Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sketchbook - Quinacridone Gold

Playing around with different brands of same color today.   I had read that Quin Gold makes pretty greens when combined with different blues, and decided to give it a try.  I am learning along the way that mixing your own greens and using different greens makes your paintings more interesting.
So be the case more with the Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold  

I used Indigo, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Teal (Qor), and Cerulean to drop in and mix.

I give the paintbrush point to WN on the right..   I could definitely see some pretty greens for leaves and foliage with this.  The Qor looked less realistic and had more temperamental and unreliable effects.

I like how someone mentioned that Quin Gold reminded them of the 1970's Harvest Gold.  It does, doesn't it?  Especially the Winsor & Newton!

I'm starting to pay more attention to the Pigment colors versus the names --

Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold is PR206, PV19, PY150
Qor Quinacridone Gold is PO48, PY150

I attended a demo workshop with Hilary Page, who knows her watercolor paints and colors - wow!
I will have a more detailed post about that later and will come back here to edit and include the link.  But basically the takeaway is that not all color names (and pigment colors used) are the same.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Take 2

Another tea, another try -- Zhi - Turkish Spice Mint

Price:  $3.99 at Whole Foods
Size:  0.6 ounces/17 g
Caffeine:   No
Type of Tea:    Herbal Tisane
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Mix ins:  Nothing
Fragrance:  Peppermint and clove - very pleasant
Ingredients:  Organic peppermint, cinnamon, ginger root, licorice root, cardamon, cloves, stevia leaf and vanilla essence.
Opinion:  This smelled wonderful in the bag, but the stevia made it too sweet,  too licorice-y.  Stevia leaves really oomp up the sweetness, however, they can impart an anise flavor which can overwhelm the tastebuds, at least to me.  I wish it didn't have the stevia, for the other ingredients would have been an awesome blend.
Rating: 0 for me, but your rating could be higher if you don't mind stevia.
So pretty, such high hopes

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tea Embassy Grand English Breakfast Tea

Price:  $5
Size:  2 ounces, about 25 cups of tea
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of Tea:    Black
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes, I did 4 minutes
Mix ins:  Natural Bliss.  You certainly don't want to try this plain.
Fragrance:  Tobacco.  Horses.
Ingredients:  Black tea from Keemun, China
Opinion:   I thought I was on a roll with finding and liking English breakfast teas. That stopped with this one.  Very bitter and astringent.  And the tobacco-y/smoky scent hits you hard as you bring the cup up.  I'm kind of disappointed, as I love all the other Tea Embassy Teas.  Just not this one.
Rating: 0

Such potential

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday - Tilt

"Butterfly Blue"
Scabiosa - Pincushion Flower
9 3/4" x 9"

"Butterfly Blue"
Pincushion Flower - Scabiosa
9" x 9 3/4"
Same painting, but when I tore the tape off and inadvertently turned the paper, I found I liked one better than the other.  Which do you like?

This was actually a practice study of using color proportions -- predominantly cool with a touch of warm and vice versa to create a pleasing painting composition.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tea for Tuesday - T2 - Melbourne Breakfast

This is one of the few times I literally put down the tea cup mug and ran to the computer to do a review!  T2's Melbourne Breakfast is definitely a Breakfast Tea to get you started on a tea-riffic day.
Seriously, I would wake up earlier knowing this tea is waiting.

Good things come in small packages and boxes.

This is not a funny-colored nickel!
(And $2 coins.  Who knew?  I didn't.  A pocketful of change in Australia is definitely worth more than a similar-sized amount in the US.)

Remember my earlier post about needing to purchase a suitcase for all the tea I bought?

This place, T2, was one of the reasons.


Even more options!
(And my dinner partner, who when she discovered I loved tea also, asked if I had been to T2, and that I would love it.

Whilst others were walking about Westfield Bondi Junction Mall with their brightly-colored orange shopping bags full of tea, I was pulling a suitcase!  Basically because of this place.

So I thought I would dedicate the next several Tuesdays as T2 Tuesdays.  Because, well.  I bought a lot. (really deep way understatement.  And the Australian dollar was in my favor, so I'm thinking, "25% off sale"!  And I got that cool purple Australian Luggage suitcase to bring back and reload with more tea.)
We are talking weeks/even months here, people.  
And if you think Teavana is nirvana?  Not even close to T2.

Anyways, on to the review (and to planning a return trip to Australia and this place!  And a hotel which has an electric tea kettle and a tea chest in each room)

This week - T2 Tea Melbourne Breakfast
a little banged up from transit

Price:  $13.50 US (Yes!  You can order this online in the United States!  Or travel to their Soho and Brooklyn stores)
Size:  25 teabags
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of Tea:    Black
Steeping time: 4 minutes
Mix ins:  Tastes wonderful on its own, but really dances with a splash of milk/Natural Bliss. Or Fat Free Half and Half.  
Fragrance:  Vanilla, malty, Vanilla.  Did I say Vanilla?
Ingredients:  Black tea, natural and artificial vanilla flavor
Opinion:   This was actually the first tea I sample smelled when I entered the Sydney store.  Very helpful and nice sales associates.   I thought Numi and Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean teas were the ultimate vanilla - move over, y'all.  You inhale and exhale vanilla with each sip of Melbourne Breakfast.
Rating: 5+++, my the Best I've Ever Tasted rating

Sealed inside

Gorgeous color
Incredible flavor!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Sketching - The Value of Pathfinding...finding my way

I have been attending a weekly open studio workshop, wherein we are currently watching Ken Hosmer's Famous Ink Sketch DVD and learning how to do three value pathfinding sketches using a Tombow N15 pen, a brush and water.  And practice using the techniques demonstrated, and learned.

This was my first attempt of an adobe house on Bristol Smooth paper, using a print from the photo he used in the DVD. Just like with handwriting, all of ours looked different, depending upon artistic style and yes, skills.  I was in great and talented company.

You can see where I tried to start the pathway in the lower left corner and exit on the upper right side

Second try in my watercolor paper sketchbook.

Watercolor sketchbook
I liked how the black ink turned into additional colors, too
Then I practiced over the weekend with a daffodil at home - Bristol Smooth paper
We hadn't seen the flower section of the DVD yet...

Just add water!
On Friday we watched the flower and the animal section of the DVD. . .wherein Ken demonstrated "suggesting" the lines and not outlining completely.   Oh, OK.  That makes sense.  I still liked my daffodil, though.  Also seeing him work again with the Tombow pen helped.

His technique was beginning to sink in, and I was starting to understand in this hodgepodge of plumeria blooms.

Using Bristol Board.  Had to wrap my brain around seeing all the middle values in the photograph and translating to the value sketch.  Which I corrected with the blooms by making them darker, and made it really pop.
(Disregard the leaves, for at that point, I wanted to try another photograph - of a pansy.)

I thought would be less complicated.  

Need to practice and work on "suggesting and simplifying, " and being a creator not a recorder in composition -- but I'm making progress.  I tried to use more lost and found edges. 
I did the pansy in my watercolor paper sketchbook.  It really does bring out the colors of the Tombow N15 black ink more so than the Bristol Smooth.

I am certainly beginning to understand and to see the value of doing value sketches to improve the look and feel of potential watercolor painting projects, before starting to paint.  Seeing and learning to link the shapes of darks and lights values, along with creative cropping, helps in the composition of a painting.   Ken ascertains that ink sketches are easier to paint from than a photograph and it is easier to choose your colors.   I am definitely starting to see that way.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Rishi Masala Chai

This week - Rishi Organic Black Tea Masala Chai

Price:  $5.99 on sale at Central Market, regularly $8
Size:  15 teabags
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of Tea:    Black
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Mix ins:  Definitely a generous splash of Natural Bliss.  Or Fat Free Half and Half with a little bit of honey.  You need that creamy, slightly sweet addition
Fragrance:  Cardamom, ginger
Ingredients:  Organic black tea, organic ginger root, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic black pepper, organic cloves.
Opinion:   At first I was like, eh.  A 3.  Then I made it again and put it in my Hydroflask to take to a watercolor workshop.  Oddly this tastes better not super hot, but slightly cooled.  And this sure beats the concentrate stuff you get at most coffee places.  It has a a nice bite to it from the cardamom and ginger.  The caffeine level registers "High" - which makes it even better to drink in the morning or take with you on the go.  The only drawbacks I could think of is that the packaging is really over the top.  The size of the box (approximately 7" tall), the size of the sealed packaging for the teabag.  It seems just slightly wasteful.  However, you won't lose the box or the (almost 4") tea wrapper.  The teabag is neat and different, too.  It is a knit fabric, not paper.
Rating:  4+ - The more I drink it, the more I like it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

La de baaaa

10" x 7 1/2"
I made this sheep by creating a powdered charcoal and water solution, applying with a brush on watercolor paper and scratching out the shape with an awl and bamboo stick to give it an etching effect. Subsequent washes with the charcoal water were done to intensify the dark areas.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Life of Pie

Penzeys has a new Pie Spice and a coupon to get not one but two free 1/4 cup jars of it in their new Winter 2016.  The coupon code is 10737C and expires on Pi Day, March 14, 2016.  As usual, their catalogs have lots of great recipes, too.  Including pies.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - The Steeping Room Organic Jasmine Blueberry Green Tea

This week - Austin's The Steeping Room Jasmine Blueberry Green Tea

Price:  $8 at The Steeping Room - though I think they have redesigned their website (thank goodness, it is much easier to navigate.  Kudos to their web designer) and the price has increased, at least online, to $9
Size:  2 ounces - use one teaspoon per cup.
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of Tea:    Green
Steeping time:  2 minutes
Mix ins:   Nothing.  Perhaps next time a little bit of honey?  But this tastes great and stands alone
Fragrance:  Blueberry!  Jasmine!
Ingredients:  Organic green tea, organic jasmine flowers, organic dried blueberries, natural flavor
Opinion:   I can't wait to taste this iced in the summer.  But in the meantime, it is delicious hot.  As you drink it, you detect the blueberries, then you taste the jasmine, with a blueberry finish.  If you love blueberries, and you love jasmine tea -- you've got to try this tea combo!
Rating:  4
Squee!  Look at all the blueberries!

Gorgeous color and wonderful flavor

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday - I'm all about that sketch, no pencil

Monarch butterfly on milkweed plant
ink and watercolor sketch
5 3/4" x 6 1/2"

First attempts at sketching with pen and ink and watercolor - without using pencil (and eraser!) first.
Brown toned paper.  I used Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay White India Ink for the highlights. I liked it better than gouache, surprisingly it held the white better after drying.

Monarch butterfly on milkweed plant sketch
watercolor, pen and ink
5 1/2 x 6"
It was fun experimenting with and comparing the different pens and markers I've collected along the way. . .some dried quickly, other areas I could blend with a wet brush.  I will add a page to my sketchbook so I can remember which did what, and my favorites.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tea for Tuesday Two

Due to missing blogging and bagfuls of tea to review, I am doubling up this week, and probably for the next few weeks.

Today - Tazo Chinese Orchard, part of their Grand Tour Collection

Price:  I think I got this at Central Market or Whole Foods, around $5-$6
Size:  15 full-leaf tea sachets inside a plastic wrapper
Keeps the tin container clean!

Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Mix ins:   Nothing needed!
Fragrance:  Sweet fruity cinnamon
Ingredients:  A blend of black teas, linden flowers, natural flavors, licorice root, blackberry leaves, cinnamon, star anise
Opinion:  Floral with a nice spicy aftertaste, a very nice blend.  This was a delight to sip this morning.
Rating:  4

Nice leaves!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Going Kondo

It all started with this book I picked up at Target, Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"...

then clearing out a few drawers...

to a totally needed studio makeover!

It is now actually a room I can go into and create instead of a dumping ground/storage unit.  It felt great to release and donate all this stuff to go on to bless others who need it now instead of me keeping it around for a someday.

First trip - 167 pounds!
Second Mile weighs their donations - after several trips, I easily topped over 600 pounds of patterns,
fabric, books, notions, furniture, a lamp, vintage clothing, quilting and craft supplies. . .

Last round of bins filled with quilting and seasonal/holiday fabrics

Here's one of the shelves'  space vacated. . .
Now I can actually browse my bookshelves!
(with space to expand)
One library still accepts magazines - there went the Stampington, Mollie Makes and Martha Stewart Living magazines. . .that should net some serious cash for the Friends of the Library at $1-$2 each.

One of several stacks and several trips!
We donated books undercover of the night in the Book Return at one library, bagfuls and handfuls at a time.   Another library branch was delighted to accept even more books.   The book donations spanned two different counties, three different cities!  Four books went to readers out-of-state!
Just what fit in this camera frame!
Inside edition - Cupboard space!
Walk-in closet you can actually walk into!
Valentine's Day decorated machines on display
Everything neatly stored in sewing baskets and boxes!
(The pink on the left is "vintage" as it was given to me when I was 7!)
What a difference!