Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Sunrise II"
Graphite, Watercolor and Acrylics on archival bristol.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Outdoor sketching

Emily and her peeps:
That looks very comfy, doesn't it?

I cut the grass for the first time this season. Surprisingly, it all went very smoothly. My reward was sitting quietly at the bistro with a cool drink by the chickens. Of course, this act prompted a desire to draw and I ran to the studio, grabbed a few things and started in on fleshing out my gals.

I had quite a lot of scrap watercolor paper left over from when I cut matts for the fortune cookie illustrations so I decided to use those to draw on. In the process I found that I love the way the watercolor takes to both the graphite and the watercolor paints. With very little effort I was obtaining the results I was slightly struggling with on the bristol board. I'm going to explore some mouse drawings on this watercolor paper tomorrow I think.

Outdoor sketching table

Outdoor sketching table with Oreo

Best Sketches from the Session:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Graphite and watercolor on paper

Some of the Fortune Cookie Illustrations and other "mouse illustrations" have been placed in my Etsy store. Thanks for looking!

Sometimes cheaper IS better.

Pretty color, linty surface

Sometimes cheaper IS better. This week I learned that a Little Lonestar I had sent back to it's owner had a few stray pieces of lint on it. I never have such problems so it struck me as strange to hear. It would honestly be a first for me.

I know my eyesight hadn't been 100% before the new glasses purchased a few weeks ago, but since correcting that problem I've been on a good roll. Everything is clear, mixing and painting color has been in check and painting tiny Stablemate sized eyes are no longer a problem but lint….yeah, that's a problem.

I went ahead and checked all visiting resins that had made it up to the upper studio and sure enough two other resins had slight traces of lint here or there. I would never write about such an issue cause that is embarrasing, but I feel it's important to discuss such things as it can happen to any artist at any stage of the game. Things happen and in this case the culprit (aside from me being way too close to the subject matter and not even seeing the traces of lint) was a brand new Bounty paper towel product. Whatever was done to "improve" things with the paper towel Ive come to rely on has changed and has created a whole mess of lint when working on art projects. I rely heavily on products to be exactly as I've come to enjoy them and companies keep changing formulas or product in general. It's annoying. Period. Thankfully there are many substitutes and I'm very happy to say that the local dollar store provided a cheap and awful paper towel! Awful for spills and absorption, but wonderful simply because it produces NO LINT!

I always take such disasters and set backs with a grain of salt and this one turned into a nice little tutorial for how to deal with lint once it's found and once it has adhered itself to the model. Repair is not too difficult, but it does take time and a steady hand.

An Exacto works best.

Taking an Exacto blade gently scrape the model with the side of the blade. Try to use the middle of the blade, not the tip. Don't use a box cutter or any other type of blade. Don't even try to use sandpaper because it only roughs up the surface making more touch up work. The blade shaves small layers off at a time. In most cases the lint is just on the surface surrounded by some paint. You should cause minimal damage to your paint surface this way.

Next, use a dry brush to wipe away any shaved lint and paint. Use your fingers and hands sparingly as you want to avoid putting excess finger oil on the horse. Keeping finger oil to a minimum just makes touch up easier in the end.

A dry brush is used to clean the surface.

The horse is then washed and allowed to air dry (some towels create lint too so avoid them all together and just air dry). Then repaint the scraped areas with washes or glazes. Adding layers of color back onto the horse slowly is best.

I had to share my latest addition to the studio. The neighbor who invited me to rummage haphazardly through the dumpster she rented also invited me to take an old piece of slate she had in her basement. Jackpot. No more papers with "to do" scrawled on them. No more notebooks with the same. Just one big board and a fresh new pack of chalk to write on the board with . It's keeping me on target and in line in the studio. Only catch? The position of the board next to the desk...the printer....the storage bins....the paper holder and the portable easel make it impossible for me to even think about writing on this board with my right hand. Im all lefty from here on out with this new addition.

Thank you card for my neighbor.
Stuff in that dumpster was amazingly fun.
I hope she likes the card.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Graphite, Watercolor, and Acrylics on archival bristol

Monday, March 26, 2012

Peeps, Tiles and More Drawings

Emily and her peeps

Took a few moments today, despite the return of the cold weather, to snap a few shots of Emily and her peeps. Both new additions have been given names. The peep with the orange feet is named "Honey" (according to my son) and the other is named "Sage". Fitting names I believe.

Other than a few seconds stolen trying to get a few shots of my chickens it was, without a doubt, an indoor studio day. Most of the day I drew since the urge was very strong but I did take a short break to play around with those Xylene transfers again. They transfer fairly decently on unglazed tiles. Not sure where I'm headed with this tile but its been a fun diversion.'s cold out there!

Xylene transfer and oil washes
on matte tile

Slight Recap of my little mouse story:
(This is the part where he goes to rescue her)

"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you... but first they must catch you."
~Richard Adams "Watership Down"

"No Danger Too Great"
Graphite, Watercolor, and Acrylics on archival bristol

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vanity Restoration (Mirror)

Mirror found in a dumpster

This weekend I centered my energies on the mirror I pulled out of a dumpster. As with the vanity I started by roughing up the surface a bit with a 3-in-one and a hammer.


You can't make too many marks or do this step incorrectly. Every mark you make gives the wood that much more texture which makes the finished result prettier. I documented the process as I worked on the mirror. If you are curious this is how I re purposed this old unwanted mirror. Not bad for a new vanity! Overall cost (minus all the elbow grease): $11 ($4 for the desk and $7 for the can of Xylene....I had everything else just lying around.)

Quality primer used over the old wood/paint

Light washes of blue/black paint spread
over the entire mirror and wiped off just a bit

Detail that comes out after
the wash is wiped off slightly

Dry brush white over washes

Laser print burnished on wood
using Xylene transfer

Another transfer on the mirror

Cause it needed just one more transfer....

Shot of the finished piece

Finished piece (close up)

Graphite, Watercolor and Acrylic on archival Bristol

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dumpster Diving (Take II)

Finds from the dumpster

This year has been absolutely CHOICE for dumpster diving! Another neighbor rented a huge dumpster in order to rid her house of unwanted items and I stumbled upon the dumpster right after it was delivered. Chairs, tables, slabs of slate, and a mirror (which turned out to be the perfect addition for my vanity project from last weekend) were all being tossed out into the dumpster. She had everything on the side of her house just waiting to be tossed. She was most happy to let me rummage through everything and even though I'm fairly secure in diving head first into garbage I felt the need to show her previous projects I had taken photos of on my phone.

More finds...this is not everything, but the
pieces I am most excited to re purpose

Detail on the lamp base

Detail of worn out wood
on the table. Perfect!

More beautiful details
on the lamp

I can't wait to
bring this lamp back to life

Of course all that dumpster diving (and carting/carrying everything back to my house a block away) deserved a good meal and my cravings for Lo Mien were much too great to be ignored. Not to mention the fact that I was fresh out of fortunes. I'm nicely stocked now after my dinner out. I have received a few inquires about whether I'll be selling these little "mice fortunes" and the answer is, yes. I'll be preparing them for sale and offering them via my Etsy store shortly.

More fortunes gathered
during dinner out with my family.

Decoupage, Graphite, Watercolor, and
Acrylics on archival bristol

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Fortunes

"Fortune 3-"Hang On"
Decoupage, Graphite, Watercolor, and Acrylics
on Archival bristol board.

Fortunes are not safe. I've been having a ball collecting Chinese fortune cookies and incorporating the mice into the fortunes. Last time I went to dinner with my family I quickly rounded up everyone's fortunes for later use. I was eyeing the cookies on the table next to us too. I didn't have the nerve to ask the people sitting there if they planned on keeping the fortunes inside. I'm willing to bet there was a 50-50 chance they'd keep it if it were a good one.

"Fortune 4-"Lover's Spat"
Decoupage, Graphite, Watercolor, and Acrylics
on Archival bristol board.

"Fortune 3-"Twilight"
Decoupage, Graphite, Watercolor, and Acrylics
on Archival bristol board.
"3 AM III"
Graphite, Watercolor and Acrylics on archival bristol board

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Old sewing table
purchased at estate sale for $4.

In the last 24 hours I have become obsessed with image transfers. I stumbled upon some images and ideas on furniture and pillows online and the rest became history. I am now in full fledged "image transfer" mode.

Walls in my basement studio are not safe….they were hit and will probably become subject to more transfers. Ceramic tiles lying about the basement studio were not safe either, but did not play well with the laser transfer. I will get them to play nice. I promise. On going furniture projects…totally NOT safe from this adventure and my latest vanity table was hit with some French images. I'm not sure if I like what I've done as I feel the image might be too small, but despite that fact it is still very pretty and the transfer was easy and fairly painless. The only drawback to all this is the transfer of laser copy to surface is VERY smelly and Im afraid toxic. Here is how I did it:

1). Printed out image using my laser printer.
2) Wiped a small amount of Xylene (found at hardware store) along surface.
3) Pressed image onto surface using an old credit card. The harder you press the darker the image.

Of course my mind is going into overdrive now. How can I get my little mice and or critters on furniture/things? It's a lovely spring adventure I'm on, that's for sure!

Roughed up the wood with a hammer
and a chisel

Painted the vanity and distressed it
using paint I had lying around.

Planning the image and where I will place it.
(The flower arrangement was made compliments of my friend Cindy who makes the most beautiful and thoughtful arrangements)

The image once applied
looks old and worn but beautiful

Supplies for project consisted of:
Xylene, an old credit card and the laser printed image

Typography applied to the front piece

Another view of the main image

Finished vanity desk

Image transfers look even better
on plain wood!