Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mr. Tulka Goes to Washington

Don't know quite how to explain this phenomenon, but sometimes drawing a photo goes viral. Scroll down through the comments at the link to see what I mean.

Aunt Bee

Raena (who seems to be my muse lately) commented: "I am sure that if you wanted to sit and do a perfect painting, you could easily do it!"

I laughed and agreed with her at first, but then started wondering...

Could I? Could I really give up my illustrationist ways and do a realistic painting if I wanted to?

Thought I would give it a shot with "use THIS reference photo" challenge #10.

While I did forgo the thick, black ink lines and wild paint splotches I so dearly love, I don't think this qualifies as "realistic" and it's nowhere close to "perfect." Sorry Raena.

I really like how the bee turned out, but Oh!...(eye roll)...those petals belong in the dustbin. Gahhhh!

Friday, February 26, 2010

You Can Draw!


Signed up for a Fun Ed class at the community college today. "You Can Draw!" No experience required. It may turn out to be a "draw a big circle, then draw two little circles, then draw two dots...voilĂ , it's a frog!" kind of thing. But that's OK. It will get me out of the house to meet new people who want to be creative.

Next is "Sketching Historic Downtown" for six weeks. Woot! I'm hoping this will be Urban Sketchers for Dummies. Too cool.

After that is "Intro to Watercolor" for four weeks finishing up on June 17. I'm gonna be a busy girl this spring.

Under the sketch:
This is a sketch of the photo on the art classes flyer. This seems an odd way to set up a palette.

In the box:
After yesterday's overworked fiasco, I threw the Pigma Micron 005 back in the artbox and got out the magic that is the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Today's drawing: 5 minutes in ink, 5 minutes in paint.

That's the ticket.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chocolate Orange


This is the last of the Chocolate Orange I got for Christmas from my mother-in-law. I was going to sketch it and write the story and had everything arranged to draw. Then Hubby came up behind me, snatched the last slice and took a bite.

"Hey! I was gonna draw that!"

"Oops, sorry" as he lays the half eaten slice back on the foil.

He trots to the kitchen and returns with a Snickers bar which he flings on my desk.

"Here, draw that."

"But it doesn't have a story!"

"Well, what's left of the chocolate orange really has a story now."

He had a point.

Process notes:
Really overworked this one with the shading on the box. Ugh. Should have left it unshaded and not been so ticky about it. It looked great right up to the time I added the first bit of Payne's Gray. Then I watched it go into the weeds...there it goes...I couldn't stop the disaster. Made a big ol' box of mud.

I usually spend about 15 minutes painting and that includes drying time. I spent close to two hours on this. With sketch painting, faster is better. Must. Remember. This.

The page looked nekkid after I was finished painting, so I thought I would throw a little splatter on there to liven things up. It was a good idea but badly executed. There must be a trick to that splatter business that I don't know.

To me this page still looks dull and lacking...lacking what I don't know.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is Your Daddy Home?


3:35 this afternoon brought the sound of three basketballs in the neighbor's driveway. The boys are home from school - Eli, who is about 5, his older brother and their cousin. Then the familiar bam, bam, bam on the front door. The older boys have given Eli the flat basketball again and he needs some air.

Hubby is Eli's go-to guy for air and Hubby loves the honor. Hubby makes a big deal of getting out the air tank, airing up the ball, having Eli test it to be sure it's just right, and checking out Eli's basketball moves. Eli loves all the attention. I'm not sure he doesn't let the air out so he can come over and get Hubby.

So, the knock on the door and there stands little Eli with his mushy ball. He looks up at me with big eyes and asks, "Is your daddy home?"

I stood there feeling rather decrepit with my gray hair and bi-focals, realizing I'm old enough to be his grandmother. Yet in Eli's eyes I'm young enough to be Hubby's daughter.

Bless you my child. You just made my day.

This little guy really made my day. I walked around the house the rest of the afternoon chuckling to myself and repeating, "Is your daddy home? Is your daddy home?" Hubby's gonna love *this.*

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Open Studio - Tuesday

Appeared in the doorway of the studio and was met with a chorus of "There she is!" and "We know all about you!" Ack! My anonymity was shot before I even opened my mouth, so I just dove right in like I had known these folks all my life. They were a very jovial and welcoming group.

Everybody had *huge* palettes full of yummy colors and they were nice enough to let me poke in my waterbrush and try them out. Tippy even gave me a squirt of Daniel Smith Quin Gold for my palette. Luscious! Must. Have. Some. Everyone was fascinated with my Niji waterbrush. They had to see all about it, take it apart, fondle the bristles, and take it for a test drive. It was fun watching their expressions.

Spent very little time drawing, mostly table-hopped and chatted. Woo Hoo! New stuff to look at and learn. After seeing how these folks work, I now fully understand Ramona's gasp yesterday. It wasn't that I draw in ink, the gasp inducing statement was "There is no next time." They go through several iterations of pencil drawings, trace stuff on the light box, then begin to paint, and paint, and paint. It takes weeks apparently to produce a single piece. But these are big gallery works, not sketches. I was the street graffiti kid amongst the atelier denizens. Yep, a stranger in a strange land once again.

I did a show-n-tell of my sketchbooks about halfway through the studio time. Gales of laughter at the hotdogs, ohhs and ahhs over some pen drawings, exclamations of delight at daily journal entries. After that I think we all began to realize that sketchbooking was a totally new and foreign concept around these parts. By the end of the two hours a glimmer of understanding was beginning to show. What I do is so new and different it will take some time for the idea to sink it and them to grasp it. I even got the question, "What's a blog?" Yep, a little time.

About the drawings:
The lady on the left is Gay the instructor. She was sitting still for a few minutes doing a critique of Tippy's painting. Unfortunately Tippy kept leaning back and blocking my view so I lost her face. She has the most delightfully curly hair. Love it.

The guy on the right is Joe working at the light box. I'm loving the light box addiction because it gives me a sketch target that doesn't change position. Showed the sketch to Joe and he laughed and said, "Yep, that's me!" Whew. Good-natured sketch victims are a Good Thing.

I need to work on drawing people so I'm thinking future studio time with this group will be spent drawing the members. Hopefully they will all be good-natured about it and won't toss me out.

It was a very good day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Open Studio - Monday


Only two people in the studio this afternoon: Ramona and Tippy. A group of two didn't seize me up too badly. After brief introductions I sat down to sketch and Ramona was an obvious target.

She asked if I minded her looking over my shoulder while I painted. Not at all, come on over. Had a bit of show and tell on the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Niji Waterbrush.

She commented on how fast I had drawn this. Told her I go straight to ink without a pencil sketch.

She asked, "What do you do if you draw a line in the wrong place with ink? Do you fix it the next time around?"

I replied, "There is no next time. The first time is the final time. I just deal with it."

She gasped just a little and her eyes grew wide.

Uh oh. Wrong answer. Dang.

Somehow I have managed an artistic faux pas in under an hour. DANG!

There it was, the Uh-Oh moment I had been dreading, when I suddenly realize I said something I shouldn't oughta. As with similar Uh-Oh moments in my life, I don't understand *why* what I said was wrong.


I remember now why I don't often leave my house to be around other people.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My "Stuff"


Was invited to drop in on two different open-studio painting groups to see if I would like to join. One meets Tuesdays afternoons and has an instructor on hand for help if needed. The other meets all day Mondays without an instructor.

Both folks I talked to said, "Bring your stuff so the group can see it." Eeeek! My stuff was hither and yon in no particular order. Had to figure out when I drew things, date them, and get them in chronological order. Thank goodness for my blog. I need to get better about dating stuff.

I created covers and title pages for the Blog Art album and Portfolio. The portfolio is really just the loose stuff that wasn't bound in one of the sketchbooks. I didn't know what else to call it. Some of my sketchbooks didn't even have my name in them so I created title pages with appropriate info.

It's going to be scary having real people see my stuff and me see their immediate reactions. I won't be able to hide behind the safety of the anonymous Internet.

Should I introduce myself as "Speck?"

The rest of the story:
I started thinking it would be a good idea to get out of the house and find other creative, artsy people. I knew there had to be some out there somewhere.

Ran into a co-worker of Hubby's at Wally World and she mentioned her hubby was in the Tuesday painting group. Called him to find out about it. He said to come on down.

He also mentioned another lady who writes and illustrates children's books was a regular in the Monday group, so I called her to find out about that. She said come on down.

I'm a big 'ol Introvert, not a people-person. Being in a group of people saps my energy. Plus, nobody locally knows me as Speck so I can blog away on the Internet without repercussions from small-town attitudes. If I show up with Speck on everything my cover will be blown.

It sounded like a good idea at first but on the Eve of Destruction I'm experiencing a boatload of anxiety.

What have I gotten myself into???

I need Xanax.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nana's Prayer Lily


I've been at Nana's house eleven days now and have largely forgotten what my husband and kitties look like. That's a Good Thing actually. I needed an extended break from my everyday life.

Nana has worked me like a dawg these two weeks and fed me only junk food and take-out. I'm craving green things and salad. Can't wait to get home to my own cooking.

We finished all her home improvement projects and she is very happy about that. We still need to work on the garage but that will have to wait for warmer weather.

Haven't drawn much since I've been here and was having withdrawal symptoms so I drew what was in front of me - Nana's Prayer Lily on the kitchen table.

I'll be heading home tomorrow if it doesn't snow again.

I did make it home on Thursday, and arrived to find a pile of bills, screaming hungry cats, and an overflowing litter box. Sigh. I remember now why I volunteered to help Nana with all her projects.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Lodge Room


Nana's Guest Room - Decorated like an Adirondack lodge, with ducks, fish, sticks, twigs, and bark...and a TV with remote. Discovered the "Arts" channel. I'm in love. Can go to sleep to the sweet sounds of Bach, Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky.

Woke up dog tired and decided going back to bed sounded like a good idea. Slept all day and finally started feeling human again around 10:00 p.m.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Monkey Touch the Monolith

Summary of the past four days:
Tuesday: Move, tote, lift; move, tote, lift; move, tote, lift; cull, cull, cull; toss, toss, toss; box, box; tote, tote, tote.

Wednesday: Shovel, shovel, shovel (snow); hammer, hammer, glue, glue, screw, screw, screw (building bookcase, not sex); errand, errand, errand, errand, errand; sort, sort, sort, wipe, wipe, scrub.

Thursday: Move, move, move; wait, wait, wait; shop, shop, shop, buy; putty, putty, putty; sand, sand, sand; kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk (new pneumatic nail gun installing trim); caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk, caulk (Nana is addicted to caulk), caulk, caulk, caulk (see me watching all this), caulk, caulk, caulk.

Friday: Scrub, scrub, caulk, caulk, caulk; shovel, shovel, shovel; confer, confer; queen on king, three on four; errand, errand; caulk, caulk, caulk (there are 12-step programs for this...); paint, paint, paint, swoon, paint, paint, paint, paint, Tales of the ER until 2:00 am.

Note there is no "draw, draw, draw" in any of that. No artwork happening during those days.

What does this have to do with the monkey you might be asking? Nothing, but it catches me up to where the monkey comes in.

Nana was painting away this afternoon, all glaze-eyed, zoning away in a happy place in her head, and she said, "I *love* to paint."

That's when I had an epiphany.

I would have said the same thing five years ago, but wouldn't now. Painting has lost its appeal for me. I used to love all the prep work, imagining what the finished product would look like, creaming on beautiful paint, and watching the ragged transform into the sublime. Everything looks better with a fresh coat of paint.

I realized over the past ten years I have completely painted the insides (walls, ceilings, doors, trim and cabinets) of my house, my mother's house, my mother-in-law's house, and Prissy Sister's house. I've also painted my neighbor's entire kitchen (including cabinets), and Nana's nursery. Now I'm here painting Nana's two new closet shelving units and a new set of pantry doors. I think I'm done painting for a while.

An epiphany is really not the same as a Monkey-Touch-The-Monolith moment, but M-T-T-M was the only thing my tired brain could muster up to draw to preserve and illustrate the thought.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nana's Photos and Frames


Arrived at Nana's yesterday afternoon. Wanted to start with a small project that we could finish by bedtime. Decided to straighten up these two cubbies that contained her photos and frames. Turned out to be a big project that took four hours yesterday and all day today.

These cubbies were packed with formal portraits, photos in frames, and empty frames and easels. Forty years of snapshots are lurking in boxes hidden under the stairs. That will be a major project for another day.

Sorted all the multiple copies of portraits by person then put each sitting in a page protector for the moment. They will need to be mounted in an album in the future. Took all the photos out of the frames and sorted them into the page protectors.

Put the page protectors in some old albums that had sticky pages and tossed the sticky pages. Culled any tired, tragic, or broken frames and sent two big boxes of decent ones to Goodwill.

Now Nana can find what she needs in here without an avalanche of stuff falling out. She was thrilled.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Last Fried Banana

Arrived safely at Nana's house this afternoon. Went out for Chinese for supper. The place was deserted at the height of the dinner hour. Thought that was quite odd. There were a few tables with soccer moms and tots, but the large dining room was mostly empty.

I was too hungry to draw all the food. I was busy scarfing down anything that wasn't running away from me at that point. When the three of us finally sat back and sighed in contentment, there was one lone fried banana left on the table. So that's what I drew. Then Poppy ate it.

On the way home the streets were oddly deserted too. When we turned into a neighborhood it looked like every other house was having a party. Nana realized it was Superbowl Sunday. Poppy and I didn't have a clue, nor did we care. Nana knew because she had read the morning paper. She remembered one of the teams was New Orleans, but couldn't come up with the other one. I was impressed.


Actually I'm off for a visit with my sister to help her with some projects.

Didn't want anyone to think I was dead.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Polygamy in America

Dude on the cover of the latest National Geographic. He had an ancient face. Had to draw.

He was looking eerily similar to George W. Bush for a while. Kinda creeped me out. Squiggled on more lines to get rid of the likeness.

Eye Exam

(Click to embiggen)It will be sooooo nice to be able to see well again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dream Clouds & Chelsea

Decided to take a break from drawing and computer and just flomp on the couch watching TV all day. Dozed in and out. Had a weird half-waking dream of an image of clouds with lines. Thought about it all day and drew it this evening.

The part I dreamed was really just the upper left corner of this. I filled in the rest to fill the page.

I try to pay attention to my dreams. It could be valuable information the universe is trying to send me. Or I could just be a lunatic. Either way, I pay attention.

Also drew Chelsea sleeping in the middle of the living room rug. That's an odd place for her. Had to draw since she was still for once. Any other time I've tried to draw her she could feel me lookin' at her and would move.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's In My Food?


An off-hand comment by Raena got me to reading all the labels in my pantry. Discovered almost everything in there has MSG in it, even things I wouldn't have suspected. I use a lot of flavor packet thingies and they are the worst culprits.

MSG doesn't seem to affect me but it makes Hubby's bedtime miserable - sleeplessness, bad dreams, restless legs. After eating Chinese his night is shot. I didn't realize I was feeding him so much of it at home.

All the foods we eat are just basic ingredients with a few spices. Need to figure out what the combination of spices are in those packets so I can make my own mixes sans MSG.

I have no knowledge of spices much beyond salt, pepper, onion and garlic. Need to find out how to use stuff like turmeric, cumin, marjoram, thyme and celery seed. And paprika. Everything lists paprika as an ingredient.

But mainly I need to rid the pantry of MSG. It causes obesity in mice. Squeak!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Old Man


I was studying on how to draw people's noses today and found this photo of an old man with an amazing face. Every craggy line told a story. He had the most amazing nose too. It had a personality all its own. Had to draw.

I liked the ink drawing just as it was. Debated on whether or not to paint it. Decided to scan it in case I tanked with the paintbrush. At least I would have something postable for my efforts.

I think I took a couple of decades off his age with the paint. He looks older and craggier in the ink drawing. Couldn't quite figure out how to fix that. Oh well, I think it turned out pretty well as long as it isn't compared too closely to the actual photo.

Process Notes:
One of these days I'll learn to draw a square to frame the subject *before* I start the sketch, and maybe I'll figure out how to draw it *straight*. Sheesh! Drew this guy right into the valley. But hey, it's a sketchbook, not fine art. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

That red thing below his moustache is not his lower lip, it's his tongue sticking out.

(Click either image to embiggen)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hunger Strike


The cats have gone on a hunger strike. They refuse to eat their formerly favorite stinky flavor "Rotting Fish Heads in Garbage Can (Classic Pate')." My philosophy with finicky cats is to wait 'em out. Eventually they will eat it and be happy.

But Chelsea was very vocal about her displeasure with the menu. She would sit at my feet and YOWL all day and night. "Momma GET UP! and put something else in the food bowl! DO IT NOW! YOWL! YOWL! YOWL!" She worked herself up into a lather about it yesterday and that's not good for an antique cat.

OK! OK! I caved and went to Wally World today. Got the nasty cheap stuff, different flavors of the usual stuff, and some really expensive stuff.

So far this evening they have eaten the "Dead Shrimp in Fetid Backwater" and "Putrid Cow in Hot August Sun with Barley and Garden Greens." I'm guessing the Garden Greens are added to keep their breath smelling nice. Um, righhhttt....

Cheezburger the Porch Cat will get the remaining cans of "Rotting Fish Heads" as a treat. He normally only gets dry kibble.

Process notes: Drawn with a Pigma Brush Pen. Couldn't seem to control it and everything turned out wonky.