Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #124

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: "The Unforgivable Fix" by T.E. Woods

"The Unforgivable Fix" by T. E. Woods  was a really good book. It was a little different than I thought it would be after reading the synopsis. This is the third book in the series of "Fixer" books and after reading this one, I'd recommend reading them in order, which I didn't do! I think the story would be even more improved if I'd known the back history of the character called "The Fixer". 

The series is based around the main character called "The Fixer". When you cannot get justice anywhere else and you have nowhere else to turn, you contact the fixer and she will analyze your situation and decide if you deserve help. The Fixer's brand of help is murder. "Never a doubt. Never a mistake. Always for justice. Never for revenge." The Fixer only does one job a year and always only once in each Country. There are never any traces of what happened or any police investigations.

In this, the third installation, I learned early that long time police detective Mort Grant figured out who The Fixer was and let her go in the interest of his own personally held beliefs in justice. But now, Detective Grant's daughter is in mortal danger and the only person Grant knows who can keep his daughter safe is The Fixer. Allie Grant has gotten herself into a real pickle. For the last four years she's been the girlfriend of a notorious drug lord and now his enemies are coming for Allie.

As the above synopsis suggests, I thought this would be a very fast paced book. I was surprised to find it not so much a head long run  for answers but instead a psychological cat and mouse game. The tension built at a good pace but this book didn't have the chases I thought it would. As I said, it was a psychological thriller, which was a lovely relief from the many books that are overwhelmingly fast paced. DOn't get me wrong, T.E. Woods built fantastic tension because your really wanted everything to work out for all involved. I have to give this a high four out of five stars. I wish I could use half stars as this is really an eighty five percenter. It was well worth the time and was actually a very fast read. I found that I could, in fact, put it down when I should go to bed but I also picked it up the moment I had a second to read another chapter. I think anyone would love this book, I just suggest starting with the first in the series ("The Fixer: A Justice Novel"). If I had, I think I would be giving this a five star!
Best,




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Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #123

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: "Made For You" by Melissa Marr

"Made For You" by Melissa Marr is a wonderfully easy book to enjoy. It's been dubbed a "contemporary YA novel" that  "is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder." I, however, would say it's an easy to read and enjoyable mystery with a tiny bit of paranormal thrown in to make it interesting. The term Young Adult (YA) can sometimes be confusing. I guarantee adults will enjoy this book, I certainly did and I didn't feel like it was somehow "dumbed down" or less enjoyable because young adults would also love it.

The mysterious story centers around our main character, Eva Cooper-Tilling. She is a smart, privileged, wealthy seventeen year old who is remarkably unspoiled by her upbringing and circumstances. Eva is wonderfully self assured and self reliant, as the reader, you root for her to rise above the harrowing mess she finds herself embroiled in. 

Eva lives in Jessup, a small Southern town that relies on status to keep everyone in their place. If you're from the right side of the tracks so to speak, you are worthy to be in the popular group. Eva finds these rules endlessly boring, tedious and stifling. She admits that her friends can sometimes be callus and status climbing but she's loyal to them and blames the small town for making it's young adults bow to duty, parentage, wealth and status.

Author: Melissa Marr
The mystery starts when someone runs Eva over, leaving her on the side of the road, broken, battered and with a serious head injury. When Eva awakens in the hospital after several touch-and-go days of unconsciousness, she finds she has an unusual new skill. When others touch her, she can see their deaths. Eva, because of her brain injury, is unsure what to make of her new visions. The Police question whether the accident was indeed an accident. Maybe someone deliberately tried to kill Eva. So starts the headlong rush to find out just what happened to Eva and weather there is in fact a Killer in her small North Carolina town.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the addition of Eva's visions easy to accept as they were so well written. I certainly am not surprised that the book was so enjoyable as Melissa Marr is "the New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series." I loved trying to figure out who was obsessed with Eva. I found myself wishing there were more pages in the book when it ended as I loved the characters so much, I wanted them to continue. I think that's a really good sign, when you miss the characters you just read about. The one extra detail that made me want to read "Made For You" was that it was based on true events that happened to the author. Melissa Marr was inspired by her own "harrowing experiences with a real-life stalker".


I have to give this book a five out of five. No book is ever perfect but this nudges itself out of the fours and into the fives by being just so easily accessible and smooth to read. I look forward to more Mellissa Mar novels. Let's hope she continues to write mysteries along with the paranormal books she also writes.

HarperCollins is publishing this book on September 16th so check it out then!
Best,




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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #122

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Oh To Be In Paris In The Springtime...

I have to admit I have two places I want to go. Really, only two places in the world that I dream about visiting. One is Hawaii. I've already done a  couple of drawings about that. You can see the posts here and here. The other place I've always wanted to see is Paris. I want to go for all the usual reasons that any artist wants to go Paris. I want to walk along the Seine and soak up the ambiance. I want to drink coffee in little coffee shops and watch all the other Parisians eat croissant. (Darn, I've gotta be gluten free!) I also want to stop anytime I see something noteworthy and draw it in my Moleskine. That's my dream.
You Are HereEifel Tower
That's what inspired this painting that took up two pages in my big Moleskine. Can't you just imagine yourself sitting on the sidewalk, under that awning, drinking a spectacular cuppa? Seriously, I bet I could fill a whole 8" x 5.5" Moleskine of beautiful and iconic places, scenes and architecture from all over the city. I'd so love to visit the Louvre. Can't you just see yourself walking down those amazing hallways and seeing some of the most spectacular pieces of art ever made? I truly dream of doing that. Now, has anyone got an extra $10 000 dollars? Hehehe.

I'll keep dreaming and wishing and crossing my fingers. Have any of you been to Paris? Tell me about it, where's the best place to people watch and have a great cup of coffee? Did you paint while you were there? Maybe if I get the paint set I want for Christmas it'll give Santa a hint to include a ticket to Paris so I can break in my new travel palette. Ahhh, if wishes were fishes...

(Click to Enlarge)
Later Alligator!


Best,




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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: "The Secret Place" by Tana French

"The Secret Place" by Tana French is the latest book that I've been reading. I have to say, it's really not up my alley, so to speak. I've tried to analyze why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Mainly, I think it's because Tana French is an english-style writer. For many of you, that's not a bad thing. But I found that with other books who's authors were from across the pond I was similarly unsatisfied with. This made me think that it just may be me. With some analysis, that's generally the conclusion I came to.

Although it was never diagnosed, I know I have a mild form of dyslexia. My brain, early on, figured out how to rearrange the letters to get the words right, without any conscious help from me. I think reading non-North American authors makes my brain stutter a little, making reading just that much less enjoyable. Reading a page always takes me more time than others but if I'm unused to the cadence of the author's style, if she's foreign, then it takes even more time for my brain to acclimate. This makes reading just less enjoyable and more work.

For you, my readers, this translates to the following. If you find yourself liking English or foreign type authors, then you'll probably like this novel. Let's just get that out of the way, the mystery of this book rocks. You don't know who did it, you are kept guessing throughout the book and you're given both red herrings and also little clues that keep the interest there and simmering. Also, Tana French's take on how teen girls talk and act, I think, is spot on. Some reviewers thought the speech patterns and weird words were just too over the top. But I found it reminded me of when I was their age. In the early eighties I tried to add "valley girl" lexicon to my speech, trying to be unique and different from the grown ups. We all, at that age, think we have a handle on what's NEW and BETTER and no one can tell us different. Tana French's writing easily brings all those memories back. She also handles the relationships between girls and also between girls and boys expertly. It came off as so beautifully real. The angst, the need to be liked, to not be the teased girl and to either stay under the radar or to want the opposite, to be the star. All of that is handled so expertly and I have to give kudos to the author.

I didn't, however, like how bitter the main police detective was. But again, I'm tending to put that down to the foreign writer thing again. Prejudice is different in every country. Canada has different prejudices than the US and we express them differently. I just find the classist attitudes off putting in this book. Otherwise it was very enjoyable and kept my interest.

I'm giving this book three stars out of five. If you like authors from the UK though, you should probably add a star to my review. You'll find yourself liking this book if you've also enjoyed other authors from the UK. 

Best,




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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #121

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #120

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Follow The Bouncing Dots...

Hiya. Have I made it clear in the past how much I love color?? I really, really, REALLY do. Just seeing all the colors on these Daniel Smith Watercolor Dot sheets made me giddy. Even better, they were almost half price at Wet Paint the other day so I totally jumped on the opportunity to test all of the 238 colors Daniel Smith makes. You can get sheets that cover only 66 colors but when I read about the smaller selection, it wasn't their most popular colors (which is what I would have done) but actually a selection of all kinds of colors including their iridescent colors. I totally ignored the last page with all their iridescent/duochrome/interference colors (I have a bunch of Twinkling H2O's and Silks from Color Arte) so it would have been a waste of some of the only 66 dots. 

)Quinacridone colors from Daniel Smith)
Over the last month or so I've been studying color and palettes and noticed how many artists I respect use Daniel Smith watercolors. I've realized that Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Sennelier and Schmincke are the most popular watercolor brands. I eliminate Sennelier because although the honey they use makes the paint spectacular, it also causes the paint to not totally dry in a palette so it stays sticky. I know that Schmincke makes the absolute best half and full pan watercolors if you want to purchase already dried watercolor paint. I hear they rewet like a dream but I have really fallen in love with the colors and brightness of Daniel Smith. I also know Daniel Smith made the first (and largest selection) or Quinacridone colors. I LOVE how bright they are! So, I decided that brand would be my main source of watercolors.

I then had to learn which of the 238 colors I wanted. Daunting task, indeed. First, I studied a bunch of artist's palettes. I looked at Roz Stendahl, Liz Steel, Dion Dior, Brenda Swenson, Jane Blundell and Jane LaFazio among others. I then decided that I wanted the brightest colors that would successfully mix together. I love bright color and I know that if I want to dull down a bright color there will always be a color in my palette to help me do that. I also knew that I needed to have more yellows in my palette and I really wanted to avoid most of the opaque pigments if I could. That eliminated the cadmiums all together and it helped eliminate a bunch of other colors when I used the handy Key on the bottom of each DS Dot sheet. It tells you all about opaqueness, granulation (whether a pigment stays suspended or falls out of it's binder when used), staining ability (whether you can "pick up" a color and blot it away if you want to) and finally lightfastness, one of the most important things in a color. The lightfastness of colors (how fugitive it is when exposed to light or even just air) really helped me eliminate some colors I was gravitating to. Like Alizarin Crimson and Opera pink, both really popular colors, but they're fugitive and fade in light.

All of the above helped whittle down my color choices to something manageable but it did still leave me with many, many choices. So the only way to make decisions is to break it down to smaller pieces. I know I wanted cool and warm choices in each primary color and I knew that I had twenty-four spaces in my Whiskey Painter's Master Palette (to be purchased from Wet Paint in the near future with the Daniel Smith watercolors, read: Christmas!) Ok, so I knew I'd have at least six colors there. But I also knew that I wanted to have a broad selection each of yellow, red and blue, the primaries. So really, that meant that at least nine and probably twelve of the spaces would be taken up. Then I knew I had some favorite colors that were going to be personal choices (potter's pink, buff titanium, lunar violet, maybe even payne's grey), so that would get me to about sixteen. I'd have eight spaces left to fill in "gaps" I saw or extra colors that really intrigued me like more quinacridones! Oh, and also, I knew I'd want a viridian type color and a sap green for convenience. Now we're up to eighteen plus extra quins. So far, so good.

I knew I wanted a couple turquoise colors because I LOVE turquoise and I'd probably add a brown color and a purple of some sort for ease of use. I mean, you should learn to mix colors yourself, that's what makes a good painter but ease of use also has to fit in there too, it's a balance. If you're keeping up with me, we're at about twenty-one or twenty-two colors. That's close enough, the other colors, I'm sure, will fill themselves in easily. 

So, on to actually choosing primaries, warm and cool... I did a spread sheet to see what colors everyone seemed to like and, of course, I tested all the 238 dots! I also added in my own slant on color that I'd developed in the last couple of months as I tested my temporary travel palette and surprisingly, ended up with less conflict than I thought I would. I mean, geez, I had potentially like two hundred colors to choose from, lol. But taking out colors I didn't respond to, colors that didn't have the qualities I was looking for (lightfast, transparent, bright & gorgeous!) and colors that seemed like I could mix by having enough of a range of reds, blues and yellows made the choice much, much easier than I thought.

(Below are more examples of the the palettes from the artists I've mentioned)

(Liz Steele's Palette)
Jane LaFazio (purchase her palette at Daniel Smith, type her name into search engine)
Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
New Gamboge
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Sap Green
French Ultramarine
Burnt Umber
Opera Pink
Cobalt Teal Blue
Imperial Purple


I found myself with this list of colors:

Warm Reds:
  • Transparent Pyrrol Orange (when I learned that this was a good warm red I jumped on it like a chicken on a june bug! I LOVE it's brightness and it gave me an excuse to use it)
  • Pyrrol Red (ended up being the one I liked the most for a good red)
Cool Reds:
  • Quin Red OR Quin Pink (I'm getting both, not sure which one I'll like best over time)
  • Opera Pink (I was SO disappointed when I discovered, in the middle of this process, that my favorite pink ever was totally fugitive, a rating of IV for lightfastness is BAD)
  • Quin Magenta (such a great color signally and as a mixer, so darn bright itself that it mixes perfectly with my Hansa Yellow and Phthalo blue and Transp. Pyrrol Orange to make spectacular complimentary colors, go to Jane Blundell to see what I mean)
Warm Yellows:
  • New Gamboge (I knew I needed a darker yellow than the cadmium I'm using and I knew I wanted to get rid of the opaque cads anyway so this suggestion from Roz was perfect)
  • Quin Gold (such a perfect mixing color, I may not need the yellow ochre I have below because of this color but I'm new to this so I hedged my bets and left both in my palette, yellow ochre may be leaving at some point, we'll see)
Cool Yellows:
  • Hansa Yellow Medium (everyone agrees that this is a perfect near neutral, read: not warm or cool yellow. Roz also suggests Azo Yellow if you prefer)
Warm Blues:
  • Ultramarine (LOVE this blue, it's granulating which is a plus when using it to do water, it mixes perfectly with burnt Sienna to make a great black and with more Ultramarine than sienna, a beautiful Payne's grey)
  • Indanthrone Blue (PB60) (I needed a dark blue and this is a favorite everywhere I look and I love it too, beautiful depth... and indigo is opaque so PB60 it is!)
Cool Blues:
  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) (This is almost a neutral blue, read: not warm or cool, and since I love how it fits in the palette and mixes with hanse, Q.Magenta and Trans. Pyrrol Orange I just had to have it. I also believe having more blues makes color mixing easier)
  • Cerulean Blue (Chromium) (my softer blue, although it is an opaque color, I love it for it's lightness and it's good to have a few opaque colors just like having some colors that granulate, mix it up a little!)
Turquoise/Teal:
  • Cobalt Teal (Ok, here me now. I LOVE turquoise/ teal. I can't get enough. My personal triad, what I dress in & do my house in is sap green, quin. magenta and turquoise. Nuff said.)
  • Phthalo Turquoise (Didn't you hear me the first time? See above, lol.)
Extra mixing colors:
  • Quin Burnt Orange (takes the place of Burnt Sienna in my palette right now. I had two 15ml tubes given to me for free so I intend to use them up before thinking of switching to burnt sienna. BS is a perfect pair with PB60, making the most luscious warm grays ever.)
  • Yellow Ochre (hedging my bets color. Also, my mom used to paint with it and LOVES it so it stays in the palette for now)
  • Naphthol Maroon (a good darker color that I can tame some of the bright ones with)
Ease of use colors:
  • Quin Purple (Love it and want a dark purple, also the more quinacridone colors I can get into my palette, the happier I'll be)
  • Sepia (has been a favorite since I started learning that ink didn't just have to be blue, black and red! I love a good brown and it makes other rich browns with the addition of quin burnt orange, quin red or transp. pyrrol orange)
  • Potter's Pink (hard to mix this color, good for many things including skin)
  • Buff Titanium (same as above, hard to mix, good for rocks, sand, skin etc.)
  • Sap Green (I allowed myself my most common green for it's own color and for mixing)
  • Lunar Black (I found a black that is TRANSPARENT!!!)
Because I LOVE them Colors:
  • Lunar Violet (Since I'm not allowing myself my favorite Payne's gray as I can so easily mix it using Ultramarine + Quin Burnt Orange/Burnt Sienna, I decided to allow myself another very beautiful and unusual gray. You'll love it too, WOW.)
  • Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) (I have always loved viridian but Daniel Smith's kinda sucks, it's really weak so this steps in for viridian, just terrific powerful color and great mixer)
Daniel Smith Dots
Daniel Smith Dots
(I only tested a few iridescent/interference colors, they're right lower section)
When choosing a few of the reds/pinks I found myself having the most trouble in my palette creation. When my Opera Pink turned out to be fugitive I was devastated and also a little panicky because I had already finished choosing all the other colors. In fact, I'd done the painting of my new palette and everything, including the fugitive opera in it! I wasn't sure if taking opera out meant that all the quin pinks had to change. One doesn't want to repeat a color too closely, you're wasting valuable real-estate by doing that and I was already being wasteful by hedging my bets between quin gold and yellow ochre. SHeesh! 

So, when I looked, I decided to leave the palette the way it was but just take out Opera and replace it with a great purple that I had decided I would mix using all my beautiful blues and quin magenta or quin red. But with Opera officially given it's walking papers I had an open space and oh what a valuable space it is! In went a great purple, Quin purple to be exact. The good thing was I didn't even have the quin violet in there so I wasn't getting colors too close to each other in value, shade or temperature. The one bad thing was that it wasn't a dot on my dot sheets so I couldn't test it or add it into the square where I'd removed (literally) the Opera. So, I mixed it using a tiny bit of phthalo blue and it's closest neighbor, quin violet. Good to go, but it does look a little muddy in the palette as I "lifted Opera first (and Stillman & Birn Zeta paper doesn't like that!) then added the mix on top  of that hot mess. Ok, one more SHEESH!!

Value = the lightness or darkness of a color
Shade = darkening a color using black or the color's compliment
Temperature = warmth or coolness of a color. Reds & yellows are warm, greens & blues are cool.

To learn more about colors and mixing them and everything we've been talking about, Stephen Quiller wrote the best book, an artist's bible. It's called Color Choices. Also, the website HandPrint is a really helpful resource too, I've hardly touched the surface there. I'm learning so much by using all the artists I mentioned above, especially Roz Stendahl and Jane Blundell. Also, if you go to Jane's website (as opposed to her blog) and click on "Tutorials & Resources" you can learn SO MUCH about watercolors you'll amaze yourself. I'm still perusing it from time to time, trying to remember everything I'm reading at roz's and Jane's place. So, that's it for color theory today, aren't you glad you stopped by? LOL.

Oh, I forgot to mention, when I ordered the DS dots from Wet Paint I also had the happy coincidence of being able to pick up a couple of the Richardson Kids Palettes that Roz mentioned when I took Sketchbook Skool. These little gems are so cheap at less than three dollars each. You now have NO excuse not to take some watercolors with you when you go out to draw! All you do is pop out the kid paint and fill with eight of your own colors (warm+cool red, warm+cool blue, warm+cool yellow and two other colors, like sap green and Burnt Sienna or Payne's grey for instance= 8 colors). Ok, here, I'll help, here's a limited palette of the above that I would do after all this research...
  • warm yellow - quinacridone gold
  • cool/neurtral yellow - Hansa Yellow medium
  • warm redTransparent Burnt Orange
  • cool redQuinacridone Red OR Quinacridone Rose
  • warm blue - Ultramarine Blue
  • cool blue - Phthalo Blue OR Prussian Blue
  • extra color #1 - Sap Green
  • extra color #2 - Burnt Sienna
Talk soon? I won't be as wordy next time, promise! You will come back, right? I'll bring the coffee and chocolate, K? Ahh, I knew you could be bribed. ;o)

Best,



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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Tools Of The Trade

I'm having a whole lot of fun drawing up all my pens and paint supplies. I got the idea  to draw all my new pens from Tommy Kane and Jane Blundell. In fact, I'll probably repeat this process and do something a little more like Tommy's "Weapons of Choice" drawings. I love that he wrote stuff about the pens but I ran out of room when doing this drawing, lol. I do love how it came out though. I can see me doing drawing after drawing of my art supplies. Hey, I love buying them, I should at least get some great subjects to draw too!

I must admit, I don't yet own the Whiskey Painter's Palette, I just used the stock photo of it to add it to this drawing. As you can see I haven't even painted it up. I'll wait until I pick the watercolor paints I decide to use in it before I complete this page. This palette is so far the only thing on my Christmas list so I'm hopeful everyone around me will get the HINT. :o) I can't believe how fast my watercolors are running out so I guess I'm also going to have to add Daniel Smith Watercolors to that list... the palette will hold as many as twenty-four colors if you also use the center channel for half pans of paint. I'm probably going to go in that direction because I don't think I'd use the center channel for anything like brushes anyway. I have a pencil case for all that stuff so the channel might as well be filled with another eight half pans of paint!

(Click to Enlarge)
Anyway, I'm sure I'll be back soon with more art. There's always a list of stuff I want to try and get into my Moleskine. I think I could draw twenty-four seven and still not have enough time to get it all in. I think that's probably a good thing!

Later alligator!
Best,




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