Monday, December 06, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Instead, I was bundled up like a snowman watching the CFL western semi-final game in an outdoor arena. It was so cold that every time there was a stoppage in play (which in football happens about every 30 seconds) the players would jump up and down to keep warm. The super tough Saskatchewan Roughriders team didn't even have long sleeved shirts on under their jerseys. We Canadians are pretty stoic when it comes to winter, and some (me included) actually like the chill and the snow. But it was simply too cold and we left in the fourth quarter, even though it was a good, close game and Calgary/Saskatchewan games are always hard fought. Alas, the home team lost and next week's Grey Cup will be between Saskatchewan and Montreal. Go Riders! And now, my poor, aching knees are burning with the fires of a thousand suns to remind me of it.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
When we reached our first, somewhat rustic hotel, I discovered that there was no fridge in the room and the bottled water was $7.00 US for a small bottle. I may have miscalculated this badly. It may be that away from the major resorts, bottled water is rare and expensive. After supper, we went out to the town and found that the little bodegas sold bottled water for prices much cheaper than even at home. We stocked up, and although we couldn't keep it very cold it was fine for our needs.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Pentel brush pens in the day journal.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Do you remember starting school in the fall when you were a kid? In elementary school almost the first thing we did every year was gather leaves to draw and color. I still love doing that, and it still reminds me of being a child when every thing was beautiful and everyone was an artist.
Watercolor pencils in Moleskine.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
This whooping crane lives at the zoo here in Calgary. They are still an endangered species, although they have returned from the brink of extinction. In 1941, there were only 16 of them. Now there are 200 in the wild and that many again in captivity, thanks to carefully managed breeding programs. Their breeding ground is in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories, then they migrate down the coast to North America to the Gulf of Texas. That's an amazing journey.
Pictures and more info at National Geographic
Watercolor on Canson 140 lb paper
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Watercolor pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
Monday, August 30, 2010
I chose to draw these buildings because I really liked the red windows and plants in the boxes, and the curved window on the right side building. But mostly, I was completely charmed by the way the sky and clouds were reflected in the windows.These buildings really are side by side and are on Stephen Ave right in the heart downtown. Most of the buildings along here are historical and original, and protected. During the day only foot traffic is allowed, which opens it up to cute kiosks that sell everything from sunglasses to bratwurst on a bun. All the many restaurants place tables and chairs outside, and the business people sip their lunchtime beers under umbrellas. On this day, I sat on a wrought iron bench in the sun and listened to a wonderful jazz trio playing. That's why they say "Summertime, and the livin' is easy".
Pigma pen and watercolor pencils in Moleskine. It took me a long time to complete this drawing, but I'm quite pleased with it.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
As I was preparing to draw, a small bumblebee landed on the table. It crawled along the edge of the table and then suddenly stopped as if it were too exhausted to go on. I grabbed the pencil and quickly sketched it, noting the placement of the stripes of fur, the shape of the legs, the curve of the thorax. It stayed for about 20 minutes, long enough to study it well and add some color. I added it to the sketch of begonias. See it there on the darker leaf on the left? It was a tiny little bee, maybe just hatched or popped or however bees become bees.
I'm always in awe when I get the opportunity to see a bit of nature up close like this. Bees are always in motion so it's rare to see one so close and still that I could make out the soft down and the brilliant colors.
Watercolor in Moleskine wc book.
Here's the bee sketch if you're interested. It's done using watercolor pencils. I made notes, too.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 02, 2010
My personal difficulty with roses is drawing them. My goal during my summer off work was to learn to draw roses (and cats, but that's another story). There have been many badly drawn, unrecognizable roses here, lots of frustration and despair. But this one is OK, I think I had a bit of a breakthrough on the shape and curvature of the petals. I worked from a couple of books, and the actual roses blooming by the deck. And really, any day spent drawing roses on the deck simply has to be a good day.
"Roses are Difficult Here" by W.O. Mitchell 1990
Watercolot pencils in Robert Bteman sketchbook
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I get such inspiration and rejuvenation from the garden.
What could be better than sitting on the deck, in the sunshine, drawing the flowers blooming all around you?
Nature and art seem to go together so naturally. Even the original cave paintings show nature - well, usually man conquering nature as they show people driving mastodons over a cliff. But still, art is a way for us to make sense of the world around us, to capture a part of nature forever.
In the dead of winter, when I look at this little sketch, I can remember the sunlight and the birdsong and know that nature renews itself as it renews me.
Watercolor pencils in the Pentallic sketchbook.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
These superstars are (from left to right) Japanese Daisy, Siberian Daisy, and the always lovely and graceful day lillies. Welcome back!
Pen and watercolor pencils in my lovely new little Pentallic Nature Sketch sketchbook. The paper is divine and takes water really well. I like it a lot.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This is also my 250th post. That's also kind of blissful (and amazing).
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
My tulips came up and budded out in April when we had some nice warm weather. Then the weather turned cold and they stalled. These ones I rescued from the snow that threatened to crush and break their stems. They bloomed inside and were such a sunny, cheerful hit of spring I had to draw them. And this poem is the perfect description.
by A.E. Stallings
The tulips make me want to paint,
Something about the way they drop
Their petals on the tabletop
And do not wilt so much as faint,
Something about their burnt-out hearts,
Something about their pallid stems
Wearing decay like diadems,
Parading ﬁnishes like starts,
Something about the way they twist
As if to catch the last applause,
And drink the moment through long straws,
And how, tomorrow, they’ll be missed.
The way they’re somehow getting clearer,
The tulips make me want to see—
The tulips make the other me
(The backwards one who’s in the mirror,
The one who can’t tell left from right),
Glance now over the wrong shoulder
To watch them get a little older
And give themselves up to the light.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Flowers are one of my favorite inspirations for drawing and painting. This is the photo for the Monthly Sketch Project. I loved the ranges of pinks, but mostly the dark background grabbed my attention. It's very difficult to do dark in watercolor, but I think it's important to learn how. It's the dark that often makes the light work.
Sadly, once again I missed the deadline to post this on the Sketch Project site. But do click the link and look at how some others drew the project.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I'm trying to draw a bit quicker. You need to be quick if you want to draw birds, cats, sailboats and other moving targets. This was an attempt to let go of the details and capture the shape - the essential "birdness". I'm not sure that I like it.
I did it last week, when the robin was gazing skyward and basking in the sunshine, and I was contemplating breaking the capri pants and flipflops out of winter storage.
This week, we were visited again by winter with lots of wet, heavy snow, wind warnings, and barely above freezing temperatures. This afternoon the robin was slogging through the snow, probably wishing he hadn't let the travel agent talk him into taking the Early Bird flight back to paradise. For now, the summer clothes stay put, and I hope the robin's fluffy feathers will keep him warm. Oh, and any complaint about snow has to be followed by the obligatory phrase "But we need the moisture" Sigh...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
This sketch is done from the charming photo posted on the Monthly Sketch Project site. It's very serene, and probably from a zen garden. I loved the photo and really liked doing the sketch, but because it's not my photo I don't have a story to go along with it.
However, I can write a bit about the flowers surrounding the temple. I think they are wax begonias of my favorite variety. It's the Cocktail series, the white flowers are called Whiskey. The red variety is called Vodka, and the pink ones are called Gin. They have those lovely bronzy-green leaves, and flowers upheld on stiff stems. They are my favorite shade plants for the patio. And such cute names!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
This is not the post I had in mind today. I think it was John Lennon who said that real life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I can attest to that. None of the drawings that I wanted to post are happening the way I want them to. I think I need to lighten up and stop trying so hard.
So to switch my brain off, I noted the signs of spring that I saw on my way home today and then drew them as quickly as I could. But ture to theme, I chose a new, untried pen. It takes forever to dry, smears when I try to erase the pencil, and is not waterproof with the brushpens.
On the up side --- 4 signs of spring! Spring is most welcome this year. Now, back to the drawing board.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
This is a street in Stavanger Norway - not a place I've been to in real life. I used Google maps and the little pegman. There haven't been any posts on this blog for two weeks and I'm blaming this for that.
In my heart of hearts, I very much want to be an urban sketcher. I also know that I am not going to magically wake up one day and be an urban sketcher without any effort on my part. Martha Beck, one of my favorite authors, says that we can all work miracles,and it is significant that the first word of that phrase is work. To that end, I found the website called Virtual Paintout. Each month, they choose a location and participants use Google maps and the pegman to get street views. It's not easy to find a place, I saw a great many warehouses in Stavanger. Secondly, moving the little pegman up and down streets is seriously addictive, and eats up great chunks of time. Thirdly, perpective is ridiculously hard for me which is why I keep procrastinating (and why I'm still not an urban sketcher). I have worked on this small sketch for two weeks! For better or worse, it's done.
Virtual Paintout is here
Sunday, March 14, 2010
This is a hillside on the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten. We took a bus tour from the Dutch side of the island over to Orient Beach on the French side. The whole island is very hilly and steep and the buildings cling precariously to the slope. From the bus, it was not apparent how people got to these houses as the lush vegetation hid all the roads and paths from sight. Most of the houses were white with red or terracotta roof tiles. It was a very pretty sight against the green hillside and the brilliant blue sky. At Orient beach we had barbecued ribs and chicken at Boo Boo Jam's beach side restaurant, and played in the rough surf. Good times.
Watercolor and ink on coldpressed paper.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Onions and garlic are the perfect marriage. It's lasted a long time, and has been the start of many beautiful dishes. Almost anything can be made to taste rich and complex using these two ingredients as a base. OK, maybe not chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie, but most savory dishes use them. Think of how bland food would be without them.
This blog celebrates the beauty in ordinary things and today I invite you to celebrate the humble garlic and onion. Look at their voluptuous shapes and vibrant yet delicate colors. Onion skins have also made contributions to ink and textile colorings, as well. These two vegetables are often reviled for their strength and aroma, but we still love them.
The original photo is by Gillian. Her website is here:
and other links for VSD is here:
I used watercolor pencils in the Robert Bateman sketchbook.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
These brilliant red hibiscus flowers were blooming in front of the hotel we stayed at in Fort Lauderdale. We had left Calgary early in the morning and it was -16C. In Fort Lauderdale, it was warm and humid and rainy. And there was green grass and blooming things. It was such a treat for our winter-weary souls. When we returned home, it was again very cold and very foggy. Good riddance to February, I say, time to turn our thoughts to spring and sunshine.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I hesitated to post this. Drawing people is something that scares me - really scares me. This photograph was wonderful, the sense of excitement and dynamic motion was very compelling. It also made my stomach clench and my hands shake so badly I could barely put a line down.
About 8 years ago, the teacher in my Watercolor for Beginners was confidetn we could do portraits. I had a gorgeous photo of my 2 year old nephew. He was adorable with his sparkling eyes and beaming smile. My portrait, however, bore a resemblance more to Stewie Griffin from Family Guy than to my nephew. I was mortified, and a bit traumatised. But I am committed to doing these challenges and it's impossible to draw an Olympic event without drawing people. So I gave it a try, telling myself that I can't ever get better if I don't try. The arms on these fellows are not quite right - they were foreshortened in the photograph. This is actually my third attempt. It took that long to get my hands to stop shaking. And the helmets and goggles helped because I didn't have to come up with a true likeness. One step at a time.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
One of the things I like most about watercolor is the unpredictability of it. You can add the water and the paint and guide it in the direction you want it to go, but the final effect is the reaction of the water and pigment and paper to each other. This is from the photograph provided for Monthly Sketch Date for January. I loved the photo and had the idea to use salt in the background wash to give that crystalline look of foggy air. I also wanted the background to be very dark to show up the edges of rime frost. But the salt in the wash did not give me the effect I was looking for. Instead the crystals just drew the paint into blobs that ended up looking messy. It was a far cry from the airy, ethereal look I wanted. So once again, I did not make the deadline for the sketch date. But I wanted later to give it another try, maybe make the background darker and smooth some of those ugly blotches out. When I rewet the paper, suddenly those lovely crystal blooms appeared! It was exactly what I had expected the first time around. I added a little color but really it was the water that did all the work. Don't you love it when that happens?
Monday, February 15, 2010
This is a true story. I'm sure my cat Holly has this very thought every time I put out the art supplies. Of course, the final goal for all art supplies/cat toys is permanent exile under the stove, never to be seen again. If there are no more art supplies, then all the attention goes to the cat. Right?
I don't often draw from my imagination. I'm not very good at it because I can never get the shadows right. I got the shadows right on the pencil and brush because I set those up in front of me. But for the first time since we adopted Holly, she did not get up on the table and reach her paw out for the brush. I even invited her to this time. The one time I actually wanted her to do it, she refused. So I had to guess at the where the shadow of her paw would fall.
Sharpie pen, Pentel brush pens, watercolor in Robert Bateman sketchbook.
Monday, February 08, 2010
This is for the Monthly Sketch Project. The photograph is beautiful, and really made me want to draw and paint it. But it presented a few challenges, too. The photo is quite bright with an absence of strong shadows and contrasting colors. It was tricky to get the yellow flowers to pop against the green background.
The photo and the website are here:
This is watercolor pencils in Co-Mo sketchbook.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
One cold, dark, winter afternoon I struggled through the snow to the grocery store to stock up. There by the entrance was a display of these beautifully blooming African Violets. They were waiting for people like me who were mourning the lack of fresh, blossoming things and sun-warmed earth to dig into. How could I resist? I brought it home and it has cheered my heart and soul, bravely blooming against a backdrop of snow drifts in the back yard.
Years ago, I heard a CBC reporter interview a woman who lived in northern England. She asked how the residents coped with the lack of sunshine and warmth during the very short days. The woman replied "We draw the drapes against the dark, we light a fire against damp, and we have a wee drop of Port to warm our hearts". I admire that woman's practicality and resiliance.
Pentel pen and brushpens and watercolor pencils in the Moleskine sketchbook.