Ink, Yarn & Beer

my life a bit at a time

And the Show Goes On

July 29, 2018

July is nearly over, and it has been a rather lumpy month.  I spent about a week in Reno with one of my favorite people in the world – Stef, an old room mate from college – and came home with a stomach bug that got better and then didn’t.  She got the same thing and got better, but I’ve been malingering.  It’s really damned dull to not have loads of zip and then hellishly hot weather to add into the mix.  So wah, wah, wah.

Let’s move on to other things!

We had a tie-dye birthday party (and used the bbq sauce from the last entry on the meat, which was quite tasty, I will say) and made a bunch of old hippy type stuff.  I’ll post about that at another time when I get some photos together.  As a group, we’re pretty talented.

And I’ve been doing some watercolors, too; I haven’t done anything pretty much since returning from Reno 3 weeks ago.  Today I just put it on my agenda and decided to do simple representations of trees.  A few weeks earlier I did windows.  And since I am not especially sure what else to say, here ya go, I then I am off for a walk with the esposo and the dogs.


Honey Bourbon Peach BBQ Sauce

June 30, 2018

Monday is the beer brewer’s birthday, so we are doing a small gathering of the clan for a barbecue.  With any BBQ, you need a smoker, BBQ sauce, and pork ribs.  (At least we think so!)  So, Mr. put together a rub and I am simmering the BBQ sauce as we speak.  As with all my recipes, this is a bit of this and that, and while I sort of followed a recipe, I sort of did my own thing.  I like my sauce sweet and sour and hot all at once, and lately I have been in a real mood for peaches and bourbon for a sauce, so here is my attempt!

Honey Bourbon Peach BBQ Sauce

2 sweet onions, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped
2 c. tomato sauce
3/4 c. honey
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 – 1/2 c. bourbon
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 small hot chili peppers, seeded and chopped (I used Black Cobra)
1-2 T. hot chili flakes
2 T. chipotle chili powder or a few chipotles from a can
1 t. pepper
1-2 T. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt


Saute together onions, garlic and chopped tomatoes (if used) until soft and translucent. Place chopped peaches and onion-garlic-tomato mixture in with peaches. Blend until smooth and creamy. You may need to blend in small batches; as each batch is done, put into large pan. Once all the blending is done, leave about 1/4 of the blender filled and add remainder of ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into pan with rest of sauce. Simmer on stove top for about 30 minutes. Taste it as it begins to cook – you may need to adjust the flavors to your own liking.


Yield: about 6 c. (from what I am guestimating)

Round Brush – Doing Lines

June 29, 2018

Before I get into the morning’s routine, I feel like writing up what I did yesterday afternoon on my first “me only” day in a long time.  After my nap and afternoon coffee, I pulled out a novel, watercolors, paper, iPad, and a few other things, and moved out to the back patio.  The goal was to work on using a round brush and practicing how to use it.

I did – and still do occasionally – sumi-e – which is really focused on brushwork on absorbent paper.  Watercolor is not ink only, but colors, and the colors are alluring and distracting.  So distracting are they that I forget the value of brushwork and am completely seduced by colors!  As a result, I did some web searching and found a nice article on different brushstrokes to do with a round brush, as well as with a flat brush.  I chose the round to begin with as that is my go-to brush type.  Below are the exercises.

I made notes as I moved along.  I used pale colors, too, just to see how my scanner would pick them up (BTW, it did a pretty good job – the ink is a bit pale, though).

From this point – which was about an hour’s practice – I moved on to deciding what to do next.  Read my novel?  Have more coffee?  Paint a picture and focus on brushwork using a round brush!  I alternated between a larger squirrel mop and a synthetic sable round.

The first step was to choose the paper.  In the end, I chose a Handbook across two pages.  I had read somewhere about using a light color to create the outlines one might make with a pencil, so I used Quinacridone Gold and laid down the foundational lines.

At this point I worked out the building structure, horizon, and vanishing point, more by eye than using anything scientific like a ruler.

The next step was to add vast washes of color for the sky and field debris between the flowers.  The brushwork was done wet-on-wet for the sky.  A clear wash was followed by a sky of cerulean.  The same was done with the purple flower field on the right, which was then overlaid with a wet-into-kinda-wet mix of Alizarin Crimson and Carbazole Violet.  The gold between the long white was also wet-into-wet using Quinacridone Gold in varying strengths.  Then I let it all dry.

The next step was to create the pink flowerbeds. I used a mixture of Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose, and Alizarin Crimson. I really pushed the colors here, laying down values far darker than I would if I was working toward what I wanted – I really need to remember than watercolors dry about 30% lighter than the wet paint!

As you can see, I worked to create white space in the pink flower beds, and tried to add depth as they move toward the horizon.  From this point, the painting continued, and I didn’t stop to take pictures.  I read my novel as different layers dried.

As each step of proceeded – from initial lines of the sketch to the flower field – I thought about brush strokes.  The lines of the initial sketch were simple lines with the tip of the brush.  The washes for the sky used the side of the brush.  The fields of gold and violet were done as washes and as brush tip lines.  The pink flowers were a combination of lines and curves and dots.

Below is the final image.  The sky is vastly different than the flat wash, which I initially had planned on retaining, but as the outlines on the building were not strong, and the whites too pale and lacking in contrast, I turned the painting upside down and used a mix of Cerulean and Ultramarine to make edges pop.  This led to just doing the sky all over.  Imagine my surprise when I saw not only lines in my brushwork, but the lines in the composition!  The way the fields of flowers create a diagonal motion matches the opposite movement of the sky and clouds.

Altogether, I am really pleased with this study.  It took about 2 hours, with layers drying and my thinking and reading my novel.  Certainly an afternoon well spent, I think.

Sunday Morning

June 24, 2018

This morning I had one goal in mind:  paint.  With a gloomy sky here on the California coast, the damp and cold penetrate you to the bone.  Once it leaves, it’s a great big sunny day ahead!  So, while waiting for the fog to dissipate, I took a few pictures of a bouquet I put together of chamomile flowers and small, red carnations in a rectangular glass base.  I didn’t do a value study because I wanted to look at the colors – light, dark, and so on – to see what I could produce.

I penciled in the basic drawing, took some notes of the colors and mixed this and that, testing them on a scrap of paper.  Looking at the vase, I saw the different shades of color through the glass with water and without water, as well as the water line and edges of the vase.  Chamomile leaves are multi-lobed and floppy; carnation leaves are rather spiky.  Chamomile flowers are happy, daisy-like flowers, and quite small.  Carnations are upright.  Both are really lovely!

Process was like my last two flower paintings – start with the large areas of color and move into details.  Overall, it worked here, until I started getting into the hodge-podge of leaves.  I think I should have simplified their masses of color, but I didn’t.  I like the negative painting I accomplished for the chamomile flowers, as well as the edges along the bouquet where the white flowers have to merge into something.  The carnations were far more difficult than I thought, and once more, I made something more complicated and tight than I would like to see as “my” style.

Nonetheless, I feel that this painting is a moderate success.  I was patient and let the washes dry, working from lighter to more dark, thinking about white space and negative painting.  And I still have a bouquet of flowers to enjoy!

Time Rolling By

June 23, 2018

I don’t know if you experience this, but it seems to be a common theme.  Once you know that you have vacation ahead, you realize just how tired you are!  Tired of work, tired of the people you work with, and just plain tired!  With retirement coming up, I am even more frustrated by my job and its hours, some of the silly things that occur.  I am also tired of some of the people and looking forward to not being around them.  That’s life, and change is good, as are the constants in daily life.  Look for your blessings every day – I really believe this, and try to do it, without losing perspective, either.

Last weekend 11 trees were trimmed and pruned; 5 were completely removed.  For the first time in years, the back half of the house has daylight, not artificial, as a main light source.  I bought a plant to see how it will do, between the dogs and the poor soil.  (Poor plant!)  It’s a penstemon, which is drought-tolerant.  It’s a lovely, cheerful flower.  I put it under the dogs’ noses to let them smell it, and then told them “bad”.  Let’s see how it survives!

In addition to dealing with tree removal and pruning, I have been in a real funk about my painting.  After a disastrous series of watercolors, I just put everything aside for about a week.  Still, I did other things, like go for walks and continue to recover from the house renovation by moving things here and there and unpacking more boxes.  All this upheaval!  It’s a slow process, but it’s getting done.  Of course, there are still a million other things I could delude myself into doing as “necessary” – which really are, but not vital to my existence!

So, after a week of blithering and dithering and feeling like a lost soul, I sat down, once more, in the studio.  I took out a large palette of colors (the key to which is still missing), and decided to do some flowers in vases.  I like flowers, so it seemed a perfect subject.  I worked in the main color areas first – after doing a line drawing, but no value study (a habit I need to establish) – top to bottom.  After that, I looked some more.  And some more.  Then I began to add details, all the while working very hard to think ahead and in the present at the same time.  I produced two paintings I liked.

And finally, I had a Friday afternoon.  Watercolor class or just do what I wanted?  I chose the latter.  Doing what I wanted was more interesting and more challenging and more needed than anything else.  Into the car, down to an art store, down to the nursery, and finally the bookstore.  I bought 4 paint brushes, 1 penstemon, 2 watercolor magazines and 3 books.  I drank a cup of coffee.  Finally, some time of my own, some time to think, and some time to recover from this sense of ennui that has been my companion for many days.  Yay!

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