Thursday, March 31, 2011

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Looking for a new background to spruce up your desktop? Check out the delicious offerings from Denis Brown at Quill Skill Denis includes instructions how to download the wallpapers. Did I mention the wallpapers are free?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011


There are times when you have to go through the motions, even though you know what the outcome will be. From Harry Chapin's song Dance Band on the Titanic: "I'm in the dance band on the Titanic. Sing Nearer My God to Thee. The iceberg's off the starboard bow. Won't you dance with me?"

Acrylics with glazes, Zig Painty, Dr. Ph. Martin's Spectralite Silver and whatever pen hit my hand first. A Gillotte 1068A, I think.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Friday Five

Hollywood legend, Elizabeth Taylor passed away this week.  She was stunningly beautiful and had such screen presence. Most people listing her movies would list her dramatic block-buster roles, but I loved her in her earlier and maybe less well known films.

1. National Velvet,  the spunky little girl who dared to dream she could win the Grand National race.

2. Father of the Bride follow the beautiful bride, Kay, as she and her mother plan the wedding. I confess I watch this movie for Spencer Tracy.

3. Cleopatra Taylor burns up the screen as the regal Queen of the Nile.

4. Life with Father Cousin Clara and her companion, Mary (Taylor) upset the clockwork running of the Day household. Mary develops a crush on the oldest son played by a baby Martin Milner in this turn of the 20th century period piece.

5. Ivanhoe, Rebecca of York risks her life and fortune to save Ivanhoe and England.

What's your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Some days I wish I was invisible. Ever have those days? If you could have a super power, what would you choose?

Crayon, watercolor, F.W. acrylic ink, Gillotte 303

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ink's Doppelganger

The black cat looks just like Ink. Do you think I should be afraid?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vernal Equinox

On my walk around my block on Friday, I saw a robin, harbinger of Spring. Later in the day, I saw two robins fighting over a fat earthworm in my own backyard. There's still a decent snow cover on the backyard (except over the septic tank), and the temperature Sunday morning was 28o F. Still looks like Winter, feels like Winter, (from where I sit) but the robins say it's Spring. Not arguing I'm glad to see Winter leave. Happy Vernal Equinox and mud season!

What's the first sign of Spring in your neck of the woods?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Friday Five

The last sense to complete the assignment: touch. Five touchable things.

1. I love to pet Ink especially his ears. His fur is so soft and silky and his ears are like velvet.

2. Clay. I love the feel of clay. When my girlies were little, and I was in the throes of my Earth Mother phase, I used to make play dough for them. I would cook oil, flour, water, and cream of tartar to form a clay. What I especially loved was to knead the clay while it was still hot. Perfect for the arthritis is my wrists.

3. I love the heft of my mechanical pencil. I have three or four of these running around. They are my writing tool du jour.

4. You can't get much better than the feel of worn blue jeans. When they are the perfect color combined with the perfect broken in-ness. Course by this time, they are also the weight of a handkerchief and worn in places making them unfit to be seen in public.

5. I love those fluffy, chenille socks. Cushy comfort for tired tootsies.

What are some of your favorite touchy-feely things?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Perfect Pencil Sharpener

I was on a hunt for a pencil sharpener, one that would sharpen colored pencils. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is. The small, colored plastic sharpeners sharpen but just when the pencil is nearing the perfect point, the lead breaks especially if the razor in the sharpener is dull. Electric sharpeners have an auto stop when the perfect point is reached. Unfortunately, electric sharpeners eat lots of lead. You start with a nice long pencil, and by the time the auto stop kicks in, you're left with a stub. Not good especially using colored pencils. Battery powered sharpeners seem like they would be convenient but the batteries wear out quickly especially if you're trying to sharpen the big colored pencil sets. Then there's the pencil shape factor. Some pencils are round. Some are hexagonal. Some are thin. Some are thick. Some fit the sharpeners. Some don't. I wanted one tool to sharpen them all.

While searching online, I came across Jerry's Artarama and Multipoint Professional Deluxe Sharpener for $27.99 (plus shipping). The packaging description boasted "virtually no waste of lead. automatic self-feed clutch design with auto stop, takes large diameter pencils (8mm - 12mm) in most shapes including triangular, round, hexagonal, and sharpens in a choice of 5 point shapes."  Sounded perfect, almost too good to be true, but I bought one.

I have to say this is a great tool and does all that the packaging said it would. I was even able to sharpen the Prismacolor Verithin Pencils as well as a couple of Husky pencils. The grinders didn't  eat the pencils down to a stub. The pencil sharpener also comes with a table clamp.

Two pencils up for this product.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hats Off to Andy

On Friday's Five lists of favorite tastes, I mentioned I love chocolate and licorice.

 Andy from Fish Wrap said: In Japan I had a mixture of dark chocolate and black licorice which was out of this world. Here in the states I've been getting a box of Good N Plenty and Snowcaps and mixing them together for a similar effect.

This sounded intriguing though I wasn't too sure about the dark chocolate. I'll eat dark chocolate. After all, it's chocolate, but I prefer milk chocolate. 
After a stressful week and while running errands at Wallyworld, I decided to treat myself and made a bee-line to the candy aisle. Imagine my surprise and disappointment. No Good N Plenty and no Snowcaps. Ok, so the Wallyworld in Northbridge though a large store doesn't carry a large assortment of products.
On to Target. I raced to the candy aisle. After my stressful week, I deserved this. I found the Good N Plenty and cruised the rest of the aisles. Up one, down the other. FTW? No Snowcaps. Did they stop making them? No, Andy said he mixed Good N Plenty with Snowcaps. More searching the candy aisles. Nothing that even resembled nonpareils.  The only other place I could think of getting Snowcaps was at the movie theater, but I didn't feel like spending a gazillion dollars on a box of candy.  I'm cheap that way. What to do?
 Usually, when I get a new recipe, I like to follow it exactly. Just to be sure of the outcome. This wasn't going to be so I needed to improvise. After all, I deserved a treat. I grabbed a bag of Special Dark Hershey Kisses. And since the bag of Good N Plenty was half the weight of the Hershey Kisses, I grabbed another bag of Good N Plenty for good measure. 
While waiting in the car to pick The Eldest up from work, I tore open a bag of Good N Plenty and the bag of Hershey Kisses. What was the ratio? One Kiss to one Plenty pellet? The pink and white pellets looked small compared to the Kiss. So one Kiss to two Plenty pellets. Staring at the candies in my hand I thought of Green Eggs and Ham and how the one Sam I Am pestered, reluctantly tried his first taste of green eggs and ham. I had the same reaction too. Say! This is good! I do like dark chocolate and licorice together! 
At home, I asked The Young One if she wanted to try this new taste. Just like me, she likes licorice and chocolate, and she's not a fan of dark chocolate though she will eat it. She decided the addition of the licorice made the dark chocolate taste better. I concurred.
So hats off to you, Andy. The chocorice is really good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Friday Five

Continuing with the five senses exercise. Five tastes.

1. I love the taste of licorice. Black licorice.  The love of this taste might have happened when I was 10 yrs old. and The Brother dared me to drink the last sip of anisette in the bottle in the liquor cabinet. 

2. chocolate. I prefer milk chocolate, will eat dark chocolate and have been known to eat baking chocolate when things have gotten desperate.

3. cinnamon buns with cinnamon, nuts, and raisins rolled up and drizzled with frosting. a bit of Heaven in your mouth. Just the thought of cinnamon buns makes me salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs.

4. Vanilla. a comforting taste. I like vanilla syrup in my tea.

5. Granny Smith apples. Love tart.

What's your favorite taste?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mugs, Thugs, and Lugs

This exercise was a combination of Labs 16 and 22: Draw 100 Faces and Modigliani Parent Portraits. My original idea was to do a yearbook spread. At first, the 70 spaces seemed daunting. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to draw different faces. A couple of silly faces dropped out of my pencil, and then I just started having too much fun. The spread was completed in five or six days. I suppose I should put a disclaimer that any resemblance to real or imaginary persons is purely coincidental. cough, cough Pigma pen, watercolor pencils.

I was going to ask do you recognize anyone, but then thought of the time I was making a torn paper collage of lilacs for a wedding. The Young One was four years old at the time and as she walked by I asked her "What does this look like?" I expected "flowers" and instead she said "Gwapes." She turned out to be correct as the lilacs were decidedly more grape shaped and needed more tweaking. So, I'll just ask: What's been keeping you busy today?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Studio Buddy

 Ink intently follows along air pawing the sumi-e leaves while watching the quick sketching technique video found at The Artists' Journal Workshop. He was quite fascinated with the video and his air brush work was quite elegant.

Do you have a studio buddy? Is he or she paws on or an observer?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Start Where You Are - Week 1

The second Strathmore journal class "Start Where You Are" began last week. (Still time to sign up for the free series. Follow the  link in the right sidebar).

We created a pocket and a fold out page. While useful, and wonderfully interactive, I found the assignment "meh". I didn't expect to be eased into the first technique of the this workshop. I thought we would be using the pre-assignment lists of senses that we were asked to do and then learning background techniques with gesso, paint, glazes, or other media.
Oh well. At least I have a place to keep the list of journal topics I've been collecting.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Friday Five

Five of my favorite scents:

1. Fresh cut grass, though it wreaks havoc with my allergies

2. Spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cinnamon rolls come to mind.

3. Lilacs, with the same disclaimer as #1

4. Bread baking.

5. Air after it rains.

What's your favorite scent?

This week's graphic was done by The Young One as her project for her 3D Modeling class. She's in WPI's IMGD (Interactive Media and Game Development) program.   No rainbow ponies for my little girl! Who wants to go to the luau?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Channeling Miró

Lab 20 explored the lines, shapes, and colors of artist Joan Miró. I happened upon a quote attributed to Oprah: "The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire".  I  thought combining the line writing with the stick figure would complete the exercise. Sometimes what I see in my head, doesn't always translate well to paper, but I'm pleased with how this page turned out. Watercolor, gouache, Sharpie markers, FW acrylic black ink, Nikko G nib.

Do you struggle to get your ideas down on paper?