Wednesday, August 23, 2017

GIVEAWAY! (For The Bibliophile In Us All)

Yes, you read it right! I'm doing a GIVEAWAY! For all you book lovers out there, I'm gong to make your day. I was contacted by Penguin Random House, they asked me, since I had loved and supported Brad Taylor's previous books, would I like to giveaway his latest paperback, "Ghosts Of War"?Yes, yes I would!

I have truly enjoyed Brad Taylor's Pike Logan series. Not only does he write heart stopping thrillers but even better, his books are teaching tools. The reader learns about current Global politics, conflicts and military responses. Every book Taylor writes is so easy to read and enjoy but just through osmosis, I learned amazing amounts of details about terrorism and US military response to that threat.

I am so thrilled to be able to participate in promoting Brad Taylor's latest paperback "The Ghosts Of War" (Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover). It comes out at the end of this month, August 29th, 2017. The publisher has also agreed to give away a paperback edition of "No Fortunate Son" (Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover). You can learn all about Taylor's main character, Pike Logan and his backstory before jumping right in to "The Ghosts of War". I started reading Brad Taylor's series with "No Fortunate Son" and was hooked from there.

Brad Taylor isn't just a spectacular writer with a good imagination, he's the real deal. These books are written by an actual badass with real world experience in the military. Brad Taylor is a former Lieutenant Colonel who is a twenty-one year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces. He also put in eight years with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment popularly known as Delta Force. I have found that as I read his books I look at what's happening on the world stage differently. In the last few books I've learned about international political infighting, ISIS and suicide bombers. In this book Taylor takes on Putin, Russian corruption and the fabled Nazi gold train from WWII.

Here's a list of all of Brad Taylor's books and short stories. If you don't win this giveaway I wanted you to have easy access to his books, in order. They're so worth your reading time. Normally military thrillers are not my favorite mysteries but I was addicted within minutes of picking up "No Fortunate Son" and have been an avid fan ever since.

One Rough Man
All Necessary Force
Enemy of Mine
The Widow’s Strike
The Polaris Protocol
Days of Rage
No Fortunate Son (My Review)
The Insider Threat (My Review)
The Forgotten Soldier (My Review)
Ghosts of War  (My Review)
Ring of Fire 
Operator Down (Preorder, Publication Date, Jan 9, 2018)

Short Stories:
The Callsign (Takes place between "All Necessary Force" & "Enemy of Mine")
Gut Instinct (Takes place between "Enemy of Mine" & "The Widow’s Strike")
Black Flag (Takes place between "The Widow’s Strike" & "The Polaris Protocol")
The Dig (Takes place between "The Polaris Protocol " & "Days of Rage")
The Recruit (Takes place between "No Fortunate Son" & "The Insider Threat")
The Target (Takes place before the Task Force is created, Aaron & Shoshana's backstory)

Praise for :Ghosts of War":
“Brad Taylor continues to solidify his claim as the best pure action thriller writer out there today....Ghosts of War combines the anticipatory genius of Tom Clancy’s geopolitical tomes with the high-stakes plotting mastered by the likes of Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. A slam bang, read-it-till-you-drop thriller with as much brains as brawn.”- Providence Journal

“In this tenth book featuring Pike Logan, author Brad Taylor will have your heart pounding and your pulse racing out of control.”- Suspense Magazine

Ghosts of War might not just be Brad Taylor’s best novel but the best thriller of the year.”-

“Brad Taylor continues to amaze....[Ghosts of War] uses a bigger canvas than [Taylor] has employed previously, yet his transition is flawless, and is every bit as suspenseful, exciting and believable as his earlier novels. One can almost see the movement in the real world, following what he lays out in exquisite detail, in the next month or even in the next week.”-

How To Enter:

To enter this GIVEAWAY just comment on this blog post by typing, I LOVE BOOKS! I'd love to hear who your favorite authors and books are (other than Brad Taylor, that'd be obvious, lol.) The GIVEAWAY ends August 29, 2017 and I will choose a winner within three days of closing and inform them through email. If you are in the US the publisher will be sending out your two gorgeous Brad Taylor paperbacks, if you are in another country I will be shipping to you. Either way, I will contact the winner and ask for your particulars. Oh, and I'll be including a hand made, one of a kind bookmark to the winner, you gotta be able to keep your place in these exciting books, right? :o) (Two runners-up will also win a handmade one of a kind bookmark!)
Bookmark ABookmark BBookmark C


Monday, August 21, 2017

PRICE ALERT!! Derwent Inktense Pencils

Sorry for putting out two price alerts in two days, I thought I'd only be doing these once in a while. But I guess it's back to school time so art supplies are on extreme sale?? Who knows but YOU get to benefit! YAY!

I'm sure most of you have heard of Derwent Inktense pencil crayons. They're deeply pigmented, water-soluble  and easily blended. They have translucent effects of inky wonderfulness. 

This is a set of 72 pencils and the price is so much lower than the manufacturer's suggested price that Amazon won't show it to you until you put it in your cart. For US customers the price is $69, a whopping $54 cheaper than even Dick Blick has them on for!! (You also get free shipping.)

Anyway, I sure hope some of you can pick up this deal, they're gorgeous pencils that are water-soluble and saturated with color. They can be used as normal colored pencils, liquified with water (many use a water brush) or you can even dip the tip into water and get even more intense color. I have several colors and use them with my watercolor pencils. Good luck and have fun shopping!

Friday, August 18, 2017

PRICE ALERT!! Russian Red Sable Brushes

Ok, I was changing over all my "Products I use" on my sidebar and came across an amazing watercolor brush sale on Amazon. I thought I'd tell everybody! They are Da Vinci Russian Red Sable brushes which is the brand I use. You get five brushes,  0, 1, 2, 4 and 6. I don't even have a 0 and could really use one.

Normally these brushes are $47 but right now you can clip the coupon connected to the link by checking the box and you'll save 35%! I have no idea how long this sale is on as I've never seen Da Vinci brushes on sale. Hopefully this price alert will help you get some new fantastic brushes. I sure found that switching to my Da Vinci's elevated my work. When I took Tracey Fletcher King's Delicious Paint class I asked her what she used and got the same sizes she had, I have #1 through 6 and an 8 but I've only used the 8 for large washes so far.

Anyway, hope this helps you. There are several other Da Vinci sets on the same page on sale so I'm sure there's a set there for you.  Enjoy your shopping!

Whiskey Painters Master Palette

I just noticed an insane sale for the one palettes I've jonesed for since I started painting. It's the best made palette out there. I've never seen them any cheaper than $70 and then there's usually shipping on top of that. This is the reason I don't own it, to Canada it's well over a hundred dollars! has a sale on for The Whiskey Painter's Master Palette for, hold your hat, $39. And on top of that it has free shipping! I'd be on this like white on rice if it shipped to Canada. Just thought you'd want to know.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Just Buzzing Around

Hiya. I'm up to my eyeballs with work. I'm revamping my blog and adding the Amazon Affiliate Program to it. You'll notice a few esthetic changes in the sidebar. Mostly you won't notice anything different in my post as I've always added links to stuff. It's just for the first time, I might benefit a tiny bit if I help you find just the right new art supply or book.

I've added links to my blog posts since the beginning, it's one of the first things I learned when I started blogging seven years ago. I know that when I'm on another artist's site I appreciate when they tell me what supplies they used and where the heck they got them! Let's face it, we all love art supplies and looking at another artist's stash is a guilty pleasure for most of us. I've always just thought it was fun to allow for that indulgence. Hey, as a friend and reader wrote to me today, "It's cheaper than therapy!". Yup, totally agree.

Anyway, I wanted to show you my new mascot in sharing form! I ordered twenty stickers from Sticker Mule the other day and just approved the proof of my little guy. I'm in love. He's my social media mascot, when you see the bee, you see me! Isn't he cute, with my blog and name built around him? I used Pic Monkey to curve the script, it was actually quite easy.
If you want your own stickers or anything else Sticker Mule makes (stickers, labels, buttons, magnets and packaging), they gave me a $10 off coupon code to share with you. Just go to Sticker Mule through this link, sign up and you'll get a $10 credit. The next thing I'm gonna do is get him in magnetic form! Then he can fly around and stick to anything metal. 

I'll be back soon with more artwork, some reviews of art supplies I won in a giveaway on Doodlewash, and general shenanigans. I'll also be doing my own giveaway next week so watch this space! I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday, come join us. Later Gator!

What I've Been Up To:

Learning: How to use Amazon Associates
Eating: Chaga & Five Mushroom Blend from Wild Rose, it's supposed to prevent cancer growth!
Reading: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman. Then tomorrow I'm starting the latest Cainsville Mystery, Rituals by Kelly Armstrong.
Planning: I'm thinking of moving the blog to WordPress... a boatload of work!
Dreaming: About writing my own book! Would you read a mystery I wrote?
Anticipating: Reviewing Hahnemüehle paper.
Purchasing: The newest Instant Pot - MINI It's SO cute and only 3 quarts!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Home Made Watercolor Palettes

My Doodlewash Guest Artist post is up now! Go here to read all about my journey with watercolor. I'd love to hear your comments so please leave me a message and if you'd like to join the Doodlewash community go here and learn all about the new platform where you can get to know artist, post your work and hang out!

My Palette Right Now (Learn More Here)
Oh what fun watercolor artists around the world have making palettes. I know many of us have several, even many. Some of us make them for different painting projects, like one for landscapes, one for portraits, one for urban sketching etc. Others, like me, love to fiddle with the perfect size palette. I confess, if I had unlimited funds I'd have at least half a dozen palettes, just because I like different containers and sizes.

Luckily, I have figured out the best home palette recently. I used an empty QOR tin and filled it with half and full pans with magnets glued to the bottom of each pan. I strongly prefer metal palettes as opposed to plastic. Plastic stains so easily and scrubbing it clean doesn't usually work well. At least with metal palettes they clean off well and if they're stained with phthalo colors you can usually get it off using a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge.

Last month I bought a Derwent double tier metal pencil case (or here at Amazon) and when it arrived I realized it would make a cool complete painting set. I tested it out to see if the half/full pans would fit in the bottom and holy heck, they did! So, you could put your brushes, pencils, pens etc in the top tier and store a water brush and magnetic pans filled with paint in the bottom! As you can see, it'll hold a boat load of paint so if you LOVE having every color then you can do that. On the other hand, you could take one or two rows of pans out and put a couple water brushes in there, then it's a travel palette. If you do that you leave real-estate on the upper tier for a water bottle or two. Now all you need is a sketchbook and you're ready to paint! If you really wanted to get ingenious you could spray paint the top tier with white acrylic paint and it could be used as your mixing palette. I've seen people do this with other metal palettes. I've also seen artists re-spray their old metal palette that has become just too discolored over the years. A fresh coat of high bond acrylic paint will clear that right up.

Magnet Glued To Bottom Of Half Pan
The best thing about metal tins is that you can magnetize your pans so they STAY WHERE YOU PUT THEM. I used a roll of magnetic tape (it has sticky backing) but next time I think I'd get sheets or these cool strips (in Canada). The roll of tape doesn't unroll easily and I ended up having to glue the magnet on the pan as it pulled off of the sticky backing. I think the strips or sheets wouldn't do that.

There are so many great tins, palettes and holders out there! Here's a selection of the ones I've come across.
  • Sennelier Artists' Watercolor Half Pan Metal Pocket Box - Set of 12 half pans, if you just want to purchase a full palette without thinking, I think this is a good price. Wet Paint also usually has a custom 12 half pan Schmincke set. They're out right now but hopefully they'll be making another for 2018. It's the set I originally bought to get into artists' paint. I never looked back or regretted the $60 purchase! Best money I ever spent other than on my travel brushes.
  • Joe Miller's Travel Painter and Accessories -This is an amazing kit! It holds everything you'd ever need in a leather carry case. The kit includes two stainless steel Travel Painter Water Flasks, two stainless steel Travel Painter Collapsable Water Cups, a Mini 12-well Stainless Steel Travel Painter Palette with Sponge, a Sable Travel Painter Brush and a 4" x 6" Kilimanjaro Original 140 lb. Watercolor Block. All of this is encased in a leather case with carry strap. Measures 6-1/2" x 5-1/2" x 2". I WANT IT! You can buy just the metal palette here.
  • The Pocket Palette - This is a wonderfully small palette that holds fourteen colors, you can get extra metal pans too.
  • Mini Watercolor Tin on Etsy - Etsy can be great for new and creative ideas, this is just one seller with a great tin.
  • American Journey Artists' Watercolor Tins - Four sizes of tins for holding watercolor pans, they also sell pans and the magnetic tape!
  • Blue Rooster Art Supply Small Box - What a fantastic price! Measures 3" x 5" and should hold 12 to 14 half pans. They also sell half and full pans here so you could order everything you need.
  • Whiskey Painters Standard Palette - The Mack truck of palettes, it's more expensive but made of heavy duty metal. The center  can be filled with four more half pans.
  • Jack Richeson Mini Watercolor Set 8 - Just $3 and holds 8 tiny colors, remove kid's paint pucks and you have the tiniest palette ever!
  • Velos Large Tin Pen Case - Much like the Derwent tin above but without the second tier.
  • Kuretake Pocket Pouch 12 Color Set - you could empty the colors out of this and fill with artist watercolors.

I also just won a Van Gogh Watercolor Pocket Palette in World Watercolor Month giveaways. It's actually really cute and would do well for someone just beginning. Van Gogh paints are technically student grade but most artists agree they're actually between student and professional in quality, in other words, the best of student paint by far. I'll be reviewing it soon, for a plastic palette it's truly cute and useful. I just might decide to use it for plein air painting as I continue to participate in the Urban Sketching course on SBS.

Thanks to Charlie O'Shields for asking me to participate with Doodlewash, it was a pleasure.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do You Sleep In Your Earrings?

Ok, I'm gonna be doing something I don't usually do. Well, I usually do it with art supplies, review them, that is. But today I'm telling you all about a company called Comfy Earrings. I came across them in the last few weeks and they were so great that I wanted to shout it from the hilltops. I'm NOT being paid or compensated for this post, I just LOVE their products and even better, I love their customer service.

Great customer service doesn't grow on trees these days so when I come across a spectacular example of it I think everyone should know. Even better, their product is incredible and I think everyone who wears earrings should KNOW about them. Let me tell you all about it, I think I just might convince you to go shopping!

A month or so ago I decided to start working on feeling pretty again. As many of you know I have cancer and I'm struggling to lose weight so I can have surgery safely. I've been doing really well lately and am starting to feel so much better. That prompted me to put earrings on. I have a double piercing in each ear and when I added my peridot studs and another complimentary stud I was shocked to have them hurt mightily after only a couple hours. I took them out. The next morning after a little alcohol and cleaning of both ears and earrings I put them in again but they hurt. I realized that I wished I could wear them all day, everyday and at night so, like you do when you get your ears pierced, I could use alcohol everyday and force my body to heal. But alas I CANNOT sleep in earrings, the posts stick into my neck and hurt.

Black Onyx Prong EarringsCrystal Clear Earrings
I did some research on earrings you could wear all the time and came across Comfy Earrings. Who knew there were earrings that had screw on backs!!? Do you realize that means NO MORE POSTS sticking into your neck when you sleep!!? The back of these are smooth and they screw into the post and are incredibly secure. I ordered them right away and they were beyond perfect. Funny, even putting them on and wearing them didn't hurt like my other earrings did. No idea why. But even better, I NEVER have to remove them. 

I have slept in them for the last three weeks and they are wonderful. Now I have pretty ears, I feel much more feminine and my ear holes won't close over and get sore again. Since they were so great I decided to order my mother a pair and get some pearls for my aunt Mic. It's my aunt's birthday this month. What I didn't know is that Mic has two holes just like me!  EEk. I didn't know that before putting in my order. I emailed customer service begging for help, could they stop the shipping process and amend my order?

YES, yes they could! In fact, I heard from the owners themselves. Nick and Christina changed my order and fixed it over the weekend, then shipped them to me. They only took about a week to get here. I decided to give mom and Mic their earrings today, after they arrived because they were all so gorgeous and I wanted them to enjoy them NOW. Mic was thrilled. You gotta love a company that goes above and beyond instead of just telling me to order again. Their amendment on my order saved me a bunch on shipping and I so appreciate their effort.

I got mom the largest crystal prong studs they have, they're 6mm and look perfect. I bought my aunt Mic the pearls and they're small crystal prong, just like my onyx ones but in clear crystal. When mom showed her the website she immediately loved the blue sapphire ones like my crystal ones, they have metal all the way around the stone. I'm in love with the peridot and they're on sale this August as they're August's birthstone. I'm pretty sure we'll order again sometime, maybe they'll have to go on my Christmas list.

Mom's: 6mm large Crystal ProngMic's: Pearl and Crystal Clear Prong
Oh, and just so you know, they do custom orders and also have one of a kind earrings with semi precious stones and real gold or silver offered on their website too. It seems they like creative customers and will try to accommodate what you'e looking for. I'd want to make a larger peridot set, something like the large crystal prong that I got for my mom but do the stone in peridot. I'm surprised to say I wouldn't switch to sterling silver as the surgical stainless steel feels so good in my ears. Now, if I had money to burn I'd get my birthstone, emerald! LOL. OK, win lottery... buy emerald comfy earrings. Yep, that's doable.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: "Lie to Me" by J.T. Ellison

"Lie to Me" by J.T. Ellison will be released September 5, 2017.

What a stellar read! This may end up being 2017’s "Gone Girl", there certainly are cogent arguments for their similarity. There is a missing wife, and the husband is the main suspect, and the book is a truly spectacularly good page turner, but the story certainly diverges from Gong Girl from there.

Ethan Montclair’s wife has left a note that tells him not to try to find her. Ethan’s wife Sutton is missing and he has no idea what to do about that. I can understand why other reviewers didn’t like the Montclairs, they’re not that likable, in fact they’re insufferable but then, for me that adds to the mystery. Ethan and Sutton were so well constructed, both bad and good, hateful and loving that one could see them as real people with serious flaws.

The writer used four voices in this book. The husband Ethan, the missing wife Sutton, Holly the police officer and an unknown villain. At first I wasn’t sure who was doing this talking as we heard from a villainous voice. It only became clear that this voice was the fourth voice and not one of the other characters as we got to the meat of the book.  

I was hooked. I had to find out whose voice darkly seduced me into devouring this book. There were so many twists, turns and red herrings in this mystery that although I tried and tried to figure it out, I just couldn’t. I love those kinds of books. They make the reader work for the satisfying ending. And the suspense, oh the suspense! It pushes the reader like a helicopter mom with a lazy child. It makes you feel like you’re physically leaning into the book.

J.T. Ellison is such a skilled writer that I could see the Montclair kitchen with the blood stain on the granite and I could see the Starbucks Sutton visited daily for her caffeine fix. The author made me question every supposition I made as I went along. Was I right to think this? Did I miss a clue somewhere? Who is that nefarious voice giving us half clues and frustrating me in such a good way? I always love an emotional roller coaster of a book and “Lie To Me” certainly is that.

If nuanced, well wrought psychological thrillers that have you working to figure them out make you shiver with glee then don’t miss this five star book, it’s so fantastic and worth your reading time.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

World Watercolor Month is Done

Unfortunately I didn't get to participate as much as I'd like to have this year in #World Watercolor Month. But I'm happy to have gotten one last drawing in before it was over yesterday. I've been working on this page (i.e.. I sketched it out and promptly forgot about it) for a whole month. I wanted to show the colors of my new Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencil set but then got busy on a bunch of other things. You know how that goes.

I was also a little nervous to try them out. I've never used charcoal but I knew that I already really liked Derwent's Graphitint pencils which are pencil lead mixed with a bit of color. I figured it would be something fun and new to try. I do love playing with shading, it makes me blissfully happy building up a subject and seeing it come together.

With this piece I used my watercolors to paint the actual pencils then I used the tinted charcoal to start the hand & pencil. I mixed the charcoal with some Graphitint then used an actual 3B pencil to darken the deep shading places. I would have used the charcoal but it's very dusty and getting into the smallest places is more difficult. Besides, I like to be able to say I'm a watercolor AND mixed media artist. ;o) Anyway, I did the nails using my watercolor pencils, what a weird color to try and mix! It's Nina Ultra Pro Pearly Brights, really though it's like ATOMIC Orange-Peach, lol.

I decided to not add drop shadows as I thought the piece was getting too busy. On the other (verso) side of the paper was all the other twelve colors that came in the tin and the whole spread was starting to look too "full".  I'm now in love with these tinted charcoals. Yes, you totally have to spray it with a fixative as it smudges notoriously badly. I couldn't shut my sketchbook until this morning after spraying the pages several times.

Sometime soon my "Guest Artist" post will be up on DoodleWash  and I will definitely announce when it goes live, so as Rachel Maddow would say... "Watch This Space".

Finally, I'm adding a new section to my blog posts. Thanks to Sandra Busby for sharing her idea. Below every blogpost I'll be telling you what I'm up to lately. Kind of a quick sketch in words about me in the last few weeks. Hope you like the addition. :o)

What I've Been Up to:

Learning: Started Urban Sketching course in Sketchbook Skool
Watching: Rachel Maddow, The Trump White House is like watching a Soap Opera!
Eating: Tried jicama for the first time, kinda interesting.
Reading: Emma In The Night, incredible 5+ star book, teaches you about Narcissists. (See White House above, lol)
Planning: I want to make a Zine, now I gotta learn all about them!
Dreaming: About going to the Urban Sketchers Symposium 2018, held in Porto Portugal.
Lurking: Have you seen Sandra Busby's latest video? What about Nicola McLean's new artOMG, both jaw droopingly amazing.


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