Wednesday, August 31, 2016

“Often a purple patch or two is tacked on to a serious work of high promise..." Horace

Test strips of my purples and violets --

Qor Doxazine Purple
This one seems more of a blue purple to me.

Daniel Smith Carbazole Violet
I actually liked this one the best

Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet Doxazine
Very intense deep purple leaning towards red.

Winsor & Newton Caput Mortum Violet
PR 101, Iron Oxide
Kind of a fun color, love all the shades and its lifting ability

Holbein Mars Violet
PR 101, PV 22, PBr 7 (Iron oxide)
A lot people sing this one's praises

American Journey Raw Umber Violet
PBr 7 (Iron Oxide), PV 19
This looks like a versatile color, too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A little birdie told me. . .

to play some more with the Fabriano hot press paper!

I found this Folk Art bird layering three-piece stencil set (mask, silhouette and pattern) at Michael's with an expiring that day 50% off coupon.

I divided the Fabriano into fourths and drew bird in each section.  I wanted to practice my washes on this paper and play with the stencil pattern.  I used a mixture of four blues from my palette.
Cerulean, French Ultramarine, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue
All Winsor-Newton
I put frisket on the entire bird here and used the stencil for the background

Used one of my watercolor pencils to outline
Daler Rowney Indigo 127

I frisket'ed along the outside of the bird to stencil inside.

A little outline touch-up with the Daler Rowney Indigo watercolor pencil

Very carefully - no frisket!

I actually flipped upside down and did the wash -
I like the effect!
No frisket either - just patience!

I may keep together or cut apart
I felt I definitely improved my washes and mixing paints.  The stencils were a fun way to add pattern.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Life's a hoot!

Playing around with two different papers - my first time using Fabriano Hot Press 140 pound, 25% cotton - and then using a sheet of Strathmore Cold Press 140 pound 300 Series (Better).  Personally, I have created nice paintings using the Series 300.  Most of the time I will use Arches, but I get good results from Strathmore, especially when experimenting.

I found the water and paint sat atop the hot press paper, not quite like Yupo but similar.  I thought the colors were more vibrant and also "bloomed" and blended nicely.  In both paintings I was trying to drop in more wet paint and having them mix on the paper.  I liked the results!  Surprisingly the effect was more "watercolor-y" and elicited a lot of thumbs' up from friends and family.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to road test my new purple paints in the background -- Qor Dioxazine Purple, Winsor & Newton Cobalt Violet, Daniel Smith Carbazole Violet and American Journey Raw Umber Violet.

I think both of these folk art owls seem to be reminiscent of Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos sugar skulls, too!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Pig Out

I had seen Teapigs when traveling at coffeeshops near the register (The Broadmore in Colorado Springs and Hudson's Coffee in Sydney), but never tried them.  The name/brand popped up recently on Facebook and Instagram feeds and I decided to check it out.   They have a cute website and a fast response when I asked where in Houston I could find them - Central Market!
And Central Market carries the tea "temples" in about six different flavors - I controlled myself and only bought two.  And they were on sale $6.79 (regular price $7.99).  I got the Mao Feng Green Tea (North American Tea Champion - First Place 2013 and Great Taste 2015 -- awards for green tea?  So buying!) and how could I resist Chocolate Flake Tea?!

You get 15 tea temples per resealable (so keeping!) box inside a plastic wrap.

The Mao Feng (click on the link for a cute story) tasted good plain and hot -- sweet grassy...but even better when I added just a little bit of creamer, which really brought out the fruity peach/apricot flavor.

Chocolate Flake has to be hands down the best chocolate tea I've tried.  No cloying, artificial flavor or a "let's mix tea and hot cocoa together!" (busted) -- just a hint of real chocolate.  And it was successfully able to kill the afternoon carb crazy hour - whomp.  And look, over 110 reviews on their site with 5 stars.  I also saw they have a Chocolate Mint - may have to order that one online.  (Seriously, who ever writes their advertising copy should also win an award.)  This also tasted better to me with a little bit of half and half to let the chocolate out.

I will give both of these 5 stars and am running back to Central Market to get/try more.  You should, too!  Maybe then they will carry more flavors.  That's how I think and drink.

Photo Gallery:

Looks nice!
Mao Feng after brewing!  Poof!

Mao Feng - pretty color!
 Chocolate Flake - oh yes, you can tell that's chocolate!
UPDATE: I went back and got the Darjeeling Earl Gray - it is everything they said it was and more.  It makes a great London Fog!  I have honestly never had a better tasting Earl Gray tea.  I can see why it won the 2016 Great Taste award...and the adorable gray dascshund. . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Color me Magnolia

Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines has her own line of paint colors -- aren't these gorgeous?  Hopefully you can zoom in and see the names and descriptions!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Go West

West, Texas
Highway art
Exit 353 - I-35
Before you get to Waco from Dallas, you pass through West, Texas - which should be named Kolache, Texas.  We stopped at the Czech Stop and of course, had to get some kolaches.  Pumpkin, pineapple and coconut cream.  

Pineapple and Coconut Cream!
And a loaf of jalapeño cheese bread.  And a maple walnut twist.   

Zoom in to the above right sign handing from the ceiling and see
all what they go through each week!
And a cookbook, as I am an avid collector of these self-published community cookbooks.  It was filled with recipes and artwork.  A wonderful and potentially tasty addition to my collection!

Texas Sesquicentennial Edition

And there are sketches throughout

Plus there are five recipes for Apple Strudel!  Hubby loves apple strudel and I'm always looking for new recipes.

It seems there's hope for them reconciling when Peggy looks at Charlie with new eyes and (citing a reference from her grandfather who claimed that her grandmother's strudel kept the family together)...

[present-day Charlie has just begged for another chance with Peggy]
Peggy Sue: Charlie, I'd like to invite you over to your house this Sunday for dinner... with your kids.
[Charlie hesitates, unbelieving]
Peggy Sue: I'll make a strudel.

One of my all-time favorite movies!  Who doesn't like time travel?

And visiting small Texas towns, driving and eating your way across Texas!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Three Free

I thought the Naples and the Charcoal made an interesting combination.

The other day I received in the mail three (free) tubes of Grumbacher watercolors - Charcoal Gray A042, Naples Yellow Hue A146 and Vermilion Hue A224 in the 7.5 ml size.  They retail for $4.95 each.

Charcoal Grey - Charcoal Grey is a dark neutral gray made, from carbon. This color has excellent tinting strength and is perfect for the grisaille technique.
Pigment Info   PBk6
Lightfastness Excellent
Temperature Cool

Naples Yellow Hue - Naples Yellow Hue is a lightfast Light Yellow with a Red undertone. It is similar to a Cadmium Yellow Light, but with a muted chroma. Originally made with a toxic lead pigment that is no longer available, Grumbacher's safe version duplicates the masstone, undertones and mixing qualities of the original in every way. Traditionally used in landscape where a receding yellow is required. Also incorporated in flesh tones.
Segment Info  PY3/PBr7/PR178/PW6
Lightfastness Very Good
Temperature Warm

Vermillion Hue - Vermillion Hue is a bright mid-range red that has a masstone and undertones identical to the obsolete and toxic mercury based Vermillion of the past. This red has infinite uses in painting.
Pigment Info   PY65/PR188
Lightfastness Very Good
Temperature Warm

While technically these are student artist grade watercolors, Grumbacher has a reputation for excellent quality and I had fun playing with them.  It's an affordable way to try and add different hues. They will make a great addition to my multi-media and journaling/sketchbook palette.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Meet me for coffee - HEB Cafe Ole' Houston Blend

This is one of HEB's Cafe Ole' Taste of Texas series of K-Cups - How could I resist trying the Houston Blend?!

Love the logo design for the flavor, which is described as "This rich coffee is marvelously blended with a combination of praline, pecan and coconut flavors for a finish that is smooth and delightfully sweet"  Medium roast, 100% Arabica coffee.  I have no idea what that means, as you all know I am first and foremost a tea drinker.  But I'm trying to hang with the cool kids and they all drink coffee, too.

For $6.99 you get a box of 12, which are now Keurig 2.0 compatible.    Good news if you don't live near an HEB, you can order online, unless oddly you live in California.
Cute stereotyping
This flavor is also available in whole beans, which you can grind in the store.  Which I tried to do in order to try a little bit in the my K-cup at home first before buying the box.  At least I could smell the beans first before I tried to ground them with whatever the heck was left over in the grinder...and it did not smell the same at all.  Some stores have dedicated grinders for flavored coffees, perhaps HEB should consider that, just saying.  I dumped that bag in the trash and took a chance going back for the K-cups instead.  If you have a grinder at home, you can also buy the bags with whole beans or already grounded.  Don't mess with the grinder at the store, seriously.  Drop a few beans in your hands and see if you like the fragrance and take alternative routes.

The flavor and scent - definitely coconut, but not overbearing.  The praline and pecans add a nutty sweetness.  You may want to rethink your creamer if you use it.  The Italian cream made it really sweet.  I think I would cut it with some fat free half & half.  You definitely don't need sweetener.

I also thought it tasted similar to Starbucks new Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato, so if you are looking to save calories and carbs, give it a try.  And also the Starbucks drink if you get that in a Tall size.  Seriously, that is a yummy drink and a smaller size will still keep you within and under range of your added sugar gram limit and you behave yourself for the rest of the day.

But I digress...this Houston girl would give and show hometown loyalty to the Houston Blend with five stars.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Meet me for coffee - Houndstooth

While traveling through Dallas, we found this neat coffeeshop, Houndstooth (1900 N. Henderson Avenue)

and tried Japanese Iced Coffee.  It was really good, very light.  It was a pour-over coffee and gave a nice little energy buzz.
While I was there, I spied their unique coffee cups and saucers.  My daughter saw me looking at them and when I turned around, she had bought a set of two for me.

My other cups and mugs fit on this, too!
Aren't they neat?  I also think the saucers are a unique shape.  The cup holds 6 ounces, perfect for tea.

We had no idea they were founded in Austin, never seen nor heard of until we found them on Yelp while we were in Dallas.

It's a nice atmosphere inside and out.  Low key, chill-able music playing in the background, fast wifi.  A very pleasant experience for road-weary travelers.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - There's so much of the world to see...

My Huckleberry friend. . .

In Seattle last year we found Huckleberry Tea at Pike Place Market, along with the original Starbucks.  
Starbucks - Pike Place Market
A bit cheaper and more fun to buy in person at the MarketSpice Store (In the Pike Place Market next to Pike Place Fish - 85 A Pike Place) at $6.99 a box for 24 teabags.

Interesting-looking tea bags - they were slightly moist from the berries.
No string and sealed in a foil bag.

Berry good!
This fruity black tea blend smells and tastes delicious!  And brews so prettily. You need to definitely put this on your souvenir list when in Seattle.   I almost feel this is more of a dessert tea, rather than a morning tea.  Especially if you add a little bit of creamer - it reminded me of the huckleberry ice cream I had at Wapiti Woolies after our Mt. Rainier climb.

Where, yes, they do play "Moon River". . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Take it with a grain of salt

or a handful. . .

In Open Studios, we were watching Judy Morris' DVD, "Tuscan Textures," and playing with her techniques using salt in our watercolors.   She had some good tips -- hold the salt 10" above the painting and only work with an area of wet watercolor the size of your palm.  Timing is also important, and paper for a variety of effects.  Once it is completely dry, use a credit card or palette knife to scrape off the salt.  I had always used my will get more texture and better results scraping rather than brushing/rubbing.

You definitely need to play around with your paints beforehand - the pigments will interact differently depending upon transparency.  I will post a picture of my India Ink stripe to demonstrate opaqueness later.  Even if it is the same color, some brands will have varying results.

The types of salt will give different results.  Table salt (she prefers non-iodized), Kosher salt, pretzel salt...I was playing with Pink Himalayan salt from the 99 Cent Store

and I really liked what it did here --

Before I removed the Himalayan pink salt - it has to be completely dry
I carried it home on a rimmed aluminum cookie sheet - Also found at the 99 cent store!

Is that not cool or what?!

This was French Ultramarine dropped into Winsor Green and Winsor Red
Look how the salt pulled and mixed the colors
It was almost black before adding the French Ultramarine and salt

"After" photo of Cerulean and Indian Red dropped into each other
Interesting color combination and reaction!
Table salt - I thought this was trickier to use
You have to time it just right with the dampness or else you will
get "stars"
And granted this was also watercolor sketchbook paper -
not the highest quality

The next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up Margarita salt.  I even saw Bacon Salt.

Isn't everything better with bacon, including watercoloring?  I bet those effects would be really cool on lighter colored washes!

This is definitely an exercise and reminder to experiment and have fun.  Different colors/pigments will react differently to different salts and at different times and different amounts of water on the paper.  The fun and unexpectedness of watercolor!