Monday, July 30, 2012

Oh, Look!! A Texas Moose!!

Texas Moose
Watercolor and Ink
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 inches
Chris and I went to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant the other evening and I noticed this big guy hanging over the door where the customers come and go.

I turned to Chris and asked, "Do they have moose in Texas?"

He looked at me a bit odd, but shook his head and answered, "Hmmm, no. A bit too warm there would be my guess....why?"

"I was just wondering why there's a moose over the door in what is suppose to be an Texas restaurant if moose don't live in the state," I replied. "I dunno, it just seems kind of weird. They don't even have moose on the menu."

"They don't have jackalope on the menu either," he noted.

"Yeah, well, maybe because those don't exist? Just a guess" was my retort.

Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you that patience is not my long suite. Case in point is this "lovely" sketch above. Everything was fine at the restaurant. I sketched out the moose between our salads and the arrival of our entrees. I added color during the meal.

Later after we were home, I decided to put in the text. Looking the page over, I decided it would look better if there was some indication of a wall behind Mr. Moose.

I failed to wait until the ink was dry. Before it was over, I even managed to smear some of the ink.

And why?! We were already home! It's not like we were keeping the table too long.

I suppose it's the same reason I often misspell words on my journal pages—I'm in creative mode and the left brain leaves for a little while.

Or maybe it's just standing back to see what kind of mess I'll get myself into so it can say, "See? See what kind of messes you get into when I'm not around to keep you in line!?!"

Oh, well. It was still fun and it was still nice having a break from an overactive left brain!

Are you a patient kind of person? Have you always been that way? If not, how did you get there???

Friday, July 27, 2012

Multi-tasking Lunch—Yum!

Watercolor and Ink
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 inches

My parents have an avocado tree in their yard and the avocados are coming in fast and furious—my mom had 50(!!) avocados on the counter the evening we went over to have dinner with them!

The cool thing about them is they're small—very small.

Mom made sure I had at least a half dozen when I came home and the largest one is not much over 3 inches long. She also sent home some guacamole so I've just now needed to make some.

However, my intention was not to make the guacamole until after lunch. Instead, I was just going to slice one for my salad at lunch time. I sliced it open and set one of the halves down by the tomato. That's when Sam (my muse) sprang up in my mind and said, "Ummm, you're not eating that are you? Sketch it!"

Taking a second look to see what had gotten her so excited, I realized she was right. Again.

You see I sometimes forget I don't have to go to Paris or San Francisco to find something worthwhile to sketch.

I just have to open my eyes to what is around my own kitchen!

Sure, it's much more alluring to go to Paris or San Francisco but without the necessary monetary means to go when I want, it becomes necessary to find inspiration close to hand (and it a lot less expensive!).

If you have any experience with avocados then you know they'll turn a sickly brown shortly after being cut open. You can put lemon on them to slow down the browning or you can sit down and sketch while you're eating lunch!

I'm not sure if it was a really good salad or the sketching, but lunch was very satisfying today!

What have you done to feed your artistic self lately?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is It Really A Mistake If No One Notices?

English Sparrow's Nesting Material
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5
Watercolor and Ink
As it turns out, I drew this quick sketch of a English Sparrow's nesting material back in early June. We were enjoying one last lunch outside at a nearby restaurant before the heat of Florida's summers makes it impossible to enjoy dining outside....unless you enjoy eating in a sauna.

Once our food arrived, I abandoned the page. Completely.

When I drew the sketch at the tea house, I drew on a blank page opposite this page. Not because I haven't sketched in this sketchbook since early June but because I tend to skip pages in my sketchbook if I want to do a full spread across both pages. This page happened to be blank for that reason.

One of the reasons why I'm not fanatical about dating my sketches is because I not only jump around  within the pages of my sketchbook, but I also jump from sketchbook to sketchbook. It becomes confusing when I date my sketches. Instead, I note when I began a sketchbook and when I filled the last page.

However, there's another reason I abandoned this page and then left it unfinished...from the very first mark I put down on the page, I had made a mistake on perspective.

That big black "I" beam? Yeah, that's the first thing I drew and it should have been at the same angle as the roof lines over the bricks on the left side of the sketch.

Would you have noticed if I had not pointed it out?

One of the things I say repeatedly on Imaginary Trips is that most people don't "see a mistake" until we point it out to them.

Chances are good that at least some of you did not notice the "mistake" until I pointed it out. Some of you may still not see it and yet others knew right away.

Is there a moral to the story? Yes, I think so.

Whereas this isn't an accurate sketch, I enjoyed finishing it—mistake and all. It was fun playing with pigments to get the look of the bricks. It also captures a memory of a lovely lunch we had this spring watching the birds build their nests. Lastly, the "mistake" is not "fatal" to the work.

They seldom are.

What are you avoiding working on or finishing because it's not perfect or even "mistake-free?"

Go ahead and get to work on finishing up...if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself enjoying it all the more because it's not perfect. There's freedom there to play and experiment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mixing Business with Pleasure!

The Tea Cup Tea Room
Gray Copic Ink & Watercolor
5.5" x 5.5"
Pineapple Sketchbook
I met my new business partner at a tea house for a business lunch today.

Since I arrived 10 minutes early, I checked email and with nothing else to do, dug out my sketchbook and drew the fountain sitting out in the garden. I was about half way through painting it when she arrived.

We were seated in a back corner table where we could to begin discussions on a new project—one that will involve art, beauty, encouragement, inspiration, traveling, writing and maybe some tea!

I had left the sketchbook open on the table so the page could dry. After lunch, I pulled the sketchbook over to finish the garden sketch and decided to add the lovely tea pot. We had two pots of tea, one was a white tea called Wedding Tea and smelled like wedding cake. The other was caramel.

Yummmm! Even better when we mixed them together! Double yummmm!

Before I could finish the teapot, our scones arrived with Devonshire cream. Just delicious! I couldn't leave them out, so on the page they went.

We also had a wonderful conversation with the proprietress of The Tea Cup about realizing dreams and enjoying the gifts of each day.

A most un-business like lunch that was a wonderful way to do business!

Because time was short, I drew directly on the page with a gray Copic multiliner pen. It reads a bit like pencil. I figured for china and pale, pastel colors, I wasn't sure I wanted to use black ink.

That fact that I captured a few quick sketches was the icing on a fun day.

What did you do fun today????!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pens That Write On Arches WC Paper

I have not drawn,
I have not sketched,
I've had no fun
In my sketch book

I have not painted,
I have not splashed,
No washes have escaped,
from my brush!

It makes me unhappy
It makes me sad,
It makes me grumpy,
Not to mention mad....

Technology wrangling is not for the faint of heart and I am currently embroiled in a techno-nightmare that started as a dream. I am keeping faith that this dream will right itself to fly swift and straight.

Until it does, my painting/sketching opportunities are limited.

However, I did do something for one of my classes that I thought might be of interest to you...pen tests on Arches watercolor paper. In particular Arches cold press paper.

Sketching with pen on Arches paper can be a challenge and I hear a lot of frustration from folks about getting a pen, any pen, that will draw without skipping....and I've found one!
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For some reason my scanner had a very difficult time scanning the pen tests that I did. I've left the file size a bit larger than normal in the hopes you'll be able to read it and I've also added close-ups below.
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The group above is the "waterproof/water resistant" group of pens I had on hand. I love Copic Multiliners as they are refillable, but at best, you get a dry brush effect on the Arches paper. The same thing happens with the Faber Castell Pitt Pen in a Fine Tip. Knowing that I can get this dry brush effect, if I needed that type of effect, is useful, but not helpful when I want a pen that draws without skips!

One of things I have noted is that the larger the pen tip, the better results I seem to have. The 05 pen tip (and larger) offered the best results. I tried Micron Pigma 05 in black and green with the same scratchy, skippy results.

I also tried my Lamy fountain pen with an extra fine nib. The ink was Carbon Black. The tip was much too fine and the ink also lifted when I washed it with water. Not enough to cause a problem, but not 100% waterproof.

The Zig Millennium 05 wrote quite well. There were no skips and no additional fuzzing of the ink as it crept into the paper fibers. Oddly enough, when I ran water over the ink, I got a very light bleed. Not enough to cause a problem, but enough to let me know it's not 100% waterproof.

My next test was of Non-Waterproof type pens. All of them are classified as "gel ink" or roller-ball type pens.
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Imagine my surprise when ALL of them not only wrote better than the "waterproof ink pens" but bled no more than those in the waterproof category!

The Pilot Frixion 07 bled and faded to a lighter gray. It did NOT lift enough to make me think it would be a problem with sketching in a journal*. I would be a little more concerned if I were doing artwork outside of my sketchbook.

There was very slight bleeding with all of these pens, but not so much that it caused a concern of muddy or grayed watercolors, but something to be aware of if I need a very clean sketch.

The other thing to note here is that ink behaves very differently on various paper types. Just because you test it on Arches doesn't mean the same pen will work well on Fabriano or Strathmore.

To avoid surprises, I usually dedicate the back page of any new journal to test out pens, especially if I am not familiar with the paper.
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The list of inks above was created on the last page of a journal I picked up while I was in San Francisco (unfortunately, there is no information on the paper content). The inks are identical to the list on the Arches paper, but if you enlarge the image, you'll note that many of them bled and they bled worse than on the Arches paper regardless of whether they were waterproof or not.

Sometimes, we get "happy" accidents when we try new mediums in a different way, but the time to be finding out a pen bleeds is usually not if the field! I hope this will encourage you to do your own tests and save yourself the aggravation of temperamental, bleeding pens!

*I would strongly suggest a light test in a southern facing window to see if the ink is lightfast if longevity is a concern for you. Create two lists of pens to be tested on the paper you intend to use it on most. Add water to part of the line work. Cut the page in half and post one half in the southern-facing window. Place the other half in a closed book.

After two weeks, check for fading by comparing the two pages in good light. Check again at three, four and six weeks. The color may fade or simply shift from a true black to a purple, brown or green.