Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Traveling Companion

Started this page day before the storm but didn't finish until today.  Was glued to the TV instead.

Page pretty much says it all.

Stillman & Birn Alpha

Pilot Prera with Lexington Gray

Daniel Smith pigments

#8 Round


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A little Piece of Arizona

Did this ink and wash with touch of watercolor the other day from a photo Terry took while in Arizona a few weeks ago. 

Stillman & Birn Alpha journal

Pilot Prera with Namiki Black water soluble ink

Daniel Smith - Cer Bl, Raw Sienna, and green mix that was on my palette from playing with different primary combinations (using up these mixes previously made)

3/8" Angular Flat for ink wash

#8 Round for added watercolor

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Playing Again with Primaries

Cathy Johnson challenged her group in trying various primary triads that are different from their norm.  At least that was my understanding of the challenge.  Making color charts to show the various colors one can get from three pigments.  She also included Bt Sienna and either Paynes Gray or Indigo.  I chose Bt Umber as I don't much care for the Bt Sienna in the Daniel Smith line.  It's more like W&N Light Red and more opaque.

Rather than making a chart showing all the greens, oranges, and violets I could achieve, I decided I just wanted to try out the different triads painting the subject I love most............nature.

All pigments used are Daniel Smith


Notes and Thoughts about my Results:

With the first page I tried my two Phthalo Blues....one leaning towards Red and the other Green.

Although noted on the left page I wasn't crazy about the mix results, I could actually grow to like using both now and then for a change of pace.  As a rule, I do normally stay clear of most staining pigments.

The Phthalo Blue (G) for sure doesn't really look natural to me for foliage but might work out for background trees without the yellow top portion.  The pigment in itself is a lovely blue.  I may have to play some more mixing it with other yellow and red combinations just to compare.

At first I leaned towards favoring the mix using Indigo but seeing it side by side like this to the Phthalo Blue (R) mix, the PB(R) is actually livelier even if the blue tone might not be too natural looking (upon close examination).  There's a nice variation the one with Indigo doesn't quite have.  To me the Indigo mix  comes closest to looking natural but might become monotonous if used throughout a large passage in a painting.


Indigo is an interesting Blue and I use it a lot as a Black.  I love how back-runs look using this pigment especially in trees.  My favorite usage of this color is in winter scenes.

Bottom right is a little sample using Quin Bt Sienna as my Red.  It proved interesting to me..... nice variation.

Burnt Umber was used to mix with blues for the browns used in trunk and limbs.  Also splashed a bit of BU in ground and foliage.

Funny.........as I sit here posting my thoughts now compared to how I felt a couple days ago when I first did these pages, my thoughts and feelings waiver.  Not sure if one would call that being fickle or flexible :-)


Clifton Suspension Bridge Observatory

Yesterday I decided to once again go down memory lane by pulling up photos taken while visiting the United Kingdom in 2010.  A two week holiday Terry and I will never forget!!!

One of the places our friends took us was the Avon Gorge where we walked across the Clifton suspension bridge and on to the observatory. 

We had the added pleasure of  watching three rock climbers as they made their way up the cliffs.


A little bit of history shared by my friend Clare who we spent two weeks with............"For those unfamiliar with the area, the Observatory is on the top of the Avon Gorge, through which the River Avon flows under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, built by Isembard Kingdom Brunel. It was built for traders to save a very long journey between Abbots Leigh and Clifton, Bristol. The cliffs are several hundred feet high at this point and the Observatory is positioned with a wonderful view of the beautiful bridge."

This was done in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal; using my Pilot Prera with the Namiki Black water soluble ink to get a subtle tone wash; and then applied watercolor using Daniel Smith pigments with a #8 Round.

A portion of the greens are from dried mixes where I was playing with various primary triads using either Indigo, Phthalo Blue (R) and (G) with Aureolin and Perm Aliz.  Plus Raw Sienna, Cer Blue (sky and rock), and a bit of Sap Green to add some emphasis to the trees around the one section of the observatory.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My More Recent Best Friends - Stillman & Birn and Pilot Prera

For weeks now I've been working in my new Stillman & Birn Beta and Alpha journals.  I have to say they are my favorite to work in compared to all other journals I've used in the past.

I love how the hardbound machine sewn journals lie flat when scanning my work; I love how pencil goes down with less smearing from what I've experienced with some other papers (Alpha); I love how the pen nib feels as it slides across the paper surface; AND I love how they take my application of watercolor.

Although the Alpha states best with light washes, I push the limits and works out just fine for me.  Although I will say that there is a little buckling and I wouldn't use the backside of the pages.  BUT if anyone watched how wet my applications are, they would be amazed at how well this paper holds up.

The Alpha journal I have is the 8 1/2 x 11" size.  At first it was quite awkward to use because I'm so used to working much smaller.  But I've grown to love the size and grab for it before I do the smaller Beta journal I have.

The Beta is a dream for watercolor application.......even heavy wet in wet as I use.  The beauty of this paper is how thick it is and even with heavy wet applications, you can work on the back pages with no problem.  And buckling is not a problem as with lighter weight papers.

Then add my newest pens...........the Pilot Prera.  Both are "F" nib points.

The all green has a cartridge with Namiki Black ink which is water soluble.  (These ink cartridges CAN be refilled by purchasing a syringe kit).  It produces some of the nicest gray washes with damp brush of all the water soluble inks I've tried so far.  By using a round brush that holds more water, the washes can be more vivid with further ink spread; but if one uses an angular flat, one can achieve a little better control producing a more subtle wash with less spread.  Just depends on what one might be after but nice knowing you can achieve two different effects depending upon brush and amount of water in it.

The clear body Prera comes with an ink converter where you can fill with your favorite ink.  It also comes with one ink cartridge (at least mine did).  I fill mine with Noodler's Lexington Gray which is waterproof when I do not wish for a wash effect.  (Mostly waterproof.......it might smear a bit depending upon paper sizing and one might have to wait a little while for the ink to truly settle into the paper.)  This gray is subtle that to me works beautifully with watercolor.  Not so harsh or stark looking as most blacks look to me.

With my new best friends, I am truly enjoying this new venture in ink and watercolor!  And I just love my journal books!!!  So much more relaxing and fun to work in.  What a neat feeling to pick up a journal book and flip through the pages viewing sketches, illustrations, paintings, and reading notes that were added.  I just find journaling to be a special personal experience nothing else can really provide in quite the same way.

Stillman & Birn journals are starting to show up at more and more art supply sources as word spreads.  Just google and you might find your favorite mail order is starting to offer for sale.

As for the pens, I normally shop through Goulet Pens.  JetPens is another mail order source I use.

If you happen to give these journals and pens a try, you might find yourself making new best friends as I have :-)

Happy journaling :-)

P.S.  A BIG thank you to the gentleman who introduced me to my new friends!  I'm sure if he sees this post, he'll know exactly who I am referring to!  He's helped make my drawing and painting more enjoyable!!

P.S.S.  And I don't want to forget giving a BIG thank you to yet another gentleman for making it possible I try the Alpha series journal.  I already had the Beta which I loved and not sure I would have tried the Alpha or other series.  He knows who I'm referring to as well ;-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumn Scarecrow and Pumpkins

I've been viewing some really nice Autumn and Halloween sketches and paintings lately and wanted to do something to fit the season.

Using a scarecrow shelf sitter I purchased while in Texas, I used a bit of imagination and play to come up with this.

Stillman & Birn Alpha Journal

Pilot Prera with Lexy Gray Ink

Daniel Smith - Aureolin, New Gamboge, Perm Aliz, Raw Sienna, Phthalo Blue, and Burnt Umber

#8 Round


First I did the sketch with my pen/ink.....

Next I painted using the colors mentioned......





Here is the complete page in my journal......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Finally Sketching Again

Can't believe it's been two weeks since I picked up a pencil, pen, or brush!!!  I don't like going for spells not doing anything as I feel like I'm starting over again........feeling lost, confused, etc.

Finally I made myself do something even though I really didn't feel up to it.  It was dismal and depressing  (yesterday) with drizzle most of the day.  Even nature looked sad displaying dull looking colors and all droopy.

Through the struggle of my ehhh mood,  I did manage to do this page.  Not real happy with it as I felt old bad habits were trying to take over.  I found myself unsure of my brush strokes and wanting to fidget trying to get everything so so.  Anytime I do that, I feel I over-work giving less than desirable results (to my own eyes).  At least I did follow through.

This was done in the Stillman & Birn Alpha journal book using Winsor & Newton paints.



Today it was sunny and really pretty outside.  I found myself in a better frame of mind and think it shows on this next page.

As I looked outside my window, the beauty just inspired me to capture the colors and basic subject matter I see all around.  Each illustration is from imagination without any real reference to what I actually saw.   I just let my mind and hand do their own thing.

And, this time around everything just fell in place without my feeling the need to go back in to fix anything.  The colors in the first group especially show the brighter spirit I was in when I sat down to do these.

Also done in the Stillman & Birn Alpha journal only I switched back to my beloved Daniel Smith pigments.

Can't explain why after doing comparisons but I love this brand of paint.  The greatest attribute being how easy it is to become pliable (reactivated) when wet than some other brands.  I don't have the issues of paint drying and breaking up either as I do with some brands.

And finally, I was drawn to practice a few simple figures.  A subject matter I find difficult especially trying to render the limbs to look convincing like legs and direction the person is facing and the feet depending upon how the figure is standing or moving.

I pulled up my free pdf download from peninkwatercolorsketching and worked a couple examples.  Same journal book and Daniel Smith pigments were used.  Actually I'm using palette mixes that have dried from previous painting sessions.

This is one subject I really feel I need a lot of practice in.  Not that I'm trying to portray any realism but I do want the results to be decent and believable.

You may or may not be able to read the tiny writing but I found it interesting some of the results I achieved mixing the palette mixes together :-) Especially the guy top left (pants) and the shirt on the guy bottom right.

The top was done using my Pilot Prera and Namiki ink (water soluble) whereas the last two were done pen and ink using the Pilot Prera and Lexy Gray which is more or less water proof (depending upon paper surface).  All illustrations pen and ink first with watercolor washed later except the two bottom right figures which I did the opposite with.





Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunset Point Rest Area - Warning Sign

Here is one more watercolor sketch entry in my S&B Alpha journal book completed tonight.

From the photos Terry brought back for me from Arizona, this one jumped out due to the sign.  It's not something we normally see around our parts - warning of poisonous critters.

As you may be able to read on the page...........the metal sign that has the actual writing on it is truly blue with white lettering but I didn't have the means to render that so I reversed it blue writing on white.

Used W&N RS, BS, BU, Fr Ultram, Cob Blue, and Daniel Smith Sap Green.

Blue lettering on sign was using a Pigma Micron 01

For the illustration I thought I would try one of Cathy Johnson's page design suggestions of using circles to emphasize particular items of interest.........which in this case are larger/color versions of the scorpion and snake shown on the sign.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Terry and Gale's Day Out in Arizona

Last week Terry was in Arizona for a job task and actually ended up with a little time to explore.  He and his co-worker took a drive out to see the sights once the task was finished heading out Interstate 17 from Phoenix to the Apache Trails.

While out running around, Terry took loads of photos to bring back to me............shots he knew I'd love to see for ideas in sketching and painting.

Here is my first page of watercolor sketches that include rock formations at the Agua Fria National Monument headed out to Pueblo la Plata.

This was done in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal with the Pilot Prera and Nakimi black water soluble ink.  W&N and Daniel Smith pigments were used and #8 Round.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Pen and Ink Sketches from Last Month

Here are a few pen and ink sketches I did while in Texas I just not got around to scanning.  All done in the handmade journal Rentia sent me years ago.

This first one represents fish I caught one evening Terry and I sat out till midnight at Little Bay not too far from where George Straight has a house on the water.

All three were fish I'd never caught before this trip.  The stingray put up quite a fight and was something to pull it in.



The flamingo is a stuffed animal purchased at one of the local shops.  I bought two........one for myself and one for my sister.  I added a touch of color to this page tonight before scanning using Opera.


Next to the cabin we stayed in sits my sister's motor home.  I did this quick sketch as I sat out and watched the hummingbirds between our feeders and the feeders she had set out.


UPDATE:  Added a tint of color in selected area.


Flowers from Terry

Here's a page I did in my journal representing the latest flowers Terry surprised me with on a day I was not quite myself.

The Lavender Statice is still going strong whereas the other flowers are fading and wilting.  The first to go were the yellow lilies.  Tiger lilies (not shown here either) were also too far gone to try and sketch.  I had two carnations left but looking poorly.  What's on the page actually looks more "alive" than what it really was.  These are from "live" or nearly live specimens.

Those little tags were done using Photoshop Elements as an over-lay but I may go back and actually draw them in on the page.  :-)

My pages and illustrations are always scanned prior to any written notes in case I want to use them for card ideas or other later down the road.

#8 Round and W&N and Daniel Smith pigments.

Stillman & Birn Alpha Journal

Pilot Prera and Nakimi Black Ink

I wanted to add...............for a change I actually like the shadow I put on the vase of flowers.  Love how the colors of the vase bled into the shadow and how the shadow ended up darker nearer the base and faded a bit further out.  One of those happy accidents (wish I could say I planned that).


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brush Dancing with Color

I was in a playful mood for color today so decided to have a dance with my brush.

Started out just using my #8 Round and dancing color about on the page as I sat in front of my window looking out at the color changes in the trees surrounding our house.

It's very different sitting right in amongst the trees as it might be viewing from a distance.   Just totally mesmerizing to me this time of year!!

Stillman & Birn Alpha journal

Pilot Prera with Nakimi Black ink

W&N and Daniel Smith pigments (as noted on my page)




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Great Blue Heron

Today's ink and wash sketch of a Great Blue Heron photographed while in Texas.

I'm always amazed by the size of these birds every time I see them.  Living up north the largest bird I've seen is a pileated woodpecker.........maybe a third of the size compared to the largest of the GBHs I've seen in Rockport, TX.

This sketch was done in the Stillman & Birn Alpha 8.5 x 11" journal

Pilot Prera with Nakimi black water soluble ink

3/8" Angular Flat for wash

Left side - pen and ink before wash and then the ink and wash to the right.

Haven't decided if I want to do anything more to this or not.  The background of this bird is water and I only lightly suggested that with pencil (if you can even see it).



UPDATE:  This is what I decided to do with this journal page.  I chose not to add any watercolor but to write notes about our driving around locating the various wildlife in the area.





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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hummer on Limb

Here is the same hummer I posted last night only this time where he was sitting on the limb above the feeder.

With this sketch I decided to take some color to it trying to render this little guy close to how he really looked with some of the brown I mentioned.  In reality there are many little markings in the chin area (or whatever you call it) but I didn't want to over do it and only suggested those markings.

Stillman & Birn Alpha Journal

Pilot Prera with black water soluble ink (Namiki Black)

3/8" Angular Flat

Daniel Smith:  Fr Ultram, Bt Umber, Raw Sienna, Sap Green

Left showing with pen and ink and the right is the final after taking a wet (not too wet) angular flat going over the ink lines to fade and wash out for some shading.  Then applied the watercolor after the ink wash dried.

This little sketch is 4" in height and not quite 4" wide.




Monday, October 1, 2012

Hummer Guarding his Food Supply

This is one of the hummingbirds that stayed close to the feeders the entire time we were in Texas on our vacation.

This sketch is strictly ink and wash and I don't think I'm going to add much in the way of color. He was basically black, gray and white with maybe a touch of tan or brown........very different variety from what we are accustomed to seeing in West Virginia.  Due to the fact he was primarily gray/black, I thought the washed effect would work out beautifully not really needing much in the way of additional color.

This little guy continuously perched on this line we had a feeder hanging from or a limb right above it.

Sketched in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal with 3/8" angular flat pulling the gray from the ink lines.  To obtain the darker areas without hatching or cross hatching and washing out with damp brush, I scribbled ink onto a plastic surface and used a damp brush to pick the ink up and "paint" in those areas.


Building for Sale 2

Here's the ink and wash sketch previously shared with watercolor applied to areas to emphasize part of the building.

W&N - Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Fr Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Perm Aliz
Holbein - Leaf Green, Sap Green
Daniel Smith - Cerulean Blue (for sky area)

#8 Round

Although this is close to the actual painted sketch, my scanner didn't quite pick up some of the more subtle areas painted in Raw Sienna and Cerulean Blue.

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