Thursday, July 21, 2011

75 Day Sketch Challenge - Days 66-68

This should read 70 Day Sketch Challenge at this point because I only have enough pages remaining in this dedicated notebook to complete 70.

I'm getting there :-)

Day 66 - A huge crow caught my eye that was sitting up on the dead branches of a tree behind the salon across the parking lot where I work.  He looked like he was stretching his wing.

Day 67 - Everywhere I look I'm seeing Queen Anne's Lace blooming.  Thought I would record that in my notebook as one of the challenge sketches.

Day 68 - Super slow day at the office so I decided to "doodle" a clip sitting on my desk along with a paper clip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bunny in Graphite

Here is a first ever attempt at drawing a bunny. 

I had fun with this.........especially the challenge in getting that eye to look the way it does (as shown in photo).

4B Pencil using the Hand-book sketchbook (frame is digital)

Peek-A-Boo...I See You

This is a little watercolor sketch I did in my Moleskine Watercolor Book.  I was turning my pot around checking the different angles with this guy and this definitely captured my attention. 

Blue Jay Portrait in Graphite

Here is another bird portrait I've done today to go with the Cardinal I posted a day or so ago.  I really do like this paper for graphite (Hand-book).

4B Derwent Sketching Med Wash pencil

I'm still using the technique where the side of the pencil is used to get the basic shapes down.  Then once satisfied, I go back with the point to darken and define some of the areas.

Fun with Color

Today I was in the mind-set to play with color.  The three primaries I started out with were Daniel Smith - Ultramarine Blue, Quin Rose, and Aureolin (Yellow).  Extra colors I used were Sap Green and my three Earth Colors (RS, BS, BU).

Completed in my Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook using a #5 Kolinsky Round.

("Fun with Gourds" was digitally rendered using Wacum Tablet and Electronic Pen - haven't decided just yet how I want to add that on the actual journal page......probably similar as shown here after I practice writing with a brush.)

Here it is with me using a small brush and paint writing in "Fun with Gourds" going with the idea I played with above with the digital rendering of the words.  It wasn't as difficult as I had convinced myself hand writing with a brush.  I do surprise myself sometimes :-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

What One Family Member Did with My Artwork

How many people do you know would take a painting you did for them and have it tattooed to their body?  Talk about making one feel on top of the world and reinforce what they do as being truly worthy of the time and effort put into their artwork.

This is from a painting of two lilies I did for my sister-in-law - "Sissy"  It's not 100% exact to the painting for obvious reasons due to limitations of detail with tattoos; but, it's close and definitely recognizable and a reminder of the painting I did for her years ago.

Anytime I might be feeling low and question why I bother with all the time and effort drawing and painting (which does happen from time to time)........all I have to do is visit my "Sissy"  What she did has to be the ultimate sign of approval and love for what I do.      :-D

Female Cardinal Portrait in Graphite

One last before I retire for the night..........

Derwent 4B Med Wash sketching pencil

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Darlene's Glads

I've been in the mood to do nothing but sketching in pencil today.  For me it's relaxing with no set-up ... more spontaneous.

This is a sketch of my "Sissy's" gladiolas she has in the front of her house.  They are standing tall amongst the Star Gazer Lilies she absolutely loves.

Again using the Hand-book sketchbook and the Derwent Sketching Medium Wash pencil (4B).

Yellow Finch Sketch

Another sketch done today in my Hand-book sketch book using the Derwent Sketching Medium Wash (4B) pencil.  Most of this was done using the side of the pencil lead with minimal use of the point.

I really like the texture of the paper in this book for sketching.

Not sure when I started writing 4"H"B on my sheets.  That's suppose to read 4B. 

Looking Around and What Do I See....?

What Do I See by sbwatercolors
What Do I See, a photo by sbwatercolors on Flickr.
Having fun with quick sketches by looking around and capturing the various "wonders" I see. I decided to go with anything related to wildlife and include the bird feeder(s).

All done initially with side of the 4B wash sketching pencil from Derwent. Then going back over with point for finer detailing.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron by sbwatercolors
Great Blue Heron, a photo by sbwatercolors on Flickr.
Not something we see everyday and was such an experience for my youngest son and I.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday Night S'mores

Nothing fancy..........added this to my journal book as a memory of our vacation shared with my brother and his family.  We were supposed to return home Wednesday but stayed an extra day as the weather finally cooled down to do what we had hoped to do.......have a camp fire.  Days before it was horribly hot to where it would have been miserable.  Wednesday, that changed so after my "Sissy" put on her sad face and pleaded.........we stayed an extra day.

Watercolor and pen/ink.

Have you ever tried a candy bar other than the traditional Hershey Bar?  Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is good from what my "Sissy" said.  I went with the Kit Kat.  I wonder how a Crunch Bar would have tasted?  That will be for next time!

Wren in Nest

A few posts back I shared a couple sketches and described two wrens working hard building a nest in our hanging fuchsia plant.  The nest sits on its side rather than like a bowl and for me was a first time seeing something like that.

We left for a few days and upon returning home found the nest completed and three eggs sitting inside with momma nowhere to be found. 

While we were gone, my eldest son was doing some work pressure washing the deck boards, building a gate, and repairing the roof right over the hanging plant.  We were afraid that maybe with all that going on that momma was frightened off possibly leaving her eggs.  Into the evening as the temperatures dropped to where we thought for sure she would be there to keep the eggs warm, she wasn't there.  We were really concerned then.

Well, early this morning I went out and very carefully turned the plant and lo and behold, there was momma sitting in her nest keeping the eggs warm.  It was a site to behold and I'm most relieved to see she was not frightened away.

Here she is tucked down safely in amongst the plant stems peaking out at me :-D

Fabric and Burlap Bear Door Stop

It's been a few days since I've shared anything in my blog.  Left Sunday to spend several days with my brother and his family sharing Bro's birthday together.  We've been trying to spend one week together for vacation each year ....... trying for a trip to the beach or other get-a-ways but this year decided to just veg out together at their home.  A few days was stifling hot and humid leaving us feeling rather lethargic.  But we had a beautiful time just sitting around and sharing time together. 

One of the things we wanted to do was have a camp fire in their back yard but thought we might not get that chance considering how hot it was plus storms passing through.  Wednesday we had a break with temperatures dropping down and getting quite chilly in the evening.  It was perfect and we had our camp fire after all...........along with S'mores :-D

Was either Monday or Tuesday was sitting inside while they ran a few errands and did this quick sketch of a bear door stop that I had given my "sissy" many years ago.  Darlene loves and collects bears and I remember thinking this was perfect..........something different and unique to give as a gift. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

House Wren Sketch with Nesting Material

I managed to capture this little guy (or gal) with my camera and immediate set to work sketching.

Using a 4B pencil on it's side to get the general shapes down and then went back defining areas and last adding the shading and shadows.

House Wren Quickie Sketch

I'm on a roll right now knowing I'll be tied up over the next few days.  As a break to practicing painting a poppy flower, I decided to do this quick sketch of a house wren.  What prompted me to do this was witnessing a mom and dad flying back and forth with nesting material in their beaks one minute and empty the next.

We kept seeing them fly from around the side of the house to the front......landing on the railing or deck flooring and then to the right of the window and back again to the left.  They had to be going a short distance and couldn't figure out where they might be building their nest.  Going outside to investigate, I found where they were going.  Right under our noses building a nest smack dab center of our hanging fuchsia plant.

Hubby was going to remove it saying they could build elsewhere and I asked him to let them be as I'd really like to see what transpires.  It would be great if they lay eggs and baby bobble heads appeared in the near future for watching and photographing.  So hopefully they will continue if watering the plant doesn't disturb them.  Time will tell.

This is in the Hand-book journal using a Med Wash (4B) pencil on it's side with a little more detailing final touches with the point before scanning.

Poppy on Moleskine Paper

Here is yet another poppy attempt only this time the results were more like I was envisioning.  Could be because of paper or because of the pigment choices..........or a combination of both.

There's still room for improvement but I can say that with all my work as I'm forever analyzing and can always see things I could do differently.   I guess that's one way to motivate ourselves trying different things and learning from trial and error.

Poppy of Years Past

To share what I used to do years ago with my flowers, here is a poppy I'm super proud me one of the best paintings I've ever done.  I've not been able to achieve results like this since I changed how I went about painting (layers upon layers of glazing). 

Another Poppy Flower and Bud in Watercolor

Still using the Hand-book to work in, I tried again with the poppy.  I do believe the results would turn out more to what I might foresee in my head if I used a different paper surface.  This paper is soft so wet in wet can definitely be a bit of a challenge.

Years ago I painted lots of flowers trying for realism in my work.  I was told by several that I had a special gift or whatever in rendering my flowers in watercolor.  My specialty (if you want to call it that) was painting flowers in macro.  I found them to be more personable and intimate than working with several flowers done up in an arrangement.  Over time I found the multitude of layers glazing to be tedious and my tastes changed from realism to achieving more of an artistic flare.........looser in other words leaving something to one's imagination.

Something happened, unfortunately, and I feel I've "lost it" ....... whatever that "it" might be.  Groupings of flowers are intimidating to me and I often find working with a few to end up looking stiff rather than carefree and delicate as flowers should look (in my opinion or at least how I'd like them to look).  I get lucky now and then but definitely something changed within me over time. has a challenge this week working with flowers and I've not been able to bring myself to working the challenge.  A mental block, I'm afraid, because it deals with multi-petaled flowers and groupings.  Both of which I normally keep my distance from.  Part of me says this is just what I need and part of me is fighting that saying I can't do it without making myself feel "less than" adding to the self-disappointment I'm already feeling where my flower painting is concerned.  It might be the timing of the challenge as I find I'm in quite a critical negative state this week with all the work I'm putting out.  I seem to go through spurts or stages like this and unfortunately it's this week it's hitting me for some reason.

So Sandy, if you read this............this is what's happened to me this week with the challenge.  But I've been keeping up with what you're sharing ;-)'s the poppy and flower bud with notes on the page (I've included the quick pencil sketch I did before adding paint to it)

75 Day Challenge - Days 64 and 65

Here are for the last two days.  Ten more days to go and I can say this challenge is complete. 

Day 64 - Shower Head

I find the circle to be one of the most challenging shapes to get right first go.  If using pencil, I'd probably erase several times without grabbing a ruler and using the vanishing point/square method to create it.   For those unsure of what I mean by that, follow this link to view drawing a circle.

Day 65 - Noodler's Flex Pen and Ink

There has been a craze of late where people from all over are ordering the new Noodler's Flex Pen.  I amongst them after reading all the hoopla people are saying about them. 

When it arrived I loaded it up and gave it a try.  I'm sitting there thinking.........."'s this so different from any other dip pen?  What's the big deal everyone is making it out to be?"

Surfing the web and asking Cathy Johnson in her Facebook blog......I was directed to a link where you can adjust the nib so it flexes correctly.  That's suppose to be the big magic factor in the pen......the tip flexes allowing one to draw very thin lines to pressing the nib down forcing the tip to spread making wide marks on the paper.  So I viewed the video clip and tried it once again.  I still don't see what the big deal is all about.  Some say it's the ink and some say it's the one using the pen.  Maybe so on both accounts.  But maybe it might just be the nib in my pen too.  I honestly don't know but for me is not the "wonder tool" others may find it to be.  Just my own personal opinion at this given time which could change down the road after giving it more of a chance and my practicing with it.

One plus......I like how you load it.  It has a plunger type feed where you twist the bottom and it pulls the ink up into the chamber.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Landscape and Card Idea

As you can see from my notes, I was in a playing mood and wanted to use up some of the dried mixes on my palette before cleaning it.

Whenever I get like this, I like painting little landscape like vignettes.  Something maybe one can use for card ideas later.

Above/right is the actual entry in my journal book and then a card idea.....

Poppy Sketch in Watercolor

Not saying a whole lot about this one beyond what you see in the notes.  And, don't you just love the notes to myself?  I'll look back and wonder what was going through my mind at the time.  I'm at the present time and still don't know :)

Wet in Wet - Cad Red, Aliz Crimson, Sap Green, Cerulean Blue and #5 Round.  Done in the Hand-book.  

My Present Journal Books

Thought I would share the various journal books I'm working in right now.

The Langton is a 7 x 10 spiral - my top choice for watercolor but I've found I enjoy using the Moleskine and the Hand-book for watercolor as well.  I like the texture in The Langton.  It's difficult to find in the States so normally I purchase from SAA in the UK or purchase during visits and bring home with me.

Moleskine - their large watercolor which is like a 5 x 7.  Some people like these and some don't.  I happen to like the paper for sketching and watercolor.

The Hand-book - 5 x 8.  This is a new book I'm trying out where I saw it recommended somewhere on the internet.  I'm liking it for mixed media.  It takes wet media rather well which is surprising to me.

Walmart Mini Lined Notebook - 3 x 5.  Dedicated to my 75 Day Sketch Challenge using pen and ink only.  I'm almost finished with the number of pages in it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

75 Day Sketch Challenge Days 62 and 63

Remember this challenge I started many moons ago???  Eventually I'll complete it although not quite in the way it was intended. 

Day 62 - This was done last night before I went to bed.  

Day 63 - I had somewhat of a slow day today at work and sat outside the office door and sketched the hair salon across the parking lot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Perfect Example of What NOT To Do

How many times have you gone to draw or paint something your brain dictates what it thinks it sees but in reality is far from being accurate? 

Here's a perfect example of my doing just that. 

Although I could at any given time turn to this page in my journal book and know this represents a thistle, it's not accurate by any means in the flower head.   Something didn't look right and after taking more time to really study my photograph, I realized just what I had done. 

I have penciled in below the painted illustration showing a more accurate rendering of the flower petals, bracts or whatever they are called. 

Luna Moth

Not as colorful but unique to us is the Luna Moth.  We had never seen one until we started staying out at my son's property. 

This was done using Sap Green with Raw Sienna, Aliz Crimson plus the green to darken the red.  #12 mini round in Handbook journal.

Rosey Maple Moth

Over the weekend with everyone sitting outside most of the day and evening, we saw quite a few insects we might not otherwise see.  This is one moth I had never seen before staying out on my son's property which is an open field located at the top of a mountain ridge surrounded by woods.

To capture the likeness, I used Cad Yellow Medium, Quin Rose, and Quin Gold for the moth and Hansa Yellow, Sap Green, Aliz Crimson, and Bt Umber (plus a touch of blue on my palette from another painting session) for and around the caterpillar.

#12 mini synthetic round (equiv to #5 Round) in Hand-book journal.

Also used a Sienna Faber Casell Pitt artist pen (size S) for line work.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Snail in Graphite

We have family coming for the weekend so I was up late still in the mood to get some sketching done as I knew I might not have the opportunity over the next couple of days.

Sandy from has really opened up a door for me with her gesture exercise challenge set this past Monday.  I've learned to use the side of my pencil(s) rather than the point on a regular basis which keeps me from getting too detailed too early in the game.  I find I focus more on shape not allowing detail to cloud my mind.......that is until I am ready to fine-tune with the detail I want to add.

The gesture exercise has definitely helped me learn to move quickly capturing the essence of what I'm looking at.  Although that may not be what gesture sketching is all about, I find this ideal or concept works for me.


This started out as a gesture sketch to quickly get features and form down on paper.  From there I went on to define more in detail.

I used a Derwent Watercolor pencil (Indigo) this time.  What I like about using a watercolor pencil for sketching is 1) the fact it doesn't smudge like graphite; and, 2) I can take a damp to wet brush to it if I later want to add additional tone.  Just keeps a door open for me should I choose to do more with this.

When I pulled this up in Photoshop Elements to rescale for web viewing, I was in one of my moods to play and experiment.  Using a Wacom Tablet and pen, I went on to digitally paint adding color splashes for more texture in the fur, adding color to emphasize the eyes, and adding a color border for more impact.  You will notice I changed the background from a plain white to where it looks like it was done on a piece of fabric of sorts.  This also added some texture to the cheetah.

This was fun and I really like how the eyes turned out. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Artist's Journal and The Art of Journaling

I've been fascinated in this concept for some time.  For years I've been doing most of my work in journal books or spiral watercolor pads............most often including technical notes and/or sometimes what's on my mind at the time I produce whatever.  My goal at this point is to learn the Art of Journaling which gets into design of the page I work my exercises or paintings on.  There's a lot to learn about it and like anything else, takes practice, trial and error.

This page is pretty plain but I did get into playing a little arranging wording and images.  (This is how it actually looks in the Hand-book journal that has buff or light cream color pages - which my scanner really doesn't pick up).  I have since added "Bachelor Buttons" written small with pen and ink under the blue flowers and "Butterfly Weed" under the orange.

The second image shows where I was playing a bit using photoshop with a color background.  Potential idea of how it might look adding color to the page before I start sketching or painting.

From this I can see where I might not want the entire page covered with color but maybe splashes here and there leaving some white (or buff) showing.  I plan to experiment more on possibilities so I'll have an idea of what I might actually want to try in my journal book.

Of course sometimes I think it's just best with the plain background.  Like with anything, one can go over-board.

Think I like something more like this with some of the background left unpainted.  One could dry sponge on paper before sketching or painting; sponge on wet paper for that blurred look; or even pale washes of color here and there.  And this just barely scratches the surface of possibilities.

UPDATE:  After several days of viewing this, my vote goes to keeping the white least with this particular page example.  I think the elements on the page show better ....... at least to my own eyes.  :)


Hummer Gesture and a Splash of Color - Water Soluble Pencils

Early morning play with water soluble pencils for my sketching.

First I did the quick gesture using Derwent Blue Gray watercolor pencil then went back and added a splash of color using Inktense pencils.  A little brush and water was used.

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