Friday, May 20, 2011

The Hummingbird

The Short Story, if you come here only to look at the sketches:

A tiny hummingbird, drawn from real life out in the wild. Woot!

The Long Story, if you come to read the rambling tales of my mundane life:

I was out Urban Sketching with Miz Dee earlier this week. I was frustrated because my sketches weren't going well. The drawing part was fine, but the painting and composition suckedrealbad.

Decided to take a break and get away for a minute. Went around the corner next to the dumpster to ponder on things. Dumpster pondering is more beneficial than you might think. There are usually lots of interesting things in and around a dumpster. Most times I find something there I want to draw. But I digress.

So, I was sitting on the curb pondering the dumpster environs when I heard a splat a few feet away. Looked over to see a tiny hummingbird had fallen from the sky and landed among the debris.

He was laying on his side, not moving, one unblinking eye staring straight up into the glaring sun. His bill had somehow become wedged under an old pipe. He was pitiful. I took him for a goner. Chances for his survival seemed to be slim to none at this point.

I paused for a minute, wondering if I should intervene. There really wasn't anything I could do to rescue him from his imminent fate. But I couldn't stand seeing him laying there like that. If he was going to die, at least he could die comfortably in a quiet corner in the shade, not being baked in the sun in a pile of trash. No creature should met his end like that.

I picked him up ever so gently, trying not to touch him much or hurt him any further. He was tiny, maybe 2-1/2 inches long. He didn't even flinch when I picked him up. I figured he didn't have long.

I set him in a nearby flowerbed in the shade. I nestled him in the shredded mulch so that he was upright on his belly. He didn't fall over but he wasn't moving either. I left to let nature take its course. I couldn't bear to watch.

When I returned to my sketching spot, my warm tender-hearted side went back into hibernation and my logical analytical side kicked in. Make that my cold evil black-hearted side.

Humm...if the hummingbird is going to be over there dying for a while, he'll be still enough to sketch. When will I ever get another opportunity to sketch a motionless hummingbird in the wild???? Snatched up the sketchbook and off I went. The little devil on my left shoulder was most pleased.

I hunkered down next to the little bird, trying to get a good look at him. I was maybe 18 inches away. He was moving his head from side to side ever so slightly as I got my pen and sketchbook ready. As I drew, his head moved back and forth, a little bit more and a little bit more.

I was almost finished with the sketch when a big natural gas standpipe nearby came to life making a loud whooshing sound. That startled the little bird. He became noticeably agitated and his eyes opened wide. He really started looking around at that point. Suddenly he cranked his head up and looked me square in the eye. Uh oh. I've been spotted.

Then he took flight! Two sides of our spot were brick walls and the third a tall hedge. I closed him in on the fourth side. He rose about a two feet off the ground and hovered about a foot from my nose, giving me a thorough examination. He was sizing me up as friend or foe I suppose.

I remained motionless as he zigged and zagged, checking me out on all sides. He finally decided up was probably the best option for escape. Up he went, but not out into the open sky. He banged against the building a couple of times, then against the big loading dock door. He still wasn't OK obviously, but at least he was off the ground and no longer a potential kitty snack.

I watched as he finally made his way to the top of the wall and into the open southern sky.

Goodbye little bird. Thank you for the few magical moments we spent together. I'll remember this for the rest of my life.

See, I told ya dumpsters were interesting places to hang out. Didn't believe me did ya?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pen Cup

This was an experimental sketch using water soluble fountain pen ink. I drew the sketch as I would with permanent ink, using hatching to show curvature and shadow. So far so good.

Then came the moment of truth with a waterbrush to blend the ink into a wash.


The heavily hatched places became solid color. Definition between the objects disappeared. Everything turned into a big blue blob. In spots with lighter hatching the ink lines disappeared altogether.

Crap! Wasn't expecting that!

I let those first swipes dry, reconsidered my options, then went back to the margin and swiped water again. That resulted in shading closer to my original expectations. The ink blended more smoothly into white. There was simply too much ink on the page in the beginning.

On the lettering I barely touched the ink line with the waterbrush. The ink flowed out creating interesting blobby patterns. Some I smoothed out to a uniform color, some I left blobby.

It took a while to adjust to this ink and wash technique. It was scary and unfamiliar. I began with a heart attack about the ink's reaction to the water. But when I began to play with it to see what it would do, I started having fun. Art is all about having fun after all.

I don't think this technique is something I would use on a regular basis. The results don't resonate with my soul. But I wouldn't have known that unless I tried.

Pen: Lamy Safari, extra-fine nib
Ink: Diamine Majestic Blue
Paints: Watercolors: W&N New Gamboge and MaimeriBlu Raw Sienna
Brush: Niji waterbrush with water
Paper: Reflexions 6" x 6" spiral sketchbook with multi-media paper

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mel's Seafood

Went to the meat market a little too early this morning so I had to wait for them to open. Did a bat turn in their parking lot so I could face the buildings across the street. A fine time to sketch!

But did I bring my sketchbook? No! I even thought about it walking out the door. "Oh, I won't be gone but five minutes. No need to go back and get it." Wrong.

But luckily I ALWAYS carry my Little Red Emergency Sketchbook (3" x 4") and a Pigma Micron Double-ought Five just for such occasions. Sketched my little sketch, bought my slab o' beast, then came home to paint.

If you're wondering what that red blob is on the front of the building, it's a ginormous crawdad. Mel's is a Cajun seafood place.

Convention Center Atrium

This is a bit of architectural detail from our new convention center. It has a soaring atrium with lots of natural light. The whole place has an E. Fay Jones vibe to it.

Process notes:
I got lost drawing all the support beams. Decided to call it done hoping the viewer would be able to fill in the rest of the story. And yes, two of those main roof beams are close together. That's not a boo-boo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

McWilliams Furniture Building

My intent on this was to do a really quick sketchy-sketch without details. I just can't seem to get that done. I'm in love with architectural details.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hubby's Shoes

Late-night doodle with my new (to drawing) fountain pen.

Pen: Wing Sung 235, gold cross hatch, fine nib
Ink: Noodler's Bulletproof Black
Paper: Pentalic Recycled Traveler's Sketchbook, 4-1/8" x 5-7/8"
Paint: Winsor & Newton watercolors

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Specs (and a bit of tree)

Trying out a new fountain pen to use for drawing. Not sure this one draws a fine enough line for me. Maybe it's time I got away from using itsy-bitsy lines anyway.

Monday, May 9, 2011

EDM #109 - Draw a Clock

This is Hubby's grandfather's ship's clock. It chimes ships bells - eight bells at 4:00, 8:00 and 12:00. Pawpaw had it back in his bachelor days before he married LeeLee (Hubby's grandmother).

My mum-in-law said when she was little she would listen for it to chime four times, or 2:00, because that meant she could get up from her nap.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

EDM #108 - Draw a Lightbulb

Couldn't think outside the box on this one. It is what it is. It's been one of those days all day long.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

EDM #107 - How You Get Your News

I get mine in the front yard - plopped in the grass rain or shine. On rainy days we sometimes get a wet wad of paper pulp.

Sissy's Pop-Up Camper

Went to visit Cindy Lou Who (aka "Sissy") and Mr. Hotdog tonight. They purchased a new camper trailer with a slide-out and a walkaround bed. No more pop-up camping for them. They will be doing fancy-schmancy camping from now on.

This is their old pop-up - a good and faithful servant for many years - now for sale.

Friday, May 6, 2011

EDM #106 - Something Tart or Sour


Another late-night doodle, working on drawing hair for an upcoming Every Day in May challenge. Hair is hard to draw.

The Marino Home

A late-night doodle in the sketchbook. I'm working on:
  • perspective on buildings
  • rendering credible trees
  • editing out details
I think the trees are coming along nicely but the struggle with branches continues. Building perspective is still wonky and I can't let go of the details.


Practice, practice, practice!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

EDM #105 - Draw Some Scissors


I'm just a few feet away from a pair of scissors anywhere in my house. I have them stashed all over the place. That's in addition to the hoard in the office supplies drawer.

I guess I have a need to cut a lot of stuff. That or I'm too lazy to get up to find a pair when I do. Hummm....

All my "Every Day in May 2011" sketches on Flickr.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

EDM #104 - Salt & Pepper Shaker


The Tupperware salt shaker is 30 years old. I think it was a wedding present. The acrylic pepper grinder is a recent purchase. I have no idea where the mates to these are.

Yesterday's News

What I draw in the wee hours of midnight when I really should be drawing something else...or working on lots of other chores and projects:

But sometimes I just need to draw that mundane thing in front of me to feed my soul. Know what I mean?

Drew it using a Sheaffer Desk Pen and Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink. The pen is a fountain pen with an extra-fine nib for writing, not a drawing pen. But it lays down the most fabulous wet, juicy lines with this ink. No more dry skippy art markers for me!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

EDM #103 - Draw Some Exercise Equipment


I have ripped, well-defined thumb muscles. I work them out every day for hours using my trusty Visio Universal TV Remote.

I could kill a man with my left thumb. It's a deadly weapon. The right one ain't too shabby either.

Monday, May 2, 2011

At the Oil and Brine Museum

Out Urban Sketching again today with Miz Dee and Dee's #1 Son. It was a cold and icky day weatherwise so we took shelter in the museum.

I started with this drawing of an oil well drilling bit.

Wandered upstairs in search of something interesting to draw. Looked over the balcony railing and found #1 Son down below absorbed in drawing an old truck.

My spot on the balcony was in almost complete darkness. I could barely see my sketchbook, much less the lines I was drawing. This little sketch took no more than five minutes to draw and paint. I was trying to be very, very quick and quiet so #1 Son wouldn't notice me up there.

I thought the sketch turned out amazingly well for the situation. It taught me that I obsess over details too much and that I should trust my instinct and hand more than I do.

I finished off the day with a sketch of this old Republic Truck, circa 1924.

I seem to pick a lot of all-black stuff to draw. Makes it kinda boring to paint. One of these days I'll get the courage to paint something like this using bright purple and orange. That would be fun.

And I picked up a postcard for a penpal in Pennsylvannia.

A good time was had by all!

EDM #102 - Draw a Power Plug

I pondered on what to do to jazz up a drawing of a power plug. I held it in my hand studying it. It's just a power plug. It is what it is. Not a lot of pizazz there.

I thought to myself, "This is your power plug..." and the old anti-drug slogan popped in my head. Hey, a power plug on an acid trip! That would be fun to draw! His eye prong could be melting!

After I finished I realized most people reading this will be too young to get the joke; or the concept of hippies, peace signs or acid trips.


Off to pluck a few gray hairs....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Creativity Happens Here

When my desk is clear so is my mind. Nary a single creative thought finds purchase.

But when my desk is messy, it becomes fertile ground for all kinds of creativity. It's as if my imagination sprouts from beneath the piles of crappage.

Why is that?

Evidence Photo

(cue little girl sing-song voice)

Sittin' in the junk yard,
Sketchbook on my knee,

I would have never imagined I could be deliriously happy sitting in a junk yard in the wind and rain for three hours, but here is the photo to prove it. That's me in yellow and my intrepid sketching partner Miz Dee in blue.

EDM #101 - Draw a Bar of Soap


Marie Osmond - Vintage Vanilla

Who knew Marie Osmond was hawking soap? Bought this bar the day Liz Steele announced the EDM/EDiM challenge list for 2011. It was fate. It's been sitting on my desk waiting to be drawn since then.

Wow this thing smells loud! Almost giving me a headache. Can't imagine how loud it will be once unwrapped.