Bookbinding Mess

. . . and a new sketchbook

I am trying to figure out if it is possible for one person to make one little sketchbook without taking up the surface of four tables. It really doesn't matter if I am working here alone, but I do think I could do this a little more efficiently.

I am waiting for an order of paper to put together yet another sketchbook. Every book has a different reason for being, and the upcoming one is to try out a sampling of different and unknown (to me) paper.

We had an interesting discussion in class today. Someone asked, "Do you ever run out of things to paint?" Everything looks like a potential sketch to me. Maybe not a real serious painting, but everything is at least sketch-worthy. Maybe it is all about the act of sketching and painting, rather than the subject. For me, it's not only about keeping the pencil and brushes moving, but the challenge of being able to get a three dimensional object down on a two dimensional surface. Whatever the reason, when we decide to seriously sketch and paint, we begin to look at things differently. We may even buy different food at the grocery store because we're going to paint it before we eat it.

When all we see outside is snow, and inside, things begin to look a little stale, it's time to give ourselves a challenge - sketch every day. Sketch anything - chairs, food, houseplants, dishes, lamps, silverware . . .

You know, I think we have this discussion every winter about now.



Pitt Artist Pens in a Cup

I was going to use the pens to do the colors, but then, of course, they wouldn't be in the cup anymore. If I moved one, they would all move.

No snow paintings this week. It has been dark and dreary. I have some good reference photos, but all the gray and brown ruins the mood. Maybe it is time to do some still lifes ~ flowers, fruit, pretty vases, interesting fabric! Sounds fun ~ especially the interesting fabric.

I have been fooling around with bookbinding again. It is habit forming. It's also very messy and time consuming. Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much.


It Takes a Village

Sun on the Snow Between Cottages

I've really been struggling with this one. I just couldn't seem to be objective about it and see what was right and what was wrong (it's the "wrong" that's important), but with a little help from my friends, I think I have it. Thanks for your opinions - I do appreciate them.

This is a watercolor done on a quarter sheet (11 X 15) of Arches 140 cold press. I am really having fun with these snow subjects. Painting snow paintings, reading Jack London, and making sketchbooks seem to be my obsessions of the season. Not too exciting, am I?

Update on my quirky life: the big guy on my speed dial (the tow truck guy) took care of the flat tire on my truck, the big guy I live with ( my husband) took care of the electricity to the bathroom, and in a couple of days he will hook up the bathroom sink. It's no big deal ~ I usually brush my teeth at the kitchen sink looking out the window anyway. I can not stand there brushing for two minutes in a closed up bathroom! I don't know what that has to do with anything, so here I go to work on a sketch for tomorrow's class.


Bay View Cottages

A Row of Cottages in the Snow

Another small painting done in my sketchbook. This is a scene I have painted many times in the summer. In fact, it is one of my favorites. There was a very cold wind coming off the Bay the day we went there to take pictures. There is no way in the world that I would have stayed there to sketch. It was the kind of cold that make your cheek bones ache.

Sketching from the photographs on my monitor certainly isn't the same as really being there, but living in Northern Michigan, I do have to compromise now and then. Doing them in my sketchbook gives me a chance to work out the colors and play around a little bit with the composition. I obviously didn't play around with the colors enough here.

I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog to "My Quirky Life". We've been talking about remodeling our bathroom for quite awhile now. My husband decided to put shut-offs on the bathroom sink before we really get into anything. While he was doing that, he broke the pipe. So the electricity to the bathroom light fixtures went out!!! That's the kind of thing that happens here. At the same time, my car sat in the driveway and had a flat tire.



So Many Colors - So Little Time

It takes me days to get together an order for paint, paper etc. You'd think I would never have a chance at it again. Why can't I just order what I need and move on? I'm afraid I might miss something, I guess. And I want it all, when actually I like painting with a very limited palette. See the problem?

When an order comes, it is always a little disappointing not to have something new/different - like a little present to yourself. Daniel Smith has a 20% off sale for a few days. That ought to justify something new and different, don't you think?

Still working on the quarter sheet snow painting. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow.


More Snow

Another Snow Sketch

I'm so glad I went out taking snow pics when the sun was shining. We haven't seen the sun here in a couple of days, which is not unusual for this time of year in Northern Michigan. It has warmed up a little - it is up to 34 degrees.

I'm really getting into this snow painting thing. I am working on a quarter sheet painting right now. I am having a little trouble keeping the colors cool enough. I didn't work through the color planning in my sketchbook because I was in a hurry to get it ready for a class demo. I'll see how it goes and then let you know. I do have my pride - I'm not going to post it if it doesn't work out.

Keep warm!



Watercolor in my Sketchbook

I have said it before - I'm all about comfort - so no, I didn't sit out there in the snow painting this in my sketchbook. A few days ago, friend Karen and I went out taking snow pictures. We took a zillion. It was COLD and sunny - perfect.

I prefer to work from my own sketches when I do serious paintings, not from photographs. So for these winter paintings I intend to use the photographs as reference for my watercolor sketches, and then use those sketches for reference for my paintings. Make any sense?

I have a tendency to get very detailed when using photographs. To keep from getting too detailed with the sketches, I do a quick contour (more or less) drawing and then use a fairly large brush, such as a #12 or 14 to block in the color. My sketchbook pages a pretty small - about 5.5 X 5, which makes about a ten inch, two page spread. A large brush on that sized paper keeps things pretty loose.

So let it snow - I'm all comfy in my studio, working from pics on my laptop, and listening to Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, J.J. Cale - you get the picture. A little too much caffeine, but that's okay.



A simple value sketch and half finished painting.

We worked with shadows again today in my class. First we did simple sketches and blocked in all the middle values. We transferred the drawing to watercolor paper and swooped through all the areas that wouldn't be left white with a wash of manganese blue. In some areas successive colors were dropped into the wet blue paint, and in some areas they were glazed over the dry blue pigment. There is still some more to be added to the painting above.

Next week the class would like to do some paintings of snow. Perfect. I had started to work on some myself, and snow is all about shadows.

Just went to see It's Complicated. Cute. Now I have to go look up the sound track.

Is everyone painting? Wasn't that on your new year's list of goals - to paint more? It was on mine, and I must admit I haven't done too well. I have to think about it. Have to build up to it. It'll be fine.



Bay View in the Snow

I have a lot of goals and intentions for the new year. Doesn't everyone?! For one thing I plan to do a few snow paintings. I've never had great luck selling snow paintings, but ya know what? The snow is here and I'm gonna paint it. Embrace it. Wallow in it. Not really. As you can see, this is a photograph, not a painting. I am all about comfort and I can not paint outside in the cold! Today was beautifully sunny, and terribly cold - a good day to drive down the street taking pictures.

I have been completely tearing up the house. I have been threatening to do this for awhile, and since I have my big, strong husband home for a few days, this was the time to do it. We
took everything off the bookshelves, out of the china cabinet - even moved the piano back into the living room. We hauled furniture to the attic and five large grocery bags of books to the car . . .

Tomorrow I will finish settling things, and Monday it is back to sketching.

I hope everyone had a great holiday. Hope you're fired up to tackle your resolutions, goals, intentions. hopes and dreams!