Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grand Canyon in Winter

One of my Christmas gifts this year was three days and two nights at the Grand Canyon just after Christmas! We had fabulous cabin rooms on the rim of the canyon at Bright Angel with glorious views of the canyon. The first morning, I was up before the sun and sat and painted the sunrise view through the window. A dusting of snow the night before made it so lovely and wintry.
Later that day, while the rest of the group was out walking, I sat and painted another view from the window. By now, the sun and wind had removed the bit of snow fallen through the night.

Sabino Canyon Saguaro

For Thanksgiving weekend, I went to Tucson with my sister and her hubby. While there, they showed me around a bit and I captured a bit of the view from the nature walk at the Sabino Canyon Ranger District. This was my first up close look at Saguaro. They look like alien invadors to me! While painting this, I watched a family of quail circle all the way around me!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Autumn Glory

A week after the leaves began to turn, they were all golden and amber on the tree. In the late afternoon light, they shone with brilliance. I dropped all I was doing and did this watercolor sketch. The next morning I woke to wind and the trees were completely devoid of leaves. How glad I am that I was able to capture a glimpse of their autumn glory before they were gone.

Oak Leaves

More autumn leaves. These are from the Gamble's Oak outside my apartment. One day the tree was dark green. The next, the color was yellow green. On the third day, there were scattered clumps of these amber colored leaves.

Nature Walk

In the autumn, my pockets are filled with fallen leaves and other bits of nature indicative of the season. At home, these bits find their way onto the table or top of the china cabinet where I can enjoy them for a while longer. Once in a while I forget them in my pocket and later find leaf crumbles in their place. The pinecone in this (Ponderosa) has to be among the most challenging things I've ever sketched.

Another scavenger hunt item ~ my bed. At nearly 150 years old, it doesn't sit quite square anymore and had to be slightly modified to fit a modern mattress. I love the old walnut woods in it. In one spot on the headboard there is a mark that appears to be from a small childs teeth. Intriguing to think about who has owned this bed previously and how the tooth marks got into the wood.

From an art perspective, this was a challenge to draw. The perspective, the slight twist of the bedframe and trying to capture light on dark wood. This is my second go at sketching this bed and as I still have the perspective off, it looks like I need to give at least one more try.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I discovered something new recently. The world of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and Artist Cards Editions and Originals (ACEOs). These are small works of art that are 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" in size. Some artists trade them (ATCs), others sell them (ACEOs), which accounts for the two different names. On my pad of Winsor& Newton 140 lb Hot Press watercolour paper, I can fit 8 or 9 of these cards on one sheet. It is a fun way to try out new techniques and play with series of images. In playing with these, I came up with two small series.

This first series is of some tiny Christmas balls I have. I've always loved tiny things so doing tiny art of wee Christmas balls seems a perfect intro into the world of ATC/ACEOs!



This next series is my favorite so far and one I may attempt to recreate much larger in oils in the future. These gave me more enjoyment painting than I've had in a long time (and I really like to paint!)


Sunday, September 30, 2007


There is something about sunflowers that just makes me want to paint them. It's rather funny really, because I'd never say they were one of my favorite flowers. But I love the contrast of that bright yellow with the dark centers. I actually set up this still life for an oil painting, which is in progress on my easel, but they begged a watercolor sketch as well. Happy Autumn!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A place in the sun

Autumn has arrived here in Flagstaff. The cool days and chilly nights have led me to add a couple blankets to the bed and rearrange the furniture so that I have a spot to sit in the afternoon sun.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Coffee Break

I'm a tea drinker rather than a coffee drinker, but coffee was the theme of one of the scavenger hunt challenges. This sketch includes a coffee mug I never use (except when company comes!), a slice of cake, a coffee packet and something to measure with.

Kitties working

Every cat has a job ~ Mollie and Thomas spend their day watching the birds and chipmunk on the patio! I think this is one of my very favorite watercolor sketches that I have done!

A can, something powdered that you can cook with and a green vegetable are the subjects of this hunt sketch. Hmmm, wonder what else we could add to come up with something yummy? I'm thinking a nice Spanish rice with sugar snap peas in place of green peppers!

Hidden Objects

Another Wet Canvas scavenger hunt sketch. This subject was to do a fireplace, but mine is hidden, so I decided to go ahead and sketch that anyway. The perspective was funny in order to get a glimpse of the fireplace (can you see it tucked back there behind the plant and TV?) and it skewed the rest of the sketch. One to learn from.
Finding the subjects for the Wet Canvas scavenger hunts forces me to think creatively about what I'm sketching and helps me to sketch things I typically wouldn't think of doing. Like this corner of my living room. The items that inspired this were; something taller than me; a hanging plant; eyeglasses with an eyeglass holder or chain.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bunny Tales

Another watercolor sketch for the Wet Canvas Scavenger Hunt. Something blue ~ my 1884 copy of Andersen's Fairy Tales and something glass ~ a purple glass bunny given to me by a friend.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On the edge of Navaho Land

Today, I was up before the sun and on the road to Navaho Land. On previous visits to Wupatki National Monument, I had seen a dirt road that cut across the desert to the Little Colorado River and that was my destination. By 8:30 a.m. I reached the river. It is shallow, almost nothing more than a mudflat with a few inches of water, but it reflected the blue of the sky and contrasted beautifully with the red rocks and tan silty mud.

For this first watercolor, I perched my stool on a hardened silt bar that jutted into the river and painting the view looking north or down the river.

This is the view across the river into Navaho Land. It has a stark and wild beauty.

After enjoying most of the morning at the river, I then headed back into Wupatki and perched in what little shade a scraggly juniper provided for this sketch. I would have liked to put more detail into it, but it was simply too hot!

A visit to Sedona

The Chapel at Tulaquepaque and stone cross.

Looking into Tulaquepaque to the courtyard.

Views of the red rocks around Sedona near sunset.

Images from Flagstaff

These signs are on every major road leading into Flagstaff.

Flagstaff & Coconino Country Public Library

Views of the San Francisco Peaks.

View from my study window.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Everything & the kitchen sink

Ended up putting several items on this scavenger hunt list that fit well in this sketch ~ the kitchen sink, flowing water, cleaning supply (dishsoap), draped dishcloth, cooking pot, & dishdrainer. I've alway found metal objects hard but by working to observe the light and color actually present rather what one "thinks" one sees, it becomes easier to represent.

Nose studies

Noses are fascinating ~ they come in so many shapes and sizes! I did studies of an assortment on this page ~ babies from work, some from folks I watched while out running errands, my kitties, and my own.

Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is here in Flagstaff. It is where they discovered Pluto and it is one of the reasons that Flagstaff is a "dark" city. This means that there is not an excess of light pollution at night so it doesn't adversly affect the observatory. The street lights are dim and allow little light to escape upwards. Makes star viewing a pleasure here! The milky way glows at night, something no longer visible in most cities.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Button Jar

I am the host for the current Wet Canvas Scavenger Hunt #45, meaning that I got to make the list of things to draw over the next 9 days! Fun and challenging to come up with a list that will be interesting for everyone to draw. Since I am starting a sketchbook on Flagstaff, I choose several items that could be included in both. Also included are ordinary everyday items that one finds at home. My first sketch for this hunt includes my button jar (something transparent & fasteners of some type) and a pink cream pitcher (something pink). I overworked this a little, but am still pleased with the results!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This building sits at the top of the hill and I look out on it from my apartment. Every morning, the early morning sun lights it up and it contrasts against the deep blue of the Arizona sky. It fit the bill when this current scavenger hunt called for a landscape with a fence.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


As my friends know, I love bunnies! I have several stuffed ones as well as quite a few figurines so when this hunt called for a sketch of a figurine and a stuffed animal, I had lots to choose from!

My Sketch Kit

This little sketching kit goes just about everywhere with me! The green folding water basket makes it easy to paint just about anywhere without having to carry a lot of bulky stuff with me. Just a water bottle and this kit and I'm ready to sketch!

San Francisco Peaks

Driving up the street on my way home, the setting sun made the peaks glow. I stopped and sketched this from the parking lot of the grocery store. One of the things I love about Flagstaff is how it is tucked into the forest and from many places you can get unspoiled views like this.


A neon sign? Not what I would think of to draw! Wanted something a little different that the usual "open" sign that you see, so when I stopped at Sonic for some dinner one night, I thought this corner of the restaurant might make an interesting sketch.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Memories of Mexico

In 1984, I made a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico with my mother. It was fun to look through the old photo album and remember the trip and think about what items I have from Mexico that I could sketch to go with the photo album. The earrings are from Mexico, but were actually a gift to me in High School from my best friend growing up. She brought them back from Mexico after attending a Senior Girl Scout trip there. The handpainted plate was one of several that were given to me by an elderly friend of the family many years ago. Miss Jessie had travelled the world and this is one of the things she brought back from Mexico in the early 1900's. I saw many more like it when we visited the markets in Mazatlan!

Drafting Supplies

One of the items on this Hunt's list was to draw an object that describes your current or former occupation. I had a tough time deciding what to draw but when I realized that another item on the hunt list was "something orange", that decided it. I don't have very many things that are orange in my home, but I do have bright orange drafting triangles! I worked for nearly 10 years as a Structural Drafter/Engineering Techician in the days before computer aided drafting took over.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Everyday items

Every 9 days, there is a new list of items to sketch. The person who makes up the list can also include "challenges". On this list, the main challenge is to draw items in pastel or oil pastel. I'm going to skip that challenge as I have never had much success with either and gave them all away! For now, I'll stick with my trusty old watercolors and ink sketches!

It was a challenge to find items on the current list that would somewhat go together, but in the end, I didn't do to badly with this first sketch ~ actually managed to get 8 items in it! The fun thing is that in the end, it gives a glimpse of some of my favorite things and items I use everyday. Can you guess my favorite color and my one of my favorite scents/flavor/flowers?!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holly's Greenhouse

The last items I have to do for this scavenger hunt are all outdoor items. For this one, I needed to draw "any architecture". Since I was at my sister's for the afternoon, I thought I'd draw something there and she suggested the greenhouse, so here it is!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Herbal Beauty

This was a tough little still life to put together. I'd used up most of the "interior" objects on the list already. I needed 'something blue', a 'toiletry' and 'any flag you see'. Debated using a small American flag as the backdrop but it just didn't go. Then I thought about the Post-it flags I use to mark pages I refer to frequently in books and this all came together.

Simple Pleasures

This sketch was fun to put together. Some of my favorite treats ~ a lovely single malt scotch, cherry turnovers and cherrys, candlelight and some lovely celtic harp music!

Ready to go!

One of the fun things about participating in the scavenger hunts, is that it spurs me to draw things I normally wouldn't consider doing, like bottles of suntan lotion or my shoes. Next, it makes me thing creativly about how to combine items on the list in ways to make a cohesive still life that isn't just a random collection of objects. For this sketch, I ended up with the ingredients for a summer outing all sitting on my chair, waiting to go!

Monday, May 21, 2007


This is the view from my patio and from the living room sliding door. Ponderosas are one of the things that Flagstaff is known for as it sits in the middle of the largest contiguous Ponderosa forest in the world.

My favorite store

I love reading! I love books! I love bookstores! And this one ~ Barnes & Noble ~ where ever they may be, tends to be the one I frequent most! This was probably the most challenging sketch I have done due to the amount of detail, the off-center perspective and the fact that there were people to draw (not my strong point when it comes to sketching). Had fun doing it though. Sat in the cafe and sipped my Chai while drawing and painting! Had a couple of onlookers, one of whom is in the painting. I didn't have the courage to ask if he recognized himself!

Patio Flowerpots

After not having had a garden or a space for outdoor containers for the past three years, I am ecstatic to have an outdoor patio at last! Potted up these flowers and herbs last week and arranged them with some of my garden statuary!