gouache, coasters, and summers on the porch

Paint is funny. Colors come from mostly the same selection of sources, what changes is the binder. And that binder makes SO MUCH difference. Gouache is more opaque than watercolor, but shares some of my favorite features in that you can wet and reuse after its dried. This piece, the rearing rose gray, is me trying to get a better grasp on layering and start to mess with mixing wet paint again. With my watercolors, I have gotten so absorbed in my many little trays that I forget to mix the colors while they are wet. (Can you tell the horse is free-hand with no reference picture? I can :-P). I appreciate the way white gouache behaves. Makes dapples easy.

And yes, that circle was done with a coaster.

This particular coaster set belonged to my grandparents. It’s woven wicker inside wood. It was the outdoor coaster set which we used on the screened porch. After we made our sandwiches with deli meat and filled our plates with chips (a treat!) we’d take our soda (also a treat) out to the porch and eat on the blue stained furniture while we talked and watched the birds at the feeders. They had a lot of bird feeders. Thistle, sunflower, peanut butter, suet, and of course sugar water for the humming birds. My grandfather had built an elaborate baffle (or three) to keep the squirrels off. He also had a heated birdbath for the winter and every year asked for birdseed for Christmas. We’d easily spend hours watching the local wildlife–and there was plenty–besides a bazillion song birds there were the rabbits, squirrels, doves and fox.

Every time I use one of those coasters to draw a circle–or keep a drink from leaving stains–I think of those lazy summer days. A lot of my early fiction writing was on that porch, too, thanks to the advent of laptop computers. I cherished that time. Soaked it up like a sponge, and look at the memories with gentle fondness. I try not to wish to return to the past…but I would go back there.

Someday, I want a screened porch in the shade of my own. While I have invited quite a lot of wildlife onto my deck by attempting to maintain a container garden, it’s not quite the same. My kitchen, sadly, is not arranged for me to sit and watch the bird feeder.

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Faith is a Blue Bird

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Remember that line from The Rescuers? “Faith is like a bluebird, you can’t catch it or buy it or wrap it up tight, but it’s there just the same making things turn out right.”

The Rescuers wasn’t my favorite movie mostly because I found Madam Medusa *very* scary, in a way that McLeach just wasn’t. Yet Rufus the Cat and his little bit of encouragement, as well as about a zillion other lines from the movie, are burned indelibly into my memory.

When people in my generation start losing their memories, they will probably still be able to quote movies.

I always preferred The Rescuers Down Under–I think I may have even seen it first–who knows, I was so little. I mean, Wilbur is fantastic, then of course there is the lovable Australian cast of creatures.

….oh yeah, and I painted a blue bird that I can’t look at without thinking of the Rescuers and subsequently Australia (which is so frighteningly on fire)…

The background is inktense, the bird itself is Daniel Smith watercolors, and the black tips on its wings are gouache. The eye, ever bright, is ink.

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Chicka de de de

Remember that love affair with birds? Still going strong. One of my favorite visitors to the bird feeder (though, lets be honest: almost everything is my favorite so long as it isn’t the squirrel) is the chickadee. I remember watching them at bird feeders in touristy locations—they were the only birds brazen enough to brave the proximity of the crowds. Sparrows are pretty brazen, too, but they spend their time under picnic tables rather than feeders.

My feeder is dominated by house finches and cardinals, but I do have goldfinches, titmice, and chickadees…and in the wintertime I see juncos regularly.

This spring blue jays and starlings started hanging around more, and I’ve noticed more robins in the front yard.

A sketch, and Inktense scribbles in blue and purple.

It had been a while since I’d noticed a chickadee, and one came and sat on a branch quite close to the deck doors—I was surprised that I had forgotten just how tiny chickadees are. I mean, I could probably fit 2 of them on the palm of my hand if they were so inclined.

Such a loud voice and big personality in such an incredibly tiny body—specially compared to the other song birds I’d gotten used to seeing.

Blending with a wet paper towel.

I painted this charmer for my mother as a mother’s day gift. I’m so very pleased with out it came out. #firsttry

Brushing in the branch.

I’d been experimenting for a while with inktense blended backgrounds, and had a really solid idea in my head of how to use the brush pens. I guess it shows. Inktense is such a versatile and sometimes befuddling medium. You’ll be seeing more of it in the coming weeks.

Brush pen, already a little blended. Drying before adding the black.

Have I mentioned that I love the brush pens? Love them. I love putting the color where I want it deepest and then coaxing it out further.

All blacked! And some sharpie paint pen highlights for the branches and white patches.

I still adore my Daniel Smith watercolors—I’ve developed an affinity for their particular granulation and vividness. I’ve been using them so much I’d forgotten just how special they were. My past weeks challenging myself with artist’s loft supplies have been…eye opening…and challenging. So, successful? You’ll be seeing some of that practice, soon.

Prints of the chickadee are in my Etsy shop, if anyone is interested. Just have 5×7 up there now, but 8×10 could be arranged!

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