Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heavy Clouds, No Rain

Sting sang it best in his song "Heavy Clouds No Rain":
Turned on the weather man just after the news.
I needed sweet rain to wash away my blues.
He looked at the chart but he looked in vain,
Heavy cloud but no rain.
Yup, that's what we've had for several months. I live in British Columbia, Canada, specifically on Vancouver Island. In May, June & July we're supposed to average about 160mm of rainfall. This year we've only had 23mm. Our region has officially been declared a level 4 drought. 
Rusty Watering Can
We're so used to having rainy weather that one of the jokes going around here is we don't tan, we rust. Well, not this year. We compare to Seattle for our reputation on rainfall. You go to Seattle for good coffee and wet (bad) hair days. ;o) I actually love rain so it's no problem. I find this dry, humid and mostly hot weather quite perplexing and it affects my mood negatively. I thrive on rainy days and I have to admit, I miss the sound of rain hitting the roof and pelting the ground.

It did make me happy though when I painted up this rusty watering can. I just love how it turned out! That's it for today, I'm gonna go pray for rain. Anyone know a good rain dance?

I'll be back soon with my palette (I just added a few new SPECTACULAR colors to my lineup) and a post about watercolor paint in general. Also, keep your eyes on my sidebar (that-a-way)---> there will be a new addition. I'm collecting all my drawings and paintings about my supplies and putting them in the same place. OOH, then I get to make a button to lead you to all that art. LOL. Ya gotta love paintings about paint, right? Hehehe. Talk soon.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's Finally HERE!!

UPDATE: Kate ('s Customer Service Manager) sent some additional information to help all of you interested in the Schmincke 2015 Palette. She wanted you to have all the info you'll need to make the right purchase decision. Here's what she said,
"All of the colors except the Walnut Brown are minimally granulating. The Walnut Brown is very- granulating, which I included purposefully to give a color that can function as a texture source, essentially it dirties the colors up in a really beautiful way. My overall aim was for a vibrant, modern range of colors that mixes cleanly. The exceptions (are) Titanium Gold Ochre and Walnut Brown. They were included to give options for mellowing and texture respectively."
Kate also included great new photographs that are clearer and let you blow them up for a good look at all the colors. Thanks Kate!

My 2014 Schmincke Palette
(Click to Enlarge)
I purchased my Schmincke watercolor palette from Wet Paint last year. I was lucky to get it as only two weeks later there were none left. Mine was a Christmas gift so it was purchased around October or November, destined to be wrapped up and put under the tree. Well, Wet Paint has just come out with their 2015 Exclusive Schmincke set. Every year they try to vary the paint colors and the size of the palette so people who bought the previous year's palette won't have a duplicate. 

2015 Exclusive Schmincke Palette
This is such a terrific deal. The price of just one half pan of Schmincke watercolor paint varies from $9 - $13, depending on the pigments used. Also, to purchase an empty metal palette is an expensive endeavor. What I've found in my search across the web over the years is that their prices range from $30 to $50, depending on the brand. Now, usually that does NOT include the plastic half pans that you'd need if you were using tube watercolors and filling your own half/full pans. You do, however get the plastic half/full pan when you buy pan paints, obviously. But many of us buy tube paints so we can refill our own pans at will when they get low in paint. So, just to purchase those is at least $0.50 and at most $1.50 per half/full pan!

Adding all the above information up lets you see just what a GREAT deal this exclusive Schmincke palette is. (THIS PALETTE IS NOW SOLD OUT, HERE'S THE LINK FOR THE NEW 2016 PALETTE)All the parts added up would be about $200, according to Wet Paint. Now, don't get me wrong, I get nothing out of telling you about this palette, I just thought it was the best deal going when I purchased mine and now that there's another one out, I knew my friends would be interested. (I have to admit, I want one too, lol. I would love to have a smaller palette to take out painting.) Mine holds twice the paint so it's a little bulky. This one would be perfect for Plein Air painting as well as studio work. In fact, I found out that I can push over the other pans and squeeze one more half pan for each row and looking at this new palette, I suspect that's the case here too. So, it will actually hold fourteen half pans. You would be able to choose two new colors over and above the twelve colors you get with this palette.

The Twelve Colors from the 2015 Schmincke Palette
The colors in this year's palette are pretty darn good. 
Here's the list:
211 - Chrome Yellow Lemon (PY175, transparent, semi-staining)
220 - Indian Yellow (PY110,PY154, transparent, semi-staining)
363 - Scarlet Red (PR254, semi-opaque, semi-stainging)
354 - Madder Red Dark (PV19, PR179, semi-transparent, non-staining)
352 - Magenta (PV42, semi-transparent, semi-staining)
498 - Dark Blue Indigo (PB60, semi-opaque, semi-staining)
478 - Helio Blue Reddish (PB15:6, PB15:2, semi-transparent, semi-staining)
475 - Helio Turquoise (PB16, semi-transparent, staining)
514 - Helio Green (PG36, semi-transparent, semi-staining)
659 - Titanium Gold Ochre (PBr24, opaque, staining)
670 - Madder Brown (PR206, semi-transparent, semi-staining)
652 - Walnut Brown (PBr33, opaque, staining)

(The Schmincke site does not give information on granulation)
Chrome Yellow Lemon
Indian Yellow
Scarlet Red
Madder Red Dark
Dark Blue Indigo
Helio Blue Redish
Helio Turquoise
Helio Green
Titanium Gold Ochre
Madder Brown
Walnut Brown
Kate at Wet Paint took the time to mix a chart to show how beautifully these twelve watercolor paints work to create an extraordinary range of bright colors. (I just want to add a thank you to Kate who arranges all my deliveries. I live in Canada and she is so wonderful to find the best, safest and cheapest way to ship my orders in the quickest way possible. I really appreciate her diligence. She has also kept me informed about this palette's delivery date. She's absolutely terrific!)
Colors that you can mix with the twelve watercolors in the palette
2015 Exclusive Schmincke Palette
So that's all I know about the new 2015 Schmincke Palette (NEW 2016 PALETTE HERE) from Wet Paint. I sure hope all this information helps you decide whether you could use some fantastic new watercolor paints in a beautiful and good quality metal palette. By the way, there is a thumb ring on the back of the palette if you're painting on the go. If you'd like to learn more about watercolors and all the many pigments you can choose from, try Jane Blundell's website. She has a huge amount of swatches on many brands of paint. If you go up to the top right of her website under "Tutorials & Resources" you can learn a ton about cool and warm colors, why a split primary palette works well (like this Schmincke set) and so much more about watercolors. Roz Stendahl is also a great resource for watercolors. Go to her blog, Roz Wound Up, and put "Schmincke" into the search box (left hand side of the page, down a little) and you'll get a bunch of links that will give you huge info on Schmincke paint and watercolors in general.

In my humble opinion, Schmincke is one of the best watercolor paint makers. My two favorites are Daniel Smith and Schmincke. I will be talking all about my own palette that's filled with both Schmincke and Daniel Smith watercolors in a future post. 

Talk to you all soon! Happy painting & shopping, hehehe.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Who, Who!!

Non Sequitur Cartoon
A while ago we were "thinning the herd" at home. This cleaning out process happens at least every year, usually every six months. It always feels good to go through all your stuff and determine what you're still using and what can just be junked. I don't believe in keeping unused stuff around. I think it just clutters up your mind and your life. For me, it also leads to guilt and I don't need more guilt in my life, lol. If I re-home something or recycle or just chuck out something that I shouldn't have purchased in the first place I feel much lighter. I love that feeling so it spurs me on to "thin the herd" every six months.
Salt & Pepper Owls
Don't get me wrong, I still have stuff I've kept forever. These owls are one such thing. We had these cuties throughout my childhood, in fact, I don't remember a Christmas when I was young where they weren't on the table. They always brought a smile to my face and it reminds me of happy times with my mom when I see them. They're made out of pottery and I love their hand made qualities. Who wouldn't think a couple of owl salt & pepper shakers weren't just adorable, right? They've been in the buffet in every house I've lived in, which is saying something. I think I'm up to something like twenty-five homes so far. We've been in our current apartment for going on four years, it must be time to move, LOL!!! Oh, I should mention, I just turned forty-five.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this little painting that just makes me happy to look at. Now, if somehow these get lost in the next packing box, I'll always have the painting to remember. Thinning the herd is good for you but I have to admit, keeping your personal history alive through a few mementos is also a good thing. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: "My Sister's Grave" by Robert Dugoni

"My Sister's Grave" by Robert Dugoni has already been published so feel free to go and read it right now!

Twenty years ago Sarah Crosswhite disappeared. The truck she was driving was found abandoned on a back road of her small town. Sarah's older sister Tracy has carried the guilt of allowing her eighteen year old little sister to drive her truck home alone one evening after they both competed in a shooting competition.

Tracy is now a homicide detective but she won't let her sister's case go. Although there was a conviction in her sister's case, Tracy believes there's been a miscarriage of justice. She thinks the sheriff, the prosecutor and even her own father conspired to put Edmund House behind bars for Sarah's murder. Mr. House had already been previously convicted of rape and served his sentence so Tracy thinks he made a perfect fall guy for her sister's disappearance. Even without a body Edmund House is convicted but if Tracy wants to reopen her sister's case she will have to overturn House's conviction. That's what she's been working toward for so many years.

When Sarah's body is ultimately discovered, Tracy finally has new evidence to work with. She teams up with her old friend Dan who has just moved back to their small town of Cedar Grove after an unfulfilling career and an unhappy marriage crumbles. Dan is a lawyer, maybe he can help Tracy put the piece together so she can find some closure with her sister's death.

Dugoni is a wonderful writer, his plot, characters and prose are smooth and easy to follow. I found "My Sister's Grave" easy to immerse myself into and to imagine the pain of the main character. It was also easy to feel the pain and loss that the main character must have felt. I found myself unsurprised that Tracy became a cop after the disappearance of her sister, anyone with serious doubts about a crime that touches them so intimately would seek answers. 

"My Sister's Grave" gave a strong four out of five star performance as the plot moved along at a good pace and it kept the reader wondering just who might have killed Tracy's sister. Sussing out what pieces of evidence were red herrings kept me guessing almost to the end of the book, which is unusual for me. This was a good, strong mystery and I look forward to reading the next book in this new series by Robert Dugoni. I'll be reading "Her Final Breath" in the next few months as it comes out onto bookshelves on September 15, 2015. So, if you want to read a good new series with a strong female lead, try "My Sister's Grave" because it's out now and then in a few months you can read the next in the series. No waiting a year for the next book to come out. Good deal!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mango Mango!!

I love the word mango, much like I love the word pamplemousse, which is french for grapefruit. I really know very, very little french... I know how to tell people I don't speak it... Je ne parle pas français, and I know pamplemousse and chevalier (a knight, his horse would be cheval) but that's about it. Don't ask me WHY I know what a french horse is or his old fashioned rider either, but I DO have a great reason for knowing what is french for grapefruit. It's because all Canadian products have both french and english on them and one day when I was about to pour a glass of grapefruit juice I noticed that pamplemousse rhymes with juice... so pamplemousse juice is really fun to let roll off your tongue. 

I know that doesn't have anything to do with liking the word mango but then it is a cool word, don't you think? I always hear it in my head with the theme song "Monday Monday" by the Mamas & the Papas. Can you hear it now? Mango, Mango... da da da dadaaaa. Ya, I know I'm weird, just accept it and move on. I mean, it makes me a little more un-boring, don't you think? Ya, me too.

Anyway, I had Mango, Mango going through my head today as I painted up my mangos. I am pretty thrilled at how they turned out, especially the shadows beneath the fruit. I've been working hard to get shadows accurately onto the page without having to constantly pull them up with a tissue and start again. (Addendum: I noticed when I scanned my mangos that the lighter shadows disappeared from the scan, so just note that where the color is under the mango, it also used to have light Payne's grey and carbazole violet under it. You can just see the outer line if you really look beyond the pinky-orange.)
Mango Mango
Since several people have actually written and told me they like that I tell my process here, (thank you to those who wrote!) I'll do that again this time. Here we go. First, like most green or red fruit, I put down a layer of both pure yellow and new gamboge as an underpainting, depending on where the next layer of colors were going to go. Like, under the green of the mango went the warmer yellow (new gamboge) and under the red part went the pure yellow (which is generally a neutral yellow, not too warm or too cool). Then on the cut mango part I put the gamboge on the darker parts like the deeper crevices and the pure yellow on the highlighted parts of the cut mango. 

For the red part, I laid down transparent orange with a tiny bit of permanent red in the mid part then  quin magenta at the darkest part on the bum end. For the green I mixed a green using phthalo blue (RS) with pure yellow because Phthalo is a neutral blue (not too warm or too cool) and the pure yellow. Those would mix the best brighter green I could get right now. To brighten it a little I added a little cobalt turquoise as I find that can brighten a dull green. It worked pretty well. I added sap green in the darkest parts and pure yellow again in the light yellow parts. Then to marry the two, the red and green side, I added a bit of quin gold over both colors that "met" in the middle. Also I added some more of that color to the base, knowing I'd be adding darker shades to that as it's shadow on the fruit. 

For the cut mango I put quin gold in the deep crevices, transparent orange mixed with new gamboge for the sides of the crevices and kept working that to deepen the crevices.When I added shadow on the fruit I added carbazole violet to the bum end over the quin magenta and into the crevices of the cut fruit. The "floor" shadow is a mix of Payne's grey and carbazole violet. Then for the light shadows I added a tiny bit of transparent orange and quin pink as the fruit reflection in the shadow area. That's it, pretty much. Re-ink it all, add dots for texture (probably should have used a brown pen for that but I was too lazy to get up and find one, lol). Done.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: "Die For Me" by Jack Lynch

This is the second thriller written by Jack Lynch that I've read recently. "Die For Me" is being re-released by Brash Books. Before he died in 2008 Lynch wrote eight "Peter Bragg" mysteries. I'm so happy that Brash Books publishing decided to reissue them. Lynch's thrillers remind me of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books, another author that is sadly missed. Both authors knew how to write spectacular characters, their private detectives are so likable, strong and interesting you just can't put the book down.

This time Peter Bragg is hired by a psychic. Maribeth is reluctant to go to  the police and tell them her vision of multiple murder and graves, she's sure they will think she's a crank. But she contacts Bragg to be her mouthpiece when she continues to see this brutal vision, and bodies continue to be added to her nightmare. The worst thing about her psychic vision is that Meribeth feels she is in mortal danger from this serial killer.

Bragg convinces the police to listen to Maribeth and with some searching, a mass grave is found. Now Bragg has to help the police find a connection between the victims as it seems the only way of finding the killer. Bragg also has to keep an eye on Maribeth, just in case her feelings about her own impending death are correct.

Lynch was a master writer. His expertise shows in this, the final Bragg mystery. This was by far a five star novel and if I were you I'd go back and read all the newly re-published Bragg books. I read this one in one gulp, I stayed up until the sun started to peak through the curtains, it was that good. Here's a list of all eight books. I know you'll enjoy them.

  1. The Dead Never Forget
  2. The Missing & The Dead
  3. Pieces Of Death
  4. Wake Up & Die
  5. Speak For The Dead
  6. Yesterday Is Dead
  7. Truth Or Die
  8. Die For Me


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Juicy Fruit (& Veg)

I seem to have discovered that I love painting fruits and veggies. Who knew? When I started out painting I did many roses and other flowers but I actually didn't love painting them. I thought I should but somehow they didn't ding my bell as much as I thought they should. I find the colors I can find in my crisper much more exhilarating. Why, I don't know. Somehow I feel freer with my paint colors, to get creative and just throw paint around.

In the last few days I've painted up some radishes and also my favorite stone fruit, nectarines. Yes peaches are juicy and yummy too but I don't like their fuzziness. Nectarines are peaches without the peach fuzz. Awesome! I under painted it all with both my yellows, new gamboge and pure yellow then used transparent orange, permanent red, quin pink and carbazole violet to get the skin color. The cut flesh was yellow ochre and pure yellow with a little new gamboge underpainting. Shadows done used Payne's grey. Oh, and the pit is burnt umber, yellow ochre, buff titanium and a little neutral tint for darkening. I really love how it turned out. I'm finally getting the hang of watercolors and letting the water work for me.
Earlier in the week I tackled some radishes. I find the green tops especially fun since I can really play with my greens and see what I can mix and discover. It really helped to get some advice from Tracey Fletcher King about adding some dark purple (I use carbazole violet) in the deep shadows. With the greens, I find I like the purple even better than using my goto Payne's grey. I think the purple has a brighter feeling. Anyway, my next fore into paint will be long beans and a complicated mango. It's bum is bright green and head is bright red, it'll be interesting to see if I can span those colors without getting mud! Always a fun experience.
The other thing I'm up to is scanning all my art. It seems like a daunting task but really, so worth the time. I must have five to ten photos of each piece of art on my computer, all different angles. But now I can get rid of all those photos and only have one perfect scan, no shadows or bad light in any of them! All I have to do now is my Moleskines, large and small. There's only one of each but it'll be a little more difficult as you have to work with book spines etc. Hopefully it goes as well as all the rest of my art that's on single sheets. I'd seriously recommend it to everyone as now I only have a few pictures that i can now put on a USB drive and always have my art safe.

Stay tuned, I'm going to be writing a post in the near future about my paint palette, all my recommendations and stuff to make watercolor painting easier. 

Talk soon, K?


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Book Review: "Brush Back" By Sara Paretsky

"Brush Back" By Sara Paretsky (will be published July 28, 2015) is the latest book in the V.I. Warshawski series that started back in 1982. I was a loyal fan of Ms. Paretsky, reading every V.I. Warshawski book she wrote, right up until "Tunnel Vision". It was written in 1994, then Sara Paretsky stopped writing V.I. Warshawski mysteries for five long years. By then I had moved on to other authors and didn't picked up the series again, until now.

I must admit, I was a bit surprised to find that the main character hadn't really changed in twenty years. V.I. aged, but I see very few other changes in her. She's now fifty but she is still a dogged fighter for the truth and in doing so, also still puts herself in serious peril. This is Paretsky's eighteenth Warshawski mystery and I found myself begging the question, "Why does this character continue to put herself and others in such danger?".

"Brush Back" has V.I. going back to her old Chicago neighborhood to try and help an old flame. Frank Guzzo wants V.I. to investigate and help him prove his mother did not beat his little sister Annie to death twenty-five years ago. Stella Guzzo was just released from prison after doing her time for the murder of her daughter but she claims she didn't kill young Annie. Stella always hated the Warshawskis and it seems time has only made that hate stronger. She is now accusing V.I.'s cousin Boom Boom, the famous hockey player, of killing Annie all those years ago. The problem is Boom Boom can't be questioned as he died years after Annie's murder.

V.I. steps in a real mess by agreeing to look into Annie's death. Her main goal is to clear her dead cousin's good name, he's a hero in Chicago and it grates on V.I. that anyone would sully his reputation now that he's dead. The problem with looking into this very messy old case is the political powers that be don't want V.I. investigating. The result of V.I.'s relentless digging is her loved ones are threatened, her life is in danger and people start disappearing and dying.

I have to rate this book a three out of five and I'm disappointed that I have to give it a low rating. Paretsky's writing is still tight and every detail connects beautifully. Although this mystery was tedious and filled with details, I have to give props to Paretsky for keeping everything straight and connecting all the dots creatively. My biggest problem with this book was the one question that kept popping into my head over and over as I moved through the story. Why hasn't the character gained any maturity? If your life and the life of the ones you love were seriously threatened, wouldn't you let and old murder that was already adjudicated go when all you're fighting is just to clear the name of a dead guy? Aren't the living more important?

V.I. had no real reason to keep digging into this case especially since for three quarters of the book she was sure Stella had indeed killed her daughter just as the courts found twenty-five years ago. Also, the other characters who have been with V.I. since the beginning of the series haven't changed a whit either. Her best friend and doctor still admonishes V.I. every time she blackens an eye or gets a splinter. There is a similar situation with Mr. Contraras who is now ninety. When does a character act his age? Even the dogs she had back then are still alive. 

Fans of the V.I. Warshawski series will still probably like this book. As I said above, it was actually beautifully rendered. Since I'm coming back to the series after many years, I found myself unimpressed with all the old characters and the lack of growth of the series. If you've never read Paretsky's series, go back and start at the beginning, you'll have a bunch of books to enjoy and reading through the whole set may make you love this latest addition much more than I did.


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