Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

EDM #56 Self Portrait

The Everyday Matters Group has set this week's challenge as a 'self portrait.' OH MY GOSH! I've tried this before with horrible results.

The chatter on the list was about the difficulty of this challenge, which it definitely is. But undeterred (or just plain INSANE) I decided to ATTEMPT yet another portrait of me. SIGH.

To add to the challenge, I'm away from home and sans scanner and leaving to visit my sisters and Mom and thus will be away from a scanner until AFTER the week's challenge.

So, I decided, what the heck -- SOMEONE has to be risky -- maybe if I got this posted, everyone could have a good laugh and realize that their portraits couldn't be worse, and maybe we'd all do several of these and get better at it.

So here it is, in all it's simplicity and error ... and a pix of me to compare. Remember, I only have a camera to take a photo, it's dead dark outside, and I promise to attempt more of these to improve.

And hey, someone's gotta be brave!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

EDM#18 - View OF and FROM my Window

The theme for Kate's online alumni group for March is windows. In keeping with with finishing the EDM challenges, I decided to sketch both the view OF my window (my office window) AND a bit of what's OUT the window (the woods). I sketched this in pencil to try (SIGH) to capture the lace curtains (got a LOT to learn there!! LOL) and a bit of the tree trunks I can see when I'm siting at the computer. It's not very obvious I think, but I've tried to capture the plaid cushion on this window seat I infrequently sit in to read or view the birds at the feeder. I scanned my sketch and darkened the lines in Photoshop Elements. Then changed the color of the lines to sepia just for fun.

Vidalia Onions

My dear husband LOVES to go grocery shopping! And BOY am I one lucky woman because I HATE to go shopping! Yesterday he came home with a bag of onions that was his absolutely delight. "Look what I found!" he giggled, with more enthusiasm than a child out of school on a week day. He was simply delirious with joy!

He plucked this bunch of Vidalia onions from the bag, placed them on the counter, and continued to plan an entire meal AROUND the onions. (Did I mention he liked to cook and to eat almost as much as he likes to grocery shop??? And YES, he's taken, ladies! LOL)

So tonight, we'll dine on splendidly fried onions, meatloaf, baked potatoes, and a few gourmet surprises. And I'll plan to add additional walking miles this week!

I not only decided to sketch these beauties because of my husband's enthusiasm for them, but also for the inspiration Laura continues to grace us with. Last month, she inspired us with sketching interiors. This month, she is sketching food. Her food sketches are INCREDIBLE (as is all her work) ! And so, Laura, this sketch is for you and for my husband. THANKS to both of you!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Window that Was

After taking a sketching class from Kate Johnson this winter, she generously set up an alumni group for both her sketching and watercolor classes so we can continue to support (and learn!!) from one another. We've set ourselves a monthly challenge where we'll all attempt a theme or a particular photograph to sketch and/or watercolor. WHAT FUN!!

March's theme is 'windows'... and a few of us overly excited folks (LOL) have already begun sketching the window posted for our practice.

Mercy, the actual photo is such a beautiful window, filled with all sorts of lessons to continue -- perspective, values, shading, sketching/painting foliage. I've attempted this window a few times, each time taking the kind suggestions of my classmates.

Here's my latest attempt ... not too, too shabby for an amateur!! LOL But so much yet to learn!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Signs of Spring

I went into town today to pick up the last gallon of paint. The outside of the house has been refreshed with several coats of stain and sealer, as has the porch and deck, garage, well-house, and even a few of my planters. How WONDERFUL to see the house looking new again.

During my trip to town (12 miles one way), I saw so many signs of spring --trees have lost their grayness, and buds have begun to open. The red maples are magenta against the sky, and in the warmer microhabitats, a few buds of the dogwoods and Bradford pears are beginning to open. I thought to myself how much I would like to capture the red maples for my journal -- they're a favorite tree of mine.

I got home to tour my own property -- NOTHING! Apparently, I'm a week or so behind the warmer areas of town and nary a red maple blossom could be found. Too, after sitting in a sunshine-warmed car, when I stepped outside, the air was cool, very cool, even though the sun was so delicious looking.

On the path to the front door, though, I spotted, or rather sniffed, one of my Sweet Winter Daphnes just opening up its tightly-closed, pink/purple buds. OH MY! The scent was divine! I snipped a blossom and brought it indoors to sketch.

I sketched it in pencil, colored pencil, and two in pen and ink. NO, not because I was displeased with my results! I just wanted to sit close to that plant and INHALE that awesome fragrance! Spring is coming~!

A bit of apricot

Thought I'd add a bit of apricot color (via paper and some Prismacolor pencils) to the tea tin. I didn't want the entire tin colored ... so with the colors I had, I tried to blend a gold and an orange ...

Illustration Friday - Tea

It's been ages since I've participated in IF, but 'tea' has been a favorite beverage of mine for years. I remember the first time I was introduced to tea through the books by Pearl Buck. The way she described the Asian Tea Ceremony inspired my experimenting with various brewing methods, tea cups, and recently, flavored teas.

Since my garden is filled with many different kinds of herbs, I've begun sipping more and more herbal tea - and I'm particularly fond of mint tea. For several years, I grew at least 20 varieties of mint, not only for their sensuous scents, but also for their wonderful tea flavorings. I've narrowed my mint patches though (since they have a tendency to run rampant) to peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint and one or two small remaining patches of orange mint.

However, for this challenge, I picked one of my favorite purchased flavored teas - apricot/peach and sketched the tin. I redid and redid the perspective ... and though it's still a bit off, it's closer than when I began! I'm learning that there are just some things that HAVE to be measured!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You know it's almost Spring by Rebecca's Flowers

Every time I visit the B&B I frequent, there is a fresh bouquet of flowers on Rebecca's tables. If you know anything about flowers, you can tell what season we're in, or about to be in, just by the flowers in her many beautiful vases.

This week, her blue vase was sporting her remaining carnations of Valentine's Day and numerous fully-blown daffodils from her awesome landscaping.

I can't wait to see what she'll be featuring NEXT week!

EDM #55

DOORKNOBS! Who'd have thought they could be so different and so much fun! Here are two I did while away this week -- one, the fancy one, from a door at the B&B I frequent; the other, the institutional one from my office .....

Change Purse

And just because I wasn't quite ready to go to sleep after I sketched my watch, I did a quick sketch of my favorite change purse. I found this plaid fabric purse AGES ago, probably at a crafts festival -- and have never been able to find another one like it that has TWO zippers and fits both all my change AND my ID cards. I held it in one hand and sketched it with the other -- so I didn't have any shadows or folds on it to give it better interest.

EDM #22 and EDM #8

I LOVE kneesocks! They're like warm and soft 'leg huggers!" And so, to catch up on a few more EDM challenges, I sketched my kneesocks for the clothing challenge! I have to admit, I liked the sketch a bit better BEFORE I added the watercolor! (The watercolor did a number on the heel fold I finally got to look like a fold in pencil!! SIGH) OH, just WAIT until I get some watercolor lessons under my belt!

I've also sketched my watch -- and decided to leave it uncolored -- to hedge my bets with the watercolors!

I've been tagged!

My first tagging!!! And sweet Linda did it!

Four Jobs I've Had:
1. field botanist and curator of a herbarium
2. wild food instructor (how to identify and cook wild plants)
3. magazine editor
4. special events coordinator for an island resort

Four Movies I can Watch Over and Over
1. Lady and the Tramp
2. Bambi
3. Under the Tuscan Sun
4. Sound of Music

Is my Pollyana showing yet?

Four Places I've Lived
1. Bad Windsheim, Germany
2. Brooklyn, NY
3. Charleston, SC
4. Chapel Hill, NC

Four TV Shows I Love .... errrr... WATCH errr .... sometimes
1. Carol Duvall (HGTV)
2. The Olympics
3. The News
4. I really don't watch much TV -- those listed are the few exceptions!

Four Places I've Vacationed
1. Sicily, Italy
2. Big Sky Montana
3. Asheville, NC
4. Wilmington, NC

Four of My Favorite Dishes
1. Veal Piccata with Lemon and Peppers
2. Lasagna
3. Seafood Pasta Alfredo
4. Did I mention I love pasta dishes??

Four Sites I Visit Daily --- ONLY FOUR??? Because I just ADORE their work, their spirit, their generosity, and their continued support:

1. Quotidian Curiosities - because I love her watercolors and the way she eagerly tries new things
2. lilypily daze - because I love her spirit, her work and our shared grandparenthood
3. Teri's Painted Daisies - because she is one adventuresome and kind soul whose work pushes me to try new things
4. Laurelines - because I LOVE her colors and looseness of line and thematic sketches

Four Places I Would Rather Be Now
2. Sicily
3. Rome
4. Venice

Did I mention that I want to go back to Italy??? LOL

Four Bloggers I Am Tagging because they've been so kind to me:
1. Laura
2. Teri
3. Terri
4. Kamuela - because we share this 'keep at it' journey together.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

EDM #3 My Bag

My dear daughter is absolutely APPALLED that at my age I still prefer a fanny pack to any 'francy' handbag.

I hate to tell her that my bony shoulders, growing rounder with age, simply CANNOT hold the strap of a shoulder bag, and my arms, weakened by hefting grandchildren heavier than my children ever were before walking on their own, cannot bear to carry a purse weighted down by all my 'necessities.'

Thus, a fanny pack is PERFECT for me -- I can put everything I need in it, hang it on my hips and have my hands free! Yes, I do agree, a business suit and a fanny pack makes an ODD vision!

EDM #16 If I had a Hammer

This hammer (the head of which really is MUCH straighter than I've sketched it) once belonged to my husband. When I began collaging several years ago and got heavily into ephemera, I needed a sturdy hammer to add eyelets, snaps, brads and the like, and Charles found this one for me. It resides in my bin of metal findings....

Another Eno River View

I spent the free time I had between getting ready to leave for the STOMP performance and dinner at my son's attempting another perspective sketch from the walk several weeks ago along the Eno River. I liked the pen and ink I had rendered, but wound up HATING the watercolor I did over it (can't WAIT for classes to begin! LOL). So I redid the sketch on colored paper --


After waiting several months for this venue to arrive, my son, daughter-in-law, husband and I ventured through our two-hour snowstorm (it sure passed quickly!!!) into Raleigh to see STOMP! I've always enjoyed percussion -- and this performance was a masterpiece! From pipes to pans, trash cans to oil drums, brooms and hands -- the sounds and melodies produced were incredible!! What a delight two hours that passed by far too fast!

We returned to my son's for a 'thank for your helping us move' dinner -- pot roast, creamed potatoes, peas, along with an entre of cheese sticks. I sketched the cheese stick dish as my daughter-in-law finished preparing dinner and my son quickly grabbed the remaining sticks. The grands were with their aunt, and it was sheer delight to visit with my son in his new home with furniture in place, a delicious meal on the table, and quiet all around (though I did miss the wee ones! LOL).

(Sketched with Prismacolor pencils)

Saturday, February 18, 2006


My love of roses comes from my mom, who always had a rose or two on her table that was cut from the bushes she grew when she owned her own home.

After we painted our bedroom and bath a 'bisque' (looks like creamy yellow), I accented the flowers in the bedspread and shower curtain with wine deep maroon, and added a bunch of silk wine-red roses to a yellow vase I brought back from Sicily. Love the warmth of these two colors together!

I wanted desperately to sketch those roses -- full, and open and in such rich colors! But I was having a 'block' about how best to treat the petals - how to capture their waves and shadows, accurately, yet loosely. I liked the loose lines I had achieved with the outline I did of a single rose, but had the dickens of a time rendering the shadows. I did two sketches - one with the faintest of pencil shading; the other with washes of watercolor. I haven't quite achieved what I'd like to do with these, but I think I'm on the right road. I'll keep at these (just like the images of my grandchildren) ...there's something here I really want to achieve!

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Warmth before the Storm

We are hearing that there's a wild, cold, bitter storm acomin' after a week of temperatures in the high 60s and today, 74F. The men scheduled to paint our house decided to take advantage of the warm weather this week and get in as much painting as they could before this predicted drop in temperatures and uncertain precipitation. The bright, Carolina blue sky lured me outdoors as well, and I wound up discovering that the Prunus mume (apricot) tree we planted five years ago was old enough and happy enough to bloom! HORRAY! (and to think I might have missed that event!!!) We may have some apricots for jam!

I was torn between sketching and doing yard maintenance (aka weeding and cutting back fall's litter) -- so I crammed in both. I did a quick sketch of the apricot tree and birdhouse nearby, then hit the perennial beds with all the pent up, been-in-the-house-too-much-and-not-walking energy I could muster.

I got most of the beds tidied and then after dinner ran off a copy of the Prunus on pink paper and used my Prismacolor pencils to add a bit of color. It would help, I know, if I could stay in the lines when I color and I wouldn't muss up the lines of the branches -- SIGH .... oh well -- it was a delicious day.

They're predicting snow for tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Indoor Herb Garden

One of the classes I gave for the general public was how to create a windowsill garden. The owner of the B&B I frequent came to that workshop and went home with a lovely small herb garden that she's kept going for almost two years. She keeps it in her kitchen window, and has used the chives, basil, mint and other herbs to spice our breakfast dishes. The only herb that remains in this small garden is a rose geranium that she's rooted and rerooted.

I had spent two days upgrading our files when our computer system was finally 'connected' with the main campus -- after almost a year! I was bleary-eyed from so much computer work and so very tired of sitting. After a most welcome and relaxing dinner and chat with a visiting friend, I returned to the B&B to STAND UP and sketch this small garden before heading to bed. I'll probably add a watercolor wash to it tomorrow ... but I was feeling so much better and I could see it in my sketching.

From the Kitchen Garden

The one completed garden at the small arboretum I'm helping build is the herb and kitchen garden. Each season my students design, plan, grow, install, maintain and harvest the plants in that particular garden.

With today's warm weather, I sat on one of the benches and sketched. I was still not completely over my 'spell' and just couldn't capture the heads of cabbage or the kale plants in their entirety. Rather than frustrate myself, I settled instead on drawing some of the leaves of these plants: cabbage, flowering kale and red oakleaf lettuce. Our winter has been so very mild that these greens are still vibrant and ready for picking!

Vase of Roses

This has been an especially stressful week at work--my secretary left to open her own bookstore (can't wait for that!) . Since it was only she and I handling a very heavy workload, she is missed for her delightful friendship and company as well as the aid she gave me and the program I run. I also had a few run-ins with folks who reneged on their promises, coupled with the general overly busy demands just seemed a bit overwhelming. But today, it was 70 degrees, sun shining, and I'm home -- horray!

This sketch is the first one this week I felt was decent enough to post. (The roses my secretary received for Valentine's Day.) I found that if I'm upset (which I was for the greater part of the week), I simply cannot sketch at all! I could not focus enough to concentrate! And my inability to focus frustrated me further. So while the composition of these roses isn't the best, I was pleased that I 'got over the hump' and could get back to my 'old' self a bit and put my pencil to paper.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sketching What You Love

People, especially those I love like my husband, children and grandchildren, are the DICKENS for me to sketch. I put my pencil (NO PEN mind you -- no confidence there for this type of sketching!) to paper with such trepidation - not to fail at the sketch -- but the feeling that my poor renderings will INSULT those I wish to honor with a decent likeness.

So tonight, even though it's almost time for bed, I decided to sketch the fellow who's helped so much with the grands, with my son's move to his new home, my daughter's move, by grocery shopping and cooking dinner, and by ALWAYS smiling no matter what. Here he sits in his favorite recliner, teaching himself to play the mandolin and singing (he has a heavenly voice) "Remember When," which always makes me cry and reminds me of 'us.'

The sketch isn't the best in the world, but by TRYING to do it, I hope he knows that especially for Valentine's Day, he's my hero.

Thank you, Charles, for all you mean to me!

The Pie Safe

Today, sans grandchildren, was a day for catching up with photos and entries into the journals I keep for each of the grandchildren. I had pages to do for their move into their new home, Emily's 2nd birthday, their visit Friday and yesterday, and their exploration of their new dwelling. Cutting, pasting, printing photographs and captions kept me busy most of the day.

BUT, for my commitment to sketch daily, I grabbed a pen and sat in the kitchen to sketch another antique I dearly love. This pie safe was found in an antique shop here in town. It's not very old, but I fell in love with it's simple lines and punched pineapples. I keep a very ANCIENT philadendron on top of it, and though it's such a neglected plant, seems to thrive in my mindless houseplant care. I can honestly say I didn't give this sketch as much attention as I should have and it took me six times to get the vertical lines even partially straight-- I was just too focused on getting the journals done before I leave for work tomorrow. Still, I like the sketch and the bits of human error on see in it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Remains of the Day

Last night we stopped by for a quick visit as my son and daughter-in-law were moving boxes into their new home. It was the first look at their new home and we were as excited as they with a home they can call 'their own.' We picked up their babes from the sitter and headed home for dinner, playtime, stories, baths. How two children under 2 feet tall can wear one out is simply AMAZING! When they finally fell asleep and the house was silent save for the Olympic ceremonies, I found their shoes in the kitchen and just HAD to sketch them! Such wee things!!

Chicken and Kielbasa Stew

With the grands coming this weekend while my son and his wife moved into their new house, I put on a crockpot of ingredients I had in the freezer -- Chidken and Kielbasa Stew. It was good last night in the bustle of a two and one year one old .. but even better today now that the flavors have set and it's raining like mad outdoors.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Daffodils on Mustard Paper

I really like the way the yellow of the Prismacolor pencils looks on this mustard paper. The scan is more yellow than the mustard paper in real life, and the vase is a bit kerwonky, but I like the looseness of this sketch on colored paper.

Vase on Olive paper

Though we've had an unusually cold week (we've been experiencing a very mild winter with temperatures usually in the 50F-60F range), most trees have already broken bud and wisps of color can be seen on the tree branches, especially that beautiful wine red of the red maples. In the garden of the B&B I frequent, flowering quince and daffodils have not only poked through the soil, they're in full bloom splendor. Rebecca, the owner, ALWAYS has flower bouquets in each room of the B&B, so one night after returning to my room following a long day and evening at work, I sketched this beautiful vase of flowers and greens. Though I still haven't quite mastered rendering the two sides of an ellipse equal, I like the way the yellow of the daffodils and the pink/peach of the quince are so subtle on the olive paper. The sketch was done with a Micron .05 pen and Prismacolor pencils.

White Pencil

The sketching lesson this week focused on using colored paper with examples from Kate Johnson to use a white pencil for highlights. I sketched this spillway scene on mustard paper from a photo I took on the Eno River a few weeks ago. I really liked the ink and white pencil effect and will try this again!

Peaches and My Berry Cup

This week's sketching lesson was to sketch on colored paper and use colored pencils. I bought myself some Prismacolor Pencils and brought some cardstock to work on while I was out of town.

The sketch of the peaches was done on peach cardstock from a photo in a seed catalogue and the blackberries, blueberries and raspberries was one of the fruit mixes I brought for my lunch from home. I couldn't adjust the scan enough to catch the vibrancy I achieved in real life. Each time I adjusted the contrast, the color of the paper changed -- this was the best I could do.

I really liked using the variously colored papers and would never have thought to use them before this lesson. I'm anxious to try a bit of watercolor on the color papers as well.

EDM # 53 Lips

Mercy, for two little lips, these were tough! I've sketched my lips - closed and then smiling and what I noticed about the closed lips was all the TENSION!! I wrote in my journal "SMILE" -- which I did and then sketched the smile! But I see all those lines around and across the lips and they so remind me of my mother's. And funny, too, how our lips thin as we age ... ever notice that?

For fun, I found a photo of my grandson Nick with his pouty little mouth. I sketched that too -- now to find a similar one of my granddaughter and sketch that too!

Italian Salt and Pepper Shakers

I fell in love with these salt and pepper shakers because they reminded me of Italy. I sketched them quickly tonight in ink to test my new Cotman watercolors. (and yes, I still have a problem getting two shakers to have the same shape! LOL) Already I can tell these pan watercolors are SO much brighter and richer than any I've owned before. Now to get used to mixing them!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Emily Turns Two

Emily turned two Friday, but we had her party today. Here she is on the Barbie Hot Wheels I sketched last week. It took having her cousin SIT on the bike first before Emily would have anything to do with it (yes, she's DEFINITELY TWO!) LOL And of course, Nick had to join in the fun.

The Ol' Red Cedar

In one sketch of some of my property trees, I caught a bit of the red cedar that sits near the wellhouse. Someone commented that they thought this tree might make a good study. I thought I'd give that a try yesterday while I had some time, but the rain was coming down so fast and furious, I couldn't leave the house. I had taken a photo of the tree a while ago and so worked from that.

I liked how the bark came out, but I had a difficult time deciding how to handle the leaves .... I added some watercolor - and then wound up watercoloring the bark as well. Though I'm very pleased with the result, I'd like to try this tree again and figure out a way to represent the leaves in pencil or pen.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


On this warm, very rainy day, I decided to work on some EDM challenges I missed last year. I sketched these bananas ... and then found I had sketched some apples for this challenge. Oh well, I really like the way these turned out ... challenge or not!

Oxford Pergola

Yesterday while my car was being inspected, I walked a few blocks to the Oxford Men's Garden and sat across from the pergola there. I like the way this came out even though my perspective from the roof upward isn't quite right since I failed to capture the underside of the roof. But considering my lines are 'almost' there for the rest of it -- I'm thrilled! And I can add this sketch to the EDM challenges since it's one of the landmarks of our small town!

Blushing Apricot

The Prunus Mume (Apricot) was in full bloom on campus this week. I sketched it in pencil and then added watercolor and ink to attempt the luscious 'pinkness' of that tree.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Rocky Day

In my sketching class with Kate Johnson, I was lamenting how unhappy I was with some of the rocks in my Eno River sketch. She suggested I find a solitary rock and focus on sketching that. I found a rock with some good shadows, but since I was dashing around running errands and meeting my son and daughter-in-law, I couldn't sketch the rock on location. I snapped a reference photo, then printed it in black and white to better SEE the values. I sketched it first in pencil, then fountain pen, then added a wash to the pen. I like these results better -- now I can only hope I remember the lessons I learned: DO NOT sketch each and every LINE in the rock; focus on the direction of the lines and aim those toward the shape of the rock portion, focus on the shadings and not each and every fissure, bump and what not. We'll see! LOL