Friday, July 29, 2011

Dag Nabbit

We got another thunderstorm in the night and now we have inches of water in the basement. I almost cannot believe that the water is coming in under the back door. In our 30 years in this house, we've seen lots of water in the yard, but this is the first time it is actually coming in under the door. There is not much we can do but wait for it to recede and then begin the clean up. Thankfully, we no longer have carpet in the basement and it is used primarily used for storage with most of it up off the floor on shelves.

On a happier note, yesterday the hubster made me a sewing cradle. I am not sure why it has that name as you don't sew with it. It is used to cradle your signatures while you punch the sewing holes in them. Here is what it looks like:

I finally got back to the watercolor pencil work I'd neglected for so long, but didn't at all like the pencil on it, so I carried it over to the watercolor station and began to add color there instead. It still has a long way to go, but here is where I am right now:

I don't have a set plan for today.  I am thinking I might go to an estate sale in Lansing this afternoon. It is an estate of an artist and I may be able to find a few supplies or some interesting paintings or books.

I'm feeling a little blue about the water situation, but am trying to rise above it as there is nothing I can do about it. Meanwhile, the house is closed up as it is another really steamy day here. It is only 70º, but the humidity level is 100%. We have a 40% chance for more showers today. Ugh!!

I hope you are having a good day and I would send some of this water to the Carolinas if I could.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Can't Get No Relief

For those of you who wonder if I've totally lost my sense of the correct English grammar, let me reassure you. The title of this blog is a quote from Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and seems apropos for the summer weather craziness.

First we could hardly stand to go out in the yard because of the heat index in the high 90s and over 100. That went on for so long I began to develop cabin fever from staying indoors in the air conditioning. Now we get this. The first two pix below show on the left what it looked like before last night's rain, and the photos on the right of each of them were taken this morning.

This is closer to the back of the house than we usually have in Spring.

Can you see that the bridge across the creek in the photo on the left is oriented across the creek (which is so low you can't even see it)  and the one in this morning's photo is sideways. The poor thing has been knocked from its mooring.

We very seldom have standing water in the front yard ditch.

The hubster tells me we have water in the basement and that the sump pumps are working as hard as they are able. We haven't had water in the basement (unless we didn't have power to run the sump pumps) since we installed the B-Dry System many, many moons ago.

Now the rest of the story. This is the forecast for today and tomorrow:

Do you suppose we should be in the workshop building an ark?

On a much lighter note, here are my latest finds from a used bookstore in Jackson:

Sorry for the glare from the overhead light. I included part of my foot to show you the results of yesterday's pedicure.

I am so amazed at the amount of rainfall from last evening and overnight, I almost forgot to tell you about my wonderful time yesterday with Kip. I drove up to Small But Mighty Arts to see what supplies she had and what extras I would need to bring for my Intro to Repurposed Books class on August 13, and was pleasantly surprised to find that she has nearly everything I asked about.

After talking for awhile in the art studio, we headed for Schuler Books at the Meridian Mall for lunch. Kip treated and we each had a lovely salad and a wonderful chat. She showed me some of her Zentangles - boy! I can't wait to take a class with her. I think I have found another real friend. 

I have been so fortunate to find some true friends through art. First I found Nancy and we have become such good friends that I can't believe that I haven't known her forever. Then I met Sandy and she, too, is a kindred spirit. I met Dee through an art class at Krasl in St. Joe, and I think we are sisters who were separated at birth. And now there is Kip. It is so wonderful for me to meet such strong, talented women who have become my friends. And I mustn't forget Cat who feels like a kindred spirit even though I have only met her through emails. I can't wait to meet her in person. 

I really need to get on the treadmill today even though I don't feel like it. I didn't get there yesterday and I am afraid if there is more one day of layoff it will be much harder to get back to it.  

I received the masking fluid that I ordered from Dick Blick and am anxious to try it out, but have decided I have to earn my art time by a trade off with the treadmill. I hope to have something to show you tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slow Down July

I'm not sure where this month is going, but it seems like it is disappearing right before my eyes. While I have not been enjoying the hot, steamy weather and would like it to be a bit cooler and breezy, I don't want time to pass by so quickly.

Yesterday was very pleasant; I went shopping with my friend, Carol, and we found some good sales and lots of things to laugh about. I feel healthier already having spent two consecutive days with good friends, which always means lots of laughter, which everyone knows is "the best medicine".

I spent a little time last evening before the Tiger game (we won, yippee!!) trying another perspective drawing in my sketchbook. I am really drawn (pun intended) to the street scenes and am able to get lots of wonderful photos online between google street view and files of photos for artists to use as reference at Wet Canvas and other sites. Here is my latest attempt:

I think I am getting a bit better and maybe it is time to try to do one in watercolor. I think this one is one of my favorites. I love how the street curves out of sight. If I do a watercolor, I think I need to add some people to bring this scene to life.

I also thought you might enjoy seeing the photo of the tree frog (or is he a tree toad?) that I used as a reference for the picture I sketched the other day. Here he is:

Was it wrong of me to take his picture while he was eating? Or was it wrong of him to have his mouth full while I was taking his picture?

This morning I am driving up to Haslett to meet with Kip at Small But Mighty Arts to see what tools and supplies she has available so I know exactly what I need to bring on the 13th for my Repurposed Book class. I am going to take my sketchbook and try to do some sketching out of doors. I have an appointment for a haircut and pedicure (we have an out of town wedding next weekend) and think I may have a bit of down time between meeting with Kip and the time of my appointment. It seems like the perfect time to do a bit of sketching and there are lots of builidings and people to sketch between Haslett and Mason.

I intend to add more colored pencil to the flowers in the vase that Jean Haines posted as her first July challenge this afternoon. I promised myself that I was going to take it slowly, but I didn't mean that I was just going to let it sit. I am anxious about adding more to it, but it will be good practice and "it is just paper", so if I don't like it, at least I will be learning as I go.

I'd better go get a bit of breakfast and get ready for the day. I hope to have pix and sketches to share tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Art Day Fun

Yesterday I had an art day with my friend, Nancy, at her house. She had some aquaboard for us to play with and we had a grand time. I wish I'd taken a photo of her painting, but perhaps she will share it on her blog some time in the near future. As for mine, it began as some pale flowers on a darker background using a photo from one of her watercolor books. In not time at all, it was a disaster - overworked, too many hard edges, awful. I wet the whole thing, used paper towels to remove most of the color and then used a a mix of blues and yellows to get various shades of green and sponged onto the surface with a sea sponge. I used a bit of masking fluid (something new to me, but that I hope to get comfortable with soon) to protect a couple of light areas from the original flowers and then painted around them. I added some darker green this morning.

Nancy made a luscious salad for lunch and had some fabulous hard rolls to go with it. Later in the day, we retired to her studio (we painted at the kitchen table) and talked and laughed until I suddenly realized it was almost dinner time and I should scoot home. The times I spend in Nancy's company are always filled with wonderful conversations on a wide variety of topics, some serious and some frivolous. If laughter is good for your health, time with her is wonderful medicine.

I brought home a couple more small aquaboards to play with and a novel that she loaned to me. She also sent a large black sheet of artist paper for me to try with watercolor pencils. She is such a warm and generous friend. I am already looking forward to our next get together.

Before I go get on the treadmill, I have a photo of a rose in the side yard. I am hoping to try to paint it sometime soon and will share it with you when I do.

Today I am going out and about with another friend, Carol. We will be shopping, eating lunch out, catching up and no doubt laughing a lot. A very different kind of day out than yesterday, but tons of fun in a different way. I will have to try to fit a bit of art in later this afternoon when I get home. If I happen to find any treasures while we are out and about I will surely share with you tomorrow.


Monday, July 25, 2011

In Chelsea, Around the Yard, and In the Art Room

After our anniversary dinner on Friday - a wickedly sinful seafood linguine dish - I took some street pix and was able to do a quick sketch. It isn't much; I never know how much or how little to include. I haven't added color as the paper in my journal won't take color and I am into wc right now.

Yesterday after dinner, the hubster came in and told me there was a tree frog on the side of his workshop, so I went out with the camera. Ugh, it was overwhelmingly hot and muggy, but I stayed out to get a couple of pictures and then came back indoors and sketched a couple of things from the yard.

He was green and bumpy and was eating something black. I could only see part of the body and two legs of his meal.

And it should come as no surprise that one of the things I took a quick pic of was an Adirondack chair sitting in the side garden. I had to try to draw it again.

I found a wonderful watercolor artist through a Facebook group called Sketchbookers Society. Her name is Brenda Swenson. She has a lovely blog and I found a tutorial on negative painting with watercolors. I tried my best to follow along with it, but as usual I've overworked it and I think the background needs to be darker, but I really had fun with this one and am anxious to try again.

Today I am planning to do some art with a friend after I first pay my penance to the treadmill for an hour. I hope to have some fun to report tomorrow and mayhaps even have some art to show.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Still Life WIP, More Perspective Practice and A Wishing Well

I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to take this still life slowly. I've added a bit of Prussian Blue to the darkest areas in the picture and gone no further. I am hoping to spend some time on it this weekend so that I can see more progress. Because I am intentionally going slowly, I find I am even more afraid to go on to the next step, but it is only paper and I have to remember to have fun and learn as I go.

Sorry for the poor picture; if you click on it, you should be able to see it better.

I've also tried another street scene in my sketchbook and I think I am beginning to get a bit better at it. Sketching with pen is messy, but I have to remember not to take the pen off the paper so much so that I get a sketchier rendition with texture built in.

I thought I would show you one of the hubster's latest projects. Don't you just love this?!

It is supposed to be another hot day, but now they are predicting a 60% chance of rain and thunder showers. I'm hoping to work on my still life a bit today and maybe start a watercolor. This time I am just going to start with a wash and then let it dry before trying to add more to it. I need an overseer to slap my hands and take the brushes away when I get impatient and try to go into a painting before the previous layer is completely dry.

We are going out to dinner later to celebrate our anniversary and I think the hubster is going to the Farmers' Market in Holt in the morning. He has Adirondack chairs, walking sticks with wood burned art on them, the wishing well above, a variety of signs - all hand made, all of wood.

I still have some space available in my August 13th Intro to Repurposed Books class at Small But Mighty Arts in Haslett. All students will have a lovely hand made blank journal at the end of the class. All materials are supplied. For more information, click on the Workshops/Classes tab at the top of this page.

I think I hear the treadmill calling again - sometimes I swear I hear that thing calling me in my sleep. So far I am doing an hour a day and am feeling very disciplined. I hope to keep it up.

I hope you have a great day and a wonderful weekend. I hope to "see" you again on Monday.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pests, Sketches and Going Slowly

I think the racoon is such a cute animal and am planning to try to draw one with colored pencils. That said, I never forget that they are dangerous and destructive. We've (that is the royal "we") been bringing in the reachable bird feeders after experiencing their damage to them and so far that has been enough. But last night, they not only found a way up the pole in the front yard to get to the oriole and hummingbird feeders that we thought were safe from them, but they broke the screen onto the back porch and got into the bag of bird seed. Grrrrr!

A real life lesson that you can't judge a book by its cover.

On a more positive note, tomorrow the hubster and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage. I can't believe it has been that long! We will be going out to dinner - maybe to the Common Grill in Chelsea. That is a favorite of mine and we haven't been there in years. I just wish we weren't in the middle of a heat wave. I think it would be fun to dress for the occasion, but I'm pretty sure capris and a tee are in order.

I've still been playing with contour drawing and love the posture of cats. Here is what I came up with this time.

I need to add a window sill or something for them to be sitting on.

I am trying so hard to slow down in doing art, but it is really hard for me. For some reason I unconsciously think that when I start a project it will get done in one session. So for this still life from Jean Haines I am intentionally going at a snail's pace. This morning I've chosen the colored pencils I will use. I think I've probably chosen too many, but I don't think it means that I have to use all of them. I just think I will be more consistent with them chosen rather than reaching into the container of 120 of them. I am using the Faber-Castell Albrecht Duhrer set. I am going to begin with the deepest shadows and just do a layer of the prussian blue or reddish purple for today. I will share that tomorrow. Here is my set-up:

I even remembered to do a swatch of each color in the margins.

You'll notice I didn't choose any greens. That may have to change, but for now I am planning to use a scrap piece of watercolor paper and do a chart of the mixture of each of these chosen colors with each other. I am hoping to get some lovely greens.

I did an hour on the treadmill again yesterday and am planning another hour session today. It is calling to me, but I think I will put it off until I do the chart of the mixed colors for the still life. For now I'm just starting my second mug of coffee and am expecting another scorcher today so will spend it in the air conditioned indoors - not my favorite conditions.

I will leave you with this lovely sunflower that is a volunteer that grew in the tiny space between the garage and the beginning of the driveway pavement. I love the pattern and colors, especially the yellow pollen? that has dropped onto the leaf. I think I may try to sketch this one and perhaps add some color, but all the detail in the seed head scare me off a bit. We'll see.

I'm off to get started on the color mixing chart. I hope to see you again tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Goodies in the Mail and More Practice

I've been participating in a monthly swap with a Yahoo! group, Watercolour Pencil Buddies. This is the second one I've been in on. This month's theme is purple. I sent mine out yesterday, but forgot to save a copy and wouldn't be able to share it until the participant received it anyway. I sure hope she likes my contribution. This is what I received from my swap buddy:

Isn't it beautiful; and not only did I get this lovely work of art, but she enclosed it in a handmade card that is also lovely.

I am a little worried that my attempt won't in any way compare with the loveliness of these, but I did my best. I am hoping that with each of these I do, I will get better.

For more practice in this medium, I am working on a still life that Jean Haines offered as her July challenge. I linked to it yesterday. I first tried to paint it free hand and was hoping to be loose and free with it. I painted it wet in wet and was standing hoping to add to the looseness. And it was a disaster. It helped a little bit to add some ink at the end, but I surely overworked it again!! Is there any hope for me at all???!!!

I was planning not to share this because it makes me wince just to look at it.

So for my next attempt at this still life, I am planning to use watercolor pencils to see if I can use lots of light layers of varying colors to get a reasonable likeness. I know that it doesn't have to look like the original, but I am working on doing that before I go off and try my own interpretation. Of course if you can stand to look again at the watercolor attempt above, it looks like I've already migrated to my own interpretation, doesn't it?

I sure hope there isn't a penalty for tracing some of the outlines before beginning.

I will share the stages of this one as I go.

Meanwhile, I heard from Lillian at Weekly Art Lesson and she is going to do more on Adirondacks in the next lesson. I'm thrilled and can't wait to see it. Meanwhile, I've attempted a few more chairs and think I am getting a little better, but still have a long way to go.

The first one at top left had a man sitting in it in her examples. I tried to sketch it empty and failed miserably.

It is time for my second cup of coffee, and although I am trying hard to turn a deaf ear, I am pretty sure the treadmill is hollering at me again this morning. Yesterday, I did my half hour around 8 am and then did another one around noon before getting in the shower. I am hoping to do two a day for the rest of July.

I just checked the forecast for today and I think I am going to stay indoors once again. I think I am developing cabin fever. I don't expect this condition except in the dead of winter, but I think it would be more pleasant to dress up warmly and go out in a snowstorm than to go outside on a day like today.

I hope you are staying cool if you are having this awful heat (and envy you your coolness if you live where it is still winter).  Take good care of yourself and try to make time for your art.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I got an email from my friend, Nancy, yesterday with a link to an art lesson on how to draw Adirondack chairs. You know that I've made several botched attempts to make a painting with Adirondack chairs on the beach. That project has been active in my head but nowhere else. The link was to Weekly Art Lesson and I followed it, played with sketches of Adirondacks, subscribed to the blog and to the weekly newsletter.

Here are my first feeble attempts:

I am planning to try watercolor again today in the hopes that I won't overwork it. I am planning to remember a video I saw in which Vinita Pappas tries to draw a garlic with watercolor paint using the fewest of brush strokes. I love how this woman paints and used to subscribe to her blog, but now it is a subscription and though I think it is probably worth it, it is beyond my means.

One of my favorite watercolor artists, Jean Haines, posted a still life of flowers in a pitcher on a windowsill for readers to attempt and I am hoping to try that today using the fewest brush strokes possible. I need to learn to walk away for awhile and then come back and look with fresh eyes.

I just got off the treadmill and need to go get some breakfast. I am planning to get on it again in a couple of hours. I think an hour a day in two half hour sessions is what I need to get rid of this extra flab I've put on over the course of the last month or so. I do want to look nice in my little black dress that I am wearing to an evening wedding in about 2 weeks.

For now I'll say tata. I hope you are keeping cool - it is another scorcher here today - and that you are able to find time to make art.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Busy Weekend

Another busy weekend - I was planning to go to a transfer workshop that a group from Lansing was having on Saturday, but Friday night the daughter called to ask if I could take the girls for Saturday and overnight. Of course I said yes. It was very busy especially because Miss 3 was running a fever and was more needy than usual. We did spend some quality time on Sunday morning - she woke up at 4 am wanting to talk and then decided it was day time at 6, so we got up. She wanted to do some sketching in a "big" sketch book, so I found one that is about 8 x 11 and we did some art. She wanted to draw birds and was really frustrated with her initial attempts, so I drew a rough bird talking all the time about the beak, now the curve of the head, now the belly.....

I worked a crossword puzzle while listening to her saying, "Here's the beak, and here is the head, and then the feathers....."

The bird at the top is the one I drew to show her the parts of a bird; the rest of the birds are hers. I think I have a real artist on my hands.

Saturday was the second day of the hot air balloon festival in Jackson, but since Miss 3 was sick (and sleeping) the hubster took Miss 8 and they had a wonderful time. Here is one of the pictures he took.

Sunday was my day to have Zoë for the day and I just happened to be in town taking Miss 8 home so I picked her up instead of having her delivered. I found a cute little seat that plays music and has a vibrate settting at a garage sale a few weeks ago. She loved it. I can't believe how much she has changed from just a week ago when we were together at the condo. She now rolls over at will - just about every time you lay her on the floor - and has such wonderful control of her hands. Here is a cute shot of her enjoying the new chair.

You would think that having my girl tribe all weekend would be enough wouldn't you? Well, I also got my order of lamb shoulder cut into stew sized pieces from Merindorf Meats and made a lamb stew. I know - is she nuts? - it's 90º out and she is cooking a stew?

I adapted a recipe I found online and it was fantastic.

I used this recipe as a guide only. I don't ever think in ounces when cooking, so I used a medium sized onion, three small red skinned potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, a pound of lamb stew meat, 2 small turnips, 3 carrots, a sprinkling of herbs including Herbes De Provence. I didn't have any rutabaga, but I did have some lovely baby portabella mushrooms that I used. I added a 32 ounce box of chicken broth and followed the directions except my veggies were tender in about 45 minutes. I cannot believe how good this stew turned out. Absolutely delicious.

I have another pound of lamb stew meat in the freezer and will surely make this again in cooler weather.

It is sure to be another scorcher today, so I think I will hunker down in my art room and play. I subscribe to Lin Frye's blog and have followed her over to Wet Canvas where Virgil Carter is doing a workshop called PAINTING LOOSELY & COLORFULLY IN WATERCOLOR LANDSCAPES. It is too late to get into the class, but I can read along and am going to try some loose watercolors today. I will share tomorrow.


Friday, July 15, 2011

New Repurposed Book, Sketches, Bluebirds, and More

I was really productive yesterday - I walked the treadmill, made a new repurposed book, got outdoors and took lots of photos, and managed to do two quick sketches using images from Google Maps.

Here are "in process" pix of the repurposed book:

Outside Cover with Text Block removed.

Inside Cover - I used a bit of sandpaper to remove the edges left from the endpapers.

I used Mi Teintes paper in black, tan, and gray. Here they are folded, pressed, and hole punched.

Sewn together using the French Link stitch.

This is the new endpaper. I love using wallpaper as it glues so nicely.

Here is the finished journal.

It was a beautiful day yesterday so I got outdoors and took some photos around the yard. The bluebird pix were taken through the screen in my art room, but I think they turned out pretty well even with the screen between.

One of my favorites in the front garden is the thistle. I never tire of taking photos of it.

This might be fun to draw on Mi Teintes brown paper with colored pencil.

And I also love the ferns especially when there is a lovely winged one visiting.

And finally, I spent a bit of time using Google maps to find sites of interest to do quick sketches. These are by no means finished art work, but they are excellent practice for me, especially if I make sure I don't spend a lot of time on them. I used my Noodler's Flex pen (which by the way I don't know how to make flex.) with Saguaro Wine ink. It is messy, but I need the practice. If anyone has experience with this pen and can tell me how to make it flex, I'd appreciate it.

Once again the treadmill is calling out to me and I must obey. I've had a couple of mugs of coffee and will grab a banana on the way to workout. I had a 20% off coupon for everything including sale items at JoAnn's that is good through tomorrow and think I should use it - maybe I will use it at Michael's if they will honor it.

I hope you are having a great Friday and that the weekend is a pleasant and productive one.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Try, Try Again

Remember the Adirondack chairs on the beach. After all my fiddling and still not liking it, I realized that I didn't even like the set up. Why if you were on a lovely beach would you be sitting facing away from the water??? Also, my biggest mistake is to try to make a finished painting with only two or three layers. I know from everything I read that this is a mistake. I try to go too far too fast (get your mind out of the gutter!! :-) My second most serious problem is that I sketch my outlines too dark and in graphite. I am going to draw my outlines in this picture in watercolor pencil.

So, I have begun again and have just laid in some rough washes that I dabbed with tissue. So far all I've done is to show where the foreground is. I see I have to be careful not to have the three areas end up as thirds of the height. I'm a little shy to do the next step, but I think I am going to go to watercolor pencils to add some interest into the sky and decide where the horizon line will be.

I am hoping to add two Adirondack chairs with their backs to the viewer, which would have them facing the water. I took a photo of the back of a chair in the side garden yesterday so I will know how to draw it when the time comes.

I am seriously considering having the sun low in the sky so I can add some reds and golds to the sky with reflections on the water, if that is not too ambitious. I will show you the progress as it happens. For now I am planning to go very slowly so I don't forget and try to get it done in the next layer.

While I was out in the yard with my camera, I couldn't resist taking a few pix of some of the things that caught my eye.

We have a family in the bluebird house.

Well, as usual, the treadmill is calling to screeching at me, so I'd better get this body moving. I think I have the whole day to work play in my art room and am hoping to get a few more gesture sketches done, start a new repurposed journal, and do a bit of colored pencil and/or Neocolor II wax pastel work on the new WIP. I hope to have something to share tomorrow.