Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Galoshes of Fun!

Watercolor, Ink and Stamps
Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
17" x 3.5
This was fun! I very much enjoyed creating this double spread. First, I really love the long format and second, I've finally found a way to work with the paper of this particular sketchbook. I've been working in this sketchbook since October. The paper has given me a fit from day one. I've tried working with various tools, ink, and watercolors. It wasn't until recently, that I remembered one of my old rules*—get in, get it down, get out!

What does that mean? You've only got one chance so make it count! The paint sits up on the paper. Very little soaks in, so if you try for a second wash, chances are very good you're going to have a mess on your hands. Such was the case in this image. The red of the boot gave me fits! So, I pulled out another one of my old rules*—add penwork to de-emphasis the watercolor.

It never fails to amaze me how much pen will change a watercolor from a painting to a graphic image or a sketch. In this case, I used that to my advantage. Before the pen was added it was very obvious the washes were blotchy and uneven. With the pen, they're still blotchy and uneven, but it's less noticeable now.

*I say rules, but they're guidelines that have worked well for me over the years working with watercolors. Your results, should you try these "rules" on for size, will vary wildly as you are a different artist than I am! I have been using this sketchbook as a place to practice getting in, get the pigment down in a heavy-enough wash the first time, and getting out—so I don't have to go in a second time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Time To Celebrate Spring!

Not only is Spring finally getting underway, the Spring Schedule for Imaginary Trips has been posted!

We'll be going on "An Imaginary Visit to the Garden!" starting Thursday, April 14th and the Artful Journaling classes, Foundations and Explorations are starting on Tuesday, April 19th!

Come join in the fun! For more information, you can visit the links above or visit the i•Trav•e•logue here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day Pretties

Day Pretty
Watercolor, ink & stamps
3.5" x 8.5"
I've long wondered why day lilies were not called "day pretties," as the blooms only last for a day. My aunt and uncle grew day pretties for years. I went and took some photos, but I don't think I realized what a happy dose of sunshine they truly were/are until recently!

Again, I've been playing in my neighbor's garden. He's retired and spends most of his days in his yard and it is the prettiest on the block.

I liked the flower once it was complete, but it seemed lacking. Not the flower so much as the background.

I didn't want to repeat the text background that I did in the amaryllis piece, so I decided stripes would do the trick. They didn't. So I add the black pen line stripes. Still didn't like it. Added a second black pen line. Nope. Not doing it.

Then I happen to digging around my studio and happened up on some swirly stamps....and a light bulb lit. I decided to give it a go as I didn't like the page anyway.

And here is my latest installment in the Handbook Watercolor Journal. If I were to do it over, I'd do some things differently. Still, I had fun and that's what counts!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It Was Worth A Shot

Watercolor and Ink
Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
3.5 x 8.5 inches
Something happens to my brain when I start to add text in outline form....I forget how to spell.

I guess because I'm seeing shapes and not letters. Still nursing my headache from the weekend, I decided I needed some color. Lots of fun, bright, bold, obnoxious color.

My neighbor's amaryllis are blooming with lots of vibrant reds. Since they were so handy, I decided they would do the trick. I went with a gray outline of J. Herbin's gray ink to begin with. After splashing color around, the gray didn't quite show up as much as I had hoped.

Then I decided to add the word "Amaryllis" at the bottom. Despite having looked the word up (just to be sure) and having it displayed on the computer monitor as I was adding it (just to be sure), I misspelled it. I had "Amam" down before I realized my mistake. What's with the brain freeze?!

So then I was going to feature it with the word "Amam-oops." Didn't like that. I thought I could lift the gray as it's not permanent ink.

It didn't lift. Not completely.

Decided "oh, well." Got out the black marker and outlined everything including the proper spelling on the word "amaryllis." Yes, the mistake is still there in all it's glory but is slightly less noticeable.

Hubby looks at it and says "Shouldn't that be a 'y' instead of a 'v'?"

Time to turn the page. Next......

UPDATE: As of this morning, Tuesday morning, I am headache free! Yay! Thanks everyone for your concern!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Day In The Woods

Woodpecker—anyone recognize what kind?
Red Stags and Doe
(Stags are still in full velvet)
I had the opportunity to tag along on a wild boar hunt this past Saturday. My camera and I were quite busy with all the various creatures to be seen.....
Sweet Fawns
(Safety in numbers!)

Wild Boar Piglets

I thought I would get in more sketching, but it was not to be. Once again, I am reminded of how quickly animals move. Especially skittish ones. The page above shows a combination of deer and pigs. The numbered sketches are the pigs. Most of these sketches are an "amalgamation" of several different animals or from memory as these critters were not still more than several seconds at any one time.
Watercolor and graphite sketches
in Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
3.5" x 8.5"

I quickly realized if I was going to get any watercolor sketching done, I was going to have to find something that didn't move quite so fast. I finally settled on these tree stumps as more my speed. They primped and posed ever so kindly for me and for as long as I needed. In fact, they're probably still standing there primping and preening.

The top stump was about 4 feet tall and had been drilled repeatedly for bugs and other delicacies. The second stump was nearly 30 feet tall, but as you can see, the bottom is being chewed away, then another section above that and finally, the actually width of the tree. It will most likely fall with the next good blow we have.

The two fawns at the bottom are part of the group from above. The littlest one kept behind the others and would peek over their backs to see what was going on as her curiosity would get the better of her fear.

I came home with a massive headache bordering on a migraine, a sunburn, and many photos to play and practice from. Hopefully, you'll be seeing a little more work based on those images soon.

More info on Wild Boar can be found here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Other Gifts

Watercolor and WC Pencil on recycled paper with
Gel Ink for the text
4" x 6"

I went otter hunting again yesterday.

I didn't find any. I'm not sure if I expected to see one or not.

I was extremely fortunate to have seen the otter last Saturday. After doing a little research on them, I found they can have a territory range of up to 50 miles! He may also be a little put off from this particular location as well since he was so annoyed at me for disturbing him. Not likely, but possible. This particular area is a riddle of creeks, rivers, ponds, and puddles so he has much to choose from.

However, other gifts were waiting.

I went to the otter's creek early yesterday morning and as I stood watching, I heard something hit the water. As I turned my head to see what it was I caught a flash of something speeding towards the top of the tallest pine tree just north of the creek. Try as I might, I could not make out a distinct ID.

I had the long lens on the camera and I tried to focus in on the bird, but there were too many branches fluttering in the breeze and the I couldn't bring anything into focus.

Time was running short as I was meeting a friend for a day-long outing so I abandoned the watch and headed out.

Late in the afternoon, I decided to go back by the otter hole and see if maybe, just maybe, that sweet whiskered face would show itself.

No luck.

However, there was the sweetest breeze blowing, bees buzzed and butterflies floated by, a peaceful symphony reigned....a gift in itself to just stand there and take in the beautiful "silence."

The water was dappled with sun...I watched as seemingly lazy fish would swim in and out of the sun spots until they spotted some bug hitting on the surface of the water. They would shoot up like a rocket, leaving nothing more than a rolling of water as they swam back to the bottom. Silent ripples spread across the water.

Once again, a flash caught my attention.

Looking in the direction of the flash.....nothing.

Just as I started to turn away, another flash....maybe 6 or 7 feet above the water and no more than 10 feet away from me, almost at eye level, then straight up, fast as a bullet....again to the tallest pine, this time on the south side.

Ah, but this time I had a positive ID, a male Belted Kingfisher!!

I stayed south-facing and within 4 or 5 minutes, I saw him leave his perch and high above me, fly north, for parts unknown.

Nature seldom disappoints if we are open to receiving the gifts offered rather than the ones we came seeking.....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Tis A Day To Celebrate!

Corned beef and cabbage, Guinness and green beer, wearing of the green, kissing the blarney stone!

Let the festivities begin—Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Chris and I had dinner with my parents a week ago and my mother gave me these two drawings she had found in the very back of a closet in my old bedroom! I was stunned to see them....because I didn't recognize either of them.
Unfortunately, I have little recollection of either and since I didn't date either one, I have no idea how old I was when I created them. I know there mine though, at least the top one, because it has my initials on it. Talk about a blast from the past.

And humbled to see where I was and how far I've traveled.

It surprises me as well that I have little memory of doing these...not the thoughts behind them, why I chose to create a mouse or a cowboy, why I chose to use graphite and colored pencil, nothing.

I expected some flood of memories to come back, but there was none. I suspect the top one is from my years in art school—a long time ago. The bottom one is on notebook paper. High school or early days at college? Dunno. It definitely appears to be done by a younger me.

What I do recognize is a beginning. Tentative maybe, grasping certainly, but a beginning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Otters and Pigs

People are pigs. Nasty, filthy pigs.*  Does that statement shock you? Does it come across with every ounce of viciousness I can summon? It should.…because it also contains anger, nay, fury at the stupidity of of some people. And what might be driving this fury and viciousness you wonder?

Please click to enlarge
This is a no-name creek where Chris and I went to sketch Saturday morning. In case you can't tell what this is an image of, I've added captions to the various items in the creek. Please enlarge to see for yourself.

And this.

Old carpet padding, old paint cans rusted through, empty motor oil cans/bottles, a clothes detergent bottle, an old frilly nightgown, broken glass of every make, color and kind, beer bottles, soda cans, styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and more. We counted 3 televisions/computer monitors and a full size mattress IN THE WATER. The box springs was up underneath the foundation of the bridge. The next good rain and it will be in the creek as well.

Are you disgusted yet?

How would you feel if you knew this little guy lived in this creek?
Memory Sketch
Created with J. Herbin ink and Fountain Pen
in my Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
"Go away and get outta my creek!"
Memory Sketch
Black gel ink and watercolors
in my Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
Mind you, I live in a county that provides a drop off areas at various places for paint, mattresses, old TVs, computer equipment and the like. For FREE. You don't even have to show ID. There is NO reason, none, for this trash to be in this creek. None that I'll have. Other than some human beings don't deserve to walk upright.

*(I apologize to all pig lovers and do not mean to malign pigs in anyway.)

Okay rant over. For now.

The two images of the otter were done much later in the day as the whole encounter with that sweet face lasted less than a minute! The otter was none too pleased that we interrupted his romp. I was thoroughly scolded with an annoyed bark as he disappeared down the creek. Looking to see if we could see where he went, we encountered that pile of trash....and my heart broke.

The top image of the otter does not quite capture his agitation and annoyance at the intrusion. The bottom one comes much closer. And if we humans are responsible for the deplorable shape of his creek, who can blame him?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Playing with Pigments

Watercolor on
Stonehenge Paper
Click to Enlarge
Funky flowers. Another name would be memory flowers. And I was way off, but I had fun. This was painted using my regular palette of handpicked pigments. Back in this post I mentioned finding all the boxes of pretty pigments and so I decided to do a test run with the Sennelier and Schminke.
Sennelier Watercolors on
Stonhenge Paper
Click to Enlarge
The image above is closer to the flowers that I recall seeing, but in truth, the flowers were not that large and pretty. They were mostly blues and lavenders as they show in this sketch. This illo was painted using just Sennelier pigments.
Schminke Watercolors on
Click to Enlarge
The last page of flowers was painted using Schminke pigments.....can you tell a difference between the three if I had not told you?

The things I noticed:
• The Sennelier pigments were a joy to paint with. The colors activated easily when water was applied to the pan and gave a saturated color when put down on the paper.
• The Schminke pigments did not seem to be as creamy to me as the Senneliers nor did they seem to activate as easily, but the pigments were bright, clean and saturated once they did activate.
• The Stonehenge paper is fabulous. The texture is very creamy and the paint seems to sit up on the surface but not too much so. Just don't think you're going to be doing a whole lot of layering or correcting as this paper is best kept to one layer.
• I also found that the Stonehenge mars easily when erased. Erasing seemed to easily alter the texture of the surface so all of the samples were painted directly with no pencil lines.

The biggest problem I had with both palettes were the color choices. I do not use a lot of phthalos or viridian in my regular palette and spent a lot of time trying to make the greens look natural rather than fluorescent. I didn't have too much trouble with the blues either, but all of the colors I used required some mixing. In a studio, that's no big deal. On location, where every second counts, that makes it a bit more of a challenge.

It pays to spend the time learning what mixes with what, what give you the look you want, what won't give you a good mix BEFORE you step foot out the door. I'll probably be showing some more work from these different pigments. I have to say I'm intrigued by the challenge of learning these pigments.

I hope you get a chance to get out and sketch this weekend. That's on my agenda as we're having a spell of cooler weather and I hope to take advantage of it!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Cool Bloggy Award!

The lovely and talented Carole from Carole's Creative Corner surprised me with a "Stylish Blogger Award!" Thank you, Carole! Carole lives in Australia and has many diverse talents including painting, zentangles, photography and cardmaking. Please stop by and check her out.

And you know these awards always come with a "to-do" list and this one includes liking back to the giver, listing 7 things you don't know about me and passing the award on to others. The official "to-do" is 15…I'll probably pass it on to 5. So here goes....

1. I was raised on a strawberry farm.

2. Lime green and purple are my "power" colors. Whenever I am faced with a tough day or need cheering up, I almost always reach for green or purple in my closet. These colors make me happy thought I wouldn't call them my favorites. I have many, many favorite colors.

3. I don't much care for the taste of bananas and specifically don't like banana pudding with vanilla wafers.

4. Many long years ago, I thought I would be a pastel artist rather than watercolors. I loved the saturated colors that pastel provides. Just not the dust nor the mess.

5. When Chris and I married, we spent our honeymoon meandering around the state of Florida with no reservations or plans as to where we would go. In fact, there was only one destination and that was an antique flea market! One of the best trips we've ever taken.

6. I love old watches. There is something about the old watches that touches me deeply though I cannot say what or why exactly.

7. If I had to name a favorite fruit, it would have to be………blackberries. Did you think it would be strawberries? They're okay, but left to my own devices, I will generally pass them by. My grandfather grew blackberries when I was little. Sometimes he'd let me pick berries with him. I'm sure on those days his yield was a little low as most of them never made it into the bucket!

Now to name the other recipients.....

Myra of Simple Inspirations - this woman is a master magician with a sewing machine!
Elva of Elva's Field Notes - this blog is a treat…to read, to see the sketches, to experience nature through Elva's eyes.
Jacqueline of Art in My Heart - delightful art, fun tutorials and this woman is going to France and Greece on painting holidays and you can go with her!
Cris of Cris, Artist in Oregon - such gorgeous photos of flowers, birds and a life well lived. Always fun to visit!
Gillian of The Fading Rose - you never know what she's up to, but you can bet it's going to be fun as she's a very talented artist and photographer.

I do hope that you'll check these blogs out as they're all a lot of fun! Again, thanks, Carole!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All Aboard....For New Orleans!

The party's over and now, it's back to the business at hand. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the culmination of over two months of parades, parties, soirees and all manner of merrymaking....but wait! Don't be sad that the party's ending!

The party need not be totally over as leaves this Friday for an "Imaginary Trip to New Orleans" and boy, are we gonna have fun! Wanna play too?! Just click on the link above for all the details!

Monday, March 7, 2011

As Requested.....Guest Artist

Your wish is my command—usually. Some of you asked to see Chris' work from our one-day staycation.....above and below are Chris' sketches from our outing to Davis Islands. (You can see the first post here.)

Chris worked larger than I did, his pages are 5"x 7" and he worked in colored pencil. Using colored pencils, especially for location work, is a real challenge as you generally have to build up many layers. Chris is an extremely quick sketcher yet the pencils slowed him down considerably. A few things both of us agreed on is that our values were off on the fountain guy and we wished we had simplified the background.
 I had finished my fountain face and was nearly finished with the bench when Chris turned to start sketching the bench. Having no way to really capture the whites of the Bridal Wreath shrub, he decided to capture some of the local wildlife going about their daily business.
Believe it or not, this door is part of the same house that I sketched. We both agreed that it seemed out of place for the house. It's looked like they were trying to marry different architectural styles and they just didn't mesh well. There were no bats....that's Chris' special touch he adds to his work. I was really surprised that the top sketch was not given the special touch as well. As Chris said, "I can only take this stuff seriously for so long."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One-Day "Staycation!"

Watercolor only in the
top and bottom sketches,
white and black ink in the
middle sketch;
Handbook Watercolor
3.5 x 8.5 inches
I'm not sure what to think of the word "staycation"....I don't think of staying at home as a vacation since I work out of my home. I'm there a lot. Sometimes, too much, but I digress.

Chris and I decided to go out sketching Sunday morning... a kind of spur-of-the-moment Spring madness took over, and we were off!

We went to some little islands that are linked together called Davis Islands. They're located just off from downtown Tampa in Hillsborough Bay. Even though the islands are linked to the mainland, it was like stepping into another world....

We found a small park and decided to start there. There was a tall tower in the middle of the park with dedication plaques on the sides. At the bottom was the cool looking stone fountain face. Unfortunately, the fountain was bone dry and looked as if it had been a long while since it worked.

The other cool thing about the tower is that it threw a long, wide shadow that was very pleasant to sit in as we quickly climbed into the 80's on Sunday. Next, I shifted around and drew the bench with a bridal wreath shrub blooming behind it.

Shifting once again, I noticed the house (it might have been a business, not sure) across the street with the gorgeous cut-out work over the front door. The building was under construction and up for sale, but the red clay tiles shining in the sun were gorgeous. Each of the sketches took about twenty minutes each.

We made our way back to main street to find some lunch and stopped in a Grecian cafe....that was only serving breakfast! We had hoped for an gyro, but the breakfast was good, it was cool and we felt refreshed after our meal.

Going to a place we were unfamiliar with (we've both been there, just not a lot), eating lunch in a restaurant we weren't familiar with, then getting served breakfast instead of lunch all contributed to the feeling that we were on a real get-out-of-town vacation. Kinda cool actually.

And just thirty minutes later, we were home.....can't beat that!