Friday, September 30, 2016

50 Percent

9/28/16 water-soluble colored pencils, inks

I’ve sketched this particular stand of maples at Green Lake many times in the fall. Who could resist the wild variety of colors? Some trees are nearly all red and orange, while others are still mostly green. The side that faces the water (as seen in a sketch from two years ago) as well as the sun for most of the day usually has more color in general, but there’s still such a range of hues.

I just went through the sketches I’ve done of these same trees in previous years to compare the color changes, and the one I did on Oct. 14, 2013, is probably the closest to this one – yet that was three weeks later in the year than now. A month earlier that year, the tops were barely kissed with color.

This, by the way, is the first sketch I’ve attempted of these maples using water-soluble colored pencils instead of watercolor. It probably took me about 50 percent longer than it usually takes, but I like it at least 50 percent better – both the process and the result. I love the texture I can get with pencils that I don’t know how to get with watercolors, and I enjoy building both the hues and the values slowly and incrementally rather than planning the glazes and washes. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mostly Sweet

9/27/16 water-soluble colored pencils, ink

Once I get out of denial and accept the end of summer, I fully embrace fall; it has always been my favorite season. (It’s only been since I began sketching that I’ve had ambivalence about it.) Brilliant foliage; cloudy mornings that burn off to sunny afternoons warm enough to take the top down; the return of salted caramel mochas: What’s not to love?

Last year on Labor Day weekend I sketched some slender maples in Metropolitan Market’s parking lot when they were still mostly green, so I wondered what they looked like now. Shopping there on Monday, I saw that they were showing a full palette of hues – everything from dark green to yellow to orange to crimson and magenta. I went back the next day and sketched them with the top down. Autumn is bittersweet – but on that day, it was mostly sweet.

What’s the color palette in your part of the world?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Abandoned in Bryant

9/26/16 ink, colored pencils
On Monday I was heading for the Bryant neighborhood looking for a maple tree I’d sketched in previous years, wondering if it had turned. I found the tree (not as much color as I’d hoped), but even better, I spotted another urban couch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Radical Sketch Kit Update

OK, so the update is not radical in terms of time – it’s not as if I suddenly changed out everything in one day. I’ve been making gradual, incremental changes all along. But two major changes are significant (though perhaps only temporary), and I’ve made them both since I returned from my trip to the UK: For the first time in a few years, I’m using only two fountain pens. And for the first time ever, I’m using no watercolors at all!

I’ve been gradually using colored pencils more and more often, especially during travel, yet I felt like I always “needed” watercolors, just in case. I finally decided to cut the cord and take the watercolors out. (I even removed the few Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers I usually carry.) So pencils are now my only source of color (except for one waterbrush filled with sky-blue ink). As usual, it’s an experiment, and I might eventually put watercolors back in. We’ll see if I miss them.

As for the fountain pens. . . you know how much I love them. But I found that when I carried five or six or eight in my bag, I used them according to the 80/20 rule: My two Sailor fude pens got used 80 (or maybe 90) percent of the time, while all the rest got used only occasionally, meaning they were not earning their keep as daily carries.

Top view of my everyday-carry Rickshaw Bagworks Zero
Messenger Bag and contents.
Here’s what’s in my bag now: 
  1. A hand-stitched signature of 140-pound Canson XL paper
  2. KUM pencil sharpener (the only one that seems to accommodate my favorite Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle colored pencils (see No. 7 below)
  3. Waterbrushes filled with warm and cool gray inks for shadows; and sky-blue Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa ink (still my favorite way to make a quick streak of sky)
  4. Water spritzer (still useful even without watercolors)
  5. Two Sailor fude fountain pens (one with waterproof ink; one with water-soluble ink)
  6.  One small and two large waterbrushes and one traditional brush (which I use only to spread sprayed water with)
  7. An expanded but still carefully selected palette of colored pencils (mostly water-soluble and a few traditional)
  8. A red Field Notes notebook
  9. A white colored pencil I like using with the red Field Notes (No. 8 above)
  10. A Kuretake hairy brush pen (though I’ve used many kinds, this is a long-time favorite)
  11. A white Gelly Roll gel pen (again, for use with the Field Notes)
  12. non-hairy brush pen with waterproof ink (currently a Marvy LePen, but it’s not necessarily my favorite)
  13. A non-hairy brush pen with water-soluble ink (currently a Zebra double-ended brush pen, which is my favorite) 

I also updated my Current Favorite Art Materials page to reflect the changes. (I even updated my Archive of Art Materials and Sketch Kits page so you can see the entire evolution.)

While I was working on that page, I decided to update the photo for my ultra minimalist sketch kit, too (the kit I would take to Gilligan’s Island). I use this tiny Travelon bag to hold my phone, wallet and keys while taking fitness walks around Green Lake. I rarely sketch on those walks, but every now and then I spot a heron or ducklings that I can’t resist. It still contains a Pilot Petit1 fountain pen. I swapped out a handmade sketchbooklet for a red Field Notes, which is an easy favorite for small, quick sketches, plus a brush pen and a white Gelly Roll. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Traces of Orange

9/24/16 colored pencils, ink
On my way out of the library, I stopped to look at the young cherry tree. This is the tree that replaced a huge, old cherry that had to be removed for some sewer work last year. I’ve been sketching the little tree through the seasons – with tight buds last February and in full blossom a month later. On Saturday afternoon, it was the first time I’d sketched it without braces supporting its spindly trunk. It was good to see it standing confidently on its own.

Still mostly green, its leaves are just beginning to show traces of orange at the edges.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sketch Strolls

9/13/16 brush pen, white gel pen
I keep a running list in OneNote (my digital notebook) of things or places I’d like to sketch someday. The ideas on the list can be fairly general – “Thornton Creek Park” – or very specific – “the large angel monument at Evergreen Washelli cemetery; sketch in the afternoon when the light is hitting the front.” If I’m running errands or attending a meeting in a certain neighborhood, I might check the list to see if there’s something nearby that I could stop and sketch. And when I know I have a chunk of time available, I’ll simply decide to visit a particular location and set out for it. I call this approach “destination sketching” – knowing before I arrive that I have a certain subject or location in mind.

In the summer months when I (hopefully) have many days of good weather, I usually do some form of destination sketching whenever I can. This past summer, however, I found myself more often taking a very different approach to sketching – taking casual sketch strolls in my own neighborhood. I simply grab my bag, walk out the door and keep walking until I find something to sketch. I don’t have a particularly interesting neighborhood, but something almost always catches my attention within 10 or 15 minutes of walking. I never know what I might find, but I enjoy the hunt without having a particular goal or destination. Hunt is not even the right term; I don’t aggressively search. I just remain engaged and open to what might be sketchable and see what appears. And if I come home with nothing sketched, that’s OK, too.
7/3/16 brush pen, white gel pen, colored pencil

At the risk of over-analyzing this, I’d probably say at least two things led to this different approach. One is that I had a busy summer of travel, so while I was home, I was tired of planning, organizing and having an itinerary. It felt good to sketch without a plan.

The other is the little Field Notes notebook that’s always in my bag along with my usual sketchbook. When I go out for a destination sketch, the destination or subject usually demands (at least in my own mind) a relatively large composition, a little color and enough of my time and attention that I feel compelled to use my full sketchbook. But with a Field Notes in my bag, I lower both my standards and my expectations. I don’t worry about color, context or story. I feel no pressure to share (although I usually do just because it’s fun).
8/21/16 brush pen, ink, colored pencils

If I take a walk and find nothing but a tire leaning up against a utility pole, it becomes an interesting tonal study on red paper. A toilet (!) abandoned on a sidewalk fits nicely on the Field Notes’ small page format. A couple of crows on a wire or a plastic flamingo? Ideal subjects for small vignettes. These casual sketches are not even a record of my day – indeed, they are nothing more than a record of a moment or two, as ephemeral as the paper they’re sketched on.

Maybe next summer I’ll go back to destination sketching; I certainly still have a long list of ideas at the ready. But sketch strolls have taught me that it’s just as much fun to skip the list and simply follow my notebook.
7/7/16 brush pen, gel pen
9/13/16 ink, gel pen
9/5/16 colored pencils, gel pen

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bergen Place

9/23/16 brush pen, ink, colored pencils
Named for the Norwegian city, Bergen Place is a small but colorful park in the center of Ballard. On Sundays, the park is lively with farmers market shoppers, but on this gusty, drizzly Friday morning, it was quiet except for the regular, startling outcries of a man in flip-flops making erratic hand gestures. (I think the park is his home; I’ve seen him on farmers market days, rummaging through trash cans, shouting at persons unseen by the rest of us.) Despite the questionable weather, four hardy sketchers showed up.

Attracted to the juxtaposition of real trees and art trees, I stood across the street to sketch the park until the drizzle turned to full-on rain. Then I retreated to Starbucks, where a front window gave me a slightly different view of the park, this time with some of the Scandinavian flags visible.
9/23/16 brush pen, colored pencils, ink

We decided to meet at the Ballard public library for our sketchbook throwdown. While I waited a few minutes for the others to show up, I stood near the library’s entrance to catch the sidewalk scene.

I hate to say it, but it feels like fall, and outdoor sketching season is probably over.

9/23/16 brush pen, colored pencils
Kathleen, Kate, Tina and Suzanne: hardy sketchers!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Noisy, Dusty and Gold Cadmium Yellow

9/21/16 inks, colored pencils

Back in May I made my first sketch at the Aegis Living retirement facility construction site behind Maple Leaf Park. After demolition, it was quiet for a while, but now activity is back at full speed. I could hear lots of noise and see clouds of dust, but I couldn’t see the heavy equipment behind the huge mounds of dirt. Fortunately for me, this excavator’s operator was taking a break.

According to a sign, the facility is not scheduled to open until 2018, so I’ve got plenty of action to sketch ahead! I’d better sharpen a few more Gold Cadmium Yellow pencils. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Start Now

9/17/16 colored pencils
Five years ago today, Sept. 21, 2011, I started sketching.

Twenty-eleven was a year of big changes. In May I had eye surgery that enabled me to see without correction for the first time since third grade. In November I cut my waist-length hair (I’d worn it long for decades) to the length it is now and simultaneously quit coloring – at last, liberation from the shackles of my tresses! But the biggest change of all was that my only sister died at the age of 65 – only one month after she had retired.

Nearly 13 years older than I, Linda was practically a second mom to me when I was growing up. She had always been supportive of my creative endeavors. Even when my childhood drawings mocked her, she laughed and seemed to appreciate my humor. In my 40s when I ventured into jewelry making, she always proudly wore my creations. Strangers who happened to compliment a necklace or bracelet inevitably got the full story about how I had made those pieces for her. She was my biggest fan. It makes me sad that she never saw my sketches.

I don’t know if her death in April directly affected my commitment to sketching and learning to draw later that same year. I do know, however, that after she died, I gave a lot of thought to not putting things off. “After retirement,” “after the home repairs are done,” “after the kids are grown and I have more time” – a lot of people put off things that are important to them until after. If it’s really important, then a good time to start is now.

(Once a year on my sketching anniversary, I write a retrospective post. You can read the previous years’ posts here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.)

Linda and me (circa 1959)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Birthday, Miata

9/11/16 water-soluble colored pencils

Driving a convertible was always in my destiny. Even as young as a kindergartener, I saw my much-older brothers drive various European convertible roadsters, and I knew someday I’d have one of my own.

Fast-forward to 1996, when I was driving a boring but serviceable Mazda GLC sedan. Economical and easy to park, it got me to where I needed to go with no fuss (but also no fun). One morning I walked out to the front of our house where I always parked it, and it was gone. One of several ‘90s-era Japanese models that were known to be easy to steal, it had disappeared into the night.

Around that same time I had just changed jobs and industries – from local government to software. A little premature for a mid-life crisis (I was only in my late-30s), I had nonetheless decided that my stolen sedan was a wake-up call. It was time to get the car of my destiny!

Unlike the leaky, unreliable roadsters of my brothers’ era, Mazda’s relatively new convertible had a reputation for being both fun and reliable. In bright tomato red, a Miata was the car of my dreams. I drove one home on Sept. 20, 1996.

Twenty years later, I am still driving her. The paint’s a bit faded and dull, and she has more than a few dings and scratches. All year she’s economical, easy to park and gets me to where I need to go. But in the summer when her top comes down, the wind in my hair and the sun overhead, even routine errands feel like small adventures.

Happy 20th birthday, little red Miata! You’re still the car of my dreams.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunny Queen Anne

9/18/16 inks, colored pencils
After Saturday night’s disappointing Otsukimi, it was wonderful to see the sunshine reappear for Urban Sketchers Seattle’s gathering in the Queen Anne neighborhood yesterday.

Since I’d stayed small in my compositions a few months ago when the Friday sketchers met on Queen Anne Hill, I decided to go tall this time. Bethany Presbyterian is one of few Gothic-style churches I know of in Seattle. Much of the church front is obstructed by several trees, but it didn’t matter, because the tall, pointy spire is the only part I like to sketch anyway.

Queen Anne Hill is known for its three huge power towers, and I’ve always wanted to sketch one. Of course, I forgot to bring my landscape sketchbook, so I had to settle for turning my usual sketchbook the long way. I managed to capture only about a third of the tower’s height.

9/18/16 ballpoint pen, colored pencils, ink

In the remaining 15 minutes before the sketchbook sharing (at our two-and-a-half-hour sketch outings, somehow I always seem to do two sketches and then end up with 15 minutes left), I grabbed my brush pen and looked down shady, tree-lined Queen Anne Avenue on a beautiful September morning.

9/18/16 brush pen, colored pencils

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Moon (Non-)Viewing

9/17/16 brush pen, colored pencils
Otsukimi (“moon viewing”) is the Japanese tradition of celebrating the autumn full moon with poetry, music and general festivities. On a warm, clear night, it must be nothing short of magical to gaze peacefully at the rising moon while listening to live cello music and haiku readings.

That warm, clear night, however, did not materialize for us yesterday at Seattle Japanese Garden, which annually hosts Otsukimi for the September Harvest Moon. We were lucky to have a brief reprieve from the rain and high winds that had battered us most of the day – just long enough to enjoy some of that cello music. By the time I started putting a little color on my sketch, it started spitting, and when I switched to my small Field Notes notebook, the spitting had turned to rain. Otsukimi revelers didn’t miss a beat; they just opened their umbrellas and pulled up their hoods.
9/17/16 brush pen, white gel pen

You might wonder why we chose to go to Otsukimi on such a blustery night. The Japanese Garden starts selling tickets to the highly popular event a month ahead of the date, and it sells out almost immediately. We’ve been wanting to attend for years, but we were always either out of town or weren’t able to get tickets in time. Knowing we’d be in town this year, we pounced on them as soon as tickets were available. Of course, you can’t predict weather a month out, and late September is always iffy.

Ah, well. The clouds never parted long enough to reveal that elusive Harvest Moon, but we all knew it was shining up there somewhere.

At least our bento box dinners stayed dry!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Heronswood Garden

9/16/16 brush pen, colored pencils (banana tree)
Tucked away in the woods of Kingston (which is a short ferry ride from Edmonds just north of Seattle), Heronswood Garden has risen from its dark past. Started in 1987 as a vast garden of international plants, Heronswood was eventually sold to the Burpee seed company in 2000. Within six months, Burpee had declared bankruptcy, and by 2006, the garden was in ruins. Several years later, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe purchased the garden’s remains, and since then the garden has come back to life with a flourish.

Open for self-guided tours every Friday, Heronswood seemed like a good way to end our summer (I say that retrospectively as rain pours down on our windows this morning). Although not huge, the garden makes you feel like you’re wandering through quiet woods with a surprising and eclectic mix of plantings. Palms and banana trees grow next to ferns and dahlias. Some of the flowers were long gone or on their way out, but brilliant orange dahlias were at their peak, and the bees were certainly happy. Some of the Japanese maples were just beginning to turn.

9/16/16 colored pencils (dahlia and a happy bee)
Greg came home with a small plant (he’s the only one with a green thumb at our house; I can’t touch it or it will die) as a reminder of this lovely garden that we plan to return to in the spring. 

9/16/16 brush pen, Gelly Roll
(waiting in the ferry line)
9/16/16 brush pen (cormorants on pilings at the ferry dock)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nostalgia Tour at MOHAI

9/15/16 ink, colored pencils
The Museum of History and Industry has a fun exhibit right now called “Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.” In addition to all my childhood favorites – Etch-a-Sketch, Thing Maker, Spirograph – the show has every other popular toy of those eras. Barbie, Slinky, GI Joe, Tonka trucks, Silly Putty, Hot Wheels – what a nostalgia tour!

The best part of the exhibit was probably the TV commercials, which were being looped on several old sets. Thankfully, Greg and I had the exhibit nearly to ourselves, because I started roaring with laughter when the Mystery Date Dud appeared! (Oops, sorry for the ear worm.) Ah, we were so easily amused back then (and apparently now, too).

I had a hard time deciding what to sketch, so I made a montage of three favorite icons – Troll, Cootie and Mr. Potato Head.

What was your favorite toy?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Roof

9/14/16 ink, colored pencils
On my morning sketchabouts in the neighborhood this week, I’ve had my eye on the house a few blocks up the street where a roofing truck is parked. The past couple days workers were getting ready, unloading stuff and moving it around, but I didn’t see much roof action. Today my patience paid off, and two roofers were up there laying shingles.

I had to stand across the street, so my view wasn’t quite as good as it was last year when roofers were working on the house next door. But in a couple weeks I’ll have the best view of all: Our house will be getting a new roof, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Water-Soluble Colored Pencil Comparison

9/12/16 water-soluble colored pencils, 140 lb. Canson XL watercolor paper

Although I’ve been using them for a long time, water-soluble colored pencils have intriguing properties that I have only begun to explore. My favorite brand for a couple of years has been Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles for its softness of application and ability to dissolve completely. They are pricey, though, so after getting a small starter set, I buy the other colors open stock. (That’s actually an economical way to buy any colored pencil, because pre-made sets always seem to have several colors I seldom use. Ahem. That knowledge doesn’t always prevent me from buying sets, however. I’m a sucker for beautiful boxed sets – what can I say?)

Compared to other colored pencil lines, Museum Aquarelles come in a fairly narrow range of hues because the pigments have to be lightfast to be in the collection. So I fill in colors I can’t get in the Museum line with my other favorites – Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Dürer and Caran d’Ache’s Supracolor. All three are excellent pencils (which means I can probably stop “researching” other brands, right? Surely, you jest). In addition, of all the pencils I own, these three are the only ones I know of that are available open stock.

Besides those, I’ve tried a number of other brands, some of which I like and others that I can do without. In some cases I received samples from vendors in various symposium or other event goodie bags, and in other cases I bought small sets. My tests include swatching them on various paper types and making small still lifes. These tests tend to be haphazard and spontaneous, however, and I end up forgetting which sketchbook contains which test results.

On a recent rainy afternoon, I decided to make myself a single test sheet of all the water-soluble colored pencil brands I have at least samples of. (Some took a bit of time to chase down because, following Ana Reinert’s lead, I started putting colored pencils all over the house instead of storing them only in my studio. Some people like to put vases of flowers in every room; I’m happier with mugs of colored pencils!) Shown here are the results done on a page of Stillman & Birn Beta paper.

The “dry” column is a very subjective test of how the pencil feels when I lay down a swatch with my natural (fairly heavy) pressure. My preference is always for a soft, creamy application rather than hard, so this is the test that many pencils fail (for me). If it feels hard and scratchy to me, I will probably not use it much. From this test, I also learn how much crumbly dust the pencil leaves behind. (I had to blow all that off before scanning, however, so you can’t see the results.) In addition, the dry test is to see how well a swatch covers the Beta’s medium-coarse texture with one somewhat aggressive application (how much paper shows through in the recessed areas).

As expected in this highly subjective test, the “dry” test revealed all my faves (Caran d’Ache Museum, Caran d’Ache Supracolor, Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer) to be among the softest in application and least dust-producing. However, Crafter’s Companion Spectrum Noir AquaBlend (a relatively difficult brand to source, it turns out, as I found it only on Amazon and not at any of the stores I shop at) turned out to be surprisingly soft and creamy – even more so than Supracolor and Dürer. It produces a lot of crumbs, though.

The “wet-on-dry” column shows one wipe-through with a waterbrush without scrubbing the swatch. In other words, it’s a test of how quickly and completely the pigment dissolves with the addition of water. This technique is probably the most-commonly used with water-soluble pencils – color an area with an application of dry pencil, then activate that spot of dry pigment with water applied with a brush. The addition of water makes the hue more intense but can also sometimes change the hue slightly from its dry state. It’s a very easy way to make a small, easily controlled spot of color.

The same four best performers in the “dry” test also did well in the “wet-on-dry” test by being the fastest and most complete dissolvers. The worst was Palomino Aquas (which was also crumbly, dry and hard in application in the “dry” test).

The “licked” column shows the result of “licking” (I tried to think of a better term but came up blank; I have to thank Larry Marshall for that highly technical term!) a waterbrush against the pencil tip to pick up pigment, then painting it onto the paper in a manner similar to using conventional watercolors. The color tends to be a bit more watery than using straight watercolor paints, however. The “licking” test was the most inconclusive in that they all put down about the same amount of pigment by this method. Or perhaps conclusive in that this attribute is the great equalizer.

Finally, the “dry-on-wet” column was made by spraying a generous amount of water on the paper, then scribbling directly into the wetness with the pencil. This was my favorite test because it was the most revealing. As expected, my top three – Museum, Supracolor and Dürer – dissolved rapidly and richly when smeared through wet paper. This is how I want water-soluble pencils to behave when I use them this way. AquaBlend also behaved predictably well in this test, given its similar softness. Cretacolor Marino was the biggest surprise. In dry application, it felt relatively soft, and dissolved acceptably in the “wet-on-dry” test. But when scribbled on wet paper, it hardly dissolved at all, making a faint, dry line. 

The pencils that applied relatively dryly, such as Palomino and Art Grip Aquarelles, also skidded through water in a dry, unsavory manner. The exception was Derwent Inktense, which goes on dry compared to my favorites, but when pushed through water, it really put out intense, inky color. (Interestingly, it didn't dissolve fully in the wet-on-dry test.) Caran d’Ache Fancolor, which applies relatively soft (I liked it when I wrote my full review a couple months ago but didn’t test them wet on dry), was disappointing in this test. I love the way water-soluble pencils bloom with rich, intense pigment on wet paper because it’s an effect not easily achieved with any other medium, so pencils that fail that test are deal-breakers for me.

Yesterday morning I took my usual fistful of Museum Aquarelles to Maple Leaf Park with the express intention of using as many water-soluble colored pencil techniques as possible in one sketch – and no other medium. At the top of the post you can see the sketch when I finished it at the park. Normally I would use watercolor or ink in a waterbrush to paint sky because a wet medium seems to be required – I’ve never liked the look of a sky colored with a dry medium. But to keep my test sketch pure, I used the wet-on-dry technique: I made several strokes of blue pencil on the paper and then dissolved that with the waterbrush.

After I scanned the image above, I thought the sky (which was a brilliant, clear blue yesterday) looked too pale and wimpy. To intensify the color, I used a variation of wet on dry (in the diagram below, I’m calling it “pre-dissolved wet on dry”): I applied a rich swatch of dry pencil to scrap paper, wet the swatch generously, and then dipped into the resulting puddle of pigment with a waterbrush to paint a second wash of color onto the sky. It’s generally not a good idea to futz around and overwork watercolor in this way, since the results are more often worse than better, but at least the sky is a bit more intensely blue. This method of using water-soluble pencils, by the way, seems closest to traditional watercolors.

Shown below is the final sketch with all the techniques labeled.

I really like the way the pine trees came out fuzzy and a bit blurry with a dry-on-wet application. However, I’m learning that it’s important to gauge carefully how wet the paper is when putting the pencil in. I started drawing the trees from left to right. By the time I got over to the right side of the paper, I was afraid it was too dry, so I gave it another dose of water. The puddle on the paper’s surface was a bit too much, and when I put the pencil in, the pigment started floating around. I sopped up some of the excess water with a napkin, but you can see where the trees got a little too fuzzy and blurry.

I’m sure I’ve only skimmed the surface of what these magical pencils can do!

Edited: I completely forgot about Derwent Inktense until Terrie reminded me, so I went back and added it to the test table.

Same sketch as above but with a second wash of color added to the sky.

OK, this is just gratuitous eye candy -- colored pencils
on my kitchen counter.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Flamingo Chicks

9/9/16 colored pencils
(The orphaned chick in the hand of its adopted father, John)
Several flamingo chicks hatched recently at the Woodland Park Zoo, including one that had been abandoned as an egg. They are growing fast, an e-mail from the zoo informed us, so we popped over there on Friday between errands just to see the new chicks.

When we first arrived, we spotted the two with parents who were feeding and scuttling around under the feet of the grownups, but there was no sign of the orphan. By the time I had sketched one of the chicks, their keeper came out with the one we had been looking for – the orphan, who was also the youngest. About three weeks old, the little one (gender as yet undetermined) could sure run fast. Being hand-raised by its adopted human father until it’s old enough to join the flock, it actually responded to keeper John’s calls! As we watched it clumsily bump into things in its path, John assured us that flamingoes are not the smartest birds in the nest. Still, the fuzzy little guy/gal sure was cute. The next time we see it, it will probably be tall and pink like the rest of the flock.

9/9/16 colored pencils
(One of the other new chicks old enough
to mingle with adults.)
If I had a flamingo chick in my hands,
I'd grin like that, too!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kombucha and the Clefts

9/8/16 ink, colored pencils
This summer was so full of travel and other activities that I hardly had time to visit any farmers markets. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time. Although the produce is dwindling, I’ve still been getting great corn and tomatoes lately, and amazingly, last Thursday at the Lake City Farmers Market, I got a surprise – delicious, sweet strawberries! I thought I’d seen the last of them in July.

After cruising past all the booths, I noticed a seated audience listening attentively to a woman who was giving a demo on an unusual subject: how to make kombucha. I’m not a fan of the fermented tea beverage that is apparently full of beneficial “symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast” (known as SCOBY), but it was interesting to hear about how it’s made. Great care has to be taken to ensure that the tea is not contaminated while being made, only glass containers must be used, the temperature has to remain within a narrow range, only teas with cultures already in them are appropriate, etc. Given that boiling water is the extent to which I’ll go to make a beverage, the process sounded very high-maintenance to me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed sketching Ellie Cohen, the kombucha expert.

The next day Greg and I dropped by Phinney Farmers Market to pick up some corn for dinner. We were on our way home from errands, so I wasn’t planning to sketch. But on our way out, we heard some blues vocals, and we couldn’t resist stopping for a few minutes. I pulled out my quick and trusty brush pen to capture The Clefts, whose toe-tapping music was just right for a warm Friday afternoon.

Most of the neighborhood farmers markets will remain open through September, so I hope I can get to a few more this year. I had a good summer, but I also feel like I missed the best of it here at home while I was away.

P.S. About this post’s title . . . doesn’t that sound like it should be a rockabilly band?

9/9/16 brush pen, ink, colored pencils

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