22 July 2017

a proud lion (?)

This sculpture we drive by in College Station, on the campus of Texas A & M, reminds me of a lion. From some angles, it looks like a simple pile of cut stones. But the two views I drew are more lion-like.

This handbound sketchbook was made by my dear friend Kate (aka Cathy Johnson) and has several types of paper in it. This toned paper is probably Stonehenge. I used a Pentel pocketbrush pen and gouache in the upper sketch, and a purplish brown water-soluble ink I mixed myself in the lower sketches, teasing out a bit of wash with a waterbrush.

The pretty bookmark to the right was also made by Kate: she repurposed a larger sketch by cutting it into bookmarks. I love how the colors repeat in the paper and cover of this journal!

09 July 2017

shadow play

As I looked at Bill's Bible and coffee cup in our discipleship class at church this morning, the multiple-direction shadows caught my eye . . . so I drew the Bible and cup with a Pentel Pocketbrush pen and lightly penciled in the shadows to paint later at home. 

This handbound sketchbook has two tones of paper in this spread, requiring a bit of white gouache. A few years ago I put together this "shadow and highlight" kit, made from an empty proxy-brush container. It holds half-pans of a dark blue (ultramarine or indanthrone?) and burnt umber watercolors, and some white gouache --- handy for just adding a bit of shadow to an ink sketch, or to recover a bit of white highlight to a watercolor. Or for toned paper like this.

05 July 2017

pain free at last!

Since January, Bill has had two neck surgeries --- one from the front to remove two discs blocking the spinal fluid, fusing bone grafts in their place, and a second one from the back, creating more room for the nerve in that area which was being poked by a bone spur. Following the second surgery, he went through many weeks of physical therapy to restore strength and movement to his right arm, which has experienced major pain for 3 1/2 years.

Released from therapy, his arm strength and mobility returning, Bill still had a lot of pain in his arm. So back to the surgeon for more tests . . . They think that the bone spur had poked so long at the nerve (which now has plenty of space away from the spur) that the nerve had been damaged. It can heal __slowly__ so in the meantime, they made an appointment for him with Pain Management. Which would be a nearly two-month wait to get in. So the nurse said "just a minute while I walk down the hall" (where the Pain Management office is). She came back and said "they will see you right NOW."

She must have told them how long he has suffered with this --- and not only evaluated his situation; they went ahead and gave him a spinal injection right then and there! Between that and this new prescription, his nerve should have time to fully heal . . . a Pain Free time! We are praising God for giving Bill favor and relief, and for the doctor and technicians who gave up their lunch hours for him.

04 July 2017

two wee gnomes

Last week I drew two green men who hang on an old live oak tree at the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX. At the base of that same tree lives a village of wee gnomes; here are two of them tending their nasturtiums.

01 July 2017

Lion of Judah

Today I drew this for a close friend . . . He asked me if I would draw one for him around 1 1/2 years ago, after he saw an ink sketch from one of my journals, dated November 2015.

Did I mention how good I can be at procrastinating?

29 June 2017

two green men

These two green men inhabit an ancient live oak tree in the garden of the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas. And as spell-check just reminded me, I mis-spelled it 'Independance' on the sketchbook page. Oh, well . . .

24 June 2017

Bardie bits

No, Bardie does not hold still for me to sketch him; I drew these from phone snapshots . . .

19 June 2017

random toys

This week we have three grandkids visiting us, meaning there really isn't much focused sketching going on. But I managed to draw a few random toys . . .
(The bluish cast is from taking this photo in afternoon light on our shaded patio. It's actually drawn on one of my favorite papers, Fabriano Artistico soft press, in natural white.)

16 June 2017

a real tea cup and saucer!

As we ate a wonderful breakfast at the Heritage Sunday House bed & breakfast, I laughed because I was finally drinking my morning tea from an actual tea cup and saucer. At home, I drink tea from large mugs. Diane heard me and said we needed to take care of that --- she told me to choose whatever tea cup and saucer I liked in her antique shop, and it would be a wedding anniversary gift to me! I chose this cream-colored set made in England with figures that look like 18th century etchings. Now I can drink my tea in style!

For many years, I have loved other sketchbook artists' sketches of their tea cups -- especially Liz Steel's impressive collection of tea cups! I love how quick and loose Liz's tea cup sketches look! Typical to my own habits, I spent a lot more time on this sketch but I had fun doing it.

15 June 2017

Heritage Sunday House

Nearly 3 weeks ago, after renewing our wedding vows, we went to the Heritage Sunday House, a charming bed & breakfast in Burton, Texas. Built in 1914, the house was once a Sunday Haus, a weekend home for German farmers / ranchers who lived too far from town to drive in for church services. They would travel to town on Saturday, get their shopping done, stay overnight to attend church on Sunday, then take the long drive home.

The innkeeper, Diane, became a friend immediately --- a lovely, gracious lady of German heritage whose family settled in the area. She also found out that I was a sketcher --- she had been wanting to find someone to draw some art for her brochures, as well as for note cards to sell. So apparently I have an art commission! Next door to the house sits an old dance hall, now housing Diane's antique shop. She invited me to sell my work there as well --- I laughed and said I'd have to actually do something outside of my sketchbooks first! But this opportunity has challenged me to move forward with my art. 

09 June 2017

non-photogenic sketching

I have never been photogenic . . . and the same holds true of trying to sketch myself. But I wanted to record a few visual memories of our renewing our wedding vows this year so I drew from photos others took. Not happy with how this turned out -- almost didn't post it -- but time to move on . . .

08 June 2017

Bardie, the artist

Bardie has decided he can draw with me . . . if only he can manage to pick up the pencil.

04 June 2017

Bardie discovered his cat cave today . . .

. . . and he likes it! The big (to someone his size) livingroom can be a scary place; this seems like a safe place to observe it from.

02 June 2017

a new trick learned

Very early this morning, Bardie was chasing his favorite moth toy (bits of rolled-up paper on a steel wire). When it rose above this cat cubicle cubbyhole, he even went inside it, thinking he could catch the "moth" from underneath. Finally, he jumped up on top and caught it! (This had been my goal.)

Before he realized it, he had made the leap onto our VERY HIGH bed . . .

and discovered a whole new view.

Then it was back to that pesky "moth".

While I was posting these photos on Instagram, he then jumped from the floor to the bed behind me, without using the cat cubicle as a stepping stone. Success! I had wanted him to learn to get up here without our having to pick him up, so he would not have to meow to be picked up when he gets lonely during the night. I think he still misses his brothers and sister, and his mama cat who was overprotective of her litter. Here is a photo of his mama, Pippi, and his sister:

01 June 2017

settling in

We have two hands-full of loving energy living with us!

Bardie decided it was lunch time . . .

followed up by having a bit of a wash . . . Hard to do while keeping one eye on that flying moth toy . . .

so he moved over a bit. But that darn camera was still there . . .

so Bardie was out of there!

That is, until he met up with this handsome cat living in the mirror.

29 May 2017

45 years and counting

At 7:00 pm on a Friday 45 years ago, Bill and I got married. Last year on our anniversary, he asked me to marry him again . . . because it means so much more now than when we were 2 naive kids. This year, our anniversary fell on a Friday, so we planned on renewing our vows at 7:00 pm, exactly 45 years after the first time.

Uh . . . we ran into a slight glitch. Our pastor's grandson graduated high school at 7:00 the same day, in a different town. After a bit of thinking, Bill realized that we had been married in Arizona time, which is 2 hours ahead of Texas time. So we got re-married at 9:00 pm under the oak trees at our home in the country . . . exactly 45 years after the first. This ceremony was so much more special, made especially so by our pastor and friend, Gary Faulkner.

This is also the first sketch in my new sketch journal, a special grass-paper covered handbound journal made by Cathy 'Kate' Johnson. Makes this "new beginning" of ours even more special. I worked this in watercolor alone (over a guideline of pencil), using a fine Molotow Grafx Art masking liquid marker. This paper is Strathmore Multi-Media. The journal has a variety of papers in it -- I'm glad Kate penciled a code on each type of paper so I'll know what I'm working on!

25 May 2017

some late night sketching

I was tired last night, but not yet sleepy . . . So I picked up this Lamy Vista, filled with Noodler's red-black ink, and drew stuff on the nightstand next to me. Then washed out a bit of ink here and there with a waterbrush.

And so ends one more sketch journal . . . just in time to begin a special one tomorrow, handmade by my dearest friend, Kate (aka Cathy Johnson). Below are views of the inside facing pages of this small journal just ended. The rough textured brown paper was a bit hard to write on but I managed to jot down a few things I wished to remember.

24 May 2017


Today my kitten is 10 weeks old . . . meaning that I could technically pick him up from the breeder's at any time now. We decided to go get him after we renew our vows this Friday; a new kitten doesn't need to deal with all those visitors to our home!

But oddly, I have not been able to get in touch with the breeder this week to finalize plans. Up till now, she has been extremely responsive to emails and texts. She told me she would be unavailable earlier this month, but she should have returned by Sunday. Yet she is not answering my attempts to reach her. I hope everything is well with her and her family.

Meanwhile, I have been debating whether to use Bearcat's stoneware water dish. I bleached it and washed it well, to rid it of any contamination due to his having had feline herpes. I want to make sure it is not passed on to the new kitten. But I'm still uncomfortable using the water dish, so I ordered a new one. It arrived this week --- poorly packaged and broken. :-(

23 May 2017

snail studies

Last week, when we drove to Giddings for a funeral, we picked up a dear friend, Billie, on the way. At her house in Caldwell, I noticed some pretty snails and tried to take a quick photo of one to sketch later. But the snail hid in its shell. 

So later in the week, Billie sent me some much better photos she took. The upper two were drawn in a water-soluble ink (J. Herbin's Lie de The), then washed out a bit with a waterbrush. The other one is drawn with Noodler's Lexington Gray water-resistant ink and watercolor added. I wish I had paid more attention to leaving the white paper for the shine.

22 May 2017

Celtic Woman

One of our sons gave us tickets to go see Celtic Woman, as a 'wedding' gift (we are renewing our vows for our 45th anniversary). Bill has been wanting to attend one of their concerts for many years!

As normal for us, we arrived way too early, partly because we weren't sure where the Smart Financial Center was, so I sat outside and drew the arena. This section along highway 59 / 69 was an empty field when I used to drive between Sugarland and Richmond. This is the venue's first year, and the Celtic Woman tour is all new as well. We were sad that Mairead Nesbitt is no longer with the group __her fiddle playing while dancing around like a wee sprite was amazing!__ but the new member, Tara, is equally amazing! A classically trained musician, she sings as well as playing fiddle and harp.

I was glad to see two favorites are still with the tour: drummer Ray Fean and piper Anthony Byrne. I could listen to Anthony Byrne play the highland pipes forever! 

I ran out of page in this wee handbound sketchbook before I could fit in the other singers: Susan, Eabha, and the other Mairead. Maybe I should have captured them first? But instead, I went for the drummer and piper first. I would have liked to draw the other drummer, the uilleann piper, and the male chorus . . . but I was just enjoying the show instead.

20 May 2017

sketches from this past week

I've been a bit sporadic lately with making time to sketch, as we get ready to renew our vows and prepare for the kitten. I grabbed a moment during a drive to Giddings and drew this wildflower that had popped up in our yard. I had to work fast, as the plucked flower kept changing as I held it. Later, I saw this scissor-tailed flycatcher at the Giddings cemetery (we went to a funeral for a friend's dad).

And our tomatoes are so early this year, they demanded a sketch! Actually, I've been eating the tiny grape tomatoes for a couple of weeks already.

13 May 2017

a bit more crocheting and knitting

After crocheting a 'cat cave' for my new kitten out of repurposed yarn, I gathered bits of leftover yarn and started making cat toys. Some have a large jingle bell, some are stuffed with a bit of catnip. Two of them are hung from door knobs (or from a willing human hand). Just keeping my hands busy while I wait to go get Bardie.

12 May 2017

a Fiestaware . . . cat dish?

My Maine Coon, Bearcat, had an odd habit of removing his food from the cat dish and placing it on the mat before eating it. I thought nothing of it at the time --- my previous cat, Dali, always dunked her food in the water dish before eating it!

But recently I read of something called whisker fatigue. Apparently a cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive at the tips; when they touch the edges of the food bowl, vibrations travel down to nerves in the cat's face. This can actually cause pain and stress in some cats. Bearcat had _very_ long whiskers; if I'd only known the small dish was a problem for him!

Years ago, my mother gave me her Fiestaware creamer and sugar, along with a salt and pepper set. As I recently rearranged things in the cupboard, I thought why not use the tray for a shallow cat dish for my new cat? There's one side for dry kibble, one side for canned food.

10 May 2017

a few current wildflowers

The bluebonnets are long gone, but the countryside around us is still bursting with wildflowers. This is just a sample of the varieties . . . and there's more to come. The prickly poppy here is early; soon the road between home and Somerville will be covered in them. And snow-on-the-mountain is just rising, not yet in bloom --- it covers pastures in masses of white.

05 May 2017

Bardie MacRuadh

Though he is still with his mama (being only 7 weeks old), my new Scottish Fold -straight has a name: here's a recent photo of Bardie MacRuadh! (My Scottish Terriers all had Scottish names, so why not stick with tradition?) Bardie means 'gelded cat', but also 'pert or cocky'. MacRuadh (Mac-ROO-a) means son of red -- his daddy is a gorgeous red tabby.

I was reading a fictional book set in Scotland many months ago and came across the word 'bardie'. Not knowing what it meant, I looked it up. I thought at the time it would be a good name for a male cat, though I had no plans at the time of getting one. And it remained stuck in my head.

04 May 2017

random sketches, yesterday & today

Yesterday evening I mindlessly drew my foot __again__ while jotting down notes at church.

This morning, I ruthlessly cut back our roses, saving this wee bud to sketch. Some of our roses were completely de-leafed by wildlife grazing at night. Some had a bad case of black spot. And the old climber at the corner of our patio was completely dead, seemingly overnight. It was blooming just a few days ago!

I cut them back quite severely; because they had bloomed a full month earlier than expected, I had not had a chance to trim them back in early spring. Maybe we can save some of them. When we moved here, the whole front of the patio were planted with roses, plus two tall ones at the back door. We have had to replace several, mostly due to wildlife eating the leaves. We thought we had that solved by leaving 'fairy lights' on all night, but apparently they have decided the light was no threat.

02 May 2017

an exercise in colored pencils

Some dear friends gave me a great set of colored pencils --- I have played with watercolor pencils a bit, adding water so they were more like using "controlled" watercolor, but I have never tried wax-based colored pencils for art before.

I _did_ have a how-to book on my bookshelf ("Colored Pencil" by Eileen Sorg) and one of the exercises fit my brother, Dave, whose birthday is this week. So I followed the steps to make a card for him.

27 April 2017

a new rubber ball

This cat toy appeared to be easier to draw than it turned out to be. I totally messed up on the parts seen through the holes . . . The jingle bell doesn't look right, either.

25 April 2017

a cat cave

When Bearcat, my 14 1/2 year old Maine Coon died, I threw away everything that belonged to him. Not from sentimentality but to protect any future cat. When I adopted Bear, he was unknowingly exposed to feline herpes, which my other cat, Dali, had but had not presented symptoms of as yet. As soon as we found out about her illness, we started both cats on daily lysine that helps prevent outbreaks (there is no cure); for Dali it was too late -- she had been born to an infected mother. But it kept Bear healthy for many years. He died from kidney failure and cancer. Before bringing home a new cat, we threw all his stuff away and disinfected everything, so the herpes will not be passed on.

I asked our new kitten's breeder if her cats were used to cat beds. They tend to ignore them but love little cubbyholes or cubes they can hide in. Which fits what I've seen of Maru, a Scottish Fold popular on YouTube for diving into boxes and other small spaces. 

Years ago, I made a bulky-knit bathmat out of Sugar and Cream yarn. We had no need for it here in our new home, so I unraveled the mat and am using the yarn to crochet a cat cave. I found the pattern online, made of t-shirt yarn, but holding 3 or 4 strands of cotton yarn together seems to make a firm enough structure. . . . . My hands got tired so I took a break and sketched my work so far.

24 April 2017

scribbled crosses

While listening to yesterday's sermon, I drew a Celtic cross with wedding rings. Then drew several more simplified versions.

This year our 45th wedding anniversary happens to fall on the same day of the week that we got married on. We plan to renew our wedding vows on that day, in a simple ceremony under our own oak trees with family and friends. A VERY simple "wear blue jeans & bring your own lawn chair" event. Bill loosely described to me what he'd like on the invitations, so I was trying to simplify the sketch enough to draw it on each invitation.

22 April 2017

an odd bug

Lately we have been overrun with bugs of various types. Because of Bill's spraying near our home to get rid of the flea problem, all other bugs soon end up dead as well. As soon as I sweep all the dead 'love bugs' off of the patio, it is covered again. (Driving home from College Station on Thursday, they were so thick that drivers had to pull off to wash windshields!)

But this interesting yellow bug was found resting on a window screen, having recently emerged from the shell on the right. I looked him up through Google -- he (or she?) is called a Guadalupe fly, Wiley's fly, or a yellow drake mayfly. Whatever his name, he was fun to draw . . . even though I ran off the page trying to draw his _two_ long tails!
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