Monday, February 19, 2018

Painting a Mural for the Pool

My friend, Todd, took a preliminary photo of the mural that our Art Club in Hawthorne Community (Leesburg, Fl) has been working on all winter.  The project was more than we imagined actually.  And when the holidays appeared we took a break.  Then in January the weather turned "nippy" and we took another break.  

The park employees painted the background a lovely turquoise blue over last summer.  Then we did preliminary sketches and layouts in November...and in late January and Feb we began some serious painting.  We used a lot of just house paints to mix much of the larger areas...clouds, water and waves, sand and palms.  Some of the smaller items were acrylic paint (which is just house paint too actually).  

We have to finish the central bar area now and tweak some of the details. There are about 10 of us painting.  A pool party is planned for the end of March.  So we have incentive now to finish up.
More photos to come. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Keeping Sane With Art

Last week I signed up for my friend, Jackie's pen and ink class.  Her subject matter was some old mailboxes along a road.  But I immediately thought of OUR old chipped mailbox up north in Wisconsin standing forlornly or maybe resolutely in front of our cabin sign.  The cabin name of "Rip's Place", by the way, is a reference to Rip Van Winkle who's ability to sleep was legendary.
The cabin is a great napping place.  (Note, we once had someone come to the cabin door asking for Rip.  How we laughed.)

So instead of Jackie's idea...I adapted it.  So much more fun to have it portray something that has personal meaning, right?  This is a quarter sheet of Arches 140# watercolor paper and Sakura Micron Pens, 01, 03 and PN.  

Above is just about an hour and half worth of beginning work.  I am enjoying the pen and ink.  Of course I work with pen and ink often in Zentangle and sketch in my sketchbooks in pen and ink all the time.  But this is an "extension" of that. 

It's a relaxing medium to work in...detailed but gentle and soothing to create. Just the beginning of the pine tree in the right upper corner is what I'll work on next.  I decided I wanted a good photograph of pine needles before I went further.  There are so many kinds of pines!  We have a number on our property.  

I do intend a little color on this when I am done.  Jackie says you can "rouge" it in oil, you can use pastel, colored pencil, or watercolor.  It'll be watercolor for me.  But just exactly what colors or which things will get color?  I'd like to keep it subtle.  I want it to be about ink...not about color.  So we'll see.  Keep watching.

Meanwhile I am getting ready for total knee replacement of my left knee on March 12.  The amount of preparation for this is amazing...tons of testing and MRIs etc.  I even have to go to "Knee School" one afternoon.  In between these stressful things will be a very nice project to work on.  

Spring is coming here to central Florida...the azaleas are blooming and many of the flowering trees in wild pinks and yellows.  The grass is bright green due to recent rains and soon the oaks will drop their leaves as the new leaves push out.  Falling leaves and raking is a SPRING chore in Florida.  We expect 80s most of this week.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Happy Groundhog's Day

Time for First Friday in Fine Arts at the Hawthorne Community again.  How can it be?  I was just there!  Here I am plugging the Fine Arts Show which will be March 11..holding up the application for putting art into it.  

The interview involved two really great artists, Jane and Eileen, and they had a lot of wonderful art to share hung on the walls behind us.  It's kind of fun to market the arts in the community.
A nice group of folks.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Desperation Sketching

Teeny Sketchbook sketches:  I call these "desperation sketches".  
When it's too cold to sit outside (well, windy and 50 today was not my cup of tea).  BUT you need to sketch cause it keeps you calm and focused.  And you have use what you find in your purse.

Then you are forced to find something in the doctor's waiting room (so sterile and blah) to sketch.  You pick the handle on your husbands walker!  

And later the seat and brake mechanics.  
I know. Not beautiful.  But it's good practice for eye hand coordination and it's quiet ink-to-paper that feels meditative and interesting.  It keep the motor memory going.  And it works on spacial measuring.  Everything done here in pencil. So you have to make mental on-the-fly measurements.   

These, remember, are only 3 x 4 sketchbooks.  My teensies.
I used my PN Sakura pen.  

Taught my Zentangle class this morning and forgot to take photos as usual.  About 20 gals.  Nice group.  I had fun.  I hope they did.

We are going to have temps around 70 the week in Central Florida.  I don't think that's far from normal in January.  Hope to see a tad warming spell come February which is RIGHT around the corner.

Remember that Ground Hog's day is coming up on Friday...surely you have a gift for your loved one? Oh wait, that's another Feb holiday.  Sorry.

Off to see the State of the Union speech tonight.  No comment.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

So What's a Chop?

This Chinese set of "chops" was given to me by my daughter many years ago.  I have always adored the concept of having one.  The little boxes are adorable.  In China many artist sign their name with their chop.  They are made of stone and feel smooth and cool in your hand. (one for my husband too).  Tiny lions carved on top.  

If you do a little research and google "Chinese chops" you will find lots of interesting info and even website helping you find how your name might look in Chinese so you can make your own.  There are instructions also if you have drawing apps like Illustrator so you can design a chop on line.  

Apparently trying to find characters for a chop in Chinese is fairly random.  Sometimes they will try to pronounce your name in Chinese and find something that sort of sounds like it.  

For instance when shop keepers tried to write Coca Cola for signs in their Chinese shops the actual words they wrote translated to "bite the wax tadpole". Hard to imagine this sold much of the drink! Finally Coca Cola did research and came up with a better symbol which actually translated "to allow the mouth to be able to rejoice."
Okay now that sounds better. 

Chops are traditionally done in red using a kind of wax paste.  My set came with a small pot of the gummy stuff.  But I use red ink stamp pads.  

So below is my Chinese Chop to the left actually carved in China, a hand made larger chop I carved myself after looking it up on line and then below a tiny "chop" just drawn by hand made up of my initials "V and S" for use on my Zentangle tiles.  Maria and Rick both have tiny "chops" of their initials and they encourage folks to do the same.  I always do mine (see two versions) in black when putting on a tile so it blends in.  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

TransZENding and TransluZENce

You can make small books by binding together Zentangle tiles too!
With this one I was trying out the tangle "Surf's Up".  It makes a nice frame.  

I thought I'd experiment with two techniques called "transluZENce" and tranZENding.

It's a little harder than I thought.  But worth trying.  You can find detailed instructions for TransluZENce on "A Tangler's Mind" posted Nov 5, 2017.

Here is the example by Lynn Mead that  I was looking at. She really nails it. I have a lot of work to do!  

The tangle itself above is called "Membranart" (found on blog of Tomas Padros).  The idea is to try to emulate a layer on the top of the work that looks like thin tissue paper (membrane).  

A version of the other technique called TranZENding is shown on Maria and Rick's Kitchen Table Tangles video.

I wasn't too happy with my first try but I plan to hang in there and try again soon.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Going Tiny with Sketchbooks

Remember the "tiny" sketchbooks I designed this week? (see below)?  Well I decided to try one out yesterday while I waited for the food truck to prepare my husband's sandwich.  

We have a food truck show up in the community every Thursday evening 4-6 pm.  They have a pretty nice menu!  (not particularly good for Weight Watchers however). 

I am more and more discovering that the KIND of paper you are working on is more important than any other consideration, even size.  There are dozens of kinds of pens (and watercolors too) and the choices you make are quite dependent on the paper qualities. 

These little experimental books are done using Strathmore cold press 140# paper.  It has a tiny bit of tooth to it.  And it's weight is nice as you can paint on both sides and it doesn't bleed through.  

The size of the tiny sketchbooks necessitates that you decide on one object or one portion of an object or an unclose version of something.  It's also nice as it is surely not intimidating! 

Autumn says to remind everyone that there are different sizes and colors of spiral bindings you can use.  My machine is very inexpensive one and does not offer too many "kinds" of spiral binding.  And Office Depot only carried white and black but in different sizes that accommodate different amounts of paper.

You can, remember, take your pages down to Office Depot or other office supply stores and have them spiral bind it FOR YOU at a very nominal fee. And you can have a clear plastic cover put on the pages.  

I may make up a few of these and offer them for sale in my sketching class in March here in the Florida community.  I am booked to teach a class in WI in June and this would be a good way for me to try out the syllabus and see how much can be done in two hours!  

Here's a good quote about sketching from Danny Gregory:

Three facts to write in the inside cover of your sketchbook:

1. Never compare yourself to other artists. Don't compare your first drawing to their reproduction in a coffee table book. Let their progress inspire but not intimidate you. Compare you to you. That's all that counts.
2.  You're making more progress than you think. You may not see it but it's happening with every page. Guaranteed.
3. Everyone struggles at the beginning. Check out early van Gogh drawings. Awful. Struggle is normal, inevitable, a positive sign that you are working things through. Your early drawings are zero indication of what you will achieve in time. Zero. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Spiral Binding Small Sketchbooks

With the inspiration of Sketchbook Skools new "zine" I found an article about "tiny" sketchbooks I rather liked.  I do keep an accordion sketchbook in my purse at all times.  And this is "about" the same size...these are 3.5" x 4.5".  Because they are spiral bound, it will be difficult to "draw across the pages" but not impossible.

The cover on the left is "duct tape" and it is a nice sturdy waterproof cover.  The other is just a stencil (Christmas gift from my sister) but I can coat it with gel medium to waterproof it a little.

A friend gifted me with my own spiral binder machine.  
So I am playing around with some of the ways I can use it.  

I'll give these a try now and see how I like sketching so tiny!  You can buy tiny sketchbooks but some of them are VERY expensive!
Worth a try.

And it might be a fun addition to a watercolor sketching class to have some for sale for the participants?  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Urban Sketching in Leesburg, FL

Thanks to Susan who organizes our little sketching group called Fetch a Sketch Trekkers!  Yeah for her!  We had a nice group...maybe 8 or 9? at the Antique Store this afternoon sketching all over the place.  I took a few photos that would make some nice paintings.  

It was fun to be in the company of gently used old china and furniture and lamps and beds and clocks.  A friendly cat visited us as we sketched.  

I used my Stillman & Birn (Beta series) sketchbook and my Lamy pen with Lexington Gray Noodler's Ink.

We went to Blooms on Main for a nice lunch...yummy Chicken Tortellina Soup for me!  It was 80 degrees in Leesburg today! 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Diva Challenge

The Diva's challenge this week was to take a few everyday objects, trace around them and use that tracing as a string.  
(Tangle challenges end on Sunday night...I cut it pretty close!)

I used the tangles called KauriKunda and Lampions.

The tile will be a birthday card for my dear brother in law.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Urban Sketching (inside because it's cold in FL)

Been playing with some new pens. They become somewhat addictive.  These two are fountain pens.  A Sailor Profit is a bent-nib pen and the Eco is a lovely pen (clear so you can see all the ink inside) and it holds a ton.  The bent-nib is quite fascinating and as you can see makes a great variety of strokes.  

The issue now is to find good ink that is mostly water resistant.  Noodlers ink has been a go-to but on certain papers only.  It says it's permanent on "cellulose" papers.  So on some multi-media papers that are slicker paper...the ink never seem to be permanent.
that is a problem for washes.  

Below I used a micron which is a safe choice for the multi-media paper in this notebook.  We were at the car dealership today just playing around with finding out what a new CRV would cost.
Greg talked and I sketched.  Couldn't believe that a gentlemen in a wheel chair arrived with a clown nose on.  No body seemed to notice.  

On this sketch I used the Noodler's ink and had quite a time with the wc wash bleeding the ink.  This was Greg's Essential Tremor Support group up in the Villages.  There were actually about 40 people there!  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Manikin Part II

So this is my second try on finishing up my little manikin.  She needed something on her head.  I cut a little hat from foam and glued some ribbons sort of floating out behind.  I decided she would have white hair (I mean this is a retirement community after all).  There..that feels more finished.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sketching is Not So Much Learning About Art as Learning About Seeing

I am pulling together some of my sketching resources as I write up the marketing materials for the classes I am going to teach at the Woodson Museum in June in Wisconsin.  One is Zentangle but the other is WC Sketching.  

Information has to go into print months in advance for these sorts of things.  Hard to think of June in January.  (But if you in one of those winter storms you probably ARE thinking about June.)

I was actually surprised by how many books I own that directly apply to sketching.  Several are out of print now.  Precious books!
It will be fun browsing through them again this winter and picking parts that may be useful.  

I am suggesting an inexpensive option for beginners in the materials list. It is a Koi outdoor sketch box and it comes with a water brush pen (still collapsed in the box).  It's only about $10. Has 12 colors including white and black. I decided I needed to try working with this kit myself for awhile to see how it responds.  I never use white watercolor so I immediately tipped that color out.  In it's place I put quin. gold.  I have never understood why companies put white in.  White gouache is sometimes useful.  But not white watercolor.  I carry a white opaque pen with me in case I need some opaque white for something small. 

Once I put together the water brush pen,  I think I might glue in a few empty half pan cups in that area and add a few of my favorite go-to colors like "leaf green" and alizarin crimson.  The empty tiny pans are about 50 cents each online.  A little super glue would hold them in place.  I would squeeze tube colors in the pans.  

There are dozens of empty Sketching "tins" with little half pans to fill that you can find online now.  But if the students are brand new, they are not going to have the tube paints to squeeze into them.  We have 2-1/2 hours to do this class.  So things must be simple and quick.  

I am giving some consideration to teaching a "dry run" to this class at our community park here in FL in March when the weather is more consistent.  Speaking of which it is still in the mid 30s here at night in central FL.  Sunny and maybe 50 in the daytime.  NOT warm like we are used to!  Slowly warming.  We should be 78 on Thursday.  THAT is more like it.  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

We are prophets of a future not our own.

I wish I could give the artist credit above but the little sketch appeared on Facebook awhile back with no clue to as to it's painter.  I liked it and I think it is well to post it on New Year's eve.  

I looked up the origin of the first of January as a starting point for the year and it is credited to Julius Caesar who re-arranged the calendar to accommodate it.  I never liked his choice.  Every teacher knows that September 1 is the beginning of the new year.  

But tradition wins and so here we are looking back at 2017.  Everyone will have something to say about it.  Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers,  put out a column on her Facebook recently sending comfort to those who are starting their diets AGAIN.  
And we all know about those dratted "resolutions" we are supposed to be making.  

Many many of us found this past year to be a huge disappointment.
Not in the living and loving of our own, of course, but in the government and the tragedies of violence and weather.  Many times through the past year I've need to re-group and re-dedicate and re-think and re-shape and in some cases re-linquish.  As an optimistic person by nature I've had to cling to hope and prayer more than ever.   

So as 2017 draws to a close I'd like to share a prayer:

As the year draws to a close, a prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, written shortly before his assassination in 1980, offers this insight:

"It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

"We plant the seeds that one day will grow," Romero continued. "We lay foundations that will need further development.

"We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning . . . an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

"We may never see the end results," Romero concluded, "but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen."

With that hope and thought in our hearts let us set out to do what we can letting God's grace enter in and do the rest.  Happy New Year.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Challenge for Square One

This is a combination of 3 different tangles: Organic, Dragon Eye, and Krinkle. I also used the new bold PN Micron Pen for this.  

Done on 3.5 square tile it is my offering for the weekly challenge on the Facebook group called Square One.  As in "back to square one".  All entries must be black, white, and gray.  No color to be added and all must be abstract (no bunnies or elephants please).  

In other words exactly how the founders intended them.  I must add, however, that Maria and Rick DO embellish their tiles by using gold ink and bits of color now and then.  They use white and brown pens on various color tiles as well.   

But the founder of this Square One group decided to challenge the members do see how they can come up with beautiful and authentic work using the basics.  AND it is impressive.

I love looking at what folks come up with!  Amazing.

It is time to welcome in the New Year.  
And much of the country is gripped in a terrible freeze.
Temps are dangerous in many parts of the country.  
Central FL is going to be only a high of mid 50s all week.  
(For us that is cold.). But at least no ice or snow.
And I hear that the flu is becoming epidemic now...I suppose we all shared our germs over the holiday?


So I do make the wish that all be safe over the holiday and decide to celebrate in warm easy-to-get-to places.  Also wishing you elude the flu please.  And that your resolutions are gentle.  

Hoping that making more art will be one of them.  It's one of mine!
Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A short visit to Beaufort, SC

A stop in Beaufort, South Carolina on our way to visit my sister in York, SC was an excellent idea.  An old and beautiful little southern island town filled with pre-Civil war historical houses and lots of interesting history.  One long afternoon was NOT enough to even dip our toes into the ambiance of the place.  We hit town last Friday and Saturday and the temps held about 72 and sunny.  A lucky time as the current cold front had not come down yet.   We took the nice buggy tour and really want to come back soon.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Little Bit of Art

Like so many Zentangle fans I've been following Rick and Maria's blogs during the holidays.  This is one of the very simple but elegant tangles that Rick drew.  (Rick and Maria are the founders of Zentangle®.). Watching these so accomplished tangle makers is such a privilege.  So this is just a lovely version of Crescent Moon that most of us teach our beginning students.  Rick did his with white pens of different sizes so that the center crescents were thinner.  I didn't have 3 sizes.  So I did the best I could.  I still like the effect.  (And if you've been following along you'll know that I enclose these in birthday cards!) 

Just a tiny little sketch I did during the band concert at Hawthorne Park last Sunday afternoon.  The tree and wreath were actually up above our heads and above the stage so therefore close to the lights on the ceiling.  

We leave for SC today and am taking some sketching materials along with me.  So hope to post during the week sometime.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Zentangle Birthday Card

It is time now (even though it's Christmas) to make up a few birthday cards.  And since the founders of Zentangle® (Rick and Marie) are gifting us all with 12 different ideas about tangles, I thought it might be fun to combine these events.  

This is a standard 4x6 blank greeting card onto which I have glued two Bejou tiles (2.5 square).  So they are pretty small.

The black/white background for the tiles was made by cutting a black tiles and a white tile at the same time and then piecing them back together.  Ying/Yang style.  

The tiles were then tangled with a PN black Micron pen and a #8 white jelly roll pen.  

I am also packing up some gelli print supplies to take with me to my sister's in SC AND putting together some of my sketching supplies in hopes I'll get a few sketches done while I am off traveling next week.   I am itching to get back sketching again!!!

I love all the lights at Christmas, don't you?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A little Rumpus

This is one of the newer tangles introduced by Rick and Marie (founders of Zentangle®) recently.  It is called "Rumpus" and is really quite fun to play with.  

They have introduced a new "technique" they call "enthatching".  
This is actually "shading with a pen" instead of with graphite.
This is done with the brown pen in this example.  

Would you believe this is not really a paper bag above?
This is a "picture" of a paper bag and I just stuck my tile on it and took a photo.  

During the holidays Rick and Marie (and Marie's daughter Molly) are sharing some delightful "how to" videos.  If you subscribe to the newsletter you will be getting them too.

You can see this one drawn for you if you go to and type click on "R" and scroll down to "Rumpus".    

So now we come up on the 3rd Sunday in Advent... 
Waiting is hard for me.  But then when Christmas Eve finally comes and I hear those words again...

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken..." and Luke tells us the story that is engraved on our hearts, then I remember why we wait.   I've heard it every year for over 70 years now.  And it's always new.  

Below is a photo of my grandson in the Christmas pageant last year. He was 10.  And he was the only shepherd that saw the star.

I feel like that every Christmas.  Like I am seeing it again for the first time.  

I wish the same for you.  
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Putting Art on TV

Thinking and talking about art...what could be more fun?  Yesterday it was my privilege again to interview on television one of the many great artists that live in our retirement park...Hawthorne Park.

This time it was Coralee Burch who teaches the watercolor classes here once a week.  (Everyone is a volunteer.).  Lucky us!!!  Wow.

We have some wonderful folks willing to share with us their time and talent each winter season in so many different medias...watercolor, acrylic, oil, china painting, pastel, colored pencil, and ink.  

Once a month on the first Friday, I get to interview one of the participants and talk about their art, their backgrounds, their joy in expressing themselves in whatever media they love.    We talk about how we began our journeys and where they are headed now.
The half hour just flies by!!!  

Our in-house TV is broadcast to the 1200 homes in the park.  One show each day of the week and then re-broadcast at a variety of times during that day.  So the programmers have fun with a wide variety of subjects.  

Christmas is coming to our park now...decorations are popping up all over...lovely lights and trees.  


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