Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

These days

Watching:  Last Tango in Halifax - a lovely BBC show about two widowed older folks who meet again and decide to marry. And Sherlock

Eating:  Juicy white peaches.  Poached salmon.  Lots of basil.

Reading:  Incessantly. The best of recent novels:

     The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney.  A mysterious school for the rehabilitation of abused dogs -- or is it for the rehabilitation of the people who come there? 

     Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman - the first in a series about a Scottish woman in India, along the lines of the Alexander McCall Smith "Ladies Detective Agency" series.

     11/22/63, Stephen King's non-horror time travel novel about a man who tries to go back in time to stop the assassination of JFK.

    The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna von Praag.  A house for women who need a bit of a breather while they figure things out, along with some magic realism.  Charming.

Creating:  Lots of sketches.  (See here.)  Jumbly journals.  (See here.)  And getting ready to quilt a quilt that has been waiting far too long.

What have you been up to?  Read any good books lately?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vacation Sketching

My friend Pat today asked if I sketched while I was away.  Of course I did!  I did quite a mix -- some on site, some from photos I'd taken earlier in the day when I was back at the rental cottage in air-conditioned comfort, and some I drew in ink on site and then painted later.  Wanna see what I did?

First, a page about Sonora. I sketched mostly from photos I took, as it was BLAZING hot and humid. 

 Next day was Columbia, the restored gold mining village.  My sister and I sat and painted on site, on a bench in the shade. So this was wholly done en plein air, as they say.  We had the stage coach going by regularly (wonderful to hear the clip-clop of horses' hooves as we sketched) and we were near a musician playing the banjo and harmonica and singing period songs. Perfect!

In Columbia we had lunch at the tea house there.  While waiting for our food (gulping iced tea thirstily, it was so hot!) we started sketching and then food arrived.  So this was fast, colors aren't to my liking (too pale, no contrast) but I did it fast and left it as is.  

Next day was Yosemite, and I sketched two of these bits while there, and two at home.
  We spent an hour at the fancy old lodge-style hotel in Yosemite, the Ahwahnee Hotel, and did a bit of sketching in the lounge while we rested and cooled off.  What a gorgeous hotel with lots of accessible public areas.  I drew this on site and then I added color from photos the next day at home.


We were staying at a very charming rental cottage (you can rent it yourself here) and there was a totally adorable pink victorian farmhouse across the street.  So one day I sat and sketched that:

 Then we took a day to explore the little gold rush towns of Murphy's and Angels Camp.  Angels Camp is the setting of "The Jumping Frog of Calavaras County" by Mark Twain, so there's a lot of frog stuff there.  They still have a frog jumping contest every May, and all down the sidewalk there were brass plaques for each year's winner. 

 I remembered Murphys as tiny and sleepy, but it's become a big wine-tasting town, with many of the old storefronts turned into tasting rooms.  Still, it was quite charming and I loved the hotel in the center of town.

There you have it!  I have more I want to do from the bazillion photos I took, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Shall we continue our California Gold Country tour?  Columbia is a little gold rush town, and also a historic state park. I was there as a kid, and it was kind of amazing to see that so little had changed.  Except the staff/reenactors were often seen fiddling with their smart phones.  Sigh.  But it's very charming and we were there on a Wednesday morning when there were few people about.  So, let's take a look.


Shhhh -- I think it's a ghost cat!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Look at Sonora

I spent last week up in Sonora, a charming town smack-dab in the middle of California Gold Country.  My sister came with me, and together we did a whole lot of exploring and picture-taking and sketching and reading and general relaxing.

Did I mention a whole lot of pictures? I took a lot.  And I'm sure you'd like to see some glimpses of Sonora, wouldn't you?

My sister and I had mexican food at the table just inside this window, by the way.

Can you see me in the reflection here?

 You gotta love a town that has a School of Sewing, and with a sign this cool:

 And speaking of signs...

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Colors for the Road

Hello friends,

I'm already on the road headed into California Gold Country for the week, but as part of my trip preparations I decided to revise my watercolor palette and downsize from the large one I've been using to a smaller one. 

First, I emptied the small box and gave it a good rinse.  There! All clean! 

I especially like this small Schmincke palette box.  I bought it filled with Schmincke pans but I've used them and now I fill empty pans with Daniel Smith tube paint.  And yes, I pulled out the metal base with the prongs that hold the pans, because I can fit more pans in without it.

Instead, I cut a piece of quilting or stenciling template plastic the size of the base.

That holds the pans and then I can pop them out easily too -- as here, where I pulled out the last configuration of pans in this palette box...

The palettes are stuck to the plastic with that blu-tack putty you can get at art supply stores.

But look how many half-pans I can fit inside:  21! 

I don't know a tidy way to fill the pans from the tubes.  I'm just messy at it, what can I say?  At least I didn't end up with any paint on my face.   And voila -- now to let this rest and dry for a bit.

I have a lot of my usual favorite colors but I'm trying a few new ones this time.  Here's what's in the palette (All Daniel Smith except for one WN):

Row 1: 
Lemon Yellow
Hansa Yellow medium
Perinone Orange
Pyrol Scarlet
Quinacradone Rose
French Ultramarine
Indanthrone Blue

Row 2:
Green Gold
Green Apatite Genuine
Perylene Green
Cobalt Turquoise (WN)
Carbazole Violet
Diane's Bistre (burnt sienna + french ultramarine)

Row 3:
Buff titanium
Quinacradone gold
Burnt Sienna
Indian Red
Raw Umber
Lunar black

Lunar black is one of the new ones.  I usually don't include a black in my palette but I've read that this makes interesting mixes and granulates well. So I'm giving it a try.  Every time I fill a palette and start using it, I discover that there are colors I just rarely use.  Perinone orange might turn out to be one of those.  We'll see.