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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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: "Visions" by Kelley Armstrong

I've been waiting it seems like a year for this sequel to come out but it's really only been six months. How is that possible, huh? I guess I was totally excited to read it and it felt like time slowed down to a snail's pace, lol. I loved  Kelley Armstrong's first book, "Omens", read my review here. I am so thrilled to be able to review a Kelley Armstrong book once again. "Visions", which comes out on August 19th is, once again, a mystery with paranormal twists. It's based in a little town called Cainsville where the central character Olivia Taylor-Jones lives. Olivia is a twenty-four year old woman who just found out (in the last book) that she was adopted and her real parents are notorious serial killers, Patricia and Todd Larson. Until this revelation in the last book, Olivia's life was idyllic. She was raised with a wealthy, sophisticated Chicago family who gave her an ivy league education. She had a fiancé who, himself, was a prominent and wealthy businessman on his way to becoming a senator. All of this crumbled the night reporters showed up on her mother's doorstep, hounding Olivia for information and how she felt about her birth parents. Olivia ran and ended up in Cainsville, a strange little town with interesting people that seemed inordinately protective of her and interested in her future.

"Visions" continues directly from the previous book "Omens". Olivia, still teaming up with her pit-bull lawyer, Gabrial Walsh, a sometimes morally wayward man with an unusual past of his own, continue to delve into the case of her parents' horrifying crimes. The pair are looking to prove the Larsons innocent of all wrong doing but there are sinister forces trying to actively prevent Olivia and Gabrial from succeeding.

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Visions opens with Olivia stopping by her old mansion where she used to reside with her wealthy mother. Olivia is there to pick up a few things that she was unable to take with her when she left her old life so abruptly, on the run from the press. As she collects her laptop and some extra clothes she notices someone is sitting in her car! She surmises it's just another nosy and pushy reporter and goes to give them a piece of her mind. When she flings the car door open a dead body dressed up to resemble Olivia falls out. Is Olivia seeing a vision, an omen like she had started experiencing in the last few months or is there truly a dead body leaning out of her car? She calls Gabriel immediately as she runs into the house, securing the alarm and the deadbolt. So starts the mystery of the dead body.

In this continuation of a great series that adds a soupçon of the paranormal to a spectacular mystery series, we follow Olivia and Gabriel on a meandering path as they try to find out why there is a dead body and what it has to do with Olivia. Through the mystery we learn huge amounts about our main characters, Olivia and Gabriel. Olivia's paranormal gifts are also explained, giving the reader a little more clarity about what might be going on in Cainsville.

This was an excellent second book in an ongoing series. I found myself gobbling up the pages in huge chunks, staying up well past my bedtime unable to put the book down. Interestingly, Kelley Armstrong handles the paranormal aspect of this book expertly and doesn't force the reader into a head space that is unbelieving. I found myself actually considering the unusual possibilities of paranormal happenings as I was engrossed in the pages of this book. This is a spectacular summer read. It expertly combines mystery, intrigue, romance and paranormal events all in one very enjoyable book. My one problem is that I'm going to, once again, wait months to read another Kelley Armstrong Cainsville novel. Write fast Kelly, please write FAST!

Best,




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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #119

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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Friday, August 15, 2014

Since I'm In The Kitchen...

Since I'm in the kitchen, did anyone want anything? LOL. This is my final homework for SBS (Sketchbook Skool). Tommy Kane taught the last week and he's all about the detail. I'm into that. I loved the assignment, go draw your kitchen, in all it's glory. My kitchen isn't glorious in any stretch of the imagination but I do love how the piece turned out. I love how Tommy gave us "permission" to not be perfect. Scale and perspective don't have to be spot on, in fact, some of the best paintings and drawings are made all the more interesting because the scale and perspective were off. Tommy pointed out that many of his favorite drawings of his own are the ones that went wonky but he kept on going and finished them anyway. That's his ONE rule. FINISH your work, don't give up on a drawing, no matter how wrong, wonky or just plain bad it is. You gotta love that rule. No perfection, just follow through. That I can do.

My Kitchen, blemishes and all!
We'll talk soon, I'm sure. Even though SBS is over I'll be keeping my journal up to date so there'll be much posting of artwork. I also have a book review coming in a few days, just gotta read the book first. LOL. Too bad you can't do popcorn with a book like you do a movie. The butter gets all over the Kindle. ;o)

Best,




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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's A Bird, It's A Plane.... Nope, It's a Bird!

This is my final homework for Roz's class on how to draw and paint animals. It's amazing the amount of information that woman can impart in one short class. So well worth the price to do SketchBook Skool. I never thought I could draw animals accurately. I've had artist friends who paint animals and I was always amazed at their skill. I thought, "I couldn't do that." How wrong I was! I just needed some confidence in my newly found skills and determination learned in SBS. I can't wait for the next course "Seeing" to start.


I started with the two main paintings I wanted to do of Berkley, my beautiful African Grey parrot. Then I added some more fun sketches and drawings of her fooling around. She loved to show how she could put her wings up so I had to add that drawing in. I was so thrilled at how well the sketch came out. It looks just like her, with all her feathers fluffed out. Finally, I had to add her favorite "teddy bear", her little pink pig. We called it LPP for short and she LOVED her so much! We bought her the toy when she was still a baby and it became her teddy bear, she wouldn't go to sleep without it. When we realized how much she relied on her LPP friend, we panicked, thinking... parrots can live more than fifty years! If she breaks that pig, we're DEAD! 

We promptly scoured the pet shops for several exact copies, just in case but by that time, months after buying the first LPP, the brand had moved on to other animal shapes. Seriously, we went to every hole in the ground pet store and finally scraped up four extra Little Pink Pigs. We used to confuse her by putting two on her play pen. She'd go bite one (through the little heart on it's belly, perfect for a birdy beak) and then go kiss the other one, LOL.


Talk to ya'll soon, I have to do my homework first! Hehehe. Tommy Kane is the final teacher for the six week course and he LOVES detail. Go to his blog or buy his book to see the incredible artist he is. Oh, and by the way, ALL his art is done sans pencil. You heard me, right to pen, baby. No waffling for this guy. Oh and also, he never doesn't finish a drawing, even if it goes wonky. He always finishes. Yup, wow, kinda blows one's mind. I gotta go draw my kitchen now. *sigh* ;o)

Best,




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Monday, August 11, 2014

Color Play

(My Winsor & Newton Student-Grade travel Palette)
I started learning about the colors in my palette a couple of days ago by mixing a bunch of greens, here's the post. When I finished Roz Stendahl's class I realized as I perused her blog, reading all about color theory, brush pens etc., that in fact, I really should change out my student watercolors for the artist colors I already own. I had been putting this off for two reasons. One, I figured I could use up the student colors that came with my travel Winsor & Newton palette because I was just fooling around and learning so why did it matter that I wasn't using artist quality paints. The other reason was that I KNEW it was going to be a long and arduous journey to get to a new artist grade palette and I was putting it off until I knew more about color.

(Artist Quality Reds)
 Well, here's what happened, I kept reading Roz's blog. Bad idea if you want to stay lazy, lol. Roz recommends not even giving student quality paint to children! She makes the astute point that you'll just frustrate the budding artist when they try and mix colors and get mostly mud. Artist quality colors are much more forgiving and actually teach you what you need to know later to be a good artist. Mixing color is an art in and of itself so starting with sub-par paint just doesn't make sense.

The Yellows/Earths
Ok, so now I knew I had a huge amount of work on my hands. I had a great selection of artist grade watercolors (about 34 colors) but no idea which of those colors I wanted in my palette. I read the many pages from Roz about what was in her palette and why, I looked up Dion Dior because I know she did a spread about her travel palette and I also looked up Brenda Swenson for the same reason. Now I just had to get down to the business of learning which colors did what I wanted them to do. (Oh, I should have said, click on any and all of the photos to get a closer look, you may even be able to read my writing, lol No derogatory comments allowed about my handwriting, I'm left handed. ;o)

To start, I knew I wanted to mix one of my favorite colors, Payne's
(Greens & Blues)
Grey. I had learned that it is a mix of ultramarine blue and Burnt Sienna. I also knew I wanted to mix a black so I didn't have to carry it in my palette (there are only 12 spaces!). When I looked at other colors that I loved and hoped to have in my palette I wanted to thin the herd, so to speak, and learn to mix some of them. Like Mauve. I had learned that I could get a beautiful purpley color by mixing Opera pink with viridian and I also wanted to be able to mix a good orange since I didn't have any more orange at all, not even vermillion. So, those were the start of my goals. I figured I'd make it up as I went along after that.


Ultramarines & Other
I first tested all the colors, reds, yellows, earths, greens and blues... plus other colors I had hanging around, lol. Then I chose my favorite hues, at least one cool and one warm to do tests with to see which colors mixed well together. The first test was the Payne's gray and YAY, I successfully made my favorite W&N Paynes grey. Now for black. I know it's the same mix as Payne's grey but with less ultramarine and more burnt sienna. it took a little while, but SUCCESS!! I had black. On to testing out other blues to go in my palette and trying to mix orange, brown and a nice warm grey.

I found that the horizon blue seemed to be opaque and I know from Roz that all the cadmiums are also opaque and I want clear colors. If I wanted opaque I'd use gauche! I did get a beautiful Fuchsia by adding opera pink (Holbein) to quin red and I achieved two oranges, one a bright and the other a slightly burnt color, perfect! Now on to testing out how sap green mixed with the two reds I was waffling between. I found that the quin red and sap green make a gorgeous brown kind of like a burnt umber but a little warmer. 

In the end, although I wanted to add yellow ochre and quin burnt orange to my palette, I ran out of room. I'm going to limit myself to the twelve color half pans for now but if in the near future I find I need or even miss a few colors, I'll add those into the slots that I marked on my final palette drawing. I actually could have another five weird spots for colors but I have to admit, the esthetics of it bother me. I know many do this but for now, it isn't a choice I'm gonna make. By the way, I may have gotten the pages out of order, so just look for the colors I mentioned on the test page to see the right color combinations. Some of them turned out quite beautiful.

I took the time to write down everything I did in a transcript-like section after all the paint testing so I could remember where I was if I decide to add or remove colors later. This is my final palette for now, or at least until I can afford the Whiskey Painter's Palette I want that allows for a maximum of 24 colors if you fill the center space with 8 extra half pans. It's an expensive palette, about $70 so it's on my Christmas list along with new paint from Daniel Smith to fill it, lol. Now I'm kinda out of most paint, filling my palette left me with significantly fewer tubes of fresh pretty paint to use. It is so beautiful though to be using artist grade watercolors again though. That's a good thing.

(Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Turquoise, French Ultramarine
 Opera, Alizerin Crimson, Sap Green, Viridian, Shadow Green)
Anyway, I'll be back in the next day or two with a wonderful bit of art, a tribute to the beautiful parrot I used to have as a pet. Unfortunately, I became highly allergic to her after fourteen years of loving her, from her babyhood to her teen years. Now she's with a lovely older couple and I'm sure she's teaching them all the words and sentences she knows, including "want water" when she's thirsty! It'll be a great post so keep your eyes pealed. Talk soon, K? Great!!

Best,




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Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #118

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, August 6, 2014

It Isn't Easy Being Green

I'm starting to learn about the watercolor pigments in my Winsor & Newton travel palette. I'm mainly just using up the Cotman student colors that came in it because I'm really trying to learn about how the colors mix together and am not making precious pieces of art. Right now, all my art is contained in my sketchbooks (Stillman & Birn Zeta Series & Moleskine) so student colors are ok for now. In the next few months I'll move on to my artist's quality Holbeins and learn all those colors too.

(Click to Enlarge)
I must admit, as I run out of watercolor paint, I'll be switching to Daniel Smith and M. Graham watercolors. Nearly every artist I come across uses those brands. I also love the quinacridone colors from Daniel Smith. I have the metal travel palette I want to use all picked out too. I want either the Schmincke, Daniel Smith or the Whiskey Painters Master Palette. Actually, now that I see the dimensions of each, I'll probably get the Whiskey one to save several inches of space. Space is always at a premium, whether you're painting Plein Air or just at home on a desk. No matter what, I'll fill my palette with my own set of personally selected watercolor paints. That's what I'm working on learning right now.

(Click to Enlarge)
Anyway, as per Prashant Miranda from SBS, I am now learning how my palette mixes together. I watched a very cool video by Cathy Johnson, who teaches in the second semester of SBS ("Seeing"). She mixes a whole boat load of greens in the video and it inspired my new passion... mixing color. Don't you just love how you can get so many, many different shades of the same color? That's even using my limited palette of twelve colors. I'm using: lamp black (Holbein), shadow green (Holbein), burnt umber (W&N Cotman), burnt sienna (W&N Cotman), yellow ochre (W&N Cotman), cadmium yellow (W&N Cotman), ultramarine blue (W&N Cotman), Viridian (W&N Cotman), sap green (W&N Cotman), alizarin crimson (W&N Cotman), Opera pink (Holbein) and cadmium red (W&N Cotman). I certainly will be changing out the cadmium yellow and red for less opaque watercolors. I'll probably use a quin red and hansa yellow. I know I need a darker blue along with ultramarine and I definitely want to add Payne's gray (W&N artist's watercolor), it's one of my favorite colors.

I was kinda thrilled to see that using viridian and opera gave me a strong not muddy purple. I had tried mixing a purple in the weeks previous to no avail. I ended up with mud! I also have to admit that not only is mixing colors fun, seeing what you get, but I LOVE how it looks on the page, it's so puuuurrrty. And I'll admit, I can be all about the pretty when I want to be, lol.

(Click to Enlarge)
I thought I'd include this page as I know many people in SBS have been trying to find both water-soluble and waterproof pens. I tested all my gel pens and I found that they were all water-soluble except the Pentel R.S.V.P., I love how the colors liquify after adding a little water to most of them. The Slicci are a super fine nib, 0.25, so you truly get a needle precision. There's some pretty amazing colors there. I'm looking forward to testing them out on a drawing in the future. I did the page below in my Moleskine the other week. The cubes were done using the black Slicci, that's how I found out that they weren't waterproof. When I added water to add a little shading using a warm gray color, I noticed I was getting a cool color. I then realized that the Slicci was liquifying yet still leaving a much detailed line.


I'll obviously be adding color after color to the mad mixing project of 2014, lol. If you're interested in learning a little about how one of the teachers from SBS "Beginnings" adds and deletes pigments from her palette, then go to this link. I warn you though, LOL, reading Roz's stuff is addicting. Going to her blog has lovingly been called "going down the rabbit hole" on the Facebook page for Sketchbook Skool. The amount of information on that woman's blog is so incredibly useful, an artist could spend her life reading and reading and still learn something every hour! Like here's colors for a gauche or watercolor palette, and here's a post about Pentel brush pens, including the water brush.

Have fun, have a great week. I'm gonna go get a good night sleep because I gotta go accost the postman tomorrow so he coughs up my jetpens.com package filled with a bunch of new PENS. Yay, art supplies!!

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

All Gooses All The Time!

Ok, so this week's teacher at SBS is Roz Stendahl and she's an expert at drawing animals. You should have seen her live model demonstration video. She went to the home of a parrot owner (I think the parrot was a sun conure) and showed us how she goes about capturing the essence of the animal. I've always been trepidatious, to say the least, about drawing animals. I mean, let's admit it, for a variety of reasons they're HARD. They move around or have unusual poses when sleeping, etc, etc, etc.

(Click to Enlarge)
This week I must admit, I was both dreading and secretly excited about the lessons, hoping I'd get a few gems about just how to successfully draw creatures. Well, let me  tell you, Roz is an excellent, super amazing, thorough and engaging teacher. Wow. I've hardly ever, in the past, drawn animals. But with the cool little tips like plumb lines, negative space and relational measurements Roz has given me confidence to try to draw animals.

(Click to Enlarge)
I started with a pencil to get the general shape, then went in with a pen. In the end though, I realized why so many artists use brush pens. When I picked up mine (which I almost never use) I found that I got so much more expressive lines than with my normal pen. I'll remember to use a brush pen every time I draw animals from now on. I know my next homework is supposed to be all about drawing a pet but I don't have a pet! Do you think my apartment manager would understand if I said I had to get a puppy so I could do my homework? I think I have a shot, don't you? ;o)


Anyway, I'll figure it out. Maybe I'll go chase the bunnies around the park because damn, I'm not doing ducks, lol, enough with the birds already. Unless I'm forced not to draw from life and I decide to break the rules and use the pictures I have of my previous pet parrot, Berkley. We'll see, I don't want to break the rules but unless Roz considers the dust bunnies as "live animals" I kind of have a problem. 

Talk soon my friends!
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
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