Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Sketch

Watercolor and pen and ink in my Fabriano Venezia Sketchbook

Hope everyone's Labor Day was nice....good food to eat and fun in the sun!  In the Northwoods, we are in a rain pattern.  Rain, rain rain!  Friday night the power almost went out.  Today the sun peaked out at 5pm!  But, we weren't going anywhere--the car is in for repair and my hubby is ill.  It was a staycation weekend where I got some art done, and the never ending housework battle catch up.

I did a sketch in my sketchbook today from memory.  We have seen this man every time we go to town since moving here 15 years ago.  He must live south of town as he is always coming north with 2, 5-gallon empty pails, or going south with them full.  He picks up aluminum cans the tourists decide to throw out their vehicles and he rummages through the local business garbage containers for them.  Judging from where we see him walking, he must put on at least 15 miles, every day.   

He must be at least 80 years old, a wrinkled, weathered face, clothes that drape over his small body as if they were two sizes too big.  He always wears a hooded sweatshirt and, depending on the weather, a coat.  A pair of $2.00 brown work gloves cover his hands.  The county deputy sheriff gave him a Day-glo highway vest with glowing stripes across it so he can be seen by all the speeding vehicles.

His gait is sharp and quick as he needs to make his rounds before the garbage men pick up the night's containers.  He doesn't talk to anyone that I have ever seen, but goes about his business, collecting his two buckets of cans.  We didn't see him at all last winter, and we were worried something happened to him, but we started seeing him again in August.  Still walking fast, still picking up cans.

There are so many questions I have about him. Does he supplement his income collecting these cans?  Is he all alone?  Doe he just want to keep working?  He can't get much for these cans.  I saved all our cans from a whole winter for our grandsons.  When the boys came up, we crushed them and brought them to the recycling center---for all that effort, a whole winter...$8.00.  This man surely can't get much money for them.  So many unanswered questions. 

So, I wanted to honor him this Labor drawing him and thanking him for keeping our highway clean! Hope you have enough to eat and your home is warm!    Happy Labor Day. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Introducing the Blackwing Slate and Moleskine Voyageur New Journals/Sketchbooks

My dear hubby is always on the lookout for great new products for me.  This past week he purchased a couple of new notebooks so I thought I would do a little video as I opened them for the first time.  Below is my link for my video.

I looked at the Moleskine Voyageur Travelers notebook first.  This is their new specialty notebook.  There is a link to the Moleskine website describing the notebook below.

The book is 4 1/2 by 7 inches (not the usual sized Moleskine) and has 208 pages.  It has a brown linen cover, and standard elastic closure.  It has some informational pages with a world map and time zones, international phone codes, emergency phone numbers, stamp pages and then a number of lined sheets, tiny dot grid sheets, and blank sheets for your writing.  There are also some perforated pages in the back of the book which are packing lists and shopping lists for your trip.  Lastly, there is a nice index section you can fill out, a standard Moleskine pocket, with travel themed stickers and three different colored ribbon bookmarks.

Since I do not travel extensively (have never been out of the country) the international pages really don't hold any use for me.  But, my son has traveled, so I may put a dot on every place he has been.  But that's ok.  Never can have too much info.  For a world traveler, this notebook is wonderful!

I have decided to use this book as a record of my plein air painting and sketching adventures.  I can use the lined paper for my diary--listing where I have been, a brief description of what I painted, with what medium, and my general experience.  Addresses, names of the places...etc.  I can also use the dot grids to show little maps, or thumbnails of my pictures.  I think this will add to my sketchbook diaries, as I only get a chance to write down the date, where I was, and what medium used.  There is much more information to share.  Temps...thoughts while painting, conditions (noisy, buggy, why I didn't do X) Etc.  It will make a nice art diary for my car travels.  Perfect!

I made a media test out of the last page.  It takes pen and ink very well...standard Moleskine creme paper.  Love it!  Also takes pencils well and light watercolor washes, should I need to do that at some point  My Lamy Gel pen and the Pentel Pocket brush were the only ones that shadowed through to the other side.  But it still was not much.  The notebook was introductory priced at $18.95--online.  A thumbs up all around!

I forgot to show the beautiful ribbon bookmarks in the video! 

Test page

Bleed through--Lamy roller ball, Pentel Pocket Brush only and it's slight

Next is the Blackwing Slate Drawing Book.  It is similar to the Moleskine regular sketchook at 5 x 8 1/4".  It has 160 pages of acid free paper and is 100 gsm.  It is thicker than a Moleskine writing journal, but is thinner than the Moleskine sketchbook paper (old type...creme)  It is a lovely paper, and takes pencil, pen and colored pencil, light watercolor washes well.  I did a test sheet at the back of the notebook to show the various materials.  It also has a pencil loop on the spine and comes with a Blackwing Palomino 602 pencil (the medium graphite).  I had the darker graphite pencil and tested that as well.  It took those pencils like butter!!  Shading and value differences--excellent!!  Colored pencil--layering was good as well as burnishing two colors.  Light watercolor washes were fine, not much crinkling or bleed through.  There was very little bleed through with any of the media except the Pental Pocket Brush, which I made pretty thick lines.  There is a book mark, an envelope pocket with business card slit and an elastic to keep the book closed.  It was a little pricey at $25, but considering the amount of media that I work with in my sketchbooks, it was worth it!  I'm looking forward to using this book! 
Nice cover, elastic closure, pencil loop with Blackwing pencil included! 
Blackwing test page! 

Very little bleed through...only could see my thick Pentel Pocket Brush! 

 Both books had online resources.  The Blackwing even has a place to post your work! This may rachet this book up my sketchbook lineup to the top!!!

Thanks for reading...please let me know if you have any questions on either of the books or my materials.  Have an creative day!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sketchcrawl at the UP State Fair!!

This past weekend I took my drawing/painting materials and tried to summon the Spirit of Roz Stendahl, great State Fair Sketcher!!  (See her blog at:   I am an outdoor painter/sketcher, but I usually sit in secluded spots or botanical gardens or zoos where people usually are doing their own thing and don't pay attention to a middle aged woman with a sketchbook.  I have always subscribed to drawing from life--I think that is the quickest way to improve your drawing and painting--doing it from life.  I also love animals and thought it would be fun to try having my own sketchcrawl--consisting of just me, at the UP (Upper Penninsula of Michigan) State Fair!  Below is a video on my experience!  Hope you enjoy it! 

First I gathered my materials.  I usually take my Nomad Wise Walker bag into the field, which holds everything I need.  An array of plein air watercolor brushes, a folding water cup, a watercolor paint box, a couple of sketchbooks, which are usually made of paper that can take watercolor washes.  This weekend I had a 5 x 8 1/2 sketchbook made by Fabriano.  (See photo Below)  I also had a large Moleskine Watercolor Folio which is approximately 9 x 12 inches.  It's a biggie!!  I usually take two watercolor type journals out with me, never knowing if I will want to get a larger or a smaller picture.  I also have a plain sketchbook which to draw thumbnails or just do pencil work.

Other items include tissues, a value scale, a variety of pens--a set of Pitt Pens, a Pentel Pocket Brush, a couple of similar ink brushes, water soluable pencils.  Soft pencils for good gestural sketching--Ebony pencils and mechanical pencils.  And a small spray bottle full of water.  (i.e. Everything but the kitchen sink!)

When we got to the fair I brought my materials with me.  We visited some of the exhibition buildings with all the various ribbon contests from quilting to flower arranging.  It was pretty chilly and there wasn't much sun.  We then went through the lovely DNR section which had great opportunities for sketching beautiful wildflowers and a pond.  But I wanted to do animals this time...onward!

We went to the cattle barn first where there were both dairy and beef cattle.  I have always wanted to sketch a Jersey cow, and there were a few grand champions there that were good possibilities.  We surveyed the entire barn before settling down and my hubby and I went down the steer aisle.  The judging for the beef cattle was about to begin and the handlers were moving some of the animals into the judging area. One steer decided to go his own way dragging his handlers with him!  He ended up going into the next row of cows, knocking one over and knocking over the barricades before being controlled.  My hubby just sat there (he was raised on a farm).  I got the HECK OUT OF THERE!!  Bob said the color washed out of my face...and I moved very quickly.  No cows/steers to be drawn today!!  

On to the Swine Building!  What really surprised me was that I had a hard time with the commotion--all the  people and animal noises, midway barkers, and rides churning in the background.  It was very distracting.  I could not find a good place to sit and sketch the pigs. Disappointed in two failed sketching opportunities, we went to the goat/sheep building.  There I was able to find a spacious area in which to sit and sketch the cute goats and sheep on either side of me!  And these sheep were NOT quiet!!  I thought I was sitting in Time Square with cabbies honking their horns all around me!  But, to my surprise, I WAS able to get into the drawing.  Next we went to the "Miracle of Life" building and I found everything I had been searching for--space, fairly quiet and lots of sleeping baby animals!   

This was a building of animals who were ready or had given birth during the fair.  A little 2 week old pig caught my eye and my sketching pencil whipped out...on to the calves...saw one that his mother rejected at birth.  I sketching him, a couple of lambs, and another sleeping calf.  We started to go to the incubator with the baby chickens, but the center rings caught our eye.  Inside was a Holstein cow in labor.  We sat and watched the entire ordeal and I sketched her strained face as she went through her labor.  The calf finally came out after 2 1/2 hours of waiting.  It was a great experience for sure!!!  A couple of people came up and commented on my drawings and I was surprised anyone even saw that I was drawing.

What I learned from this experience:

I didn't need to bring the kitchen sink with me....I should have taken Roz's lead of carrying a fanny pack where I could grab what I needed...which was this:  one pencil (I used the water soluable many things were only black and white and shades in between), one pen--the XS Faber Castell Pitt Pen, my watercolor kit and my waterbrush.  I didn't use the large Moleskine, but stuck with my 5 x 8 Fabriano sketchbook.....I did 7!! pages...mostly of the animals, but I did a couple of food places where we had traditional fair food. 
What I used, 1 pen, 1 pencil a water brush, watercolors and a sketchbook! 

I also learned that I could concentrate in chaos and noise!!  Except for the whole steer issue--I did feel safe and could find the adequate spaces to draw.

Thank you Roz for introducing us all to the State Fair Sketch Crawl!! 

Hope everyone else had a creative weekend!!!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gone Too Long!!!

First, I must apologize for neglecting my blog for so long!!!  My vision for this blog was showing my artistic life in the Northwoods, basically plein air painting and sketching.  I have been having a hard time getting out painting due to arthritis and other issues.  I haven't taken my oil paints out for almost a year!!  So, what to do???  Take another direction!!! 

I have been working feverishly on my sketchbook work, primarily figure drawing.  I have been working in a site called "Drawing Tutorials Online" and have been having alot of success with this.  I can now sketch people and put them in my drawings and paintings.  (not portraits or detailed paintings, but good enough--they don't look like aliens!!)  I also have been working on book illustration characters, and have written and illustrated two books which are still in process!  I have been busy!!

I have also been taking the classes from Sketchbook Skool from Danny Gregory.  I have done two semesters and the photo is a lesson from one of the weeks.  I have had alot of fun with these assignments, getting out of my creative comfort zone and seeing things in a new and different way.   I f you are familiar with Danny Gregory, you know that he has inspired thousands of people to sketching their life.  I am not sure when the next semester starts but here is the link

I also have gotten the You Tube bug.  I've been doing frequent You Tubes on all the things that I have been creating, from greeting cards to altered objects, to time management and planner usage!  I've been having a ball doing these videos and I am inspired by so many out there.  My You Tube Channel name is nancymaewi
Please check them out and let me know if you like them!! 

Since I have been doing You Tubes on various subjects, I thought it would be a good idea to mirror some of my videos here on my blog site.  So you can get detailed information on things that I'm showing or talking about.  

If anyone is interested in figure drawing, I highly recommend Drawing Tutorials Online.  I never had any success in drawing the figure before and this site has helped me immensely!  I do not have any affiliation with this site  or Sketchbook Skool, other than being a paid subscriber/student.  Here is the link: There are many free video lessons on this site which are very helpful. 

I hope everyone is flourishing in their creative endeavors!!!  Please feel free to comment!  

See you all very soon!!! 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Motivation Time!!!

Been awhile.....My huge project of last year, completed, buyer was happy.  I did a few paintings in the fall and was looking forward to completing a bunch of commissions which are due next summer. 

Then came home remodeling--new windows, an indoor ramp so my husband can move throughout the house.  My employer ok'd a wonderful remodel so my dear Bob--who is in a wheelchair, could move from the living room up to his office and kitchen in our split level.  Previously, he would have to go outside to get from the living room to the kitchen and his office.  In the winter, it was not fun!   

But, with the huge hole in our floor to make the ramp, things had to be moved...and where did they go?  Unfortunately, my art room.  Long story short, it took me until this fall to get my art room back.  I had my grandchildren for the entire summer and was busy at work, so it was a long haul.  I had forgotten where I had put everything!  I also did not TOUCH my oils for a whole year!

So, now--I have to do 3 paintings for a commission.  I want to do more since others may buy some commemorative painting for their business being 100 years old--so I want to do as many as I possible can and have them dry by next August.

I started my project a couple of weeks ago, sketched my value sketches and planned what I wanted to do. So, how do you get motivated when you are late on starting a project....scared you aren't going to be able to do it in time, have I lost it, etc. etc. etc.  Do you have those feelings?  I do all the time.

I combat this "stinkin' thinkin' by doing a few things.  First, I remember artists that have come before me.--like Vincent's quote--"If you think you can't paint, then by all means, paint and that voice will be silenced". what????

I then started cleaning off my palette--yes, there was paint left over from LAST YEAR!!  Then, squished out my palette of colors.  Then, I thought of another quote..something about let inspiration find you working...well...I'm here!!  Let it come!!  I checked my value sketches and started to block in my painting.  Ok, going along alright!!  But then, the old familiar things start coming at me...."you're doing it all wrong, you've got dishes and wash to do, you're not an artist!!".  I only have one way to silence all these demons in my head--one word--MUSIC!!!

I don't know about you, but when I play my FAVORITE music, I get taken away...the dishes go, the wash, poof!!  I'm 23 again, with energy galore!! I crank the music louder and my brush is moving...painting...I am taking myself OUT of the painting...just letting myself GO!!!  So now, I've got 1 painting completely done...two others on their way--just a few tweaks left.

I love painting...and I'm loving being BACK IN THE GAME!!  How do you motivate yourself if you been away for awhile?  Please leave your comments and suggestions below! 

A partial few of my palette!  I'll show my paintings once they are ready!  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Freda Fall! Commission Complete!


Freda Point, 30 x 40" oil on gallery wrap canvas, commission for Stephanie and David Johnson 2011


This was my work for the winter!  Late last summer, I was lucky to get a wonderful commission.  This painting is large—30” x 40”, gallery wrapped canvas.  It was done in oil.  I have varnished it and will be wrapping it up to mail over the weekend.  I’m so excited for the owner to get it! 

I have done many commissions over my artistic life—mostly landscapes, sometimes pets or people—I’ve even done people’s homes or other structures that mean something to the buyer.  Commissions are an animal all by themselves, because you have to get inside the head of the buyer, to find out what they want or envision the painting to be.  How I start is with a conversation with the individual.  I show them some of my work.  Sometimes they will see me painting on the road or in a park—painting in oils, and they may want a watercolor.  So I send them samples of my watercolor work to make sure they want the style I have.  If they do not have an actual photo or place in mind, I may send them a bunch of photos and ask them to pick out what they would like.  Then, I make my painting—loosely off that photo. 

The reason I say loosely, is because sometimes the photo does not give me enough information or not the colors that the buyer wants.  That was the case in this example.  The colors were rather drab in the photo, plus the buyer wanted more golds instead of oranges in the photo.  So, I did a pencil sketch of what I envisioned, and emailed that to her for approval.  She was easy to work she loved it right away.  If she wanted it different, we would have had another conversation for me to try and determine what she wanted. 

I then worked on a color sketch for her to approve.  It was a 6 x 8” panel.  Because I didn’t see her room, I wanted to make sure I had the right colors of gold and maroon.  I wanted the main focal point to be the large gold tree and she loved it.  After I got her approval I started with the large painting. 

Since this was a difficult winter for me, my work was slow.  I had to get my mind on the painting—that was too difficult for me due to the loss of my mother.  I did other art…smaller paintings during that time, just to be keeping myself in practice of oil painting..and to push through the fear of failure on this large painting.  After the Spring came, I was able to start again, anew. 

Commissions have challenges not like any other painting you may do, as you need to think with someone else’s brain.  Don’t be afraid of doing them however.  Painting something that someone else loves is a great joy.  To see someone so excited about a painting that hasn’t been done yet—yes, It’s pressure, but also joy.  Communicate at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to change things that you thought were ok.   By learning about someone else’s vision, you may see something that you didn’t realize was there—and that’s wonderful!!! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011




In the long winter months, I don’t paint out much.  When I do, it’s usually in the car..getting paint on all the knobs, steering wheel and myself.  This year, we have been sticking close to home.  So, I decided to take an intermediate oil class to get me going, learn some new techniques, cyber meet some new friends, get ready for a plein air summer!!

One of our assignments was to do a “broken color” type painting.  Each of us worked on the same photo and it was amazing how many variations we all had.  I was pretty frustrated as this is not how I’m used to working.  I wiped out my first attempt, because I instinctively wanted to blend, blend, blend.  After investigating exactly what was broken color, I did this attempt.  Even though it’s not museum material, I really had a lot of fun exploring this method of painting!  It was actually a bit freeing, but take my colors right off my palette and dab!  The the eye do the blending! 

The point of this blog post is to FLY…STRETCH….DISCOVER….PUSH your art and yourself!  Try something new…a technique, and medium, a style…make it your own!  You will never know unless you try!!