100 Face Challenge: Snowy cat! (#2 & #3)

Nexi at Time Nexus is an amazing photographer here on WP, and she posted a link for me yesterday featuring lots of great cat photos. One cat in particular really drew me – I’m guessing its name is Snowy, but Nexi will let me know if I need to change it.

0102 prelim

I started with a preliminary sketch in graphite (a B pencil) in a drawing journal. This is a Canson sketchbook called Universal Sketch. The paper barely has any tooth and is lightweight (65 lb.). (Don’t let that number fool you though, because it’ll even take a light watercolor wash!) Kirk at Dumb Sketch Daily recommended it to me, and it really is great. There are 100 pages and it’s like $3.50 at Blick. You can’t beat it. It’s given me the incentive I needed to really draw, draw, draw. I bought some expensive sketchbooks when I was just starting out – there are a couple I still haven’t used at all yet! They can be a little intimidating when you’re afraid of wrecking them! I find this Canson book to be perfect, because I won’t hesitate to just pick it up and draw something – even if I think I’m taking on something way too challenging and headed for a drawing fail. But I digress!

I was pretty happy with the initial quick sketch, so I switched to pen and moved over to the journal I use for my daily sketching. The mixed media journal has a fairly rough/toothy surface. So if I were going for a very finished look and wanted to do a really detailed pen study, I probably would have chosen a different paper entirely, something like a smooth Bristol. But in this case, I wasn’t sure at all how it would turn out in pen, so I just went for it. I used to be really afraid of drawing in pen, but I find two things really helpful: 1) a very light touch saves the day (and for me, that’s with most any medium) and 2) a very fine nib goes a long way to help you hide mistakes that inevitably crop up.

0102 sketch

I put this Copic drawing pen on my Christmas list, and one of the artists at Blick was kind enough to send me a free sample of the refillable one as well. (Have I mentioned I just love Blick?!)  Anyway, these pens are golden. The tip on this one is very fine, measuring just 0.05 mm.   The smallest I had discovered prior was the Micron 005, which measures at 0.20 mm, so this gives you a much finer line, perfect for animal fur.   (These pens also come in a 0.03 mm size, even smaller!)   Needless to say, I’ve ordered a set of the refillable Copic pens, because I’m finding neither the Micron nor the Pitt pens last as long as it seems they should.   They are more expensive initially, but I expect to save lots of money in the long run, as the nib and ink can both be replaced/refilled.

After the ink sketch was done, I went back in with several shades of Polychromos colored pencils to add some color in the eye and nose areas.    What a beautiful white cat!    He/she really was a joy to draw, and I want to thank Nexi once again for posting those terrific cat photos.    Tune in tomorrow, you never know what I’ll be cooking up next.    Peace and Happy Weekend to all!


Neocolor II Experiment

I recently picked up a set of Caran d’Ache water-soluble artist crayons , and let me tell you, they are a joy.  Abstract work has really been helping me to clear my head lately. Kinda like a spring cleaning and reorganization.   Except, with fun and color!  They don’t claim to be art, but they are in my art journal, and it’s been so much fun to just sit down and play with art supplies and color.

Here’s a photo before adding water to liquefy them (ok, I’d added water to some of the yellow and orange before remembering to snap the photo):

0823 1

There were lots of stages in between that I was having too much fun to stop and photograph….but here is the final:

0823 2

Aren’t they so vibrant and amazing? They turn to liquid butter after hitting them with water, and it doesn’t take much effort at all to see no lines at all from the initial color lay-down.   This piece was brought to you primarily by those Neocolor II crayons, a bit of acrylic paint, bit of watercolor pigment…..and water.  Just like magic.   I really enjoyed making this one.   And I hope you enjoy the view.   I highly recommend those babies!   (And, not to be an enabler, but Blick has free shipping on orders of $59+ through today.)

I wish you and yours a blissful and serene late August Sunday.   Peace.

Floral in Fineliner

I was watching a demonstration of an artist doing a pen and watercolor of a gorgeous building. Instead of using a waterproof pen for the initial drawing, she used one of these.

0818 1

Many people buy these and use them simply as pens. Not I, said the fly. These are water-soluble, making for beautiful effects once water is applied.  In today’s post, I used the brown pen for my drawing and went back in with a bit of water.    On the rose, I added a touch of red from my travel palette to the flower and a bit of green to the leaves.   In the vase and flowers (sorry it’s crooked, I do all my art journal stuff on my lap in front of the TV), I added water only.   And I actually love it with no other color at all.   What do you think?

0818 2

For the flowers in yesterday’s post, I drew them in pen, went back with water to blur the lines a bit – then once the ink dries, it is apparently set. Went back in with watercolor paint on top. The underdrawing didn’t move.   Just gave a very cool effect to the flower as a whole.

Just wanted to share this with all of you, since these pens are a steal at Blick and elsewhere. Maybe it’s just me – but I love the effect it gives! Peace and happy Tuesday to all of you. Enjoy!

Art Journal Recommendations

I created this mixed media painting in my art journal yesterday.   I’m curious what thoughts or feelings it might evoke for you?


I also couldn’t resist giving Strathmore another plug.   As some of you know, I absolutely love the Strathmore Visual art journal series.    I’ve now filled my second one and started on my third, which really has me stoked!   The Visual journals come in several flavors.  I started with the Drawing product, then tried the Mixed Media, and now I’m hooked.   So I ordered a couple more, in two sizes.   Why?  I’ll tell you.   I can throw any medium at this paper:  pen, watercolor, acrylics, colored pencil, graphite, Tombow markers, water soluble oil and wax pastels, even collage.   No bleed-through. Is there rippling?   Sometimes, but only a slight bit.   I’ve worked with (140 lb.) watercolor paper that has buckled a lot more.

While working in this journal, it seemed to me that every medium I tried just loved the paper.   It is smooth, with just a slight tooth.   It reminds me of Stonehenge paper, which is much more expensive.   And yet, these little journals (the 5.5 x 8″ size) start at just over $5.   I definitely had to have more of this paper.   So I called Blick, and talked to a product specialist (Blick-speak for artist).   Long story short, the paper in the Mixed Media Visual Journal is their 500 Series paper.   This is 100% cotton paper, their top of the line!   It’s archival, acid free, and sized for wet media.   It is a joy to touch and to work on.   It turns out that I couldn’t even buy the paper and make the journal myself for less money.   These journals are an amazing deal.   I just had to let you all know!

The painting was a journey.    I needed some space to sort out my thoughts, and my little journal was the perfect way to do that.    It includes watercolor and acrylic paint, as well as water-soluble oil and wax pastels.   I really enjoyed marrying all these mediums together on this delightful paper.   By the time I was finished, I felt like I’d been on a mini-vacation, refreshed and at peace.   Just what I needed.    And I wish the same for you this Sunday.


Since 8/1, I’ve been thinking about the August reprise of Draw A Bird Day. I picked up a superfine-nibbed PITT artist pen, because it was the closest to hand, and it seems I’m drawn more and more to pen and ink!   Something I thought would never happen.    These pens by Faber-Castell may unseat my old favorites, the Microns.   I think what I prefer is the smoothness of these.   No hesitation at all, and I can adjust the line quite a bit just by varying the pressure.   Both of these were done entirely with the same pen, and in my Strathmore mixed media artist journal (which may be the best thing on earth, next to Dick Blick).   This must be how people feel when they zentangle. Soooo many feathers, so many tiny lines….and it just goes on forever. Definitely zen. Very zen!   I did this one over the weekend, while watching TV…

0806 1

This next one, I felt a little more serious about.   I don’t like fussing with a pencil underdrawing, which I think is what scared me away from ink for so long.   Hard to erase ink!    But when you’re adding teeny, tiny lines…..I think it’s a bit easier to see where you’re going wrong, so you can redirect.   Does this make sense to any ink artists out there?   I thought about adding color, but I didn’t want to cover up all of those lovely pen lines. I guess I could do a very pale red watercolor wash…I’d love to hear your thoughts on this aspect.   But I digress! I hope you’ll join us for the August version of Draw A Bird Day this Saturday, the eighth!

0806 2

Friday is so close, I can smell it! The cardinals could teach us all a thing or two about shaking our tail feathers! Enjoy the day. Peace.


Oh, this alphabetical bloggy thing is a hoot sometimes.

my Strathmore MM art journal
my Strathmore MM art journal

Often, while browsing the blogs of photographer friends here on WordPress, a photo will beg to be painted.   This one, from Bella Remy Photography, was such a photo, combining one of my favorite flowers and favorite birdies all in one go.   I had lots of fun interpreting this photo fairly loosely in ink with a superfine Pitt Artist Pen (thanks again, Faber-Castell), and then going over it with the help of my watercolor palette.   It’s not often that a page in my art journal looks this colorful, but I couldn’t resist lighting this one up with pigment.  Thank you Bella, for knocking it out of the park once again!

The paint doesn’t flow nearly as freely in my journal as on watercolor paper, but man I love that thing.   I used to fill one page a day, but lately, I’ve been drawing to my heart’s content, usually at night while watching the O’s, and I may go through four or five pages in one day.   I just bought a new book (as this one quickly fills up), and I think I’m going to make it a goal to go through all 64 pages in a month.   It will sound art geeky as all get out, but I’m looking forward to one day seeing a shelf full of art journals, filled with memories and fun!   Lately, I’ve been enjoying drawing as much as painting, so maybe I should try and get a bulk discount on these things at Blick, lol.

Happy top of the week to all, and let’s go out there and light up the world with color.  Shall we?   Spread smiles everywhere, Artinistas!   We can do it!   Peace and puddles of paint to all!

Water, water

Water and skies are what I’m working on.   Rolling waves are something I’d love to try, but I feel like I need a larger block of time to attempt it…..maybe this weekend.

4 1/4
4 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ Arches 140# CP

Anyway, I’m enjoying the journey! One thing I will say is that Arches 140-lb. cold pressed paper (I’ve not tried the 300 lb. yet) makes the road a LOT smoother and more manageable for this beginner.   I feel like “allowing” myself to paint on good paper really accelerated my progress to the point that it was well worth the cost.   (There are real bargains to be had at Blick.)    We’re worth it! (I’m thinking of that old L’oreal commercial….)  Colors brought to you by M. Graham:  quin rose, cad yellow, alizarin crimson, perm. green, phthalo blue; bit of wn rose madder

I also think that working without a fixed end result in mind really helps with watercolor. I’ve learned to expect happy accidents and twists in the road, instead of being surprised or put off by them.  I think that painting every day is helping my confidence so that when those twists and turns come, I have a better idea how to manage them.    I’ve also learned to really be happy with what the paint decides to do on its own (it’s often much better than whatever I had planned anyhow).    The best part is that I may love watercolor painting now, halfway through my July “challenge” month of painting every day, more than I ever did before.   A nice bonus.   And that’s the last of my pre-torn small pieces of paper!

What’s that Rod Stewart song from the early 90s?   I’m thinking of the line:  “Where the ocean meets the sky, I’ll be sailing….”   Happy Friday Eve, fair skies and refreshing cool breezes to all. Peace.


Maybe if I’d chosen different colors. I’m not a Winsor & Newton fan. It’s the only brand I can buy locally, which is why Blick (online) gets most of my business. Well, and Blick’s prices and service just cannot be beat.   They will happily accept returns of opened merchandise for up to a year.   Who does that?   Certainly none of my local craft/art supply stores.

7 x 5
7 x 5″ Arches 140 lb. cold-pressed

Anyway, many of you, like me, enjoy lighthouses, and I hope you enjoy this one. Colors: winsor red, winsor orange, wn rose madder, MG cad yellow …. and after the sky and water were finished (had to do a second layer of rose madder to pump up the sky, which is why I’m crabby), I used Graham colors (alizarin crimson, ultramarine, cad yellow) to mix my black, so the lighthouse at least would be vibrant. M. Graham gets my vote every time for price and quality, neither of which IMO can be beat. I’ll soon be trying Daniel Smith as well, as I hear good things.

Happy Wednesday! Is anyone ready for fall yet? Looking forward to those autumn colors showing up in everyone’s artwork. Peace and peppy paint to all!


Welcome to Day Three of the “Watercolors Rule in July” project.  Kerfe is a friend here on WordPress who has inspired the heck outta me with her inspirational artwork, particularly her grid project. Recently, we were chatting and I was thinking it would be neat to take her grid concept to my July watercolor project. So I decided to visualize a scene, and let that scene inspire my painting.   This is the result!


I wonder if anyone will guess what scene I visualized.   🙂  I had so much fun splattering paint (and clear water) at the end.   I only wish the whole thing was still wet when I threw the water at it.   This was fun.   Do check out Kerfe and Nina’s site though.   The grid project runs for 100 days, and she’s gone north of 80!   It’ll be really interesting to see what she comes up with next.   Lots of beautiful and inspirational work to be seen over there.

This wild, wacky painting was brought to you by the following amazingly vibrant and juicy M. Graham watercolor paints:  Permanent Green light, Hooker’s Green (just a bit of each), Viridian, Cobalt Teal, Phthalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cotman Cerulean and WN Cobalt Turquoise.     I love blues and greens and I had a blast with this.  It’d be fun to do a whole page of these and cut them up into bookmarks!    

Speaking of which, I am reading a fiction book at the moment that is wowing me.  Barbara Vine.   I know she’s been around forever (and didn’t she recently pass)?   I’ve never read her though.   Crazy, huh?  “Grasshopper” is the name of the book.  It is suspenseful.   I’m listening too to the audio with Jenny Sterlin as the narrator.  She’s fabulous.   Feel free to push book titles at me; I can always add to my never-ending TBR!

But I digress.   Happy Friday to one and all and Happy Independence Day tomorrow to my friends in the States!