25 November 2016


I'm not a huge fan of cranberries--the twice-a-year experience on the Thanksgiving and Christmas buffet is fine with me, and cranberry-flavored things always seem too tart, even when modified by raspberry or lemonade. But I do love how they look--the small nuances in color from pink to coral to, well, cranberry! to dark purple. So on impulse, I bought a small bag of them at the market while shopping for green beans and mushrooms and pearl onions for Thanksgiving, and this morning I threw a handful on the table on my patio so that I would have not just the cranberries but some dramatic shadows to paint. I had some happy accidents with the bleeding into some of the shadows, while others of them got away from me, but for a 30-minute endeavor, start to finish, I was fairly satisfied with my result.

Pencil, watercolor.

22 November 2016

A recipe for stuffing

I saw today's prompt from World Watercolor Group ("Stuffing") and thought, Oh, how boring, a 13x9 pan full of breadcrumbs, who wants to draw that? So I decided not to paint today. Then, when I turned off Netflix at 11:00, I suddenly thought, Oooh, but the ingredients!

So, I went on Google images (since I had none of these in the house) and found a picture of an onion and an apple and a sage leaf, and then decided to add in the piece of celery, which made for a lopsided composition but a better recipe for stuffing, and I drew and I painted and I scanned, and here is today's prompt, pre-chop and without the breadcrumbs.

It's not my best painting--but at least I didn't go another day without putting pen and paint to paper.

19 November 2016

Soda Pop

They say you can tell what region of the country you come from by what you call your carbonated beverage or soft drink. Is it a soda, a pop, or a Coke? (Or do you go old-school and call it a tonic?) There was actually a survey conducted on this at one point, and then two guys from East Central University in Oklahoma made a map, which I found interesting to look at in comparison to the political maps of the country we've been staring at for the past couple of months:

So why am I telling you all this? Well, for two reasons: The first is that it's National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day (yes, really), and the second is that the World Watercolor Group prompt for today was "soda pop," which made me think about my relatives in Virginia, whose variation was "You wanna sody?"

I was an enthusiastic consumer of soft drinks in my youth (I started every early morning in college by popping the top on a TAB and taking a swig), but the caffeine and sugar or, worse yet, the artificial sweeteners made me ban them from my life decades ago. Now, I enjoy an occasional root beer, or even more rarely go out of my way to buy a new-fangled soda with natural ingredients and flavors  more pleasing to the palette than Coke. Since root beer isn't as fun to paint, I chose an IZZE Sparking Blackberry as my subject matter. And no, there is no alcoholic content, even though the bottle is the tiniest bit tipsy! Just for comparison, here's a continuous line blind contour that I did of a similar bottle back a few years ago in Brenda Swenson's workshop.

LePen .03, and watercolor, in my Aquabee sketchbook.

Art = Sanity

I realized this morning that I haven't drawn or painted anything for weeks. I spent the week leading up to the election plagued by nerves, the week after it in shock and denial, and this past week alternately depressed and outraged. At first, every time I thought about drawing or painting, all I could dredge up was either "What's the point?" or "I have more important things to which I need to give my attention." But...that old adage about taking care of yourself first has merit, and one of the things that keeps me sane and on an even keel is making art. So, I pulled up World Watercolor Group's list of prompts for November and painted me some beets. I'm not a big fan of eating them, but the colors and shapes are appealing. I'm going to get myself back to a regular drawing and painting habit. Because if art doesn't matter, what does?

Le Pen and watercolors, in my Aquabee sketchbook.

06 November 2016

Secret Art Show!

I recently got involved at work with an organization called Burbank Arts for All (BAFA, inevitably), which is a group that helps fund the arts in the Burbank Unified School District. I thought it might be a good networking and partnership opportunity, and also, I am personally interested in the arts and do a lot of arts programming for teens at the library, so it seemed like a good idea.

Last night the organization had its big fund-raiser, called the Secret Art Show. It's a one-night pop-up art gallery, at which they exhibit 4x6-inch pieces of art made by all different kinds of people from the Burbank community--students, amateur artists, professionals who work at the studios, illustrators (such as the lovely and charitable David Shannon, of No, David! picture book fame), celebrities, whoever wants to contribute. There's also a buffet, a silent auction, and some arty stuff happening on the spot. It's fun, and quite festive. The "secret" part is that you have to pony up $40 for a piece of the 4x6-inch artwork before you learn who painted it. It's a little scary for we artists, who wonder, "Will anyone want my little scribble badly enough to spend that kind of money?" But it's all about funding the non-profit to make sure kids get to make art too, so everybody seems to play along.

I ended up making them a bunch of pieces--they kept extending the deadline on receiving art, so I kept making more of it--so my final contribution was these 11. I know for sure that at least one was purchased, because my #2 boss at the library was there, and told me she had bought one she thought might be mine. (I hope she bought it because she really liked it rather than because she knew I made it and didn't want me to suffer from embarrassment!)

Here they all are--if you bought one, and subsequently end up coming to this blog out of curiosity (I put the address in my bio that goes with the pieces), then please tell me in the comments section below! I'd love to know you are, which one you bought, and why!

"Two Hens," purchased by Melissa Potter

"Burbank City Hall"

"Wisteria in Parthenay, France, 2013"

"Twin" (a study for a larger picture)

"Morning Coffee"

"Jukebox at the Great Grill"


"Red Truck"

"Storybook Cottages on Hollywood Way"

"Safari Inn on Olive"

"Farmers' Market Gourds"
I will definitely participate in this again--it was fun! Also, seeing what other people made as their contributions gave me some ideas of what I could do better next time.

17 October 2016

Another workshop

This weekend, I went to the long-anticipated three-day workshop with painter Iain Stewart, whose work I tremendously admire.

Fife Sheep, by Iain Stewart

I'm glad I took the workshop, but although I learned a lot, the thing I took away from it was that it's time to quit taking workshops. Not because of anything that happened there; Iain was great. He shared a lot of knowledge and technique, and was laid back and helpful.

Iain's techniques bore some resemblance to Paul's, in that both of them start with a light wash, either smooth or variegated, and then build on that with a middle ground, middle dark, and a foreground darkest dark to highlight a focal point. They are both planners, but while Paul's planning seems to take place more on/during the actual painting, and he considers specific steps in great detail, Iain's planning takes place mostly in his sketchbook, where he does multiple layouts until the composition pleases him. Then he transfers the sketch to watercolor paper, still adjusting as he goes, and once he picks up a paintbrush, things become a lot more spontaneous (and also a lot harder to duplicate).

Here is an example of a piece he did to teach us, and following is my attempt at it:

This is a long view of a landscape in Pals, Spain. Off in the distance is water, with Catalonian islands emerging from it. In the middle ground are buildings, trees, and fields, and in the foreground, a bunch of trees rise up in front of the viewer. The goal with this was to teach background-middle ground-foreground in terms of value intensity, in terms of attention to specific detail, and also to show layout--how you have to balance the elements in a painting (placement of the buildings, direction of the fields, roads, and trees). This isn't the demo Iain did in the workshop; that one was even more monochromatic in terms of color than this one was, and we dealt with fewer buildings. But it's the same scene.

Here is my attempt. (Some of the left side is cut off, due to the capacity of my scanner.) While it's not horrible, and in fact a couple of people complimented me on it, it's a textbook example of what I came to realize, after spending three days with Iain only two weeks after spending three days with Paul Jackson: What I need is not another workshop, but a regular, disciplined approach to painting. I need to make many, many paintings!

I spent much of the three days frustrated, not because I didn't understand what he was doing, but because my eye and hand just wouldn't duplicate it. And it's not because I'm not capable, it's because I'm not practiced. Using this as an example: The islands and sky are too dark for background, as are the trees just in front of them. The church on the right should be bigger than the house behind it, because it's much closer to the viewer, and the villa on the left should be twice that size, so that you have the sense of the scene moving forward towards you. The darks in the mid ground are also too extreme, so that what you have instead of a graduated scene of less detail to more detail and less intensity of value to more intensity, is a series of stripes of light and dark. (We won't talk about the tree line in the foreground at all!)

So the truths I discovered from this exercise were: I don't use my sketchbook to think out what I'm going to do. I don't sketch much at all! I don't spend a lot of time planning things out, or considering what elements need to be balanced with other elements. I don't have a good grasp of perspective and planes. My judgment is not good when it comes to light, medium, and dark gradations. I don't have good control of brush, color, or water. I haven't developed the judgment to know when the brush is too wet or too dry, or which colors to use to mix what I need. And if I want to be a good watercolor painter, I need to learn to make snap judgments as I go, to be fast enough so that the "bead" doesn't dry up on me before I can work it smoothly down the page.

In short, what I had to face this weekend, which made me so uncomfortable that I actually left the workshop early on the third day by making a lame excuse about having to go to work (yes, I need the practice, but doing it in front of other people was getting to me), was that while I have nascent skills that include drawing and color sense, without a regular practice, I'm not going to improve. I enjoy making my contour drawings and using watercolor to enhance them, and I'm pretty good at it; but compared to what the serious artists whose work I admire are doing, I'm just noodling around. While there's nothing wrong with that, and while I will keep doing that, it's time to make a plan for a life as a painter that includes daily attention.

I don't know whether I'm ready for that yet, if I'm completely honest. So I'm not going to make a bunch of resolutions here, only to break them. I'm just going to know that I now have the knowledge, and when I choose to do so, I can develop the skill. But I have to want it. I hope that I'll have great things to post on this page someday that let me take myself seriously as a painter. Until then...I'll keep noodling around.

13 October 2016

Sketchbook vs. "Real"

I posted a picture that I had scanned from my sketchbook on an email I sent out at work, and my supervisor called me up and offered to buy it! I had to say no, partly because it's in a sketchbook (and I don't want to tear it out), and partly because it had lettering under it, which I had deleted from it before posting the picture, so she wouldn't have been able to frame it without that showing.

So, although this was not my art plan for this afternoon (I was going to finish my Paul Jackson "masterpiece," which has been languishing), I decided to make her a new version of it. It's a crucial time to do so, because it's a painting of asters from my yard, which only bloom for about three weeks in October. So I cut some (avoiding dozens of bees in the process), put them in another clear glass jar like I did the first time, and set to work.

The first one, which I did on sketchbook paper, was drawn with a black Micron pen, and then watercolored. For this one, I decided to just draw it in pencil, for a more natural look, since I was doing it on good watercolor paper. But after I got done painting it, it seemed a little lackluster, and also I accidentally washed through parts of it and it became blurry, so I went in afterwards with a sepia-tone Micron pen (not as obvious as the black, and nice with the color scheme) to do some "accents" and outlines.

Honestly, I think I like the first one, which I did in half the time on so-so paper, better than the one I spent the afternoon on! (The second one isn't all here--I made it bigger (with more flowers), so the scanner cut off about an inch on either side.)

I hope Cathleen likes it anyway. If not, I'll try again.

08 October 2016

New Palette

Well, the plan for today was: Go to the chiropractor, eat breakfast, do some chore-type things, make a new watercolor palette, and finish my giant painting from last weekend's workshop. I did the first and the second, did a little painting out of order with my old paints on some postcards, and then...I took a nap. A three-hour nap. I guess a three-day art workshop preceded and followed by a five-day work week makes you tired!

Here's the thank-you postcard, featuring the books I received
as gifts from Kirsten, which I mailed to her today.
(She's on vacation in New Orleans, so she won't see it until
she gets home, unless she looks at this blog, which I highly doubt,
with beignets and absinthe to distract her.)

Now that the light is leaving us earlier, I knew I wouldn't still have time to get stuck into my big leftover Paul Jackson painting after my nap, but I did have time to put together my new Paul Jackson palette of paints that I bought myself as a birthday gift! So I pulled out a spare palette I had sitting around the house and filled 'er up.

Paul has plans to develop five more colors, he says, because his favorite palette has 24 slots but he made 19 colors. My new palette only has 20 slots, however, so it was perfect for this project...with one exception. Upon consideration of his 19 colors, it becomes apparent that Paul is one of those artists who believes all greens should be mixed. I mostly tend to agree with that, because mixed greens are so much prettier and more flexible than flat colors straight out of the tube.

There is one green, however, which I cannot do without--it's a feature in many of my sketches and paintings, and hard to mix. So, luckily for me, there was one slot left in my Paul Jackson-only palette, and I committed the heresy of adding in my Holbein Leaf Green.

Here it is, ready to go!

02 October 2016

Revelation, revolution, reflection

This week I experienced the whirlwind that is Paul Jackson, Watercolor Artist.

Last Sunday, I drove down to San Pedro to see a demo and lecture by Paul. I was familiar with his work on Facebook, primarily because of his amazing 5-foot by 10-foot painting of the chain bridge in Budapest (below), so I was excited to see his lecture. I knew he was giving two workshops this week, but I didn't sign up for either of them, because in two weeks I am taking my mini October vacation (four days) and had already signed up for a watercolor workshop with Iain Stewart, and I figured that was stimulation enough, plus taking extra time off seemed problematical, and did I really need to pay for another workshop right now?

After seeing his lecture, I went to work on Monday and asked for Friday off so I could take his second workshop on Friday-Sunday. It's called  “Reflection, Translucency and Transparency,” which is basically about painting glass...but it's so much more. It's really about how to work with watercolors to make them do what you want them to do.

The reason I found this workshop so much more amazing than any I've ever taken before was that everything Paul said and did turned everything I ever thought about a workshop on its head. I have complained here in the past about going to workshops and always encountering those students who persist in asking the teacher, "What kind of paintbrush are you using?" "What kind of paints are you using?" "What kind of paper are you using?" It really bugs me, because it always cuts into our workshop time, and I want to say to them, Bah on your magical thinking! Painting with the same tools and materials is not going to make you another Keiko Tanabe, or another Frank Eber, or another fill-in-the-blank. It's painting every single day for years, striving to improve and learn and grow that does that. Materials are just materials.

Paul Jackson convinced me I am wrong. (Not about the practice part, but about the materials part.) And made me spend a whole lot of money. As in, my mortgage payment! (Don't worry, it's covered.)

First, he talked about his Kolinsky Kayak brushes. They are brushes that he designed and handmade for a few years and then he found someone else to do it (in a more professional form). I have always used synthetic brushes, partly because they are affordable, and partly, too, because I am a vegetarian and didn't like the ethics of killing some animal in order to get its hair to make a paintbrush. But once Paul explained two things, I had to have his brushes. One was his demonstration of the way natural hair brushes hold water differently than synthetic brushes, and what that means in terms of having control of your water and paint. The other was that the hair in these brushes is obtained by giving a haircut to "the southern end of a northbound male Marten weasel in winter plumage." Nobody dies (although there may be some outrage involved). And did I mention that they are double-ended, so you get two sizes on each brush?

Then he talked about paper. He uses 260-lb. paper, and I'd never heard of it before. I normally use 140-lb., which is pretty good, and sufficient for everything I have done up until now; and I have occasionally bought a big sheet of 300-lb. for a large painting for which I wanted to go the extra mile in terms of quality, but honestly, I dislike working on the 300. It doesn't take water or paint in the same way that the 140-lb. does, so I mostly avoid it.

Paul explained that the 260-lb. paper is essentially like working on 140-lb. but better, while the 300-lb. has a different kind of fiber and sucks up all the water and pigment, which is why I had a bad experience. After trying some of the paper he had with him, I will definitely order some 260 and avoid the 300 from now on. I didn't spend any money on that (yet), but I'm definitely going to explore the differences between the 140 and 260 and decide for myself.

Then we started talking paint. I have always used medium-grade paints like Graham, and have been pretty satisfied with them. Lately, I have tried out a few colors from Holbein (I liked them), and also, given that several artists I follow and admire are featured by Daniel Smith paints and have raved about them, I've been picking up a tube of that here and there.

While I like some colors of Daniel Smith very much, I have found them to be quite inconsistent from tube to tube. I bought a tube of Naples Yellow, for instance, and absolutely loved the color as a base for complexion in portraits. The next tube I bought was a completely different color of yellow. I couldn't believe it--I thought it was a mistake--so I bought a third, and that one was about halfway between the two.

Paul talked a lot about paint, because he has spent most of his career (he's been painting since age 15) working with both Windsor Newton and Daniel Smith, and has a lot of experience of their products. Not to say anything bad about them, but this caused him to decide to make his own paints. And, being the entrepreneurial all-or-nothing kind of guy he is, he did so, and marketed them independently before finding a company--Da Vinci--to produce them for him, to his exacting standards.

I was skeptical, again, that paint could make such a difference, but decided to try out two of his signature paints, Jackson Blue and Rockstar Pink. After working with them for just two days, I went for the whole 19-color set.

I felt like a country rube falling for the patter of a slick big-city salesman, but honestly, during the course of the three-day workshop, he backed up everything he said about his brushes and paints with proof, and when I tried them for myself, I was impressed enough to go whole hog.

So, what else did we do in the three days? Well, we made great big paintings of six different pieces of art glass. This was another area in which I thought I knew better about what was a good practice for an art workshop: I have always felt that teachers who have all the students make the exact same painting weren't really teaching them to paint, but were teaching them to mimic. And I still believe that's true for the ones who say, Okay, follow along: Make this stroke, now make this one, now go here and do this, now go there and do that. In Paul's workshop, we all started with the same under-drawing, and we did follow along to some extent, but every painting in the class looked different. They all looked good, they just all looked different, because we were encouraged to try things, to make our own decisions, to follow his lead to learn a lot but not to worry if it wasn't identical.

We learned how to use masking fluid (yes, you guessed it, he makes his own, and it's awesome, and I bought some) to save all the multiple reflections and colors of the glass; we learned how to stain and then glaze the paints in multiple layers (the final painting probably had 14 layers of paint, but in no way looked overworked), we learned tricks of controlling the paint by having the correct water-to-paint ratio, and how to tell if a brush was loaded, half full, or dry. We learned that it is possible to lay two wet colors down right next to each other and not have them bleed together, because the water balance was equal! We learned a fair amount about color theory, complementary colors, what to mix with what to get "gumbo," and how to use it once we have it. We learned a LOT.

Here is a picture of Paul's painting at about Layer #3.

And here is a picture of Paul with the finished painting:

The paintings the rest of us made are about 85 percent done, because we had to watch the last three layers at the end of class and ran out of time to finish our own work. But we have the knowledge of what to do to complete them. And while I know mine won't be nearly as wonderful as Paul's, it's honestly not half bad, and what I learned from doing it? So far beyond where I have ever gone before.

I will definitely continue to do my Micron pen and watercolor sketches for fun, and will still enjoy doing them. But what I learned in this workshop showed me that there is so much more that is possible, and that I am completely capable of doing it. I can't wait to try a major painting like this on my own and flex the skills I learned this weekend. I already have a subject in mind!

28 September 2016

BBW Shelf-talkers

Here are the last of the Banned Book Week shelf-talkers that I'm going to have time to make. But I'm enjoying making these, and am going to focus on doing one or two every week to put up in my Young Adult Fiction section for regular books that I like and want to recommend. They're pretty fast and easy, and fun!

27 September 2016

More shelf-talkers

Tonight, I had a program at the library, but since someone from the outside was actually running the program (an SAT Essay Writing seminar), all I had to do, after checking in all the participants and doing a couple of announcements, is sit at the back of the room and make sure everything ran smoothly. Not wanting to be bored, I brought myself some busywork--some shelf-talker forms, some micron pens, and my Altoids mini watercolor kit--and made half a dozen shelf-talkers. The only problem I had was, I had only a hazy idea or memory of some of the books for which I wanted to make shelf-talkers, so I made headlines and artwork for a bunch, but only completed two. I'll finish the rest tomorrow, when I have access to the books (or to a computer) for a summary, and then I'll share those too. I really enjoy making these shelf-talkers!

04 September 2016

Plein air breakfast hangout

My friend Carey has moved to Monrovia--both her household and her job (she used to be the head of the Reference Department at my library, and now she is the library director for the Monrovia Public Library, la di dah), and we miss lunching together a few times a week and talking librarian. So we decided to meet up halfway for breakfast yesterday. There are lots of places we could pick, between Monrovia and Van Nuys, but I suggested Montrose. I took an art workshop there once, and remembered it as a cute little town, eminently drawable, and with lots of restaurants, and I figured we could have breakfast and then I could stay to sketch, if the weather didn't turn too hot. So that's what we did.

We met at a neighborhood favorite called The Black Cow Café, and it is deservedly a hot spot--the food was great, the service was great, and even though they had a pretty full house, there was no hurrying us out the door so they could turn over the table--they let us sit and tell each other stories for two hours. Afterwards, Carey headed out with a to-go order of cheese-and-jalapeño biscuits (she had them with gravy for breakfast and pronounced them irresistible), while I moved directly across the street to a shady bench, to set up and paint the café. It wasn't what I had planned on painting, but I wanted to commemorate our morning. I think we have found "our" place to meet for future breakfast dates! (I wonder if Carey's boyfriend got a single one of those biscuits...)

It's challenging to mix all the colors I need from my portable palette, which is my Altoids tin with just five colors in it that I made last summer with the teens at the library. But I managed pretty well.

28 August 2016

Musical Interlude

I ended up working on Saturday this week, because we had a double program, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and Anarda is on vacation (she works Tuesday-Saturday, so she takes the Saturday ones and I take the Monday ones).

Bay area jazz band Charged Particles came to our library to do a workshop for teens in the morning and a concert for everyone in the afternoon, so I hung out in the auditorium for most of the day, "running" the programs, which is to say, I did announcements, I welcomed people, I seated latecomers, and I sat myself for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon while the performers did their thing. Not a bad way to spend a day, although being the introvert that I am, all that face time with actual people tired me out by the end!

The workshop for the teens was both a success and not a success: Jon, the band member who coordinated these programs with me, had the brilliant idea of getting in touch with all the music teachers at the Burbank middle and high schools and asking each of them to invite a couple of teens who were outstanding musicians to come specially to the program to "sit in" with the band. The music teachers all came through...but somehow, I'm afraid the idea was conveyed that the program was only for these students, when in reality it was for everyone with an interest in music! (The flyer was addressed to a general audience, but...maybe not clear to the teachers?)

So we had 10 exceptional young men (don't know where all the girl musicians were) who came, played, tried things out, learned some stuff about playing jazz, and had a great time, and other than that we had a couple more non-playing teens, and the proud families of the participating musicians, and that was it. I'm so sorry that more of our teens didn't come...but I'm also so happy for the ones who did, because they got a lot out of it. Live and learn--next time we will make sure the promotion is crystal clear!

If you'd like to see an album of photos, it's up on our Facebook page. But one way I kept myself entertained while everyone else was playing music and having fun was to do a few quick sketches.

This is Aaron, the bass player/guitarist, and Jon, the drummer. They sit so spread out that I miscalculated and couldn't get Murray, the keyboardist, into the picture (my sketchbook is square). I'll have to do another one of them from a photo so Murray isn't excluded.

And these are three of the young musicians who came to play--two alto saxophones and a trombone! I must say I'm partial to saxophone and can't imagine a jazz band without one...

These were all quick and rough, and you can tell that I have absolutely no knowledge of how these instruments are actually constructed and supposed to look! But it kept me entertained.

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.