Some Very Nice Four Days Just Went By

I was missing the Riverwalk in Murphy so took off Saturday early after I started the laundry. It was cloudy but very nice to be back there. I did not go down stream (my favorite part) because two dog training people were there giving commands. And that sort of spoils the mood. So off up stream I went and only saw a fisherman. He was hanging onto his bright orange rod, so I asked if he caught anything. He said he was “just fooling around”. I took that as a “no”. So here are the images from upstream.

The river was really high.

And at the far end near a street lamp were these remains of a cecropia moth. The bats swoop in and only take the body while the wings fly off to the ground. Such beautiful things, those moths. I resisted going closer to under the lamp and see other wings left behind.

And then on the way back…

I don’t know how these trees do not just give up when the river has soaked their roots so deeply with rushing water. This one barely clings to the shore as it lays out into the river.

And at the end of the bridge near the car park is this drama of green on black.

From there I went to my favorite coffee shop only to see it was closed for the day due to their daughter’s graduation.  So I went to the new iteration of Lee and my favorite Sunday morning breakfast place that gave rise to all those napkin wrapper character books. The food was not as good but it was nice just pulling into the parking lot.

Next I spent the weekend working on my Meadow Book. Buttercups and daisies.

Field asters and a starling. Not an easy bird to draw!

Bluebird and dogwood.

The meadow is filled with cobwebs.

Heal all and blue eyed grass.

Today I baked those way too delicious Ree Drummond Brown sugar oatmeal cookies. I have plenty for the freezer, a bag to share Thursday when most of the men come in for coffee, another bag for one of my favorite old fellows and another bag for a friend who is taking me shopping at that town we went to for Mother’s Day. We are headed there tomorrow.

In other news, my social skills are returning. Yesterday  was at a special luncheon for an old friend who lives here now. She was turning ninety and her daughter put on a lovely affair at a local restaurant. I only knew two people there and when I realized we were to stay for lunch and tables were filling up with people who knew each other, I asked a man I had just been introduced to if he would join me at a table for two.  He said he’d be happy to. It resulted in an hour and a half of wonderful conversation. He was a host on the old Eastern Airlines for fifteen years and then went on to the next twenty-five years of driving cross country fourteen wheelers….very large semi trucks. We talked about world travel, art, his home state of Florida and its pathetic politics in power.

I want to add here that I did not ask a woman to join me because women tend to stay in groups and I knew from experience that if I asked one she would have gone to great lengths to inform me that she needed to stay with her group.  I find men more willing to step away from the “expected”.

I went to shake his hand in good bye but he said a hug would be better. We both hoped to have more conversations when he returns to visit the birthday girl with his partner.

Then my neighbor, who wants to teach tai chi, and I recommended she try the senior center in town, will be starting her classes in late June or July. I agreed to join her class with some of the other women from the neighborhood. I quit doing my own tai chi several years ago and because she is so nice, and so are the women going to her class, I said I would also go.

And finally, Thursday lunch is with a group of women artists…only one is known to me and arranged this get together to meet other artists. And that evening is a party here in the neighborhood for a woman turning eighty. I will be taking champagne and a nifty appetizer that looks fun to make.

So social skills are coming back.

That is all for now now.

More later….



Strawberries and Colored Pencils

One over-filled gallon box of fresh-picked-that-morning strawberries. And the field is only about a quarter mile from me. They are beautiful, sweet and so many big ones!

Now most of them are in the freezer packaged up in servings for one.

The last few mornings have been frosty walking to and from the gym.

And now back in the studio and the struggles with the dragon scale book illustration. I tried, I really did, to get the right colors and mood with the colored pencil collection that I have, And when I put the guide drawing up to follow for the next section of several half inch exposed fore edges, I realized the plain graphite was better…somehow better….

So I took my kneaded eraser and daubed at the pencil drawing of the first full page over and over again to take the color back, way back.

The softness of the image seems to go with the softness of the paper. It felt more “comfortable” for me. Odd choice of words but if I have to spend so much time sitting over a project I set up for myself, I might as well be comfortable with it.

Putting color in only to take it back out was driving me to think the whole idea was beyond where my capabilities now lie. But for right now I am going to blame the colored pencils. Some just have too much pigment in them and you don’t realize how much until the mark is made. The whole bunch will be put away as soon as I see this through.

Then I went back in with the oh-so-much-better graphite pencils and finished it up. Anyway, I think finished. But on this side only.

It is a dreamlike image of the river flowing by. BUT what goes on the back side when I flip all the folios back to the left? The larger page will be on the right…opposite the way we “read” left to right.  Should there be something on each page if they were turned individually like a normal book? Seems like a dumb idea for this binding designed for continual movement.

I thought of making the “backside” a long image of what is under the water. Decided not to. Too much drawing! So maybe, just maybe the large exposed full page when flipped to the left will be a poem about the river. That appeals to me if done in cursive, using a graphite pencil.

Now, how to present it? I will likely do what it was intended to do in the first place, and make it into a scroll. And if I only have the poem on the back side, having another long image expected to lay flat will not be an issue.

But best of all, when I finally finish this I will have learned the following:

  1.  Pick your challenges carefully.
  2.  Keep your limitations in mind when you make the decision in the first place.
  3.  And never, never quit until it is seen through.

I will write the poem over the weekend and roll it all up with a tie to hold in place. Then I will get my table space back to work on something new and SMALL.

Til later…

Rainy Day Options

Two days ago I walked home from the gym in the frosted  grass of the meadow. Invigorating!

Today it is going to be a day of rain. The cats are happy to wait it out.

Maybe tomorrow they can get back on the porch where they love being so close to the flitty little birds who like being near the small pond. For myself, I am trying not to pass through this door with a bowl of popcorn to watch a British crime series. Tempting though it is on this dreary day.

Instead I am staying in the studio to work on the pretty-much-finished base drawing for the dragon scale book.

I have taken elements from my photos of the river near here.

Just pass this stump in the water there is a moss/grass bank that drops off into the river as it flows to the end of the scales on that side. Left to right.

Now I need to cut the drawing in the sections to fit into the exposed folded folios. So it will be one 11″ x 9+” for the first and the rest cut into 11″ x 1/2″ strips. as I go along. The drawing here is dark enough for me to see through the sumi paper and duplicate it on the page before coloring with colored pencils. That is the plan.

After that side is all finished, I will make another drawing of an underwater river scene that will read right to left when all scales are flipped off to the left. Only then will I decide how to bind it. I am not keen on doing the traditional rolled up version. That creates too much memory in the curve of the pages and would make it difficult to see the expanse of the image on either side. So binding it in a landscape book board seems the only way to keep it flat. But something else might come to mind as I work on it and actually see how flexible it is.

I also have a need to get back to poor little Burke and Wills. They have been stuck in their sketchbook waiting for me to figure out how to write the text of the story. Rhyme seems appropriate. But I never wrote anything in rhyme. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do it…just that so far I haven’t.  Robert Frost makes it look easy. So I will use him for inspiration. And stop reminding myself that Beatrix Potter just told her stories of small sweet woodland animals with no rhyme.

The mail lady just drove right past my mailbox! Nothing today to get wet for.

So off to the big cut for the first drawing transfer. Isn’t it funny how easily we think things will be just because we can see it in our heads? Well I suppose that is exactly how things get done. Just follow the steps to get to what you see in your head.

Til later…



Early Sunrises

It is now light enough at 6:30 in the morning for me to walk to the gym. Here I am at the end of my street ready to step into the meadow and cross to the gym with the light in the window on the edge of the picture. It was a beautiful morning.

I went off to buy different ferns for the mostly shady front of the house.  Now they are in pots by the garage door and under my windows of the studio.

Still waiting for my yard man to schedule the stone pavers between driveway and grass and mulched areas and grass. I would love to find a stone Japanese garden rabbit. Mostly they are the smaller cartoonish ones. Not what I was hoping for but will keep looking.

My walks have been mostly around the neighborhood and visiting with neighbors. It is so interesting to live among people. The other day I accepted an invitation to join some of them for wine. It was fun to listen to women chatting away and stroke the hostess’s cats while sipping a nice red. They found me entertaining and will ask me back again.

In the studio I have been working out how to color the delicate paper of the dragon scale book about the river. Watercolor bleeds too much and would be seen through the translucency of the page behind so I think colored pencil is my only option. It stays “soft” looking. I have also cut and pieced a paper the exact size of the spaces where the river scene will go with its opening page and all the half inch strips added on to the right. On that I will do the base drawing and then cut off to fit between the pocketed pages to copy the drawing onto the pages to be colored.

It takes several different layers of different colors to get the dimensional look needed for the river scene. So i have pulled all the colors I will need from the various boxes of pencils and placed them into a large cup to select from when I actually start the coloring of the drawing on the scales.

And a bit of catching up on the Sticks and Stones Book.

There is not much else new. I will spend the weekend on the usual. Laundry. Vacuuming. Cleaning counters.

Speaking of cleaning, I purchased an old fashioned (but brand new) Fuller brush sweeper to pick up the endless supply of cat hair gathering on floors and carpets. It is smaller than the ones from the fifties but works amazingly! I no longer have to “moon walk” on the carpets collecting cat hair as I walk backwards to a corner where I can pull it off my rubber soles to toss in the bin. This little sweeper picks it up as well as the tracked cat litter that ends up far from the litter box. And it grabbed up my crumbs from baking brown sugar oatmeal cookies yesterday. The vacuum cleaner is getting a well-needed rest since the Fuller arrived.

So off for a walk, maybe to the river and back home for some libation before a dinner of vegetable juice and a savoury scone.

Til later…