Monday, May 29, 2017

Fidget Spinners

Dealing with anxiety issues at times (especially in public), one of my sons recommended I try a fidget spinner to see if it might help when needed.

The first one I bought was the all brass spinner.  Then I picked up a few more due to their colors and shapes.  I liked the ones with the added ball bearings spaced around the ABS plastic bodies.  They add a neat effect when spinning plus offers something else you can fidget with if not spinning.

They are fun to play with.  At home I stack them on top of one another spinning in different directions.  I love watching them spin as it's mesmerizing.  Also I have found having one in my hand when sitting idle watching TV keeps my fingers out of my hair.........a habit I have had since a young child and not very hair friendly!

I've learned that besides being a child's toy, adults are getting into them as well.  You'd be amazed by tricks some are able to do with these.  And I've read that groups have competitions.

Another thing I've learned is that these spinners are becoming quite a collector's item for some.  They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials ranging from a few dollars to over $150.  The bearings used make a difference in how well and how quiet they spin.  Really interesting for something so simple.

Now do they help with anxiety?  Not a magic cure-all but I'd have to say yes to a good degree (at least from my own experience).  Do they help with boredom.......I'd say for me yes.  Do they help with concentration.........the jury is still out on that one.  They are definitely a plus for one who has the need to  fidget with something at any given time.

Stillman & Birn Beta / Lamy Safari

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Still Sketching People

There are a couple of us who are wanting to work Brenda Swenson's 75 Day Ink Challenge.  Although I have worked this challenge before, I like the concept of challenging one's self to jump in with pen and ink only.  Although I feel a bit more confident in jumping in with pen, I still hesitate and tend to grab for pencil first.  So I'm thinking to do this again (hoping I can stick with it another 75 days).

Starting out I have chosen to work on people since that's been the main emphasis the last couple of weeks at the Art Center.  A dual challenge for me (ink only and people) as I work on honing my observational skills.  I still don't care to add features on the faces mainly because I'm working so small and never feel I get the features looking as I'd like them in such a tiny space.  My main goal is to get the proportions right and capturing the action (which I need a lot of practice with)..........and to feel confident enough to work faster for when I'm out on location.  I still struggle with the bend in the legs....especially if coming towards me or moving away.

Here are the first three days of the challenge so far.  I'm using a Papermate ballpoint stick pen starting out.  Working in the S&B Beta journal.

Last Few Weeks at the Leesburg Art Center

It's been a busy few weeks with the last couple of weeks flying by with my not doing much with my own art.  Instead helping with documents sharing tutorial links I could find and examples I might have on the subject matter being shared at our Art League.

We've been covering sketchbook/journal layouts and ideas of what to use our journals for.  We've had two weeks of playing with sketching people gestures and then trying our hand at brush figures to feel more confident in including people in our sketches and paintings.

Yesterday we had fun learning about alcohol inks which was like being a kid again and just playing.  Very carefree and just plain fun.

First image playing with alcohol inks mixed in with shaving cream and pressing paper on top, lifting and scraping the shaving cream and ink off with a card.  Would make neat looking end papers inside of homemade journals.

Playing with dropping various ink colors on a little piece of fabric and stamping onto a tile and spraying alcohol at various heights for different effects.  To me this ended up looking like a dog sniffing through an area of flowers.  (See part of the side of a dog's face?)

The last two weeks working with sketching and painting people.  How to see the line of action, how to quickly capture people gestures, painting simple figures with brush and watercolor to get a feel for shapes and proportions, and then taking it from there using pen and ink and watercolor showing more detail either by outlining the figures or going in with ink and emphasizing only some areas.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Leesburg Art League Open Studio Friday - May 12, 2017

Friday was a fun day at our art league's Open Studio Friday.  Lee Kline gave a presentation on keeping sketchbooks / artist journals sharing examples, tips, and ideas to the group.  We had a great discussion with several asking questions.

There were four tables set up with sketches and journals that three of us brought in to share.  The folks spent a good bit of time sitting at the tables and flipping through the examples we brought in.

Lee is a retired graphics art designer.

Susan comes from a family of professional artists.  Two of those tables included Susan's father's sketches and journals that he kept many years ago.  He didn't believe in cameras and sketched everything to include people he rode with everyday on the subway.  He also produced illustrations and lettering/logos for many businesses

Me...........just a hobbyist who enjoys sketching...........ha ha

Here is a quick sketch of this special day.

Hand sewn journal / Plat Carbon desk pen and used a waterbrush for this one.

Sketch Outing with Friends - Lone Oak Cemetery

Three of us went to Leesburg oldest cemetery called Lone Oak Cemetery to sketch.  This cemetery is full of history dating way back.

One of the stones we came across is marked George Alfred Widdas - supposedly Bill Cody and Annie Oakley's gunsmith.

New Mini Stuffed Animal - Kipling Monkey Keychain

I'm such a sucker for these miniature animals.  A lady at our Leesburg Art League showed me a bag she has that she uses as her handbag and what she uses to carry some of her art supplies in when going out sketching.  Her bag is the Kipling Defea Bag (which I have on order now as well).

One of the things that intrigued me about this line of handbags is the little monkey  that comes with all their bags.  I found this keychain by the same company on Amazon and received it a few days ago. I had to get this one being it's the Sunshine State we moved to three years ago :-)

S&B Beta journal / Micron 01

(and yes his poor hand is twisted backwards in the little clear plastic box it comes in)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bookbinding - Make your Own - AWESOME Instructional Video

In the tab above the blog feed labeled "Bookbinding", I have posts that cover this include Sea Lemon's YouTube videos I used to make my first hand sewn journals.

In addition to my favorite videos by Sea Lemon, I found and purchased the following DVD.  Slow paced and very easy to follow step by step to include advanced steps that might strike your fancy...all wrapped up in one video.

For a preview of this DVD, it can be found at the following:

On The Air Video / Bookbinding
YouTube / Croquis Cafe / Bookbinding:  A Traditional Technique

To purchase, you can do so directly via the link taking you to On The Air Video / Bookbinding (above) or through Amazon.

Run-time of the DVD is about an hour.

Sketchcrawl May 9, 2017 - Sumter Landing Square

Yesterday we met up again at Sumter Landing Square.  It seems to be a favorite for a lot of people due to all the shops, theme props centered around lake activities (such as fishing, boating, etc.) and just a beautiful place to spend time at.

I was really surprised by how busy it was at 9 a.m. in the morning.  It was difficult finding a parking spot close to the center of the square and people were everywhere.

Our group was to meet under a covered picnic area next to the radio station.  There were eight of us who ended up showing with one new person who didn't know us nor did we know to look for her.  So there were actually nine total.

For me it was an off day.  Was struggling to settle on something to sketch.  Due to the busy activity all around with people walking by, I found myself a little on edge, which I'm sure played a part in my not being able to settle.  I think I spent most of my time walking around trying to find a quiet solitude spot.

There was a tugboat I wanted to sketch but with it being so breezy, it wouldn't sit still long enough for me to really get started.  After a few attempts, I gave up and walked back to where we originally met up.

There were several tables taken up by that time with bike cyclists.  I debated sitting there off to the side but wanted to sketch several of the things hanging under ceiling beams, support posts, and along one outer wall of the radio station.  So I took a deep breath and sat down focusing on capturing some of those items............taking notice now and then some of the cyclists glancing over at me making me feel a bit uneasy.  I'm still not quite there feeling totally comfortable sketching in public but I'm working on that.

Here is the page I managed to do before taking my leave.  I ended up leaving at least 30 minutes early passing up meeting the others for lunch.

S&B Beta / Platinum Carbon desk pen

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sketchcrawl May 6th - Unknown Bird Type

This is a sketch worked from a photo I took during the sketchcrawl yesterday at Elizabeth Evens Park in Mount Dore.  I have no idea what type of bird this is but wondering if in the Jay family due to the markings around the eye.  And also due to the blue in the body.  Maybe a female scrub or blue jay?

Working from my photo, I decided to do some practicing using the grid method rather than totally free-handing the pencil sketch.

Here are the steps I took:

Opened my photo in Photoshop Elements with grid view set up.  I like using the largest grid I can get away with so not to have too many blocks on paper to deal with.

In Journal (Stillman & Birn Beta), created a grid using very light pencil.  Then viewing the photo on screen, I placed little tick marks where each part of the bird intersected a grid line and also a few inside each block for prominent areas to help when line sketching.

Connecting the tick marks, I lightly sketched the bird.  (pencils lines darkened for illustration purposes)

Went over in ink using a Platinum Carbon desk pen and Lexy Gray ink.  Waited for the ink to totally dry and started erasing the grid lines.

Cleaned up erasing all pencil marks/lines.

Wet in wet, started adding color.  Used Black, Indigo, and Burnt Umber (all Daniel Smith watercolors)

The painting process for the rest of the bird was Indigo wet in wet, darkening some areas (under feathers) by dropping or brushing in Indigo as the paper was drying........still damp enough to bleed a little.

Once the Indigo was dry, I started dry brushing and blending Black.  Also added a little Bt Umber in the head at the top where the top of the wing overlaps.

After completely dry, gently brushed plain water in some areas of the back (randomly) and added a light glaze of the Burnt Umber.

Also lightly brushed water into the head and dropped a little Indigo making sure I didn't disturb the underlying colors (and lighter areas) already there.

I could have gone darker with maybe another glaze or two but it's been my experience that S&B paper to pill if too wet or too many layers applied with all the brushing.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sketchcrawl Mount Dora May 6th

Today the group was to meet at Donnelly Park in Mount Dora.  Several made it with four of us going a few blocks away to Elizabeth Evans Park along Lake Dora.  A couple of other ladies stayed at the original meeting place with one sketching and the other checking out the near by shops.

Where the four of us relocated to,  you look out from the water's edge to view the Mount Dora Lighthouse as well as a boat launch and marina.

While there, a group of folks showed up on segways with an instructor telling a bit about the park and then having the riders practice in the grass before heading back into town for a tour of Mount Dora.  They were kind enough to allow me to photograph them (for future sketching) and was given a brochure about the tours.  Something Terry and I definitely want to do...........if for no other reason than to ride around on the

Friday, May 5, 2017

Frida Friday - Leesburg Art League

Today was Open Friday where artists meet up at the center to work on various things from arts and crafts to painting, to sketching, etc.  Sometimes there will be someone modeling and other times demos shared.

Our Open Friday today was called "Frida Friday" which was themed around a Mexican Artist by the name of Frida Kahlo.  It's also Cinco de Mayo which is a Mexican Holiday.

One of the ladies at the Art Center actually dressed up as Frida Kahlo and modeled for us (which I may still do from a photo I took of her).  I chose to sketch some of the other ladies as they went about creating fans, headbands, and other works of art.

Stillman & Birn Beta / Micron 01

My little miniature bear "Opal" as my model celebrating the Mexican Holiday.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Oh Rats!!

An ongoing battle!!!

We moved to Florida renting the house we eventually purchased in a really lovely neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the subdivision was built on a golf course that has several ponds which are overgrown.....perfect place for breeding of all sorts of include these lovely little destructive creatures that have cost us quite a bit of money.............particularly over the last six months.

For two and a half years, we tried to battle the problem on our save money or so we thought.  Baits, traps, sprays, electronic gizmos, closing off holes in walls and pipes allowing access into the garage and attic.  We ended up having to call in animal control because no matter the effort we put into it, they still found a way inside causing destruction.

The decision to finally call in animal control came when I went to start my car and all the alert lights were going crazy.  Terry lifted the hood and right away knew it was either rats or squirrels due to the droppings and urine all over the place.

Took the car to the dealership for them to find a huge momma rat bedded down under the plastic shield of the engine compartment.  She had chewed through several wires in the main wiring harness and chewed the insulation under the engine compartment shield for her nest.

When we called animal control, we were also dealing with loud activity going on both day and night which told us we had more than rats in the attic.  They were sharing space with a family of squirrels.  Rat activity would be at night while the squirrels were having a hay day during the day.  You would have thought we had a family of cats playing overhead.

Animal Control found three access points on the roof and a pipe going up from the air conditioning unit.  Took a week with four trips out but...........knock on wood.........we think he got them all out and made necessary repairs.

The latest discovery of additional damage was us wanting to go kayaking and when Terry dragged out the sit on top fishing kayaks to clean for our trip out, he was horrified to find his kayak was ruined..........rats!!  He found a nest with three babies inside a closed compartment.  That momma rat had chewed through the scupper holes to gain access to the compartment.  Because of where she chewed, the kayak will not stay afloat and no way to repair and feel safe out on the water.

Stillman & Birn Beta / Pilot Prera / Lexy Gray ink

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