Feature Friday 3: Back in the Saddle

There is an old saying about how if you fall off your horse, the best thing to do is to get back in the saddle and finish the ride. Y’all probably noticed I missed a couple of Fridays in a row, but not to worry … I even have the perfect sketchbook page to share for this! I’ll likely be doing similar post beginnings, though I can’t guarantee I’ll have the appropriate drawing to share (or maybe I will?).

first drawing using my new tinted charcoal - a horse saddled up and waiting for the rider
saddled up – sketchbook page, first drawing using my tinted charcoal

Some of you might recall the little teaser I dropped at the end of my charcoal drawings post where I mentioned getting the Derwent tinted charcoal set – first the small six-color set to try it out, then the biggest set of 24 pencils before I even got this far on my first drawing because I love how they feel on the paper along with really loving the resulting drawing. I stopped messing with this particular sketch as I realized I stumbled across the first practical lesson for tinted charcoal: use the lightest shades first. See that saddle blanket? While waiting for the big set of charcoals to arrive, I had picked up a black charcoal pencil and doodled in the border design. When I got the big set and pulled out the one called sand to pencil in the rest of the blanket, I realized as soon as I try to blend it with a paint brush, the black will smear. So, like Bob Seger sang, it was time to turn the page. I’ll be revisiting that reference photo in the future, because I really do like it, and will certainly be doing a color version, though I might do a monochrome version just because it looks like a good piece to do in only one color. I just have not yet decided whether that will be black or one of the brown charcoals.

Blog posts I’ve enjoyed over the past couple weeks

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening to videos and podcasts on the subject of blogging, partly as a refresher course and partly to see what has changed over the decade I wasn’t blogging. The fundamentals are still the same: write your blog for people to read and enjoy, and the search engines will follow. Some of the stuff we used to do back in the day (like this link roundup feature I am trying to resurrect) just fell by the wayside, and I am not seeing a reason why other than the “oh, that’s so 2008!” statement. If gas station prices are going to look like ’08, then why not blogs?

Another thing I see that hasn’t changed is that the good blogs all have a “why” for their existence. This dovetails neatly with the recent article I read about how an artist’s statement helps the fans and viewers to better grok the artist’s body of work. I wanted to link to this article, but apparently that is one of the email-subscription only pieces, as the Inside Art site skips that day in the post sequence. The short version of this point is I am giving the concept some thought about how to expand my artist’s statement beyond, “I make art to bring some beauty into the world.”

So why am I blogging again? I got frustrated with Facebook. It’s (*bleep!*) difficult to link back to previous posts – and most days it’s (*BLEEP!*) difficult to even find a post again unless you leave a tab open with it. Facebook may be “more” interactive than blogs (which is a very debatable point, IMO) but it is not what I think user-friendly ought to be. (I should note that I never intended to have a FB account, but it seems to be expected, and a good portion of my family is on there. I’m just trying to set up a lemonaide stand with the FB lemon.) Last summer, I got frustrated enough with trying to find something again on FB that I announced to hubby, “I am going back to blogging!” And after a brief stint over on blogspot, I made my way here, back to my own domain and even back to WordPress. Now, it’s time to work on improving the site. If you are not already a subscriber, now would be a really good time to subscribe, either through a reader or by email, because I am only getting started here.

Speaking of starting, on Monday I’ll be participating in a new three-day art challenge, where the theme is “fire.” I’ve done it in colored pencil, twice, so I will be experimenting with other media. Right now, I think I’d like to break out the oil pastels for this, though I might try my brush with either watercolor or acrylic. Stay tuned!

Goat photos by request

So when I posted on Friday, apparently some of y’all expected to see a snapshot or two of my new goat, and two even left comments saying about as much (though politely phrased). When I read the second one Saturday morning, I decided to go through some quick photos hubby had taken with his phone of our new girl, whom I have named Capri. While looking through the folder on my PC, hubby calls me on the phone to inform me I need to bring a towel out to the goat pen because, “You have a new baby out here.”

my new nanny goat Capri
Capri starting to clean off her new kid
mostly dried-off newborn goat kid

And that kicked off a couple days of the two of us (nonphotographer types, one each) attempting to get decent photos of the new goat kid and his mama, who was not handled much at her previous home and is therefore skittish and jumpy. This is the best I can get at present:

Capri and little Billy, one day old

I am sure y’all remember when the triplets were born in mid-February. Well, we kept the boy to be our junior herd sire (because his sire is ten this spring) and call him Pepe. Later this summer, we will start using his full name, Pepe Le Pew. He has certainly grown.

Pepe eating from the feed tub he used to nap in with his sisters

Hope you enjoy these snapshots.

Cougar drawing in charcoal

In between bottle feeding the five goat kids out in the pen, I managed to work up a charcoal study of a cougar from a photograph provided by Grace Carpenter for an art challenge on a forum I read. Unlike the tulip bud I started yesterday, I managed to get this one finished before a jealous indoor kitty sat on it. Said tulip project has both paw prints and a butt print on it in addition to the dry pastel smearing. I really do need to remember to turn my works-in-progress over so the working surface faces down. Enough grumbling from me about yesterday’s aborted project – back to today’s drawing.

cougar charcoal drawing
Cougar, 9 by 12 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

This is just my first sketch of it, mostly for the experience points, and also to see how well I liked the crop of the original photo. While I am mostly pleased with how it turned out, I think I want to try it in white pencil on black paper as that may be a bit easier to get the whiskers to show up like I want. I also need to work on the chin and lower muzzle a bit better, but I decided to upload it and make prints available from my Pixels store.

The amusing part of this story is I scanned the drawing and was almost ready to upload it when I noticed I had forgotten to add in the whiskers and lightest highlights. So, just for the giggles, here is the first scan, before I finished it up.

charcoal drawing of a mountain lion in charcoal
not QUITE finished yet!

It may not seem like a lot of difference between the not-quite-done version and the final version, but I can see it and therefore cannot unsee it.

Now, for the geekiness that is me: This oversized house cat really is an oversized house cat, despite some of its other names like puma, mountain lion, or in this region Florida panther. It isn’t even in the panther genus, unlike actual lions, so I guess puma or cougar are the best names for it. Cougars are related to my jealous little feline monsters … and this is very similar to look on Stripe’s face this morning as I tried (unsuccessfully) to get her off yesterday’s drawing without smearing it.

Interlude

Just a quick post about not doing as much art right now. It’s the best of reasons: Francis kidded Tuesday around sunset, and this year she had triplets! She has given me the little billy I was hoping for, with two future milking nannies. All three are now on the bottle, which is the fastest I have been able to get an entire sibling group to accept the bottle. At only three days old, their little stomachs cannot hold much per feeding, so right now I am going out every three hours to feed. Now, for the obligatory baby goat photo – these three are not posing for me, so this is the best I can do right now (after more than two days of trying – I have quite the collection of photos of their rears).

my three newest baby goat kids
first goat kids of 2022

While I will likely be sketching these cute little dirt monsters soon, and even the out of focus photos help with that, I just wanted an excuse to post the goat kid photo, because I know a few of y’all love to see them and aren’t on Facebook. Enjoy!

Two drawings from last year

As I was looking over my art catalogue last night for something to feature today, I realized that I had forgotten to blog about two drawings I did last year. What a perfect way to remedy that – by spotlighting these two pieces!

Horse head in charcoal

First is one that anyone who knew me growing up would expect: a horse head. The reference photo I found is of a beautiful chestnut mare, likely a Quarter Horse, looking out from the darkness of a barn or stall. I call it Bridled, and recall spending the better part of an afternoon working first to get the background dark enough, then on getting as much of the highlights and shadows right to my eye. This was also the first time I used the Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper, with its laid texture, and the result was pleasing enough I later purchased another pad of it. My only gripe is the paper feels so lightweight after working with multimedia and watercolor papers, but charcoal works need to be displayed behind glass anyway.

charcoal drawing of bridled horse head
Bridled, charcoal on paper, 9 by 12 inches, $80 USD

The original piece is available – you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks, which uses PayPal, or in person at One Stop Feed Store in Crescent City if you are local – and it is uploaded for art prints at my Pixels store in various sizes. I’ll probably look back at this in a few years as “not my best,” but right now I am pleased with how it turned out. I drew this in June of 2021.

Pansy pair in graphite

Prior to that, February of 2021 judging from my notes, was this page from my sketchbook that I worked at until I could call it done. Rendered in graphite, which accounts for the greyness, and now a bit worse for the wear after a year of me carrying my sketchbook about, this scan is record of how it looked immediately after completion. Looking back, I am glad I scanned it before moving to the next page, as I went back to this and traced it over transfer paper to paint in watercolor which ended up as my Johnny Jump Ups painting I’ve blogged about previously.

purple pansies drawn in graphite
Pansies Pair, sketchbook page

Since I not only left the page in my sketchbook, but used it to transfer the lines to another paper, the original is not available to buy, but since I did scan it, prints are available of it at my Pixels store. Its original size is 9 by 12 inches – perhaps my favorite size for a sketchbook because it is so portable – but the scan was good enough to print larger. It is also available as puzzles for the folks who love a good puzzle and are willing to work on one in greyscale instead of color. I have too many cats in the house to attempt an actual, physical puzzle, or I would give it a go just to see if time spent playing MicroSoft Jigsaw translates into the real world.

More to come soon!