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Watercolor Paper Testing - Part 2

Hello and welcome back for Watercolor Paper Testing – Part 2! My last post I had done some small tests to get started, and explained about the fall I had. Well I’m pretty much healed from that and getting back on track.

Hello there!

Hello there!

First I want to say, if you just go by what I say worked for me, it might help you decide on a paper you’d like to use, BUT WAIT! I highly recommend doing some testing of your own, you can follow my example or try new things on your own. I made a list of the techniques I was most likely to use and then did a simple, similar picture on all of them. I used 11 different papers, all ordered from Jackson’s Art Supply, my test sizes varied from about 5″x6″ to 3″x 6″, so they were small. It took me several days, of sitting down when I could, to work on each test criteria.

1.First label all your test peices of paper with what the paper is, the weight, type etc. One nice thing I ordered was the St. Cuthbert’s Mill sample pack of seven different papers; it only cost .50p and the peices were large enough to really play around with. Each of them was fully labeled too.

2.Make a list of the techniques you want to test on notebook paper; I will include my criteria list below. I decided to do one character (snail) on each and a simple dirt path, green bushy background and a sky with clouds. The sky allowed me to do a big simple graded wash, drop water in for clouds, and test by lifting with clean wet brush.

Clouds

Clouds

3.Do one technique at a time on each one in succession. This way you’ve got the same colors mixed, and can use the same brushes to compare how they go on each paper. Write down what you thought after each thing you test or you’ll forget. I did this on note paper then after I was all done I wrote them down on the back of each paper test. So years from now you can dig around and find them you’ll know what’s what.

OK, here’s my list of criteria I tested:  (all done on dry, unstretched paper)

  1. Can you trace through the paper using a black ink line drawing underneath? I traced different snails on each one.
  2. Does pencil erase easily?
  3. Wash layers- do they stay or lift too easy when new layers go on? Tested in bush areas, ground and sky (I wet paper with a brush first for this one).
  4. Lifting- do dry watercolors lift off when you rub/lift using damp brush and paper towel? On each I lifted a tree shape, like “stems” in the green bushes. Then on most I also lifted some of the dry blue sky.
  5. Dry brush technique. Mostly the bushes and some ground areas on each.
  6. Draw with dip nib and ink. I drew each snail with dip ink and nib, going over the pencil lines I traced.
  7. Scratch wet paint areas to see if dark lines appear. You’ll see some thin lines of color in the bushes, these were made by scratching into the wet paper where paint was laid down.
  8. Color pencil on dry watercolor areas, how do they go on? I mostly did this in the bushes around the snail, some on the ground using dark browns.
  9. Permanent ink pen, ease of drawing on paper? Used to outline each snail and some details on the ground.
  10. Clouds on damp blue sky, drop clear water on and some lifting with paper towel.
  11. In general how does paper take the paint?
  12. (other things you may want to test that I did not: using masking fluid, scraping off dry layers of paper with sharp knife, dropping salt on wet paint, whatever you may usually do when painting)

Please click each picture to see it enlarged.

Testing ability to trace through the paper from my drawing.

Testing ability to trace through the paper from my drawing.

This is my simple set up for tracing I used on this project, (sorry for the dark picture) it’s a clear plastic flat “scrapbooking” type container. I like using these containers to hold my illustrations and lately have been using one as an easel/drawing table. I put a peice of rubber shelf liner underneath it, and can tuck reference photos and drawing stuff inside. I hold the top up with different sizes of masonite or plexiglas depending on the angle I want; here I used plexiglas so it lets more light through. I put a strong little lamp behind it on the table and set my drawing that I’ve inked in black on top. Next you lay your watercolor paper on top and trace! *Note- I taped a carpenters pencil along the bottom to keep papers and boards from sliding off, it works pretty good for now. *Note 2- you can also trace using a bright window; tape your inked drawing up and then your watercolor paper on top. Use light pencil lines, don’t score into the paper, you’ll want to erase most of your lines anyways so draw light!

Now I’ll post pictures of each sample and tell what paper it was along with what I thought about it. Prices listed were at the time I bought them. Click on pictures to see larger.

Beginning sample for watercolor paper test.

Beginning sample for watercolor paper test.

This sample has no number because it’s a scrap peice of watercolor paper I grabbed and for each technique I gave it a go on here 1st as a warm up! If you’re worried about messing up your paper don’t be afraid to loosen up on some scraps first! this helped me to think of what techniques I wanted to try.

#1 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#1 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#1 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 4.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .82p. (all papers with blue type on them are from the St. Cuthbert’s Mill sample pack) 1. Traced through well enough, a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes went on great, no hard edges. 4. Lifting dry color- this paper worked well. You can see the little ‘tree’ stem area in the green bushes, that was done by lifting, and at the top in the sky.  5. Dry brush was good, rough areas in bushes. 6. Ink and Nib- went on well, a bit rough but good. 7. Scratch test-worked but wasn’t very strong, may need to try more. 8. Color pencil- great, bit of texture. 9. Permanent ink pen- ok, a bit rough for long drawn curved lines (snail shell). 10. Clouds- worked well, soft edges. 11. Paper took the paint really well, nice texture on ground edges, blue sky washes even.

#2 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White

#2 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White

#2 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traced through very well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on blotchy or patchy, layers hard edged. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well, see ‘tree’ shape and tiny cloud at top. 5. Dry brush-ok, not bad but a bit blah because of paper smoothness. 6. Ink and Nib- went on well, smooth. 7. Scratch test- worked. 8. Color pencil-good. 9. Permanent ink pen- very easy to draw with, smooth. 10. Clouds-Interesting, with water dropped in it formed harder dark edges, which I could have softened with lifting, but it was neat.  11. Was harder to float washes, paint colors got patchy.

#3 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#3 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#3 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traces well, tiny bit rough. 2. Erases easy. 3. Washes- great, easy to add water to. 4. Lifting dry color- did well. 5. Dry brush- worked really well. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, tiny bit rough. 7. Scratch test- worked ok. 8. Color pencil-good. 9. Permanent ink pen- good, a bit bumpy for drawing. 10. Clouds-excellent! Soft edges were perfect and harder edges on bottom edges looked good. 11. Paper took paint nicely.

#4 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White

#4 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White

#4 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traced through well enough, a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- layered well. 4. Lifting dry color- worked rather well.  5. Dry brush- pretty good, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit rough. 7. Scratch test-worked, a bit pale. 8. Color pencil- not as good, a bit too rough for me. 9. Permanent ink pen- well, a bit rough. 10. Clouds- worked well, wash went on nice, made clouds really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well, nice textures too.

#5 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White

#5 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White

#5 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p. 1. Traced through well. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on nicely. 4. Lifting dry color- ok, not as easy as others, lifting small patch on blue sky was bad.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas above bushes. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit bleedy. 7. Scratch test-worked really well. 8. Color pencil- worked well easy to draw on to paper. 9. Permanent ink pen- great. 10. Clouds- worked well, I put clouds on with a bit too much water. 11. Paper took the paint well.

#6 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#6 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#6 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p. 1. Trace through-a bit rough, not as thin, can trace but not as easy. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on really well. 4. Lifting dry color- not so good, soft edges.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, not too bad. 7. Scratch test-worked ok. 8. Color pencil- worked well, especially for rough textures. 9. Permanent ink pen- very well. 10. Clouds- worked well, nice and soft, blue wash went on really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well.

#7 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White

#7 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White

#7 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p.  1. Traces through well-a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- very good. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well but not with sky color.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit rough. 7. Scratch test-worked ok. 8. Color pencil- worked well, especially for rough textures. 9. Permanent ink pen- well but can be bumpy. 10. Clouds- blue wash went on well, clouds did really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well.

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .62p. 1. Traces through really well, feels thinner. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- beaded up a lot, wouldn’t go on in some areas! 4. Lifting dry color- worked very well, even on the sky patch.  5. Dry brush- worked ok to good. 6. Ink and Nib- draws well. 7. Scratch test-not great. 8. Color pencil- worked well. 9. Permanent ink pen- nice, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- worked well, don’t get too wet, it gets blotchy. Paper towel lifts easily because color doesn’t soak in too fast. 11. Paint beaded up at first then was ok.

#9 St. Cuthbert's Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb

#9 St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb

#9 St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb full sheet = £ 2.20 (slightly smaller than the others), 9″x12″ cut peice = .55p. 1. Traces through really well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- a bit patchy in areas. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- ok, a bit bleedy. 7. Scratch test-ok to pretty good. 8. Color pencil- worked very well. 9. Permanent ink pen- nice, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- worked well, color lifted well, clouds a bit hard edged. 11. Paper takes paint ok to well.

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 4.70, 9″x12″ cut peice = .94p.  1. Traces through well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on nice. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well, a bit pale on sky patch.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- works fine. 7. Scratch test-worked well. 8. Color pencil- worked well. 9. Permanent ink pen- great, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- blue color went on nice, clouds went on very well. 11. Paper takes paint very well.

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 5.40, 9″x12″ cut peice = £ 1.08. 1. Traces through very well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on well. 4. Lifting dry color- worked really well.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok to good. 7. Scratch test-worked well. 8. Color pencil- worked very well. 9. Permanent ink pen- very good, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- blue wash went on well, clouds lifted with brush and paper towel. 11. Paper takes paint nicely.

That was the last one! Whew! You can see this kept me busy for awhile. A few of the papers didn’t take the paint nicely at first, they beaded up or skipped areas. For those papers I think I would try wetting the paper first and stretch it, then see how they act. Or just take a larger peice and really wet it then play around on it. After I did the tests I wrote the price per full sheet on the backside, then figured out how much one cut 9″ x 12″ peice would be, depending on how many you could get out of a full sheet.

So what’s my verdict you’re wondering? I have to admit it’s still hard to say! For the price and how they performed for me, I have four I want to explore further.

  • Saunder’s Waterford HP High White- seems to work well, price moderate but a bit more than the others I liked.
  • Bockingford CP (NOT) white- worked well, rougher than what I’m used to, very affordable
  • St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth- love the smoothness, low price, worked well but sometimes patchy, need further testing.
  • Moulin du Roy- I want to test some more, because it beaded up, but I like the feel of it and the price.

On the ones I liked I draw a little star and fill it in with really bright golden yellow, so it’s easy to spot when I’m digging in my folders.

PLEASE DO leave some comments about the paper you use and why you like it!! It would be great for everyone to share some ideas and papers that work for them here.

Happy Spring everyone, springtime posts coming soon!

Happy Spring from our village in Northumberland, England!

Happy Spring from our village in Northumberland, England!

Watercolor Paper Testing

Since moving to England I’ve had to look elsewhere when it comes to buying my art supplies. Back in Clarence Center N.Y., I had lots of local choices for supplies, and I really miss being able to go look at and ‘feel’ things in person. Nothing beats feeling the spring of a brush on your hand or the roughness of a sheet of paper. Of course I ordered supplies online too, if you ordered enough it was cheaper, but it always helps to see it in person first and maybe test it out.

Where we live now there’s nothing close by, you have to drive to Newcastle for choice; so shopping online is more convenient. Last year I ordered some watercolor paper from Jackson’s (jacksonsart.com) online and was happy with the price and it came pretty quickly. I meant to write a post about my tests but alas never got the time, maybe I’ll post those simple tests later. This time around I ordered seven different papers but two I didn’t bother to test yet, they aren’t anything I would use for my illustration but I couldn’t know that until I saw them in person! I also ordered a sample pack of papers that are big enough to do tests on, I’ll include them in my next round of testing.

Here are the five I started testing:

1. Canson Moulin de Roy HP

2. St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth 140

3. Royal Watercolour Society HP 140

4. Saunders Waterford HP 140 High White

5. Arches Aquarelle HP 140

The Arches is the most expensive, but it’s the one I picked from my last testing, as working best for my illustrations. I’m hoping some of these cheaper options will be just as good so I can make it my ‘go to’ paper and get really familiar with it!

When my new full size sheets of paper come they mostly measure 22″ x 30″ or 56cm x 76cm each. I then lay them out stacked up on my cutting board and figure out the best way to cut them up to get the most sheets. I’ll draw a little thumbnail on scrap paper to figure it out, then mark the watercolor paper for cutting. So I cut the sheets, leaving a big chunk uncut, and some small strips.

 (click on pictures to see larger)

Test strips and my tiny field palette.

Test strips being worked on and my tiny field palette (lid is partly closed, those aren’t my paints!).

For this post I’m just showing you the little bit of testing I’ve done so far. I have long strips from each paper on which I did small quick sketches/tests. Next I will use bigger peices and do a small study to get a feel for the paper with my inks and color pencils added.

All 5 test strips together.

All 5 test strips together.

Above shows all 5 strips laid out on my scanner, they were only 1″ to 1 1/2″ wide so you can imagine how small the bunnies and owls were! The strips are numbered L to R 5,4,3,2,1.

5 Little Owls

5 Little Owls

For the owls I did light pencil sketch then drew with Sepia Pitt “S” permanent ink pen, then watercolor on dry paper, then some color pencil last. The color pencil was brown or black and used for shading areas. They all were just great for using the ink pen and color pencil showed up on the tooth of the paper. Good so far!

5 Little Bunnies in a row.

5 Little Bunnies in a row.

It’s always good to practice bunnies! Isn’t it funny how each one looks like a different personality? For these I did a light pencil sketch then watercolor for all the color. Then I used various brown colored pencils for shading and some outlineing and at the end, a touch of black Pitt permanent ink “XS” pen. Doing the tiny washes showed me I will definitely need to do washes on larger paper to really see how it behaves. I want to see if layers lift too easily or does it get blotchy?

On the owls and bunnies I was also trying out different color pencils, my familiar Prismacolors, Derwent Coloursoft and some new Derwent “Studio” pencils. The “Studio” pencils are harder than the pencils I’m used to, so they will hold their point longer but not sure if I’ll like them yet!

Back side of test strips, dip nib testing.

Back side of test strips, dip nib testing.

On the backside of the strips I did a quick wash, let it dry then painted some Bracken leaves. When they were dry I used my dip ink nibs to try out some new inks I ordered, I’m very excited about them so far! I tested “Magic Colour – Grecian Olive” and “Vallejo – Umber”, both are acrylic permanent ink and the Magic Colour is made in England (yay! or should I say hoorah!) I did get some special empty markers that you can fill with this type of ink, but need to play around with that more. What I need to test here is, how well do my nibs work on the papers? They were all smooth enough that I cuoldn’t see much difference, next time I’ll try them on semi damp paper for bleeding.

Test of lifting and color pencils.

Test of lifting and color pencils.

For the test above I did a simple wash of green and brown then while it was damp lifted color using a clean damp brush. Repeatedly wiping and cleaning the brush and dabbing the paper with paper towel, to help lift moisture and color. Then when it was dry I used color pencil to pick out the marks. The green area was just a quick area to try lifing color after it had dried. All did ok, the St. Cuthbert’s Botanical and Canson Moulin du Roy lifted the cleanest and brightest; though this might not be a good thing when adding washes, we’ll see when I do larger studies.

(c)wc paper test strips- bunny 1 re2One Happy Bunny!

(c)wc paper test strips- owl 3 re

PS. Just wanted to mention on a more personal note, one of the reasons I did tiny strips was because I injured myself and sitting in the chair to work just kills me right now. I fell and cracked a rib or two and definitely injured the muscles in my back! But what’s so unbelieveable is that I could do that in a muddy sheep field! I was walking alone along a very old line of trees in a muddy field. I thought, I need a stick so I won’t slip so much….I broke a long stick off a big dead branch on the ground then tried to break it again with my foot on the bottom. Well it still had quite a bit of spring in it and as it resisted I slipped and the branch kind of sprung and I got thrown back against the base of this huge old tree! AY CARUMBA IT HURT! The tree had huge rounded burly roots and that’s exactly what I slammed my side into. Wish I had fallen in the mud! So once I sat up, avoided crying and took inventory of what was working, I had to get up and walk 1.25 miles home. This included climbing over two or three slippery farm gates, muddy fields and a steep road home. I guess there’s not much you can do for cracked ribs but take pain killers and I hate doing that. So I have but avoid overdoing it and now am not taking much. It’s gettiing better and you’d think, “ah, I can’t walk much but at least I can sit and work in the studio”, well no, I can’t concentrate on anything other than small stuff! So, now you’re caught up on me, don’t worry I’m pretty healthy so I should heal quickly (she says!)

I’ll try to work on more testing of these papers and update you on that as I go.

(c)wc paper test strips- bunny 3 reThis little bunny says good-bye!

 

Honey Bunny Leaves for England

(Please click pictures to see enlarged)

Honey Bunny left a message for her friends.

Honey  Bunny left a message for her friends at Long Lane.

Honey Bunny made her decision, she’s moved away from Long Lane to England. But her little friends and she have promised to write to each other. She wants to know what happens back home and they want to hear about her adventures!

The little flowers of her garden are sad.

The little flowers of her garden are sad.

Her leaving has made the little flowers of her garden very sad. Honey Bunny always cared for the little living things at Long Lane and they all will miss her.

Her little mice neighbors were sorry to see her leave.

Her little mice neighbors were sorry to see her leave.

Her mice neighbors had lived near her at Long Lane for such a long time, they were very sorry to see her leave.

Even the little insects were sad.

Even the little insects were sad.

When friends leave it can be very sad and lonely feeling but it can also mean something new and exciting is happening.

Life keeps expanding if you let it grow.

British Flag 2 here at last re

Well life has been expanding for me, as I am now sitting at my laptop in a cottage, in Northumberland  England. Expansion doesn’t happen all at once, I guess if it did it would hurt! What I mean is I think it’s going to take me some time to settle in and feel like this is home. Before when I came, it was for long visits and it was all new and exciting. I’m not saying it isn’t new and exciting now, just that it does feel different. We don’t have that countdown of ‘days until I leave’ now and that’s such a relief!

But I do keep referring to the place I left, back in Clarence Center, New York, as home! I’ll give myself some slack with that; I still refer to the place I grew up, Endicott NY, as HOME. “Going home to Endicott”…I referred to it like this all the years my boys were growing up, so much that even they used to say…”when can we go home to Endicott and see Grandma and Grandpa?”

1-17-15 my walk  (129) (338x450)

Walking down the lane in a small village.

But as they say “home is where the heart is”, and my heart is here with Gary, my soon to be husband. We share a love of nature and walking the hills, listening to good children’s stories and old tales and just being silly and laughing a lot. When I have a new idea for a story or character, and share it with him, it usually expands effortlessly, as he just ‘gets it’.

Gary and I on a walk by Edlingham Burn or creek.

Gary and I on a walk by a burn or creek.

So as I explore my new gorgeous surroundings, I promise to share lots of photos here. The drawing, painting and felting are a bit on the back burner because we’re still working on arranging things to make room for my soon to arrive shipment. “Groan”….I have a lot of boxes and plastic bins coming!! (Remember all those boxes I kept packing?) But I DO miss my ‘stuff’ and can’t wait for it to arrive!

Well here’s a selection of photos from some of the walks I’ve taken. I’ve done a few little sketches but will share them later.

Edlingham Castle and viaduct, just down the road from me.

Edlingham Castle and viaduct, right next to an 11th c church.

The viaduct was built in the Victorian age and was part of a railway line; I’d like to do some sketches of it someday. The views are spread out here, that is you can see really far especially if you get up a hill, and I’ve noticed people just walk to things they can see.

1-20-15 Walk to Crags + Viaduct (17) (450x338)

“My Northumberland!” from on top of the Crags looking down on the village.

Like above, we walked up to the top of the Crags and you have an excellent view for miles and miles!

This is the upper or back lane to the village.

This is the upper or back lane to the village.

This is the upper or back lane to the village and it’s one of my favorite (favourite 😉 ) places to walk…do you blame me?

Another view on the upper lane, coming back.

Another view on the upper lane, coming back.

This is usually how the upper lane looks as I come back, with the sun low in the winter sky.

There are sheep everywhere!

There are sheep everywhere!

Most of the fields and hills have sheep on them. I can guess at three breeds- Norfolk, Scottish Black Face and Texel. They’re all nice but the Scottish Black Faced ones are especially bonnie!

A tiny beautiful bird, the Blue Tit.

A tiny beautiful bird, the Blue Tit.

There are all new birds here for me to learn too. I’m frustrated when I hear them sing or twitter and I have no idea ‘who’ it is! I’m getting good at identifying them on sight though.

A male Blackbird, in the thrush family and closely related to the American Robin.

A male Blackbird, in the thrush family and closely related to the American Robin.

This beautiful bird is a male Blackbird…the same that were baked in a pie and that the Beatles sang about ‘singing in the dead of night’. They are thrushes just like ‘our’ American Robin; so things it does reminds me of it, and yes they’re known for their song!

Walking down by Edlingham Burn, wearing my gators!

Walking down by the burn, wearing my gators!

It’s spring. It’s muddy. When I go out walking and I put on my leg gators first, I’m always glad I did. The gators wrap around your lower leg and ankle and zip up. They stay put because of a strap that goes under your boot and a hook at your laces. I bought them years ago when I came here and just love them!

A walk along the burn in January.

A walk along the burn in January.

Can you see how beautiful this is? I love the tangle of roots, the moss covered trees and the branches that scraggle in all directions. I just hope I can start to capture it all when I start painting.

The livestock fence across the burn.

The livestock fence across the burn.

Farmers use old pallets strung together across the burns or streams, to keep livestock in the proper pasture. I really like the way this one looks, like it’s blended in with it’s natural surroundings.

Well I’ll leave you here, time to go get busy. I’ll post more pictures as I go and hopefully some sketches. Please leave comments below as I love to hear from you all!

It's Time to Move!

England Here I Come!

England Here I Come!

Good news, I was granted my Fiance Visa! Yay! I can finally move forward and go to be with Gary and start my new life in England. I hope to settle in and get sketching the British landscapes and nature again and focus on my children’s books.

There’s someone else who’s making big changes in her life…(please click to see nice clear image).

Honey Bunny thinks about her future.

Honey Bunny thinks about her future.

I’ll try to post updates as I can but have so much to do! Almost all my art supplies have been packed away forever and my little furry friends that give me inspiration are packed away too. Moving can’t come soon enough for me.

Should I stay here at Long Lane or should I go? Mr. McCuddles is waiting for me...

“Should I stay here at Long Lane or should I go? Mr. McCuddles is waiting for me.” thought Honey Bunny to herself.

“Should I stay here at Long Lane or should I go? Mr. McCuddles is waiting for me.” thought Honey Bunny to herself. I think we all know what she’s going to do! (Mr. McCuddles is an English Teddy that she met years ago).

"Home Cozy Home"

The little mice of Long Lane don’t sleep in the winter like some other animals do. They still go out into the snowy land and look for food or visit each other. They have cozy little homes, deep under ground or inside of great old trees. (please click pictures for clearer view)

(c)Home Cozy Home sign

“Home Cozy Home”

They like to light candles that cast a warm light and even a little warmth to their small rooms. The flame flickers and the hot wax melting smells good!

Warm candle light flickers on the walls.

Warm candle light flickers on the walls.

They like to have creamy hot cups of cocoa by the fireside waiting on the warm hearth.

Oh what a cozy scene, I can almost smell the wood fire!

Oh what a cozy scene, I can almost smell the wood fire!

Some of the mice have learned how to use snowshoes, finding they don’t sink into the deep snow as easily. Here’s a pair that just came in from the cold!

A trusty pair of snowshoes getting dry by the fire.

A trusty pair of snowshoes getting dry by the fire.

Those snowshoes belong to this mouse, he’s taking all his wet layers off by the warm fire.

(c)mouse head

Little snowshoe mouse getting warm.

First he takes off his snowshoes and sets them by the fire, then he takes off his boots, hat, mittens and scarf. He knows his mom has made hot cocoa for them both to enjoy.

(c)Home Cozy Home

And here’s the whole scene, mouse getting warm by his cozy fire.

I did this watercolor after I was out snowshoeing myself this winter. I like getting out using them, they’re good exercise especially when you’re cooped up indoors. I found it difficult this winter because we had awful flooding around Christmas time and then it all froze. Walking out on the lanes was not a great idea so I didn’t get to go snowshoeing much like this little mouse! 🙁

Maybe it was wishful thinking creating this little sketch? It’s not really big but I like how it came out for a sketch. I have redrawn it on ‘good’ paper and will see if I can paint it again and still keep that freshness I love about a sketch.

I hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully it won’t be long and we’ll be looking at spring blooms instead of snow at Long Lane Farm! 😉

I created some beautiful glossy note cards have a look! (Click the pictures) They would make a cozy winter greeting to send someone. You can put any color you want around the painting.

Home Cozy Home-Snowshoe Mouse
Green background.
Golden orange background.
Red background, this would look great as a Christmas Card!

When Bananas Go Bad

A small chuckle for you today!

(c)color bananas re2

“When Bananas Go Bad” color

(Click for clearer view) I have to blame my Fiance for this silly thought, as we joked around about bananas going bad; then I jump right in and make it real by creating the characters! I scanned it right from my sketchbook and didn’t clean it up as I did below in the black and white.

"When Bananas Go Bad"

“When Bananas Go Bad”

I think I prefer the black and white at this point, I think my colors got too muddy in the color. What do you think?

Sad Aster

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Watercolor study of a white Aster in October.

Do you remember when I took that walk in November, hunting for acorn caps? Well I wrote about a little White Aster I came across, alone in the field. Here is what I wrote in that post:

“And one little Aster in the middle of the ‘Maze’, an overgrown field with paths I cut years ago. The white Aster looked up at me with it’s tiny little face, and asked if winter was coming soon? I told it to prepare and go to sleep before the snow falls. It was sad but missed it’s friends, as they had all gone, so it nodded it’s head and drooped a little in it’s tiny stem.”

(c)Aster 3

“Sad Aster go to sleep, before the snow falls cold and deep.”

At the time I saw it, I just saw a white Aster and thought about it alone there, but I didn’t give it feelings and talk to it. That was my creative mind putting my feelings onto a tiny flower and as soon as I wrote that paragraph a new character was born! Yes, as soon as I wrote that post I wrote a poem called “Sad Aster” and then I did some sketches.

(c)Aster 1

“Your friends are gone, the field is empty,
Where once they stood in numbers plenty.”

I’m quite pleased with the little poem and now will work on illustrating it, creating more of a character.

"..before the snow falls cold and deep."

“..before the snow falls cold and deep.”

I just thought it’d be interesting to share with you how one walk in nature, when combined with my emotions and thoughts, will sometimes evolve (in my mind) into something other people can relate to.

"Little Aster cold and white, Go to sleep this cold, dark night."

“Little Aster cold and white,
Go to sleep this cold, dark night.”

I wish I could share the whole poem but I guess I should wait until it can be published properly.

Worried little Aster

Worried little Aster

While I’m warm in my house, I hope she’s sleeping soundly out there under the foot of snow we got this weekend! 😉 Well for now I have to put “Sad Aster” aside while I catch up on some mice illustrations I started, it never ends….so much to do! I’ve also created some small needle felted animals in wool with wire armatures so they are pose-able, and continue to do small experiments with wet felting. One of these days I’ll open an Etsy shop so I can sell them, but for now I must concentrate on my illustrations!

PS. Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending for Sad Aster! 😉

Hunting For Acorn Caps

(I wrote this in November. Sorry it’s a bit late, but I thought you’d still enjoy the pictures of my walk!)

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go…high ho the dairy oh….a hunting we will go!

When you need something for a project and you can’t buy it at the local store, it’s great to know you have it right in your own backyard! I want to make some felted acorns, have you seen any of these? Oh they are so cool; I love the texture and colors of the wool and the real acorn cap is just perfect.

On my property there is a place I call “Oak Lane” because all along it there are huge, ancient oak trees growing and I watch over them the best I can. Well I set out for a short walk, only taking my camera and a plastic bag and glad that I put on my Wellies or barn boots because ‘AY CARUMBA’ it was wet!

Just what I was looking for, Bracket Fungus and Moss!

Just what I was looking for, Bracket Fungus and Moss!

I also had it in mind to collect reference pictures for my illustration projects. I found some excellent bracket fungus and moss for “Miss Mouse’s House”. I made up a sketch (in the new, big studio sketch book!) of her house and I can’t believe when I was walking, I found JUST the thing! I hope to share Miss Mouse with you when I get more sketches done.

What was supposed to be a short walk turned (as usual) into a long ramble, taking pictures every few steps. Seriously, every few steps…”oh look at that color!” “Oh…look how the trees reflect in the water”….glad no one came with me, I was able to wander slowly, drinking it all in and taking lots of pictures for future reference. When you walk slow and pause often, you also can take notice of so many things around you.

(c) P1410476 reflections

Reflections in the water, along Pasture Lane as I walked.

When I made it to Oak Lane, I picked up a small stick with a forked tip and used it for shuffling the wet leaves away. We’re not talking about oak trees in a yard with neatly trimmed grass! No…it was wild and absolutely covered with leaves, and how beautiful. But any caps I did find were mostly covered with mud, so into the bag they went to be studied later.

(c)mysterious pod (1)

Interesting and delicate pod or gall I found under the leaves.

Another neat thing I found, this thing that looks like some kind of a gall? It was on the ground under the leaves and I’m guessing it was on the tree or a small plant before because it had a stem. There’s a hole so whatever grew up inside it came out. It is paper thin and very interesting, so I put it in my bag, hoping it wouldn’t get squished. (see note at end of post)

Can you see anything in all these leaves?

Can you see anything in all these leaves?

The best find of all was when I noticed something move in the leaves, a tiny, tiny movement but I saw it. Then I just stopped and watched, and waited…then saw it again and really had to watch it not to loose it in the leaves again, a tiny Wood Frog!

A beautiful and tiny Wood Frog!

A beautiful and tiny Wood Frog!

Not very big and exciting you say? NO it IS! How many years have I walked on my land and do you think I see them all the time? NO, I hear them but don’t see them. So I snapped as many photos of this frog, that seriously was only as big as my thumbnail, as I could. Then when I was satisfied I had gotten enough, I used my stick to carefully move a blade of grass that was blocking my view of him.

Nice side view showing his mask.

Nice side view showing his mask.

It’s totally ok that it made him hop onto new leaves, I got even better pictures of him! You have to be patient and yes, it gave me a very stiff neck, all that looking down and crouching.

(c)Wood Frog (18)

Here’s a top view of him, you can see the patterns on his back that help him blend in.

I think because it was so cold he was moving slower than normal, a great time to get photos of frogs. Then I heard another Wood Frog across the lane calling and I thought, maybe that’s his mate or in ‘children’s book land’ his friend? It’s wandering through the woods alone when you can let your imagination have play too, and it’s good for you!

(c)'raisin' fungus 1

This was an unusual fungus I saw more than once, it looked liked someone squished raisins on the branch!

On the way back then it started to rain, then it hailed on my head! It was ok, the clouds were magnificent and the the cold breezes blowing, making my cheeks glow, it was wonderful to be there at that moment and really take it in.

Such beauty in a much overlooked wildflower, Chicory.

Such beauty in a much overlooked wildflower, Chicory.

I found two Chicory plants with beautiful blue blossoms on them still, hanging on to any sun they can get now.

And one little Aster in the middle of the ‘Maze’, an overgrown field with paths I cut years ago. The white Aster looked up at me with it’s tiny little face, and asked if winter was coming soon? I told it to prepare and go to sleep before the snow falls. It was sad but missed it’s friends, as they had all gone, so it nodded it’s head and drooped a little in it’s tiny stem.

Though I see interesting and beautiful things, walking alone on my land, I’m sometimes like the little Aster. It focuses my thoughts as I walk in quiet and when I see the beauty I want to turn to my sweetheart to share it with him, and he’s not there. And the discoveries I make I want to share with my Dad…and then I miss him again and again, not being able to talk to him. I’m sure many of you know what I mean, but instead of focusing on who isn’t there, I try to share my experiences with those I can.

The wild rose hips and their leaves were just beautiful, magical colors!

The wild rose hips and their leaves were just beautiful, magical colors!

I can show Gary pictures and talk to him on Skype until we can walk together. And my dad, I thank him for encouraging my love of nature and my creative endeavors as I quietly promise to follow through on my children’s stories. And to all of you, so glad you stop by to read my ramblings and see what I’m up to!

Have you gotten outside to take a slow walk lately? Noticing the change of seasons?

Maple leaf I made by wet felting wool.

Maple leaf I made by wet felting wool.

I made this leaf out of wool by wet felting it, isn’t it cool? I can keep it forever and it won’t lose it’s color. Here’s a picture with two leaves I made.

Two Maple leaves I made into felt from wool.

Two Maple leaves I made into felt from wool.

Now here are those felted acorns I made! Aren’t they cool?

Colorful wool needle felted acorns, caps from two different oak trees.

Colorful wool needle felted acorns, caps from two different oak trees.

I have since added pretty beads to the strings and made them into ornaments.

* My online friend Ed has kindly sent me a link to a page about the mysterious empty gall I found. It’s from an Oak Apple Gall Wasp, please read about it here, it’s fascinating! And here’s a page all about galls and the ‘critters’ that form them. Thanks Ed!

“Garlic Breath”

"You've got garlic breath!"

“You’ve got garlic breath!”

Just a little silliness! When I was cooking dinner yesterday this funny thought came to me, so I sketched it down.

Thumbnail sketches for "Garlic Breath".

Thumbnail sketches for “Garlic Breath”.

These are some thumbnail sketches I did first; I could have made the ‘receiving’ clove of garlic do other body poses. Just my odd sense of humor, well it made me chuckle at least!

And to top it off studies of real garlic cloves.

Pen and Ink studies of garlic.

And to top it off, studies of real garlic cloves.  It was fun to end my silly cartooning with a real study, good practice.

Hope I made you smile today! 🙂

A New Sketchbook!

My New Sketchbook! (please click pictures for clearer view)

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

I had fun decorating the cover of my new sketchbook!

Sometimes you just need a new sketchbook. A fresh start along a new path. Something that allows you to jot down all your creative ideas, no matter how small. I’ve put so much of my art career on hold this past year because of preparing to move to England. Lately (as you may know) I’ve been exploring the art of felt making and silk painting and that ties in here too! I wanted a sketchbook that I could draw ideas in and tape things in like a scrap book. So I created this big sketchbook that is meant to stay in the studio, not venture outside for hikes.

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

I surrounded myself with color pencils and just had fun!

A sketchbook to an artist is like a living thing; we tell it our inner thoughts and ideas, inspirations, by drawing, writing and painting in it. It becomes the very closest, best friend you’ve ever had! Sometimes we share what’s on the pages freely, enjoying the reaction and feedback from those we share it with. But it’s also nice to have a sketchbook that is just for you, that you decide how much of it you’ll share. Most of my sketchbooks the past few years, have been very public; nature sketches done while walking here in New York or in England. I LOVE sharing them! When I was in England it was enjoyable to let interested strangers look through my pages, finding out what they liked best, hearing their comments about places I painted that they recognized. But my new sketchbook I’m ‘allowing’ myself to share only what I want, PHEW! It’s funny the feeling of freedom you get just making that decision as a teacher and one who loves sharing their work.

The first page in my sketchbook, totally geared towards felting and silk painting.

The first page in my sketchbook, totally geared towards felting and silk painting.

This is the first page in my sketchbook; you can see it’s all geared towards felting and silk painting. Instead of worrying about this new love distracting me from my illustration and painting, I embraced it because I saw it as good practice while my mind is occupied with other things. I taped some watercolor studies in later used the space around for more notes and ideas.

Working on the letter "S".

Working on the letter “S”.

I drew the letters free-form on the cover (which by the way is a piece of colored mat board), later realizing that I should have made them fatter. So I added onto them and it still worked alright. I had fun making the letters look like shiny ribbons.

Ok, what I love about my new sketchbook is the size! I used full sheets of 9 x 12″ papers from various sketchpads. I put bristol board, watercolor papers, card stock and plain drawing paper for an assortment and labeled each in tiny letters along the edge. This way I can continue to test and evaluate what paper I like best. I’m used to working in sketchbooks half this size for drawing and painting in the field.

My sketch in progress, for a new poem, "Red Dragonflies".

My sketch in progress, for a new poem, “Red Dragonflies”.

The very best thing I’ve found use for on these big pages, is that I can jot down a new poem and then right next to it do sketches of my ideas for illustrating it! I was in the garden in September and enjoyed watching two red dragonflies, landing on the leaves, sunning, glittering. When I went in the house I started writing a poem about them and did four stanzas. The next day I added two more and then at the end of the month I tied it up with two more! But the best thing is I sketched an idea of an illustration right next to it, while looking at photos I took of the dragonflies. As I have time I’m adding a bit of watercolor and working on the little sketch.

I also put notes around sketches for ideas of what to put in the painting, like colors and subjects, as below.

An idea I had for a funny illustration, while walking around my backyard.

An idea I had for a funny illustration, while walking around my backyard.

One day while walking around my yard I noticed the little paths that go into the tall grasses along the edges of my yard. I always look at these and imagine the critters who walk on them and think they’re great subjects for my stories. Well there’s a stray black cat that hangs around my yard sometimes and after seeing the paths and thinking of the cat, I drew this funny little sketch! The cat is waiting in the shadows…but he doesn’t look mean, is he going to eat them? Or is he a friend? The one mouse beckons to the other, “C’mon”….as you wonder what will happen. The little wren at the top looks on.

So there is the evolution of my new sketchbook! Lots going into it and I’ll try to post more soon! Please leave comments below, I love reading them and responding!

Sketch for a little girl mouse.

Sketch for a little girl mouse.