased a pack of two Inkssentials pens for $4.99 at Michaels. Not recommended. Go to and purchase the Signo–you won't be sorry! (No self-respecting sketch kit should be without one of these pens!)

Last up today is some Martha Stewart Crafts™Fine Tip Writing Pens (other tips available). What attracted me to these pens are the colors–I purchased a bloodstone and purple heliotrope. The ink is pigmented and they are archival, acid-free and fade proof.

(Please forgive the poor photography as it doesn't show the colors well.) The bloodstone is a light taupe and the heliotrope is a grayed purple. The pens are $1.99 at Michaels with a line of other unusual ink colors available. They are also available from other retailers online. Both of these colors lend themselves well to sketching and are not as harsh or obvious as black ink. Being fade-proof, the ink is also waterproof and I could easily watercolor over these. These are definitely recommended!

So how do these tools work for a watercolor artist? Take a look......

Starting in the upper lefthand corner, the bird's nest and tulip was created with the detailer waterbrush featured here. I also used Martha's pens to emphasis some of the line work. The birdhouse has detailing added with the M. Stewart pens. I used the VersaMarker in the tree leaves behind the birdhouse to create a pattern (without much success) The spiderwort in the lower right has white pen in it. I lost the tips (anthers) of the stamens since I did not use a mask to block them out. White pen to the rescue! Same thing with the polka dots on the teapot. All of the writing and some of the sketching was done with the Martha Stewart pen. Highlights on the salt and pepper shaker were created using the white Signo pen. The word "Spring" in the middle was created with the flat waterbrush. All images on this page were created using waterbrushes!

Next paint colors!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Art Tools!

Is there anything better than new art toys tools to play with? I think not!! ;•) This week is going to be Tool Week here at Painted Thoughts as I seem to have acquired a number of new tools to share !

First up:
As some of you may know, I strongly advocate the use of waterbrushes for painting on location during the Imaginary Trips. They will change the  way you work and the ease with which you work. You'll be more likely to sketch in the moment with a waterbrush as it is as easy to make a mark with one of these as it is with a pen or pencil. 

So it comes as no surprise that when I spied a waterbrush at  JoAnn's Etc. craft store, I just had to purchase it because it was one I had not seen before. Despite the $8.99 price tag, I decided to do it in the name of research. ;•)  (Yes, I had a coupon, but I still think that's a ridiculously high price for a waterbrush, IMO!) It is a Zig® BrusH2O or Brush H2O, depending on where you're looking.....

This is the detailer brush. The brush tip is about equivalent to a size 2 in a round watercolor brush. If you enlarge the image you can see all the tiny, precise marks I was able to make with this brush. As nearly all complaints I hear about the waterbrush is "I can't do any details," this would seem to be a great answer. 

CAUTION: This is a double-sided blessing. Yes, you will be able to get the nitty-gritty details into your sketch, but I would NOT take this out on location. Why? A) When sketching on location, you need speed, speed, and more speed. B) Details are not your friend (on location). Instead, I would rather leave this in the hotel room or at home then in the heat of the moment. C) See reason below.

I looked online to see the availability of this brush and was pleased to learn that Zig is part of Kuretake® and they are a company out of England. This means worldwide availability. The other thing I learned is there are other sizes....

Again, in the name of research, I ordered the other sizes. If you enlarge the image you can see the various marks made with these brushes. I just received them and have not yet created a painting with them, but I can tell you that I like them. And here is reason C) from above - the large point made almost as precise a mark as the detailer yet still gave me the ability to create a wash. The detailer does not have that versatility.

So here are the pros...nice, sharp tips • large water reservoir • plastic barrels are easy to squeeze without being too soft or too hard • good water control • option of different sizes • great availability • great price.

Now, of course, there are cons....the large could be larger. It is not quite the same as my large Holbein • the detailer will trip up the detail lovers among us • the barrel has a black "stopper/dam" and you are suppose to expel the air while holding the barrel under water so that is fills with water. I took the dam out (using my fingernail), filled the barrel under the faucet and replaced the dam. The problem with this is that if you lose that dam, the brush is useless.

I found the brushes at Marker Supply for $3.95 USD each. Shipping was nominal. I received them within 2 days of ordering. Unfortunately, this company only ships to the US and Canada, and I have not found a source online for international artists. Yet. (If someone finds one/know of a reliable online resource, please let me know.) See the update below!!

I am always on the lookout for replacement waterbrushes as the brush tips do wear out. I have been very dissatisfied with the ones on the market today. I have recently learned that Kuretake also makes the Niji waterbrush line. I have a set of Niji's, but they are different from these. My Niji's are also several years old. That may explain the differences.

UPDATE!: If you look down in the comments, Molly from stopped by and said that yes, they do ship internationally!! YAY! Thanks, Molly!

Friday, April 16, 2010

There's Still TIme To Get a Ticket!!

The next "Imaginary Trip to Paris!" will be leaving on Tuesday, April 20th! There's still time to register! Come and join the fun!

You can find more information here. The above sketch was done on "virtual location" and is a mix of watercolor, black and white ink. Registration for class will remain open until Sunday, 10:00 PM EST, April 18th.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Joys of Sketching Wildlife

Watercolor Sketch
Nature Sketchbook
5 x 7 Inches

Text on the page:
"The Ibis visited today! Lots of juveniles. I've always admired how they sedately walked around going about their business.....[however,] these guys seem to gallop! Of course, that happened after I got my pencil and started to sketch! LOL! It was fun. This is a melange of different birds as they just would not stand still no matter how nicely I asked!"

It is good to be able to laugh at one's self....I have always enjoyed watching the Ibis stroll around the yard or by the lake in a leisurely fashion as they dig around for grubbies. Or so it appeared until today. Instead, it seemed as if they were galloping past me! Of course, this phenomenon only started AFTER I had taken out my pencil to try and sketch the birds! LOL! 

Whereas this is not one of my best efforts, every time I look at this sketch, I have to laugh. At myself. For not really realizing the "true" speed of life - until I tried to capture it on paper. And, yes, I'll try again. And I'll be just as amazed (and amused) when I ask nicely, and the latest creature to be immortalized in my sketchbook rushes past me, getting on with the business of their lives, completely ignoring my request to stand still and pose.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Concept Sketch from a Memory

Yesterday, I was in the master bathroom when I heard the unmistakable sound of little furry paws scuffling around as though chasing something. I cautiously peeked around the door into the bedroom to see Booger chasing after a phantom....something.....on top of the bed.

The very second she saw me she froze. Game over! We both knew the game was up, whatever it may have been, and that she would soon resume her matronly, elderly,* "stiff-upper-lip," "I'm-too-old-for-this-kitten-nonsense-anymore" routine. I also knew she looked about as cute as cute can look AND that the camera was at the other end of the house AND that there may, or may not, be a memory card in it! What to do, what to do!

Instead of running for the camera, I ran to grab paper and pencil. By the time I raced back into the room (30 seconds later), Boogs had moved over to the corner of the bed and commenced with her morning bath. She looked up at me as  if to say, "What?! You can't prove anything and I ain't 'fessing to nothin'!" If you are owned by a cat, you understand this cattitude all too well.

So, I closed my eyes so that I could see her in my mind and then went to work sketching what I had seen.....
Pencil with watercolor washes on 
computer paper

....and this was close to what I saw! She had the playful, wild-eyed look of a cat (kitten) on the hunt while she was playing hide and seek in the covers with whatever she had been chasing. After doing the pencil sketch I went back and added some very light washes to give it some dimension. When Chris came home, I showed it to him and was rewarded with an immediate burst of laughter–just the reaction I was looking for!! (I'm thinking this will eventually turn into a painting.) 

We have often wondered what spirits or faeries the cats interact with–sometimes playing, sometimes acting as if they're terrified, sometimes (often) acting as they're daft. These thoughts were fluttering around in my mind and I kept thinking that perhaps Booger had been playing with one of the faeries (gremlins) that inhabit our home....

Pencil with watercolor washes on
computer paper

....and so I added one very mad, little faerie that had just had her hair mussed by an overly playful cat! 

*What is interesting in all of this is that Booger will be 18 years old in late May/early June, but you'd never have know it the way she was acting! I guess she's feeling Spring just like the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Strangest Things Inspire Me

Morning. I'm working on a project. I'm thirsty. Coffee mug is empty. I refill it.

I find myself standing in my kitchen, looking at my mug, wondering what's wrong.

The coffee doesn't taste right.

The project calls. I head back to the computer. The coffee taste remains a mystery.

Later, the coffee mug catches my attention. muse is calling.

I sketch & paint it.......

Watercolor, 5 x 5 inches
Scrap paper

As I am sketching the mug, I realize the reason for the funny tasting coffee.

I "generally" put cream in my coffee........ 

Friday, April 9, 2010

And Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Bob!!!!

We have a guest post today from Bob Skurrel, the mascot of The Compounding Shop of Riverview:

"Hello there! So sorry to be late for the Easter festivities, but it couldn't be helped. You know, it's really hard to get good service, not to mention help, these days. When my "ears, nose and tail" arrived via special order, they just weren't quite good enough. So, I had to send them back and thus began an alternation nightmare. I mean, really, can you imaging how difficult it is for a squirrel to hop like a bunny, look like a bunny and act like a bunny with ears and a tail that look like they belong on Eeyore?! Is it really that difficult? Yeah, well, apparently the answer is 'yes, it is!'"

"So here I am with all the props. Pretty cute, huh?

I thought so too. A little over the top for my tastes, but then these kids I work with, it's ah, it's sometimes a little difficult to curve their.....enthusiasm.

Not sure why they stuck that goofy stuffed rabbit in MY photo–isn't that the point, that I'm SUPPOSE to be the Easter Bunny? (Sorry, too many jelly beans makes me a grouch.)"

"And here's the profile shot of the white bunny cotton tail big enough for KingKong's backside. Geez, would you look at the size of that thing!! And man, talk about itch!?! And you know, that's just not a polite thing to do, to reach around and scratch your hiney and then hand a kid an Easter egg...."

"Okay, one last look at my adorableness. I gotta get a better photographer - that kid can't take a decent photo for no amount of money! As I understand it, that particular trait runs in the family, none of 'em can take a decent shot. And look at all the junk she put in that basket - who and what is this about–ME or that, that....stuff?!!?

Man, I need another jelly bean....hmmm, wonder if they ate 'em all. That would be bad.....for them........."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Daily Practice - Springtime Birdhouse

Watercolor, 5" x 7"
Cachet Watercolor journal

Not sure this really counts as en plein air as I was in my studio, looking out the north window. This little birdhouse is a new addition to our smallest maple tree, and as of yet, has no residents. The tree is just beginning to bud out, so maybe we'll see some action soon.

I really thought this was going to be rather quick and easy to sketch–wrong! The front of the birdhouse is built at an angle and rather than show the angle, I managed to make it look as though it were leaning. Kind of a drunken stupor, if you will! All was not lost as I discovered some very cool color combinations for copper. Now I have to go dig out the names of the pigments before I forget how I did it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sun Buddies!

Look who I saw this morning on my daily walk–all cozied up together on the same log!!!
You can click on the image to see the details better. I was about 15 feet from these guys. Unfortunately, I did not capture any distinguishing marks on the turtle that would result in a positive identification. The bad boy on the right is a small (not baby) American alligator. He is between 3 and 4 feet long. He's young, but he's no baby, and he could put a hurtin' on you if you messed with him! They didn't hang around too long after I took the photo or I would have tried for a sketch on location.

As to why they were on the same log....I'm thinkin' they were just drunk on sunshine!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daily Practice - Springtime Birdbath

I love this time of year with all of the beautiful, vivid greens, yellows, oranges, and golds! Makes me want to paint up a storm. Or a birdbath.....

From My Newest (Old) Sketchbook
Watercolor & Ink, 5" x 7"

I broke out this old sketchbook to get back in the habit of sketching daily and from life. There's something about a new sketchbook that makes me want to paint. Maybe it's the opportunities or the possibilities to capture and create. Or maybe it's an attempt to hold onto a season long after it has passed into memory. 

The sketchbook is a Cachet watercolor sketchbook that I had in my stash and was newly discovered (unearthed) during the studio makeover. The paper is going to take some getting used to as it certainly isn't Arches. I took this with me today while I was running some errands today and seeing a friend at lunchtime. It came in handy when I found myself with a little bit of downtime. I took the time to add in some of the ink details. 

I had an older gentleman at the library strike up a conversation with me about feeding the birds when he saw the art. Art as a bridge between generations–very cool! 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Renew, Refresh, and Rejoice!

I hope this day brings you peace, happiness, and renewal. 
May you be surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. 
May joy fill your heart.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Story About Wolves

For those of you that are Nature lovers, I want to invite you to hop over to Elva Paulson's blog, Elva's Field Notes, where she has been sharing the story of her time in Yellowstone National Park back in 2000 when they were reintroducing the wolves.

The series is in three parts and is absolutely captivating to read. Elva shares the sightings of the wolves, the ups and downs of hearing good news and not so good news about the wolves. It's as if you're there and can "almost see it" for yourself!

Whilst there, poke around a bit as Elva is also a wonderful wildlife artist who has recently joined the 100 Paintings Challenge. 


Friday, April 2, 2010

I Heard "Last Call!"......

.....just as I finished up on my quick sketch of this bridge in Snowdonia!* I ran for the bus just as they were about to close the doors and head to our next destination. This sketch was quick, down and dirty as we only stopped for about thirty minutes. But I had to try! The wildflowers and grasses are blooming like crazy and everything is so vivid! Can't wait to get to my room tonight and give this another (slower) try without rushing to keep up!

Watercolor Sketch in England Sketchbook
Approx. 8" x 6"

*I'm not really in Snowdonia**, even though I would love to be! I'm preparing for "An Imaginary Trip to England" and I do hope you'll join me! The ticket window will close tonight around midnight (EST), so hurry and grab your ticket before it's too late!! For more information, please click here

**Snowdonia is a region in the north part of Wales and a national park with 838 square miles. This area was designated a national park in 1951.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring Hyacinth
Watercolor Print by Laure Ferlita
11" x 8.5"

I had Spring Fever something fierce last year and decided to paint all the blooms I could find. This hyacinth turned out to be absolutely gorgeous and I had so much fun painting the progression of the bloom. Nature unfolding before my very eyes. The changes seemed hourly! I've only finished up the last sketch in this past month! Just small things, little touches still needed here and there.

In finishing up the sketch, I realized I have not made the time to do as much painting this year as I did last Spring. What a mistake! One that I am working on correcting with restructuring my workday and refocusing my priorities.

I will be putting this in my Etsy shop early next week. Until then, this print is available to purchase below at $19.95 + 4.00 Shipping and Handling. If you're interested in purchasing it, please use the PayPal button below, and Happy Spring, Y'all!!!

Please note: The colored bar and copyright information does not appear on the actual print. Artist retains all copyrights.

$19.95 + 4.00 S&H