Green Plant in a Blue and White Pot

Painted in my Sketchbook on Arches Cover
I may have mentioned before that Arches Cover is not a watercolor paper, but I often put it in my sketchbooks because I like the color and the way it takes watercolor.  Some of the papers I like to use for watercolor in my sketchbooks wouldn't necessarily work on a larger scale for a serious painting.  Sketchbooks aren't meant to be serious, right?

Tomorrow it is back to classes as usual.  We are going to be working on dominance and contrast of certain design elements.  I am anxious to see what the students have been sketching over the Thanksgiving holiday. Did they do their homework?


Horton Bay Road Again

A Re-run

I have posted this painting previously with the value sketch I worked up before doing the painting.  I thought I'd post it on its own  -  more of a close up.  Because, to tell you the truth, I am scraping here for something to post.  I didn't do any drawings today and it's not gonna happen now.

I spent the morning cleaning and de-cluttering  -  I'm on a roll!  This afternoon was our "Flowers for Friends"  thing, and then eighth grade basketball tonight.  I've had it, I'm ready for bed.  I guess the long Thanksgiving weekend did me in.

I told you this blogging every day would have more quantity than quality.


Quirky Cup

Very Quick. Very Lopsided.
This is the cup and saucer that is part of the set with the soup terrine a few posts back.
It is a very interesting shape, and I certainly didn't do it justice here.  It is really kind of boxy  -  if something round can be boxy.

In my hand bound journals, when I tie on more thread, I usually leave a little length at the knot.  It's waxed thread, and it resists the watercolor when I paint over the spot where it was closed in the book.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I thought that might be a good technique for saving a fine line of white on the paper.  However, it didn't work when I tried to do it on purpose. You can see the thread and the marks it made along the page center toward the bottom.

Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow is back to real life.  That's not a bad thing  -  I like my real life. I also liked having family around and eating every five minutes.


Filberts and Almonds

A Contour Drawing on Arches Cover Cream
The grandkids love to crack nuts.  Their mom says to  crack only what they are going to eat, but I think it's pretty cheap entertainment.  It keeps them busy for awhile, it is relatively quiet, and it's pretty easy to clean up.

It always takes me by surprise, that on Saturday after Thanksgiving, I have to think about meals again.  I mean  -  haven't we given that all the thought it needs for awhile?  Grocery shopping  -  you mean we really have to do that again!?

I think tonight it's gonna be grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  What kind of wine goes with that?


Happy Day After TG

This is what it looks like here today.
Some of our holiday guests have just left, and some more will arrive soon to help us finish off the leftovers. It's a day after Thanksgiving tradition.

The snowplows have been around and around and it is still slippery and the wind is very strong.  We usually get snow Thanksgiving weekend, and it will continue a little every day into April.

It was a very cozy day  -  we only ventured outside once to shop!

How are your leftovers doing?  Are they almost gone? Did you hit any of the sales?


Thanksgiving Evening

A little busy here feeding people again.  Fun!  Playing dominoes.  Talking talking talking.
Hope you are all having a great day!


Soup Terrine

Good Intentions
This is what I had intended to sketch today, but I'm a little busy here! 

The soup terrine is a piece of a partial set of china that has been handed down in my dad's family. Several years ago, my daughter was driving home from college for the weekend, and bringing my mother with her.  As they were walking out the door, my mother said, "Let's take the soup terrine to your mother."  So they packed it in my daughter's basket of laundry for safe keeping on the trip.  

If only soup terrines could talk.  I would love to know where else this has been in the more than 130 years of its life.  Think of the modes of transportation it has seen getting from generation to generation.  

Someday I will sketch this.   It could be challenging from some angles  -  but right now, I am going to get as much done toward tomorrow's dinner preparation as possible.

Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in this part of the world celebrating the holiday tomorrow.


Pitcher and Salt Shaker

In My Sketchbook Journal on Arches Cover, Cream
This paper is a warm creamy color.  The texture is very soft, as if it has no sizing, but I like the way it takes watercolor.

I was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the pitcher. I wasn't really connecting, as you can see by all the lines all over the place. But I like it.  I feel as though I captured it, and some scribbles here and there don't bother me.  It's a sketchbook!

I always feel whatever happens with a drawing in my sketchbook is just part of being in the moment.  I wasn't concentrating at the moment.

Our turkey was up against some pretty stiff competition today at the fourth grade luncheon, and I'm happy to report she won the beauty contest!


Christmas Cactus

Thanksgiving Cactus?
This cactus just seems to pick a holiday  -  any holiday.

It was unseasonably warm and we had a a very brief thunder storm.  We can expect serious snow any day now, so I enjoyed today - rain and all.  I ran all over the place today errands - even had a flu shot.

 I have a Thanksgiving grocery list that I use year after year (we don't experiment with Thanksgiving dinner here!), but what I really need is a Thanksgiving WEEK grocery list.  I am NOT a multi-tasker, so while I am thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, the rest of the week falls by the wayside.  It wouldn't be that hard to do, would it?  For next year.  Too late for this year  -  I am already into the cooking-for-Thursday-mode.

What are your plans for the week?  Are you traveling?  Are guests coming?  Are you taking your sketchbook to dinner?


Me, About Five Years Old

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”
Robert Fulghum
I posted this picture and quote in November of 2007.  I was thinking about this quote and looked it up. Isn't it interesting how things seem to repeat themselves at the same time of year over and over  -  in our brains, that is.  Is there something in me that questions the balance of my life every year in November?

Today, according to Robert Fulghum, I was a little unbalanced. It felt good to me, and it's my balance we're talking about here. 

How's the balance of your life? Did you draw and paint some?  I must admit - I didn't.


Our Creative Project of the Weekend

Her Name is Oceannie
(Ocean -ie)
She has a gold. glittery belly button! Yes, it's a female. This was middle granddaughter's family project as a school assignment.  I think it is clever of the teacher to assign family projects that are more fun (for ME anyway) than math or spelling or whatever.  I did notice, however, that no one else showed up for this project. That's okay  -  the two of us had a great time, and can you imagine what this turkey would have looked like with any more people involved?!  We think she is perfect.

What is your creative project for the weekend?


Sugar Bowl

My Grandmother's Sugar Bowl
This is usually in a kitchen cupboard because we really don't put sugar on anything.  I thought I'd bring it out into the light of day to sketch it.  Little pink flowers  -  are my friends surprised that I painted this?

I bought a savoy cabbage to roast with some other vegetables for dinner guests tonight.  It's beautiful!  I'm hoping I will get a chance to paint it before I cut it up and cook it, but I don't know  .  .  .

The check-out girl insisted it was a SAVORY cabbage.  When I insisted it was not SAVORY, she finally charged me for green cabbage.  Whatever.  I was just trying to educate her, she never did believe me, and I got the better end of the deal.


Salt Shaker

 Another "take your sketchbook to lunch" salt shaker.
It was breakfast.

Back when I was doing a weekend's worth of salt shakers, I said I would post this at a later date. This is the later date. Day eighteen of blogging every day in November.

Another fun class today!  They worked on painting small studies of a blooming Christmas cactus - keeping it very simple, using as few strokes as possible, and letting the paint mix on the paper.

We had some snow in the air today.  I guess it is about time, although I am certainly not ready for it.  I'm still grieving the loss of summer.  Maybe I'm not cut out for Michigan.  Maybe not, but I'm not going anywhere.

Maybe we should all draw our breakfasts tomorrow?


Brushes and Tea

Mug of Tea and Brush Pot
A quick little sketch done in my watercolor journal.

Last week in my Wednesday morning class, I expressed ( I guess a little strongly) my dislike of the color pink.  This morning everyone in class was wearing pink. Cute! Not only are they all talented painters, they're fun too.

Very gray, dark and wet here.  We are on our way to a middle school basketball game  -  that'll be bright and cheery.  Bright lights. Yelling.  Action!   I love basketball.  Go Rams!


Contour Drawing

Back Door Tri-Fold Page
I've had some comments lately about contour drawing. I love it  -  it is my kind of drawing.  I don't do blind contour - well, I shouldn't say I don't, but I'll get to that later.

Everyone is very different when it comes to processing information, and I think of different styles or methods of drawing and sketching preferences to be along the lines of processing information.  Don't try to analyze it  - just do whatever works for you.

When I'm drawing, I need to stay connected - literally.  When I'm doing a contour drawing, I'm keeping my pen or pencil on the paper - even if it means I have to back-track, or if I make mistakes and have to keep correcting.  I'm just moving from shape to shape, space to space, with no conscious thought as to what those shapes and spaces are  -  only how they relate to one another.

It ends up being an informal (sloppy?) drawing that usually gets everything in the right place.  The look of it appeals to me, but I'm sure it doesn't appeal to everyone. If I need to have a "cleaner" drawing, I can use the information I have obtained from doing the contour.

When I try to do a sketchy, more precise style of drawing, I actually can't stay connected  -  it feels as if I am skipping around and nothing has anything to do with anything else.  That's just my opinion  -  "real" drawing works for a LOT of people.

The ideal way to do a contour is to be looking at the subject more than the paper. Some people say they draw only when they are looking at the subject.  They stop drawing when they look at the paper to make sure they are making connections, and resume drawing when they look back at  the subject.  I may be doing that too, but haven't really thought about it when I'm drawing. I'll have to pay attention next time.

I find contour drawing helps me edit and keep things simple  -  I'm just moving along and only getting in the things I really want to be there.  I find it pretty easy to skip over the unnecessary objects.

I'll dig out some contour drawings I have in sketchbooks, and put them in a future post.  I'll also talk a bit about blind contour and why I find it useful.

Maybe contour drawing is an acquired taste, so give it a try  -  you might learn to love it!



Flowers for Friends
I didn't sketch or paint  -  just arranged. There is group here in town that takes apart flower arrangements from weddings, funerals,and other events, and rearranges them in small containers.  They are then delivered to nursing homes and hospitals.

What a fun thing to do  -  spend a couple of hours with my friend, Ellie, and play with flowers - all for a good cause.  It is set up in the back of a florist's shop where they store the planters, vases, baskets - all the "behind the scenes stuff".

I'm a little creeped out by the cooler.


Chili by the Bay

This is another contour drawing of another salt shaker 
 a colorless page from a rather colorful weekend.

We had two of the grandkids for a couple of days.  I just vacuumed the living room floor a few minutes ago, and it really looks dull now without the colorful hole-punch dots, bits of ribbon, and little bits of dried up cheese - the cheese was surprisingly colorful!  We didn't do art projects in the living room, and we didn't eat in there - I guess all those bits and pieces just worked their way in there from other parts of the house.  You can imagine what those other parts look like.  It was fun!

It's a very gray day - gun metal gray, actually  -  but cozy inside.   We have only made one trip to the home improvement stores.  Does that mean we weren't very productive, or does it mean we were very organized?  I'm not sayin'.


Home Grown Apples

Red and Yellow Apples
This is a contour drawing.  I started with the apple in the front, on the left, and worked my way around. It went very quickly, and when I got back around to the left again, they all matched up.  I always wonder if everything really will fit together in the end  -  and it always does.  It just happens like magic.

The man that came to see about helping us finish up the bathroom brought a large bag of apples from his trees.  He got the job.  You see, it's not all about the lowest bid.


Lunch with the Girls

I Took My Sketchbook to Lunch
This is a pepper grinder that was on the table at lunch today.  It was such a nice relaxing couple of hours with old and new friends. I had a busy day of running here and there, and lunch with friends was a nice break in the middle.

I think this page could use a little more color.  Salt shakers and pepper grinders are always a little colorless, but I could use my imagination and spiff it up a bit.  I'll work on that.

Are you going to sketch something this weekend? Take your sketchbook to lunch?


More Minis

One and a Half by Two and a Half Inch Paintings
in Five by Seven Mats

After doing these I kind of have the urge to do a very large canvas.

I'm sitting here staring at the monitor with a million things racing through my brain, non of which you would care a thing about hearing.

Classes were such fun this week!  Everyone was really in a painting mood.  They asked great questions, did great work  .  .  . fun.

Now I am off to finish up the laundry, pack a grandkid's lunch, and sketch up a composition for a large canvas.  Just kidding about the canvas thing  -  after the laundry and the lunch, I'm going to bed.


Harker Flowers

Love These Colors!
I should work a little harder at getting the shape of this dish.  Another day. Maybe. 

In this morning's class we talked about composition again. We will never stop talking about composition - that's what it's all about.  You could be the best watercolor "technician" in the world, but if the composition of a painting is awkward, it'll never hold up.   I think thumb nail sketches and value sketches are essential to do before getting to the painting, and everyone seems to be slowing down and enjoying the process.

Right now I am going to go paint a couple more little tiny paintings for the Arts Center Christmas show, and I must admit I am not going to do thumb nails or value sketches for them.  They are so small, they are just colorful thumbnail sketches themselves.

Are you thinking about Thanksgiving dinner?  Maybe you could dig out a pretty dish or two and sketch it.  Let me know if you do that, okay?


Lace Tablecloth

One Way to Save It.

I had a tablecloth that had belonged to my great grandmother, and I treasured it.  It didn't hold any family memories for me, although it did have a story, but doesn't everything?  I thought it was beautiful, and I often painted it in still lifes.  The linen was deteriorating, and I thought someday I would sew the lace onto a new piece of linen.  Yeah, right.  One day recently, I unfolded the tablecloth and the lace was literally falling apart in my hands.  Time to give it up.

Because I was going to throw it away anyway, I used it as a stencil to record the pattern of the lace in my sketchbook.

I've been going through things the past few days and really digging out "junk".  The more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of.  Nice how that works. Now if I can just keep up the momentum!  


Acorn Squash

What More Can You Say About an Acorn Squash?

The shell is a dull green, the flavor isn't the best in its family, but those seeds!  I love the way they look!  All snuggled in there with all those negative shapes.

Pretty soon I had better cook up some of the squash I have around here that I bought to look pretty.  It isn't pretty anymore.


Harker Chinaware

Harker Hotoven Chinaware
"The oldest pottery in America"

I should be painting. No, I should be catching up on paperwork. No, I should be...... so I'm cleaning cupboards.  I do my best when I listen to what is calling my name.  I'm just hoping that tomorrow painting is calling my name.

This time of year I love to go through the cupboards and rearrange things a little.  It's just part of my nesting thing, I guess.  I did purge quite a bit today - getting rid of a lot of duplicates and things that were just plain worn out.  I'm not getting rid of these two pieces of  colorful china.  I love the colors!!!  I don't have a good place to display these, but I should come up with something  -  they are just too pretty to stick up on a top shelf and shut the door.

Yesterday I spent a little time in Bed Bath and whatever, looking at everything and buying   some salad plates. I decided I should really satisfy my need for "new" by digging out some things from my own cupboards and china cabinet that I haven't seen for awhile.  It's been fun, and my kitchen is in better shape  -  some things taken away, not added.
Tomorrow I'll work on some sketches of the dish in the foreground  -  it is a challenging shape.

One more step to go, and that is to actually get the stuff I purged out of the house.  Why is that the hardest part?



Pomegranate in my Sketchbook

 This is the first pomegranate I have painted.  Of course I ate it too.  There is something kind of compelling about digging those little seed things out and popping them in your mouth.  It just wouldn't be the same if you could just take a big bite of it.  The little juicy seed things are arils, and there are about 600 of them. No, I didn't count them.

I love the color, texture and shape of the fruit.  I didn't quite capture the leathery look of it, but close enough for a sketch.

It is a quiet, lazy day at our house today.  I did go out into the world to buy some salad plates, and it was very busy out there. The sky has been beautiful and the Bay has been a fabulous bright blue. It's been a nice day.  Tomorrow we will have to make up for being so lazy today, but that's okay, it all balances out.

Hope you're having a nice weekend.


Very Small Birch Trees

Very Small Watercolors
These are 5 X 7 mats with 1.5 X 2.5 images.
I thought it might be fun to paint some little flower images for these, but we have a little bit of snow in the air today, and flowers just didn't work for me.  Snow doesn't work for me either.

I'm working on getting a few small things ready for the arts center Christmas show.  Deadlines are good. Deadlines and motivation are synonymous.

This is one of my "blogging for quantity not quality" posts.  Day five of blogging every day for the month of November.


Horton Bay Road

Value Sketch and Finished Painting
Watercolor 5 X 8
This is what my classes are working on this week  -  simple value sketches that are our guide to simple paintings. We are going to be talking about composition for the next few weeks.  Of course, we are talking about composition all the time, but for awhile we are going to be taking it apart and paying attention to all the parts.

I love painting small paintings with a fairly large brush  -  it keeps things simple and moves right along.  If I dilly dally, I start to get detailed.  I don't like detail  -  I don't like doing it, and I don't like looking at it.  Just sayin'.



Watercolor Petunias
Here it is November and I am painting petunias.  This was a painting I had started as a demo in a summer class.

I started a new eight-week session today that will actually run into January because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  We are going to be paying close attention to composition and enjoy the process that takes us to a finished painting.  We are going to do a lot of thumbnail sketches and value studies, and take our time to get things just the way we want them before we ever touch brush to paper.  This is hard for those of us who are into instant gratification (ME?).  You  notice I said "enjoy the process" - it is actually fun to plan, draw, and work out a color scheme.  I often rush into a painting and miss out on the fun of doing the preliminary steps.

The painting above was started on location, with little planning, except the negative shapes. When I got to a certain point, I really didn't know how to finish it.  When I pulled it out again, I played a lot with the lights and darks and shadow colors and it began to come together.  Not the best way for me to come up with a finished painting, but that is the way I work on location and in my sketchbooks.  I save the "enjoyable process" for winter painting in the studio.

Three days into "blog everyday for a month".  So far so good  -  on my end anyway  -  I'm having fun.



Q & A
Regarding hand bound sketchbook journals

I've had a few emails and questions in the "comments" section of this blog about the sketchbook journals that I make and use.  I'll attempt to answer those questions here, in no particular order of importance (but this is important stuff, you know).

First of all, I want to say that I have a sketchbook "partner".  My friend, Cathy, is the "technical adviser" and instructor when it comes to teaching the book binding classes.  I'm her helper during this stage. When we get to the embellishing and "journaling", that's when I take over, and Cathy is my helper and "food stylist" so we can have a great looking snack to paint in the afternoon.

Q. What are the sizes of the books?
A.  I have done three sizes.  My friend, Karen (who will stop what she doing and make a sketchbook at the drop of a hat), and I took a book binding workshop together at Hollander's in Ann Arbor, MI, and the size they taught us there was 5 1/2 by 5.  It's a cute little fat book that makes a nice gift.

After trying out that size a couple of times, we adapted a larger one that uses  22X30 sheets of watercolor paper with no waste -  7 1/2 X 5 1/2.

A few days ago I tried a smaller one that used the watercolor paper with no waste - it is 3 3/4 X 5 1/2.
It is the one pictured in the middle in the photo above.  I haven't tried using it yet.  It is a very horizontal format. I think it is just about the size of a Moleskine small watercolor sketchbook.

 Q.What kind of paper do you use?
A.We use a mix of Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper and Strathmore drawing paper.  Aquarius II is soft enough to fold and stitch, doesn't buckle, and doesn't "suck out" the color.  Sometimes we put in a few sheets of different paper just for the fun of it.

Q.Do you sell kits and your instructions?
A. The kits and instructions would be Cathy's thing.  She doesn't want to send them out into the world yet.  She may someday  -  when they are ready to stand on their own  -  without the "hands-on" instruction to go with them. Hollanders in Ann Arbor has instruction books that are pretty easy to follow.  I took the class there, and that made the book easier to follow.

Q.When and where do you teach the bookbinding/journal painting workshop?
A. We teach it in Cathy's beautiful studio on Lake Charlevoix in Northern Michigan.  We have done them in the warmer months when it is nice to go outside and paint, but we might try to stretch that time frame a bit.

Q.Where do you get your supplies?
A.Most of the supplies are mail-ordered from Hollanders.  We have no affiliation with Hollander's, by the way.

Q.Where do you get your decorative bookcloth?
A.We make it by bonding craft paper to the fabric with iron-on bonding material from the fabric store.

My current journal didn't make it into the photo, and I have made some as gifts, but you might get the idea here of my journal making style - the more color and pattern, the better.

If you have read this far, you might be ready for a nap.  Sorry for being so wordy. I'm going to go paint now.  I hope you're getting in some sketching or painting today too!


clouds/group pic

Cloud Series
Okay - here is a group pic of the September cloud series.  I know, it is not September anymore.  It's not even October anymore, but  .  .  .

I have signed up, once again, for the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).  For those of you who have followed me on this in previous years, you know you are in for a month of quantity, not quality.  

I seem to be having a spell of artist block lately -  hoping this blogging thing will help. I have my  beautiful porcelain palette right here by my side!  What more could I want?! One more palette in my life was supposed to do the trick, wasn't it?