Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Originally uploaded by jjs_37
turn into frogs. And that is what is happening to this sweater! Both the front and the back will be frogged during some opportune television viewing time. Not the election results, since I will have to be at a board meeting!!!
This is just not the right sweater for me or for this yarn. I got the pattern with the yarn and it was designed on this yarn but I think the fit of the sweater and the shape of it and the fact that it does have shaping, requires a halo around the yarn. So it needs to be made with something different. And I am making Versatility
I can't wait. But I am of course making changes. I have a different gauge of course, and I am not making bobbles. The bobbles are just begging to bother me by digging into my back and by catching on things. So a little 2x2 cable instead and some extra stitches here and there and hope it works.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sketching shore birds

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
While both girls were at school at the same time, and I was in neither school working, I went for a cup of coffee, a bagel and decided to find some birds. I had found a list of good birding spots on the national association of ornithologists annual meeting website. They apparently went for a field trip to this location, and it is incredibly close to my house.
I found lots of birds and they weren't super close, but they weren't far either. I used a non-photo blue pencil to draw quickly and then used pen to finalize the drawings later. It really worked for me this time and I worked on several birds at the same time though I focused on one kind of bird at a time. In the actual pond they were mixed up.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Knitting dillemma

IMG_3253.JPG I have been knitting a "lace panel pullover" for a couple of months now and the truth is I just don't love it. I love the yarn- Shokay Shambala in Orchid. So that is fiery pink and as soft as the underbelly of a Yak in the Himalaya's. Well that is where the yarn comes from.
But this yarn shows every stitch and I am not in love with this pattern. The increases and decreases show up and I don't think they look nice. Of course I made the required number of right leaning increases and left leaning increases but not necessarily in the right places.
Today I found another pattern which looks like a lot of fun. And this will be so soft and warm and very very pink. I will have yarn leftover but whatever! I can make super warm, very soft (is there any better kind) and very pink hats for years to come.
I think this yarn will substitute well, it will be easier to knit, even if I have to take out the bobbles which I am not particularly fond of, and as such will have to make a mental pattern adjustment as I knit this. I am too lazy to rewrite the pattern to adjust for this and it is mostly in chart form so I am doomed to rip this out a couple of times at least.
This shawl/cardigan/wrap will work well with my plans to keep the house cold this winter to save energy/the planet/money. It will be easier and yet still fun to knit.
But seriously, do I rip out the whole back and the three quarters of the front I have finished (for the third time) to start on something new? It will still not be mindless parent education class knitting, but I may be able to knit it during DWTS.
I need to find a good mindless knitting project for class, board meetings and fall television.
I really have serious dillema's which prevent me from getting much work done.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Respecting the hat!

Respecting the hat!
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
Naomi has claimed this hat for herself. I did not really make it for her, though I can't say I made it for myslef really either. I just made it out of Koigu as an exersize in fair isle. I will admit that I am not a fair isle knitter. I had to adapt this pattern from one published in Knitty to account for the finer yarn and so I had to carry the yarn for many stitches in the back. It was hard to keep the tension constant and it was hard to keep track of the pattern for me (who likes to knit while watching TV or sitting for some other reason). In retrospect I would have doubled up the yarn and used it that way.
So Naomi claimed the hat for herself. And I must say that I like seeing the hat and she does look very good in it. Well, this is what she does with my hard work! Actually she has been wearing it a lot and people were amazed to hear I had made it myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gymnastics and Fencing

Gymnastics and Fencing
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
Some things that were drawable while waiting. See previous post about what I do when I tire of that.


purse contents
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
While waiting for fencing, guitar or gymnastics to happen there is only so much to draw. So having drawn various aspects of each location (really, fencing is done in a nearly empty gym) and not being particularly keep on drawing children who are constantly moving during above mentioned activities, I pulled some stuff out of my purse and drew that. Now hopefully I will have something different in there next time. Or I could always draw my shoes I guess.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sierra sketches

Sierra sketches 5
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
It has been a long and busy summer. The girls had several camps and I had a dance recital in August for which I had to rehearse many times. We had swimming every day and outings besides. And running two kids around is not conducive to sketching anyway. So I have been quiet in the blogosphere. Not that I am generally prolific, and being quiet is not in character for me in real life. Well, I am back!
For our family vacation we went to camp Montecito in the Sierra's. I would like to keep this place a secret because it was so great but I don't think that many people are reading this anyway. And those that do deserve to find out about it. It was family camp. My goal for vacation this year was to go someplace where I would not have to decide what was for dinner, I would not have to shop for it and fix it and I would not have to clean up after it. I also wanted a place where everyone could have some fun which did not require my organizational skills. OK, so I wanted a vacation for ME and I didn't really care about anyone else.
Well, we all had a great time. The girls did lots of activities with their camp groups. Naomi loves to play with kids her own age and lots of the activities were right up her alley. Julia was adored by the young women in charge of her age group and she did not want to leave their sides. The area was gorgeous and fishing in the lake proved to be the favorite activity of the kids. Adam even wrote a song about fishing in the lake which he performed at the variety show.
Adam and I went on several hikes which would have been too long and steep for the girls and I got to draw and sketch to my hearts content. Well, nearly... I am not sure I ever get enough drawing and sketching and I would have preferred to sit in the lodge in the evenings coloring in my sketches, but every evening there were social activities and other organized fun things to do. The upside is that I had great coloring pages to finish after we left and so I was able to enjoy camp for a few more days.
I also really got into Archery which is more relaxing than you would think. And having to call a ceasefire outside the archery range so you can hike out of camp is very exciting. The sketches above are from a hike we took right outside of camp. If you click on the picture you can see more sketches with commentary at Flikr.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Channel Islands Adventure

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
I joined the Illustrated watercolor journaling Channel Islands Adventure this year for the first time. I drove down with another participant/assistant instructor, Kirsten. It was great to have a person in the car and we really bonded on the drive down. I am pretty outgoing but it felt great to have a friend before boarding the boat.
The boat was an 88 foot dive boat, the Vision, and there were 35 passengers, 6 crew and 1 naturalist. The itinerary gets set by the weather to some extent so we went onto two islands and spent a relatively short time on Anacapa. We spent an afternoon on Santa Cruz island. So all the paintings from Anacapa were drawn on the islands in a very short amount of time and painted on board. On Santa Cruz we hiked out to Potato Harbor overlook and painted pleine air, as well as doing several quick sketches. I just post a picture here of some of the things we saw on Anacapa and several other paintings are posted on Flikr.
Life was really getting to me before leaving and it was great to get away. The food was great and the crew was wonderful. Accommodating and cheerful and the energy on board was very positive. There was a mix of experienced watercolorist, people who dabble, like myself, and complete novices. Everyone just got along and was friendly and supportive of everyones efforts in painting. It was wonderful to be able to focus so completely on painting for a few days. We did not have to put the stuff away except to eat and then it all came right back out. We slept in bunks so there was not even a reason to go down there except to sleep. The rest of the time I was either painting inside or out, or on the islands.
I think the fact that we were on the boat really helped make this such a painterly experience, since there was nothing else to do, everyone else was doing it and there was no place else to go. It helps to practice intensely for a few days and I felt my skills improve. As one of my fellow students pointed out late one night "It is not easy to do something that is not easy to do". Really, this quote made sense that the time as well as getting us laughing.
The crew dove down and got us some interesting sea creatures to paint one afternoon and the captain made several detours to show us different views of the islands, like the Anacapa arch.
On the channel crossing on the way home we had 10 ft waves and quite a few people were not feeling well. I had decided to take dramamine since I had no idea if I would get sick or not. I did not.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fitzgerald marine preserve

Fitzgerald marine preserve
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
This is a painting I did using a sketch in a sketchbook as a reference. It is usiing watercolor pencils on Arches cold press paper. While I am happy with how the cliffs and the trees turned out on this drawing/painting, I am not so sure that I like the water. The purple seemed like an unusual color which might have been wrong in the cliffs but I think it ultimately works. As usual I am not getting a good scan which represents the drawing accurately but using the color enhancement feature makes it look more untrue. I will have to learn to adjust in photoshop at some point.
Now that we have spring break I hope we can go to the beach one day and I can look at the waves. But there are a ton of other things to accomplish during spring break besides that.
When life feels so full and frankly stressful, I really feel the need to head out into nature and draw. Being around the house and doing the chores really feels like a drag in that case. Waiting for phone calls, checking email, which overwhelms me these days, and stressing about the tasks I need to accomplish and if I will remember them. Yuk, yuk and triple yuk!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Originally uploaded by jjs_37
This is one of the ATC's for February. Inspired by the contant watching of the birdfeeder. This is a chickadee I think. Done in watercolor pencil. The online workshop is keeping me really busy doing art in every spare moment. It is at once exhilarating and frustrating. It would be nice if I could put some other aspect of my busy life on hold while I focus on this, but I think the resource whose scarcity allows me to create is actually time. Creativity seems to always need something to push against so that you can feel its power. Otherwise the muses don't feel appreciated and won't work their magic for you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If you can't open it...

If you can't open it...
Originally uploaded by jjs_37
You don't own it!
J had a friend to play today and they were using a leapfrog toy, the word whammer, that you can put the letters in and it will tell you what letter it is and what sound it makes or even what word three of them spell together. It became clear that this toy was confused since it thought most vowels were a and most other letters were u. I changed the batteries and that did not cure the confused toy so...
What is a person to do? Throw it out? I hate to do that. Not because I don't want to get rid of stuff, but I don't want it to go to a landfill.
Well, after inspection it seems one of the tabs the letters push down was stuck and I could not get it unstuck so... I opened the toy. I had to get through several layers of screwed down board and such but I found a little rubber bit that had gotten stuck down. I pulled it up, closed up the toy and it was good as new.
Investment: 10 minutes
I shudder to think of how many of these toys have been tossed out because of this problem which was so easily fixed. So, a PhD in biophysical chemistry -emphasis on spectroscopy- coming through for me.
and I still own this leapfrog toy.
But my utility sink in my laundry room still won't drain. I will open that up tomorrow I guess since I own that too.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Church landscape

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
For the online class I am takin gI need to work on aerial perspective and I love the layers of the hills around here. the problem is that the foreground for these hills is usually the highway I drive up. Not so interesting in fact. So I decided to draw the church that is home to J's preschool. J thinks every church is her school, so when she saw this painting she correctly identified it as her school (we are actually located in the parish hall building, but whatever).
This is what she has to say about the school though:
Nursery school is a really fun place. There are lots of toys there. you sit on your butt and then there are chairs at circle time. You can paint and draw and do things. Then you play outside and the bell rings. Then you go inside to circle time and you share. You can bring your lunchbox if you're sharing. You can eat your lunch outside. Also you have a cubby with your pictures and blue berries with green leaves on the tree.
What amazes me is that she noticed the berries and the leaves on the tree in the play yard.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Backyard notes

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
Inspired by the Creative Mom Podcast I have been working on a series of some kind. This series is my backyard I guess. It is still an unformed idea, this series thing, but it is there. More and more I think of sketches in a series. In fact I am thinking of dong a whole garden notebook or garden sketchbook, all on little watercolor paper accordions. Or sketchbooks made like
I cut these things off my rosebush and I was struck by the diversity of stages on the winter rosebush. Buds as well as rosehips and new growth nubs. I am probably pruning it too late, but in the lovely NorCal climate I am probably forgiven.
Now I will think about teaching first graders to draw trees...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cute kid stories

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
We went to the dentist last week and the girls watch video on the overhead screen. Of course this means that all feedback on their brushing is totally lost to them, but whatever. Toddlers with open mouths, whatever. J thought the light was too bright so the hygienist gave her sunglasses.
N, savvy 6 year old that she is, pointed out that she did not like Jimmi Hendrix' national anthem. She said "it sound like two garbage cans fighting over their own garbage" Lately her taste in music has been mostly hight school musical of course, but also a bit of classic show tunes. Singing in the rain is popular since it is raining here these days.
And finally, at the cartoon art museum this weekend, I told J to get up off the floor. Shhe did while singing "get up, stand up, stand up for your rights..." So they still have good taste in music.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Art goals for 2008

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
The shoe is just a little eye candy. It is also the first everyday matters drawing challenge, and there is a story behind this particular shoe. This story can be found here
Prompted by the everyday matters group, I put together a set of goals. I have a goal buddy so that I can evaluate what my goals are regularly and stay on top of them, or evaluate the importance of these goals in the first place.
My goals are
1. Sketch regularly - by which I mean at least 3 times a week. I want to improve my pen and ink skills - I will use my sketchbook to practice pen and ink and get critique on my sketches and pen and ink drawings from my "artist community".
2. Create 6 paintings or finished works this year.
3. Increase the visibility of my art by updating my blog with paintings and sketches twice a month, displaying my artwork around the house, and entering at least one work, past or present, in an exhibit.
4. Develop my artist community, online and locally
5. Work through the book "illustrating nature" -complete 1 chapter a month.
6. Develop a long term vision for my art - do I want to focus on illustration and do this professionally? Or do I want to consider myself a serious recreational artist? Do I want to sell my art, and how do I want to do this?

Monday, January 07, 2008

oliebollen of course

Originally uploaded by jjs_37
So I bought my little box of mix at the Asian market (don't ask why they have it- I don't know, they have drop too and even borrelnootjes sometimes) And I thought about buying a fryer, but I didn't. So as I am waiting for the large pot of oil to heat up, I drew the box. Then I fried them up and we jumped in the car and drove to the party. They were still warm so we sugared them and had some. They were really good and gone in no time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Originally uploaded by jjs_37
Right now in my quest for the perfect sketchbook I am using multiple sketchbooks side by side. It bothers me that nothing is chronological right now, but I am willing to live with it to find out what I really want to
use for ever and ever. At which point I will stock up when they are
on sale and go for it. Or maybe I will decide it is OK to constantly
go between various sketchbooks and keep the good sketches
chronologically on my blog to be published as a book. Who knows, so
without further ado, here is my opinion...
I have a small handbook which is square and I find it too small for
me to use. I don't like the way it works for watercolor, and I am
not fond of the way it takes pen and ink. The paper quality is
similar to regular drawing paper but lighter in weight I think. I just tried my hand book again for watercolor. I like a lot of water in my watercolor. There is no such thing as a light wash when I am working so that must be my main problem. I also like to use watercolor pencils at times and after getting wet, the handbook paper can't take more pencil. The Dvorak books (see below) can do this.
I like the feel of the Moleskine but hate the way it takes water
media. I love how it takes ink though. I don't like the watercolor
moleskine for their orientation. Picky of me, I know. But I also
don't like how hard it is to use the backside of the paper in that
I am using the 6x9 artist drawing pad from Dvorak (http://
www.youcreate.com/books.htm) and I do like the paper in it for both
ink and washes but it does not have a hard cover and it does not have
a pocket. And it has the funny orientation but it has more pages and
is cheaper so I don't mind not suing the back side. Right now I have
it in a prismacolor portfolio set (a small) so it is stiff enough to
take out anywhere and use and my pencils are handy to boot. I have a
little blank book by him too but again, it is very small, like the
hand book. Still, it is handy to keep in my purse for sketching
emergencies and I did all my travel sketching in it in Europe this
summer. Which is not as much as you might think or expect of me but
it was some.
I used to always use the hardbound Canson sketch books and I think
those are still the best, but they are big and hard to lug around.
And watercolor is not super but OK. Sometimes I use a small watercolor pad to do watercolor on but then I
have to carry the extra thing and anticipate that I am using
something I want to watercolor.
I also have an accordion of watercolor paper that sits inside my
moleskine sketchbook that I can use for watercolor. I haven't used
it because I used paper I don't really like. I don't know why!!!
Why would I spend an afternoon trimming and cutting and pasting and
folding a paper I don't like? Because I did not want to waste the
"good stuff". Maybe now that I know how I want to do the accordion I
can make another one with good paper.
I also saw the Komtrak inspiral sketchbook online but I am not sure
how hard the cover is, and I sort of want to touch the book and get a
feel for how it is and all. It has looseleaf pages that you can cut
yourself or order from them. It is expensive though. I like the idea of being able to use just the right paper for just the right thing, and then putting them together in a final permanent ringbinding later in chronological order.
I think I am a paper snob, but I need to think more about what I want
to use my book for. Perhaps the perfect paper, handbound in my spare time...
And speaking of handbinding, sticks and string podcast recently had
an episode about hand binding books. he did it for the same
reasons. To get the paper he loved in a size and hard bound book he