Monday, October 24, 2011

Drawin' and Paintin' at the OK Corral

The other day, Chris and I went to LongHorn® Steakhouse for dinner. For some reason, the hostess always seems to seat us in one of the booths in the bar area. This was my view and I fell in love with the color on those boots! Of course, I pulled out my sketchbook and started to draw them in pen and after our meal, my plan was to add color.

Chris asked what I was sketching as he couldn't see my sketchbook. When I showed him, he decided he wanted to give it a whirl, too. So I handed him the other sketchbook I had with me. (Yes, I had two sketchbooks in my purse that day. One is good for watercolor and one is good for pen and ink and not much else. I usually use it for notes and lists. Since Chris prefers ink it worked out well.)

Chris' interpretation in Copic Gray ink:
My interpretation in Carbon black ink and watercolor:

And here is the dynamic duo caught in the act!

It's kinda fun being married to an artist! He "gets it" and he even enjoys playing along on occasion!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Life Well Lived

She fought her way to Chris in a torrential downpour because she wanted to live.

She was feisty and she was willing to fight for what she wanted.

She was little, maybe 5 weeks old, soaked to the skin and cold as ice by the time Chris picked her up.

We didn't know if she'd make it home. She did. She was chewing on my metal jacket zipper pull before  long.

We had no idea she was white until we cleaned her up. She looked to be grungy gray at first sight.

It didn't take long before she had us both wrapped around that furry little foot.

You seldom wondered what her opinion was because she was only too happy to share it with you. And she always had an opinion.

She was vocal about what she wanted. She'd put others in their place (vacuum included) if they dared to cross her.

She could be temperamental and if you were going to be around her, it was best to learn the signs and give her wide berth when she was in a mood.

Her love for us was bottomless.

Her spirit was so incredibly strong....over 20 years strong.

However, her body was not. It simply gave out on her.

We have a cat-shaped hole in our hearts, and yes, we grieve.

Still, we're so glad she chose to spend her twenty years with us.

June '92 - October '11
Bye, Boo Girl, you'll be missed for sure......

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anyone Care For A Pamplemousse?

BFK Rives Paper
Watercolor with
white and brown-black ink
Click to enlarge
I don't know about you, but I've been around citrus all my life and I'd never heard the word "pamplemousse." Today, when I needed a subject for a quick paper test, I decided to use some grapefruit that were sitting on the kitchen counter.

I was rather surprised to find that pamplemousse is French for grapefruit!

After I did the kitten in the prior post, I decided I wanted to test out the BFK Rives paper a bit more. I really wanted to see what it would do with just watercolor without a lot of ink. Since I had also purchased some new waterbrushes (Pentel Aquash) and some new pens (Uni•Ball), I figured I'd test them all at one time.

First the paper...if you click to enlarge, you'll see some odd marks on the large (whole) grapefruit. I'm guessing that's something to do with sizing. Look at the edge of the fruit...see how the edges bled and feathered? I'm not sure if that happened because the paper wasn't totally dry or if it's a characteristic of the paper. Either way, I'm no liking it overly much.

The pens are both Uni•balls, one in white and one in brown-black. The white was great for reclaiming the lost highlights and section lines in the cut fruit. The brown pen was used for the journaling and border. No problem with bleeds or feathering on this paper.

The Pentel Aquash waterbrushes are fun to work with if you like long pointed brushes! I primarily used the large one and find it very generous with water. A little to generous at times. All the same, I'll probably be taking those to NOLA Live!

I'm going to try testing the paper one more time, but if I had to decide today, I'd have to say it would be staying home!

So what fun new art toys have you played with lately?! Do share!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Testing Paper and Pens

Kitten and Yarn
Watercolor and Carbon Black Ink
BFK Rives 175 g paper
With the upcoming trip to New Orleans getting ever closer, my search for a sketchbook paper that makes me happy is picking up pace. The kitten above was sketched in carbon black ink and then painted with watercolors.

The BFK Rives is a printmaking paper and accepts watercolor well. The paper has a very soft finish to it that allows for wild and varied results from the pens I normally use on location. (It always pays to check how your favorite tools act on a new paper!) I finally used a flex nib fountain pen with the Carbon Black ink to sketch this. My Lamy (with the same ink) bled and feathered to the point of distraction. Not pretty!

I've also found there isn't too much correcting on this paper. If you click to enlarge the kitten, you'll see I had difficulty with his mouth. I like the paper and I think it would work well on location, but I'm still searching!

I also tested out Cartiera Magnani Acquerello watercolor paper and knew as soon as I started out with my color swatches I wouldn't be taking this paper. The paper has a very distinctive pattern to it that become very evident when I put down my washes. Not unpleasant, just not what I'm looking for in my sketchbook!

Next up is a test I did to see how lightfast the ink in the Tombow® brand pens is.....
Tombow Lightfastness Test
The swatch on the left went up on a shelf in my studio for 3 weeks, while the swatch on the right sat in a south-facing window for the same period of time. You can see some fade as well as more pink showing on the righthand side. To be clear, Tombow does not advertise these pens as lightfast nor permanent.

Does this mean you shouldn't use these pens in any artwork? That depends. If you are concerned about longevity of your work or want to display your work, it doesn't seem like the best of ideas. If, on the other hand, you're not displaying and you consider your sketchbook your personal playground and only want it to outlast you, then by all means, play and have fun!

These pens give some great effects when diluted with water and can make some very interesting textures.  

What new adventures in art supplies have you had lately?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cooler Temps Plus Outdoors Equals Bliss!

Autumn arrived in Florida on October 1st with much cooler temperatures and lower humidity! I didn't need much more of a reason than that to get outside and get in some sketching.
Osprey Drive Park
Stillman & Birn Sketchbook
Watercolor and Ink
7 x 7 inches
Click to enlarge
I didn't get a particularly early start, but it didn't seem to matter. I went to one of our local "no-name" walking/biking paths and set off with my sketch kit....and the requisite travel mug of coffee!

Lots of people were out with the dogs, getting some fresh air, roller blading, biking, running or just sitting on the benches to enjoy the day. I wasn't hopeful of spotting much wildlife with so much activity and figured I'd working on capturing a landscape.

I wasn't more than an eighth of a mile down the path when I noticed the Anhinga doing his thing up in a tree by the pond. More of a bush really. He bobbled and bounced as he went through his grooming process.

He seemed to have a very itchy neck! He would start scratching right above his chin and then work his way up to to as far as he could go. His neck would get longer and longer with the effort.

The bird was quite busy moving around, but every once and a while he'd just freeze as if he'd seen a bug floating by. Or a ghost. I didn't see him snap at anything so maybe he caught a smell of danger or .....who knows!

Further along the path, I just happened to catch a small movement out in the left field of my peripheral vision—it was the swamp bunny! I totally missed his shape, but this was drawn from mostly memory because as soon as I took an interest in him, he took an interest in leaving—two hops and he was gone!

The little Downy Woodpecker was about 15 feet up a palm tree. Unfortunately, I couldn't see his face in either of the fuzzy snapshots I took of him, so I must assume it was a Downy rather than a Hairy Woodpecker which is similar in plumage but larger in size. The body shape isn't quite most critters, he was busy going about the business of his life and didn't have time to pose for me!

A glorious morning altogether! And I'm off to do it again today!