Monday, March 31, 2014

The Beach Visit That Almost Didn't Happen

Maderia Beach Visit with Terry and Jim
Watercolor, Ink and Gouache
5.5 x 8.5 inches in Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook
Despite a cold front, rainy, gray skies, horrible (and I do mean horrible) traffic, a truck hitting a power pole and knocking over a live wire across the road, I finally managed to meet up with Terry and Jim for a visit at Maderia Beach. 

I almost didn't. After getting stuck by the downed power line just blocks from where I needed to be, I nearly gave up. Instead, I parked illegally at a church and hiked down the beach to meet up with my friends. It took over two hours for us to connect!

By the way, I have to tell you it is NEVER a good idea to park illegally in a beach town…they will ticket and tow you! They're very aggressive about that kind of thing and it's because they have to be. Thank goodness, it didn't happen to my jeep! 

Back to the visit...Terry and Jim come down to enjoy the warm weather and sea breezes will the great white North shivers under piles of snow and freezing temperatures. We started meeting up three years ago after Terry and I met in one of the classes. 

Last year, we sketched on location and had plans to do so again this year. Last year's post is here. Since it was spitting rain, we sketched from our table inside the restaurant that just happened to be out on a deck by the boardwalk and covered by clear plastic shades. Great planning on Terry and Jim's part!
My view from the restaurant.
You can see the reflections caused by the plastic
as well as the edge and grommets of the shade
The waves were rolling in a little stronger than usual as the front moved in and the glowering sky turned the water more gray than green.  The weather folks had predicted a much rainier day, but luckily, it held off. The next day, however, was a totally different story—it monsoon-ed!
Maderia Beach, Florida
The sketch at the top of the post is collaged page of several different views. The birds were actually to my left and behind me. Just as I started sketching the neck of the egret, he turned and presented my with a gorgeous view of his mating plumage leaving me to guess at his body shape. 

He looks like a bird so I'm calling it good enough!

The seagull was not a peg leg even though I only drew one leg. They often stand and sleep on just one leg. 

Sculley's was the restaurant where we ate so I added there sign afterwards as I could not see it from where we sat and no, the lighthouse was not that crooked. I was vertically challenged that day! 

All in all, despite the rain, lousy traffic and the downed power line, it was a great visit! 

Thanks, Terry and Jim—I look forward to next year! Safe travels home.  

Out of curiosity, would you come to Florida for a workshop on the beach? I'm thinking of putting something together for next year…if you're interested, let me know if the comments below!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Is The Fairest Of Them All? (White Pens)

Graphic used courtesy of © 
Every once in a while I come across a fabulously useful post about tools we all have in our collections.

Sometimes those tools are underutilized because we purchased a so-so tool and we can't figure out what all the big noise is about.

White pens fall directly into that category. If you don't have a great one, they're hard to get excited about.

All white pens are not created equally and being the owner of a number of the so-so pens that are now collecting dust in my studio, I was thrilled to see this marvelous post about all different types of white pens from

They list different uses as well as their favs (which happens to be the Uniball Signo Broad* which just happens to be my favorite!).

Bookmark it the post, print it, read it and you too will have more info than ever before on which white been works best for each project!

Speaking of using white pens, Warren Ludwig just posted an awesome tutorial on his blog, LUDstuff! on using a white Sharpie Poster Pen for painting silver eating utensils (spoons).

*If you're new to watercolor and how you might use the Uniball Signo Broad Pen read on. I use the pens to recover whites lost in the painting process or to create sparkle in a sketch. Since the ink is water-soluble, it can be softened to eliminate hard edges or to complete lift or melt if I get the ink in the wrong spot.

If I need more coverage (opacity) or permanent coverage, I opt for the Sharpie Poster Pen as the ink in this pen is acrylic and once it's down, it's down! If you opt for this route just be aware that it does alter the paper surface.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dust off my white pens and do a little creating!

Please note: I am not affiliated with JetPens, Uniball or Sharpie Pen companies in any way.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Looking Beyond The Everyday Clutter

Hard Working Chucks
© Laure Ferlita
Watercolor and Ink
Stillman and Birn Bound Zeta Sketchbook
5.5 x 8.5 inches
It sometimes take seeing someone else sketch something to open our eyes to what is and has been around us all along.

Take for instance these dilapidated, falling-apart Chucks that belong to my husband.

They are his yard shoes. The ones that aren't good for anything else, but he can't quite bring himself to part with them.

As I stood in the kitchen, I found myself sketching them in my head.

This was after I pondered why they were lying in the middle of the breakfast nook. Look no further than the two kittens that reside with us for an answer—those strings make fabulous toys!

Gazing at them, I wondered why I hadn't realized before now they would make good sketching material. After all, they'd been there for a few weeks.

It's because I saw Jean McKay's sneaker sketch. You'll have to have a Facebook account tho see the sketch.

Her sketch provided the inspiration to make me take notice of the ordinary.

I truly enjoy sketching and viewing sketches when I see something elevated out of the everyday flotsam and jetsam that largely passes by unnoticed.

It makes me wonder what else have I missed, what else has the potential to become something special in my sketchbook if I pay attention.

Even though our sketches have little in common besides both being sneakers, it's fun to see the different ways we manifest our surroundings in our sketchbooks.

What have you elevated to the extraordinary lately?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One Persimmon, Two Persimmon, Three!

Persimmons on watercolor paper
Watercolor and Ink 
Not too long ago, I found some gorgeous persimmons at the grocery and I decided they would make wonderful sketching models. And they did!

They didn't move a bit. They held their poses and didn't seem to mind at all when I became distracted or had to go and hunt for tools.

Rather than sketch in my sketchbook, I decided to test out some new watercolor paper.

All three were identical when I finished up, but since I was testing the paper, I decided to go one step further and add ink. When the paint was dry, I added black ink.
Black ink was added after the painting was complete
The white highlights are the paper showing through. 
Many folks like to draw in ink and then add watercolor. To me, this feels a lot like paint by numbers or a coloring book page. I sometimes feel restrained by the lines. By adding ink after the painting is completed, I can:

  • determine whether or not the art would benefit from adding ink;
  • avoid feeling like my creativity is restrained;
  • add ink for emphasis to either draw attention to one area or away from another;
  • create an entirely different look and feel to the work;
  • use ink as sparingly or heavy as necessary to create the look I want.
Persimmons San Ink
Taking a look at the images, tell me which you prefer and why if you know. Do you like the ink best or without better?

There's no right or wrong, just personal preferences.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Courage To Be Creative

Check out that helmet!
To step outside of mainstream, to show originality takes courage and whenever I see someone who has stepped away from the safety of the herd, I always take a minute to salute them. 

I passed this couple on my errands the other day and when I noticed his helmet, I had to smile. I may have even laughed out loud as I was so delighted!

If I could have, I would have complimented him on his creativity. 
He probably would have shrugged it off as if it didn't matter, and maybe to him it didn't. 

But for me, it was a reminder to embrace my creativity and to be willing to get out of the mainstream.

To be true to myself. I haven't done much of that lately. Unless you count wearing red cowboy (cowgirl?) boots. 

I need to kick that up to the top of the creativity to-do list.

What have you done lately to stretch your creative wings? 

If you haven't, what are you waiting for? And no, this is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know what holds you back.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Adding (Unusual) Texture To The Page (Tutorial)

If we keep our eyes and our minds open, we can often find texture in unexpected places…
Texture From An Unlikely Source
I often use small dishes when I'm working on a big painting where I need a large amount of paint. By using a separate dish, I'm assured I'll have a) plenty of paint; b) won't accidentally mix it up with another color; and c) I'll have it until the painting is finished…for a really long time. (I've been known to go back into a painting 6 months after it was finished.)
Messy palette dishes
However, years later it is unlikely I'll make changes and since the dishes seemed to be multiplying in the cabinet, it was time to clean up the mess.

As I began the big clean up (dang, there were a lot of those little dishes!), I became intrigued with what was left in the some of the palettes:
Texture left at the bottom of small dish. The textured area is about 2.5 x 1 inches in size.
I took photos and cropped out the dish so I was left with this:
Accidental texture from the bottom of the dish
After printing the page, I prepped the art by tearing down the edges: 
Tearing down the edges of the printed art with a deckle-edged ruler
Next, I began to consider what I wanted to do with the background of the page. Since I was on a "texture adventure," I decided to create even more texture:
salt, alcohol and lifting created the texture
Starting with granulating paint, I added salt, alcohol splatters and did some lifting with a tissue to create a build-up of texture on the page. 

Next, I decided to rid the art texture of that harsh white border by painting it with a wash of the same paints used on the background:
Painting the edges of the art so that it blended with the background
Gluing it down, I began to build up the page with rubber stamps and additional pieces of torn paper:
Using rubber stamps, a variety of inks, and torn paper, I created more interest in the background
and around the art itself.
It was fun to choose stamps at random, going on instinct and intuition, as I had no idea how the page would finish out.
An added "shadow" on two edges of the texture art gives it more dimension
When all was said and done, this was my completed page:
Finished Page in a
Stillman and Birn Zeta Journal
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Watercolor, stamps, torn paper, dip pen, Pitt pens and foil
Even Willis wanted to check it out a little closer!
Willis checking out the page. I think she favors the other page,
but then she's fickle.
What was fun to me is that the art texture, now a print, has been made into a finished page. A one of a kind page. Because I still have the "art," I can see dozens of ways to use the texture and it will probably show up in another project.

This has been somewhat of a break-out project for me as I continue to explore and look for different ways of doing what I enjoy—creating a page in my journal. A rather unusual way of marking cleaning up my studio, don't you think!?! I also think this kind of play will have an impact on the way I create location sketches as well.

The next time you see unusual texture, take a photo and think about how you might add it to your page.  You might just be surprised at where it will take you!

Friday, March 7, 2014

UPDATED!!!! More On The Messy Desks Of Creatives

This post was suppose to go up on Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday…you get the picture. And here it is Friday! Time has a way of flying no matter if you're having fun or not, but let's not get off on that tangent.

Several wonderful folks reached out to me to let me know their desks were messy too after seeing this post. (Yay! Now I don't feel like such an oddball. Okay, maybe I still do but for different reasons.)

So, without further ado…

The lovely Elva of Elva's Field Notes (great blog—check it out!) sent me photos of her desk and talked about some of the items that had landed there: bag of wild rice, jewelry, projects in progress and the usual mail and receipts that just seem to migrate to horizontal surfaces as if by magic:
Elva's Desk from Elva's Field Notes Blog
Elva's Desk from Elva's Field Notes Blog
The wonderful Timaree from Freebird Drawing (another great blog) also sent me an image of her adorable workspace. She's recently moved to California which brought about lots of changes to her creative lifestyle:
Love the fun colors, Timaree!
Desk Area Close-Up
The lovely Ms. Winna (you can see her fabulous work over on Flickr) sent over a quick snap of her work area too, but she's not all that messy if you ask me. In fact, she admits to cleaning up after each session to keep sane. Ah, to have such good habits:
Love the organization, Winna!
Kathy from over at sent me a photo of her desk as well. I'm not sure this qualifies as truly messy! However, she does have a "helper" in stirring the creative juices…Ms. Prudy is seen here in all her glory, taking a time out from "rearranging" and "redistributing" items normally found on the desk top. But isn't she cute?! She'd be hard to scold, dontcha know!
Is that a bundle of furry perfection…or destruction? 
And lastly...unless someone wants to send me a shot of their workspace…is another shot of my desk. I cleaned it up. Really. I did, but by the following Friday, you (nor I) can tell it. I think this is partly because I'm a flyby artist—when I can grab 5 minutes. When I'm desperate for a break from technology, I dive into the studio and then rush out again. Sigh. Thy name is messy:
Lots of pen work going on
If you have a photo of your desk you'd like to share, send it on! I'll add them to the post as they come in. It's nice to catch a glimpse into others' creatives lives, kinda like a peek through a keyhole of a closed door.

Thanks to all who have shared as it's nice to know we're not so very different after all!

Okay, two of these I forgot! My apologies to Jan and to Jeanne…can you tell I'm a little scattered these days?

So, Jeanne posted this image on her blog a few days back. You can just see her studio buddy below the table. Seems a lot of us have furry companions!
Jeanne Grant's Worktable
And Jan Faught, a traveler I met through Imaginary Trips, shared this image of her workspace:
Don't you just LOVE those fabulously yummy colors?!
Clare from Bear's Traveling Circus blog also sent over a quick peek of her studio that's a corner of her living room. Of course, like a lot of us, she admits to having lots of crafts spread out all over the house!
Love seeing all the fun things artists collect to put on their desks!
You're very organized, Clare!
Okay, anyone else want to join in the messy-desk fun!?! Keep checking back!