View down Ready Street

View Down Ready Street and a Burger
A couple of weeks ago we took a little trip up to the Marquette area.  Marquette is a mining town on Lake Superior.  Our son and his family are in the process of moving there.  He is already living there with our middle granddaughter, and the rest of his family will follow at the end of this school year.

It seems like a long way away -  like driving to another country. Well, actually, if we didn't make a left turn, we would be in Canada real soon. It is about an hour to the Mackinac Bridge, then five miles across that to the Upper Peninsula, then miles and miles through woods and little towns, and then 25 miles through TREES with no sign of a human being and no cell service, and then   -  wham  -  there's a    big city ( by northern Michigan standards anyway).  The terrain is different, the rocks are different, the buildings are different . . .   Everything is about mining  -  even the iron colored dust in the air.  I sound like I have never been out of town, don't I?

This little journal sketch is the view out of their dining room window.  It's hilly there, and the area is full of spires and towers, and fortunately for Middle Granddaughter, it has a "Big Boy" restaurant.

We painted snow covered pine trees today in my class.  We are trying to embrace the idea of snow.    It is snowing as I write this, and there is a spotlight of sun on the buildings across the Bay.  The sky is dark, and the bare trees look very black.  I could sit all day and watch the light and colors change on the Bay,  but I'd better not.  I really need to get going on my Thanksgiving dinner list, although it does not change year to year.  Some things you just don't mess with.

Our homework assignment for our journals this coming week is to paint/sketch a dish  -  maybe something you only get out at Thanksgiving.


Looking North

The View Out the Front Window

When I did this little watercolor sketch in my journal a few days ago, the Bay was actually this blue  -  a very Prussian blue.  Today the view is softened by snow.  I don't know if "softened" is the right word.  "Softened" has kind of a positive connotation, and this is not feeling too positive to me.

Oh well.  It is cozy and warm in here, I'm having my second cup of coffee, I have a sketch I'm working on, and I AM going to enjoy watching the snow fall.  Right now out the front window, it looks just like this little painting with a piece of tracing paper or translucent vellum over it. Pretty.

Are you sketching?


Day Trip Page

A Page from my Journal
The California kids are here, and we took a trip up beautiful highway 119 to Sturgeon Bay.  The mosquitoes beat us to it.  We actually ran, screaming, for the car.  Well, some of us did.   It was fun anyway  -  just being together!

I'm just getting used to the idea of summer.  It was winter for soooo long, and then suddenly the kids are out of school.  It's a little disorienting.

Okay  -  I'm going to go play with my sketchbook now.  I have a couple of new pens and I want to try them out.

Are you sketching?


Sketching on the porch

Wonky Little Chair
After I had drawn this, I noticed how wrong the angle of the middle spindle is.  I could have made a little patch and sketched it in correctly, but, hey, that's not what sketch-booking is all about for me.  Actually, it's about ANYTHING you want, but my purpose is to keep the pen and brushes moving!  Keep in mind what your purpose is  -  is it to get very correct information down and have a beautiful page, or just to get a rough idea that can be cleaned up later if you're using the sketch for a painting reference, or maybe to just loosely record a moment in your day.

Students always ask me if it's okay to rip out a page or cover it up.  Anything is okay.  I've had mistakes that have driven me crazy, so I'd fix them in some way.  

Another beautiful day in Northern Michigan!  Where ever you are, are you sketching?


Petunias, marigolds, etc

Okay, I'm done hibernating. 
I've had my spring greenhouse fix, and I'm ready to plant and paint  -  not necessarily in that order.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing (squawking), and we've even had a hummingbird.  We've mowed the lawn, and hauled junk out to the curb for the spring pick-up.

This little watercolor sketch was done using some cross hatching with a Gelly-roll pen.  I watched a Tommy Kane demo on cross hatching, and thought it looked fun  - I hadn't done it in years.  I don't think flowers are really a good subject for that technique, but it was fun, and I'll do it again.

As far as the greenhouse fix  -  I'm sure I'm not really "fixed".  There's something about the heat, the smell, the colors .  .  .

How was your winter?  Are you painting and sketching?


Not Quite Snowed In
We've had a couple of days without snow, and things are looking a little dirty.  It isn't any where near melting  -  19 degrees today.   The city trucks are out today cutting back the snow banks, widening the streets, and hauling away snow.

Last week we worked on some snow scenes in my watercolor class.  This week we are talking about pigments, and what they do according to their consistencies  - some are transparent, some granular, and some staining.  Then we talked about how those properties work when used in a triad.  A triad is a group of three.  In this case a combination of the three primaries  -  some version of red, yellow, and blue. 

I'm taking an online watercolor lettering class from Val Webb.  Fun!  I'm also taking a calligraphy class locally.  Actually, VERY locally, it meets in my studio.  Yeah, calligraphy.  Calligraphy never interested me  -  I always felt it was too pointy, too scratchy, and too structured.   Maybe I was wrong.  I just went along to the organizational meeting to support a creative group of women that wanted to get a  calligraphy class going.  I really got sucked in  -  in a good way.  The instructor,  Millie, is so giving and so creative (there's that word again), that not only did I sign up, I said, "Hey -  you can use my space for your class!"  We have homework.  Oh dear.  If I do something great in either (or both?) classes, I'll post it.  If I don't, I won't.


Snow Covered Pine

Snowy Tree Demo
Because snow is what we see here in Northern Michigan (and pretty much all we see), my Thursday students wanted a snowy tree demo. They did a beautiful job with their trees!

It's been snowing here since the middle of November.  We may as well embrace it.  A couple of students requested a snow scene demo for next week.  Good idea  - we have a long time to do still life paintings.

I've lived in Michigan all my life, but the concept of snow still fascinates me.  Don't you think it's weird that this pure white frozen stuff falls out of the sky and we have to shovel it??!!

Stay warm!


More Succulents

Sketchbook Page
This is a very quick contour drawing loosely painted with watercolor.  I did this after my class left on Thursday.

For me, contour (continuous line) drawing is very much like connect-the-dots  -  connect-the-shapes.  I really don't know what's going to happen until the end.  I'm thinking "shapes", not "objects".  Some of those shapes might be negative spaces, not an object at all.

I'm not thinking about composition either.  I'm just getting down the information that's there.  I can put it to good use later. I can move things around for a better composition (although I I am pretty happy with this), and shape up that clay pot on the right.

I can't believe it is January 11th already.  I have waited so long to begin a fresh start, that it just isn't fresh anymore.  I'm not good at fresh starts anyway  -  I do better just plodding along.  I enjoy plodding along, so I'm doing okay.


Loose and Juicy

In class this week we were trying to see how simple we could keep it and still show some separation of shapes  -  such as the leaves on the plant on the left.  I had intended to work in some detail as I went along, but I really liked what was happening with the looseness, and decided to leave it alone.

I knew the composition was weak, but my intent was to demonstrate some drop-in color and then do some negative painting, and I wasn't thinking much about where I was putting things.  The plant in that dead-center blue and white cup was going to have some negative painting to show the pointy leaves, but I just liked all the bleeding colors there and decided to move on and not do anything else to it. That's what is so much fun about watercolor  -  so often it will do something that is much better than I would have done.

I like some of the things going on in this little painting.  I wonder if I worked out a good composition and gave it another try, if I would still get some of these results.  I am not good at re-doing, but we'll see.