Friday, July 30, 2010

Drum Leaf Binding

Somebody (I forgot who and couldn't find it again) posted a photo of a journal made at a workshop using the "drum leaf binding" method. It's relatively new in the centuries old bookbinding craft. It was developed to bind large maps in a two-page spread so that bits of the image wouldn't get hidden in the valley created by binding.

I read what I could find on it and it was intriguing. It's a no-sew method where all the signatures are simply glued to each other in sequence and then to the endpapers.

It was actually meant for just single leaves, but I wondered if it would also work for multi-page signatures. I can bind a single signature with no problem, but get hung up on binding the signature together to form the text block.

Every 10th page or so (depending on how many sheets are in a signature) would be a double thickness because they would be glued together. Those pages could be fancy papers and could be used for pasting in photos or clippings instead of sketching.

I wonder how many signatures would stay together this way without ripping out of the cover? Hummm.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sunset on Rbician

Was poking around on Flickr studying shapes in the thumbnails. Found one of some minarets, but that's not what my mind saw. I morphed the shapes into a kinda futuristic sci-fi landscape. Thought it came out kinda cool.

Dubbed the new planet "Rbician."

Friday, July 23, 2010

M-I-L's Annual Visit

My mother-in-law comes for an annual visit each year late in the summer. She makes her rounds to visit the homes of all her children at least once. I guess she does this to assure herself that her children aren't homeless, living in squalor, or abusing their kitties.

In the past we were the last ones on the circuit so we had some advanced warning that she was on the move, but she surprised us this year and started with us, and early at that. Oops. She did at least call and give us 48 hours notice. Usually we get just an hour and a half to prepare for her arrival.

She doesn't go about doing a white glove inspection or anything, but I do want the house to look nice for her visit. There's a difference between everyday tidy and "mother-in-law clean" as her daughters-in-law call it. She laughs at that. She says all we really have to do for her visit is flush the potty, clean the litter box and spray a little air freshener. She's a good-natured sweetie and I adore her.


Mom and Martha (one of her BFFs) arrived at 11:00. Gave them the grad tour. They declared the house to be "neat as a pin." (They didn't look closely at the baseboards.)

Ate lunch downtown at the bakery. Had a turkey club with jalapeno sauce. It was flavorful without being hot. Yum! Then we all had a piece of cheesecake. How could we not after staring at the pastry case all through our meal?

After lunch we came back home and collapsed into the recliners...the women did anyway. Hubby ran off to the bedroom for a nap and to avoid all the girl talk.

We chatted for the next several hours about Girl Stuff - families, babies, sewing projects, charity work, church affairs, cooking, hair, makeup, and of course, men.

Went out to a late supper at a Cajun place. We all had seafood lasagna. I was underwhelmed. Won't order that again.

Packed them off for home around 10:00 pm. A long day, enjoyable, but was glad for it to be over.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

M-I-L Visit Tomorrow!


My mother-in-law is coming tomorrow for her annual visit and bringing a friend of hers.

The bathroom is starting to resemble a science experiment. Eek! Much cleaning needs to be done and Hubby has (conveniently) disappeared.

Our old bathtub long ago lost its finish so the porcelain is now soft and porous. Everything sticks to it and stains. Requires three different applications of toxic chemicals to get it looking clean.

M-I-L says company is always good motivation to clean the house. She's right, but dang I hate doing it. I don't see those grimy baseboards on a day-to-day basis, but when I know company's coming they're glaringly nasty. Oy Vey.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Diary


I've been bitten by the journaling bug. I blame it on Clairefontaine paper and Exacompta journal refills. While looking for sketchbooks with CF paper I found the sister company Exacompta. They carry a line of gridded journal refills in nice leather covers.

I've always had a lust for gridded paper - so many possibilities!

I was just about to click the "buy" button when I realized I already have a journal full of slick, creamy, gridded paper with a nice leather cover. I pulled it off the shelf and started writing and writing and writing.

Apparently I have a lot more to say than what I have space for in this illustrated journal. I don't like to write in it because the paper is too rough. Plus, Hubby snatches it out of my hand to show to complete strangers. Eeek! Don't want strangers to read my deepest, darkest secrets!

I've tried keeping a journal many times in my life, but writing on lined paper is too much like writing on school notebook paper. Suddenly it feels like I'm taking notes in 9th grade Civics and I'm quickly bored with the whole thing. Gridded paper doesn't seem to cause that reaction. Humm....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poverty Point

Hubby, Mr. Hotdog and I took a road trip down to the steamy Mississippi Delta territory of southern Arkansas and Northern Louisiana. We feel compelled to take at least one educational roadtrip to a historic site each summer.

Most are just interesting for the day then quickly forgotten. Not so with Poverty Point. It gave me a *lot* of brain candy to chew on. They have lots of interesting puzzle pieces out there and not a lot of answers. It's like the culture developed time travel but forgot to invent the wheel. Yep, lots of questions still remain.


Poverty Point in Epps, Louisiana is a massive pre-historic earthworks site dating to around 1500 BC. The advanced society who lived here were primarily hunter-gatherers. No evidence of domesticated crops have been found. That's amazing since it is estimated that over 1,000 people occupied this site at any given time.

Highly decorated clay objects have been found as well as intricate stone carvings, yet no trace of pottery has been uncovered.

It seems that a people with the engineering skills to design and build this site would figure out to put a thumbprint into a clay ball and keep going, turning it into a bowl...doncha think?

Sunday, July 18, 2010



Yesterday Hubby and I drove down to Lake D'Arbonne State Park in Louisiana where Mr. Hotdog and Cindy Lou were camping. It started pouring rain as we crossed the state line and was still pouring when we arrived.

Instead of staring at each other in their tiny camper we decided to drive around and tour the state park. After getting lost looking for the spillway we decided to go shopping in Monroe. (Yes I realize that isn't a logical cause and effect but I understand what it means.)

I had admired Cindy Lou's new purse she had bought there last week on sale and decided to get one too. It was large enough to drop my journal in without being too huge. My old purse was too tiny for that. Now I can have a 5" x 8" sketchbook with me at all times instead of the tiny 3" x 4". I'll still carry it too in the front pocket.

Had to go by the big box craft store to see if they had the new Strathmore Visual Journals. Alas, no. Only the store in Dallas got them. But I couldn't leave an art supply store empty-handed now, could I? I had to buy *something.*

I've been daydreaming about painting with oils lately, but I needed supplies. I picked up a palette knife and some odorless paint thinner. Couldn't find either one locally.

These two items represent dreams more than reality since I don't even own any oil paints or a canvas on which to paint. But sometimes it's good to have things that represent your dreams so you don't forget and lose your way.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Saw this cool photo on Flickr as a thumbnail. Couldn't really tell what it was that small but I thought the shapes were fabulous. On closer inspection discovered it was an interior shot of a shopping mall (I think.)

Went back to the thumbnail size and drew the major shapes then added additional bits to balance out the elements.

I wanted to capture this because I've watched a lot of painting shows where they talk about painting the major shapes and shadow shapes. My brain could never see the shapes, I could only see the details. When I saw the shapes in this photo I had an "Ah-ha!" moment.

New eyes now with which to see my world.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anne Elizabeth's Diary


This is the illustrated diary of 12-year-old Anne Elizabeth Rector who lived in New York City in 1912.

She kept her diary faithfully for a whole year, from Jan. 1, 1912 until Christmas Day of that same year. I suppose new amusements awaited her under the Christmas tree after that and the diary was abandoned.

What is so magical about this book are Anne Elizabeth's illustrations of each entry. They are charming little ink and watercolor drawings reproduced from her original diary. I only wish I could draw as well now!

The entries contain her struggle with her mother to allow her to take art classes. Neither her mother, father nor grandmother think a girl needs to attend art classes. I can so relate to that...especially her entry where she offers to give up piano lessons. There's a conversation I had with my own mother many times.

How different my life would be today if I had only read this book when I was 12!

Anne Elizabeth's Diary Entries:

January 1, 1912
Daddy gave me all these art supplies for Christmas. Mother gave me one thing, this book. She instructed me to write in it every day. I shall draw here too. Mother need not know.

February 17, 1912
Today I wore my new woolen dress. It is a brown challis with a yellow lined collar and cuffs embroidered in brown. Mother got it to fit perfectly. Another battle about the art class. She does not think we have the extra money. I said I could stop piano lessons.

More of the Art Show

Yesterday and today I kept thinking about some of the artwork I had seen at the art show. It was stuck in my craw and I had to write about it and draw...10 additional journal pages worth. Yep, I was just a little worked up.

Some of the little sketches came out kinda cute so I thought I would throw them up on the blog. I shall spare you my rambling thoughts on same.

A Sketchy Tour of the Art Show
(drawn from memory)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Tommy Kane Original! Squeee!!!!

It was Christmas at my house yesterday. A Tommy Kane original and print arrived on my doorstep. Squeee!!!!

Bedford Avenue on the left is an original. East Chinatown on the right is a limited edition print (4/50). The links will take you to Tommy's blog so you can see them up close and personal and read the stories behind them. I think it's too cool that all of Tommy's drawings have stories. I'm all about stories.

My hands were shaking as I unwrapped the package. I could barely breath as I pulled out the artwork.

Here in my little hands was an *original* work of The Master. His hands have actually touched this page. His brain was seeing and creating and deciding where to put these actual lines. The voices declaring "shine" were echoing faintly off the paper. It smelled a little of Brooklyn.

A Tommy Kane original! And it was mine, all mine! Forever! It was like discovering King Tut's tomb - treasure beyond all imagination!

I became all verklempt and had to retire to my fainting couch.

I'll try to get them framed next week when my head clears.


Someday TK might stumble upon this post and think, "Oh. My. God. What a *GEEK!*" But that's OK, I'm a very happy geek now.

Die Cat Die!


Cheezburger the Porch Cat has a new tormentor. This is one pissed off little mockingbird. He starts dive bombing the poor cat anytime Cheezy pokes out even a whisker in his view.

The bird sits on the shepherd's crook a few feet from the porch and screams at Cheezy. The fact that there are humans on the porch doesn't deter the bird at all. He is out for Cheezy's blood.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Art Show

Miz Dee and I went to an art show this afternoon. It was an annual juried art competition with artists from across the nation. There were close to 400 entries and about 38 made the cut to exhibition.,, golly. I don't know what I was expecting but this wasn't it.

Wait a minute, yes I do. I was expecting to have my socks blown off by at least one of the pieces. Socks stayed firmly in place. I was underwhelmed.

Maybe I'm just a little country hick with no art appreciation edjumakashun, but I just didn't "get it." I didn't get how some of the pieces made the cut. One in particular looked like the guy realized the submission deadline was the next day and just threw something together at the last minute. (shakes head in befuddlement) Nope, I just didn't get it.

After viewing everything, Dee and I sat on a bench in a stunned silence. She finally asked, "So what did you think?" I said, "I think you and I should break out our paintbrushes before this time next year."

We sat there a while longer and I dug out my little 3"x4" emergency sketchbook I keep in my purse. (Very handy for those emergent sketching situations.)

This was one of the pieces I didn't get.

It was made with lots of little wood slivers and some in the middle were broken away. There was a similar piece next to it. A third in the series sold before the show opened.

This was my favorite:
It made me smile.

Back Alley by the Train Station

Sketching with Miz Dee in the back alley by the train station. This old train car has been converted to a conference room I think. I've never seen anyone in there but the lights are always on.

(click to embiggen)

Loved the tangle of wires in the electric meter loops and the gas meters jutting out at odd angles. I find lots of interesting things to eyeball in back alleys. Industrial Grunge - I likes it.

It was hot, hot, hot, even in the shade. We started around 9:00 am and by 11:30 by head was about to explode from the heat. We gave up on sketching and went to lunch...Italian Paninis. Yum!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fish Heads

My computer nest/creative space/office reeks of rotting fish heads. I've turned the whole room into a kitty sick ward and have been feeding them next to their respective cat nests. That's the only way I could monitor just how much and of what exactly is going down each ailing cat.

I've tried the rillyrilly stinky stuff for sick cats, the regular stuff of the same brand, the exceptionally cheap (29 cents per can) exceptionally stinky food, and have even tried pureed chicken and turkey baby food in a jar.

One cat is eating but is finicky, the other cat is still bad. But I'm about to be overcome by this horrendous dead fish head smell.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Remote Controlled Air Show

Mr. Hotdog, Cindy Lou, Hubby and I all went to a remote controlled airplane airshow this afternoon. Met a bunch of really nice folks who were crazy about flying.

Saw a cool little plane with a KISS (the rock-n-roll group) theme that sounded like "a pissed off mosquito" as one guy said. Also saw a spectacular crash and the sorrowful remains of same.

The guy that crashed his plane then brought out his little jet plane. It would fly as fast as 150 MPH (I think that's what he said) or as slow as 5 MPH. You would be able to walk past it as it was flying.

The Rascal
Top speed: 60 MPH
Wingspan: 53"
Engine: Magnum .52 cu. in.

This the the Rascal in her starting stand. The bright blue things are swimming pool noodles used for cushioning so the plane doesn't get scuffed up.

The Rascal is a 1/7 scale model of an actual plane. The fuselage has a transparent red vinyl section to show off the interior structure.

The owner of the Rascal was obviously an Arkansas Razorbacks fan. He had a Razorbacks license plate on the front of his starting stand.

I think this visit got Mr. Hotdog fired up to get his RC planes out of storage and take up the hobby again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Passport & Palette Marathon

Was a couch potato all day today after I discovered a Passport & Palette marathon on Create TV. It's a series about en plein air painting. Watched the same 12 episodes over and over again. Heard a lot about shadow shapes, color notes, puzzle pieces and atmospherics.

All but one of the artists were painting with oils. Kinda gave me heart palpitations to watch them start a painting by smearing it over with color as an underpainting. My inner watercolorist was yelling, "Save the lights! Save the lights!"

I liked the freedom and abandon with which they slopped on the paint without having to worry about saving the lights - even the guy who used watercolors.

Kinda gave me an itch to paint with oils.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kindred Spirit

Miz Dee
Greenville, Mississippi
A long time ago

My intrepid sketching partner, Miz Dee. Now there's the face of a Ya-Ya Sisterhood Sweet Potato Queen if I ever saw one. You can see her little brain thinking up all kinds of mischief.

Even though we both have gray hair and bifocals, when we're together she is 12 and I am 10, too old for dolls but not yet interested in boys. She's my older cousin sent up from Greenville for the summer. We are free to roam the county poking around in back alleys and old graveyards as long as we're back home by the time the streetlights come on.

Oh she can behave herself in public, but underneath all those polite "Yes ma'ams" and "No ma'ams" is a wild, restless spirit. She can't wait to get into something she shouldn't oughta, like skinny dipping in the water tank at midnight.

It's kinda scary for us to be together. Chances are we'll end up in the jailhouse by Labor Day. That's why I adore her so.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Federal Courthouse

Sketching with Miz Dee today and a new sketching recruit, Miz Betty. Security was tight at this courthouse. Lots of permissions had to be granted beforehand and lots of meetings and introductions made once we arrived. We were finally allowed into the courtroom just short of a full body cavity strip search, the promise of five years indentured servitude, and the surrender of a firstborn male child. Sheesh!

In the courtroom I was in sensory overload. Exquisitely detailed moldings and marbles were everywhere! I halfway expected to look up and see this:

Had a hard time settling down and deciding what to draw. There was so much eye candy in here my head was spinning. Decided to start with a small warm-up sketch of the alcove behind the judge's bench.

Then I had to capture the chandeliers.

There were four in the courtroom and they were huge, maybe four or five feet across. I was surprised that they were completely opaque. The light was reflected off the ceiling only. No warm glow through the globes. Maybe they were marble also. What a concept!

We got a late start and wrapped up rather early so I only got these two little sketches done. Must go back! There's a month's worth of sketching to do in this room alone much less the rest of this magnificent building!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Don't Feel Good Mommy

Chelsea, age 17, hasn't been acting normal lately. She's been having diarrhea and didn't eat anything for two days. That's not good at her age. Bought some really stinky food for sick cats and she ate a little bit of that.

She just looks like she doesn't feel good. She lays "too flat" for lack of a better way to describe it. This morning she started sneezing non-stop. Sacked her up and took her to the vet.

He ran tests and poked and prodded. Said all her blood work was absolutely perfect and he couldn't find a thing wrong with her. He gave her a shot of antibiotics in case she had some kind of upper respiratory infection. Said to take her home and try to get some weight back on her. She had lost over a pound since March. Not good.

Bought more cans of the incredibly stinky food for both my elder citizen kittehs.

Chelsea: 17 people years x 7 = 119 kitteh years
Smudge: 15 people years x 7 = 105 kitteh years


Hubby: "There's something on the back of your leg...oh, it fell off."

Me: "I hate it when bits of my leg start falling off."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July!

Got a little carried away with those stripes...there were 15 original colonies, right?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fantastic Fourth!


1.) Classic car show with Mr. Hotdog, Cindy Lou and Pooter 2.

2.) Saw some cool little remote control airplanes. They fly 80 MPH. Local air shows every Sunday 1:00 to 4:00.

3.) Then lunch - bacon, eggs and toast with a Belgian waffle for dessert.

4.) Then naps.

5.) Drove to the state line to see a historic monument. Turned out to be a hulking piece of concrete deep in the woods in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes. Took some photos to draw later.

6.) Then to Spearsville, Louisiana to eat at Hollis Seafood - boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, stuffed crab, frog legs, and a cinnamon roll with ice cream for dessert.

7.) Made it home in time to see the fireworks show at the stadium. The show was timed to some cheesy patriotic music on one of the local radio stations.

After reviewing my dietary choices for today, it's easy to see why Southerners are overweight and die young of heart disease. Oy Vey. I'm so full I hurt. Shall waddle myself off to bed.

RE: Cheesy patriotic music...If I never hear Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" again it will be too soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cemetery Sketchcrawl

The weather was gorgeous today...75°, overcast, with a nice breeze. It was perfect for sketching outdoors. Met Miz Dee at the old Presbyterian cemetery. It has an awesome collection of wrought iron fences and gates around gravesites.

Started this first sketch and 20 minutes into it the sky began to spitter rain. Couldn't draw because my waterproof pen wasn't so waterproof as to draw through big raindrops on the page. Dee and I retreated to the shelter of an ancient magnolia tree.

I was happy to abandon this sketch at the time. I had chosen too large a pen to draw such intricate details. Plus the scale was too large so the top got crammed into the sketchbook's gutter, it wasn't symmetrical, and I left out some important bits. It was quickly going into the weeds and I was highly frustrated. Thank you rain for the timely intervention.

I'll talk more about its resurrection in tomorrow's post, "Can This Sketch Be Saved?"

Since I had chosen too large a pen for the first sketch, I decided to go with a small pen on the next sketch, back away from the subject so I wouldn't get caught up in the details and do a really sketchy sketch. All that stuff worked out fine. Then I got out the paintbrush. Right into the weeds again. Phooey.

Resurrected this one after I got home. It will be Part Two of "Can This Sketch Be Saved?"

This fence surrounded a single grave. The only thing on the stone was "Estelle." No last name, no dates. Since Estelle (the boat) is now a member of our family, I had to draw.

Decided my only hope of creating a decent sketch was to break out The Magic That Is The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Actually, I should just throw out all my other pens and use the brush pen exclusively.

When I finished drawing this I realized the pattern of the fence panels didn't line up. Looked at the real thing across the way and that's how it appeared. Got up to investigate. The near panel was off its posts and sitting on the ground. Ohhh...

Grew tired of drawing intricate gates so I turned around and drew the viaduct.
Actually I just wanted to draw all the electric lines, but that wouldn't have made sense in a sketch. Not the way I draw anyway.

There was a viaduct over the railroad tracks in my hometown. We always pronounced the word VIE-dock. I have to pause before I say viaduct to remind myself not to call it a viedock.

Showed this sketch to Hubby. He said I made the underneath part look too "park-like." Oh well.