Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chicago River from the Wabash St. Bridge

Because I am old and married and have no life, I have nothing better to do on Friday night than to sit at home and play Doodlypaint Urban Sketcher from 800 miles away.

I've noticed the watercolor paintings that make me purr have strong, dark, almost black elements. Somehow that gives the painting a more realistic feel rather than an illustration look. That's true even if the painting is flowy and "watercolory". It has something to do with "value" but I need to study that concept a bit more. The old brain cells aren't computing.

Thought I would give the black element thingy a shot. I like it.

Process notes:
Need to pratice painting clouds. These clouds are so cartoony I expect to see the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote running across the bridge. The building on the right, Marina Towers, looks a bit unstable. It's supposed to be a round building with balconies that bloop out like flower petals.

Need to work on water too. This is the first time I've attempted to paint water. Granted there's not a lot of wave action going on in the Chicago River but there needs to be a ripple or two here and there.

Decided to quit doing experiments in The Fail Book and do them in the big new sketchbook. It's pages are 8.5" x 11" but I ended up painting tiny because I was tense and the finished size of this (paint edge to paint edge) is 4.5" x 6.5".

Oh well, at least the paper didn't crinkle up like a Ruffles potato chip.

Photo courtesy of blogger bud Uncle Buck; taken on his morning walk to work.

Creatures of the Night

Playing with paints tonight.

I didn't want to make a boring brown owl, so I made him Indigo. I am *so* loving that color!

Friday, August 28, 2009

St. James Episcopal Cathedral

Drawn from Google maps street view. The view of a tall building like this one warps the proportions into a fish-eye lens effect. All the buildings lean in towards the center.

My brain said to straighten them out and that's where I got into trouble...some parts are curved inward and some are straight. Arrggggh! Oh well, I'm happy with the bell tower at least (curving nicely to the right).

Drawn lead-free with a Pigma Micron 005.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little What For

An old man holds court in the park, giving somebody a little What For, much to the amusement of his companions and the curiosity of onlookers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Football Weather

I was weary and opted for something easy to draw tonight. Wasn't up to attempting the stadium, crowd and lights.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dancing Boy

Decided I liked the dancing boy so well I went back and laboriously edited out all the lines.

And the journal page for today...

...because I haven't posted the painting of this kid nearly enough. <---sarcasm

Powwow Dancers

Was playing in the Fail Book with my big paintbrush today, trying to capture the movement of some kids dancing at the Odawa Powwow in Emmet County, Michigan. Reference photos courtesy of fellow Flickrite June Hymas.

No great works of art here, but a few things went right.

This little guy had a least a hundred bright orange streamers on his outfit. I felt sorry for his momma having to sew all those on.

I got the proportions right! Yay! Except for the head. Sigh. I am very pleased that I was able to capture the movement of his legs and feet. The raised leg and pointed toe came out great. The foot still on the ground looks perfect too. Yay! And the feathers and fur of the headdress are excellent if I do say so myself.

There is good movement in this piece and that's something that is sorely lacking in my artwork.

All-in-all, this little guy gets a big Woot!

Now the girl. Oy. Some major fails here, but there are some accidents that came out right and I want to Remember These Things.

First of all, the poor girl was not the color of a beet. Too much paint on the brush and I couldn't get it thinned down to pink before it set. Oh well. I actually like the color, it's just not very lifelike. I smashed her nose in trying to get it to look right. She looks like a retired boxer with respiratory problems.

Her legs are way out of proportion to the rest of her body. Actually her feet may be right but her head is too big. One way or the other it looks like she may tip over at any moment.

Her face was too fat on the left side, so I painted the dark blue/black across it...a painterly facelift. I continued the blue black halo around her head as if it was a night scene. I very much like how that turned out.

The vest -

I like the watery mix of the different colors and how the yellowy orange pops next to the black and brown.

The fringe -

The fringe came very close to what I've been attempting to do. The colors have all run together so the separate strands are no longer discernible, but the eye "fills in" where each strand lives. Super wicked cool. Love that. Very painterly.

The leggings -

I like the richness of the mix of colors. I've been working and working and working on trying to get the paint to mix like this and every attempt has been a big fail. I managed it here because, duh, I didn't clean the brush out when switching colors. Now how simple was that solution. MUST. REMEMBER. THAT.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheezburger the Guard Cat

After failing so badly at being painterly, I retreated to the safety and security of drawings cats in pen and ink.

This is Cheezburger's attack position. He may look like he's lounging, but his eyes are open and he is scoping out his territory for interlopers - squirrels, cats, coons, or the mailman.

He hangs his head off the edge of the porch to get a sightline down the front of the house behind the bushes. There might be some ninja crickets or lizards down there needing to be repelled.

Cheezy actually likes the mailman because the mailman thinks Cheezy is a cool cat and pets him every day. The mailman's arrival is the high point of Cheezy's afternoon.

Being Painterly

Tried painting watercolors in a painterly way today using a couple of methods I had seen or read about. Got out the paintbrush and went after it without any preliminary sketches. Below are my shamefaced attempts.


Tried the method of "Just Paint the Shapes." This is a view into downtown looking east. The setting sun was glowing on the face of the tall white buildings in the distance and that's what caught my eye.

I made the white buildings tooooo small. They were actually supposed to be the focus. Those blue blobs with the black lines that look like transformers on the utility pole are actually the windows to the white building. The big blue blob at the bottom is the roof of a house.

I liked the tangle of utility lines in the photo, but I probably should have drawn the wires in with a pen instead of painting them. I also don't like the four color palette. If I had do-over, I would change the red brick color of the building on the left to the warm yellow of the building on the right.

Must remember these things.


I found a lady in NYC who had the most amazing watercolors that were vivid and "loose" I guess you would say. There was a lot of white space between the brushstrokes which made the painting sharp and crisp. Very un-watercolor-like compared to most, but there was a dreamy watercoloryness to it still.

I liked 'em real much and tried to emulate the style. Oy. Big Fail.

At least Hubby recognized the building. I like the little bit under the yellow tree. That came closest to what I was aiming for. I also like the odd pink color in the sky. It kinda got away from me, but still I put red in the sky where it didn't belong.

The dark gray monolith on the right is a big fail because I got it too dark. It should have been just a little bit darker than the shadow on the side of the other building (which was perfect BTW.) I like the bit of blue dropped into the monolith. Had it been lighter gray that would have looked neat. I didn't even try on the windows of the monolith because the painting was ruined at that point anyway.

Oh well, onward through the fog.


A lady in north Arkansas blogs about her chickens and posts a picture of them every day. I thought I would try the sketchy whitespace method of watercolor on today's photo.

This came out OK I suppose, but it's not what I was trying to do. There is way too much detail on the big chicken. He should have been more liquidy watercolory. The other too are close to right, but are too hard edged. I should have scootched the bottom chicken over to the right a bit and given him a head. Composition, composition, composition. When will I ever learn???? I painted it just as it was in the photo. Must learn to edit in my head.

I rather like the 1950's retro kitchen wallpaper look to this though.


Thought I would give the chicken pic another shot. Messed it up horribly and washed over the whole thing with Raw Sienna in frustration. Turned it into mud.

After it dried it started growing on me. I kinda like it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Paint Splatter

My desk - could it get any messier???


I'm getting close to placing an art supply order, and I needed to evaluate the paint supplies. It's time to chuck the colors I don't use, buy more of the ones I do, and try to find the ones I want/need.

I'm looking for a red that will go with the "What I Use" palette. I think I want a warm, orangey-red color - I'd call it Tomato Red. I seem to mix that color a lot. I'm having trouble finding it in the on-line paint swatches. Can anyone recommend a nice warm, orangey-red color watercolor paint?

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I probably just have undiagnosed ADD. Hubby calls it "Shiny Things". I'll be on a mission to complete a task and catch a glimpse of something ("Ohhh! Shiny Things!") and forget all about what I was doing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Minty-Fresh Goodness

The finished product, just as cute as can be:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fail Book 4 - Another Burial at the Bus Graveyard

(click to embiggen)

I'm a bridge geek so I made Hubby stop so I could take photos of the underside of this huge bridge over the river. It wasn't as interesting as I had hoped, but there was the most interesting collection of abandoned busses, campers and trailers under there. Cool! Serendipity.

I really liked this particular old relic with its curved humpiness. A 1940's model perhaps?

I went back and forth on whether or not to add color to the bridge. It is white stucco, so not much going on with it as far as actual color, but I could have added shading where there is now hatching.

Hubby said no, he liked it stark. I decided no because it would detract the eye away from the bus, but it seems unfinished. I think it's because there is so much inked detail but no color.

What would have been the optimal solution for a finished, balanced painting? Leave out the bridge altogether? Only include a few lines to suggest the bridge is there? Color the bridge? Color the trees too?

What would you have done?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fail Book 3 - The Bluebird of Happiness

This was supposed to be a loose sketch with sloppy paint. Does this look loose to anybody???? No!

Dang it.

Fail Book 2 - Daddy Snores

Motto for The Fail Book: Draw big, Ink fat, Color bright.

Scribble-scribbling with a fat pen trying to do "loose" scribbley sketches. The more I draw the tighter they get. Sigh.

Why are cats compelled to sleep on any reading material? It seems like sleeping on a book would poke her in the ribs.

Fail Book 1

Dug a slightly used Mead Primary Composition book out of the trash in my BIL's elementary classroom. A few pages had been torn out of the front. Figured I could doodle in it late at night when I'm not trying to draw *something* but having fun drawing *whatever*. Sometimes I don't want to have to work at it.

Anyway I thought the book would be good to practice drawing eyes. I can't seem to get eyes right for some reason. So, I drew an eye. Fail. Drew a nose. Fail. Crap, I'm just gonna doodle.

I've been wanting to draw Neptune's Fountain but it was overwhelming. I've stared at the photo for so long I practically have it memorized. So I doodled it. Dang, it came out pretty good. Then I drew the Space Needle. It didn't suck.

Then I went back and scribbled some more on the nose figuring it couldn't get any worse. Dang, it got better. Shading down both sides was what it needed. Then I scribbled lips. Dang, they came out pretty good too.

Why can't I draw like this when I'm trying????

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chelsea Waits and Watches

My antique kitty Chelsea has become quite the Velcro cat lately. She follows me around like a puppydog. When I sit on the porch in the evening she sits by the door waiting and watching for my return. I don't know what's gotten into her lately. It's very uncatlike behavior.

Process notes:
I broke out my PITT brush pen on this one, trying to get to a good place with it. I'd say this was a Fail. I'm too heavy-handed with it. Must work on that.

As I watched Chelsea through the glass storm door I was struck by the play of the warm interior light framed by the stark blackness of the night. I wanted to try and capture that.

I don't think I got the frame of the "blackness of the night" quite black enough. I fiddled with the scanned image to see if darkening the border would help. It looked worse, so here it is as painted.

Posting the successes as well as the failures.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Venice Wedding

Showed this to Hubby before adding the wording at the top.

He said, "Venice Plaza."

Success!!! A recognizable painting!

I really like the way the reflections in the water turned out. Yay!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I adore my mother-in-law with all my heart and think of her whenever I see this little sprig of rosemary.

The text should read "The *only* one of four I've managed to keep alive." I have a garden but not a green thumb. I forget to water the plants. The only reason this sprig is still perky is that Hubby empties Cheezburger the Porch Cat's water dish into the tub each morning.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hold My Purse

Outside every women's dressing room across the nation there is a beleaguered husband holding a purse. He will have an expression of resignation, exasperation, or a thousand yard blank stare. He is loosely holding the purse; not too tightly for fear someone might think it his. He knows this is a thing all men must suffer for the love of their woman.

I don't go shopping with Hubby, but I do ask him to chauffer me around to go sketching. This is my dear Hubby, sitting in the car, with the "Hold My Purse" look waiting on me to finish a sketch. He's staring blankly into nothingness, not even listening to the radio. He's a big ol' sweetie even though he is a little impatient.

Process notes:
I did this sketch from a photo. I wanted to try to capture the different colored reflections on the roof, door and windshield. I also needed to practice drawing a face. I think I did OK with the car, but Hubby's face looks too cartoony. I think the black ink lines are too severe. I tried adding some brown for contour but it didn't help any. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

When I showed this to Hubby he was *so* tickled I had drawn him. Then he got a sad look on his face and asked, "Do I really look that old?"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

At the Political Rally

Hubby and I went to a political rally today. Don't know what it was about, but they promised free food and hot air balloon rides. Thought it would be a good opportunity to sketch people in the wild.

It was held in a parking lot with zero shade except that from the balloon. I took up a position between two parked cars along the perimeter (this sounds like a military operation) in the shade of a few trees. From my vantage point I was far enough away from the crowd I could draw without raising too much suspicion.

These are a few of the folks milling around, visiting, and eating before the speechifying began. I tried to capture their body attitude...hand on hip, leg thrown out, gestures and such. The little people on the right need to be further up on the page to show they were further away. Sigh. Oh well, I wasn't thinking about that when I drew them.

The big guy in the green shirt had his cell phone glued to his ear the whole time. He was probably reporting back to Nancy Pelosi on all the subversives in attendance.

This is the hot air balloon at the political rally. It looked like it was getting away from the handlers a couple of times. I didn't think a balloon ride with these guys was a good idea even if it *was* free.

After I finished this sketch I had to stand up because my hiney had gone to sleep. I handed my journal to Hubby while I wrestled myself up from the ground. Some people had come over to share the shade and Hubby showed them my journal like a grandfather showing off pictures of his new grandbaby! Gave them a cover-to-cover review! Ack!

One guy was polite enough to ask if I sold my artwork, and I explained the illustrated journal concept to him. He actually looked disappointed. Maybe I shouldn't have said no so quickly.

When the speechifying began the crowd had grown to about 150 people. They were all crowded into the circle of shade provided by the hot air balloon. The first guy told everybody to pull out their cell phones and call the two senators from Arkansas and gave out their phone numbers.

The second speaker rambled on for a bit then said, "We shouldn't be buying oil from heathern nations." Yep, heathern, with an "r." Gotta love South Arkansas politicking.

We had been there for about an hour by then and my brain was about to explode from the heat. I actually wanted to leave before Hubby. It's a miracle.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Moro Bay Ferry

Hubby agreed to take me out sketching today. He let me sketch in peace for about an hour before the heat and the skeeters got to him. I wasn't quite through with all the shading, so I had to take photos and finish up the details and color at home. But hey, an hour is a *huge* sacrifice for him considering the five minutes I have been getting.

This ferry was part of Arkansas Highway 63 until October 27, 1992 when a bridge was built across the Ouachita River. After 164 years of providing an easy and wonderful way to cross the river, the Moro Bay Ferry had become obsolete. It now sits on the bank of the river as a state park attraction.