Blessings of the Season

Among the hustle and bustle, here are a few quiet moments I’ve experienced lately. The holiday boat parade on the Willamette River. It is fun to share in the joy of these boaters’ inspiration. Click on image for a larger view.

Some quiet moments with my sketch book to gather myself.




What are you doing to center yourself during these busy days?

More Sketches

A couple weeks ago I began experiencing intermittent computer issues so my posting has been sporadic. Those issues have been resolved so I have full use of my computer now. Enough said.

Here’s a sketch done in response to an assignment from my recent Sketchbook Skool instructor, France Belleville-Van Stone :  Sketch something with wheels and use cross hatching to create light.03-13-16 piano sketch

France has an obsession with sketching vehicles. Me? Not so much. So I had to smile to myself about this sketch. This is my restored ca. 1840 Schott fortepiano. My proportion is a bit off, but I’m working on that. In fact, I’m taking a class from an architect which addresses this issue and others. I’m looking forward to more sketches of this beautiful instrument with more realistic proportion and perhaps more detail in the future.

And here is a sketch I did just because shoes can be fun to sketch.


03-12-16 shoe

What are you creating just because it’s fun?

Sketchbook Skool: Stretching

Sketchbook Skool is an on-line sketching and watercolor school that I have taken several classes with. While I was away, I received an offer for a class that had just begun at a price I couldn’t resist. When I got home I was eager to check in and take the first class with  Jonathan Twingley.

Jonathan is an American author, artist and illustrator. His work is regularly exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States. One of the exercises that he invited us to do he calls Reaction as Action. For those of us who have the paralyzed-at-the-sight-of-the-blank-page syndrome, this exercise is a way to kick-start some creative juices:

  • Stain a paper towel with some ink.
  • Close the sketchbook on the paper towel.
  • When the ink is try, draw/sketch/doodle

Here is the two-page spread of the exercise.


I was completely surprised at how quickly I picked up my fountain pen and began drawing around the ink blotches on the right-hand page. I used a neon-yellow hi-liter marker to color the pedals of the flower and watercolor paint for the stem and leaf. Try to imagine the zap of color that high light marker created on the page because scanning didn’t do it justice. I used my chop to sign the page. I like the spark it added. If you’re new here, you might want to read about how I acquired my chop here.

How are you stretching to develop skills this year?

Fountain Pen Sketch

I purchased a Lamy fountain pen over a year ago and have done little to become acquainted with it. I purchased the pen after taking a course through Sketchbook Skool with Liz Steel, an Australian architect-turned-sketcher who regularly uses her fountain pens to sketch. She discusses fountain pens extensively on her site here.  The pen has been noted as good for beginners on several sites I’ve visited and it is a reasonably priced pen for a novice; I also purchased Noodler’s ink, which is permanent, a must for those who may wish to add watercolor to their sketches.

I decided that today was a perfect day to capture a sketch of one Parrot tulip I’ve been enjoying for several days. These tulips are brilliant orange with yellow, frilly edges and when they begin to bend and lean it is hard to take your eyes off of them.

02-18-16 tulip sketch


It was fun to capture this single flower and revisit the focus of carefully viewing what I want to sketch. I’m looking forward to sharpening that skill with more regular use.

Wordless Wednesday

Click on image for larger view.

01-18-15 Pinecone

Pumpkin Sketch

This is the last squash from our weekly box of vegetables. I loved the big bold stem on this small pumpkin. Click on image for a larger view.


I did, in fact, use it in a pumpkin-chicken curry dish. Yum!

Wordless Wednesday

Click on image for larger view.

Shari's bird

Saturday Sketch

Sketchbook Skool instructor Cathy Johnson had us sketching birds this past week. I tried my hand at a cedar waxwing sketch with watercolor but was disappointed in the outcome. I’m pretty happy with this sketch of a raven though. Click on image for a larger view.

Raven sketchI am also taking a class focused on sketching dogs and cats. Two classes at one time is one class too many for me. So, I’m off to practice sketching fur and wet noses — wish me luck!

Embracing Junk Mail

No matter how I fine tune the flow of mail that comes to my letterbox, there is a daily abundance of junk mail. This year I’ve finally embraced the inevitable with new vision. It started with Carla Sonheim’s on-line class here.

Recent inspiration from my friend and fellow artist Priscilla Read followed this week! She created postcards using junk mail. And I received one of them in the mail. Click on image for a larger view.

Postcard from Priscilla ReadThe postcard made its journey and arrived in fine shape. Thank you, Priscilla, for the postcard and the inspiration!

I’ve been creating and mailing fabric postcards since 2004. I’ve shared that experience and my affiliation with Postmark’d Art here many times. But until now, I haven’t created my own paper postcards. After reading Priscilla’s how-to description, I couldn’t wait to get started.

I recently went on an art walk with a friend and picked up quite a few postcards. Some of my junk mail postcards were too large so I trimmed them to 4″ x 6″. Using a hard rubber brayer, I applied gesso to one side and let it dry. Next I used the brayer to apply acrylic paint mixed with matt medium.

junk mail in progressThen I added more junk mail. Click on image for a larger view.

A few of the postcards received some sketching

07-25-PC-0107-25-PC-0707-25-PC-12One also needed some watercolor.

07-25-PC-15I’m viewing junk mail with fresh eyes!


Back to the Junk Mail Artist Book

Finally! I’ve completed the fourth of five lessons with Carla Sonheim and her method for creating a small book from junk mail. This step was extremely challenging for me — each drawing extended beyond its page to pages behind creating a puzzle to solve: what the heck can be created from the partial marks here?? Here is what I came up with (click on image for larger view):

Book cover Pages 2-3 Page -4-5 Pages 6-7 Pages 8-9 Pages 10-11

Back coverThe final lesson involves more painting and drawing. Stay tuned — I will share the final book.

Click on the ‘junk mail’ link above to see the beginnings of this project.


I think it’s not so much a problem of lack of inspiration for sketching, it’s more a matter of being overwhelmed by everything that could be sketched. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it for now.

For this sketch I played with creating the background wash first. When it was dry I simply put my feet up and sketched. Click on image for larger view.

05-30 SketchThe Sketchbook Challenge uses themes as prompts to get the sketch going. I liked the theme HIGHLY PRIZED and sketched this in response.

06-01 SketchWhen the sketch was done I began jotting down — stream-of-thought — things that are part of my highly prized list.

What will your creative muse be today?

Another Drawing

I worked parts of several days this week on a page intended to introduce me to collage. Yesterday I was so unhappy with what I had that I tossed it out. I may or may not go back to that lesson and see what I can do with it.

Meanwhile, I sketched and painted another page. There is always something sketch-worthy in the yard and we found a small pine branch on the ground during a walk which supplied great fun. It was interesting to note how gray the wood is, except on the tiny outer branches where they are very pale brown.

07-25 More-drawings

The hosta, even fading and brown on the ends, was a very fun plant to sketch and paint. I achieved the layers of green by letting each color dry and then going back to apply the next color. The particular variety here has the yummy creamy-color edges.

The Gaillardia is a new plant in my garden this year. It is so cheerful! The leaves are so svelte and graceful. I sketched a top view of the Gaillardia with the stabilo pencil. I really like using it. Once the sketch was complete I used a watercolor brush with clear water to ‘shade’ the sketch.

And I could barely believe my eyes when I looked at the new pine cone developing and realized how purple it is. This class continues to be a great lesson in looking closely at things and drawing what is there, not what I think is there.

More to come.

This is shared as an Off The Wall Friday posting. I love being inspired by what other artists are doing!

This and That

Where to begin. There are many things in progress here. After all, it’s July — the height of summer.

Our side yard with the succulent plantings is filling in nicely.


Here’s  a close up of one panel


The male oriole and his entire family — 2 chicks this year! — visit our feeder regularly.

07-12-Hooded Oriole-male

He is simply stunning from any view.


And I’m having more fun than I’m sure the law allows with the sketching and watercolor class. This page represents the last 2 weeks which covered 8 techniques.


Who knew that there was a graphite pencil that you could sketch with and then use your watercolor brush with just water to shade? Check out number 5 on the page. The tissue overlay exercise (#8) was fun — and a real learning experience. I put the adhesive on the back of the tissue and then struggled to apply it to the page. Naturally, I was supposed to apply the adhesive to the page and then lay the tissue over it. I’m learning. *sigh*

I’ve already begun my second page using these techniques. This time the theme is birds. Stay tuned.

8 Techniques in 2 Weeks

Whew! This is week 3 with Jane and she’s really ramping up our game. The assignment: divide a page into 8 sections and complete assignments using 4 different techniques. Don’t worry about where you start on the page or how you divide the page. . . just get going!

So here I am so far:


#2 is very challenging. I realize how much I depend on the ink line to define my drawings. Without those lines I’m left with color to define the shape. Another great way of learning to really look at things.

Sorry to have you twisting and leaning to see this page. It’s easy for me to move the page around as I work. I think a second page will be in order.

Lesson 2: Everyday Objects with a Tombow Pen

This lesson introduced a new tool: a Tombow pen. This nifty pen uses water-soluble acid-free ink and has 2 ends: a brush and a fine tip.

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2

The fine tip is great for drawing the outline of a final sketch. The brush end is handy for getting more ink on the watercolor brush for darker shading.

Our assignment for this week is to sketch everyday objects, then carefully refine the sketch using the fine tip of the Tombow. Once the inking is complete, pencil lines are erased and the watercolor brush comes out. Using just plain water, the object is shaded.

Here are my first attempts at this technique:

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2, page 2

I couldn’t resist adding a bit of color to the 2nd bird. Jane’s advice is to add more shading at the bottom of the bird. I’m guilty of following the actual coloring of the object instead of simply doing this as a sketch with shading — hence the dabs of peach and yellow.

The next object is taken from the bathroom:

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2, page 2

This pen is mighty fun! I have room for another bird on the first page and plenty of other objects in the bathroom. Stay tuned.

Another sketch

The Buddha Hand may have been a bit ambitious of me. Who am I kidding? It was very ambitious of me.

I’ll have other chances to come back to this fruit. For now, Jane is moving us on to lettuce. This has been a fast week!