Monday, March 30, 2020

Catching Up

Hi, Friends -
Oh, my, how the world has changed since I last checked in here back in early January! I'm spending most of my time at home these days, just like the rest of you, and with this lull in my usually busy schedule, I've been doing lots of painting and working on some projects that have been on the back burner for years. It feels good, not rushing from one thing to the next but having the luxury of time. I miss my grandchildren terribly though - that's been the worst part of the forced seclusion for me.

I haven't posted anything here for awhile. I gave myself permission to take a winter break, but it's time to catch up now, so here's what's been happening since I last wrote...

In January I organized a sketching challenge on the Facebook group I host for my students. The challenge was to create 31 sketches in 31 days. Subject matter was up to each artist, and anyone who completed the challenge would win a free Khadi sketchbook. It sparked a lot of enthusiasm among the group, and fifteen of them completed the challenge and won a prize. I did quite a few sketches that month (but far fewer than 31) and had fun playing around with different materials, like water-soluble pens and colored paper. Most of my January sketches were of everyday things like grandkids...


candy hearts...

Platinum Preppy pen w/purple Platinum ink + watercolor in a 4" x 6" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

and the geraniums that flourish all winter on our sun porch.

Ink & watercolor in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook

For this geranium sketch, I challenged myself to work quickly, starting it when I put dinner in the oven and putting the finishing touches on it before we sat down to eat 45 minutes later. I was amazed that I was able to complete it that quickly, and it taught me a good lesson: to paint looser, more spontaneous-looking sketches, I need to give myself a time limit and paint quickly. Using a big brush helps, too.

Here's a sketch I did of my grandson with his new dirt bike. I used a Platinum Preppy fountain pen filled with water-soluble Platinum black ink for the drawing. When I added watercolor, the black lines softened and ran, creating shadows. It's a fun technique and a great way to complete a sketch quickly without fussing over it.


Platinum Preppy pen w/black Platinum ink + watercolor in a 4" x 6" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

Looking around the house one evening for something to draw, I spied this bunny statue on my mantel. I sketched it with Noodler's "Rome Burning" ink, which is a warm brown but bleeds yellow when water touches it.


Noodler's ink (Rome Burning) + watercolor in a 4" x 6" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

The polka dot background was created by first painting a circle of orange, then, after it had dried, laying a plastic stencil over it and gently swiping across the stencil with a damp Mr. Clean Magic eraser to lift the paint. (I had protected the bunny drawing with frisket film before I did the lifting.)

Here's another everyday sketch from January. It's a line drawing of my kitchen sink done on tan Stillman and Birn Nova paper. I was stuck for a title, so I asked for suggestions on my Facebook group, and Linda Trigg Price came up with "Real life still life", which was perfect!

Platinum Preppy pen w/red Platinum ink in a 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook (tan)

I sometimes do yoga with Adriene, and I happened to see that she had a recipe for something called Yogi Tea, which is similar to chai. I whipped up a batch and did a little recipe illustration just for fun.

Ink & watercolor 
Ink & watercolor in a 4" x 6" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (Oops! I just noticed I spelled Adriene's name wrong.)

In early February, I packed my art supplies and summer clothes (and my mom!) and headed for Florida. I was scheduled to teach two 2-day workshops while I was there, but I had rented a little cottage for 21 days, so we got to enjoy three blissful weeks of warm weather and sunshine. My sister and daughter joined us for a few days, too, and we had lots of fun going to the beach, eating out, drinking wine, and just hanging out together.

On the trip south, we stopped to visit my friend, Wendy, in South Carolina, and I did this little sketch of a corner of her sunroom late one afternoon while we sat and chatted and drank a cup of tea. Looking at it reminds me of happier times not so long ago.

Ink & watercolor in a 4" x 6" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

I headed back to PA at the end of February and a week later taught a Summerhill Sketching class on How to Paint French Macarons...


I had spent the entire week prior to the class learning how to make macarons (and how not to make them!) I wanted to have several flavors of the cute little cookies for dessert after class. There's quite the learning curve when it comes to making them, and it took a lot of trial and error to figure out the correct techniques to use, but by the time I was taking my fifth batch out of the oven, I was feeling pretty good about how they were turning out.

The little lemon ones were my first attempt, and the turquoise (vanilla) were my last - much better!
But they all tasted GREAT!

Everyone enjoyed the lesson that day and their paintings turned out great, but what they enjoyed most was taste-testing the macarons to pick their favorite flavor. Would you believe vanilla beat out lemon, raspberry, and chocolate with ganache filling?

This month I organized another sketching challenge for my student group on Facebook. Since we're all spending so much time in our homes, I encouraged them to sketch the view from their windows. I sketched the view through the leaded glass sidelights in our front entry, looking west on a blustery spring day.

Ink & watercolor in a 5" x 6-1/2" Khadi sketchbook 

The latest challenge I've come up with for my sketching students is to draw some food or an illustrated recipe, something along the lines of the yogi tea sketch above. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Why not join us and try one of your own? I did this one as part of my lesson on how to paint macarons, but I'm counting it for the challenge. :)

Ink & watercolor, 2" x 3"

I've started a COVID-19 journal, too. I'll post those sketches when I have a few more finished. And I've been finishing up some of my travel journals over the past few weeks. I'll share them here in upcoming posts. Until then, stay home and stay well!

Leslie




Saturday, January 11, 2020

California Road Trip - Part 3: 17-Mile Drive

One of the prettiest stretches of coastline that I saw during my recent trip to California was 17-Mile Drive in Monterey. This scenic road meanders around the Monterey peninsula, offering spectacular views of rocky beaches, crashing waves, and abundant wildlife.

Ink & watercolor in a 5" x 6-1/2" Khadi hardbound sketchbook with rough textured 140 lb. paper

I  did small sketches in my Khadi sketchbook at many of the stops along the way, roughing in each little drawing with pencil first then quickly inking it. I painted the page later at home in my studio using QOR watercolors, which I've been having fun trying out lately.

Click to enlarge

It was a beautiful sunshine-y morning when we set off that November day, and we had clear views of distant mountains at our first stop on "Huckleberry Hill". (Isn't that the cutest name? I think I sketched it for the alliterative name more than the view.)



Continuing on, we traveled downhill through evergreen forests to windswept Spanish Beach, where explorers camped while searching for Monterey Bay back in 1769. 



17-Mile Drive hugs the coast for most of its length, and one of the most popular pull-off spots along the water is "The Restless Sea", where the turbulent waters of the Pacific smash onto the rocky shore. I could sit and watch the show for hours!


The clouds had moved in by the time we arrived at "Bird Rock", where thousands of birds congregate on an off-shore island...


and sea lions swim and play in the surrounding waters, hauling themselves up onto the rocks to nap in the sun. The sea lion sketch was added later at home using an online reference photo, since they were too far away for me to see from the shore.


We drove past the immaculately groomed Pebble Beach golf course and stopped at several more beaches to look for sea glass and heart-shaped rocks. Our last pull-off was at "The Lone Cypress", a 250-year old tree which has stood on a rocky promontory since the late 18th century.


There were also cypress forests, "ghost trees", and grassy meadows to see along the way. It was a beautiful, relaxing drive with lots of variety in the scenes I found to sketch.


If you ever have a chance to travel to the Monterey/Carmel area, don't miss the 17-Mile Drive. It's an American treasure.
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