What Did We Do To Offend Little Miss Nina?

This spring and summer is rivaling COVID lockdowns for disrupting the flow of outdoor life.  Spring and summer for those of us living in a certain northern latitude continues to be a steady stream of rainy days.  We’re trying to get our garden planted, some house repairs done and, for the most part, we sit watching the rain.  The worst part is that weather has become completely unpredictable so it rains when sun is predicted and it’s sunny when it’s supposed to rain.  So, while we’re making some progress, it comes from saying “It looks like it’s not going to rain for the next few hours, I’m going to…”  Weird that.

Anyways, I sat on the deck, watching the rain (very pleasant) and decided to sketch one of an army of Impatiens that are destined to form a defense against grass invaders to a flock of hostas.

It’s been raining all day so I thought I’d write a blog post.  Hope you like the plant sketch.

Sketching Without Lines

I continue to try to use watercolors without an underpinning of a line drawing, mostly without success.  I can’t seem to figure out how to draw crisp edges with watercolors and, for complex drawings, I lose control over the drawing itself.  This is a good example of both of these problems.  This is a drawing (??) of a new pedestrian bridge over my river.  Great bridge, not so great sketch of it.  I added some pencil line buildings after the fact just to provide context.

Boots With Micron’s PN Pen

I’ve always liked Micron pens in spite of my fetish for fountain pens.  The only thing I don’t like is their short life and disposable nature.  But when I saw a couple YouTube reviews of the PN (plastic nib) version of the pen, they peaked my interest.  Those reviews both suggested that this was a “writing” pen and mostly dismissed the variable line width aspect of the pen.  To me, that variability was the reason to try one.

So far I’ve only found them available on Amazon as a set of eight colors, which, to quote Shania Twain, “don’t impress me much,” but the pen sure does.  It won’t give as much width variation as a fude fountain pen but you can more easily control fine line widths and get the width of an 02 to 05/08 width simply by changing the pressure on the tip.  The PN delivers the same bullet-proof ink that Micron pens always produce.

My example is a test drive of the pen while sitting on our deck as it rained – a recurrent condition these days.  They depict my wife’s garden boots.

I do hope these become available as singles as I’d like to get my hands on a few more.

 

Urban Sketching For International Nature Journal Week

I grew up in Arizona.  The standing joke there is that you don’t need weathermen.  All you need is a daily announcement of “Sunny and hot.”  I didn’t discover seasons until I moved north where I had a lot of difficulty dealing with the demands of “dressing for the weather.”  More than one kind of clothes?  Who’da thunk it?

Lately, though, our Quebec weatherman has had a limited offering of “It’s about to rain,” “It’s raining,” and “The rain is going to stop for a couple hours.”  So I’ve done little sketch wandering lately.

But yesterday we got a whole morning without rain so I headed out to to do a bunch of walking on my river.  It’s also International Nature Journal Week and I thought I might do something in honor of it.  Mostly, though, I wanted to spend time in nature, sitting on a rock or walking.

It occurred to me, however, that I was an urban sketcher and thus it seemed appropriate for me to select this common urban flower as my subject.  So, I sat on a rock and drew a dandelion.

It was very relaxing and enjoyable and after completing my walk I headed home my walk culminating in an old-man run/jog/slog.  It had started raining.

My New Ticonderoga Checking Pencil

Never let it be said that I don’t love buying pointy devices.  I’ve got so many of them that I could build half a house by stacking them.  So, when I went to buy a new printer cartridge, I came home with a printer cartridge AND a couple of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils.

Many people like Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils, not so much because they erase, but because they provide a range of colors while still retaining sharp points and they have a pencil feel, rather than a waxy colored pencil feel.  I like them too, but I think that most would agree that they don’t produce the saturated color of a quality colored pencil.

Still, for quick sketching, C0l-Erase provides a good experience.  I picked up a pack of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils with that in mind, and the fact that it was only a couple bucks to try something new.  This pencil didn’t disappoint.

Like the Col-Erase they do hold a sharp point and may feel even more like a pencil than Col-Erase pencils.  They may also produce a slightly more saturated line, though the difference here is small.  I confess to being a Ticonderoga fan.  Their #2 “soft” pencil is so much better than most of its school market competition that they rival much more expensive pencils, something I would never say about the basic yellow Dixon pencil that dominates the school market.

Here’s my “experiment” with the checking pencil.  Not a completely polished portrait but I think it demonstrates the possibilities with this $1 pencil.