Saturday, April 26, 2008

April Endings

Aw ... not quite the end of April yet, but I've reached the end of the Maruman book, and now am wondering if I want to work on the other side of the page. Anybody with any thoughts on that?
I'm loving sitting in the backyard documenting the spring bloomers -- this week it has been Lily-Of-The-Valley and May Apples in the shade and wildflower garden in the raised stone flower bed ...

...ending up with the old blue Iris that is blooming by the gate into the back yard. Lots of blooms this year. (And you can see on this scan the color of the cover of the sketchbook.)
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Nearly finished with the little Maruman sketchbook -- at least the front side. It's set up so that you can use it either way. Here's a branch of the Fothergilla shrub -- which is supposed to be a shade lover, but leans heavily in search of more sun than it gets in MY yard -- and the first Jack-In-The-Pulpit. There should be a few more showing up, unless they've had a bad winter. Or unless DH thought the three leaves meant they were poison ivy and sprayed them... darn it. I just thought about that.

Two more spreads left, and the irises are blooming, the May Apples are getting ready to open up, and I'm sure there's more to come. Yeah, I think I'll have enough happening in the yard to do the back side of the pages in this book.

Meanwhile, Dear Daughter has arrived back home safely in Florida. I spent a few hours moping around after she left this morning -- it's so hard to see them leave! Finally, I decided that boo hoo-ing and playing video games was no way to spend a day off work, so I went and then picked up my friend Marcia and ran to the art gallery to drop off a little watercolor. That cheered me up considerably! Ever since I've been working on another painting (the infamous Miss Vanilla Cupcake) that I CANNOT seem to finish. Sigh. It's been an up and down day.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Family

We're back home from visiting my parents and having a fantastic family weekend. The dear daughter is still here today, and leaves for home tomorrow, the sun is shining, and our main plans are get her tires looked at and do some fun running around.
I sketched the lemon trillium patch in the back yard yesterday evening. Normally they fade fairly quickly, but the weather has been cool and all the bloomers have stayed in good condition for longer than normal. I started growing these trillium about 14 years ago when I rescued 2 small plants from an area in the woods that was marked off for road construction. It took a long time for them to get settled in and start spreading, but finally there is a good strong patch of them. I'm considering transplanting a few into other parts of the yard and maybe to my sister's yard, just in case...

Note: By the way, I have been corrected over and over by my sister -- SHE found the photo of the daughter and gave it to me to scan to put together with a bunch of other photos on CD's to give to our parents along with a gift. SHE found the photo at her house and then I found it in the bag of photos she sent over. Semantics... :-D

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Goofy Grins

Grown and gone, but coming home this weekend! I found this photo of my daughter when she was little, and it just cracked me up. She's driving up from Florida and should be here tomorrow. Meanwhile, I've been trying to get work caught up so I could take a day or two off and to get her room cleaned up and ready. (Note: When you leave home, your parents frequently use your room for temporary storage of potential yard sale items and other junk -- that's why you always give parents a little heads up if you're coming home for a visit!)

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a few moments to sketch the bloomin' back yard. But if not, I'll "see" you all next week!
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lilac Time

The lilacs are blooming - already?!! They bloom for such a short time, and we're expecting a real cold spell tonight, which may do them in for the year. So I cut a big fistful of them off of my sister's bush and have them on the table in the breakfast nook. The smell is so sweet, and they are so pretty -- so much more delicate than I did them here.

What I love about this Maruman accordion style book is that I am sticking with the "series" bit -- since it all runs together it makes it easier to keep on track. What bothers me about this Maruman accordion style book is that I sometimes feel stuck in a series and in a rut... which is just the other side of the same coin. But really -- with lilacs I would normally have painted them completely differently, yet felt I had to keep within the same style I'd started in the book. Still, I tried to adapt and use less ink and more splash without looking out of character. I've been a bit uptight in this book, too -- just a matter of getting to know something new. I KNOW I'll be ordering a few more of these to play with! (And I got a bit heavy handed and thick with the color on the flowers, too. THAT'S just me getting to know how to paint with gouache rather than watercolor.)

This makes me want to listen to this song -- Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley -- and I wonder what Lilac Wine would taste like, other than "sweet and heady"...

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yard Foolery

Sitting in the back yard sketching flowers. My version of yard work (at least this weekend.) Yep. And there's nothing anybody can do about it.

Meanwhile, D is busy raking and bagging leaves. HIS version of yard work.

Life is good.

"Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems."
Rainer Maria Rilke
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Break

Uh oh. I've been on a three-week break from Saturday watercolor class and had an assignment -- an assignment to do start / work on / do (?I never figured it out exactly) a full sheet piece. Actually, it is an assignment which I have NOT TOUCHED. I scrambled tonight to play catch up, but just am not getting it done. This is supposed to be fun. I'm going to KEEP it fun, too. So, I'm going to have to confess to my WC teacher that I AM, in fact, on good authority, a slacker.

I can only bring these full sheet sketchy things that are IDEAS for paintings based on photos from last year's spring break at the beach...

I particularly like this figure. She's ready for ANYTHING. But I kind of want to paint these in acrylic or even oil rather than watercolor. It's like they deserve something rather more solid than watercolor ... or something like that.

I'm also playing with this from a photo of a red bicycle parked in the middle of the street. The shadows were great, but the photo doesn't give me quite the details I need to be as accurate as it ought to be for a full sheet. Still, I can kind of imagine the shadows being these wonderful masses of interesting colors just dropped in wet-in-wet, with the bicycle almost being secondary ...

We'll see. I find that I am ready to get back into the swing of painting big.

And these count as today's drawings! I skipped yesterday because I spent the evening in a neighborhood meeting campaigning AGAINST speed humps -- they are dangerous crazy things, people. But that's for another day, another post, another blog ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Foolin or Fibbin?

Was I foolin' or was I fibbin' on Sunday when I promised a peek of my early birthday present from Diahn?
Neither -- I was just forgettin'... which is just proof of how far I am on this side of FABULOUS!

She got me this totally GREAT Maruman watercolor accordion book and a Maruman sketch accordion book, recommended by Laura (we suspect that she funds her travel habit with secret commissions from art supply stores -- but Diahn is right when she says that if Laura recommends something it's usually good!) I also got a piece of Masa paper to experiment with (evil scientist laugh!) and an amazing little travel palette that she made from an Altoid tin. Absolutely BRILLIANT -- she experimented and found that Fimo didn't work well with gouache -- so she made the dividers USING HOT GLUE. She is a GENIUS.

Now I just have to figure out WHICH eight colors to put in here ...

So, yesterday and today, I just couldn't stop working in the watercolor book, painting flowers from the yard. Page 1 & 2 -- an azalea and a weeping cherry...

Pages 3, 4, & 5 -- Virginia Bluebells and a Bleeding Heart...

Page 6 - Celandine poppies ... nearly gone ...

Oh yeah -- I'm having a blast and will be ordering more of these sketchbooks! Thanks, Diahn!

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Awesome April Azaleas

My azaleas in the back yard bloomed TODAY. Not gradually over the week, no, they bloomed TODAY. Yesterday there were a some buds peeking out, today there are blooms. I'm amazed.
(By the way, I cut this sprig of azaleas and did the drawing this afternoon from home while I was on a conference call for work. Shhhh!! I call it multi-tasking, and it just means I'm an efficient individual...)
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Monday, April 07, 2008

RuPaw BluPaw

Look who's home from the vet! A blue bandage still on his left leg and still not totally healthy, and I'm going to have to give him fluids for a week; then we'll see after some more tests. But for now, I'm just happy that he's back home. He's such a silly guy -- he's an outdoor cat, but is very tidy. When he catches a bird or bunny he runs straight into the garage with it so he can eat it out of his bowl (gross, but a fact of life with outdoor cats.) Some years back, he had to be kept in because of some stitches, so we put a litter box in the garage. He's used it ever since -- it's hilarious to see him run into the garage, jump into his litter box, stick his head out and MEOW with relief. What a nut. He's not a very good model, though -- not one who will sit still, so I didn't capture the elegant shape of his paw.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Friends and Foolery

Diahn and I met up this afternoon for a cup of coffee, a few minutes of sketching, and to continue our trend of generally being disruptive in public places. We don't actually intend to be disruptive, and I really think we aren't -- it's not like we talk loudly or yell or dance around or act out or ANYTHING like that! We just crack each other up and spend most of our time together laughing. For some reason at least one lady today at Border's wasn't happy with us -- she kept looking over and then back down at her magazine. Finally she got up, walked past us, paused, looked at us, shook her head, and went on her way. This, of course, sent us nearly off of our chairs, laughing so hard. Bless her heart. At least she was the only one who seemed to even notice us. So we were able to sneak in a couple of quick sketches of people, despite also having a few "false starts" when subject would suddenly walk away or change positions so dramatically that it didn't even count any more.
Diahn also gave me my early birthday present, and I'm totally jazzed with it. I promise to show you tomorrow!
(Oh ... the suspense!....)
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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fast Foolin' Around

Another wonderful rainy day! Busy doing Saturday stuff, including printing out some photos from our trip to Dollywood last weekend. While I had a photo of the crowd up on the computer screen, I decided to do a fast sketch. To time myself, I picked a 5 and a half minute song on iTunes, and let it play while I drew -- I had to stop when the song stopped. In reality, that's much slower than a crowd in real life would have moved, but it feels like a good way to practice. I'm wondering about adding color ... ???

RuPaw is still at the vet. He's feeling better, but not being very cooperative with his IV lines, so she wants to keep him until Monday. I went to pay him a visit, and while he looks better than he was, he still doesn't look exactly GREAT. I'm thinking that I'm going to be bringing him home Monday, no matter what. I think any longer is just too stressful for him. I love our vet, by the way -- she's just great!
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Friday, April 04, 2008

Reckless Foolish and Frightful

"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night." (Rainer Maria Rilke)

You know how sometimes a drawing starts out really lovely and fresh and light. And then you add some color and it isn't quite right. So you paint on some more color and it isn't quite right still. So you add some colored pencil, and it becomes progressively dead and flat. So you just say forget it and restate your main lines with a really heavy dark pen and run off shrieking into the night. Yeah. That happens to me sometimes, too.

Thanks for all the well wishes, via comments and via private e-mail, about RuPaw the cat. The vet says he's doing better today, and that after a night of IV antibiotics and IV fluids he was eating and purring and talking and "making biscuits." She'll run more tests tomorrow and maybe my buddy will get to come home.
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Thursday, April 03, 2008


Wasn't there an EDM challenge (once upon a time) to draw a musical instrument? There was never any expectation that you could PLAY the instrument, right?
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And for a fun time -- go here and type in your favorite Dr. Seuss tongue twister.

(I used the one about the beach beasts -- do you know it?

Upon an island hard to reach
The east beast sits upon his beach
Upon the west beach sits the west beast
Each beach beast thinks he's the best beast.

... and so on.) Of course, you can type in anything you like. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Foolishness

Well, the April Foolishness COULD start out with this self-portait in a turquoise gazing ball that I picked up for a dollar at a yard sale and that now sits in the corner of the back yard. One of these days it will be surrounded by the yellow celandines (one of which you can see blooming) and should be smashing. That is, if it isn't smashed by a bird trying to fight with its reflection. (Female cardinals are particularly bad for that, for some silly reason...)

But no. The April Foolishness continues with the challenge from Diahn to draw daily and post nearly as often. I saw and accepted her challenge last night, but then couldn't find my Moleskine! I had taken it to work to do some drawing from there, so assumed I had just left it on my desk. At work this morning, I STILL couldn't find it. Lucky for me, I finally found it this afternoon under the front seat of the car. That was a close one.

The fact is that I would have skipped drawing last night even if I'd HAD my sketchbook, at least until Diahn gave me the nudge -- it was that much of a day. And from the looks of Monday's drawing, I really wasn't on much of a roll anyway -- that bowl isn't at all wonky in real life. Tonight I managed a quick re-do of a tulip from a photo from Dollywood. Both are done with ink and gouache in the Moleskine. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to do that drawing at work that I was planning on doing Tuesday... and one to catch up from yesterday!
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