Posted in drawing, recycling

Autumnal Equinox 2021

Today I want to celebrate the changing of seasons. Weather-wise, it’s still summer here. But a cool front is expected here in the next 12 hours.

I am hopeful for cooler breezes.

With the idea of using non-traditional materials for this art piece, I started by rummaging through my paper storage drawer. Among the half-used scrapbook pads, pages from old calendars, brown paper bags, pieces of card stock and carefully saved rice paper, I came across this:

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a paper towel that had been used as a wiping rag. If I had to guess I would say this it is covered in fabric paint, because it was fiber artist Cindy Walter who suggested that I save my used paper towels.

Well, why not, I told myself. This could be made into something, by applying a little imagination and some carefully chosen marks.

The towel was quite fragile, so I started with a 4B pencil. Flowers, I thought. Working through the blobs and streaks, I decided to include other living things that associate with flowers. These creatures are currently busy preparing for the coming of winter. I drew beetles, bees, caterpillars and a curious cardinal. Soon the paper was full of pencil marks. I considered adding color. In the end I did put a tiny bit of blue paint onto the stems, but refrained from adding other embellishments, due to concern about damaging the paper towel.


May this fragile drawing remind you of the frailty of life and our pledge as stewards of the earth to preserve it.

Posted in painting

Sunday Sketching – Flowers

This month I signed up to take a class taught by the frugal crafter, Lindsay Weirich.

Since today is Sketching Sunday, I am sharing a few of the quick and loose flowers that I have painted while following her instruction.

None of these took longer than fifteen minutes to do. They certainly help me fill up the blank pages in my watercolor sketchbook.

How are you spending your week-end? I hope you are making time for fun stuff.

Posted in painting

Watercolor Wednesday

I have been saving this image from Unsplash for the time when my skills were sufficient to paint it. I think I’m ready now.

There are several challenges:

  1. Painting the pink flower with shading and without losing its delicate transparency.
  2. Making the background black enough while keeping the crisp edges of the foreground.
  3. Rendering the texture of the leaf in the foreground

It took me a few days and several stages.

Pencil outline of the flower and underpainting of the leaves. I added some colored pencil on the foreground, but these lines completely disappeared under subsequent glazes.

Before I proceeded to the next layers, I reserved the edges by coating them with masking fluid.

First layer of paint on flower and background, second glaze on leaves.
Second layer of paint on flower and background. Once it dried, I rubbed off the masking fluid.

Final painting. To render the curves of the foreground leaf, I decided to add a dark color band which doesn’t exist in the original photograph. I used a blue Prismacolor pencil to draw in the delicate veins which are visible between the large ribs.

I like the glowing look of the flower. The crimson petal tips really come forward visually. I’m happy with the foreground leaf. I’m wondering if I need to darken the leaf in the background.

Maybe I will wait a day and see how I feel about it.

Painted on Fabriano Studio cold press paper with Winsor yellow, quinacridone magenta, alizarin crimson, prussian blue, viridian, gold green and sap green.

Posted in drawing

Sunday Sketch – Add Watercolor

About two weeks ago, we received a text message with a surprising photograph.

To the casual viewer, this may look like an ordinary, but happy day for my two loves. But this was no ordinary day for the little one. She had just received her first haircut! Gone were the messy locks, constantly hanging down over her face. Gone was the daily task of putting in the band to make the wonky ponytail. These delighted expressions and giant smiles just grabbed my heart.

I had to sketch this scene.

Sketch with lines drawn in black Ultrafine marker.

Final portrait with watercolor wash added.

I’m delighted that I was successful in capturing the emotion that I saw in the photograph. The portrait was sent along with Lu’s birthday present in yesterday’s mail. I can’t wait to hear about her reactions when she opens the box.

Posted in knitting

Wednesday WIP

This project got its start as an example for a shawl design class I taught in August. It is also a response to the situation I’ve been griping about called Left-over Sock Yarn.

Some of you may remember this photo.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Once I truly looked at the yarn that was in the bowl, I realized that I had the makings of a multi-color garter ridge shawl. After discarding the red and green yarns, I took a cue from my own advice about color value and separated the leftovers into two piles – darks and lights.

The medium blue ball in the center is the connector between the lights and darks. I also tossed in the very pale blue full skein with a thought that it could make a good border.

The light yarns went into one bag, the darks into another. Starting with the medium blue yarn I cast on about 30 stitches and worked three ridges of garter. Initially I chose yarns by randomly drawing balls from each bags, alternating light and dark and knitting as many rows as I felt like before changing colors. But very quickly, a desirable pattern emerged – four ridges of light alternating with three ridges of dark. The extra ridge of light separated the color changes.

After working the black yarn, I started over with the darks – blue, brown, royal blue, teal, black.

I call this my Sea and Sand shawl.

Once I get up to around 300 stitches, I’ll choose a color to make the border. My creative juices are flowing as I consider pattern options. Since it’s a shawl border, the pattern must be very stretchy. First I thumbed through Barbara Walker’s fabulous “Treasury of Knitting Patterns”(published in 1968) where I spotted a few possibilities. Here’s three that meet my criteria:

All three could work very well. I’ll be knitting some swatches of these patterns.

Thank you Barbara Walker. Your book is truly timeless.

Posted in drawing

Sunday Sketching from Life

Yesterday I found a feather in the back yard and wanted to render it in graphite.

I decided the drawing would be a self-portrait of my hand holding the feather. Since I am left-handed, it was easiest to hold up my right hand about ten inches from my face and draw what I saw. To render the feather, I attached it to a binder clip and placed it on top of a thread spool on my work table. The tricky part was drawing each part in the same scale, so that it would look life-like.

Contour sketch with a few tone and shade indications
Finished sketch, tone and shadows intensified, also a few more lines.

This didn’t take too long to draw. During the process, I began to appreciate how tricky it is to make a drawing of a hand. I had to keep adjusting the alignment of my fingers as I worked. I wondered if I should include a cast shadow. Ultimately, I couldn’t figure out where to draw the shadow, since I was holding the feather up and away from all surfaces, so left it out.

Maybe I can convince someone to model for me so I can make a sketch of two hands.

Posted in sewing

F.O. Friday – Sewing

This week I got all ambitious to make some pants for L.L. I haven’t sewn clothes in years and years. But I wanted to respond to my daughter’s righteous indignation on the options provided by the clothing industry for little girls shorts. She complained that every pair she found were tight and very short – effectively sexualizing toddler girls. “Boy and girl shapes at this age all identical, yet the boy shorts are loose, comfortable and several inches longer than the girls.

She ended up purchasing boy shorts for her daughter.

So I wanted to make a fun, colorful garment that I knew LL would enjoy wearing.

As a maker, I also had the goal of using materials that I have on hand.

In the end, I did purchase a pattern, since I don’t have knowledge or skill in pattern-making.

I chose this one, because. along with the pants, it provided patterns for tops and dresses and sizes up to 4 – leaving the door open for me to make additional items of clothing in the near future.

Here’s the crazy fabric I chose.

It is a sturdy 100% cotton, leftover from a valance I made for my laundry room window. How about those zig-zags!

To challenge myself, I decided to match the zig-zag lines in the hems.

Here they are, all finished this morning.

Construction details I added were faced hems and a cotton jersey casing for the elastic at the waist.

I was happy that the fabric includes some of Lu’s favorite colors: blue, pink and green. I’ll bet that she already has several T-shirts to match.

Posted in painting

My First Rose

Flowers are a popular subject for beginning watercolor students. So far, I have not been attracted to this subject. If given a choice, I would prefer to paint an animal instead of a flower. But today I decided to go for a rose.

And not just any rose. I picked a multi-hued rose, very close up. Obviously, I was ready for a challenge.

This photograph was chosen from a free-usage website, most likely Unsplash. Unfortunately, I saved it to my folder so long ago that I can’t remember where it came from. I was attracted by the assortment of warm colors. I especially like the magenta hues, because I recently purchased a tube of quinacridone magenta.

Day One.
All the initial washes are in place
Deeper values and a little bit of detail

I used my Prismacolor pencils to emphasize the veining in the petals.

I’m reasonably happy with my first effort. But in retrospect, it would have been wiser to pick a rose of one hue – a red, red rose – for my initiation into painting flowers.

Posted in embellishing, knitting

F.O. Friday – Yes I did

Despite my moodiness, I managed to complete a little knitting project this week. The pattern for this knitted and beaded collar, above, is found in 60 QuickLuxury Knits, published in 2014 by the editors of Sixth and Spring Books. I suspect that it is now out of print. I bought mine through an on-line used book store.

There are likely to be similar pattern on

As I was knitting, I thought about the late Justice Ginsberg and her iconic fashion (and political) statement collars.

One of many obituaries published last year.
This one is known as the Dissent Collar

Mine was made with some fingering weight yarn found in my stash. The charcoal yarn is a blend of silk and wool. The pink is a blend of rayon and wool. The beads are 6/0 glass seed beads in a color called Red Rainbow, from the local hobby store.

I hope I get to wear mine soon. One couldn’t choose a better role model than RBG.

Posted in knitting

Dregs of Summer

While sitting on the porch this morning and staring at the remains of my coffee, it occurred to me that now is the dregs of summer. With nearly four weeks remaining, it feels like summer is in its worst stage. A late August heat wave has knocked the wind out of summer’s creatures.

Hydrangea’s brown flowerheads

By 9 am the thermometer has already reached 80 on its way to a dance with 100 degrees later today. The trees and shrubs are shedding some of the extra leaves they had optimistically grown earlier this year when rainfall was plentiful. In an effort not to add insult to injury, I have stopped mowing the lawn. It hardly matters, since the grass stopped growing once the heat and dry took hold. Well, except for the crabgrass. That manages to hog all the available moisture to itself.

Slightly fried hosta

I am keeping the birdbath full, although birds are in short supply this morning. Hardly anything is moving. Even the cicadas are silent. As I round the corner of the house on my way to the front yard, I encounter an exception.

These two little goldfinches had been feeding on echinacea seed heads. They scold me for disturbing their breakfast and fly up to the neighbor’s roof.

Continuing on my way through the gate, I spot one plant that is happy for the heat.

This lantana, which had been nothing but leaves all summer, suddenly burst into bloom. Like it was waiting for a hot dry spell. You won’t be surprised to learn that lantana is a plant of the southwest.

Lethargy is setting in. My husband gave me the third degree about my mood. Must I have to have a reason for feeling morose, dear? And if I do, must I tell it?

My mood doesn’t improve when I again ponder the dregs of my sock yarn skeins.

The cowl project I had started last Monday was not inspiring me anymore. I don’t know what it is about a cowl. It sounds like a good thing to knit, and yet, when it is done, I never seem to like the result.

That’s enough for now. To avoid pulling you, my dear readers, into my state of lethargy, I will close this sad post. Perhaps during the week-end I will have something creative to share. The heat is supposed to moderate a little.