Springtime comes early here on the Florida peninsula, and the usual first sign on our property is the arrival of the goat kids. This year, the first baby goats were born on the 8th of February, a girl and a boy by Pepe (Le Pew) and Capri. Y’all may remember Pepe as the only boy from Francis’ triplets last February. I tell ya, kids grow up so fast these days.
Francis didn’t make me wait long at all before she kidded on the 11th. Only twins this time, and both boys … and they were almost the same size as Capri’s four-day-old twins. They were also both born hungry, and the firstborn – whom I am calling Fabio because he’s just such a handsome kid – was bottling even before he figured out how to keep himself standing.
All four of these adorably cute dirt monsters chug down the bottles like they are a high school football team. I have proof right here:
This year’s crop of kids (that grow as fast as the weeds out in the pasture!) is my first group that are linebred back to Prim, who died back in early September after reigning in the pasture as herd queen and “matriarch of mayhem,” even though she only had a total of four kids in her life. She was grandmother to all three of my current milkers through her son Harry Houdini, and also great-grandmother to both Pepe and William (formerly Billy the kid).
Shortly after we found her dead, I tried to draw Prim from a photo I took of her back when we first got her in 2016. Most photos I have of her are of her hind end as she either walked out of frame or turned away from the camera, so finding a reference photo that included her face was a bit tricky. I managed to succeed in finding one, and used my tinted charcoal to try to capture the Big Girl we remember.
It isn’t exactly her, but she often did try to elude capture out in the pasture. Why would I think she would be any different when it comes to trying to capture her character on paper? It only occurred to me today that I had forgotten to post the drawing here on the blog.
I still have one more nanny to kid – the original silly spoiled bottle baby herself, Cocoa Puff. I am expecting her to also have twins, but right now that looks to be another two weeks or more in the future. Until then, enjoy the baby goats bottling on the video.
(Also note: the music on the video was composed, performed, and mastered by my musician brother. He gave it to me as my Christmas present this past December – how cool is that?)
I scheduled this month’s virtual art walk to happen this weekend, serenely convinced my nanny goats would not kid until next week at the soonest. And my goaty girls laughed at my hubris. So I thought I might sit this month out, but Jim Hughes applied a bit of arm-twisting on Facebook … so here I am scrambling to catch up on the art walk idea before the end of the weekend. There will be plenty of images for this post, because I am now up to four goat kids out back as the art walk group has grown to six this month.
New art walk participant Steve Estvanik
Another photographer named Steve joins our merry band of art bloggers with a fun post about dragons from around the world. I love some folklore, and find dragons fascinating. Also, I’ve long believed dragons to be a fanciful imagining of dinosaur fossils. This hypothesis just makes sense to me. No matter what you believe dragons were meant to be, they are a part of most cultures – except for ones from the African continent.
Photographer and arm-twister Jim Hughes
Y’all ought to know Jim Hughes by now – he’s participated in all the virtual art walks to date and when I was going to sit this one out, he cajoled me to just use a previous blog post and toss it all together. This month he takes a look at … bricks. One of the themes in art is to call attention to things people might not see as art. The only thing he missed in his post was a reference to the old song Brick House by the Commodores. He even refrained from the obvious Pink Floyd reference. I also learned photographers love a brick wall to check their lenses for any distortion.
Baby goat interlude 1: Capri’s first set of twins
Wednesdays I usually go up to Palatka, either for an appointment or for the new art group my friend Keashia has put together. This past week was an art group get-together … and I didn’t make it up there because Capri looked to be in labor. Francis was giving her plenty of space, and she was taking it. Around lunchtime, as the rest of the group was starting, I remarked to hubby that she’ll likely wait until after I would have been back home just to be a goat. That’s exactly how it happened. The first kid was born a little bit before hubby came out to feed the critters and put up chickens for the evening. The second was born as he was finishing up the evening feeding. One girl and one boy, with the girl looking just like her mother and the boy looking almost exactly like his sire, but with blue eyes.
Sharon Popek photographs Chicago
Sharon Popek took a tour of Chicago at sunset, and captured some very nice cityscape images. The last time I was in Chicago was 2017 for my son’s wedding, and the thing I remember most was it was COLD coming up from Florida in mid-March. It was also cloudy the entire weekend, so I did not get to see anything quite as nice as Sharon’s photos.
Dorothy Berry-Lound features purple
This month Dorothy Berry-Lound spotlights some of her artwork that incorporates the color purple, which is one of her favorite colors (as well as mine!). She even touches on not only the history of the color, but the associations in psychology and spirituality. Being the absolute geek that I am, I knew these, but apparently not everyone is as nerdy as I have always been. It’s a lovely collection of purple in art.
Francis has twin boys
After agreeing to just toss in a link on Friday, I went out yesterday to milk Capri in between thunderstorms. To my surprise, Francis did not come running up to greet me, even when I went over the electronet with the bucket of hay pellets they love so much. Hubby remarked, “I bet I know why …” and I was thinking the same. We walked up just after the first kid was born, and hubby went back inside the house to grab some old towels. If course Francis was on the far side of the pasture. We managed to move both Mama and newborn to the grassy spot of the kids’ pen as the thunder started rumbling again. After the second kid was born and both dried off, then it was time to bottle them. The firstborn boy, with the flashy white markings, immediately understood the bottle. The mostly-black boy wanted a better delivery system, but decided he could handle drinking his milk from a bottle. Both of these boys are larger than normal newborns, so it’s a good thing Francis didn’t have triplets again.
Steve Heap’s photos of West Virginia and Hawai’i
Steve Heap is a familiar name for our virtual art walks, and once again he spotlights his artistic photography that has sold since the last time. His fans seem to divided between buying photos of West Virginia and photos of Hawaii. Funny but true: my mom called me the day before Capri kidded from her cruise of the Hawai’ian islands that she is on for her birthday. She called for one reason, to ask if I had baby goats yet. She did tell me a little about how much she is enjoying her trip, but mostly wanted to know if I had baby goats yet. My pick for this month’s image to feature from Steve is this panoramic image of Tunnels Beach on the island of Kauai.
My watercolor Red Rose 2
Finally, the post I put in for this month’s virtual art walk is my watercolor Red Rose 2, where I used my line drawing as the basis for a line and wash. This is actually my first time using ink with my watercolor, and people on various sites seem to like it. Also, if you like the line drawing, sign up for my email list, as it is my free gift to subscribers this month. I will change the line drawing on the 15th of the each month for the entire year, to go along with the theme of 2023 being “A year for art.”
That wraps things up for this month! Since I am bottle feeding baby goats for the next eight weeks, I recommend subscribing to the email list. Not only will you get line drawings you can print out and color at home, but you’ll have new posts emailed to you when I publish them. With my usual springtime activities, I won’t be able to keep any kind of schedule until all the kids are weaned and chicks have hatched.
I had another idea over the weekend: I will be showing how I use my line drawings that I offer free to email subscribers. My first example is using my watercolor paints to make a lovely red rose painting.
Step one: Transfer the drawing
After I had learned that my grid lines and sketching lines might still be visible on the finished painting, I bought some graphite transfer paper. This way I can sketch it in my sketchbook, erase, and redraw however many times necessary until I am happy with the lines, then put the finished drawing onto my watercolor paper.
Because I inked the line drawing onto decent-weight watercolor paper, I actually needed to go back to the sketchbook for my original drawing. I think a standard ballpoint pen works best with the transfer paper, so some of my sketchbook pages are getting multiple colors of ink over the graphite or charcoal I use to do the drawings.
For this piece, I inked the lines with waterproof India ink. I used one of my husband’s brush pens to do it, since he has been very happy with how his drawings turn out using them. One of the brush pens is labelled in either Chinese or Korean, so I couldn’t be sure it was waterproof. The other he loves is a Pitt brand and says on the side it is waterproof India ink. I had first tried to use my calligraphy pen and ink, but the ink has dried too thick of a consistency to draw neatly.
Step Two: the background
I wanted a simple, single color for my background – and I have been just watching and waiting for the right opportunity to use this lovely teal blue that came in my QoR high chroma set. Seriously, how can someone who loves vivid colors (as I do!) not want to use this color? The only question I started with was, “How many layers to get the right level of saturation?” My answer is just one. I didn’t want it overpowering the main subject, but I also didn’t want an unpainted white.
Step Three: Get into the art zone and finish it!
I waited patiently for the background to dry completely this time to avoid paint bleed issues. Plus, the paper buckled because I wasn’t using one of the blocks (where the page edges are glued in place) so I had to wait for it get mostly-flat again. This is where the in-progress photos stop, because I got into the zone and just painted until it was time to wait for the next layer of paint to dry completely.
Working with red and green next to each other on the paper is a tricky thing in watercolor painting. If these two colors blend or bleed into each other, you can get a very unattractive color we often call mud. When you mix two colors that are opposite of each other on a color wheel, the result is somewhere between gray and brown. For a red rose with a brilliant green stem and leaves, I wanted the colors to be as clear as possible.
After this first layer dried, I went over the shadows again on both colors to deepen the shadows. Then I needed to wait for it to dry again to see if a third layer was needed. I used my Mijello Mission Gold paints for the flower itself, and this brand has very little color shift when dry.
So, with just one layer of paint for the background and two layers of paint for the rose, this turned out to be a rather quick painting! I just love it when everything feels like it is just falling into place. No need to wrestle the art onto the paper. It felt like it just flowed out from my brush.
I am almost embarrassed to note that this is only the third red rose at any stage of bloom I have painted or drawn! I must remedy that over the next few weeks. My only other previous watercolor painting of a red rose is my Red Rosebud 1, which is a small watercolor sketch of the very beginning of the petals unfurling. The other is my Red Rose I did in oil pastel on canvas board.
I will be doing at least one more of these before the month is over, so stayed tuned! Better yet, put your email address in the form and get your own copy of the printable rose coloring page and color along with me. I am feeling a new pink rose and/or white rose in soft pastel.
Once again this month, a handful of us artists who blog our art have gotten together for a virtual art walk! While there are art walks scheduled for January down here in Florida, a lot of the country is just not feeling it due to normal January weather, so why not do the art walk idea online? We have a nice selection of virtual art booths to browse.
Art walk virtual booth 1: Snowy Scenes for January
We’ll start this month’s art walk up north in snow country, where Jo Wortman of Siena Blue up in New York has posted a bit of a retrospective on her snow scenes. She does an overview of her snowy landscapes so far this winter, and compares them to paintings she did in 2022 and 2021. I can certainly see the difference, and like other commenters on her post, I think the watercolor painting where she worked from a reference photo she found on Unsplash – as opposed to following a tutorial – is her strongest in this category. It’s interesting to see how her earlier work hints at this.
Virtual art walk booth 2: Braving the cold weather
Jim Hughes lives in Minnesota, and that area gets COLD in the winter. That doesn’t seem to deter Jim in his quest to get a really good photo portrait of a pileated woodpecker. We have them down here as well, but they are definitely camera-shy. Jim unleashes his creativity to solve the challenge. He basically built a fake tree trunk and put a suet cake just inside it – close enough to his porch to get the photo he desired. Then he got up before sunrise enough mornings in a row until he was finally able to slip out onto his porch in subzero temperatures to get the shot. I think he nailed it.
Art walk booth 3: Steve Heap takes us to Hawai’i
Next booth for our January virtual art walk is where Steve Heap of Backyard Image takes us to the Hawai’ian island of Kauai. I didn’t know this landscape existed until he posted about it, but apparently Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. He starts his virtual tour at the ocean, and follows the canyon up to the mountain top. The part I find most interesting is his observation that like the Grand Canyon in Arizona (which he has also visited and photographed) he finds it difficult to capture the grandeur in most photos. Some clouds and a few rainbows helped him get good shots though!
Ben’s Angel: Painting and poem by Dorothy Berry-Lound
Hang on to your hats, folks. Dorothy Berry-Lound‘s virtual booth is a powerful one. She shows you the painting first, then tells the moving story behind the artwork. Then she finishes up with a poem to go with this powerful painting with a moving story … and wow. I don’t think very many people will be able to forget this one. I don’t want to drop spoilers, but when you click through, be prepared for this emotionally. This is about her last visit with a dying friend, Ben.
Before you go
After browsing all these booths, I’d like to just remind you about my new idea for my email list: coloring pages drawn by me. It may seem frivolous after such a journey, but I like to say it’s the little things in life that end up mattering so much over time. I’ve decided to make the 15th of each month when I send out a new drawing y’all can print out and color, so tomorrow I will be figuring out the technical details to make this work. New email subscribers will get the current printable image once they confirm their email addresses. (Confirming your email address is an important anti-spam step that I require.)
I do hope everyone has enjoyed this month’s virtual art walk. Visit the other blogs, leave comments to let us know what you think and feel about the art, and sign up for an email list or five.
I’ve had this idea pinging around my brain for about a month now, and yesterday for art group I sat still and just did it. I will be making pen-and-ink contour drawings (as in simple line drawings) as a fun little gift for my email subscribers to print out and color for themselves. Right now, one a month feels very doable for me. The very first coloring page is a rose, since Valentine’s Day is next month. I still need to hammer out a couple technical details, but I should have those squared away in a couple days.
The start of the idea
This all started because conventional wisdom in the current blogging space is that email subscribers want to be wooed with some kind of gift or freebie to sign up. For some bloggers, this is an easy thing to whip up. For an art blogger who wants to sell her artwork, it didn’t seem so obvious. I am persistent if nothing else – some might call me stubborn even. Browsing through examples of gifts for various email lists, I saw my niche: coloring pages. THAT I can do!
At the start of art group yesterday, I asked the others if they would subscribe to an email list to get a printable coloring page “like this.” Immediately one of the other artists, who works 3d instead of 2d, responded with a very enthusiastic, “Hell yeah!” I guess that answered any doubts I was having.
A rose for the first coloring page
This is the first coloring page, a single rose with only enough detail to make it obvious what it is. The original is 9 by 12 inches, and is for sale if you’d like to hang it on your wall. I will NOT be making prints of this available, and the printable coloring page is 8.5 by 11 inches (standard US letter size). For those outside the US, that is approximately 21.5 cm by 28 cm.
I’ve used this rose drawing before
If you are thinking this rose drawing looks familiar, you are correct! I used it last January during my month of charcoal drawing. It is the basic outline for my black and white charcoal piece, A Single Rose.
This actually started out as a practice exercise, but I kept working on it because it just flowed out of the charcoal and onto the page at the time. It’s in my new sketchbook, and the edges are looking a bit worn already. I could do it again, or even in color, if you’d like to commission that. Or you could just order an art print of it in whatever size you need to beautify that empty space on your wall.
More coloring pages to come
I already have two more pen-and-ink drawings for the next two coloring pages: the line drawing for my Apples and Oranges 1 as well as one of a rooster crowing. Perhaps by the time I get to the rooster page, I’ll finally have a painting of it available. It was one of those days when I brought my sketchbook with me for the waiting room at the doctor’s office.
Want on the email list to get your monthly coloring page? There is a sign-up box at the bottom of each individual blog post, as well as a sign-up form at the top of the sidebar (which is below the posts on mobile touchscreen phones). Keep scrolling down to find it. Once you’ve entered your email address, the email service will send you a confirmation link, which you need to click to verify that yes, you did sign up for this. If you sign up after the 15th of the month, you can always email me and ask for a previous one.
Finally, do we want to have a cute or clever name for the email list? If so, does anyone have any ideas to share in the comments? My last two working brain cells have not come up with anything, so I am open to suggestions if you have them.