Friday, July 21, 2017

Sketching Moments for Remembering



There is a spot on my summer porch at the cabin by the lake that is a "cozy" spot and a place where I can play quiet music.  Here I curl up to read, write on my laptop (the memoir, remember?), have my wine in the late afternoon with hubby, or sometimes take a wee nap.  

These sketches are views from that spot.  Done in a 9 x 11 mixed media Strathmore sketchbook.  There is room for 4 to sit and have a comfortable conversation which I think is the ideal number for a chat.  

The larger sketch faces toward the lake (west) which we easily see just 90 steps away through the lovely old pines and oaks.  With the windows open we hear the loons call and see the ducks swim by.  We hear the pontoon boats out for a ride and fishing boats going by.

An ideal spot of a pot of daisies and stacks of books and my binoculars in case I see something new at the bird feeder.  The hummingbird feeder hangs just outside the window off to the north side. We often here their little "motors" as they drink.  The smaller sketches face north.  

So this is probably THE favorite spot I have here at the cabin or maybe on the deck at the pier on a still summer late afternoon would be a close second.  Sketches like this provide one with an amazing way to bring the moment back.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Pure nonsense!


Well, here I go again with a new device to try to learn about!!!  You'd think since I have an Apple iPad and an Apple laptop, this iPhone would be a no-brainer.  Well to the contrary!  Phones are a different animal.  

I thought it might be fun to decorate my case (Otter Box as my daughter recommended) so that if there were many black iPads around I'd have no difficulty seeing which one was mine!!!

Pure nonsense.  I have a lot of art stuff sitting and waiting and here I am making pure nonsense.  The decoration is Zentangle®, of course, and the pattern is one of my favorites called "Lollywimple".  

I used fluid acrylic paint for this which I loaded into a Molotow refillable ink pen.  These are extremely messy to refill.  You should have a "refill" device that you buy separately but I've always just donned rubber gloves and put a lot of newspaper down, put on an apron and pulled it apart.  This pen was new so the first fill is a no brainer.  

Acrylic is pretty "hardy" but I expect with all the use the case will get it will eventually wear off.  But easily repainted.  

Weather day is nice today (amazing, huh?) as the north woods just whips from one type of weather to another!  47 degrees last night and 75 in the afternoon...15 and 25 degree swings every week and every day.  Try to plan something?  Forget that.
Just enjoying it when it turns nice...that's the key.  
Have a good week!  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The weather will be good...when pigs fly?


9 x 11 sketch in Strathmore Visual Journal 90# paper...watercolor and ink.  

Only 4 artists showed up today and we froze our buns off.  The Greenhouse/Nursery in Boulder Junction, WI (about half an hour from my cabin in Lac du Flambeau) is a very nice venue for painting.  If it were sunny.  If it were warm.  

But nope.  Temp was about 52 with a stiff wind and never a touch of sunshine.  It didn't rain but that about the only thing going for the weather today!  All of us felt our fingers grow numb from cold on JULY 13th!!!

The greenhouse was bedecked with flowers and then outside was this tiny little cottage in which they sold garden equipment and coffee and doodads for our garden like wind chimes and little metal pigs with wings.  All the shadows you see are fake.

We did a lovely lunch afterwards and much laughter and good conversation.  Then I was off to get some groceries in Minocqua and home by "tea time" (which was NOT on the pier unfortunately).  I decided we needed a comfort dinner and did my apple/pork chop bake.  This felt so "fall-ish".  It kept the cabin warm and we are full and sleepy...curled up reading on the sofa and watching darkness descend over the lake.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Framing and matting and measuring OH NO



I have shown the preliminary sketches for this project previously on the blog and the progress on it as it went along.  (It is a surprise anniversary present for our neighbors here on Tippecanoe Lake the first week in August).  I had the printer in town make up enough small copies for 12 cards.  So I'll finish glueing those up later.  

I had to put a mat on this one and there was nothing in my stash that would fit so I dragged out my mat cutter for the first time in probably 3 years!  Once I remembered to change the blade in the cutter, it all went pretty well.  It is a pain to cut mats, however.
Lots of careful measurement (ugh MATH) and then remember to get those corners nice and crisp.   

Not sure why but the color looks washed out in the card and it's really not.  Must be the lamp reflecting on it funny as I did take this photo inside.  

I consider this a "sketch" as it done with calligraphy pen that is water soluble.  Then I do a wash and put in most of the shadows before I add some color. Gives it a "sketchier" look than just a plain watercolor painting, I think.

We had a rainy/sunny day today on and off in the north woods.  Temps were not bad and I had the porch windows open most of the day.  But am back in a flannel shirt this evening.   Hoping we get a nice morning tomorrow for the outdoor painters group.  We are going to Winker's Greenhouse/Nursery in Boulder Junction.  

Hope everyone has a great weekend.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

4th of July in the North Woods



Not only is the internet connection here in the north woods practically non-existent or incredibly SLOW but sometimes these conditions go on for days. Which is okay for the most part as everyone I know realizes where I am and the conditions for posting or emailing or texting or anything technology related are practically impossible.  The closer we are to a weekend or a holiday...the less connectivity is possible.  Due to the number of people online.

I might note that after I finished this sketch of the pier and deck building, we had 3 beautiful days of weather.  Right through the 4th of July.  So the umbrella went and we spend HOURS down there sunning like turtles and having wine and cheese and watching the kids swim and jump off the pier.  

We have squeezed so much into those 3 days that Greg is now on a heating pad taking a nap!  And feeding 10 people 3 meals a day gets to be awe inspiring (but with all the help it is fun).  Last night we did an old fashioned grill out and then went to the local fireworks. Meaning no one got to bed until 11. Boy we were dragging this morning as it rained lightly.  

Among all the festive things, the two older grandsons and my son helped Greg install the last large window on the glassed in porch.
We were missing one window and the one we chose was HUGE and heavy.  WHAT were we thinking?  Anyway it did get installed and now THAT is done except for trim and painting which can come later.  Photos of this later.

Company will stay through Thursday dinner and then 5 will leave and 3 will stay on until Sunday.  




Friday, June 30, 2017

Indoor Outdoor Sketching on a VERY rainy day


The North Woods outdoor painters met yesterday.  One of our favorite places to paint is Coon's Franklin Lodge in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin (about 10 miles north of Minocqua on Trout Lake).  

This is one of those old fashioned lodges that has been passed down through several generations of ownership.  You know the kind, where families often come back year after year.  

Done in a Strathmore Visual Journal with 90# paper (9 x 12).
The hard part of yesterday was only that it RAINED all day AGAIN.  Normally that would put the kibosh on any painting as we often choose places with no cover.  The the lodge has many covered walkways and is generously covered with little color spots of chair/pillows and floral plantings.  

For me?  I headed straight for the lodge lounge area.  A fire was crackling there and a stuffed bear snarled in the corner as any good Northwoods lodge would offer. Mounted fish on the wall and plenty of overstuffed furniture and a wonderful old roll-topped desk in one corner.  There I curled up from about 10:30 to noon doing the above sketch.

The lodge area was large enough that guests could filter through now and then and people came down to read and visit quietly.  At 12:30 the noon bell rang in the charming and large dining room and the painting group gathered for a very hearty and lovely lunch!  

There we shared painting stories and complained about weather together.   The weather man has PROMISED us a nice 4th of July...with sun (if we can remember what that looks like) and temps in the high 70s.  And he says we could have a nice little stretch of sunny dry weather following that.  We would be ecstatic about this.
If nothing else, rain provides you with a reason to LOVE sunshine.
There might be a metaphor for life there somewhere.

We are off to garage sales (as usual on Fridays) and hoping the rain will hold off today until we are done!  

Hope everyone has a safe and joyful 4th.  
My BIG hoard of family will start arriving tomorrow.  And we'll be jam packed with activities for about 10 days.  Hope to get some sketching in.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A work in progress


You will have seen the sketch for this painting a few posts ago...I thought I'd try a little different "style" of pen and ink for this one.  I did all the pen work first and tried to get most of the shadows in in pen.  
This gives quite a different look to the whole painting.  It is more like a "sketch" than a painting.  

This is not signed yet.  I think I'm going to darken the front screens on the porch on the front some.  I see I cut the left side off a little when I cropped it...it has a bell hanging off to the left and you can see this.  I think I'll crop off some of the darker tree near the top left which is pulling my eye off the paper.  

When I get those done I'll post it again.  Susan...do you see anything else that might need addressing?  



The Odd World of Trees Underground



This is a rather odd artistic post.  It is sort of an abstract, surreal sort of piece of journalling that is supposed to reflect the theme of "Trees".
The topic was a prompt from one of my arty Facebook groups.
The only real requirement is that there be some words on the page.

This reflects some of my interpretation of the book The Hidden Life of Trees and that I previous posted about.  I think I put it under the label "Thoughts".  The book is an interesting conversation about things you never knew or thought about concerning trees.  Written by a German forester, his information is quite fascinating!!!  Trees actually have a whole life UNDER the ground that you never much think about.  Scientists can actually measure some sort of "electrical hum" under the ground.  They are not sure what it is.  
Are the trees chatting?  

 I mean we all know they have roots but who knew about the fungi that connect most of the trees in the forest?  Who knew that the fungi not only live off the tree but BENEFIT the tree as well and help it by communicating with other trees?  They can actually WARN other trees about invasive insects in the area...things like that!  Who knew that in a tablespoon of dirt there are more living organisms than can accurately be counted?  And that many of them are yet unknown and unnamed?  

These strange piece of reflective art came from a ghost print I did on the gelli plate.  When I scrolled through my journal trying to decide how to represent trees this called out to me.  I tried to "spatter" representations of bits of living matter and insects too.  The complicated underground web that we do not see unless a storm uproots one unexpectedly.  

The font is done with my fine line paint pen using high flow acrylics.  



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fine Line Paint Pen Anyone?


Mark making tools become an obsession after awhile.  It's fascinating to try all KINDS of pens.  This is a Loew Cornell Fine Line "Paint" pen.  It is designed to hold any thin liquid.  I am trying out Hydrus Watercolors here (pre-mixed liquid Dr. Martin brand).  

The barrel at the top is gently filled with the liquid (I use a small paint brush as the filling tool because it helps keep any bubbles from forming.  You can also dip it fully into a liquid but then you have a lot of wiping to do.  So I prefer the paint brush.  You don't get a huge amount of printing before having to refill, of course. That is a downside to this.

It is definitely a "studio" printing technique end not designed to be carried about for use.  I have used liquid acrylic paint in this and this works nicely too and would provide more opaque lettering that you could wash over.  And the white works nicely over black backgrounds too.  I like that you can use a huge variety of colors and paints with it...not just your normal black, white, and blue.  

It's important to wash and clean immediately after use, of course, so the tiny nozzle won't get clogged and it does come with a tiny wire you can use in case this happens.  You can also blow through it to clean it out after it is washed in clean water.  So it has some housekeeping issues. But I rather like it.  The marks are easy to make...liquids flow so nicely that the pen just glides over smooth paper.  

Has anyone else tried one of these?  It is not expensive.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sketching Poppies


The most amazing poppies at church yesterday (Lac du Flambeau, WI Community Presbyterian Church).  



Monday, June 19, 2017

Architecture in Watercolor


Architecture has always been a special love of mine.  My dad was an architect.  Friends are having a big anniversary party here at the lake in early August and so I took a photo of their lovely home here with the idea of surprising them.  

So first I did a tracing of the photo (on tracing paper) and now I am deciding the style in which I will portray the final drawing/painting.  I will do it in watercolor and ink...but I have a number of different ways that I can portray it.  I am thinking of maybe a sketch-like drawing rather than an exact portrait of the house.  Something a little more "artsy".  (It's about 12 x 16.) The odd line across the front under the eaves is a shadow line, by the way.  

Anyway, I am about ready to get started on this one.  I'll let you know what I decide!

It's pouring rain and 55 degrees at the Northwoods cabin today.  So how do you like that weather report?  Sigh.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Washi Tape


I've posted my home made washi tapes a number of times before.
I use the "plain white paper tapes" from the first aid section of WalMart or any Dollar store or Walgreens, etc.  I use inexpensive craft acrylics for this and just have lots of fun using stencils and stamps and fine line paint etc.  I love the brightest colors possible. 

 In this example I laid all the tapes out on a piece of left over foam core.  The paint soaks though a little bit.  You can do this on wax paper, freezer paper (my favorite) or a piece of plexiglass or even an old plastic table cloth or place mat.  Just so it will come up easily.    

Here I show that I am beginning to roll up the dry tapes on to a drinking straw...I use the larger "milkshake-type" straws.  It's a good way to keep them for later use. 






Here is how the straws look when you are done.  Then I just plunk them into an old mug or can and voila they are ready when I need them for collage, stationary, envelopes, or any fun use.  I like these SO much better than the commercial washi tapes.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Rocky Start


Sometimes you wonder about me, right?  Well, before I left the Friday group in Leesburg decided to paint rocks.  Anyway you wanted to.  I remember reading about someone who painted rocks with tiny dots.  VERY beautiful and exact designs.  The video that explained the process, I remember, showed that the artist used a set of amazing tools allowing her to make precise dots with graduated sizes.  Whew...VERY time consuming and very geometric. 

 I highly admired these but knew that I was not interested in really adopting this strict technique.  But I thought it would fun to so something with dots.  Above is my simple try.  I used eraser on the end of pencils.  I only had 3 sizes.  I coated my rocks with black gesso first and then used Dylusions acrylic paint for the dots.  Then coated them with a gloss varnish.

So then I had put out too much paint and I thought how to use up the left overs!  Well, there is always time to make a mono-print or two, right?




So with left over paint I rolled out some of the acrylic on my gelatin plate and took a few pulls.  This one took two pulls and then I added some white lines for fun.  I used pre-adhesive paper from a pack of papers intended for putting on CDs.  After they are all dry you can pull them off and use them in collage or in my case, as stationary decoration!  



There was enough paint left over for 3 more pulls.  These will make nice collage papers or wrapping paper.  It's amazing how little paint these take!!!

So these are my first projects in my studio in the Northwoods after spending several days trying to find things and put them in some sort of order.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Beads of Courage


The Diva's Challenge for Zentangle this week has to do with "beads of courage".  So everyone in the challenge is trying hard to think of a way to tangle a tile that has something to do with beads.  

It's a long story but the gist of it that children are given colored beads when they have to endure some difficult challenge...usually a physical problem of some sort.  Laura's youngest son has some challenges and so she dreamed up this amazing idea to help him.  
She's quite the special mom!  

We have begun to "settle" in at our little Northwoods cabin in Wisconsin this week.  It takes us almost two weeks to find everything, get piers and boats out and relax into a new environment.  The hummingbirds have been buzzing us to get out our feeders!  



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Seize the Day? Or maybe not.


These canvases are (3/4"gallery wrapped).  And I worked on these for a few hours this afternoon at the Manitowish Waters Art Leage Workshop in a town of the same name.  The paint is acrylic and was applied with a credit card to start the background.


Our workshop leader provided us with a lot of fun sayings to choose from.  This one just seemed right for our cabin time this summer!!!  Or maybe for life in the slow lane?  12 x 12


This is actually the hope that Zentangle teachers try to give to students.  Stop thinking...relax, breathe, and let you hand and mind weave magic.  6 x 6

I decided not to apply the final varnish coat since I have a few more things I'd like to a add to both of them.  

Materials used: acrylic paint, brushes, polymer medium, pens, collage papers, sponges, spackeling compound, and stencils.  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Happiness is a Balloon



I can't help but share this amazing family that I am so proud of.
Back row: Rick (my son), Beth (my daughter), Julie (my daughter), 
Marie (my daughter in law), me, Greg (my husband).
Front row: Mike, Pat, Abby (grandkids...3 of the 12).  

This was taken after Abby's high school graduation party in West Chicago, Illinois on Saturday evening.  What luck to have wonderful weather too.  Great weekend.  

We are heading off to the cabin today...about a 6 hour drive north into the woods.  Adventures to follow.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Old Saloon


This quick sketch (maybe 45 minutes) was done on the city streets of Waukesha, WI from a parking lot across the street.  Waukesha is pronounced Waw-kee-shaw.  Accent on the first syllable.  

We have friends in the area here and also a son/daughter in law and two grandsons who live in this town!  We got to the lunch date with friends early so I decided to do a little sketch.  

Later I found out some information about the historical background of the building and it was built in 1892 and the original owner's name, Louis Yanke, is on the wall of the building. He was a saloon keeper and the name of the first saloon was "Farmer's Home".  

The stone (limestone) actually had a soft yellowish tint (not white as shown) so I will put that in later.  



Happy Graduation Day


Happy family times...our granddaughter Abby graduated from West Chicago High School Friday night June 2.  Parties galore on Saturday (today).  Hope to get some sketching in but it may be on the back burner for now.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Whispering the Names of Things in a Walk Through the Woods


"....My lips whispered over the names of things
in the meadows, in the orchard, in the woods,
where I sometimes stood for long moments
listening to some bird telling me of the strangeness of myself;
rocked in the sinewy arms of summer."    Ruth Stone


A walk through University Woods in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday June 1.  It was such a delight to see so many old friends-spring or early summer flowers.  

I carried this journal with me and a pen...and I would stop when I saw one I loved and try to make some marks that would call back the flower or tree to me.  June flowers in southern WI are nostalgic for me.  I may have time to add some color later.

"OH" I would gasp at the Jack in the Pulpits. Memories rushing around me of other places I had found them in years gone by.  Yellow Lady's Slipper in full bloom ready for some tiny lady to slip her plump feet into...wow.  

And such a jewel,  a humming bird nest with a tiny humming bird sitting on it near quite near a bench in a Sycamore tree.  OH my. 
We think she might still have been building it as she seemed to us to be gathering spider webs...really she was...and bringing them back to the tiny nest.  

Too late for trillium and violet but I might catch a few at the cabin in the north woods next week where colder temps keep things slower in coming.  

We continue to went our way around southern WI and northern Illinois now for a few more days.  Involved in family gatherings and enjoying old friends.  We are in a mood of wanting to be done with the trip and still looking forward to things.  

Our granddaughter will graduate tonight and it "appears" that the weather front which warned of rain for today all week long as pushed that off one more day!  How lovely.  So outside us in DeForest, WI this morning, we see nothing but blue skies.  

We are happy not to be rushed in leaving this morning.  
We had a lovely hot breakfast in the hotel and now are slowly gathering our things, showering and soon will be heading off again.
Lucky us.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day in Arcola, Illinois



Arcola, Illinois is south of Champaign, Illinois in the middle of corn and soybean country.  My friend Carol grew up in this area (in Decatur nearby) and had grandparents and other family members in Arcola.  With a population of about 3,000, everyone knows everyone.  She her hubby have purchased the little home you see below for their summer stays but still winter in Florida.  And she still owns farm land which she rents out to local farmers.  We drove around to see her many acres just beginning to sprout up.  

We attended the town's Memorial Day ceremony at 10 am this morning.  It felt so much like the one I attended many times in little Williams Bay when my kids were growing up!  Although this was held at the cemetery.  The national anthem sounded sweet sung by a local high school senior and presentations, prayers and a short patriotic speech by a local judge.  The ceremony ended with taps and I was reminded that I was spending a lot of time in cemeteries on this trip north!  

Arcola is also the home of a large Amish community so you meet buggies on the road and we stopped to buy strawberries from an Amish family in the afternoon on our way to eat a hearty buffet lunch at an Amish restaurant.

Arcola is somewhat famous for the Lawn Rangers, a "precision lawn mower drill team" that marches in formation with brooms and lawn mowers while wearing cowboy hats. Every year since 1980, the Lawn Rangers have marched in the Arcola Broom Corn Festival Parade. The event, held the weekend after Labor Day, honors Arcola's position in the late 19th century as a center of broom corn production. The Lawn Rangers were so named because the Grand Marshal of the Parade in 1980 was Clayton Moore, famous as the Lone Ranger, and they were named in his honor. This unique custom was publicized by humor columnist Dave Barry, who marched with the Lawn Rangers in 1995.
Arcola was the birthplace in 1880 of John Barton Gruelle, or "Johnny" Gruelle, who is famous for creating Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, the loveable American dolls and storybook characters. Gruelle used artistic skills learned from his painter father Richard Buckner Gruelle combined with his self-taught writing skills to create stories expressing regional values and aesthetic images. His artistic granddaughter, Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, manages the Raggedy Ann Museum in Arcola.



I loved driving around the residential area of the  little town with huge shady oaks and amazing old 2 and 3 story Victorian homes.  
But typically if you just keep to the highways this is what you would see of Arcola...just a lot of grain elevators.


It was a very lovely day and around 3 we headed off to Woodstock, Illinois for the night.  

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