22 August 2016

Weekend prompts

Friday's prompt was "favorite restaurant." That's a hard one--can you ever say definitively that just one place is your favorite? I think it depends on so many things...mood, time of year, expectations. But I can say this is ONE of my favorite restaurants, for its ambience, its wonderful Italian food, and the brewed-from-scratch Belgian hot chocolate that we often order in lieu of dessert!

LePen and watercolor.

Today's prompt was "favorite book." Well, if you know me at all, you know how impossible that one is! I could draw 40 and still think of 40 more. So I arbitrarily picked one for which I have a long-time soft spot. It's an old-fashioned romantic book about a house, a family, and a particular time and attitude, and I re-read it probably once every couple of years.

Pencil and watercolor. This was a tough one to paint! I have to admit to a tiny bit of touch-up work on the lettering afterwards in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday's prompt, "favorite person," is yet to come. I tried a portrait and it was a big fat fail. I'm going to give it another shot soon.

21 August 2016

More favorites

I'm running behind on the WWG prompts, but here are three more:

Favorite article of clothing

Here's my favorite skirt. It's a thin white cotton with another thin cotton lining, on an elasticized stitched waistband. It's in primary colors plus green and pink and gray, so you can wear a lot of different stuff with it. But mainly, I like it because it's patterned with urban sketching! I did an inset vignette so you could see the kind of thing. I'm thinking they're meant to be Miami, or Cuba, because of the cars, palm trees, and style of houses, but it always makes me feel très Française when I wear it, for some reason.

Favorite place in your home:

My rocking chair. Because reading.

Favorite family keepsake:

There are many, and I painted this quickie a while back. This is a wall pocket I inherited from my mom, who had a large collection of them. She got me started collecting too, so now I have more than 40! They are not all up on the wall, but at least half of them are. This is from the McCoy Pottery in Ohio, probably circa about 1920. It's a birdbath.

More to come--the weekend isn't over yet!

14 August 2016

And the following weekend...

I've given up on Every Day in August. Plus, I like the prompts from World Watercolor Group better. So here are my three from the weekend:

Favorite Beach

It may not be my favorite (too crowded, too hard to find parking), but being an Angeleno, what else could I do for this one but the iconic Venice Beach?

This is Micron pen and watercolor. I bought this long skinny sketchbook to get myself to do more panoramic views like this, but you have to work pretty small (it's 6x12 inches). It may take me a while to fill it.

Favorite Cup or Mug

This is my favorite mug aesthetically (a gift from Anarda, who has excellent taste), but I don't drink coffee out of it much because it's so big and wide open that the coffee gets cold too fast. But it's great for drinkable soup! I decided to try this one à la Liz Steel--I made a faint pencil outline of the cup, and everything else was painted spontaneously without drawing it first. I was hoping for a little more control, but I hurried through it and the red got away from me. Should have given it a lot more time to dry between colors. But it gives the flavor of the mug.

Favorite Ocean Creature

I love sea otters. I think they must be the cats of the ocean--fuzzy, cute, playful, mischievous. I guess you could say the same thing about dogs, but I'm a cat person, so...cats.

This was hard to paint, especially on sketchbook paper. Fur is hard enough without trying to convey the difference between wet fur and dry fur, and fur that is under the water! Props to pet portrait artists--who knew it was so tough?

07 August 2016

Weekend sketches

Every Day in August prompt: A food

I called it "Fig Bandit." Never saw a Japanese Beetle in my life until the first harvest from my green fig tree ripened, and then they were everywhere! I have to be quick or I don't get a single undamaged fig. I also have to duck whenever I pick one, to avoid the cloud of beetles that rise from the tree!

And I guess this one also qualifies, although I just sketched my breakfast because it was there:

Egg, Facon (fake bacon), tomato, and cheese, on sourdough with a little mayo, and strong coffee to get me started.

The prompt from #WorldWatercolorGroup was "Favorite Vacation Spot." I'd have to go with Musée d'Orsay de Paris! I did this from a photo I took in 2013 when I was there for six hours. Perspective and angles are not my strong suit, but I tried to rock it like James Richards taught me in his Craftsy class on urban sketching.

05 August 2016

Every Day in August, and...

I've gone from not participating in anything to participating in two separate groups on Facebook this month--the Every Day in August group, and the World Watercolor Group "August Adventure." By doing simple drawings instead of always insisting on watercolor, and by giving up some (let's face it, fairly inane) television time, I've gotten a few things done in the first four days of August!

The Every Day in August theme is "stuff you're grateful for," and each day it's something new.

EDiA #1 was "someone," and mine was my friend and colleague at the library, Anarda. I am the senior teen librarian in charge of planning programs and events for teens at my library, and she is the teen librarian at one of our branches. She collaborates in such a wonderful way, taking the ideas I have and always suggesting some detail that will make them better, more original, more exciting and accessible to the teens. She's also a great friend--always encouraging and kind.

EDiA #2: Something in nature

A house finch has been sitting on the phone wire in my back yard, warbling away for the past few days. It made me think of this maxim from the great conservationist Rachel Carson (which is also stenciled on my living room wall). It also made my cats crazy(er). I guess I should have drawn a picture of a bug, but the songbird was way more appealing!

EDiA #3: A tool or form of technology

Not very technological, but these are my tools...

EDiA #4: A smell

Many people did flowers (or soup), but mine was a childhood memory, one of those visceral aromas that immediately carries you to a time and place. The scent of blueberries takes me back to my childhood. From age 6 months to four years old, my dad was stationed at the Air Force base at Goose Bay, Labrador. Behind the base housing was a woods, and in the summer (which was about 30 days of 68-degree weather in July and August--the rest of the year we were buried in snow) the ground was covered with loaded blueberry bushes. Mom would send me out with a bowl to fill up, and then she'd wash them for me and I'd sit on the steps and eat them.

This got a little too juicy (pardon the pun), because I did it in my sketchbook when I should have used watercolor paper to better control the paint. I'd like to try this one again sometime. Pencil and watercolor.

Then, for the "August Adventure," we're painting "favorites." I shared some old paintings for some of the posts (because no one there has seen them, and I DO work full-time, after all). So for "favorite dessert" I posted this sketch I made for our library cookbook, because cookies are my faves but they are kind of boring to draw, and ingredients are much more fun and challenging!

And for favorite flower, I posted one of many paintings of daffodils:

But I DID manage to do a new one for "favorite toy."

My favorite "toy" was books, always. But this one was a particular favorite when I was very little, because it was a book that featured toys. Dare Wright photographed her Lenci doll, Edith, with two bears she bought at FAO Schwartz, and in 1958, when I was three years old, my parents bought me Holiday for Edith and the Bears. The writer posed the doll and the two bears in various ways and took photographs of them as they had adventures on the island of Ocracoke, climbing dunes, meeting horses, swimming, and having adventures. (Little Bear and Edith go out by themselves in a rowboat, though expressly forbidden to by Mr. Bear, losing their oars and getting pulled out by the tide. But Mr. Bear saves them.)

This was a hard one to paint, because all of the photographs are black and white that has aged to a faint sepiatone. Pencil and watercolor.

We'll see how long I can keep this up!

30 July 2016

Reward for hard work

I've been taking it easy this week of vacation, mostly because it's so horribly hot that I can't bring myself to do much! And also, despite many undone projects, I need the rest after a hectic six weeks of Teen Summer Reading Club. But this morning was a little cooler, and I woke up early for a change, so I decided to tackle the patio. I carried or rolled all the furniture out into the yard, and then I swept out the patio, I hosed it out, I washed it down with soapy water with a scrubber and a mop and rinsed well, and then while it dried, I did the same to all the furniture.

This was all done by 8:30 a.m., so I jumped in the shower (okay, it was more of a gimpy limp to the shower), and then headed for the chiropractor for a much-needed tune-up. Afterwards, I decided I deserved a reward of breakfast out. I headed for a favorite place in Encino, but by this time it was 10 a.m., and there was no parking and a line at the door. So I drove up Ventura Blvd., trying to decide whether to try somewhere else or go home and cook.

There is a semi-new building on Ventura Blvd. east of Hayvenhurst with a bunch of fast food places--Chipotle, Jersey Mike's, and so on--but as I drove past it, I spotted the name "Claudine" and the subheading of "baked goods," a place I had never noticed before, so I grabbed an empty parking place out front and went in to scope it out.

The place is light, bright, and inviting, featuring racks of cake holders, some put to good use and some standing by and looking ornamental. It's an order-at-the-counter kind of place, and then they bring your food to you. They serve a limited breakfast menu (in addition to the baked goods), and promised good café latte, so I settled in and started a sketch of what fell within my sightline while I waited for my order to be delivered to my table.

I finished the sketch after I ate (perfect scrambled eggs, crispy potato wedges, and brioche toast), and when I got home, I went out on my pristine patio and completed it with some watercolor. And now, I'm going to take a nap!

(LePen .05 and watercolor--featuring a favorite, Daniel Smith cobalt turquoise!)

29 July 2016


I decided it was time for a new Facebook Profile Picture, so I took a "Hairfie" of me "wearing" my new favorite hairstyle, a French braid down each side that gets wrapped into a bun at the back. The perfect 'do for someone with long hair, when it's 100 degrees outside! (Please let it get cooler soon...)

LePen and watercolor.