Friday, November 28, 2014

Leftovers for Lunch

11/28/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Canson XL140 lb. paper
Were you hoping for pie? Actually, we do have some pie left, but as I dished out some leftovers for lunch today, I decided to sketch my plate instead of pie because I figured it would be a bit more challenging. I drew the asparagus and broccoli and then started on the dressing when I realized there was nothing to “draw” – better to go straight to paint with amorphous subjects like mashed potatoes and candied yams. Who knew that sketching big blobs of starch could be so difficult! It was worse than painting clouds.

Speaking of big blobs of starch, I tried a new recipe for candied yams this year: Toffee Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole, which Greg found on the KCTS9 website. It was so sweet and yummy that we could have had it for dessert! (I used actual yams, not sweet potatoes.) This recipe is a keeper. Good thing Thanksgiving comes only once a year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Study in Ellipses

11/26/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Pitt Artist Pen, Van Gogh watercolors, Stillman
and Birn Beta sketchbook
The other day I showed you a still life of ingredients that would be unlikely to appear in the same recipe. Today it’s a still life of the main ingredients for the single-most important and non-negotiable food item to appear on tomorrow’s table (and it may be the only recipe I know by heart!).

All the cans and jars turned out to be a study in ellipses more than anything else. Even after examining Liz Steel’s helpful tutorial on how to draw ellipses (as they appear in tea cups), I still have trouble with them.

You may have guessed from my urban sketches that I hate doing lettering (as on signage, advertising, etc.) and generally avoid it. Since the eggs were the only ingredient that didn’t contain text, I could see that this still life would take a while if I struggled through all that lettering. Heck, I have a pie to bake! I decided to see how little lettering I could get away with and still evoke the products accurately. 

My plan is to sketch the remains of the finished product tomorrow, but in case it gets fully devoured, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rainy Day Therapod

11/25/14 Diamine Sargasso Sea ink, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
After dropping off my car for servicing in the U District, I dashed through today’s relentless drizzle to the Burke Museum a few blocks away. The last time I visited, I had sketched the stegosaur skeleton in the main dinosaur exhibit, and despite my best efforts, I didn’t scale correctly, so I had to chop off his tail and put it on another page. Today I sketched his buddy right next to him – a therapod dinosaur, whose front half I had sketched back in January. This time I scaled accurately and managed to fit the whole skeleton onto a sketchbook spread (barely).

How fortuitous that the time it takes me to sketch a therapod is just about the same as the time it takes to get my oil changed.

Sadly, I’m running out of Burke dinosaurs. I have one more large one left to sketch; after that, I’ll move on to the small prehistoric cat skeletons and the animal skulls. After that, I might have to plan a trip to the Smithsonian for a bone fix!

Monday, November 24, 2014

An Unlikely Recipe

11/24/14 DeAtramentis Document Brown ink, Van Gogh watercolors, Stillman &
Birn Beta sketchbook
Looking around the kitchen for something to sketch, I found that the only produce on our counter today was two bananas and a garlic with one clove taken out. Be thankful that I was just looking for a still life and not trying to sketch a recipe.

(Can you tell it’s still life season? Last year for NaNoDrawMo, I ended up sketching a whole alphabet of still lifes!)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Comparison of Three Waterproof Inks

11/23/14 DeAtramentis Document Brown ink, Van Gogh watercolors, Stillman
and Birn Beta sketchbook
For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Platinum Carbon Black exclusively when I’ve needed a waterproof fountain pen ink. Not only does it dry almost immediately and become waterproof in a matter of seconds, it has never clogged any of my Lamy, Pilot or Sailor pens.

Before finding it, I had tried a few Noodler’s inks that were supposed to be waterproof and even “bulletproof” (waterproof as well as bleachproof). In addition to their varying degrees of so-called waterproofness (I wasn’t very concerned about chlorine!), my main issue was that they seemed to clog my pens. Annoyed and frustrated, I got rid of all those inks and swore never to use Noodler’s again. And once I found Platinum Carbon, I had no need to look further.

At one point I wanted a little color variety, so I tried a waterproof blue (Sailor Sei-Boku Blue-Black), but it is a little too bright a blue to use with watercolors (this Gingerbread Village sketch is an example). I also wanted a waterproof brown, and since Platinum behaves so well for me, Platinum Carbon Sepia seemed like a natural choice. Unlike black, however, sepia is too pale and reddish for my taste (this sketch of Santa is an example). After those brief distractions, I stuck with black, and for the most part I’ve been happy.

Lately, though, especially in the fall when I was sketching so many trees, I started wanting a waterproof brown again. All that red, orange and yellow foliage seemed to demand a warmer ink color than black. Noodler’s #41 Brown is a popular choice among sketchers, so despite my skepticism about Noodler’s, I gave it a try when Peggy offered me a sample.

A few things about it made it less than ideal: The color is a bit cooler than I like in a brown, and it’s not quite as waterproof as Platinum Carbon. In my timed test, Noodler’s #41 washed a bit even after 20 minutes of drying time, while Platinum was completely waterproof after 60 seconds (see below). And dangit if it didn’t clog my trusty Sailor, which no ink has ever clogged! (That’s it! No more Noodler’s for me. Ever!)

It might be difficult to see in this scan, but DeAtramentis Document Brown was
completely waterproof after only 30 seconds. Noodler's 41 wasn't completely
waterproof even after 20 minutes. (Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook)
Then I started reading that Liz Steel was raving about DeAtramentis Document Brown. Its waterproofness seemed to satisfy her, and she liked the color (which looked good to me, too, in her scans). I went out to to order a sample. (Inksamplepalooza is still going on – all ink samples are 20% off through Nov. 30! If you’ve been wanting to try some new inks, now is the time.)

Immediately, I liked the color – a rich, strong, warm brown. I tested it with Noodler’s #41 against Platinum Carbon Black, and its drying time was just as fast as Platinum, if not faster – it was completely waterproof after 30 seconds. I’ve had it in my pen for only a couple of days, so it’s too soon to tell whether it has a tendency to clog (stay tuned). But as of today, it looks like a winner.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


11/22/14 India ink, twig, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
The afternoon turned out drier than expected, so after lunch with a friend, I drove through the Crown Hill neighborhood looking for a sketch.

Although most of fall’s colors are gone, and I certainly miss them, I also love the stark beauty of bare trees – and I love to sketch them. The 5-Day Black & White Challenge a couple weeks ago taught me that making monochrome (or mostly monochrome) sketches of bare trees forces me to stay focused on the harsh, brittle shapes the trees form against the white sky. I sketched the same tree twice – once with India ink and twig, and once with a cool gray ink and tan colored pencil.

11/22/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun ink, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble
colored pencil

October – November Sketchbook Bound

Rain – it’s in the forecast as well as the hindcast and the currentcast. A good time for binding my October – November sketchbook. On the front cover are maples at U-Village to remind me of fall’s splendor (the yellow covers and orange binding thread complement the colors); on the back is a different sort of tree – a moss-hairy one from our trip to the Olympic Peninsula.
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