Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lawrence Sketch Crawl

It's time for our sketch crawl again. This time we met in my back yard: Topeka. Gail asked for a good place to sketch and I thought of our State Capitol building. We had some red tape to go through but everything worked out fine. The whole building just went through a 1/3 billion $ renovation and boy does it look fine! We (4 of us) convened in the Lobby and then went to the fourth floor gallery in the State House of Representatives. This was sensory overload! It's trimmed out to the nth degree. I don't think anything was added, but it was brought back to its old glory. 
Each of us decided to take artistic liberty and simplify some of the view because you can't get it all in at one quick setting. It was a pleasant and quiet time to sit and absorb the craftsmanship.

We went over to the Celtic Fox for lunch. Wilma and I had to leave early so I could get home. I'm taking Roz Stendahl's class Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public. She had a webinar I had to catch. That class is why I haven't posted for a while. It will last the month of February and then I'll resume my leisurely posting routine.




Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sketch Crawl

This month's Lawrence Sketch Crawl was at the Lawrence Sports Pavilion. It's a new multi-sport facility for Lawrence and sees a lot of activity. When Gail chose it, she said she visited it and it was nice and quiet. We show up today and this weekend they are hosting the Heart of America Volleyball Tournament. Doesn't sound bad until you see it live. Twelve courts going simultaneously for two days. Let's talk noisy! I asked a staffer how many kids they had playing and they estimated 4000! Now you're getting the picture.

In addition to the games is the elevated walk/run track, weight machine room and treadmill-type room with regular citizens. This place was hopping. We stayed for an hour, which is about all sanity would allow. No time for color so I stuck with fountain pen.

I got a kick out of the "No Camping" sign. This was on a railing overseeing the courts. Then I noticed the teams each grabbed a spot of hallway to call home for the tournament and they 'camp' there with blankets and mats. That would have prevented spectators from seeing the action at this spot. Where else would you have a sport that calls for camping in hallways?

I have identified a weakness of mine is life sketching of people (as can be seen here). I signed up for Roz Stendehl's class on life sketching of critters and people. I'll get better.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Back On Task

It's happened more than once in my creative pursuits. First: brainstorm a new big project. Second: plan all the details and get in an excited pitch. Third: get a great start. Then: hit a brick wall and everything stops. Then I set there, like the morning after a night of heavy drinking (so I've been told) and ask myself - what just happened? Why can't I move?

Project: a family memory journal for my mom (dad is deceased). My three siblings will help. I bound the journal from scratch. I made it through about half of the illustrating of our childhood. When I'm done I'll rotate it to my siblings and they can write in details and memories of childhood through our day of marriage. But I came to a stop. Dead in the water! Don't know why. I sabotaged myself. It's been on the "To Do" list for a few months now. BUT I'M BACK ON IT NOW!

What I want to know is how does this happen?! It makes now sense. I love my mom and I WANT my mom to have this. My siblings are all on board and my sister will even help with some illustrations. My mom's not getting younger. I know she'll love it. So how does such a project come to a halt? This is illogical! I've run into this in my other hobbies, too. I've heard woodcarvers complain of it. Wilma's quilting projects can get this way, too. If anyone can explain it please do!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Class Coming

In February I'll be taking an Internet-based drawing class by Roz Stendhahl. It's called Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public and will be held the month of February. Two classes posted per week, with daily homework and two webinars on Saturdays afternoons. That topic is a weakness of mine and a strength of Roz's, so it's a class for me. She says we only need a pencil and sheet paper but says she will introduce techniques using materials on her list. It's sold by Wet Paint in St. Paul and is discounted if purchased as a kit, and most of it I don't have (though I have similar), so I bought it. The kit was delivered before Christmas so, of course, I had to sketch it!

Wilma was taking a weaving class this weekend in Lawrence so I drove her there and headed for a coffee shop to sketch and have a latte. Lovely way to spend time.

I haven't posted it yet because I came down sick with something that took five days of sick time and some antibiotics to get under control. That rarely happens for me. I'm mostly OK now. Time to get back into it.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pre-Xmas

Had some time to sketch this morning when Wilma was shopping for her hobbies. We went to Lawrence. Mass Street was a-buzz and we found out we JUST missed their holiday parade, which had horse-drawn rigs! Oh well, maybe next year. As she shopped I walked down the street looking for something to sketch. The Granada theater front just grabbed me. I went in the Amy's Coffeehouse across the street for a coffee to drink as I sketched because there's a chill in the air (any excuse works). Luckily a concrete planter provided a quiet place to sit and sketch. There's a ton of people around.

Lately I've been using my Namiki Falcon flex-nib fountain pen with Noodler's Lexington Grey ink and I just love the responsiveness of the pen. Lines from extra fine to thick with ease. I recently loaded up my Noodlers Ahab flex-nib to play with it more, too. The calligraphist in me likes to play.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sharpening Tradition

I like the old-school way of sharpening knives. Our kitchen knives needed some TLC, and I always take some time in the holiday season to get them in great shape again. It's getting hard to find the supplies any more to do this type of sharpening. The world wants FAST and NOW. That means power grinding wheels, ground diamond stones and sticks, and other fast-is-better-forget-quality approaches. That's just not how I view things, so I do it the slow and steady way. The proof is in the finished blade seen with a magnifying glass.

When you consider what the routine tasks are for a kitchen knife, any sharpening method will get the job done. If I'm making a sandwich, store bought bread makes a sandwich just as functional as home-made bread. There's more to life than 'functional'.

On a lighter note, I can now sleep soundly knowing our butcher block of knives are all in top working condition. It may seem like such an invisible thing that doesn't mean much, but it does to me. They are the right tool for the job!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Couple Recipes

No sketches today. Just a couple bread machine recipes as requested. My usual bread is a standard recipe with either bread flour or a mix of bread flour with whole wheat flour. I usually throw in some wheat germ and ground flax seed. I think every bread machine comes with a recipe list that includes a basic bread recipe that works fine. Of all four machines I've used, the basic recipe always performs well.

Here are two recipes I make when I want something that's not the standard loaf:

CREAM OF WHEAT BREAD (I don't make it all the time, it's a treat. Makes the best toast with butter and honey! I make this when our grown daughter visits, too. It's her favorite. I cut off the rounded top in a really thick slice that JUST fits in the toaster for her. She's putty in my hands.)

milk   1C
butter   1/4 C
eggs   1
sugar   2 Tbs
salt   2 tsp
bread flour   2 C
cream of wheat (uncooked)   1 C
yeast   1 1/2 tsp

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). If you want small or large, let me know.


BRANDIED PUMPKIN BREAD (From Gold Medal Bread Machine Recipes book. Just made this last night and I'm in LOVE. Soft. Semi-sweet. Moist. Plus I'm a pumpkin nut.) Use the Sweet or Basic/White cycle.

canned pumpkin    3/4 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C
brandy extract or vanilla   1/2 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    3 C
sugar   1/4 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   2 1/4 tsp

Spicy Glaze (drizzle over loaf after it cools)
powdered sugar   1/2 C
milk   1 to 2 Tbs milk
pumpkin pie spice   dash

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). My new machine can handle a larger loaf, so the one I used is large (4 cups flour size):

canned pumpkin    1 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C plus 2 Tbs
brandy extract or vanilla   3/4 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    4 C
sugar   1/3 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   1 3/4 tsp (yes, it's less than the medium size)


I come from a German bloodline and Wilma's bloodline is even more-so. Breads are a big thing. The carb-free movement is of no interest to me. Those are almost fighting words. Hope you try these recipes and share my joy.