Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Going Around in Circles: The Diva's Challenge

8.5 x 11 on copy paper

Despite the crazy date on the calendar…I am actually in my right mind (most of the time).  :-)

Anyway, the Diva's on vacation in the US in the west in the heat. She is apparently feeling like she's "going around in circles".  
So that is the prompt this week.  I'd already put a predominate circle in this design and I thought adding a few more would be appropriate, considering.  Onamato in a circle?  Whew.  Who would count the number of circles in THAT one!?  

Rainy in the north woods again…rained most of Wednesday.
Not to worry.  Lots of to do inside today.  And Mary Myers and I had a lovely lunch talking watercolor for hours at the Northern Gallery and Cafe in Minocqua.  Hoping for dry weather now as my daughters are coming for a "girls' weekend" Fri-Monday.  Can't wait to see them!  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Blueberries

The Blueberries
Quarter Sheet of Arches 140# Cold Press

Lots of fun finishing up Kathy Kovala's wc class today.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Sumac branch continued plus a value sketch lesson

wc on1/8 sheet of wc paper
A lovely Saturday working in Kathy Kovala's wc class.  The morning was spent discussing the design and compositional elements important in all paintings.   We didn't get back to painting until just after lunch.  I am still not done with the sumac as I need to put in the shadows and finish up some of the branches.
I and thinking I won't put a background color in.   That will make it more of a "botanical" feel.  OR I might just paint in a faux mat.  Still trying to decide.

Value sketch for a bunch of blueberries
(see tomorrow's post)

Tomorrow (the last day) will be a full day of painting.  We will begin the blueberry study emphasizing the importance of pre planning.
Then there will be a study of water lilies.  Hopefully there will be enough time!  

We have had several extremely hot summer days in the Minocqua, WI area (like the whole midwest).  But it is now raining steadily and it appears to be bringing the temperatures down with it.  Good sleeping weather!  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kathy Korvala's watercolor class called "Rock and Roll"

Sumac leaves will start turning up here in the north woods as our teacher, Kathy, well knows.  So it's a great subject matter.  We are working on 1/8 sheets of 140 cold press Arches paper.  Just nice small studies.  Kathy gave us the image to work with.  Each of us traced it onto tracing paper and then from there onto the wc paper.

So then comes the "rock and roll" part which entails a lovely technique of wetting each leave and dropping beautiful paint into the leaves.  Then with movement we gently move the paint (using gravity) around to mix the colors without using a brush!  (Well, the water goes on with a brush.)  Quin burnt sienna, Antwerp blue, Quin Gold, Auroleon yellow, Scarlet Lake, and Permanent Rose.

Tomorrow we will finish this piece and start working on blueberries which are also beautiful this late summer!  
Such fun…a great class sponsored by Lakeland Art League of Minocqua, WI.  

Gelli arts fun: decorating a mail envelope

This is a white cardboard mailing envelope about 10 x 12.  They are the best kind for decorating with the gelli plate as they have no bubble wrap inside and the cardboard takes the paint so well.  When I have several things going I will grab these from my stash and just go ahead and decorated it and then file it for use later.

Here is the back side of the same envelope. This is one of the new iStencils.  Just love it.  I put this on top of the gelli prints using a small make up sponge dabbed in paint.  You can also use a sponge roller.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Greeting Cards with Gelli Plate

when folded it is about 4 x 8 size card
card stock with acrylic paint and ink

This scroll like print technique on the gelli plate is one of THE most effective and beautiful prints.  I use Martha Stewart craft combs but Gelli Arts also makes their own tools.  You can also make a similar one by cutting out the "rake" or comb out of plastic coated playing cards.  Yippy…a good use for the decks with all the missing cards!  Note: When I do a mono print like this I use a sticky note as a mask for the rectangle in the middle.  

The inside of the card (with gelli print envelope in background)
hand printed washi tape holds the birthday check
Printed by using thinned acrylic paint in an eye dropper then out lined with ink
watercolor background

One of the nice things about the eye dropper technique is that the acrylic paint dries with a raised surface and acts as a resist to the watercolor which is added "after" the printing is done.  

If you are in northern WI on Aug 3, come and see the technique demonstrated at my workshop…see the details on the side bar on the blog and then scroll to my July 10 post for a supply list.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Day at the Races

55 Chevy at the Byron Race Track 

We spent Friday in Illinois helping Greg's son with his 55 Chevy and getting ready to make "passes" down the drag strip.  Over 600 cars registered for the event.  A very fun day.  Lots of father-son bonding going on over greasy car parts.  :-)

I had fun recording some of the cars that were there.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Supply List for my August 3 Gelli Plate workshop

8/3/16 Gelli Plate workshop:
The class will be held 10:30-2:30 at the Manitowish Waters, WI Community Center on Hwy 51.  Class is free for members of MAL and $10 for non members.
You must contact me to reserve a place in the class before August 1. or 715-588-2326
Bring $ on the day of the class.  

Please go to and watch the first demo video so you know a little about what will be covered in this workshop!  

The plate and brayer can be purchased at
You will need to get your order in by July 22 to be sure of delivery in time.
( probably carries them too.)  

✔ An 8 x 10 or 6 x 6 Gelli Plate 
 and a 3” soft rubber brayer.*
✔ An assortment of colors of Acrylic paint (decorative paint from WalMart or Michaels is fine)
(be sure to bring white & black)
Any good soft body or fluid acrylic is good.  If you have glazing medium to add to professional grade acrylic or a “retarder” to help the paint stay wet that is helpful but optional. 
✔ 20-25 sheets of copy paper
note: you can recycle paper that you have such as advertising papers or overruns from you printer.  

I also have a recipe for a home made gelatin plate from Karen Gleisner. See below.
I frankly am not much for the home made ones for two reasons: one they do not last very long and second, they are not ALL that much less expensive to make than to buy!  BUT if you would like to try one, I am including the recipe.  Folks often use 9 x 13 pans for this and you must remember to have them perfect level when you let them set up.  Please note that you do not put the gelatin into hot water like regular gelatin.  You add the boiling water AFTER the gelatin is dissolved in cold water.  

Texture Tools:
Tops of things work nicely for circles…Wine corks, 
small jar lids, 
larger drinking straws, 
bubble wrap, 
plastic shelf liner, plastic 
small yogurt cups, 
10" pieces of string, yarn, thread or ribbon, 
plastic spoons, palette knives, toilet paper tubes, small paper cups, 
flat rubber jar lids.  
You can press leaves for a few days and use them.  Also small feathers work.
Small soft sponges of a variety of shapes or cut into shapes.  
Triangular make up sponges (highly suggested!) 
old credit cards 
netting from fruit bags
plastic canvas
saran wrap, 
old marker caps
potato mashers
sponge rollers,
drink lids
stencils of all kinds are great
rubber stamps (self made are the best): I will demo this in class.
Old toothbrush

Important things to bring:
✔ A  waterproof covering for a table 
✔ 2 Large plastic white garbage bags, one to tape to the table for your waste paper one for under your plate.
✔ cottage cheese or yogurt container for water
✔ 15-20 sheets of thin waxed deli paper
(I will have some of these to share if you don’t have any)
✔ a roll of paper towels
✔ a cheap pkg of baby wipes 
✔ A small container of rubbing alcohol for clean up.
✔ 5-6 sheets of newspaper 
✔ glue stick
✔ scissors
✔ hand cream or thin plastic gloves
✔ Elmer’s White Glue or gel medium and an old brush
✔ Lunch

Karen's homemade gelli plate recipe.

Make Your Own Gelatin Monoprint Plate

You will need a non stick container with a smooth bottom for your mold.  I used a mold for making mosaic stepping stones, they come in different sizes.  Measure for how much liquid you need to fill 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Adjust the following recipe to your mold size.

2C. Cold water
Sprinkle with….
8 packages Knox gelatin
until dissolved.  Then add…..
2C. Boiling water
Mix well.  Gently stir in…..
8oz. Glycerine
Pour into your mold, touch any bubbles to get rid of them.

Let the gelatin set up in the refrigerator until firm.  Carefully unmold.

You can remold by melting the plate in the microwave and pouring again.

Karen Gleisner

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Drawing pens and the Tangle Cornerz

So the discussion on drawing pens is endless online.
All of us who sketching using pens are constantly looking for THE perfect pen.  

My blog friend, Susan, and I are talking about our favorite pens but most especially pens that use ink as in fountain pen or dip pen

BUT there are a lot of disposable pens with different tips that are great too and of course it all depends on the surface on which you want to write, what kinds of lines you like to make (thick, thin, wet, dry, archival or water soluble) and what kinds of ink you like to use. 
They must be inks for fountain pens, however and not Indian ink or  Acrylic ink which would ruin a fountain pen.  SO MUCH to think about here.  Who knew?   

In my inventory above, the Lamy pen is a fillable fountain pen.  It is the only one I own at this point.  And the "dip pen" of course dips into ink and makes unique lines but not really suitable for outdoor use to my mind.    People who know pens also talk about "flexible or stiff pen tips".  I mean it gets REALLY technical. 

Some pens are really expensive and some quite reasonable.  My Lamy ran about $20 I think.  Dip pens are cheap.  And the disposable pens run $2 to $10 or so.  My favorite are the Microns which I use for Zentangle and which are nice because they come with so many different widths from 005 to 08.  If you don't mind carrying a fist full of pens around.  I usually settle for an 05 and a 005 when doing outdoor sketching.  

Sorting through "some" of my pens I am looking at pens that make black lines only at this point.  I have a lot of metallic, and colored pens for other uses.  What I am looking for here are pens that I would use to sketch with and that is just black lines.  The sketch above was done with the Pigma Pen.  

The Jet Pen company puts out a good list of fountain pens they recommend from their inventory.  

Here is my Zentangle tile for the Shading Facebook group.
I used an 01 Micron for this.  The challenge tangle is called Cornerz.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Zentangle back to the future.

8.5 x 11 on copy paper
wc, ink, colored pencil

This is my 15th calendar page.
As my daughter says, "why don't you just get some gridded paper and skip the dates?"  She has a point, but somehow I just like the fact that is actually a calendar!   Back to the future?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Journal Prompts 26 and 27

9 x 12 Strathmore Visual Journal
acrylic paint

Black Gesso added to above

The prompts were to post about gardens and to post about the 4th of July.  So I decided to post the two together…a red, white and blue garden!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

So Now It's Summer in the North Woods!

Cabin fun this summer.
5 x 7 Strathmore WC sketchbook  

 This is the view up the path from the pier.
The blow up chair is my son Rick's floaty chair.  
Lake water has been close to 80 this week and we have been blessed by the weather gods with perfect weather since the 3rd of July.  What fun.  

 My two youngest grandsons (9 and 10) have left a wet trail where they run down the pier, jump off the trampoline and catapult into the lake.  These kids sleep really well!  And eat us out of house and home!!!  
We'll be sorry to see them go tomorrow.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Coon's Franklin Lodge Children's Play Area

Moleskin (large) 8 x 10

This is Coon's Franklin Lodge about 10 miles north of Minocqua, WI.  My outdoor painter's group met there yesterday morning just before a storm rolled in (see storm clouds on horizon).  I was able to get the sketch done but had to add color later in the studio.  

We get so few sunny bright mornings that I took a chance and drove the 30 minutes to get there to join the "gang".  But we got rained out by 11:30.  Sigh.  

We continue to get such cold and rainy weather up here.  I awoke to 50 degrees and windy (but sunny) on Friday of the 4th of July.  Am so hoping that warmer weather will soon come as I have a ton of company coming that wants to enjoy the lake!!!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Composites for Zentangle tangle settings...

8.5 x 11" copy paper
Ink and colored pencil graphite and acrylic paint

One of the goals and purposes of my over-zealous interest in putting together "groups" of Zentangle® patterns (regardless of the actual month it happens to be now) is to enjoy seeing new tangle patterns in a "setting" rather than just as a step out or sample. 

My goal has been to include at least 4 or 5 new tangles each month.  This month was quite extraordinary as almost ALL the tangles are new.  For some reason I have come upon a great number that caught my eye.  Only five of the tangles are familiar to me:  a version of Hollibaugh (on day 23), Black Pearl (on bright green background,  and the background behind days 17 and 18 which is Printemps in graphite.  Also Agora which is day 2 has been used before. There is also  a version of Striping in the center area that is an old friend.  

The new tangles are Puffties, Trills, Sextant Border, Side Eye, Gemma, Hamsix, Dayz-E Fleur, Banner, Funsin, and Auwacka Too.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Diva Challenge: Black and red

Black, white and red challenge/ink and colored pencil
Veezy, Inowi, and a variation on "Well"

8.5 x 11 copy paper
Ink and  Prismacolor pencils

Whatever you do, do NOT look at the date on this calendar.
I know, I know.  2017?  January? WHAT is that?  

What has happened is that I got caught up in Tangle A Day calendars for my daily Zentangle several years back.  So after awhile you need to push out to something else and I found Tanglalendar which is a sub group of calendar nuts that is doing their calendar a different way.  Stephanie puts out the blank formats for free, we download them and do our daily Zentangles as we wish.  Posting on her Facebook group.   

None of us makes much effort to let the # on the days even show up so it's not the kind of calendar you would actually use to track days!  Obviously we don't even stay in the squares!  It's totally fun.  (Although many people do this differently than I do.)

You can also download free blank calendars online.  
SO…I have this phobia about practicing my tangles on this format.  And since I work fairly quickly, I have done all 12 calendars for 2016 already. You can actually find them under "Zentangle calendars" on the side bar on my blog.  Crazy.  

My goal is to use at least 3-4 brand new (to me) tangle patterns on each sheet.  

Washi Tape made easy

Home made Washi Tape 

I think this is the 3rd time over the years that I've posted this "recipe" for home made "washi" tape.  (My sister will know exactly what I am doing!)  I probably do this twice a year so I keep my tape supply available whenever I need it!  Great for decorating cards and letters, journal pages, collage work, etc.  I think these are tons nicer than commercial washi tape!  

I use first aid cotton tape that you can find in any drug store or dollar store.  And I lay it out on a non-stick surface.  Freezer paper works the best, I think, but this time I used waxed paper for the first time and I think it went fine.  I taped the wax paper down to my work table first.  2-2.5 feet across.  Then I laid out the paper tape in strips across the waxed paper leaving just a tiny bit between them.  After I apply the first coats of base paint you can't even see the spaces anymore.  

(I just use inexpensive craft acrylic paint form hobby store or WalMart).  Pick bright colors that you enjoy…some dark and some light.  After the base coats dry apply more printing, stenciling, spattering, and line work however you like to do it.  Mostly I love just random marks, but you could be as planned out as you wish as you might want a certain look.  Gold paint spritzed on with a tooth brush on a dark back ground is very effective.  Fine line work with fine liner bottles is very effective too.  You might just want stripes or dots painted on with a Q-tip.  Hand made stamps work well and I enjoy using stencils printed on with make sponges.  Let dry again.

I wind my tape onto "smoothie" drinking straws and stick them into a cup on my work table so they are handy at all times.  Voila.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Baby Owlet under a Mushroom

Acrylic 11 x 15 gallery-wrapped canvas
"Owlet and Mushroom"

Evidence of me gridding this image is still on the canvas, of course.  So the background is yet unfinished.  And some little details I'd like to add here and there yet.

The class was taught by Wausau artist, Cindy Markowski.  
Just a short one day class…10-2.  Since I do very little acrylic I found it refreshing to try it out again.  

I think he'll turn out "okay"…nothing spectacular but it was fun.  Cindy had lots of tips on feathers and eyes.  

And it was a lovely day to avoid noticing the north woods weather.  Yes, you guessed it…rain again.  Really a deluge all day and storm after storm has roared through. 

No winds this time thank heavens.  We are all recovering still from a big wind storm last Friday that left 73,000 homes in the northern WI without power for as long as 4 days!  Ours was out 30 hours and that was bad enough!  Temps around 70 but so damp and dark.  Not a very fun opening this year.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Christmas in June

8.5 x 11 wc pencil and ink on copy paper

You knew this would happen eventually.  That I would flip out and post Christmas in June.  You knew it right?

Well, you saw November so what could possibly be next?
I love how I can look at this and see lots of tangles and think about other possible ways to use them!  

At present I am just putting them in plastic sheet protectors and enjoying them as a sort of flip book.  Can 2017 be far behind?

A Garden in Madison, WI

Small landscape Moleskin sketchbook
watercolor and ink

Such a nice day in Madison, WI on Sat June 11.
Our grandson Ben graduated from high school!!!  We drove the 4 hours south to be with the family that day.  
We gathered with my daughters and with Ben's other grandparents and some friends for a picnic in the garden after the ceremony (Madison West High School).  It was 95 that day in Madison!  This was our 5th grandchild to graduate from high school (only 7 more to go!)  

This building is actually Julie's garage with a pergola out front of it that you drive under to get into the garage!  Never seen anything like it…covered in gorgeous vines that will flower soon and some roses as well.  

Lots of beautiful shade and lovely plantings left by the former owner who was quite the gardener!!!  I never knew there were peony "trees".  Yup.  I looked it up.  THERE ARE!  And a ton of different plants I've never seen before!  Lots of work thinning this garden out!  I could stay all day and paint there!  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

En plein air painting in WI on Thursday June 9

Chippewa Retreat Resort in Manitowish Waters, WI
There were nine painters this morning.

I took some liberties leaving a lot of things out of the 
sketch but this was my first time in this size Moleskin sketchbook and
I did have some "issues" with the paper.

I drew everything in ink with a fountain pen….no pencil.
Added color afterwards.  I think the sketch needs a few more dark darks.