Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Watercolor Doodles

Watercolor doodles on 3" x 5" index cards. I kept running across references to index cards both in journaling and in arty stuff, so I broke out my old pack just for fun.

I was surprised at how well the watercolor worked on these cards. They must have sizing on them. The card stock performed better than the paper in my daily journal. Humm....may play with these some more.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad Lids of the Garden Club

Sketching with Dee in the genealogy room at the library. We chose the location because we both thought there were fancy moldings and a highly carved fireplace mantle in there. Alas no; faulty memory x 2.

Had to find something to draw besides stacks and stacks of books. Poking around in the shelves I found a scrapbook of the local Garden Club, 1953 - 1965. *LOVED* all the fancy hats. Had to draw.

On the left, from a local newspaper clipping:
Sunday, April 11, 1965 - "Life membership in the Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs was conferred upon Mrs. Warren S. Riley at the recent convention in Little Rock. Mrs. Riley is currently serving as President of The Council of Garden Clubs."

This hat was just too outrageous. It's drawn exactly as it appeared in the photo. The altitude of that bad boy is not exaggerated. The curlicue thingy on top is hilarious. I'm sure it was the height of fashion at the Garden Club and Mrs. Riley was the bee's knees.

Mrs. Riley appeared in a number of photos throughout the scrapbook. She had quite the collection of architectural hats.

On the right, from "The President's Message" column in a statewide newsletter:
Mrs. Bruce Anthony, President, Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs, 1953. Apparently Mrs. Anthony was a local girl.

Can you imagine going out in public with a cluster of plastic grapes attached to the top of your head? How awesome would you have to be to do that???

Process notes:
I love the way the brush pen made the ringlets of Mrs. Anthony's hair. Squee! Happy accident.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sacred Space

I share mine with the world.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lost and Found, The Great Toenail Polish Debacle


I lost my bag of toenail polishes. Searched high and low but it was nowhere to be found. The last time I remember seeing it was the night before I left to visit my sister. I did a quicky repair job thinking I would do a complete pedicure once I got to Nana's house. Never happened.

Two weeks later the toes were looking awful so I took off the last of the tragic polish. Looked in its spot for the bag but it wasn't there. Shrugged and went on with life. Two more weeks pass with nekkid toes and I buy some cute flip-flops. Now I need polish.

Tear the house apart looking for the bag. Sent an email to Nana to search her house. Not there says she. Under the bed maybe? She looks again. Nope.

Did it fall out of a tote bag in my car or trunk? Nope. Search the luggage for the third time. Not there. Gave up and bought a new bottle.

Ponder the disappearing polish and go look in my overnight bag again. Turned it upside down and dumped it out this time. There it was. Must have been hiding behind my travel hair dryer. I think I may be losing my mind.

Painted my toenails whoredog red.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Budwiser Summer Concert

Chris Loggins was the opening act. Drew him then everything else on stage in great detail because there wasn't an interesting person in the crowd to draw.

Then, be still my little Ninja Sketcher heart, this family sat down to my right.

Pappaw Ponytail had the most interesting angular face. Also loved the way his ponytail fell away from his forehead.

Thought it was cute that his granddaughter had the same ponytail. I loved the graceful, delicate swoop of her hair from the nape of her neck to the ponytail holder. (She's wearing a light pink shirt, scanner lost the color, dang.)

Then I focused on the left side of the crowd. Saw the guy in the middle and had to draw. Drew the other folks because I liked the composition of the grouping.
I was sitting on the top row of a low bleacher, center stage. Most of the crowd was behind me. I sat up there in front of God-n-Everbody staring at people and drawing them like I had no manners or sense. It's a miracle somebody didn't call the law on me.

Excited about how these people sketches were turning out, I hopped off the bleachers and went to the back of the crowd so I wouldn't be so obvious. Things didn't turn out well back there. I was too far away from folks to see them clearly and I started making dogmeat of their faces.
Discouraged, I put the sketchbook away and rejoined Hubby. By now his hiney had gone to sleep and he needed to stand up and walk around. We went to the back of the crowd again and stood for a while. I wanted to draw, but not people.

Looked around and saw this Harley across the street. We took up a position on a park bench where I could see the bike and Hubby could still see the stage. A planter box was in the way and I was too lazy to stand up to capture the bottom details so I just drew the bushes.
I wanted to draw it simply with bold brush strokes so I broke out The Magic That Is The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and had a go. Actually painted this on site.

Showed the drawing to the bike's owner as he was leaving. He told me this was a special edition bike and only 84 were made. He had to go to Waco, TX to get it.

Having had all the fun we could stand, we retired to the diner down the street for a late night breakfast, then home to bed. Hubby actually stayed out until 12:30 am. I was soooo proud of him, my little ol' man husband!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cane Creek, Part 3 of 3

Once upon a time we owned seven beach towels. When we were packing to go to the lake last week we couldn't find a single one. They've been used for cat nests, packing cushioning and just simply lost during an outing.

Told Cindy Lou to keep her eye out for some cheap ones since they will surely be lost or destroyed too. She said the cheapest she's ever found were $10 and that was at the end of the season.

Found these fabulously bright and fun ones at Big Lots for $5.50 each! Woot! (Click on the image to embiggen to see the detail.)

The one with the flip-flops will be mine since it matches my bathing suit color.

(And with that dear readers, we end the bargain shopping portion of this day's adventures.)

After a brief stop at Staples to look around and exclaim, "HEY! THAT'S A HIGH PRICE!" like they do in their commercials, we left Pine Bluff and headed back to Star City. The temperature on the bank sign as we were leaving was 106°.

Stopped at Piggly Wiggly in Star City to buy steaks and other stuff for supper. When we got back to the campsite Mr. Hotdog went into Mosquito Warrior mode.

1) Spray Raid Yard Guard Fogger all around campsite including under the picnic table.

2) Light 5 mosquito coils at corners of pad (plus one for Cindy Lou's hammock.)

3) Light 3 lanterns of citronella oil.

4) Light 4 citronella candles for the corners of the picnic table.

5) Spray everybody all over with Deep Woods Off, including bottoms of feet.

Even with all that the mosquitoes were getting tangled in my eyelashes, the only place I didn't spray. These things were vicious and huge!

Just before dusk a mosquito fogger truck came through the campground. I thought Mr. Hotdog was gonna wet his pants with joy.

Thankfully we were just going inside to eat supper when it came by. Glad the steaks weren't still cooking on the grill.

When we came out after supper the campsite was blissfully mosquito-free. Mr. Hotdog kept walking around with a big grin repeating, "Mosquito truck, mosquito truck" in kind of a sing-song voice. He was very happy.

Unfortunately the mosquito truck also killed the lightning bugs. They were belly up on the ground still glowing. It was eerie.


Phew! I thought I was never gonna get finished!

Cane Creek, Part 2

To be continued....

Cane Creek, Part 1

Hubby and I drove to Star City to visit Cindy Lou and Mr. Hotdog who were camping at Cane Creek State Park. Went to "The Country Village", a collection of shops and restaurants run by a religious community. Then we drove to Pine Bluff to go shopping, then back to the campsite for a supper of grilled steaks, baked potatoes, and grilled corn.

To be continued....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sketch Scouting


Went driving all over the countryside this afternoon with Miz Dee, scouting out possible sketching spots. Found this funky little diamond-shaped bank building, no more than a 20 x 20 square really.

Stopped at an antique store right next to a railroad crossing. All the structure of the signal tower caught my eye as well as the rusty connector plate joining two rails.

Drew all this from memory after I got home. Should have whipped out the book and drawn on the spot. Pffft!

I have come to the conclusion that I have a love affair with rusty stuff. If it's rusty, I want to draw it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hats Off to Women


This is the blank journal with the nice paper I got at Goodwill for 50 cents. It's dedicated to the nine women on the front who battled cancer. Interspersed in the blank pages are single pages with each woman's story.

The artist who watercolored the portraits on the cover lives in Little Rock. Proceeds from the sale of the journal go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation...or they did in 2002 when this was originally published.

End Table?


This is a wine rack I saw at the thrift store for $45. It's exactly the configuration I want for the end table on my end of the couch.

It's taller than the current table so the lamp will be at a better height for reading. Two drawers to hold pens and stuff. My project basket will fit on the top shelf and I'll be able to see and reach right into it. Magazines on the next shelf and art books I'm reading on the next.

Must take measurements at home and store.

Chair Shopping


Went chair shopping today with Hubby. Looked at used furniture places and thrift stores. Looked on-line when I got home. Nothing really melted my butter. The search continues.

Did find a really cool blank journal with luscious paper at Goodwill for 50 cents. It's spiral bound and 9" square. What a bargain!

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Evil Dick Van Dyke Haunts My Dreams


Late at night, in a house way out in the woods, my father looks in the pass-through window in the kitchen. His eyes are glowing red (and he has a maniacal grin) and I know he is evil.

I try to call out for Mom but my vocal cords are frozen in fear. I can't get the word out. I whimper, whimper, struggling to speak.

Evil father has come in the back door and is headed down the hallway towards me. I whimper, whimper, still struggling to speak. In one last Herculean effort I scream just before he reaches me....


and I wake up.

Hubby is yelling from the bedroom, "It's just a dream, it's just a dream!"

It's 1:30 am and I had fallen asleep on the couch hours ago after eating a vegetarian pizza. I go snuggle up to Hubby so he'll keep the boogers off for the rest of the night.

What was so weird about this dream was that my evil father was Dick Van Dyke. Why on earth did he make an appearance in my dream? And why was he evil?

I wondered as I tried to get back to sleep if "Mom" had shown up to rescue me, would it have been Mary Tyler Moore?

No more veggie pizza for me. I'm going back to sausage and mushroom.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lake Effect Laundry


The problem with enjoying a day on the lake is the day after doing laundry. Hand washed a bunch of stuff just to de-funkify it *before* it went in the washing machine. Must have a chat with Hubby about wearing white socks with surf shoes.

This red hat (<--pointy arrow) got thrown into the laundry basket still sopping wet. The red dye ran onto the whites and stained them pink. Had to wash and bleach the load twice to get it all out. Joy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Drafting Table


SQUEEEE! Today one of my life-long dreams came true...I got a drafting table! I've wanted one since I was a kid.

I always eyeball them in stores. This past year I've been gazing longingly at them on-line. I knew the ones I could afford would be crap and fall apart in a year or two. I wanted a big sturdy one and that's what I got today. It's an antique oak Hamilton and weighs a ton.

Found it in an on-line classified and an hour later it was sitting in my dining room. The guy even delivered it and help set it up. He said he rescued it from the basement of a building that was being torn down. It's been sitting in his office for a decade as a clutter catcher. He was happy to be shed of it and I was happy to take it off his hands.

It still has its mat that's in pretty good shape and a ginormous drawer to store artwork larger than I'll ever attempt. Squeee!

Now I need a chair. It will probably cost more than I paid for the table. Oh well.

I hope to move it into the office opposite my computer nest but some major rearranging must occur first. I kinda like it in the dining room though because it's bright and sunny in there and it catches the northern light.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Day at the Lake

Hubby and I loaded up Estelle to take her for a test drive. Hubby was tense during the drive to the lake because it was his first time to tow something as large as Estelle. He white-knuckled it for two and a half hours at 45 MPH over narrow, winding backroads with little or no shoulder. Our little 4-cylinder truck was really straining to make it up some of the hills. I was hoping we didn't throw a rod.

We arrived at the lake in one piece where we met up with Mr. Hotdog and Cindy Lou. Cindy Lou had set up a very nice day camp at a picnic table by the boat ramp. Hubby and Mr. Hotdog got Estelle unloaded without a problem and zoomed off down the lake to put her through her paces. Cindy Lou and I retreated to the campsite to read and draw.


Cindy Lou and I were sitting at the campsite minding our own business when two mallard drakes made a beeline across the lake towards us. They climbed the rocky hill and stood three feet in front of us demanding a handout. We obliged. Later that afternoon another drake with a purpley-blue head did the same.

For this sketch I only got the outline of the head and beak before the boys returned to collect us for a lake tour. I tried to remember what the ducks looked like, and really studied the blue-headed guy when he visited. Drew the rest of the duck and painted him at home from memory.

I was surprised that the ducks' bills weren't yellow or orange. They were a weird, murky greenish yellow. Was also surprised to find they each had a sharp tooth-like thingy hanging from the end of their upper bill. The wild little curl on their tails made me smile.

We ate lunch and swam in the lake, then the boys headed back out on the boat to do he-man things at fast speeds. Cindy Lou and I got in some quiet time at the camp site.

Realized there isn't much interesting to draw at this lake. Around me was rock scrabble with a few tufts of weeds poking through or tree trunks. In the distance was a band of blue sky, a band of green trees, then a band of greeny-gray water. The view doesn't lend itself to sketching.

The only thing interesting (to me at least) was Cindy Lou, or the activities at the boat ramp. Cindy Lou hides when she sees me coming with the sketchbook, so the boat ramp won.


Sitting in a campsite with Cindy Lou watching fools who can't back trailers try to launch and load boats they can't operate.

A never-ending comedy of errors.

After a long day of fun in the sun we parked the boat locally, ate some dinner, and parted company with Cindy Lou and Mr. Hotdog. It only took an hour and a half to get home since we weren't towing the boat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Courtroom #1


Back to the Union County Courthouse for a morning sketching trip with Miz Dee. Sarah in the Circuit Judge's office was gracious and unlocked the courtroom so we could sketch.

The courtroom was huge, dark, cool, and richly appointed with gorgeous architectural details. What struck me first and foremost was the soaring (20-25(?) foot) ceiling.

It had 200 or so deep coffers with rosettes as large as dinner plates. There were about a dozen different rosette designs. Each coffer had double egg and dart moldings plus a Grecian border design. They were magnificent!

The border around each coffer had what looked to be ginkgo leaves. They may have been shells but they were painted green, so I'm sticking with the leaf theory. I needed binoculars to see them.

It took the full two hours we were there to draw this one little sketch. I should have edited it somewhat and gone to something else but I am a sucker for architectural details. I have a need to capture them all precisely.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Liver Failure


Smudge has been looking rather ratty and moth-eaten lately. She just looked like she didn't feel good. Input and output were normal but her hipbones were starting to protrude. She had lost too much weight. Sacked her up and took her to the vet.

He took one look at her and said, "Liver failure...and at her age (15 years) the prognosis isn't good." I hadn't noticed that her ears and eyes were turning yellow due to jaundice. Oy vey.

The vet ran tests and her liver enzymes were only on the high side of normal. He gave her a shot of antibiotics and a shot of steroids. Said to take her home and love her up and try to get some weight back on her.

She wolfed down a can of tuna fish when she got home and seems to be perkier. Maybe the steroids relieved some pain she may have had.

Now it's just wait and see. It's going to be a long summer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Fun!

Gratuitous triplet pic - Butterbean



My husband has a new mistress and her name is Estelle. She's an 18-foot, 2005 Crownline runabout, sleek and sexy and very, very red.

I was less than thrilled at having a new boat. I was overjoyed when Hubby sold the old one earlier this spring.

My thoughts are that boats are nothing but large holes in the water into which great quantities of money are thrown. It's better to have a friend who owns a boat and just offer to buy all the gas. That's the ticket.

This is one of the first toys Hubby has acquired that isn't a Dumpster Dive project. He is quite fond of turning trash into treasure. Estelle only needs a bath and she'll be ready to go.

Summer 2010 Daily Planner

I have been searching for a cheap daily planner so I could keep up with fun events this summer and to coordinate sketching trips with Miz Dee and her schedule. Couldn't find one I liked for the price I liked so I decided to just make one.

A little print, sew, cut and paste and viola! a kicky summer themed planner with cute flip flops and beach balls.

After I finished it I realized with dismay that two of the events I wanted to attend had already occurred. Dang. Missed 'em. A day late and a dollar short.

Showed the planner to Hubby and he wanted me to make him one too!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fly Swatter & Sketcher Business Card


A lazy Saturday with zero productivity. Spent a lot of time on the porch swatting flies. Started contemplating the lowly fly swatter and realized fly swatter technology probably hasn't changed much over the last century. Googled "History of the Fly Swatter." Yeah, I was that bored. It was too damned hot and muggy to do much else. Heat index was 105°.

Conversation between Hubby and I sitting on the porch this evening:
(long silence)

Hubby: "Sure is hot out here tonight."

(long silence)


(long silence)

Me: "Yep. Sure is."

The fly swatter was invented by Dr. Samuel Crumbine in the summer of 1905 after Kansas was plagued with flies. He was inspired by a chant at a local softball game to "Swat the ball." He exhorted Kansans to "Swat the fly."

When we were sketching yesterday I told Dee I hoped if we sketched in public enough someone would notice us and want to join us. She said we ought to have cards we could hand out. Well, I've got the stuff to get that done.

Made the first version with my name and phone number but decided I'd still rather be Speck, even in person. Also changed the title from "Crazy Sketching Lady" to the more mundane "South Arkansas Sketcher." Don't really want to frighten anyone off with my eccentricity right off the bat. I'll spring that on them on the second sketching outing.

The back of the card has this quote:
"I believe that what truly matters in the making of art is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like, not what it is worth or not worth but what newness gets added to the universe in the process of the piece itself becoming."

Excerpt from "The Artist's Creed" by Jan Phillips

Was reading the Project Runway blog and somehow got lost over on Wikipedia reading the tragic life history of Corey Haim, child star. There's an hour of my life I'll never get back.

Stumbled upon the Flickr account of a young guy and his bride-to-be from New York. In the past three years they have vacationed in Rome, Florence, Berlin, Paris and Turkey, plus San Francisco, Seattle, Vermont and Disney World. Crap, don't these people have jobs? Well yes, he's an engineer who can't spell at NBC @ 30 Rock in NYC and she's a high school teacher of inner city yutes. She looks to be in her early 20s but dresses like a 94-year-old spinster school marm. Wanted to scream at her, "Buy something turquoise for God's sake and ditch all that frumpy brown crap!"

You know I'm crazy when I scream at some stranger's Flickr account. I've gotta get out of the house more often.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sketchout at the Courthouse


Miz Dee and I made a playdate to go sketching today. We needed someplace cool (literally) and interesting. Hit upon the Union County Courthouse, a beautiful Classical Revival building built in 1928 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The atrium is a mass of beautiful marble, with two-story columns and art deco details. I could have stayed in here for a week sketching such mundane things as switchplate covers, door knobs and air duct covers.

Dee thought it best to ask permission to sketch before we started. We went to the County Judge's office and they not only gave full approval, but called maintenance to bring us some chairs. Gotta love small town courthouses.

The sketch above is one of several grand marble staircases. Treads were hollowed out by thousands of footsteps. Magnificent cast bronze and brass railings. This building is a treasure.

Detail of the lion newel post at the bottom of the staircase:

The post was bronze with a dark brown/black patina. I liked my sketch so much I didn't want to lose it in a big ol' blob of dark brown, so I painted it as a negative.

Here's Miz Dee's sketch of the newel post on the opposing staircase:

She has an artist's eye that I am sorely lacking when it comes to painting. She can put lights and shadows where there are none. I'm too literal and unimaginative. Must work on that.

Up on the second floor I got up close and personal with the column capitals:

As I was sketching this my brain kept calling all those leafy things pyrocanthus leaves. Looked it up when I got home. The actual name of the plant is pyracantha, but Ernk!!! Wrong!!! Thank you for playing!!!; that's not what those are. They are acanthus leaves. Well, I was close.

Also found out this courthouse has four floors and hidden up there somewhere is a stained glass skylight. MUST. GO. BACK!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Early Summer Evening

View from Nana's deck.

There's a cool breeze blowing, the last rays of sunlight are racing long across the neighbor's lawn, the fireflies are starting to appear, and wafting up from below are the sounds of a baseball game on a radio.

I love these early summer evenings. The humidity isn't too thick yet so sitting outside is still enjoyable. There's something magical about listening to a ball game on a radio in the semi-darkness. It makes it more exciting than being there in person.

Nana said I've completed all my work orders and can go home tomorrow. We've spent the past five days working on her garage getting it organized and painted. It looks like a living room with cars parked in the middle and weed whackers on the wall.

I'm hoping to sneak out of here before I incur a fatal injury. In addition to the gouged hand, skinned knee and bum foot (which by favoring it has caused multiple other hurties now) I've also whacked my head with enough force to raise a bump and draw blood, and I've sliced open my thumb with a razor blade.

I almost completely lost my voice for two days, and I haven't gotten any sleep since I'm constantly hacking and coughing from the daycareitis crud. I just want to go home and sleep in safety. Is that too much to ask????

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sprained Ankle

The triplets departed yesterday around noon, so Nana and I got back to the attic clean-up work order after they left. Got everything cleaned and sorted, got two new shelving units situated, and got everything stowed in its proper place. Then we turned off the light and called it D-U-N-N done! A bunch of tubs still need to go to the storage unit, but that won't be a big deal.

Right after breakfast this morning I stepped out onto Nana's deck. Or rather I fell out onto Nana's deck. Caught the inside edge of my heel on the threshold, turning my foot sideways, leaving all my weight to come down on the topside of my right foot.

I could hear it start a sickening crackle and time slowed waaaay down. Knew I was about to fall....crackle, crackle, crackle...thought, "Hummmm this isn't going to be good"...crackle, crackle, crackle,..."I'm probably about to break my ankle"...crackle, crackle, crackle..."That's gonna hurt." Then time clicked back into normal speed.


Hit the deck hard with both hands and one knee. Laid there all sprawled out thinking, "Damn, that wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done."

Assessed my injuries and decided nothing was broken. Hobbled back into the kitchen to clean up the bloody bits. Big gouge in my right palm from a deck nail, a badly skinned knee and a sore shoulder were obvious. Surprisingly I was walking on the crackly ankle without any pain.

Nana washed, disinfected, and bandaged my wounds and I analysed the ankle. It really wasn't the ankle at all (thank goodness) but the tendons across the top of my foot, the tenderest bits were right where it joined the ankle. I was testing the range of mobility and found the exact position where it was injured with a loud yelp.

Nana said I had to wrap, elevate and ice it for several hours.


Settled in with my sketch kit since there was nothing else I could do.

After the shock of injuring myself wore off I got really bored and restless. Decided those tubs upstairs weren't gonna get into storage by themselves, so I hobbled up there and started dragging them down the stairs. Helped Nana load the truck and unload at the storage unit...twice. Two truckloads worth of stuff.

When Poppy came home he examined all my boo-boos and declared I needed X-rays and a tetanus shot. He asked when was my last tetanus shot. Told him I don't think I've ever had a tetanus shot. I only get injured or get sick when I'm at his house.

And yes, my nose is starting to stuff up. The Snotty Sneezer triplet has infected me with some kind of daycareitis crud. Joy.