This sketch was inspired by a notecard that I received which bears Hannah Borger Overbeck’s (United States, 1870-1931) rendition of the blood root (Sanguimaria canadensis), a somewhat rare woodland plant once used by Native Americans to dye their baskets orange-red.

Blood RootMy challenge for this sketch was to be able to match the colors she had used. This meant being patient and experimenting with my blue and yellow selections until I achieved at least the sensibility that she created.  I started with a color wash on the page and then I did the sketch. My wash color is cooler than hers was — that’s another challenge I can take up. I was able to get the tones of green and brown that I was looking for rather quickly. The final job was the white petals. There was simply no way around it, I had to buy some white watercolor paint.

Overbeck created her piece using watercolor and pastel. I used a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen and watercolor.

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Friday. Go over and check out what’s happening with those artists.

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Eastern Span Bay Bridge Anniversary

Yikes, it was a year ago this month that I shared photos of the new Eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge. The progress on taking down the old Eastern span is significant. Here’s a reminder of what the old span looked like with both levels of traffic lanes still intact. Click on an image for a larger view.


And here is what it looks like today

08-16-Demolition-continueswith the top level completely gone and three huge gaps in the bridge. We are getting real glimpses of what the unobstructed view to the south will be like. The original estimate for completion of the demolition was three years. At this pace I wouldn’t be surprised if they complete the job ahead of schedule.

Click on the link above to view my original postings about the new span.

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Quick Sketch

The beautiful vegetables and fruit we receive in our weekly box is truly inspirational. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and appreciate the opportunity to try new recipes as the contents of the box change. This week brought our first delicata squashes. What a grand vegetable they are!

delicata squash

They are not only easy to prepare — just wash, cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds, then cut 1/2″ slices (no need to peel!); toss with good olive oil, salt and pepper; bake at 400 degrees — and deliciously sweet, but they are sketch worthy. Their arrival portends the gourds and pumpkins that will grace our tables and porches soon.

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First Aide

Last week I was thinking about what I have in my medicine cabinet (perhaps I had a headache?) and what I would like to have there. My mind immediately began racing with possibility. I grabbed a Tombow pen and my watercolors and started sketching. Click on image for larger view.

First Aide

While I was working on this sketch I was thinking about phrases we use with each other that are metaphorical.

Humble PieHow do you cure what ails you?

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Christmas in August!

Forget December 25th, Santa dropped down my chimney last week — at least it feels that way! I ordered a Schmincke travel paint tin from Blick Art Materials (none of my local art stores, including Blick, carry Schmincke products) and expected to wait 2 months for its arrival. Sigh. Within a few weeks I got an email saying my order had been shipped. The anticipation began to build and I was soon feeling like a 5-year-old on Christmas Eve listening to the radio report about where Kris Kringle had last been sited.

When the package arrived I ripped it open. There it was — a small black tin — along with a bag of 12 half pans. What is it about something small like this tin, or a lidded ceramic dish or carved wooden box, that is immediately so endearing? I had already read about this useful tin and yet, when I received mine, it was as if I knew nothing about it or its use. At each step of opening the tin, my delight grew. By the time I had filled the 12 half pans with paints I was practically giddy. Click on an image for a larger view.

Schmincke paint tinThe 4-part tin is very smartly designed. The lid has deep bowls for mixing the colors; the inner flap covers the paint pans without touching the paints.

Schmincke paint tin2The section holding the half pans of paint lifts out of the tin, making it easier to fill the pans. I launched right into filling the pans from my tubes of paints.

Schmincke paint tin3The tin also comes with a small chart to record the names of each of the paints. It fits neatly on top of the section which covers the paint pans. Schmincke really thought this completely through.

Schmincke paint tin4And here is my travel bag all ready to grab and go:

Sketch-watercolor Travel bagI’ve packed a few postcards recently made from junk mail, a pad of virgin watercolor postcards, pencil, pen, eraser, Niji waterbrush, a spray bottle and the paint tin — and there is ample room to tuck in a sketch book. All I need are a few postcard stamps and I’m ready for come what may.

And here’s the first sketch completed using the paint tin.

EucalyptusThis eucalyptus is a very different species from the trees near my home. I found this tree near Sulphur Creek Nature Center when I attended their Flight to Freedom event recently. The volunteers at this organization rehabilitate wild creatures and release them back to the wild whenever possible. The night I was there a barn owl was released. It was quite exciting and satisfying to see this majestic bird fly away! If you have such an organization nearby, I hope you are supporting it.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Friday.

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Black Oak II Done

Black Oak II, the companion piece to Black Oak which is in progress, is done. Click on the image for a larger view.

Black Oak III tend to quilt every inch of background on my art quilts, but for this 12″ x 12″ art quilt, that didn’t feel like the way to proceed. I kept hearing ‘simplicity’ in my head so that was the approach taken. I like the thread sketching on the appliqued leaves and the simplicity of repeating those shapes as the quilted background. I also enjoy the ‘surprise’ of finding the quilted leaves in the darker fabric shapes. And with less quilting, it’s easier to appreciate the subtle design created in the sunprinting process (the golden fabric is left from the sunprint images I did for Black Oak).

This was a very satisfying experience and has definitely informed how I will approach the larger companion piece.

This is being shared at Off the Wall Friday — click on over there and check out what’s happening.

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More Junk-Mail Postcards

Okay, so I got a bit carried away. But there I was, between steps in a project that meant I had to wait. Not wanting to waste the time without creating something, I pulled out some leftover junk mail. Pretty soon the rotary cutter and the paints were flying. I was simply having too darn much fun to stop myself. And I’m not unhappy about it. Click on an image for a larger view.

I was thrilled to have found a quote from Edgar Degas which I used on postcard #17:

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

What a great find!

I intentionally left a large clear space on postcard #20 so I could sketch something on it. Quite a few of the others have enough space for a little sketch. I’ll see what happens when I’m ready to mail them out. I plan to grab some of these the next time I’m on a trip or just out sketching.

My first two experiences of creating new art from junk mail can be seen here and here.

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Black Oak

I’m still working on my Native California plant series. I completed the top for Black Oak which will finish about 26″ x 60″. I really enjoyed putting this one together using some of my ‘radiator series’ fabric created in Lonni Rossi’s surface design class at Asilomar, some rust fabric experiments and some sun prints. Once I pulled out a stack of likely-suspect fabrics to use, things just seemed to jump together for me — or did they? I loved the fabrics but something was wrong. Here’s where I pick up the camera and start taking pictures. It’s amazing what one sees on the computer that one cannot see on the wall. Click on image for a larger view.

Black Oak rejectThe large piece of rusted fabric on the left jumped out way too much. And the background doesn’t show at all. I took everything down and went shopping for a new background fabric. When I had the new background up the answers became clear. Here’s the final top.

Black Oak finalI’m thinking about how to quilt this piece.

While thinking about the series in general — there will be a minimum 3-5 large pieces —  I decided to expand the series. I’ll be making a foot-square piece as a ‘partner’ to each of the larger pieces using this pillar format. I’ll be using the same fabrics in each pair of quilts but I’ll use different techniques in the smaller ones. I think that the two sizes hung together could be a very interesting exhibit and working out issues in the smaller piece can lead to decisions for the larger pieces.

I’ve constructed the top for the foot-square Black Oak II piece. I’m allowing myself to think about just one section at a time, quilt it, then move on to the next section. Some days I just can’t tackle deciding on the whole top at once. It’s surprising how this one decision has relaxed me, allowing me to focus and just have fun.

Black oak Foot SquareI should have this piece completed very soon so stay tuned.

I’ve promised myself to go back to finishing my Sunflower Scrap VI piece — not done, but not forgotten! — before I turn to quilting the large Black Oak piece.

This posting has been shared at Off the Wall Friday. Click on over and see what’s happening there.

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Fabric Postcards

I’ve just completed fabric postcards for the 20th round of trading with Postmark’d Art. The theme for the group I am trading with is handwork. I used Carol Ann Waugh‘s method for combining decorative and utility stitches on the sewing machine with simple hand stitches. You can see my first work using her techniques here.

I used a fat quarter of some yummy batik fabric I had in my stash and started pulling out thread. Here is a portion of the fabric after stitching by machine.

Portion of stitched fabricNext came another layer of fun, the hand stitching. I prepared the fabric by cutting it into 4″ x 6″ pieces and fusing them to fast2fuse, my favorite sturdy Pellon interfacing for postcards. Next I pulled out my hand stitching threads, some beads and a chenille needle and let the fun begin. And here are the postcards (click on an image for a larger view):

I finished the blue-grey postcards  and postcard 8 by stitching as close to the edge of the postcard as I could, then sealing the edge with Jacquard Lumiere paint. On postcards 9 and 10 I zigzagged some Oliver Twists hand-dyed thread. I like both of these finishing techniques.

These little treasures have been a personal obsession of mine since 2004 when Postmark’d Art was established and I became moderator of the group. My participation in the group has been a key ingredient in my artistic development, the motivation for writing fast, fun & easy Fabric Postcards, an incredible amount of Fun, and the reason for many new friendships that I enjoy today.   This will be my final trade with Postmark’d Art but it won’t be the last time I create fabric postcards.

If you haven’t created a fabric postcard yet, I ask why not? Click on the BOOK tab above to learn more about my book on the subject, contact me about scheduling a class for your group of fabric enthusiasts (see the CONTACT tab above),  visit the Postmark’d Art website by clicking on the link above and then click on the JOIN A NEW GROUP tab, and/or check out one of my projects here. Now is the time to learn something new and have fun at the same time. Consider this your personal invitation!


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SBS with Liz Steel

This week has simply vanished into thin air. I haven’t completed viewing all the lessons that Liz Steel has in store for me in Sketchbook Skool but I am plugging away. The process of watching the videos, contemplating the lesson and doing my best to get into a new mindset are fun but also a bit daunting at times. Liz is a teacher today but her education and career were in architecture. The analysis that she brings to creating a sketch is very organized and thorough — I like it a lot!

In our first lesson — Seeing patterns in complex objects — Liz drew her favorite subject, a tea-cup. Before getting to the cup, however, there is much thought and analysis that goes into knowing the cup and saucer well enough that you can overcome what may look daunting and then draw what is really there, not what you have in your head. I used her technique to break down the elements of my favorite cup and saucer by drawing a few thumbnail sketches of particular elements. Click on image for a larger view.

SBS with Liz SteelThe first thumbnail captures the overall configuration of the saucer including placement of the floral pattern. #2 attempts the floral pattern, or at least a good likeness. #3 shows the essence of the cup. Once all this prep work is done, Liz’s style is to do a sketch very quickly. This was quite a surprise to me, actually, considering the exacting nature of her career life and the preparation that goes into the sketch. However, now that I’ve done just one sketch using her techniques, I can see where the preparation work allows for more confidence once pencil is in hand. I also like her view that ‘circles are wonky in sketches, so just get over it and keep moving on.’ What a relief that is for someone who tends to try to be exact. Note to self: This is supposed to be Fun.

I still have more to learn from Liz. The next lesson is about drawing a building. I can’t wait.



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