O is for . . .

"O" is for orange,
or it could have been "onion", but the oranges are really good right now and, of course, more colorful than an onion.

I just wanted to show you that I actually am working on something larger than two inches. I'm trying out this "test" mat to see how this quarter sheet watercolor is working out. I had not intended for it to be a finished painting. I was just playing around with some very dark darks and backlighting. Then I got to a point where I thought I could probably crop it and have a decent small painting, and then I thought, if I'm going to crop it, I may as well play around with the rest of it - it was an experiment after all.

It might be okay. I'll have to live with it and see what I think.


N is for . . .

"N" is for Nickel
This is the most boring little drawing I have ever seen in my life. You should have seen it before I added the funky green. I had intended to do Nuts and Bolts. I went down the basement - and I don't do that any more than I have to - and looked through every little drawer on my husband's workbench. Nothin'. Evidently the nuts and bolts are all out in the garage, which seems pretty simple, but here it means putting on my boots and coat, wading through the yard, uphill, blah, blah, blah . . .

This has nothing to do with nickels OR drawing, but this morning I noticed the bird feeder was empty, and I knew it wasn't last night before we went to bed. It is one of those finch feeders that is a tube with perches and small holes (not slits). It didn't seem as if a raccoon could have reached in there and pulled out the seed, but maybe. When I went outside, I checked to see what kind of tracks were around it, and there were deer tracks! What do they do - stick their tongues in there!!!??? The tracks came right up to the window, and when I followed them around the house, they went right up to the bathroom window. So not only does this deer think he's (of course it's a "he") a finch - he's a peeping tom! He's creepin' me out.

Do I have to bring the bird feeder in at night!?


M is for . . .

"M" is for Mugs
A quick little ink drawing with watercolor - a couple of my favorite coffee mugs.

So here I go on my second page of alphabet paintings/drawings. Yesterday in the comments, Karen asked what we are going to do next. I'm thinking "themes" would be fun. Maybe a week for each theme - such as five to seven days of something like "windows", "flowers", "things that I love", "things that are red".

Sooner or later I have to do something a little more serious. Maybe a lot more serious. Some small acrylics are appealing to me right now. I have some canvases all primed - what's stopping me? Nothing! I'll keep you posted.


L is for . . .

"L" is for lamp.
A colorful little lamp base that really isn't crooked in "real life"

This what what the whole page looks like - "A" through "L".
This is kind of exciting - getting the first page of these drawings finished. I like the way it looks. Could I sustain this for - you know - a long time? I know other people do. The internet is full of them. Look at all the "Painting A Day" people there are out there. This is a two-inch square for heaven's sake. Well, we each have our own level of ambition, desire, drive, sustainability, need. . . . whatever.

Actually, the drawings take much less time to do, than it takes to do the blog.

I've been considering going on a media fast. A friend suggested that I blog about it - that people might be interested in it, but then she realized if my readers (yes - there are a few) liked the idea, they wouldn't be reading my blog anymore. AND if I went on a media fast, wouldn't that mean I couldn't write it anymore? So - that's not going to work. I have to finish the alphabet and show the whole world (!?) that I did it.

How are you doing with your little squares?


K is for . . .

"K" is for Keys.
If keys could only talk. Because they can't, we just stash them in drawers and boxes and maybe someday they'll learn, and tell us what they unlock. I threw out a bunch of keys last week that were in a small basket by our back door. If we actually needed them, we wouldn't know what they were for - but that is soooo hard to do.

Because I wanted to draw them, I kept an old brass ring of keys that I found when we went through my father-in-law's tool boxes. There is something a little mysterious to me about old keys. Also, they're fun to draw.

I am a couple of days behind in my alphabet drawings - well, maybe not - I never said I'd do them every day, did I? Or did I?


J is for . . .

"J" is for Jump,
as in Jump for Joy.

These are little scribble figures done in pencil. They are happy because they are under the fan and next to the island in my sketchbook - because I painted all day - because I have leftover homemade soup for dinner - because we didn't get that ton of snow - because I am caught up on the laundry - because I am on a news fast and not paying attention to all the stuff going on in the world . . .


I is for . . .

"I" is for Island
Mackinac Island
This is a tiny drawing of a huge bluff with huge summer homes on Mackinac Island.
The colored pencil didn't scan well, the proportions are WAY off, those yellows are really green - but aside from all that - I like it. It was fun to dig around in my old sketchbooks looking for references of summer on the Island when we are knee deep in snow here. Well, not knee deep, but deep enough, with more on the way.

Today was the first day of a new eight-week watercolor class. Such a great bunch of people! We played around with mixing darks (very dark) on the paper. Some of them brought their sketchbooks with alphabet drawings in them.

We may be socked in by morning if the weather predictions are correct. Sometimes the weather changes its mind out over Lake Michigan, so maybe not. Either way, I have a painting that I want to work on. What a nice way to spend a snowy day!


H is for . . .

"H" is for house.
This is really a cheery little house down the street. It doesn't look so cheery with the dark, midwinter sky in the background.

This is watercolor, which doesn't work well on the moleskine sketchbook paper - just kind of slides around.

The house doesn't actually have an orange door, but I think it should. The people living there have, for some reason, left the orange plastic bag with the Saturday ads in it hanging on their door knob for quite awhile now. Maybe they think the front of the house needs a little orange too.

These two inch squares are so liberating. You just put down a feeling - there isn't room to worry about perspective or detail, and how much time can you spend in a two inch square?


G is for

"G" is for game
One winter we were playing dominoes every evening. Maybe I will just leave these out on the table and it'll get us going again.

Drawing dominoes is a real challenge in foreshortening and perspective. These were done with Pitt pens and pencil.

I went to a meeting tonight and one of the artists there asked me if I was being productive. I didn't tell him I was drawing, alphabetically, little two inch pictures. He's working on large sculptures. But this whole thing started in an effort to keep the pencil moving, and I know several of you are doing just that. Good for us!


F is for . . .

"F" is for fan
Westinghouse Electric
This started out to be a contour ink drawing and ended up being a whatever-it-takes drawing.
I'm struggling with drawing today. Nothing seems to fit together. It's certainly not falling off my pencil, or pen, as in this case. It doesn't matter. I did it anyway, and whether I was aware of it or not, something was working it's way around in my brain to remember and put away for another time. I sure hope anyway.

We went to pick up sandwiches tonight and when the girl went to ring them up she asked us what it was we had. She said, "I have a good memory - it's just really short."

My theory is, whenever you draw or paint something, it is a learning process no matter what the outcome. You may not see it, but everytime you put that pencil to paper, you're learning something.

"F" is for fun. Keep drawing!


E is for . . .

"E" is for Eyes.
And "W" is for wiggling model. I said, "Oh, "E" is for eye. That's what I'll do. Could I draw your eye, Isabelle?" "Sure, you can draw both of them if you want to." So that's what we did. She sat close enough to watch me.

My husband had suggested I do envelopes. I just could not find any that were stamped, and what good is just a plain old envelope?

"E" is not as easy (Oh - "easy") as I would have thought. Elephant. Eggplant. Eggs.


D is for . . .

"D" is for Dundee Marmalade
A two-inch square done in my moleskine sketchbook with prismacolor pencils and ink.
I've had this Dundee pot around for as long as I can remember. I love the black-and-whiteness of it with colored pencils in it.

I have a mustard pot that I keep colored pencils in too. I'm not starting a collection - two is good.

I stopped in at my favorite second hand store today and it was pretty sparse. Maybe I should step up my decluttering process and restock their shelves. I am wading through stuff I have been dumping in my little studio room. It's pretty comfy and a nice place to work and relax when I can get in it! I'm looking around right now at things that don't belong in here - a sweater that needs mending, two lampshades that don't have lamps, a box of silverware (?!), Christmas wrapping paper, a geranium that is not going to make it to summer . . . Why do we sabotage our creative spaces like that? Do we think somewhere in the back of our minds that we don't deserve a nice place to create? Well, we do!!! So after doing a sketch in our sketchbooks, let's work on our creative spaces. Whether it is making one or cleaning one, winter is a great time to do that.

I don't know where this little rant came from, but I'm done. I'm going to go eat that orange that's next to the Dundee pot.


C is for . . .

"C" is for chair
Another two-inch square in my moleskine journal. This is a child's chair that has been in my family for, probably, a hundred years. Maybe more.

Doing this alphabet thing, I am looking around at everything in my house with the possibility of drawing it. I'm looking at the way the light hits things, and the most interesting angle of objects. So far I have just been thinking in terms of nouns, but there is always the possibility of verbs and adjectives. That would take a little more creativity, and right now I think nouns are all I can handle. It's just that time of year - drawing two inch squares of nouns is better than nothing.

This is fun. Try it.

B is for . . .

"B" is for Bottles
I know I said I was not going to judge right or wrong, good or bad, or let any perfectionism get in my way as I draw my way through the alphabet. The whole idea is to just DO IT. I told my daughter I was paralyzed by perfectionism when it came to drawing the second square. The second square! I couldn't decide on the perfect way to lay out the page. So I reread the article she had just written as a guest writer on Victoria Mixon's blog. I think you can easily see the parallels between writers' and artists' block, and the "cures" that Amy suggests.

If any of you are doing the alphabet thing with me, I'd love to hear about it. If that's too much of a commitment, just draw something every few days. Anything!

I'm going to go start looking for something that starts with "C".


A is for . . .

"A" is for Ancestor
This is a poor likeness of my grandmother as a young girl. According to Webster, an ancestor is usually more remote in the line of descent than a grandparent. So - this is an ancestor of my children.

She was a wonderful grandma. She was in poor health and lived with us when I was a child. She couldn't take us anywhere, do things with us, or buy us things, but I loved her with all my heart. I learned from her that love has absolutely nothing to do with things - it's all about how someone makes you feel. I hope I could have figured that out for myself, but I give her credit for it. I loved to be with her.

In yesterday's post, as a motivation to keep drawing and painting, I suggested picking a subject each day, alphabetically - something small and simple. This is a two inch square in my moleskine sketchbook.

By the way, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that it is a poor likeness. We are trying to be NON-CRITICAL here. Just draw - no judging.



Sometimes I feel unmotivated and don't draw or paint for several days - maybe a couple of weeks. Sometimes we artists stop doing our art for long stretches at a time.

When I say "artists" I mean anyone who draws, paints, etc. I don't think an artist has to be a selling, recognized artist to be one. But you do have to do it - not just think about it.

I think often about how, when our life inspires our art, our art inspires our life. I'm not talking about ART - you know like museum art or art fair art, I'm talking about personal expression - from-the-heart-nobody-else-has-to-see-it kind of art. The kind that keeps the pencil or brush moving without regard to a finished piece.

This is where our sketchbooks come in. Sketchbooks are a very important part of our creative selves. Sketchbooks are where we try things out - colors, compositions, techniques, but MORE than that, sketchbooks are where we see out life close-up (life inspires art etc.). No one else has to see it!

If we are thinking about a subject being too boring or too difficult, we must be thinking about the possibility of sketching or painting it. If we are thinking about it, doesn't this mean our creative self wants to be expressive?

In my sketchbooks, I have done many simple sketches and sketchy paintings with no plan of using them for "serious" paintings. These objects were just sketched because they were THERE.

How about dividing up a sketchbook page or two into two- inch squares labeled A through Z? Do a quick sketch each day of an object beginning with that day's letter - or just a fragment of the object. Use pencil, pen, paint, whatever.

Let's see - A is for apple. Too simple? I do love painting apple wedges, so maybe . . .


More Triads

This is a page in my sketchbook (Aquarius II paper) comparing three triads.
When I use a triad to do a painting, I am just using three colors which are a variation of the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue.

For the top sketch, I used cobalt violet (as my red), hansa yellow, and manganese blue. These are light pigments and will never give you gutsy color. I like to use this combo for shadows sometimes, but they make a pretty wimpy painting.

The middle sketch is done with a stronger, more "serious" triad. The "red" is quinacridone burnt orange, the yellow is quinacridone gold, and for the third color I used prussian blue. This is a rather somber color combination, but I really like how it worked out for this subject. If you notice the color wheels on the right, this combination will never give you purple, so if you need a nice purple, don't use this triad.

The bottom sketch was done using quinacridone rose, new gamboge, and ultramarine blue. This is a good mix for anything - pretty much all purpose. It mixes great purples, nice greens, bright oranges, and mixes into a nice neutral.

Every once in awhile I will paint with triads, just to get back to basics, think about color mixing, and just plain simplify things.

Now if I could just figure out how to "triad" the rest of my life - could that be a verb?