More Sketches

Here are a few more of the sketches that I created in January. The Sketchbook Skool prompt for January 8 was ‘movie.’ Click on images for a larger view.

I went back to this page several times to respond to ‘metallic.’

On the evening of the 10th I had fun with this ‘doodle.’

Here is one of the last Riviera pears we had. A great snack!

The prompt for the 12th was ‘hair.’ I took a picture of myself at the salon getting my hair colored. Not my best effort but you get the idea.

Thank goodness this sketch doesn’t look like me!

Happy New Year

I managed to create a few sketches during the last days of 2016. It felt encouraging to me. It felt good to create. Mostly it felt healing to just sit and focus. Perhaps the cold weather shifted my mood to spring. (Click on image for a larger view.)

More outdoor thoughts, this time with more color.

After I kicked off my boots I decided to sketch one.

This morning I read about a month-long sketch challenge from Sketchbook Skool. I’ve taken several on-line classes from them and always enjoyed the classes and the results. Today’s prompt is ‘rest.’ So I started sketching…

The air is quite chilly and snow is predicted

but right now it’s beautiful outside and the sun in streaming into my studio. It’s a new day. It’s a new year. Make it what you want it to be.

Sketch Time

Aching for a bit of peaceful creative distraction, I took out my sketch book — the one only suitable for pen or pencil work — and enjoyed capturing some Dusty Miller leaves.


I love the shape and color of this leaf.

What are you doing to focus on something positive?


Here are two sketches I’ve done in the last couple days. The pear is done with pen and watercolor. Click on image for a larger view.

07-07-16 pear

This blackbird is done with watercolor only. I painted the entire page and let it dry before painting the blackbird. This was inspired by a wine label.

07-08-16 black bird

And here is one just for fun. Pen and watercolor.

06-26-16 Best Friends

What inspires you?


It was chilly today, just right for a cup of pumpkin-spice tea. I could tell — painfully — that I had not been sketching since early October when I set about sketching this teacup. Click on image for larger view.


The shape of the cup is not round but isn’t quite as square as my rendition would make you think, and the saucer, while not round, does not mimic the cup. The background color is very white, and just two colors of green decorate the clover with a final touch of gold trim for the lip, handle and saucer edge. You can revisit what the teacup really looks like here. The tea was a nice reward for my efforts.

The last sketch I did occurred when I was in Ashland, Oregon, attending the Shakespeare Festival. There was a charming house across the street from our hotel having its roof replaced. I couldn’t resist sitting down with my traveling art supplies to record this.

Finish of Ashland Fixer

This is a white house with the exception of the green trim on the windows and the brown of the roof.

I’m looking forward to each successive sketch being easier! What are you hoping will be easier this year?

Happy Creative New Year

My last posting was on Christmas Day. From there daily events took over and I missed my usual schedule of posting. It happens. I’m over it.

I’m on to the new year now. I know it’s official because I just took the first images of 2015 and created a folder for them. Here is a peek at what is moving and shaking in my world.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the revision that I made to Hand of the Artist. I’m a member of a critique group which meets monthly. I shared this piece with them and one of the members suggested a slight change in arranging some of the beads. I played with the idea and liked it a lot. Click on image for a larger view.

Hand of the artist, changesThe change is rather subtle: a number of the turquoise beads have been moved to form small clusters. You can see the original design by clicking on the link above.

I put the final touches on Black Oak and printed a label for it.

Black Oak label

And just in time, too, because it goes to the photographer tomorrow (along with Hand of the Artist).

I’m working on a piece that was begun in Lorie McCown‘s class in Tahoe. I removed the original straight-line stitching (you can see the white marking line which is not permanent) and stitched large free-motion loops over the surface. Then I started cutting out circles.

Work in progress

Right now I don’t know which end is up on this piece — literally. I’m simply putting down one thing, then the next, making decisions as I go about color and stitches. I’m enjoying hand stitching and the go-with-the-flow approach I’ve adopted for this small piece. I’m keeping the stitches simple

Work in progress, detail 2

and will let the work tell me what it needs.

Work in progress, detail 1

I have been seriously missing sketching and watercolor work. Somehow I let the time for that creative pleasure vanish. I’m resuming the on-line class with Val Webb for sketching cats and dogs later this month (I had to drop out of it because I was over committed. I know that doesn’t happen to you!). I’m so looking forward to her instruction and getting back into a regular habit of sketching.

I have also signed up for an on-line class on blogging with WordPress. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a while but I know that I’ll learn from the class and it will also help me get back into the swing of regularly writing.

Some of the artists that I follow have a practice of adopting a single word as a mantra for the year — an interesting prompt. I’m not sure that I’m ready to do that, but if I did, my word (at least for now) would be DAILY. I am a person who thrives on order and schedules. The kind of habit I seek is not only good for my psychic well-being, it means that I am productive in the creative areas I choose.

New lessons don’t begin for a few days though, but there is no reason not to pick up a pencil and paint brush now. This charming teacup was a gift from a dear friend many years ago.


I’m off to sketch!

What are you doing to get 2015 off to its creative start?

Sketching Cats and Dogs

My first lesson with Val Webb on sketching cats and dogs was Monday. The first lesson is called Pencil Language. We started with a primer on how we were going to be using our 4B graphite pencils including warm-up exercises to become more familiar with how to create hatching, cross-hatching, scumbling and stippling. I love the word ‘scumbling’! The dictionary defines it as

softening the color or tone of a painted area by overlaying opaque or semi-opaque color applied thinly and lightly with almost dry brush.

In sketching, one draws random, meandering lines to create texture or shading. I can’t help but see that fiber artists are using a similar technique using needle and thread. We apply several terms to this practice: meander quilting, thread sketching and free-motion embroidery come to mind. But I digress.

Val explained that we would begin our journey by sketching cats. She says that their face is more similar to a human face than the dog’s face, so her students seem to have a higher comfort level starting with cats. I watched Val do what she calls a ‘rough sketch’ of a cat while she explained the 4 steps that go into the process. Then she turned us loose with 4 images of cats and said: Look for the differences in each face — a cat is not just a cat, but also a distinctive individual. Don’t worry about creating a finished drawing. Just practice looking deeply and drawing mindfully, to make an accurate informal sketch. Above all, enjoy yourself. I like her style and attitude!

I’ve completed two sketches so far. I must admit that this kitty looks a bit worried. Perhaps it’s because there were 2 dogs in the room while I sketched! Click on image for a larger view.

Cat Sketch This big, fluffy cat has some serious attitude in my sketch which didn’t show in the photo image I used. Pencils can be so sensitive!

Fluffy cat sketchI’ll be sketching with Val for 8 weeks. This is so fun!


Junk Mail Artist Book Done

I’ve completed the final lesson of Carla Sonheim‘s Junk Mail Artist Book series. There was more painting, more drawing. . .then changing of the mind involving more painting and more drawing. At some point one has to say it’s time to stop. Done and done. And here it is. Be sure to click on an image for a larger view and clearer understanding of the page overlap.

CoverPages 2-3

Pages 4-5

Pages 6-7

Pages 8-9

Pages 10-11

Book BackThis brain-teaser was a lot of fun. Who doesn’t have a near-endless supply of junk mail? And I had all the other art supplies in my studio.
See the progress of this project here and here.



Last week I snipped a couple small branches of my friend’s black oak tree to do some sun printing. The black oak is a native California tree and will fit nicely with the art quilt series I’m working on. I am quite taken with the shape of the leaf. It has so much character and grace with those very deep lobes and multiple points on the edges. The leaves are very soft and supple, bending gently to the breeze. I couldn’t resist sketching one of the leaves along with a feather found during a recent walk. Click on image for larger view.

Black Oak and Feather SketchI was a bit nervous about sketching my first feather so I started with the more familiar leaf shape first. I painted the leaf with 5 layers of watercolor paint to achieve the look I wanted. Between layers of green paint for the leaf I sketched the feather. I used the same multi-layer approach and 2 micro pens to capture this Scrub Jay feather. I feel like I’ve broken the ice with this sketch, so I won’t be as nervous about attempting a new feather in the future.

More Sketching

There are few things that scream summer like strawberries. And we are enjoying our share of beautiful strawberries that arrive each week in our box from Shooting Star CSA. Click on image for larger view.

Summer Screams StrawberriesI couldn’t resist a calm sketching moment with the last few berries in the basket.

Tommy Kane, one of the 6 Sketchbook Skool instructors that led me on-line in sketching, assigned sketching our kitchen. Tommy is all about detail. The only way to understand that statement is to visit his site. Here’s my rendering of a portion of my kitchen:

Kitchen sketchI think that Tommy would have sketched the grain of the wood but this was enough detail for me. I was able to do this in 2 sittings — about 1 1/2 hours each. Tommy often spends 8 hours or more on a sketch. His style is instructive, to say the least.

I’m looking forward to the next Sketchbook Skool class which starts in July — another 6 weeks with another 6 instructors. The change of teaching and sketching styles keeps this class fresh and my creative mojo moving.

What are you doing to keep your creative mojo fresh?

More Everyday Objects

It’s the end of the week with Lesson 2: Everyday objects. I’m always optimistic that I’ll get several pages of sketches done in a week, I certainly intend to. I feel lucky to have completed 2 pages! Here is the first page of objects from the dining room:

Franki Kohler, Everyday objects page 1

And here is the second page with objects from the bathroom. I used the Tombow pen for 4 of the objects, then used the permanent pen and watercolor for the toothbrush. The glove form is a favorite of mine. I have 3 of them and they are displayed on a shallow shelf in the bathroom. I feel like I’m getting a ‘High 5!” when I see them. They were in service for many years at a factory in northern New York before they came to live with me.

Frnaki Kohler, Everyday objects, page 2

I’m not saying that organic objects such as leaves and flowers are easy to master, but there is a forgiveness to them that these man-made, symmetrical objects do not afford. The Tombow pen is very fun to use for shading sketches. As I continue using it I’ll be more adept at shading and incorporating watercolor as well. In the meantime, I have a lot more sketching to do!

I’m taking Sketching & Watercolor in a Mixed Media Journal with Jane Lafazio on-line. You can see what happened in Lesson 1 here ; Lesson 2 here.

Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style

Well, I won’t be taking commissions any time soon, but I’m tickled with what I’ve been able to do with my first two attempts at sketching and watercolor. This week we are working on FRUIT in Jane LaFazio‘s class. Here’s what I did on Wednesday after I completely read the directions and got myself all cozy with some fruit at the kitchen table:

I scanned this image and the shadows didn’t completely come through. The very light gray at the edges of the shadows were too light to pick up. I may be forced to take photographs of these in the future.

And here is Thursday’s romp with a pomegranate, avocado and mandarin orange:Again….shadow edges have dropped out and some of the violet “frame” as well with my scanner. My shadow on the mandarin orange won’t make the cut, but hey, I’m still encouraged. The right water-to-paint ratio is a big learning curve so I’m happy with where I am so far. I am enjoying the meditative actions of sketching first, then apply the color. Because you’re working with water and paint, you have to work quickly but with a sure hand. It take complete focus — I think the very definition of meditation. So, even though this is all new to me — and doing something completely new would normally be sure to set my FEAR METER at #10 — I’m completely at ease with this process. Go figure.

The work is done on 5″ x 7″ sheets of really lovely watercolor paper. With the exception of the top right corner, the four sides are glued tight, making it possible for the paint to dry and keep the individual sheets absolutely flat and true. When all dry, you carefully tickle the free edge and lift — viola! it releases from the tablet so nicely. Jane promises to share ideas for keeping the journal pages at some point in the lessons.

Skill Building

Last month I posted a question to the members of Postmark’d Art about which pens they liked the most for writing on fabric. The conversation became quite lively as members shared their experiences with a number of pens.  Sarah Ann Smith said she was quite happy with a set of pens purchased for an on-line course with Jane LaFazio. Then I learned more about the on-line class — Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style.

I had been thinking about taking some skill-building classes and this sounded like a good starting point for me. I checked out the schedule on line and signed up for the class.

When I received the supply list I realized just how steep the learning curve was going to be. I’ve never taken a sketching or watercolor class. The list of supplies is short but like reading a menu in a foreign language to me: Niji waterbrush, paper: Fabriano Artistico traditional white watercolor block 5″x7″ block, HOT press (is this anything like cold-press olives??). I have a lot to learn.

Jane suggests that you keep all the supplies in one place so they are ready to use at  moment’s notice. This kind of organized approach suits me well. I am putting a tote I received for Christmas to work right away.

Yesterday I downloaded lesson #1: Fruit. I’m off to read through the lesson and experiment with mixing my colors. Wish me luck!