Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Eve at Busch Gardens, Tampa FL

Family came down to Florida from West Virginia to spend Christmas with my two sons, Terry and I.  The boys' father and family arrived on Sunday the 23rd staying at an RV park north of Ocala this year since the boys now live in Ocala.  Prior to that, they stayed at the Holiday RV park in Leesburg.

Due to work schedules, we all chose Christmas Eve day to spend time together at Busch Gardens.  Part of the group spent time attending several of the Christmas shows while the rest walked around checking out various animals as well as a few of the shops near the entrance.

My leg and back gave out on me fairly early and my youngest son was struggling from a back injury about a week or so ago while at work.  We both felt fine when we first arrived at the park but the standing and walking soon took its tole on both of us.  With that being the case, we didn't cover very much of the park this trip but we still had a good time.  We'll save the rides and exploring the rest of the park another time.

In checking out a few of the shops, I came across this one resin figurine I just thought was perfect for winter / Christmas / Holiday season and living in Florida.  Up north we were used to making snowmen but here in the south not so much......ha ha.  This beach sandman was perfect!

Fabriano Venezia sketchbook using Wolf's Carbon pencil #B.  Used a damp brush over areas and finished with dry strokes and shading.

At another shop, my youngest took notice to my fascination with a hand crafted family statue.  Before we left the park, he slipped back into the shop to buy this for me.  I absolutely LOVE it!!!  I love the material it's made of (Kisii stone / soapstone) which part has a pink tone to it while the rest is off white with the brown specks.  It's smooth and heavy.  This is about 10 inches tall and weighs just over 2 pounds.

Hand crafted by Kenyan Artisans.

Worked in Stillman & Birn large Beta sketchbook.  Statue is only mechanical pencil, watercolor and flecks using Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber watercolor pencils.  The wording using the TWSBI Eco pen with Urban Grey ink.

Worked in the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook.  This one ended up as a blooper with my taking a white gel pen to cover up the hatch marks in the main ring.  My marks made it look like it had a furry  The gel pen I used was the UniBall Signo Broad, UM 153.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Hourly 5-Minute Sketch Challenge

Four years ago July, Jean MacKay shared a challenge she worked by sketching something every hour for so many hours she had set for that day.  I worked this challenge timing myself 1 to 5 minutes (tops) for each illustration. 

Worked over four years ago:

New hourly challenge I worked yesterday as an example for a project I hope our FAST group will work at one of our get togethers in the coming year.

I used my new TWSBI Eco pen with DeAtramentis Urban Grey ink in the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook.  My helper who timed me was Alexa.  :-)  For this one, I chose not to worry about adding shadows as I am considering adding color and would prefer to add shadows with watercolor rather than pen and ink.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Flowers from Husband

Saturday, my husband went grocery shopping and upon his return, surprised me with a bundle of flowers.

One stem out of the bunch bent over the edge of the vase but didn't break or split so I left it.  It's Tuesday evening and the stem is still going strong.  The fact that it's by itself, it catches my attention at every glance.

Worked in the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook using my new TWSBI Eco pen with DeAtramentis Urban Grey ink.

I'm really liking this ink!  It's a bit lighter than Noodler's Lexington Grey ink and for sketching I prefer an ink not real stark as many blacks are.

The nib on my new pen tends to be a dry feed, which I also like.  The ink dries faster and the lines thinner than my TWSBI mini with the same size nib which feeds wet.  Both nibs being Extra Fine.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Early Christmas

We have extended family coming in on the 23rd with everyone getting together on the 25th.  Because of that and work schedules, my husband, two sons, and I had our immediate family Christmas dinner and gift exchange last night.

Since I've been on a very restricted diet for months, I splurged and for our little Christmas dinner, we had Firehouse Beef Brisket and Cheese and Steak and Cheese subs :-)  Talk about a treat for me!!  Then topped off with peanut butter fudge and chocolate mint cookies the boys made and brought with them.

After all those carbs from the sub rolls and sugar from the goodies........I was bouncing off the walls last night.  I couldn't sleep so I sat up until around 5 a.m. or so and did some sketching and playing with a few of my new toys.

I worked on the top left sketch while waiting for the boys to get here.  The rest were done through the night until I finally crashed and ready for sleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Another Monthly Challenge - 12 Days in the Month Before Christmas

I had two monthly challenges this month set by two different friends.  One I've already done which was to sketch 12 things representing the Christmas Holiday season.  This second challenge, set by my friend in the UK, is to sketch 12 days in the month prior to Christmas something representing what we did.

Not sure I'll succeed working 12 days as I'm still struggling with motivation but I may surprise myself :-)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hard Lesson Learned - Rohrer & Klingner Sketch Inks

I SHOULD have known better than jumping into filling SEVERAL pens with a new ink brand claiming to be safe for fountain pens.  I SHOULD have only tested in one pen rather than filling nine with different colors.

When I read about Rohrer & Klingner's Sketch Inks and compared the price against other well known bottled inks, I was excited.  I was excited with the choice of colors and jumped right in filling pens and testing them out between illustrations and writing.  I had even bought more Lamy Safari pens with different color barrels or clear barrels to see the colors they held.....just to house these inks.

WHAT A STUPID THING TO DO ON MY PART without first testing with one pen only !!!

Now, with all my other pens that range from Pilots to Lamy to TWSBI, as well as Noodler's fountain pens, I treat them all the same.  I'm not the greatest at regular pen maintenance and I have several filled with Lexington Gray or Platinum Carbon inks allowing them to sit for weeks and even months without being used.  I even have a Platinum Carbon Desk Pen filled with brown ink known to cause havoc in some pens that doesn't cause me grief.  The worst problem I've ever had was having to dip a pen feed/nib into water to help get it "jump" started (and part of that may be due to how I store my pens, which are standing - cap end up - in a pen display).  I've NEVER had a problem with total clogging and not feeding the ink.

Then Sketch Inks come along.  I found that even sitting a few days unused, they started showing problems of wanting to write or feed ink.  When I first saw that happening, that SHOULD have alerted me to clean them out immediately.  Unfortunately, I did not do that.  They sat for weeks unused....dreading having to clean them all....and now I'm paying the price, which MAY prove to be a costly one.

First I worked on cleaning one pen and immediately found it was going to be quite a task to do so.  The ink dries inside almost like a glue.  I couldn't get the nib off the pen even after soaking in warm water for hours (renewing warm water as it got cold) and flushing using a bulb to force water through the end of the pen feed/nib section.  I found the converter was just as challenging to clean out all the ink.  I cleaned the best I could still not being able to remove the nib.  I did NOT use a cleaning solution but only plain tap water.

I tried filled this pen with my trusty Lexington Gray Ink and it would not feed the ink.  I thought for sure the pen was trashed.

Yesterday I took on the task of cleaning all the pens I had loaded with the Sketch Ink.  Instead of warm water, I used hot tap water......replacing as the water got cold.  Off and on throughout the day I soaked and flushed with a bulb and syringe forcing hot water through the pieces.  After several hours of doing this, little slivers and specks were showing up in the bottom of the containers I was using.  

Next, I used fountain pen cleaner solution purchased through Goulet Pens that smells like it has ammonia in it that I forced through the feeds with the bulb.  Soaked and flushed some more with plain hot water.  Even more flecks and slivers showed up.

Then I tried removing the nibs again, including the first one I tried cleaning (I hadn't totally given up on it yet).  I finally got all the nibs off but took me having to pry them with a knife.........trying not to damage the feed.  I was right........they were basically "glued" in place with dried ink even after all that soaking time.  I had to take a brush to the feed where the nib sits as well as the little metal nibs to remove the stuck on ink.

Container with six of the nine pens I'm having to clean......hoping to work again:

Flecks showing up with plain hot water soaks:

After several hours soaking and then taking cleaning fluid and bulb to flush the feeds:

Here we are more than 24 hours later of soaking/flushing and I still have ink showing in the channels of my feeds.  Now I'm taking a blunt needle syringe and forcing cleaning solution and hot water from the hole in the end of the feed where the nib sits trying to loosen what's in those channels.  Then flushing using the bulb from the other end.

I wish I could remove the feed so I can brush the grooves and channel; but, even when not stopped up with ink (that binds like a glue) they are not easy to remove from Lamy pens.  It's possible and I've watched videos on how to do so but if I had to pry a nib off that's suppose to remove easily, I don't dare try to remove the feed.

UPDATE:  The first pen I cleaned and tried to use is now working again using Lexy Gray ink.  Because it's a black pen and I cannot see through to the feed, I don't know if it's flowing at full capacity or not.  BUT, it's working so far and I truly thought I would have to trash the pen.

As for the remaining eight pen feeds and converters.......they are still soaking.

Will try to update the results in another post once I finish the cleaning and if or when I fill those other eight pens with colored inks from another brand.  I don't need eight more pens filled with Lexington Gray or Platinum Carbon ink so may be awhile before I learn if they will ever feed ink again for sketching and writing.

So be warned by my stupidity not to always believe what a manufacturer claims as safe for fountain pens.  Test only ONE pen and one that doesn't cost a fortune if it's ruined or you can't purchase replacement parts.

Monday, December 3, 2018

FAST Group Monthly Challenge

Our sketching group, FAST (Fetch a Sketch Trekkers), is starting a monthly challenge where the folks interested take turns coming up with ideas for us to work on through the month.  One of the gals got us off to a great start with the idea to sketch 12 things that represent the Christmas Holiday season.

I chose to go with plants and flowers we are all familiar with during this time of year, as well as a page of ornaments I have on our tree plus shelf sitter. 

As I worked on my page of ornaments, it took me back years ago when the boys were young and I made all of our Christmas ornaments.  It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I added a few store purchased ornaments like the little plush hanging toys (reindeer, santa, snowman, penguin, etc) that have these little totes you can add goodies to.  The gnome is a shelf sitter rather than an ornament.

Worked in my large Beta journal using Pilot Falcon with Lexy Gray ink.

Cathy Johnson's Sketch With Me Effort Nov 2018

Miss Kate has initiated a monthly "Sketch With Me" project where people all over the globe work a sketch on a particular weekend and then share online.

For November (weekend following Thanksgiving Day), we were to sketch something we're thankful for.

This is what came to mind for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Self Motivation

After the last few months being on a roll sketching and then completing the Inktober Challenge, I've slowed way down.  It's like I've hit a brick wall, actually.......finding it difficult to feel motivated to pick up a pen.  Part also has to do with the time change, which I wish they would do away with.  Like many people (I'm sure), the shorter days and getting dark early plays havoc with one's state of emotional/mental well being.

Feeling as I have, I chose to work this today as a means of self motivation using one of my beanie babies and a few of my sketching tools.

As I look at this and the expression on the chimp, it's like he's saying ....... "seriously!!!???  You want me to sketch??!!!"   :-)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Couple Quick Sketches

Worked these the last couple of days still working on loosening up.

Strathmore 500 watercolor paper and Sailor Fude with water soluble ink.  On this paper the ink takes awhile to dry and I had to be careful not to smear as I worked.  I painted the color first and then sketched over with pen.

This one is an exercise that was meant to be a continuous line sketch.  Didn't quite work out that way but still helped with the purpose I chose to work this exercise.

Fabriano Venezia and Sailor Fude with water soluble ink.  On this paper, the ink was pulled right into the paper and dried quickly.  For an ink that should bleed with a wet brush, it really didn't so I was able to take watercolor OVER the ink sketch.  I'm still not crazy about painting on this paper meant for drawing.  Just doesn't have the paper surface to allow for good water media applications.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Golden Rain Tree Autumn Colors

This is one tree sitting in our front yard I absolutely LOVE!!!  Love the shape of the canopy and how it produces bright yellow flowers in the fall followed by these reddish seed pods.  Although the tree is still loaded, there are pods everywhere between our yard and our neighbors.

I found this piece of limb in the yard and brought it in to sketch/paint.  Along with it were teenie weenie spiders that crawled out on the paper as I was 

Fabriano Venezia sketchbook and Lamy Safari with Lexington Grey ink.

Wall Hanging - Watercolor

Worked this a day or so ago in the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook.

This hangs on the wall right across from my desk.  I've had this for MANY years.

Scanner really picked up the gold.  This is more contrasty than how it looks in reality :-(

Friday, November 2, 2018

November 2018 Monthly Challenge - Creepy Crawlies

This month's challenge between friends is illustrating creepy crawlies. 

We are to end up with six illustrations.  We can choose six different "models" or if less than six, we have to sketch in different positions to reach our six quota.

Each illustration has to be done in a different medium.

Worked in Stillman & Birn Beta - large sketchbook

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018 Inktober - Recap

Well..........I've completed another year's Inktober challenge with a different objective than most.  Primary object was to practice hatching and other ink marks for texture, form, and value.

With this practice, I found there are certain hatching techniques I prefer over others.  I'm not a big fan of cross hatching as the diamond and square pattern that creates doesn't settle well with me unless needed to depict a particular pattern ......... like cloth.  I don't care for it to depict value unless I need near black areas.  Instead I would rather keep going over with same directional hatch marks or use stippling.  Stippling and/or tiny tick line marks are two of my favorites.

Tapping into some imagination and creativity with several of my sketches, I've come to really appreciate what illustrators face when designing anything from children's books to game characters.  A LOT of thought and work goes into that.  For me it can be a strain on the   Capturing something I see in front of me is much easier but at least if I push myself, I know now that I do have the ability to imagine and create fantasy, though they might be.  :-)

This year as mentioned in previous post(s), I grabbed my Ipad and Apple pencil to work the Inktober Challenge.  Taking it a bit further so I have a paper copy, I set my sketches up in page format to print and bind together (to be stitched with a simple pamphlet stitch) and keep in one of my fabric midori style journals.

NOW I need to decide on what I want to do for November and December.  Do I take a break or do I set myself another challenge?

Flower Arrangement

This is a loose painting inspired by my Inktober sketch I worked from a pattern on my night shirt. 

Strathmore 500 watercolor paper.

Also brought out my smaller natural brushes I haven't played with in a very long time.....this painting using a Silver Black Velvet #6 round.   Feels so strange compared to the synthetics and water brushes I've been using. 

2018 Inktober - Final Day

This says it all.......

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Loosening Up a Bit and Some Color

After all the sketches I've worked for Inktober, I needed to loosen up a bit and play with some color.

Worked on a scrap piece of Strathmore 500 watercolor paper...

This next is working in the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook both in color and with ballpoint.  Just messing around.

2018 Inktober - Day 30

Today's Inktober sketch - Painted rocks I did last year set up in a basket with a washcloth nest.  Representing types of coffee and caffeine content :-)

Monday, October 29, 2018

2018 Inktober - Days 23 - 29

Throughout the Inktober challenge, I have primarily worked in just black and white.   Although I love just pen and black ink, now and then I find I need to see some color.    :-)

Only two more days........

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