This is the archive for the ‘sketchbooks/drawings’ Category

Scotland

September 20th, 2019

It was a whirl wind tour of Scotland. Starting in Queesnferry so Bob could finally see one of his favorite bridges, the Forth Bridge, and a bus into Edinburgh to visit Dovecot Studio.

Image of Forth Bridge Image of Dovecot Tapestry Studio
Visit for each of us!

Then Skye—staying in Elgol for a boat trip and small hike to Loch Coruisk in the Cuillin Hills and in Dunvegan with hikes at Quiraing, and Neist Point.

Image of Quiraing Image of Neist Point
Hikes in Skye

After Skye, up the west coast staying at Inverkirkaig—hiked a bit—very windy—and found the most wonderful bookstore/cafe, then across the top to the ferry to Orkney.

Orkney: Ring of Brodgar at dusk, Skara Brae, the sun came out as we bought our tickets, sheep, wool and dye sheds, a tapestry gallery, a scotch distillery, and more wind. I love wind, but this wind could, under certain circumstances, drive one mad. For us, in our short time, it was part of the adventure.

Image of The Ring of Brodgar Image of Skara Brae
5000 year old Neolithic sites.

Ferry back and down the east coast and into Glendevon for a great dinner, another short hike and then the plane from Edinburgh. All I can say is WOW! Around every corner—more beautiful than the last—WOW, food and people—WOW, history, geology—WOW!

Image of Scottish Mountains Image of Heather
Beauty whether you look up or down

We had never been to Scotland and wanted to get an overview, seeing as much as possible in the two weeks we had. Bob did wonderfully driving on a different side of the road and on the many two way but one lane roads—with sheep on them! (There were signs.) He also researched and booked all our accommodations and to a one they were great! Three hotels and the rest B&Bs.

Image of Black Sheep Image of sign for sheep in road
Cattle grids in the roads kept the sheep in their area but not off the roads.
Some were very cheeky and would play “I dare you”…

We didn’t seek out castles but they were everywhere.

Image of Castle
Had to take at least one castle picture!

Didn’t hear a bagpipe but saw several guys in kilts. Stayed away from tourist sites as much as possible. Scotland is a very contemporary country and while I did want to see the Neolithic sites in Orkney I also wanted to experience Scotland today as much as possible in our short time.

Some how as I planned out our trip with post-its of where we would stay and what we wanted to see, I still thought we’d have time to hike every day and sit and sketch, and just feel where we were. Time doesn’t stretch that way so only a couple of quick sketches (one done in the car) and a few rather short hikes, but lots and lots of images and now that I’m home I wake up at 4:30-5:00 and hit the studio—so excited to download my brain into studies and paintings and spin the wool that I bought and just digest.

Washing Paper!

August 30th, 2019

I was tearing some large sheets of Arches 300 lb. watercolor paper to work with next week and remembered a little sketch book I made with that paper several years ago. It’s a simple accordion structure and I wanted to have it to sketch things in my garden. Wanted heavy paper so I could work on both sides of the accordion pages. I hadn’t worked with paper that heavy and my watercolor didn’t take to the paper very well. It made an interesting texture but wouldn’t do what I wanted. I was busy and set it aside.

Image of Accordion Book

Today I remembered reading (John Pike’s book, “Watercolor” that had belonged to my mom) about heavy watercolor paper having a sizing on it that might be washed off, so… I washed my paper. Just a simple run through with slightly warm water and then gently sponged off with a clean soft sponge. When the water first hit the paper it beaded up like crazy but after the sponging, nothing! No rubbing or soaking, just a gentle sponging to remove the excess water. Then laid on paper towels to dry.

Also did a quick test strip—just rinsed and sponged half the strip. When dry I took a brush full of watercolor and swooshed over both washed and unwashed areas. On the blue sample I also did a dab of color on each side.

Image of washed paper test strips

Mystery solved! Now I need to rinse my book without making a mess or messing up the existing sketches. A job for another day. But I did wash my prepared papers today!

Thought I’d share this as others might run into the same thing. I’ve studied watercolor formally years ago in school but then I used lighter weight paper that I stretched on a board. Since then I’ve used water color blocks of about 140 lbs. as I mostly take them for quick sketching. Other than my early work I’ve been mainly self taught in this media and missed this bit of the watercolor world! Always something…

Maine Painting Retreat

August 19th, 2019

Just came back from a wonderful week long painting retreat with Michael Chesley Johnson in Maine—way Downeast in Lubec Maine and in Campobello Island in Canada. I took a workshop with Michael years ago. It was good to see him again!

Image of Michael Chesley Johnson Image of Painting setup in Maine
Michael Chesley Johnson demo and Quoddy Head State Park

Finally unpacked, wash is done, house reclaimed and grass is cut. Now to think about all that happened. On the way north we spent two days on Monhegan Island with Holly and Stig—one takes the ferry—no cars—lots of hiking—lots and lots of hiking—beautiful forest and coast line—good food and beautiful music by a woman composer (whose name I’m sorry I didn’t get). She practices on the piano in the little church next to our hotel.

Image of Monhegan Island Image of Sea Gull
Monhegan Island—view from hike and a new friend

Then Sunday, back to rt 1 and north. We stayed at West Quoddy Station in a little cabin called “the Camp”. West Quoddy Station is a repurposed life guard station that is now lodging in one of the most beautiful locations in Maine. About a mile from there is the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and Quoddy Head State Park which pride them selves as being the most eastern point in the US—the sun does rise early! We met Sunday evening with Michael and the other artists for orientation. Our plan was for me to paint as part of the retreat and Bob would go off and photograph—both happy!

Image of West Quoddy Head Lighthouse Image of Camp at West Quoddy Station
Light house and our home away from home!

Michael mainly is a plain air painter as were most of the others but as this was a “retreat” as opposed to a workshop or class we were free to pursue our own directions. People worked in oils, watercolors or pastels. They came from all over the US and Canada. Days began with a sharing/critique of the previous days work and then we all headed to a specified location to paint. Some days Michael demoed and others he painted with us. Quoddy Head State Park, the fishing village of Lubec and Campobello Island all offered a wealth of locations—the weather was perfect—perhaps too perfect—post card days. Afternoons were free to continue painting, visit other locations, hike or just veg and soak up everything. Many peopled worked as long as there was light! On the third day I just sketched and photographed and took it all in.

Image of Quoddy Head State Park
Something around every turn!

I realize that I’m not a plein air painter but rather a painter who enjoys plein air painting as a resource for studio work. It was hot in the sun and working with warm oils was a relatively new experience—didn’t master that this week but I learned a lot. But I did bring back lots to work on and think about during cold winter days in PA.

Image of Quoddy State Park Painting Image of Campebello painting
Two of my quick plein air paintings.

Explorations

April 2nd, 2019

Been exploring mixed media (currently oil pastels, charcoal, ink and acrylic) on paper. Trying hard not to begin with a direction but rather prepare my state of mind by reading or a walk for example, and see where it leads me. It’s difficult for me once I see a direction not let my thinking mind take over and to become literal. I am also trying with this work, to not dwell on the dark forces that occupy the world today as they take up too much of my life as it is but rather use these explorations to examine hope. Here are two recent results. Different days- different images.

Image of Mixed Media Exploration
Untitled #4

Image of Mixed Media Exploration
Untitled #1

I’m interested to see how these studies affect my other work.

Travel Sketchbooks

March 24th, 2019

Artist, Susan Abbott, is teaching a “Traveling with your Sketchbook” workshop in DC and posted about it. I took a workshop with Susan in VT this past summer and I can attest that one gets their money’s worth from her. She covers so much and caters it to each person’s level. Susan’s blog post asked for comments/thoughts on personal experiences and I wrote the folllowing”

“For years I took new sketchbooks on trips and returned with them as new as when I left. All the things you mention in the post. Then one year friends gave us some tulips at the airport on a trip to France and the French let me take them with me… So I sketched them in our room once each morning until they dropped and then I kept sketching on that day. I realized I had given myself permission to sketch. After that I started making one quick sketch from my window each am on trips – sometimes an incredible view, some times a parking lot… but once I did that I would continue to sketch for the rest of the trip. Now I can’t imagine travel with out sketching. Perhaps the favorite thing to do in my life.”

It got me thinking about how important sketching is to me and I thought I’d share my thoughts here. I dug out that old sketchbook and below are some of my sketches from that trip”

Image of first quick sketch of tulips
First quick sketch of tulips – I was tired but wanted a record for our friends

After this I warmed to the task.

Image of drawing from hotel window Image of Niki de Saint-Phalle Image of schloss in Baden Baden, GR
from left: hotel window, Saint Malo, FR; Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, FR; Schloss, Baden Baden, GR

…and finally, I just sat down and drew. This sketch book became a wonderful journal of out trip – drawings, ephemera, notes.

Image of first quick sketch of tulips

Unfortunately, I used a pen with ink that bled through the page to the image on the other side. Didn’t do that again!

As I said in my comment, once I make that first sketch on a trip it is as though I have given myself permission to continue. Don’t know if this works for everyone but it sure works for me. Sketching when traveling has become one of my favorite experiences. It allows me to slow down and see things that I would have missed and gives me wonderful sources of memories – how I felt when I saw these things and as I sketched.

Weaving on the Road…

June 28th, 2018

Off to Virginia to stay with Fletcher and Cooper while their parents were away and I took my Hokett Loom, yarns and design materials. I knew the boys would have their noses in the World Cup and I would have time to indulge in weaving.

Image of a weaving studio in a bag

I pack my weaving supplies in translucent bags that all fit into a larger bag. One for my Hokett with the tray I use it on, one for a selection of yarns and one for little bits of equipment. My design supplies go in a small shoulder bag with watercolors, sketchbooks etc. With these two bags I could set up a little studio space and was set!

Image of my temporary studio Image of when I ran out of black yarn

Got out my sketchbook and watercolors and came up with my design. I’ve been sketching trees and leaves lately so decided on stylized leaves. Next to warp my little loom and prepare my weft yarns. I did bring the little spinner thing that I got from Rebecca Mezoff to un ply my Harrisville yarns. BUT… my design called for black and I forgot that while I needed to un ply the blue and green yarn, I needed to double the black and didn’t bring enough… You can see where I ran out of black yarn in the image above!!! Always something!!!!

Image of finished weaving

I did have more black at home and was able to finish!!! So all is well with one part of my world, at least…