Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I seem to like this journal page format of little snippets of life with little sketches. However, the little sketches are rather hard to see. Thought I would try a slightly different format for blog presentation today.

This has not been a good day!

Picked up tax returns from the CPA. Refunds on both Federal and State! Yay! (This was the only good thing about this day.)

Norton Antivirus:
Picked up Norton Antivirus for 3 PCs. It was cheaper to buy new than to renew on-line. Installed it on both our computers. It hacks me that this is a requirement for being on-line. Do Mac users have to do this??? Boo.

Yafa Fountain Pen: (Made in Italy)
On a whim I bought a cool looking fountain pen that came with six colored ink cartridges. I wanted a pen that would glide across slick journal pages. This one looks nice, but it writes for a while then quits completely for a while. I even changed cartridges to make sure that wasn't the problem. Guess I got what I paid for. Boo.

Credit Card - Lost & Found:
Left the office supply store and headed to the drugstore. Got to the check-out and realized I didn't have my credit card. That was such a sick and helpless feeling.

I couldn't believe it! I never let my credit card out of my hand. It comes out of its designated slot in my purse, gets swiped in the card reader then goes right back in that slot before I sign. Arggh! Where could it be???

Broke the speed limit and most traffic laws getting back to the office supply store. When I walked in the clerk grinned and handed it to me. She said, "There's a message on your home answering machine from me." She had looked up my telephone number and called to let me know she had it. There are certain benefits to living in a small town.

Snake: (About 7" long)
Another late night gift from Cheezburger the Porch Cat. He is cleaning out the snake population from the front yard. This is a prime example of why I don't step out on the front porch barefoot in the dark.

He was very much alive, writhing around trying to fend off his 200 times larger attacker. Felt kinda sorry for him but not sorry enough to rescue him. Callously took pictures as he fought for his life.

Found him later, belly up in Cheezy's food bowl. Cheezy had saved him there as a snack.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning


Was seized with a fit of spring cleaning today. My stuff was stuck hither and yon (albeit neatly) all around my workspace. To find a particular sketchbook I had to look in five or six places. Argggh!

I cleaned out this little triangular shelf that was decorated with nautical stuff. I needed the utility space more than cutesy nicey-nice.

Collected all my arty creative books, sketchbooks, journals and art toys and fit them in the shelf. It's a little short for the tall books to stand up and the triangular space was a pain, but it all fit...for now.

I may have to put the completed journals on the top shelf next to the ceiling. Hate to do that because I would need a step stool to get to them and I refer back to them quite a bit.

I also culled and disposed of three banker's boxes of old projects I haven't worked on in over three years. Had to have a little Come-to-Jesus meeting about what projects would get my time and attention. Those lost.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Paint Organization


Finally got around to doing something with the new tubes of paint purchased almost three weeks ago. They wouldn't fit in the little boxes with the other tubes so I had to find a new system. All my other art supplies are organized in clear plastic pencil boxes but the little paint tubes would get lost in a jumble if they were just tossed in. Needed some dividers.

Figured out some nifty little storage trays made of accordion-folded cereal boxes. (Held together with blue painter's tape. Yes, I'm cheap.)

Each section is 3/4" wide and 1/2" deep. It holds the little 5 ml Winsor & Newton tubes perfectly. Each tray holds five tubes and six trays will fit in the pencil box for a total of 30 small tubes. Hopefully I won't ever have more than that. The big tubes live in a different pencil box.

The new paints were Winsor & Newton to replace the same colors of "cheap" paints.

The W&N Sap Green and New Gamboge are brighter and richer than the old ones, but the W&N Cerulean Blue is a huge disappointment. It is a very dull step-sister of the Raphael paint. The Raphael Cerulean Blue in the palette is very dark, almost indistinguishable from the Ultramarine, Payne's Gray or Indigo. The W&N is very light and different. Maybe I should look for Cerulean Blue in a different brand.

Also got some French Ultramarine and Quin Gold. These too were a huge disappointment. The French Ultramarine looks no different than Ultramarine Green Shade (the stock dark blue). What's the point???

The Quin Gold I had was just a small squirt of Daniel Smith brand I got from a friend's tube. Fell in love with it. I wanted to stay with the same brand for all my paints so I got W&N's Quin Gold. It's not thrilling me the same as the Daniel Smith does.

To this point I've loved all my Winsor & Newton paint. I was not a Happy Camper to have three duds of five in this order. Dang!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Stuff

Note: There's a little bit of overlap here from the last post. I should have waited until the day was over and my daily journal page complete before posting on the blog. Sorry 'bout that.


Tried sketching Hubby but he wiggles too much. He was trying to sew up the rotten boat seats. Gave him a pinhead again, and pin feet. Did OK on the body because I did it as a blind contour, but then I looked down at the drawing for the head and feet. That's where I messed up. (Original in Black n' Red - Staedtler 0.3)

Our CPA called to tell me my deductions are not actually deductible. Gaaahhhh!!! This was after I had called her to make sure they were.

Income tax returns make me crazy! Why are they called returns anyway? If I calculate things correctly, I shouldn't return anything to the IRS, they should be returning things to me.

Something blew up or fell down in China over the weekend. TV news reports showed ambulances responding to the scene. Why does a Chinese ambulance have the word AMBULANCE written on the side in English? Why not Russian or some other language? Seems odd.

Hoarding: Buried Alive is my new favorite TV show. Not quite the trauma dramas as the original Hoarders but it will do. Makes me want to clean my house after watching an episode.

I think it would be fun to be a professional organizer, but maybe not for a hoarder. I don't know if I could handle finding a sailcat in the middle of the living room.

Boat Repair


Hubby was trying once again to patch his raggedy boat seats back together with fishing line and force of will. They are rotten and need complete replacement, padding and all. But he won't part with the coin, so he sits and stitches.

I gave him a pinhead again. He really has a normal sized head.

Cheezburger the Porch Cat inspects the progress. It's tough to sew when your superviser keeps zotting the thread with his paw.

Process notes:

Hubby kept wiggling and it's tough to sketch a wiggling subject. Need to work on that.

I wanted this to be a really loose sketch. I started with the shirt and shorts almost as a blind contour drawing. Then I started looking at what I was drawing when I got to the legs, shoes and head. That was a mistake. When I get absorbed in the details my drawing gets smaller. Crap.

I debated whether or not to post this sketch. It obviously has problems. But this is my journey of discovery, and this was my day in it, so I opted to show all...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dis, Dat, and De Udder Ting

Jollydog asked if the new journals I bought at Wal-Mart would take watercolor. I didn't think they would because the paper was thin, but I did a test for her to satisfy my own curiosity.

This is a Black n' Red casebound notebook with ruled, 90 gsm white paper, purchased for $5.00 in the clearance aisle. It has a yearly date planner, 3-year calender, Table of Contents, Contact list section, World Time Zone map, as well as paper, envelope, measurement, speed and temperature conversion tables inside the front cover. Inside the back cover is a map of Los Angeles and the United States, and maps of the New York, Chicago, and Washington DC metro systems.

This paper is so slick the ink from the Staedtler Pigment Liner smudged a little at the first blob of paint. I should have let it dry for just a minute. Thirty more seconds of dry time and no smudging on the rest of the drawing.

I slathered a lot of water on this trying to build the layers of color without letting it dry between colors. In some places it picked up the paint like WC paper. (I'm not used to that.) The paper crinkled a little bit but it wasn't bad enough to deter me from using WC again. Neither the pen nor the paint bled to the reverse side.

I was very surprised at how well this paper held up. It gets a double woot...Woot! Woot! That opens a vast new territory of possibilities on how to use this journal.

Next was a Mead Genuine Bonded Leather Graph Paper Journal, Product #88185, brown, with padded, top-stitched cover and ribbon bookmark, purchased for $9.00 in the clearance aisle. I searched for this on-line hoping they also made a blank paper version, but was unable to find even a mention of it anywhere. Maybe this was made exclusively for Wal-Mart.

Wow this paper kicked and screamed at the watercolor. It sucked up the paint, turned a nasty looking gray, and the surface came off with a few strokes of the brush. The paper crinkled badly and paint bled through to the reverse side. I might could live with the crinkle and bleed, but when the paper starts falling apart under the brush there's no hope. Copy paper performs better under watercolor than this stuff. Pen and ink only in this journal.

I was surprised at this performance too. Of the two journals I expected this one to take a light wash and the Black-n-Red to crinkle like a Ruffles potato chip. It was, in fact, just the opposite. Ya just never know until ya try.

It was luscious under the pen though. Gave me an adrenaline rush. Wanted to draw everything in sight and fill the pages. So I did, kinda, sorta.

I have a little game I play late at night when I'm brain dead but still want to draw. I go to Flickr's Most Recent Uploads and pick the photo three columns over and three rows down (3x3) and draw it.

I never know what I'm gonna get, but there are lots of drooling babies and wedding photos uploaded to Flickr. It's good to know the world is reproducing, or preparing to reproduce. The lighting on the subject is never good, composition is wonky, and more often than not the pic is out of focus. Camera phones are the bane of my drawing existence.

Guy at a Concert - Lighting was horrible, angle was worse. Messed up his eyes in a big way, but thought the foreshortening wasn't too bad. It was a challenging angle to draw.

Girl and her Mom on a Tram - Went quicky sketch caricature on this one. The big fat pen I was using doesn't do details well. I guess I should have changed to a smaller sized pen. I like the shape of the girl's face. Might recycle that into another drawing.

Self Portrait in Mirror - Once again the lighting and focus was terrible, but the subject was a very interesting composition. Broke out the drawing pencil to see if I could capture the delicate shading on the face. It looks a little wonky to me but an Asian face has a much different structure than a European face. The eyes appear wider and shallower and the nose bridge much flatter.

I need to learn to draw the Asian face if I keep playing 3x3 on Flickr. In the wee hours of midnight the majority of faces being uploaded are Asian.

Hubby at the Bank - Hubby and I were at the bank Wednesday waiting for the Customer Service lady to fill out a pile of paperwork. I suddenly noticed how awesome Hubby's face was bathed in the diffused sunlight. I snatched up a tiny 3x5 notebook and a ballpoint pen and started drawing.

He is almost recognizable. Woot!

And the journal page to document all this:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring is Here!


Spring is here and my garden is coming to life. Small signs of rebirth are good for my soul.

Hosta - Have gone from purple nubs to pale green spears. Plant marker made from mini-blind slats.

Dianthus - Mother-in-law calls them 'pinks.' These bloom in the heat, cold, wet, dry, sun or shade; and bloom from frost to frost.

Loropetalum - Blooms long spears filled with delicate spidery magenta flowers. The foliage is a deep purple.

Creeping Phlox - Fluffy mounds of tiny delicate flowers. My great-grandma had this in her garden. They are actually a soft pink color. I got carried away with the magenta paint.

Sweetheart Supreme Azalea - Six bushes, all on the verge of blooming. One more warm sunny day and they should be glorious. Keeping fingers crossed that we don't have another cold snap.

I wish all my sketches were as light and airy as the azalea one. I tend to overwork. :(

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heart Attack in a Box


Hubby and I were out running errands and arguing (or discussing) about what to eat for supper. He wanted a Sonic burger (Yuck!) and I didn't think I could stomach that.

I had suggested a local burger joint where I could get a good fish sandwich. He agreed and we were en route when we spied the Long John Silver's catering truck. I loves me some Long John Silver's.

Our little town isn't big enough to support a Long John Silver's store, so they send their catering truck up from Louisiana (I thought; Hubby says Texarkana) to hit all the little towns in southern Arkansas.

They show up unannounced and set up in the parking lot of a vacant store. Word gets around fast when they arrive and usually there's a huge line snaking around the parking lot. If you don't get there quick they run out of food. Usually I don't make it in time. Victory today!

I love the crumblies.

It's probably a good thing I don't get to eat LJS except two or three times a year.

You know you live in a small town when the highlight of your day is eating fast food from a taco truck in the parking lot of the old Piggly Wiggly.

Trunk Mold


My granny ride is now 15 years old and all the rubber seals are giving up the ghost. My trunk has been leaking for a while but just recently it has started to flood. Asked Hubby to try to fix it.

He pulled everything out including all the carpeting and lining. There was almost three gallons of water back there. It was smelling intensely moldy. YUCK!

He pulled off the entire rear light assembly and the side blinkers. The gaskets have been discontinued so they couldn't be replaced. Had to put everything back with generous amounts of goopy silicone.

I hope it works. I want to keep the granny ride for a while yet. She gets 30 miles per gallon and rides like a dream.

Taking inventory of what lives in my trunk I think my Daddy raised me right. I have adequate stuff in there to get me back on the road in case of breakdown and the knowledge to use it.

My oldest sister has all that in her trunk too, plus enough tools to construct a small three-bedroom house.

Prissy sister's trunk is empty and pristine. She carries a AAA card and cell phone. Pris doesn't do grease.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Sudden Attack of Foliophilia


Had to get out of the house for a while and found myself wandering down the crap aisle at Wal-Mart. They had stacks of journals marked for clearance. Woot! Like I need another journal.

Found two of this [brown] leather one with creamy pages that were graph gridded. Have no idea what I'll do with them but the paper was too luscious to pass over. Maybe I'll do some sketching with a brown Pigma in it. The grids won't bother me as much as lines would.

Found the [three] Red-n-Blacks for $5.00 each. I couldn't pass up any journal book for $5. Don't know what I'll do with them either. The paper is super slick and I had lusted for it when they were full price.

I was testing all my pens on the grid paper and got to the set of Staedtler pigment liners. Ohhhh...they slid across the paper like greased lightning. What a dream to draw with! I had forgotten.

Need to break these out and draw them dry. They are Roz Stendahl's favorite "must-have" pen. They're available locally so that's a big plus.

Monday, March 22, 2010



Reading the book The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head by William L. Maughan (The drawing is the front cover of the book.)


-An Italian term meaning light (chiaro) and dark (oscuro).

-Technique of drawing light and shadow to form the illusion of three dimension.

-"Duplicating the exact shapes of both light and shadow, and paying particular attention to the edges between the two, is fundamental to capturing a likeness."

-Uses Strathmore's charcoal paper "Velvet Gray"; CarbOthello pastel pencils "Caput Mortuum Red" and "Titanium White."

-Paper serves as midtone, Red is shadow, White is highlight.

-Eyes should be the only part of a portrait in sharp focus. All other features should have soft, fuzzy edges.


The method of drawing shadow shapes seems a much more intuitive way to draw than the egghead with longitude and latitude lines. I never understood how to get from that to a realistic portrait.

I'm only to the middle of Chapter 2 at this point. Scanning forward into Chapter 3 I see he starts showing the step-by-step instructions on how to draw a portrait correctly.

I did this one bass-ackards.

I should have waited.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not a Nurse

Hubby is rarely sick. In fact, this is the first time he's been sick since I've known him...going on 30 years. He just doesn't get colds, flu, stomach bugs and gut bugs like normal people. Because of that he's being a big ol' baby. He's not going to die but he thinks he is.

This has all brought to bear something I've always known in my heart - I am NOT a good nurse. May it's just that Hubby isn't a good patient.

I did all the nursey type things. I checked his temperature, brought him aspirin for the fever, cold cloths for his forehead, medicine for his tummy, changed his sheets, bought some bland foods, and fixed him things to eat.

However, there's only a certain amount of moaning and bellyaching I can tolerate.

No, you are NOT about to die, you're just sick. Now be quiet and go back to bed! Sheesh!

Friday, March 19, 2010



Hubby caught a stomach bug at work Tuesday. Barfed up his dinner Tuesday night and stayed home Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday night he was feeling better and went back to work Friday.

Decided he wanted a chicken fried steak from our favorite restaurant for supper tonight. Not a good idea to dump all that grease on a tender stomach, but he would not be dissuaded. It all came up a few hours later like I figured it would.

He laid in bed moaning, groaning and yelling like he was birthing a baby.

He is a big baby.

Sometimes he should listen to Momma.

Nothing but clear liquids for him for the weekend.

When he barfed Tuesday night there wasn't a liner in the trash can and it was half full of office trash. I horked and gagged my way to the backyard with it to clean it out with the garden hose. The neighbors were probably wondering what was going on out there at midnight thirty.

This time there was a liner and no trash. Progress!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drawing Class


Took two of my favorite things to draw in class tonight. It's easier to draw something that's interesting to me.

I didn't want to do another copy-cut-paste of the pencil drawings in my journal because it's getting too fat.

Wanted to come up with a new and interesting way to redraw the geegaws from class.

Quite a departure from the usual, eh? I like it.

You Can Draw! - Class #3

Fell asleep on the couch last night at 11:30 p.m. The cat woke me up at 5:30 a.m. this morning wanting breakfast. I threw a pillow at her, rolled over and went back to sleep, thinking Hubby would wake me up in an hour or two. Wrong.

I slept soundly until 1:30 p.m. Un-BE-LEEVE-able. That is 14 hours, count 'em, 14 hours of sleep. I must have needed it. I know I didn't feel jittery and annoyed when I got up like I have over the last few days.

A couple of loads of laundry, a bath, then off to drawing class. I must admit I was a little groggy from all that sleep so I wasn't so wound up in class tonight. I did move to the front row and my eyeballs appreciated that.

Since I crabbed previously about the things we were drawing, I took stuff I wanted to draw - stuff I love and cherish. It's always easier to draw something I find interesting. If I don't care about it, I don't care about drawing it.

Anywho, first up tonight was a model boat. It's about 3 1/2 feet tall. I thought its shapes were fairly simple without a bunch of geegaws to trip up beginning drawers.

I just let loose and drew kinda sketchy-sketchy like I normally do. It was much more fun and relaxing than last week. After I got it blocked in with correct proportions I erased the sketchy-sketchy lines and left the one that was correctest. Other folks really struggled with this and I was surprised. This was way easier than the guitar from last week.

Next was the lightning rod. I ran out of time with this one. Realized after I got home there is supposed to be a bunch of curlicue doodads on the shaft of the arrow. I missed them completely. Shows how much I was looking at this thing.

The arrow is a black rusted metal and the ball is glass. On this rough sketchbook paper the texture of the metal came out perfectly, but I couldn't get the texture of the glass smooth. There must be a trick to that. Must remember to ask.

No class next week due to spring break.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pirate Redux


Drew a little kid dressed as a pirate in the new pencil sketchbook today. I was right, it does look weird to have a face on green paper. But oh, he came out so good! I'm most proud of the nose, it came out looking like a photo (in my opinion.) Woot! The whole face looks so realistic it's scary. I didn't think I could do such a thing. It took five hours or so to complete. That's just too long for me. I like guerilla sketching mo' better.

I don't have any fixative so I used White Rain hairspray. I may regret that in years to come but I would regret the smudgy drawing tomorrow.

Usually when I work in another sketchbook I scan the drawing, make a thumbnail copy and paste it in this journal to keep a chronological record of All Things Creative. This journal is getting too fat with all the paste-ups so I decided just to draw him again. With my brain immersed in the world of pencil drawing I've missed doing quick sketchy-sketches in pen then mucking around in the paintpan.

"Hey," I thought, "I can fix that."

He came out looking kinda like a quirky Jack from a deck of cards. I ought to draw a big red "J" and a red diamond in the upper left-hand corner. That would be cool.

Pirate Day

Pirate Day at the elementary school in my hometown. This little guy was as cute as could be and got his picture on the front page of the newspaper. His moustache and goatee were drawn on in magic marker.

Finally quit reading, thinking and dreaming about drawing with pencils and DREW WITH A PENCIL!

I showed it to Hubby. He said, "Kinda looks like an ad for The Art Institute of America."

No dinner for him tonight.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pencil Sketchbook


Spent the weekend daydreaming about a sketchbook just for pencil. Looked locally but no hardbound sketchbooks at all. Don't want a wirebound. Looked on-line but that was just confusing. I need to *touch* the paper, not read about it. I have writing journal with nice slick paper but it has lines and I don't want to contend with the lines. I even considered taking a stack of printer paper and having it bound but I don't like comb bindings.

Decided I would just make me one. It didn't need to have a bunch of pages because I figure I'm not going to do a lot of pencil drawings. I'm sure this is just a phase I'm going through because of drawing class. When it ends so will my fascination for All Things Pencil.

I really wanted an 8.5" x 11" or a 9" x 12", but I don't have the paper for that. I'd have to settle for 5.5" x 8.5". Dug out some dingy green paper I've not found a use for that came in a pack of scrapbooking paper. Used eleven sheets plus a piece of white cardstock for the cover. Mashed all that together in a single signature and sewed it together with minty dental floss. Covered it with the eggplant paper and added the kicky blocks as endpapers. Viola! A sketchbook.

It will be kinda odd to have faces on green paper but such is life. If I post any of the drawings on the Internet I'll scan them as grayscale and the background will be some shade of gray. I have enough of the green paper to make five more sketchbooks. I could call them The Green Paper Chronicles. That would be cool.

Afterthought: Realized after searching for and making a sketchbook with slick paper that drawing paper for pencil probably needs some tooth to keep the media on the page. Probably prevents it from smearing as much too. Oh well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Art Supplies & Pencil Ponderings


Momma got Blicked! It's always a happy day when the postman delivers a box of art supplies.

Sharpened up the pencils to take them for a test drive. Discovered the Derwents were too big to fit in my electric pencil sharpener. Pfft! Bought the Derwents on a recommendation by Roz Stendahl. Wanted a pencil that would lay down a very black line and scan well. These are "pigmented" (with carbon maybe?), not graphite, so the shine doesn't confuse the scanner.

Got the Design Ebonys because they are the pencil Rick Tulka uses to do his Le Select Cafe drawings. I've long admired his clean black lines and hoped it would be the miracle pencil I was searching for.

Did a little test with the four blackest drawing pencils I now own using the Big White Marble from drawing class as the subject.
The Derwent was the winner hands down in the qualities I wanted. It has the blackest black of lines and a matte finish that plays well with the scanner. It is waxier and somewhat stickier to draw with over the graphites, and has a rougher, looser line. It also has a very soft lead and is a booger to keep sharp.

Don't think this would be a good pencil for fine detail work but would be great fun for guerilla sketching. Add a bit of water and it makes a dandy wash for shading and shadows. Woot! Great fun!

Had an epiphany doing this little test. *This* is the kind of sketch the drawing class teacher wanted us to do...general shapes with shading for contour, not the details of the cut glass. OH! Of course! These were easy - whipped them out in a few minutes. I should have done something similar in class. Doh! I have a new perspective going into Class #3.

Decided to put down the pencils and check up on the arty bloggers. First one I hit was Karen Blados who had posted a macro photo of a housefly. Ewwww! Had to draw.
(From photo by Karen Blados, used by permission)

This is just the head of course. Didn't have the gumption to draw the whole body or his sticky tongue lolling onto Miz Karen's sofa. Ewwww!

Now you know why I seldom leave comments on blogs. My ADD kicks in and I'm off on a new tangent. Never did leave a comment. Must go back and do that.

I used Rick Tulka's favored Sanford Design Ebony for the fly. There's no way on God's Green Earth Tulka managed the black lines I see on his drawings with just this pencil. Or maybe I should say there's no way on God's Green Earth that I can get the lines I see on his drawings with just this pencil. Frustration, disappointment. There must be something I'm missing. Must ponder on that.

While pondering I was staring at my happy little manikin sitting on my desk. He suddenly struck me as wonderful and needing to be drawn. Picked up the black Derwent.
Manny's been in this pose for quite some time. I don't remember why I posed him like this, but I remember it's supposed to be a vaudeville high kick with a cane and top hat. (Hear the music "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, It's up to you New York, New York!")

That thing curving around his upper arm is a paperclip for the cane. Never could figure out a top hat for him.

One more doodle and I'm off to bed....

Realized if I keep drawing with pencils I should be drawing in a sketchbook, not on loose pieces of copy paper. The sketchbooks I own are too rough for drawing in pencil (in my opinion) and I don't want pencil drawings smudging around in my daily journal anyway.

Must see Dick Blick about a sketchbook with slick paper.

Yay! More art supplies!

Happy Little Trees

Watched an episode of Bob Ross painting happy little trees on PBS and decided to give it a shot. I had some student grade paints I was replacing with Winsor & Newton paints, so I wanted to use up the cheap stuff.

Used Gamboge, Permanent Orange and Payne's Grey wet from the tube. Applied it wet-in-wet with a 1" sable brush and a 1.5" crappy splayed bristle brush. Did a lot of pouncing, not appropriate watercolor technique at all.

It's just starting to dawn on me that yellow and black make delightful greens. That doesn't seem logical at all, but it's a fact of life in the paint world.

Showed this painting and the Unholy one to Hubby. He liked the happy trees better. Curses!

Process notes: OMG this thing needs help. There are so many things wrong with it I don't know where to start. I was using oil painting techniques with watercolor and that's the main problem.

What went right: Lovely sky colors and beautiful greens.

Seek Ye Not the Unholy

7" x 10"

I was mad. Took it out on the paintpan. Liked the result.

Painted a "happy little trees" type painting using the same color palette. Hubby said he liked the happy trees better. Cain't git no respect.

Never know what yer gonna get when ya come here, do ya?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You Can Draw! - Class #2

Bob, the teacher, started out tonight's class explaining about different kinds of papers: hot press, cold press and rough, and why to use each of them.

Then he showed the trick about getting scale and proportion correct by measuring down the pencil with the thumb at arm's length. That part I knew already. But what he added I had not thought of before. It was a Doh! moment for me.

If you eyeball out the thing to draw and it's only an inch or so of pencil length, but you want it to be four inches tall on the paper, make four equal marks to arrive at the top and bottom of the thing. Then any other measurement you take multiply by four lengths also.

That's a big ol' Duh! but I would have never come up with it on my own. That's why I wanted to take a class with real learn practical applications of art theory.

Then we start on our first drawing. Lighting conditions weren't ideal because the fluorescent lights washed out all the shading and shadows from the spotlight he brought. And the things we are drawing are sitting on a desk at eye level. It's tough to get perspective going at that angle. If there were any shadows we wouldn't be able to see them.

So what did he choose? Cut glass. Grrr.... Glass is probably one of the hardest things to draw. And it was a little bitty cut glass candlestick thingy I could barely see from so far away. On the candlestick was a white marble ball. Behind it was a rough Mexican blanket. He let us cheat on the ball and trace around a styrofoam cup so we all at least got the ball part correct.

I worked mainly on the candlestick and had just started putting shading on the ball when he started around the room doing show-n-tell. Since I'm on the back row I'd be the last one. The first drawing he held up had darkness all around the ball to make it pop. Ohhh! Good idea!

I cheated and whipped out The Magic That Is The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and scrubbed in a little black around the candlestick before he got to me. Yes, I cheated in class. I filled in the rest of the blackness with pencil after I got home.

I have no idea what that candlestick actually looked like. I drew the dark spots and saved the light spots and kinda just let the rest be what it wanted to be. I don't think it really had fluting around the top and it looks a little weird around the base. Not cut glass-y at all. Oh well.

The next thing we drew was this old guitar. I struggled and struggled getting the proportions correct even using the measuring down the pencil trick. Everyone else moved right along and was finished by the time I started shading. This is as far as I got:

I had to keep fighting the urge to whip out a PITT pen and do a five-minute sketch like I would do in my daily journal. But no, no, I'm here to learn to draw in a new way.

My frustration level is building.

After one more class I may not be able to draw anything at all.

le Sigh.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Taxes & Art Books


Got all our tax stuff together today to take to the CPA. Usually it stresses me out pretty badly but it wasn't too bad this year - nothing new or wonky to report - same as last year.

I felt embarrassed handing stuff in so late, but February disappeared for this this year. I went straight from January to March.

Stopped by the library to pick up the book Gay recommended on drawing: The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolaides.

Next to it on the shelf was a sketching book by James Gurney. I had tried to check it out before but it was the fourth book in a three-book check-out limit. Sadly, it went back to the stacks that time. Now I know I should have put another one back. If I had I'd know a lot more about sketching and would have saved myself a lot of grief and frustration.

In the box:
FABULOUS! A must-have art book for the Urban Sketcher wannabe. Love James Gurney's blog because he teaches so much art theory on it, and I love this book for the same reason. Lots and lots of practical how-to on sketching in the wild. Lots of great illustrations in widely varying styles. wantwantwant

This was written in 1982 before either Gurney or Kinkade were famous. A photo of them out sketching has them looking like college seniors in jeans and with a lot more hair.

This book is only available used from Amazon. Can I find $50 in the budget to buy one *used* book? Hummm.....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Godfather


Spent the day piled up on the couch watching a marathon of all The Godfather movies. I've seen them all before and can never keep all the characters straight.

They are a trusted member of the family in one scene, then in the next scene they're getting offed because of some conspiracy that hadn't been mentioned before. It's very confusing and makes my brain hurt to try to figure it out.

I like the flashbacks to the early 1900s the most. Love the old cars and costumes.

When I look at this drawing it makes me laugh. It looks like Paul Newman with steroid puff and Freddie Mercury lips. It is, in a word, quirky. It's so quirky it really doesn't bear any resemblance to Marlon Brando but I like it.

Lately I have a burning desire to draw old men's faces. Unfortunately I don't have a burning desire to slow down and take the time to do them right. I just pick up the ink pen and go to town, thus the quirky-ness. Actually that's just another way to say sucky-ness. But I have a blast doing them.

I might have granddaddy issues.

Process notes: Tried narrowing the palette on this to just three colors: Raw Sienna, Scarlet Lake, and Indigo. I use way too many colors most days. Using just three colors didn't torque me out too badly. Hummm....will try that again.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nekkid Dirt


Today was gloriously warm & sunny, so Hubby & I worked in the front yard all day.

I cleaned out the flower beds and he raked up the last of the leaves. Now we have a bunch of nekkid dirt that makes me uneasy, but there's lots of work to do before we can mulch. I have a glorious garden planned in my head, lots of changes to make, cowpoo to till, and trips to the nursery.

Hope springs eternal in the heart of a gardener that *this* year will be better than the last, and *next* year will be even better than that.

Garden Analysis: I think the male Mexican fern made it through the winter. It still has a frond of green on it. Found little purple nubs where the hosta are poking up. Lost all the mums except for two; can't say that I'm too disappointed.

Gave up on half the dianthus and pulled them up. They were scraggly looking last year. The rest will get moved to the canna bed as a border. No periwinkles in the canna bed this year I've decided. I'm tired of them even though they are great performers.

The main part of the garden (the middle bulge) is in the deep shade until 11:00 am, then get scorched by full sun until 1:00 pm, then goes back into deep shade again. It's a little too sunny for shade-loving plants, and not sunny enough for sun-loving plants.

Every year I go to the nursery hoping there will be some new, colorful shade-loving plants. Every year I am disappointed. I'm so tired of impatiens and begonias but they're the only plants that seem to like it in there.

Sigh. I need some miracle plants.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You Can Draw! - Class #1

Started out with an overview of materials: pencils, erasers, blending stumps. I had a blending stump and threw it out not six months ago thinking I would never need it. Made one after class out of a rolled up bit of drawing paper. Sanded and softened the tip with an emery board. Yes, I'm a tightwad.

Tips and tricks:

-Cut slits in a white block eraser leaving thin ridges to pull out highlights in hair. Cool!

-Don't blow on a drawing to remove eraser crumbles. Turn it vertically and tap it instead. Blowing leaves moisture on the surface and can mess up a drawing.

On to values, white to black and how to apply them to what you see. Excellent!

Next was shading on curved objects to make them appear curved, and shadows on the table surface so things wouldn't look like they're floating. Clipping right along.

The first thing we drew was a coffee box thingy that happened to be sitting in the room.

As with every box-like thing I try to draw, it turned into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Slanted decidedly to the right. Tried to fix it but didn't quite get it all plumb. I was sitting in the very back of the room fighting with my new glasses. Couldn't quite see what the coffeecup part of the label was supposed to be so all I could do was draw the dark shapes I could see.

A show and tell when we were all finished. He held up each person's drawing and pointed out all the good stuff on it. He concluded every one with, "That's a good drawing right there."

Next he drug in a plant from the hallway. Yes! Something with major fudge-factorability. Nobody is gonna know what the stalks and leaves really look like so freeform time on the foliage.

I was drawing away and the teacher stood behind me and watched. For some reason that gave me the heebie-jeebies. Because I couldn't see my drawing with the new bifocals, I just looked at the plant and drew what amounted to a blind contour. He watched me doing this for a while and said, "So how long have you been drawing?" Arrggh. Busted.

Told him I had never had a drawing class, that this was the first. (eyebrow cocks in disbelief) But I study and read a lot....

He loaned me a book he had brought for show-n-tell, The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head, by William L. Maughan. He said he had a whole library of art books at his house and I was welcome to borrow all that I wanted. Woot! Tightwad's Nirvana.

Realized on the way home that my brain is geared for speed sketching...quick, imprecise, capturing only the essence of a moment. I've tried very, very hard to break myself of the need to draw all the little nit-picky details. To sit and draw them now was proving difficult. Skerritttt! Zzzzzztt! Major synapse disconnect.
I have much to learn.

And lastly, apropos of nothing, the song "Sylvia's Mother" has been stuck in my head for the last three days.

And the operator says "40 cents more for the next 3 minutes"
Ple-ease Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
I'll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell 'er goodbye

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Achala, A Nomadic Herder

Tomorrow is the first "You Can Draw!" class. Required class materials are paper, pencil, and eraser.

Wow! Holy cow, I haven't drawn in pencil in eons...Oct. 21, 2008 to be exact. I discovered my scanner doesn't play nice with graphite and that was the end of that little experiment.

However, since I'm gonna have to draw in pencil, might as well dust one off and have a go at it. Discovered Rick Tulka does all his drawings in pencil, so that gave my soul a little encouragement too. Dug out an old General's drawing set which included an Extra Black layout pencil. Have no idea what a layout pencil is used for, but it was the blackest pencil in the box, so I sharpened it up.

Meh, that didn't melt my butter. There are tips and tricks to drawing an eye and they weren't in my brain at the moment.

Drawing from real life is better than drawing from my brain, but since nobody was up but the cat, a photo would have to suffice. Hello National Geographic.

This is a tiny piece of a much larger portrait of Achala, a nomadic herder in India (photo by Steve McCurry; Nat'l Geo, Feb 2010, p. 107).

Big sigh, got his nose turning left onto Route 66 just after the bridge.

I think when you draw a face, you're supposed to lay out the shape of the head and location of all the major parts. I don't do that obviously. I start at the feature that attracted me to draw, draw that, then draw outward from that point. Art teachers across the nation will gasp in horror at that statement I'm sure.

And my scanner still doesn't play well with graphite. I fiddled with the settings and never could get the blacks to be black. Oh well, visualize blackness in the appropriate places please. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Open Studio - Tuesday, Mar 02, 2010

I had lots of questions to ask Gay today. Did this quick watercolor doodle of her while I was waiting for her to work around to me.Gay has a certain "interestingness factor" that compels me to try to draw her. She is not...of Arkansas. I think that's what I find so interesting. Everybody else looks like a relative and it's like looking in a mirror. Boring. Been there, seen that. This is the third attempt and probably won't be the last.

She saw the doodle and I told her I was still trying to figure out what color her hair was. (I meant what paint color was appropriate to represent her hair.) She laughed a big laugh and said, "Oh! I'll have to ask Rebecca what color she uses!"

My burning question of the day dealt with color selection. Often I'll paint two complimentary colors on a sketch, then realize I need a third and have a dilemma. What's the appropriate color?

Gay launched into a discussion of color theory (I think she was thinking out loud, trying to remember the basics which no one had asked her about in eons), most of which I knew but didn't hold the answer I needed.

Rhon ra-rhon ra-rhon (Charlie Brown teacher voice; I had to smile) ra-rhon rhon rhon, split-complimentary.

What what what? Wait wait! Go back to that. What's split-complimentary????

Suck suck suck suck (<--me sucking knowledge from her brain.)

Tell me everything you ever knew, forgot, felt, thought, sensed, learned, or experienced about split-complimentary. Must. Have. More. Information.

Here are the notes from that discussion:

My thought at the time was, "Why haven't I heard about this before????" Have I just ignored it in my quest for knowledge or is this something that is rarely covered in art books and on-line tutorials? Hummm.... Must do more research.

So when I got home I looked up some stuff and decided to do a color wheel using the paints in my palette. My purpose in doing this was to find two or three "go-to" triads I can use when sketching so I won't have to do the brainwork time and time again.

I think the color painted in the Red-violet spot should go in the Violet spot. The paint color in the Blue-violet spot is Winsor Violet which I would think should go in the Violet spot. Now I'm just confused. If I can't get the paints I have situated correctly around the color wheel, I can't apply any color theory to them. I feel like I'm back where I started.