Thursday, July 25, 2013

You Can Be a Winner!

I just finished the final class meeting of my book editioning class at Asheville BookWorks.  For our final meeting we had dinner at my house, and everyone brought her edition of small books.  About 2/3 of the class was also part of an annual event at BW in which we each give BW one of our editioned books to put into a cased set to use as a prize in a drawing (you buy a hand-printed postcard or other ticket-like object for $10 and your name is entered into a drawing for the set of books.  The proceeds go toward funding an artist's residency at BW.) And then everyone trades books with everyone else in the group.  And we all enjoyed and admired the little books while discussing how to make next year's event even better.

The small books that the class and Small Book Exchange people made this year are beautiful, funny, edgy, provocative, amazing.  If you're interested in having a chance to win the boxed set, go to and look for news about this year's small book drawing.  It should be posted in a few weeks, maybe sooner.  The drawing takes place at an annual festival held at the end of August at BookWorks called Printocracy this year and BookOpolis on alternate years.  You don't have to be present to win.

My quick sketches don't begin to do these books justice.  There will be pictures of them, however, on the BookWorks website over the next few weeks.  You can buy whatever it is you have to buy in order to be in the drawing right on the website.  Tickets are usually $10 and only 200 are sold.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

practice post

I'm going to be out of town from Friday till Wednesday and will be posting from my phone. Today I'm practicing for that. The drawing on the left is a remarkable flower bud on a canna lily in our front garden. On the right top is a hummingbird that I spotted on a phone wire early this morning.

 On the bottom right is a garden fork, very simple. After drawing it I understood how simple and elegant the construction is. The tines are twisted slightly, which makes them stronger.

 On the left is a bisque-fired clay mask that a student abandoned in my studio many years ago.  I f Susie Johnson happens to read this, please know that I have your mask and I think of you often. This mask is one of my favorite things.
 And on the right top is a graphite wing carved to be a perfect shape for drawing with.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Getting Loose

I sat down to draw a little sculpture that I made a few years ago, and along came Jesse.  By the time I had finished the first drawing, he was sleeping so soundly that I was able to finish a drawings of him!

I moved on to draw another little sculpture;  Jesse rolled over and went back to sleep.  I managed to finish another drawing of him.

By now I was really relaxed and warmed up, and Jesse was beginning to wake up and stretch.  I stopped trying to get it right and just let my pen trace the sweet contours.  My favorite cat drawings to date!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Little of This, A Little of That

On these pages, a drawing of the first of our new canna lilies to put forth the beginnings of a bloom, and several attempts to draw Jesse,  only one of which is in any way near to successful.

Later in the morning, while walking in the swampy woods, I saw the largest May apple I've ever seen, the size of a large plum.  I can only assume it's filled with water.  And then in a restaurant, a family in a nearby booth and a cold beer.  I drew the beer over a failed attempt at drawing sleeping Jesse, who had moved away as soon as I started drawing him.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Slugs Again

My porch tomatoes are finally ripening, but the slugs are getting to them faster than I can.

So when visiting friend Ann suggested a Japanese method of insect control that doesn't involve poison, I was ready to try it.  Drawing 197 is of a tomato on the plant still but inside of a plastic ziplock bag (which has a few small drainage holes).  Ann said the tomato needs to be bagged in plastic so that it still gets sunlight to ripen it; yet insects and slugs can't get inside the bag very easily, and rain or hose water can drip out the drainage holes.

I finished Nate's portable treasure chest, using an adjustable strap from an old Happy Back bag of mine. The bag material is a chicken feed bag with a recycled plastic-covered print-out of the pigeon appliqued.  Inside there are two secret compartments.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to the Vanished Church

Maya and I went to our ceramics class this morning, and I drew the cat-shaped cookie jar that Maya has sculpted and was painting underglaze on today.

Then this afternoon my friend Ann, who is visiting from Vermont, and I went back down to the building site where the lost church building is.  We studied it for a while, looking at its apparent flatness from various angles and beginning to see more and more:  the floor line, the basement, the stone foundation, a little window up high in the roof peak.  Then along came a tour of downtown, and the tour guide was showing the tourists the vanished church.  We joined in and asked him questions.  He told us that the building was the earliest Presbyterian church, built in 1836.  The current Presbyterian church is right across the alley from the building site with the vanished church.  The guide said that when the new church was built around 1880 the old church was enclosed by a larger building and used in some way as part of the new building.  Then when the "new" building was razed this summer, the marks from the little enclosed church revealed the outlines of that building.

Ann and I came home and did research on line and found some ghost stories about the Presbyterian church on Church Street in Asheville.  My plan is to go to the downtown library and look for the Sanborne insurance maps to try and find the footprint of the 1836 church.

Late tonight I drew five old ceramic marbles that I got at an antique place in Goshen, Indiana, a number of years ago,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Nothing Too Exciting

We're getting ready to go visit our son and his family in New Jersey next week, and one thing I'm doing is making a boxy bag for almost-four-year-old Nate to carry his treasures around in.  I made a wallet for his Mom our of a pigeon feed bag, and I scanned the picture of the pigeon and printed it out to use in Nate's bag box.  So the entire left side of the page is devoted to plan drawings for Nate's boxy bag. 

On the right at the top is a little faux-jewel-encrusted box that I've had for a while and that I think Nate would really like.  I've filled it with treasures and will put it in the secret treasure compartment in the flap of the bag.  In the evening we went out to eat with our friend Ann who had just arrived from Vermont, and I drew some diners across the room while we visited before dinner.

And then I drew more diners while we were waiting for the check.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Urban Palimpsest

Early this morning my friend and I were walking in downtown Asheville when we saw a construction site where an old building had been torn down.  We were on Church Street, a street composed of mainly churches plus a few old office buildings, and now here was a hole like a missing tooth between a large brick building and an alley.  We walked into the alley to get a better look of the site and there on the wall of the old building was a ghostly palimpsest of what looks like a small church.  Graffiti artists had painted white inside of the outlines of the old windows as well as alongside the wall-like demarcations of an older building, accentuating the old voussoirs above the windows and clarifying the outlines .

We finished our walk, and then I got in my car and drive to the site to do some drawing.  This second drawing, done with watercolors and white gouache plus a few pen touches comes a little closer to what it looks like.  There's a low brick wall all along the open side of the building site, and you can see it in the foreground of the drawing.  We imagined that  an early church had been built on the site (research told us this might have been around 1840, when the first churches were built on Church Street) with no other building next to it (currently this block has buildings built with common walls),  Then at some point the larger building with the stepped roofline was built right up against the little church, blocking the windows. We plan to look at some Sanborn insurance maps at the library and see if we can learn the succession of buildings on the street and how this little building left an imprint on the wall of the bigger building next to it.

Meanwhile this temporary installation is a not-to-be-missed sight in Asheville.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tiny Post

My friend Loy came over today for some parallel studio work, and while she tried out some different kinds of paint on some letterpress pieces, I drew some of the curious tiny things she had in a small box in her backpack.  All drawings were done actual size.  Top left:  a little glass vial with a ground glass stopper with an unidentified tiny thing in the bottom.  Top right:  a miniature pulley, for lifting tiny things that are too heavy to lift without a pulley (she explained).  Below the pulley:  a very small vertebra from a snake's backbone, one of several that were in a small glassine bag.  Bottom left:  small conjoined ceramic pigment pots filled with greenish watercolor paint that I made from clay I gathered from the old City Park tennis courts in New Orleans (this object is one of mine, and I made the pots in the manner of Etruscan cosmetics pots).  Bottom right:  a small primitive-fired ceramic replica of the Venus of Willendorf,  one of my studio things.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Random Objects

I have a small collection of strange objects that have lived in my studio for years, and tonight I gathered several of them up and drew them.  I've never before studied them so carefully>  The first on the right hand side of this page, is a piece of a piano-- the felt hammer that strikes a string, plus some of the components that connect it to the key.

On the left, a very light, papery seed pod with sharp spines.  I found it several years ago when it was still green and part of a vine climbing on a chicken coop in my son's neighbor's yard in New Hampshire.  No one knew what kind of vine it was.  The seeds have long since fallen out.  At the bottom is a part of a skeleton that I picked up along a Lake Michigan beach near South Haven, Michigan.  It has a thigh bone (I think) still hinged to the flat plate part.  I am guessing it may be part of a seagull skeleton.  And on the right, a little glass oil lamp that still has a new wick in it.  I have always assumed it came from an old science lab, a kind of proto-bunsen burner.  It isn't at all decorative.  The part where the wick comes out of the jar is made of cork.

The diagramatic drawing across the top is of an old scale that can measure weight up to 5 lbs.  I found it in the printmaking studio at the college where I used to teach.  No one could tell me where it had come from or what it was used for.  It's all metal with numbers painted in red on one side of the barrel.  Below it on the left was the most puzzling of all to me.  I was playing with it tonight before drawing it, and my engineer husband came into the room.  He told me this object is a governor, something that opens and closes valves based on steam pressure.  When you spin it by holding the bottom handle-like part, the two metal balls life, which compresses the spring and causes the handle part to retract.

To balance out all of those scientific things I finished off by drawing a fluffy, soft tassel that I picked up in an upholstery shop in Florence a few years ago.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Answers

First the answers to yesterday's puzzlers:  #159 was indeed a belt buckle (although someone thought it was a fastener for an ace bandage, and I can definitely see that!), specifically my Grandmother's, made from an abalone shell in the 1920s.  #160 wasn't actually a Rapidograph, which two people guessed, but that's not too far off  It's a small ivory dip pen inlaid with gold filigree designs.  The nib, which was evidently very small, is missing.

# 161 is a kind of milagro or holy medal as two people guessed, made from a flat but slightly curling piece of tin.  I bought it in Rome from a religious article shop near St. Peter's, where it was sold as a Sacred Heart ex voto, similar to a milagro, and was meant to hang near a saint's statue in petition or thanksgiving for a prayer that was answered. 

As several of you guessed, #162 is a bell, a goat bell that we found in our garden when we digging it many years ago.  Mary correctly guessed #163 as a porcupine quill.  I found it along a road in Italy. 

The biggest mystery turned out to be #164, which I clearly didn't do a very good job of drawing!.  Everyone thought it was either a loofa or some other kind of sponge.  In retrospect I think it looks like the end of a whole wheat baguette.  But actually it's a very large crinoid that I found in a creek bed in southern Indiana.  A crinoid is a petrified blossom from prehistoric times.  This is the largest one I've ever found, and it has an interesting petal-like form running down its tapering side.  I should have used watercolor to draw it as the pen texture is misleading.

Well done all of you!  I'll do another contest when I find some more mystery things.

And now briefly, today's drawings:  up on the top, left, is an interesting straw paper that I saw in a Thai restaurant today.  I carefully deconstructed it to figure out how it was made.  All the other drawings are labeled-- various brushes that I use in my studio and which I find very beautiful as well as functional.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Today's post is a contest:  can you identify any or all of these things and guess what they might be used for?  Clue:  they're all old and no longer used for their original purposes.  Second clue:  they're drawn more or less in the same scale, about 75% of actual size, except for #161, which is about 95% of actual size.

Simply number your answers in your comment to correspond to the numbers in the post, i.e. #159 is a ___________.  I'll post the answers tomorrow.  There isn't any actual prize, but imagine how good you will feel when you realize you've correctly identified them all!  (Or how satisfying it will be to learn what they are if they've stumped you.).  And of course there will the be the glory of having your name announced if you're a winner!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Seeing What Turns Up

One of my favorite things about this drawing project is that it has loosened me up so that I don't always have to have a Plan when I go out to draw.  Today I intended to go back down to the cow field and revisit yesterday's cows.  But the first thing I saw when I stepped outside was a big sleek crow posturing and strutting around.  I've been watching birds lately in order to paint some with underglaze in the bottom of a ceramic pie dish that I'm making.  So immediately I whipped open my book and did a few gesture drawings of the crow.

Then I turned around and spied the cannas that we recently planted.  All the recent rain has jolted them into lush growth, and before I knew it I was studying and enjoying the sinuous leaf edges and veins.  I could almost see them growing and unfurling as I drew.

As I rounded the back of the house I took a detour up onto my studio deck to check on the lemon tree.  The other day it had bloomed a single white flower, bigger than all its previous ones.  I noticed that the flower was gone, and that in its place was a very different proto-lemon.  All its previous baby lemons except for one that's still clinging to the tree have dropped off when they reached the size of a small blueberry.  This newest baby has an elongated structure coming out of the top of the ovary of the flower.  The ovary itself is slightly swollen and very strongly attached to the twig that supports it.  I drew two views of the different baby lemon and then drew the remaining older baby for comparison.  I am wondering if this new one was actually fertilized and is going to form a real lemon.  Hope so.

Finally I made it through the woods and out the stile and onto the high meadow behind our yard, overlooking the cow fields, the river with its row of woods, and the mountains to the north.  I didn't see the cows, but I did see in the distance two little chicken tractors parked in the middle of a high-grass field.  They looked like a couple of gypsy wagons.

I walked down to the river and then I saw the cows grazing at the edge of the field.  The field itself looked mowed.  They had eaten a lot of grass since yesterday!  I settled in to draw the cows when I saw an odd little solar panel just beyond the fence.    While I was drawing the solar panel two farm crew students drove up, and one jumped out of the truck with an armload of fence stakes and some wire.  I asked him about the solar collector, and he said it was used to recharge the battery beneath it, which powers the electric fence.  Apparently they charge the battery back at some electrical place on campus but use the solar collector to keep it charged all day in this relatively remote field.

I returned home and lay on the porch couch talking to a friend on the phone, and I drew a plant that we recently re-potted and that's finally flourishing.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Damp Cows

Today's first drawing was of a woman with a beautiful Byzantine profile.  I saw her in City Bakery at lunch.  I had only a minute or so before she finished texting and got up and left, but it was long enough to get a few lines down.

Yesterday I said I would draw effects that I saw of the great dampness and rain today.  The main thing that I saw other than the river, which is lapping at the top of the bank like a bathtub with the faucet left running, was a soggy field full of cows half-buried in the lush grass.  These cows live on the college farm adjacent to our road.  They rotate from field to field, eating the grass and fertilizing the fields.  Then when one field is sheared off they get  moved into the next field.  This week all of the fields are overgrown.  I walked through thigh-high grass to get to the edge of the field where the cows are eating.  While I drew them they moved in a group slowly like a tide.

At the top of this page the cow-tide had moved out toward the back of the field, where the river runs just beyond the tree line.  A flock of birds followed them, landing on their backs for a snack of bugs from time to time.

I passed by the garden and picked some Swiss chard for dinner.  Then I drew the haunted chicken coop at the beginning of the trail into the woods from our backyard.  This little coop has quietly and picturesquely haunted our yard since 2005 when a student asked me to babysit for a few banty hens over the summer.  She brought over a tiny homemade coop, and we set it up.  The next morning all the hens were gone, but with no signs of carnage or even struggle.  We hypothesized that a raccoon had reached in (the screen was pushed in a one bottom corner), but the hens had stayed out of its reach.  Then when the raccoon left,  the hens had escaped and lived happily ever afterwards as free-range chickens.  There was even a sighting weeks later of some banty hens in a neighboring field down by the road.  We've kept the little coop for its mysterious qualities, sort of like a garden folly.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Working Drawings

Today's drawings are all diagramatic mechanical drawings that I did while trying to figure out something.  The first one, on the bottom 2/3rds of the right hand page above, I made this morning while working with my friend Fran on a bag for a client.  We have a small business of making bags and wallets out of upcycled materials (, and we recently found a cache of belts at Goodwill, the kind of belts that come with chinos and that at least some people throw away without ever wearing.  So here we have a dozen or so perfectly good belts that we got for a dollar apiece, and we wanted to figure out how to use them without removing the hardware even.  So that's what this drawing and its two little sub-drawings are about.

I use a treadle sewing machine to sew bags and wallets, and sometimes I have to fix the machine.  Today a part that I had ordered from eBay arrived.  The first thing I did was draw it, then disassemble it and draw the parts of the part in the order that I took them apart.  Then I took apart the old one and drew it as I disassembled it.  After comparing the two parts, I decided the old part was really okay to use as long as I gave it a cleaning, which I did.  Then I took apart the other thread tension apparatus so I could figure out how it works as well as clean it up.    These drawings were pretty quick so I didn't count each one as a thing.

It's possible the machine was running kind of sticky because of the extreme dampness.  All manner of strange things are happening here:  driving on the freeway today I kept passing scatterings of dirt and even some piles of dirt off to the sides of the roadway.  Could this possibly be related to flood control?  It wasn't like soil that had been deposited there by a flood, more like the dirt they scatter on icy spots in winter.  But on the freeway?  The bushes and trees are growing so fast that we find ourselves living at the edge of the woods these days.  The paths in the woods have become creeks, complete with small waterfalls and pools.  Our house is un-air-conditioned and un-dehumidified, so you can imagine the extreme swelling and sticking of all doors and windows, the increasingly funky mold smell.  And ants have been appearing in random places in our house, not trails of ants but spread-out crowds, like scouts, all heading in different directions.  Maybe tomorrow I'll draw strange effects of the humidity and endless rain.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Studio Day Sketches

On the right, an EXACT count of this morning's berry harvest.  A few raspberries and the last of the big blueberries with a few of the smaller blueberries.

I spent most of the day carving a very large relief print block on a 3 ft x 3 ft piece of MDF board.  At top left is my favorite little gouge, with which I did most of my carving today.  And next to it is the old barber's strop that kept the gouge sharp.  I'm only about 1/5 finished with the carving.  This block will be printed by a steamroller onto a very large piece of paper.

The rain returned today in full force.  My phone alerted me at least twenty times that a flash flood was imminent.  The drawing at bottom left is of the stone ram in our front garden as this afternoon's rain began.

And on the top right, as we drove along the freeway this evening, I was the passenger so I was able to do a quick sketch of another planting of pampas grass and its great pattern.  This was a young planting, and the grasses grew straight up like a bunch of little whisk brooms.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Tell a Raspberry from Other Similar Berries

First thing this morning I needed to think through a design for a new way to make a handbag strap.  This drawing is a thinking drawing, and after I drew it I could understand how the strap was going to work.

At the top right a relaxing sketch of a primitive raku-fired bowl that has been in on top of my chest of drawers for ages.  Below the bowl are two drawings of what's left behind on the bush after you pick a raspberry.  I was wondering if the little red berries that grow wild around here are really raspberries because I've heard them called wine berries and dew berries, and because they look a little more like a red blackberry than the raspberries in the market.  My friend Fran explained to me that if there's a little nipple-like thing left behind, it's a raspberry.  All raspberries have that, which makes them very easy to pick (you just sort of brush them off into your hand), and the ones in the market have that deep indentation on the bottom that my grandson Nate uses to hold berries onto his thumb when he's eating them.  The nipple part is bright yellow.  Another thing about raspberries is that the thorns on them are soft and flexible, whereas on blackberries they're real thorns.

And finally, there's always Jesse to draw, this time dozing off on top of the dresser.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ungrateful Slugs

The warm sunshine today seems to have sped up ripening of berries and tomatoes!  I was excited to see a spot of deep orange when I glanced out at the patio tomato this morning.  I raced out to pick this first tomato of the season, only to discover I would have to share it with some slugs who had already been there.  Well, half a tomato is better than none, but I've lost my fragile sympathy for the drowning slugs.

We spent much of the day dealing with the aftermath of the Great Damp.  Our internet connection vanished, and both AT&T (the land line provider) and Earthlink (the ISP) declined to accept responsibility for fixing it.  AT&T said since we used the land line mainly for DSL and our telephone was broken to begin with, they would assign responsibility to Earthlink.  Earthlink troubleshot and determined the problem was with the land line.  So Phil went out and bought a cheap phone and hooked it up and it still didn't work, thereby proving the problem was, indeed, with the land line.  But just before he called AT&T back, he remembered that the other day when he was de-ivying the back of our house he cut what he thought was a defunct phone cable.  Since he thought it was something installed by the previous owner and was no longer a live connection, he didn't bother to seal it off.

Drawing 130 shows the little culprit:  the wires were soaked during one of the many downpours over the last ten days, and I remembered that we DID have a live connection back in my studio, which I haven't used in the five years since I got a wireless computer and we moved the modem and router to the front of the house.  So P. dried out the wires and taped them up, and everything works fine now.

Drawing 128:  the first (albeit watery) ripe berries of the season

Drawing 129:  Late this afternoon the blue sky began to look ominous again from the view over the mountains

Drawing  131:  a little clay ocarina that sits on our back porch.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rainy Sunday

I made a new journal today.  The cover is a sweet potato chip bag, and this is the first page.  I pulled over on the side of Swannanoa River Road on my way home from BookWorks, where I had sewed in the journal pages,  to make these two drawings.  Both are of patterns that I admire around Asheville.  When I was in France in May, I very much enjoyed the patterns that dominate French gardens, roadside plantings, hedges, woodpiles, etc.  I get happy when I find a pattern around Asheville, and finally decided to just pull over and make the drawings.  The top one is a row of evergreen trees that curve around the outer perimeter of a golf course;  the bottom one is a spectacular arrangement of some kind of ornamental grasses, tall, maybe pampass grass, that covers a berm along the freeway.

When I got home I right away had to draw the pretty spool of thread that a friend gave me today.  It's a giant spool, industrial strength and industrial size, perfect for sewing the recycled-material bags and wallets that my friend Fran and I make in our tiny business (  I use an old treadle machine to sew, and my large spool of thread is almost empty.  This is recycled parachute thread, so it's perfect.  My friend Maria found it at an estate sale for a dollar.  She was going to give me some of it, as it is so large she thought she would never use it all.  Then she decided to keep a bit of it for herself and give me the rest of the spool in exchange for my needle awl that she had been using today to draw lines made of punched holes.  A perfect trade!

On the right side of the page are patches of clay paint that I made from clay that had washed out of the path in the woods in all the rain.  I was slogging along the trail this afternoon and there it was in the center of a section of trail, the most lush orangey red possible.  I scooped up a finger full to try out.  When I got home, all I did was mix the clay with a little gum Arabic and water-- no sifting, no cleaning, no levigating-- the most lovely paint ever.  I imagine the sand and other impurities washed out in the deluge.  Tomorrow I'm bringing a plastic bag and a trowel with me to get a good amount of it.

And at the bottom is Jesse.  He was lying under the car watching me draw him.

And today's final drawing, a bunch of gladioli that were bent over and broken in the garden after last night's windy downpour. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cake Pops (Again) and Flooded Pathways

Since I've embarked on this project, I notice that I look forward to standing in long lines.  I especially like being in the line at City Bakery, where the pastry and bread display reliably affords good things to draw.  Today the line was really long, and I was able to draw many loves of bread as well as a new kind of cake pop-- chocolate toffee-- and an oreo pie before I had to put away my pen and give my order.  But then I got to stand near the display and wait for my order, so I was able to put in textures and shadows.

The rain let up a bit today, so by 4:00 this afternoon my husband and I ventured out into the woods for the first time all week.  I stopped a drew a patch of little plants-- pipsissiwa in several stages of blooming and fruiting, a bright orange mushroom, and some safety-tape- yellow mushroom-like thing that looked like a sea creature.  But the most interesting feature of the trail was the presence, everywhere,  of water.  The path itself had become a stream in many places, and where water wasn't actually flowing or even sitting, the mud was saturated, slippery, and sticky.  We hopped from side to side over the creek that had formed.  After about 45 minutes, as we were sliding down some hilly parts, we heard thunder and the patter of rain on the leaves overhead.  Within five minutes we were in a downpour and arrived home drenched.  I noticed on the way inside that the slugs have returned to the ice plant.  There were 15 of them clinging to the high altitudes in the rain!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Really Rough Sketches

Today was such a busy day that I'm  truly amazed that I drew even one thing.  These three drawings are just rough information-gathering exercises.  Maya came over today and is spending the night.  We gave her her sewing machine, and she and I made not ONE but FIVE pillows, and by pillow number 4, Maya was treadling and handling the cloth all by herself.  On the left you'll see a sketch of the Arctic Wolf, which I drew from a screen capture that Maya made from Animal Jam.  We made a number of screen captures, then manipulated them in Photoshop and printed them out on tee shirt transfer material.  We ironed the transfer images onto old tee shirts, and we then hemmed each image and sewed it onto felt.  Then we cut out pillow backs from gingham cloth that we had, and we sewed the fronts to the backs, turned them rightside out, and stuffed them. 

The drawing to the right shows Maya stuffing one of the pillows.
 The last drawing is of one of the five pillows, the Arctic Wolf.  And now at 11:00 P.M. I am going to sit on Maya until she stays in bed and goes to sleep!  Good night!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Continuing with Damp Drawings

A friend posted a comment today asking how I manage to hold a watercolor set and brush and water and a pen along with my journal while I'm drawing on the run.  Two answers:  first of all, when I'm drawing on the run or out in public I often just do a quick sketch, and then when I get home I add watercolor. 

The other, more interesting, answer is that I use a little paper folder (mine is pictured above) that I made by heavily coloring in squares on some heavy watercolor paper with water-soluble crayons-- Caran d'Ache is the brand I have, but any water-soluble crayon or pencil will do.  I use a water-brush (also in the picture) filled with clean water to wet the color I want to use, and then I paint in the sketch.  To clean the brush between colors,  I squirt a few drops of water out of it into my hand.  I carry the folder in a pocket in the cover of my sketchbook/journal, but it could also just be slipped into a page anywhere in the book. Sometimes I remember to slip a piece of waxed paper into the folder in case any of the paint squares are wet when I close it, but mostly I don't do that.  The water-brush is as easy to carry as a pen.  I can hold the book and brush and lay the folder opened out on the opposite page.  It's really quick and easy to do.

I've used the folder shown above since early May when I went to Portugal and France with this journal, and it's just now needing some refilling of color.  To refill, I just add more color to the squares.  You can make some squares bigger than others or even make several squares of your most-used colors.  You can also mix these paints just like any other.  I often add a little white to my colors as I'm painting to make them show up better on the darker paper in my journal.

Now on to today's harvest of damp drawings.  The rain continues unabated for all of us in the east, and I decided to just go with it and explore how this degree of dampness affects things.  The first drawing, however, was done during a rare spate of sunshine at lunchtime, and isn't a damp drawing.  It's a corner of my friend's iPad propped up by a giant pinecone, done while we ate lunch and watched a program on the iPad.

On the right at the top is another not-really-damp drawing, my friend's cat Montana sampling some of the prosciutto we were enjoying with melons and peaches.  But down below you can see the damp factor:  in the large pot of my beleaguered  Meyer lemon tree (which is still holding on to one of its lemon babies and also has sprouted a new flower) is a tiny mushroom farm.  The mushrooms are bright yellow, like the lemons are supposed to be eventually.  They smell so strongly of damp that I could smell them through the screened door that I was sitting inside of.
I wandered out to the front porch in search of more damp residue and found a paper bag that was droopy and limp.  It hadn't been rained on, but it had absorbed so much humidity that it didn't have its crisp paper bag qualities at all.  I flopped it on the kitchen counter and drew it.  And then I went back outside and investigated the ice plant by the front porch, where my husband had seen the strange phenomenon of slugs apparently trying to get to higher ground.  Sure enough, a whole troop of slugs were clinging to the tops of stalks of the ice plant.  They hadn't eaten any leaves, and they don't usually go on the ice plant.  But their favorite lettuces and strawberries were in flooded beds, and the sturdy ice plant stalks were still standing up more or less straight.  As much as I don't like slugs, I left these pitiful guys to their own devices and just drew them.