Watercolor Pencils

I have had a set of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, a set of 60, lying around for several years.  As I have been focusing intensely on watercolor painting and drawing, I figured I should dig them out.  A scribble here and there is what I have done with them, but have never attempted a “serious” or complete picture with them.

They get pretty good reviews, and come in tins and boxes of varying number, as well as are available individually.  I found their pigmentation pleasant and easy to use.  Like watercolors, you need to be careful with your brush.  YouTube videos show various ways to use them.  I am inclined to think they work best with a bit of reserve or delicacy, because my own picture was anything but that.

In my picture, I did layers, followed by using various brushes of different sizes.  Iron gall ink was used for the initial sketch, and then at the end to draw more lines and such.  Below you can see the layers of pencil; in between each water was used, and then more pencil laid down.

And here is the final product.  I was surprised by the results.  I am sort of pleased, sort of not pleased.  The goal, though, was to learn about watercolor pencils.  I enjoyed the experience and know I will do it again, perhaps with a different approach.

 

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Thinking About Things

 

As I get older, the more I find I want to just slow down.  I am not interested in this experience followed by that one, of rushing here to be able to rush there.  I just want to slow down my life and enjoy it.  This is probably related to simple math:  the older you get, the less time you have.  As a result, you want to enjoy it.

Retirement from an official job and job duties is looming ahead.  Preparations for such are underway.  While a lot of information has been gathered, there are still unknowns – which hopefully will be revealed in the not-too-distant future – so that final decisions can be made.  There is also a potential golden handshake coming in the next year and a half, and if so, I hope the qualifications are in my favor.

I have been on vacation for the last two weeks, and have enjoyed my time immensely.  Each day has been conscientiously filled with things I want to do, with my thinking about what I want to do and why.  I’m an introvert, so it is very easy to get lost in my head and forget to reach outward for human contact, whether family or friend.  Those contacts are very important.  With them, the world becomes balanced and isolation does not set in.

In the past 20 years, 7 people I have known have died, through disease or accident, and few others are seriously ill.  Most have gone in the past 5.  My mortality is right there in front of me.  I no longer feel like I will live forever, like I did just ten years ago.  Even my own health has its problems.

So, yeah, I’ve been thinking.  And doing.  Doing is the key to it all:  action and take in what I have around me.  Savor it.  Cherish it.  Live it.

A Bit of Dishonesty

I’ve been editing photos for a while now.  One of my favorite tools is spot removal, from spots on a dirty digital lens to lint in film.

The other day I was comparing my second edition of the Moonlit Sycamore with the first edition of the same.  I liked the first one better, but did not like all the little twiggy lines I put in to represent a tangled undergrowth at the base of the tree.

Then the thought hit:  edit it out!

So I did.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the before, and then the after.  The third image is the second real painting of the same subject.  What do you think?

Me and My Cookie Scoop

I love cookies, but of late, dietary issues have forced me to stop eating certain foods after a lifetime of eating them.  Well, that is the way life is.  Luckily, there is the internet, there is imagination, and there is my love for cookies.  If I were to single out two favorite sweets, cookies and homemade fruit pie are the winners.  So, today, I decided I would look for cookies that didn’t use flour or starches, and I came across this recipe for thumbprint cookies by Danielle Walker.  They are designed to be paleo or specific carbohydrate diet (SCD).  They are a great start, but as I didn’t have coconut flour, I changed them a bit.  Here is my take on the recipe.

Thumbprint Cookies

1 egg
6 T. soft butter
1/3 c. honey
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 c. blanched almond flour (mine is from Trader Joe’s)
1/2 c. almond meal
1/2 c. unsweetened flaked coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
Fruit preserves without sugar (I used some fruit spread sweetened with grape juice and natural pectin from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat together butter, honey, and egg, for about a minute at medium speed. Beat in at low speed the remaining ingredients until the mix together well.

I suggest you make one test cookie! This will help you adjust time and add ingredients if you need to.

Using a 2 T. cookie scoop, make balls, and place on parchment covered cookie sheet. Press your finger into the cookie to make a deep well. Fill well with just enough fruit spread to fill the indentation – don’t let it run over the sides or overfill. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly brown. Let cool completely on wire rack to allow the fruit spread to cool to a non-liquid state.  Yield:  17 – 18 cookies (I ate some of the dough!).

I think next time around I will add a bit of salt . . . I seldom cook with salt, but these cookies need just a tad.

Damned good cookies if you ask me!

Negative Painting & Glazing

This morning I decided to do a few things I haven’t been too fond of in the past.  One is negative painting.  The other is using glazes.  That’s what I did here.  The first layer was a warm yellowish wash, very thin.  From there, about 3 or 4 consecutive layers of blues and violets around the main trunks, and then over the ones to the sides, making them bluish.  I then used a rigger brush (for the first time) to create branches.

Overall, the picture works, but the areas I can say shouldn’t have happened are the branches in front of the central trunk.  The other thing I need to do is to create better contrast on the branches, in particular it seems on the right.  I would like to see more blue in there, in narrow strips using a flat brush.  I may do that later.

The idea behind this painting a sycamore tree in moonlight, with the above exercises to accomplish it.  I thought ahead more than I usually do, considering colors and such, as well as the approach to creating what I desired as an end product.