Travel Palettes

Paint Choices for Small Palettes
(and toxic pigments and baked ziti)

A few posts ago, Annie had some questions about paints and pigments.

In my book, A Petoskey Watercolor Journal, I list the colors I use in my teaching of watercolor journaling, and I suggest using Windsor and Newton paints because of their quality and availability.

The colors I suggest in the book are: permanent rose, hookers green, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, and burnt sienna.

I also suggest these colors because I feel teaching journaling technique is more important than teaching color mixing in a brief journal workshop.

So now we come to the "However. . ." I have been using Daniel Smith watercolors exclusively for the past couple of years. No - I am not advertising for DS - just stating a fact. Colors are not the same across the board and I used to use some of, maybe, three manufacturers. Once you get used to a manufacturer's take on a color, it makes your life so much easier to just keep ordering from that one manufacturer. And I do think DS pigments are great.

As for color choices, again, these are suggested because it is easy to run into an art supply store and find them. I am all about instant gratification, and I feel if someone wants to get journaling, they want to get journaling - not try to find a mail order catalog and spend hours looking up the right stuff!

Annie had a question about manganese blue. A few years ago, the original pigment was "outlawed" and we couldn't get it for awhile. The new and improved manganese blue seems to have the same granular properties, which is what I love about it.

So, if I were to limit myself (which I do) to just a very few colors for tiny travel palettes, what would I choose? If I had room for only three colors, they would be permanent rose ( or something similar), ultramarine blue, and hansa yellow or lemon yellow. To add a couple more I would put in hookers green and manganese blue. Two more - cobalt violet and phthalo yellow green (NOT phthalo green yellow shade)

Sometimes, it is not just about the color, but also the properties of the pigment - if it granulates, if it is transparent, if it stains . . .

I had an email this morning asking about the best way to dispose of our paints and paint water if our pigments are toxic. I think the only toxic paint I am using these days is Cobalt violet. I don't use cadmiums and the manganese colors have been reworked, but if some of you are using these (and cobalts), you may want to be aware of their toxicity when painting with children.

As for disposal - I think you might want to google the subject and see what you think is best. I am not well versed in this and don't want to be quoted as saying, "Aw, heck, dump it down the sink". Look on your tubes of paint and see how they are rated - it will be on there. You'll probably find, that unless you are using cobalts and cadmiums, you have no toxic pigments.

"Marpia" asked in a comment how to make baked ziti special. The best way I know to make it special is to serve it by candle light.


Food Blogging - Christmas Season

One More Time

Yes, I'm baking ziti again. AND blogging about it. Ziti seems to be one of my temporary obsessions - like making sketchbooks and reading everything I can find on Jack London. I've put those two things on hold until after the holidays.

I have Christmas Eve Eve dinner to fix and a few errands to run. I have to make a run back to the grocery. I can tell exactly, by looking at my list, which aisles I ran into friends to talk to. I guess I can't shop and talk at the same time. Well, we all knew that.

One more Christmas present to buy and only a few more to wrap. I'm doing okay. How about you? Hope things are going well, and that you are all having a great holiday season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!


Baby Eggplants

Painting Colorful Shadows
and mixing (baby) eggplant colors

We worked in this week's classes on mixing colorful shadows. We mixed them on the palette and on the paper, getting very different results.

After having a break between sessions and then having a snow day last week, we'll take two weeks off for the holidays. We'll jump in with both feet when we get going in the new year.

The sun was shining here today!!! Wonderful. I went to the post office and there wasn't a line! Sunshine, no line - what a day!


Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts in my Sketchbook

I was ready to cut these in quarters, toss them with olive oil, garlic, and walnuts, and roast them. However - they were just calling out to be painted.

If you haven't tried them roasted like this - oh my gosh! Even if you don't like Brussels sprouts, you'll like these. If you have never painted them - try it. You'll like that too!

MORE snow today! Another class cancelled. During the class time I made a pot of coffee, cranked up Pandora, and worked on my year-end evaluation. Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity has some interesting evaluation and planning strategies - a little over the top for some of us maybe - I don't plan to visit 20 or more countries this coming year, but there are lots of interesting things on his blog.

That's it for my day - Brussels sprouts and year-end evaluations. I miss my students!!!


Cellar Door Painting and the Snow Boarder

Painting on Clayboard

In the previous post I showed the sketch, and I have been working off and on for the past couple of days on the painting.

We had a pretty big snow storm last night, and I had to cancel the first meeting of my eight-week Wednesday morning watercolor class.

You'd think I'd be able to use that time to really get into this painting, but with all the neighborhood activity of digging out, I was pretty distracted. Everyone was stuck - even the garbage truck was stuck. Just as I really got into the rhythm of painting, some guy came along and took a toboggan out of his van and tried to snowboard down the street. It didn't budge, so he kept moving it an inch at a time trying to find a slippery spot. That didn't work, so he hauled out a runner-type sled and tried that. That didn't work either. Then he started to wave down every pickup/plow that went by. Apparently, he wanted someone to plow out a parking space for him, and just thought he'd "snowboard" while he waited. That was my entertainment for the day.

I think I'm going to move into a cozy windowless corner to work, but think what I'd miss. I'm the one who is always going on and on about life influencing our art. Who knows what might come of watching the "snowboard guy".


Cellar Door

Gretchen's Cellar Door

This is a pencil sketch in one of my sketchbooks. I have painted this doorway a few times in different sizes, from different angles, and in various color combinations. I never tire of playing around with those shadows. Right now I am trying it on textured clayboard, and I'm finding the shadows don't work real well on that. I tend to paint in layers, and because clayboard allows colors to lift (the good news and the bad news), it is hard to build up the shadows. I'll let you see what's happening when I get a little further into it.

In reference to the previous post - the last of the ziti (at least three servings!) was finished off by a starving grandson after basketball practice. I knew that ziti would come in handy. Never under estimate your need for baked ziti.


Rosemary and Onions

Thank God for Baked Ziti.
Are we paying attention?
Do we really look at the everyday things around us? A year ago I was having my classes paint a series of themes. They could pick what they wanted to do for eight weeks, and really pay attention to that theme. It makes us aware of the everyday things around us - our food, doorways, barns, chairs, shadows, figures. Our everyday life enhances our art - our art enhances our everyday life.

I don't think a painting starts with a sketch. It starts with observing and appreciating. It starts with the way you see and feel everything around you. Nothing is too trivial to stop and appreciate - whether it's a handful of paint chips just because you like them together, or rosemary and onions on the cutting board just because you like the way they look against the wood.

Tuesday night I made baked ziti - enough for an army. The next day I was very involved in a project that really wasn't going all that well, and I just wanted to keep working on it. Thank God for baked ziti. It's the simple things in life, isn't it? And the ziti.


San Francisco

The Gardens at Grace Cathedral,
San Francisco

I posted this painting in progress a few posts back. I think it is finished - I will have to live with it a few more days to be sure.

I'm catching up a bit on real life today - painting, grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the fridge, attending 7th grade basketball.

It is snowing here tonight. Seriously snowing. This will get me feeling Christmasy, and that's a good thing.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for 30 days of blogging. Although I missed a couple, I was thinking about you!


Bike Ink Drawing

An ink drawing done on location a few summers ago.

I'm going through old sketchbooks for painting subjects, class lessons, and for the fun of seeing them again. I've gone back and read parts of my blog also. It is interesting, isn't it, how we (ME anyway) keep going along on the same path over and over. Fortunately, I like my path. If I didn't like it, would I make the effort to change old habits?

We did not start our bathroom project today. We decided we needed to know a LOT more about step two before we start step one. There are a few more decisions to be made. We also have to make very sure that we are talking the same language - you know, the Mars and Venus thing.


Art Supplies

Painting the Altoids Tin Palettes

A very quiet day here today. We discussed and planned (argued about) the bathroom re-do.
We wandered the aisles of the Home Depot for awhile.

I think we are going to start tearing up the bathroom tomorrow. I often say how much I love demolition, but this is making me a little nervous. Oh well, no guts, no glory - right?


Back to the Beginning

Cheese and Crackers

For two days we have worked our way through Thanksgiving food, and now we are ending up back where we started - with the appetizers. No one complained when I hauled the same food out for every meal. I guess we all need to get our fill of Turkey and the fixings, because we might not get it again for another year. We picked the carcass clean and everyone has gone home. Maybe that's why they went home - I kept serving them the same food over and over.


Happy Thanksgiving

We had a very busy day - lots of people, LOTS of food, lots of noise, lots of fun. Now we are settling down for the night - and listening to the wind and sleet.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.



Yet Another Salt and Pepper Still Life

Nothing much to paint on the table at Applebee's. However the food was very good, and it sure wasn't crowded. I think everyone else was home tending to their turkeys.

With the help of Eldest Grandson, I just put the last of the pies in the oven. When we stopped at the grocery store for a couple of things, the check-out guy said people are still buying frozen turkeys. This is zero hour for buying anything. What are they going to do with those turkeys?

This little still life is the first in my new sketchbook. What is it about the first and last pages??!!




Ivy on the Coffee Table

I think I have painted this pot of ivy before. This is the last watercolor page in my red sketchbook. So tomorrow I have to decide whether to go back to my summer class sketchbook (the spiral I use because it is the same format as the sketchbooks my students use) OR break out the brand new spiffy handmade book I made a few days ago. Sounds as if I have made up my mind, doesn't it?

This painting is really pretty dull - not too much of a grand finale for the little sketchbook. I drew it quickly in ink, and when I do that I tend to fill in the color in a color-book style. I just woke up from a little evening nap (I had to try out a new queen size fleece blanket which was really too large and twisty for couch napping), I was blurry eyed, the light wasn't good . . . and so on.

Tomorrow in my spiffy new sketchbook I intend to do a masterpiece. Well, maybe not tomorrow, but it's coming.


Watercolor Classes


I have posted the info for these classes on my Class Site.



Afternoon Snack

I love the boxes that tangerines and clementines come in.

I have one page left to paint in the red polka dot sketchbook. I will start next on the book I just finished. It is a little smaller than the 6 X 6 size I have been using, but with a two page spread across the facing pages, it's not bad. It is a little thick for the page dimensions, which makes it a little more difficult to open flat, but I am only going to experiment with one step at a time. This time it was the kind of paper, next time may be the dimensions.

Okay. Moving on. I think for the month of November I have worn out the topics of Glen Ellen, California, Jack London (watching a documentary tonight. Thanks, Karen) and handmade sketchbooks. Thanksgiving is a natural. We'll see where that takes us.



I have absolutely nothing to post today. Since it is "Post Every Day in November" I have to at least say something, but I have nothing to show.

My daughter is a writer, so of course she reads writers' blogs, and I think, "But there are no pictures!". I realize a lot of people blog without visuals - but to be perfectly honest - I don't read them.

So, picture me helping my husband pick up six layers of old shingles from the garage and load them into the truck to take them to the dump. Wouldn't six layers be more than a hundred year's worth!? I am not a roofer, but arent six layers just wrong?! Picture me taking a nap.


Can You Take It?

Can You Take It? One More Journal?
After spending the time and money on the workshop, I wanted to be sure I could make these on my own, and I wanted to make sure I could figure out how to use watercolor paper in them.

My friend Karen (we took the workshop together) came over bright and early this morning, and we started bookmaking. The text block is easy, the covers are easy, but putting it all together is the tricky part.

It is pretty labor intensive - it took all day, and we had so much fun, I can't fix dinner now. I think we're going to have to go out. Pity.



Clementine, Tangerine, or Whatever

As I was eating this tangerine and looking through an "old" sketchbook, I came across this drawing I had done of a clementine. I should spend a little more time doing pencil drawings - I love doing them.

It is just a little after four in the afternoon, and it is nearly pitch dark. The street lights aren't on, but the lights are on in the houses up and down the street. My studio feels nice and cozy, but I would really prefer another hour or so of daylight. There were LARGE black clouds over the Bay all afternoon. Oh, no - could there be snow in those!!!???

I met some old friends for lunch today - some women I met when we first moved here 20 years ago. It's a good idea to catch up with non-painting friends once in awhile. There is a whole world out there that I am not paying any attention to. We just can't participate in all of it, can we?

A couple of days ago I had lunch with a friend that has written a beautiful book on art, color, etc. We talked about painting, writing, and publishing, and it has me thinking about doing another book. Well, I always think about it, some times more seriously than other times. Writing a book is kind of obsessive, and I guess I just like being in that mode.

See my FIRST book here. My one and only - so far.



More Journals
We can't stop making them.

This afternoon I went to my friend, Cathy's, where she was helping some friends make journals. I love to see the variety of colors and patterns every time anyone gets together to make journals. The possibilities are endless. I am not showing the end papers/fly leaves in this picture, but they add even more color and pattern.

I haven't taken the time to make another journal since the Ann Arbor workshop, and I am afraid I will forget if I don't do it soon!

What a great "art day" this was. In class this morning, I had my students working on focal points/center of interest. We were looking through art books and finding the focal points of paintings and discussed how the artist arrived at those focal points - what did they decide to leave out. "Leaving out" seems to be a big part of it. Leaving something out can make a big statement - and be a big decision.

After class, I went to join the girls making journals, and of course we talked art all afternoon. We had a delicious dinner prepared by one of the girls. We sat in Cathy's cozy dining room and talked more art. Relaxing and inspiring.

I'm fired up - so many things going through my head - journals, paintings, drawings, workshops. . . .


Glen Ellen Street Scene

Glen Ellen, California
Three different versions of the same view.
I have already posted the two paintings, and I always think it is fun to compare a photograph of a location with my sketchbook version. The sketchbook version is always the closest to how the place really felt to me. The "serious" paintings are always a little too "dressed up".

In my sketchbooks a few little marks can remind me later of how a place smelled, felt, sounded (tasted, but I'm trying not to blog about food all the time) and how I REALLY thought it looked. A snap shot is just that - a SNAP shot. It just doesn't take long enough for me to engage all the senses.

Carrying a sketchbook around (and PAINTING in it) is such an enjoyable part of my life! It enriches everything. When your life influences your art, your art influences your life - or something like that.

Just paint - you don't even have to show anyone. But you'll probably want to.


Zenith Radio

Z is for Zenith
Back in February and March, I did a series of alphabet illustrations. For some reason I never did Z. So here it is. One of my readers has often reminded me - so this one's for you.

This is one of the many radios my husband has all over the house - not that there is anything wrong with that. This is a late forties Zenith. The sketch is very small - maybe two inches square. After doing these sketches last winter, I was going to go on with another series, but I guess I got a little side-tracked. Maybe this winter would be a good time to do that. Series are always fun to do.

Well, the sketch is pretty boring, but hey, it's a Z, and you've been waiting months for this.


My Desk

Cozying Up For Winter

Spellcheck says there is no such thing as "cozying", but we know there is, don't we? Especially those of us who live in Northern Michigan.

A couple of months ago, I moved a lot of my art supplies into this desk. I wanted it useful and colorful. It makes me happy every time I come in the room, or see it from the back door. I left the file a little larger than I usually do, so if you want to click on the photograph to enlarge it so you can take a closer look, go ahead.

I spent most of the day clearing up a couple of projects so I can move on to whatever is next. I have lots of things that could be next, it's just a matter of deciding where to start. Maybe I should put all my plans and ideas in a jar, pull one out and work on it until it is finished and . . . Okay. It's clear to me now. WORK ON IT UNTIL IT IS FINISHED.


Blue and White Dish

Blue and White Dish With Garlic and a Cut Lemon

This is a small watercolor sketch in my journal of some of my favorite things ~ garlic, lemon, and blue and white china. This is just a quick little painting so I would have something to post.

When we went downstate last weekend for the book-making workshop, we went to a great antique shop. I'm a sucker for blue and white, and the six-sided shape of this makes it a little different to draw.

Last night's maple glazed chicken breasts turned out great. The glaze/marinade is actually for a pork loin ~ recipe here.

Speaking of food. Aren't I always? Right now I am off to the kitchen to fix tacos. Hope everyone is having a good weekend. The weather is pretty nice here ~ so nice in fact that my husband is roofing the garage and I have been shamed (because he is working so hard and the weather is so nice) into getting some things done in the yard that I was going to let slide. Just a few things ~ I don't want anyone to expect this fall clean-up every year.



In Progress

Grace Cathedral Garden Painting in Progress

I'm working on this from a journal sketch I did in California. I have a lot of students asked what the process is from sketchbook to watercolor paper. There are various ways to do it - one is, of course, to just draw it again, but that never works for me. Because I was pretty happy with the composition of the journal watercolor sketch, I simply traced the important shapes onto a piece of tracing paper, scanned it, enlarged it to the size of the wc paper, and printed it out (a copy shop will do this for you too), then traced it onto the watercolor paper.
Before I started to paint, I worked out all the light, dark, and middle values on the enlarged sketch. It is very easy to trace a sketch onto wc paper at a window or on a lightbox. The watercolor paper is much more transparent than you might guess.

Okay, here I go. I'm still working on that to-do list (they aren't supposed to END, are they!?) and we're having guests for dinner tonight. I am trying a maple glaze on chicken breasts - we'll see how that goes.


Figs and Produce

Glen Ellen, CA

This painting was done from the journal sketch I posted a few days ago. It's a watercolor done on Arches 140 cold press, 11" X 15". After I photographed the painting, I grayed down the fence in the background to set it back a little more.

I could almost smell the eucalyptus trees as I painted this. The scent is very strong in this area of California.

I accomplished quite a bit today ~ mailed out the summer schedule for the Bay View publication, delivered my card order ~ even went to the grocery store! ETC. I have been blobbing around for so long, that it feels good to be catching up. Of course the blobbing felt good too.


Food Blogging Again

A Huge Breakfast the Morning After Having Nothing to Eat but Potato Chips and Milk for Nearly 24 Hours.

We really know how to live, don't we?

This is one of those "quantity" not "quality" posts that I squeeze in when I'm doing the "Blog Everyday For the Month of November", or whatever it is. The chips and milk story may be useful toward the end of the month, so I'm not saying any more.

I tried to show some things I'm working on, but nothing seems to be working out just right tonight.

In class today we worked on laying in the shadows in Manganese blue (everything that wasn't going to be left white) and then filling in the colors and details. The class did a great job with it! My brain is too fuzzy to explain right now, and it would make a good post someday with a little step by step demo.

As I was plowing through my to-do list today after class, I found out that I have to have my summer schedule (part of it at least) turned in SOON for publication. OK, I can do that.

I'm heading for bed now. Who's going to remind me to do the step by step demo?


Kids Painting

The Kids Painting at Cherry Park
Very quick sketches of wiggly grandkids painting.

We were actually at Paul Moore Park in San Jose, California, but it is on Cherry Street, so it's Cherry Park.

I'm not that great at figures so if the figure is in constant motion that just gives me another excuse for not doing it well.

Running through my to-do list today, and it is going quite well. I am running on empty now, however, and still have a couple of things to do. I just did a little painting to put on a card and it was the most hideous thing I've ever done, so maybe at this point folding the laundry is the way to go.


Handmade Book

Fresh From the Bookmaking Workshop.
All the struggling I have done trying to make hand bound journals ~ this weekend I went to a workshop and learned how to do it correctly! We all know doing something correctly is so much easier. All the time I was stitching the signatures I kept thinking, "I'm doing this! I'm doing this, and it is so easy now!" The class was from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and we were exhausted when we were finished.

So seven and a half hours and $130 later I have a beautiful hand bound book. That $130 doesn't include shoe shopping the day before, and buying extra book materials that I just couldn't live without. It was a perfect girls' weekend.

Well, so much for blogging every day in November, huh? I will really try to stay on track for the rest of the month. And I think I am home for awhile. I have info to get out for my next class session, a card order to fill, some new cards to design for an order, and some things to get ready for the Art Center Christmas show. And of course, I have to stay one step ahead of my Wednesday class ~ they just get better and better every week.



Dinner for Four at Giorgios
San Jose, California

This place has linen napkins, so we were careful how we splashed around with our watercolors. It was a very crowded little table with pizza (best pizza ever) a big salad bowl, bread baskets, drink pitcher, many plates, and three sets of paints and sketchbooks!

So here I am only into the first week of blogging everyday for a month - and I MISSED yesterday. Last night was an "author event" at my husband's library. The author was David Oliver Relin, who wrote Three Cups of Tea. It was a very interesting evening, starting off with a Central Asian menu for dinner, and then David's inspirational presentation, then a book signing. I have been asking myself ever since sitting down to dinner with him, "Cath, what have YOU done lately?" Everyone was asking themselves that by the time they left the auditorium. I'm just hoping the inspiration lasts awhile. I have a very short attention span.


Rainy Day Still Life

"Baby" Fruit from the Backyard.
A Rainy Day Still Life.

I was painting one day after school with the California grandkids. It was too rainy to go out and paint, so we picked some very small citrus fruit in the backyard, along with a trumpet vine-type flower, and set up a little still life on the coffee table. It was very colorful and we had a great time.

For my class this morning I did a demonstration using the Grace Cathedral watercolor sketch in my previous post. I had worked out a value sketch and had it ready to go on watercolor paper. I was just going to show a few things to get them started on their own projects, but they wanted me to keep going. That class! They ask the best questions, and really make me think about what and how I am painting. Sometimes I just paint along without giving it too much thought, but when I have to give them a reason - that's better yet.

I'll post the painting when it is finished.

While I painted, we talked about California and listened to music from China Town in San Francisco. I'm stretching that vacation out as long as I can.


Garden Area at Grace Cathedral

A Small watercolor done in the garden and labyrinth area
of Grace Cathedral
in San Francisco.
I wasn't about to tackle the Cathedral itself in my little sketchbook - and that's just why I use a little sketchbook - so I won't have to tackle the big stuff.

I think I would like to live in that apartment on the right - the one with the fire escape across the window. Just the way the light was going through it. It was calling my name. But no one else was interested in living there with me, so . . .

It was a nice day to do China Town and walk UP THE HILL to the Cathedral.

I am working on a value sketch of this scene now. I may turn it into a "serious" painting.

The sun is shining off and on today, and the Bay is a beautiful dark blue. Very fall-like, moving into winter. That's okay - bring it on!


Glen Ellen Street


A small sketch in my journal, looking down the street in Glen Ellen, California. I am working on a larger painting of this view. It is such fun to paint vacation pictures ~ it takes you back to that place and time.

This afternoon I was supposed to go to District Court Jury Selection for the months of November and December. I figured selecting a lot of jurors for a lot of trials was going to take awhile. About two hours before leaving, the court clerk called and said, "Never Mind." Or words to that effect. So I cranked up my music and continued painting. But in the back of my mind there was this little "Gee. They don't want me?"


Moss Covered Tree

Moss Covered Tree in the Jack London State Park.
Glen Ellen, CA
Mentally I am still in California, and yes, I am still obsessing just a little bit over Jack London.

There was moss EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING in the woods here. It covered the houses, the trees, the rock that marked Jack and Charmian London's grave . . . . the pathways were muddy, rocky and and a little slippery . . . . and it was verrrry verrrry quiet. I even started thinking about Charmian living here in one of the big stone houses alone for forty years after Jack died. Not my problem. Besides she had an affair with Houdini, so I guess she wasn't moping around back here in the spooky woods by herself.

For the third year I have signed up for the "blog Every Day in November Challenge" so you can expect quantity not quality. As you can see already.


The Fig Cafe

A Contour Drawing While Waiting for Dinner

The Fig Cafe was small and crowded and had wonderful food! The food was pretty upscale, but the prices weren't bad. I loved this place.

I think this is the first place I have ever hauled out my sketchbook and had my husband say. "You really think you should paint here!?" I said, "I paint everywhere." and he said, "You usually don't have someone DINING twelve inches from you." I assured him I was just going to draw. And it's the first time a waitress ever said, "Oh, what are you drawing?" They usually politely ignore me.

There was a fig tree growing outside next to the building - I don't think I have ever seen a fig tree. The area is full of olive trees, eucalyptus trees, and mandrones. Spellcheck doesn't like mandrones.

We had some sunshine here today, so I went outside and raked leaves for awhile. I think I will actually have something out for the leaf pick-up in a few days. I haven't put the garden to bed - I usually leave it to fend for itself - I would rather clean it up in the Spring when it MIGHT be a little warmer.

I did paint a little today, but it wasn't of the obsessive nature that I posted yesterday that I was hoping for. I'll keep at it.


The Jack London Lodge

In the Garden/Pool Area of the Jack London Lodge, Glen Ellen, California
Sitting with my sketchbook and a glass of California wine, enjoying the last of the warm sunshine before dinner.

Now ~ back in Michigan ~ my class came this morning, and I feel grounded again. We did some two-minute paintings of single objects, and then five-minute paintings of three object compositions. The class did a great job with this assignment. They turned out some beautiful little paintings!

I haven't obsessively researched anything about Jack London today, and I have only played BejeweledBlitz (or whatever) a couple of times, so maybe there is some hope of getting a few little paintings ready for the art center Christmas Show. I'll make that my next obsession. Some people have goals, I have obsessions. Whatever it takes, right?


Pacific Ocean

Sketchbook Journal entry at Fort Ross In California
This is what I was painting in the photograph in the previous post. While I was sitting there it became so foggy that I couldn't see those rocks at all.

I'm having a little trouble with "re-entry". I loved Glen Ellen, and really got into the history there regarding Jack London. I have been reading so much about him, that I actually feel sad that he died!!! Get a grip! He died in 1916. I've been going through my pictures and my sketchbook, missing the kids (!), missing the weather, and then I hear "California Bloodlines" on my mp3 player. . .

Tomorrow morning my class will be here - they'll get me back in the groove.


Painting in California

Sketchbook Journaling Along Highway 1 in California.
We have just returned from a great trip to California. While we were staying in Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley for a couple of days, we drove over to the coast and up Highway 1 because we had never done that. I do prefer the valley to the coast - just because I like cozy spaces, not wide-open spaces. However, there were some magnificent views!

I will post some of my sketches as soon as I get settled in a little at home - a trip to the grocery is first on my list. Wishing we had a Trader Joe's here . . .


Down the Street

Cottage at the Curve in the Road
It is cold and windy, raining, almost snowing here. As I was going through my summer sketch books I came across this painting of a cottage in Bay View. I painted it on our last evening of painting for the season. We sat down to paint this because there was a nice, bright, warm spot of sun shining on the front of the cottage. By the time we set up, it was gone. And by the time we were finished painting, we were cold!

My class didn't do very quick little paintings of autumn objects this past week. We did do autumn objects, but we got pretty wrapped up in loosely rendering them. I didn't have the heart to stop them and move on to the next. They were doing some really nice little paintings. There is always next time.


Lemons and Peppers

Multiple Views of a Still Life
In yesterday's class we set up a still life, divided our paper into four rectangles, and painted four different views of the still life. I was a little sick of it by the time I got to the fourth painting ~ the top left. I may try this again someday. The whole idea is to zoom in, zoom out, pan left, pan right . . . . I think I could have zoomed a little more and panned a little less.

Next week the class wants to do very quick paintings, just a few minutes each, using autumn related objects such as pine cones, leaves, squash, gourds, pears.

We had a pretty heavy frost last night. Goodbye summer. As always, fall is bringing out my nesting instincts, and I have been switching my upstairs studio space (which never really worked out up there) back downstairs. I think I had better make a few trips to the Salvation Army/Goodwill to get rid of all this stuff I don't know what to do with. My new philosophy is "if I don't know where to put it, I certainly don't need it". I know that this philosophy is not new to some of you. We'll see how this works out.


Reflective Objects

Small Demo of Silver Cup

I'm a little paranoid about posting this class demo after my husband looked at it and just shrugged his shoulders. I tell my students NOT to show their art work to their spouses! Also, I tell them we aren't after perfection. So here it is.

The class did a great job with the reflective objects ~ glass, silver, white porcelain, etc. Everyone was really paying attention to the details. It is one of those "paint what you see and paint it boldly" things.

I'm into my nesting mode now. It happens every fall. I think most people have it. I always just hope it last long enough to get a few house projects finished ~ like maybe dusting!


Big Creek

Spending the Weekend at Big Creek
Big Creek isn't big. But it's sparkling, fast, and bubbly. Deep in the woods where the Kirtland Warblers live. They are endangered and only live in a few places in the country. We didn't see any, that we could identify anyway, but we did hear a bird call that was unfamiliar to us.

We could see this part of the creek from the deck of the cottage owned by my husband's sister and her husband. We used to live in the woods ~ in Interlochen, Michigan ~ and sometimes I miss it. Not often enough to want to move! I love it where we are. I like being able to walk to the post office, the library, the park for concerts, the playground ~ you get the picture.

My class wants to paint reflective objects this week. That'll be fun. If I do a good job with the demos, I'll post them. If I don't, you'll never hear about them again.

Are you sketching, painting, writing, singing, dancing, designing . . . this week? Let us know what creative things you are up to.


Painting on Location in September

Sketchbook Journaling at a Farm Market

I spent a beautiful, warm, autumn morning (as opposed to an ugly, cold, summer morning - sorry, I'm a little bitter about the reversal of seasons here) painting at a farm market with friend Cathy. Journal painting takes a lot less concentration than "serious" painting, and it is always fun to do it with a friend.

My newest obsession is finding something interesting and colorful to string with pearls. Disappointingly, the 30 inch strand of pearls that belonged to my great grandmother, Triffina, turned out to be FAKE. Or is it faux when it comes to pearls. Well, let's just say I expected more from someone with a name like Triffina. So now I have to decide if they are worth restringing with turquoise, amber, glass, Etc. Also, I'm not sure I'm a pearl kind of girl. Well, we all know I'm not ~ so I guess that's what makes it fun.

Now I am off to buy MORE ink carteridges for my printer ~ I have a card order to get out today. And today is my husband's birthday. He wants TUNA NOODLE casserole for dinner! He's easy.


More food blogging.

Food Blogging
Of all the things we have been doing in the past few days, I'm posting food pics. Can you believe these "sandwiches"?! They were great!!! We spent the day at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village and these were ALMOST the highlight of my day.

The previous day we rallied at the state capitol for the Michigan libraries. A lot of people from all over the state turned out. I must admit that I have never "rallied", and I was pretty excited about this. Dull story - no one got arrested. We did cram a lot of fun into that day - had lunch at the hamburger joint where we went on our first date, visited the Lansing Art Gallery, went to the Historical Museum, the MSU gardens, the dairy store on campus, ate dinner on the sidewalk at a Mexican restaurant . . .

Now I am sorting and filing and getting ready for a new round of classes. It is still good sketchbook weather. I need to paint a little faster to fill up all those journals I have been making. I know - I should be painting instead of eating.


Labor Day

Labor Day Picnic at the Waterfront.

This is it. Wrapping it up for summer. We spent a nice relaxing afternoon at the waterfront having a family picnic and just doing whatever - tossing the Frisbee and football, eating, splashing in the water, eating, dozing , painting, eating, poking at dead fish . . . Then in the evening half of the family went downtown to a political rally and half stayed home reading kids' library books on the porch.

Youngest granddaughter insisted we would need a "bucket" of flowers for the center of the picnic blanket, so there they are in the above photo.

I hope you all had a good weekend and are looking forward to a productive new season.


Walloon Lake

Watercolor Sketch of Walloon Lake
On a beautiful morning spent with some very talented ladies in a beautiful spot on the lake. This is the sketch I promised yesterday (and I know all of you were waiting with bated breath).

This morning some of us got together for a great lesson on color. It is so inspiring to get together with other painters! And the person giving the lesson is so knowledgeable.

This afternoon I made the first soup of the season. Not because it is soup weather (it has been all summer, but not today) but because it is time that I accept some responsibility here and COOK. Oh ~ where did that come from? Did I take Julia and Julie a little too much to heart? Remember yesterday I said I had pearls and a string of chili pepper lights ~ and now I want to COOK!?


Food Blogging

Went to see Julie and Julia last night, so I thought maybe I could get rich and famous if I got a little food blogging going here. I have pearls and a string of chili pepper lights just like Julie!

Actually this is a picture of my lunch at the Thai restaurant yesterday. It was very tasty ( I don't know what it was). I love their blue and white china, but the food just didn't seem sketch book-worthy. And, no, I really don't think it is that photogenic either, but I didn't have a sketch to post, so . . . Oh, I do have a sketch. Well, tomorrow.

My friend Mary Lou came down from Mackinaw City yesterday and after lunch at the Thai Restaurant we are walking down the street and a woman ML knows comes out of a store. There are other people coming out of the door, and an older lady is kind of jostled against us. Thinking she is the woman's mother, we pull her into our group and include her in our conversation. After a minute, she says, "You girls are fun! I'd like to spend the afternoon with you, but I'm just trying to walk down the street".

Doesn't take much to make my day!


More Journals

Seriously. I CAN NOT STOP making journals.
Actually, only three of these are mine. I spent Friday making journals with friend Karen. The Friday before I spent making journals with friend Cathy. Karen and I spent two hours in Joann Fabrics putting together fabrics and papers. Now I understand why people quilt - it's that mixing of colors and patterns thing. Look at that paisley - wow, I love that!

I put aside the journal stuff for a day or two because we had a demolition thing going on here. We demolished a wall, reconstructed it and installed a new window. I love demolition! It has so much potential . I mean, when something is gone, you can put anything in that spot, right?

So today I am going to paint the new wall, scrape and paint the back door and stay away from the journal stuff. There is more to life than making journals. My husbands says.



Small Watercolor Figures
I spent a nice morning painting with Walloon Lake friends. After painting a sketchbook landscape, I turned around to face the other painters in back of me and do some very quick, juicy sketches of them. I need to do more figures. These will be fun to look back at to remember the day.

In the upper right hand corner you can see yet another (!) small palette that I've set up. Someone in one of my classes this week had this great pill box palette and I HAD to get one!

I am a little worried that my STUFF has become more important than the art I do with it. But we all need our stuff, don't we?