New Blog, New Book, New Adventure

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Just to let you all know, I have started another blog which will chronicle my adventure in self publishing and marketing my book, Pages From A Nature-Lover’s Diary. You can view it here: http://sketchbook2publishedbook.wordpress.com/

Summer Thoughts

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Daisies in Oil Pastel
Daisies in Oil Pastel

The Story Behind the Sketch:

(Just a quick post here on this snowy day in PA.) I decided to try to lift myself out of the winter blahs by experimenting with the same oil pastels I used in the last post, only this time on black card stock, and choosing a nice summery theme.

 The Technical Stuff:

Stampin’ Up Black Card Stock, Reeves Oil Pastels and Pro-Art Oil Pastels

My Experience in Doing this Sketch: 

I had no idea if these pastels would be opaque enough to work, but they did pretty well. This medium seems to force me to loosen-up & use bright colors—which is kind of fun. ( And it’s okay to do something just for fun once in a while!)

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2014. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.

Sketches Become Book

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Front Cover Pages From A Nature-Lover's Diary

Front Cover Pages From A Nature-Lover’s Diary

The Story Behind the Book:

For almost thirty years I had kept sketch diaries of things I’d seen in nature,— whether it was a baby bunny out in the yard, a fox in a field, or some lovely wildflower that had taken my fancy,— adding notes to describe what I’d seen or tell a short story connected with it. I did this for my own enjoyment, never actually expecting to share it with anyone. However, when I decided to show one of these journals to The Monday Painters, a  group of artist friends with whom I meet each week, they convinced me that a book could—and should— be done from them.

The Technical Stuff:

I did my own graphic design and preparation of the files needed for publishing, using photo-editing programs, and “Pages” ( Mac equivalent to Microsoft Word)

Createspace.com was the online printer I chose to publish through.

My Experience in Doing this Book: 

It was a LOT of work! A million decisions had to be made, starting with “which entries, out of hundreds, would I include in this book?” ( It could only be so long and still be affordable and manageable.) Ultimately, though, it has been the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Nature has been such a rejuvenating influence in my life, and I think this book is the perfect way to share my enjoyment of it with the world.

I will soon be detailing my experience in creating & marketing this book in a new blog. I’ll keep you updated!

In the meantime, if you’d like to see a preview, go to

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_18?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=pages+from+a+nature-lover%27s+diary&sprefix=Pages+from+a+natur%2Cstripbooks%2C328

If you think you’d enjoy owning a copy, it is also available at the Createspace Estore:

https://www.createspace.com/4274137?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026www.createspace.com

( I get a higher royalty there!)

If you choose to purchase from Amazon, please let a review. Thank you!

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2014. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.

Homage to a Shed

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Little Shed in OIl Pastels

Little Shed in Oil Pastels

 

Pro-Art Oil Pastels

Pro-Art Oil Pastels

The Story Behind the Sketch:

There stands a little weathered grey shed at a farm I pass frequently, which I never managed to get a photograph of & never imagined would disappear before I was able! This  shed was old enough that I figured it’d be there till it fell apart—but the last time I passed the farm, the thrifty farmer who owned it was building on to it! I was sorry to have my view of it obscured; I’d admired that little building in various seasons, especially in summer when it had a huge tropical-looking red-blossomed plant growing in front of it that contrasted so beautifully with the weathered grey color. So I decided to at least try to draw it from memory.

I think there’s something to be said for working from memory every now & then. It activates a part of the brain that otherwise isn’t used too often, at least with such intensity. The details may not be absolutely correct here, but I’ve captured the general appearance of the shed.

I chose to use oil pastels simply because artist friend Linda had given me a set which she felt she would never use. In an effort to calm my sleep-resistant brain, I decided to try these pastels out & do this sketch before going to sleep one night.

The Technical Stuff:

Strathmore “Sketch” tablet, ( a fairly smooth paper) &  Pro Art Oil Pastels were used. Some blending was achieved with a Q-tip.

My Experience in Doing this Sketch: 

Just the smell of these oil pastels made me happy—sort of like crayons, but “oilier”. Looking at the wide range of colors was a mood-lifter too. In using them, I found that it was hard to cover all the white paper, so the end result was sort of crayon-like. But they felt nice to use, going on smoothly. Some blending & coverage was achieved by adding layers of color, usually a lighter one over a darker one—sort of like blending paint on a canvas. I think they bear further investigation, experimenting on different surfaces possibly. With this medium it could be that the therapeutic affect of the pleasure of using them is where their value lies.

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2013. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.

A Two-handed Approach

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wagon shed with vines

wagon shed with vines

The Story Behind the Sketch:

The tendonitis I had quickly developed in my left wrist from over-use, had left me unable to sketch at all for a couple of weeks, –most distresssing!— but with the help of a brace, visualization/relaxation , and careful avoidance of use, I began to feel like I could try it again. 

After a three-week hiatus from painting-out with the group, I was missing my artist buddies. Hauling the chair, table, & other equipment needed for this activity, worked out okay thanks to help from friend George. The group went to the beautiful Antietam Farm outside Waynesboro, which has a delightful assortment of old  buildings including this wagon shed.
The Technical Stuff:

Canson XLwatercolor tablet, Portfolio Water-Soluble Oil Pastels, 5B graphite sketch pencil. Various acrylics brushes.

My Experience in Doing this Sketch: 

Having some use of my right hand now, I chose to use both in doing this sketch. First I drew in the general outlines of the bulding with the oil pastel using my left hand. I found that, in “thinking with my left” so to speak, my sense of perspective was different; it took some getting used to.  I did some brush work with both left & right, eventually falling  into a rythm of adding color with one hand & brushing water over it with the other.

The picture seemed to lack definition, as I find my work often does when using water-soluble media, so I outlined almost everything with a graphite sketch pencil. I made a point of doing this with my left hand so as to stay in practice.

One of those things that happens sometimes with outdoor sketching is that you have to change locations halfway through the sketch due to some weather condition, in this case hot sun. My painting partners & I actually had to move inside the wagon shed. Needless to say; I had to “wing it” from there on out. As a result I’m not sure I got the perspective correct, but then again , with old buildings, things are apt to be crooked anyway!

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2013. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.

Left-handed Sketch: Black-eyed Susans

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My first left-handed sketch; Black-eyed Susans

My first left-handed sketch; Black-eyed Susans


The story behind the sketch:

When I knew I’d broken my wrist, I immediately made up my mind that if I suffered ill effects from it later on, such as arthritis, it would not stop me from doing artwork. Thus began my journey toward “ambidextrosity”.

My husband, being aware of my resolution, went out & bought me a Derwent water-soluble colored pencil sampler to encourage me. On my third day of being “one-handed”, I began this sketch from a view of our flower bed through the front door, while relaxing on the couch.

My experience in doing this sketch:

The Derwent pencils were very nice to work with. The “Watercolor” ones can give good sharp detail, and the “Aquatone” can provide a wider stroke, being a woodless pencil. I found I could both sketch &  then brush-over with water to good effect, with either type, & that the were both useful for  adding in more color & detail on damp paper. The Aquatone seem especially well-suited to dipping directly into water & applying to paper.

Working left-handed was very slow, but I think the advantage in it is that total concentration is required, which is therapeutic for me. I think it may activate un-used portions of the brain, and heighten the ability to observe as well.

It took several short work sessions for me to complete this, but that seems immaterial in comparison with the benefits I feel I received in doing it.

The technical stuff

Substrate: Canson “XL” watercolor tablet

Pencils: Derwent Aquatone & Derwent Watercolor

Size of work: Approx. 8x 10″

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Pretty In Purple (?)

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Pretty In Purple (?)

What does an artist do when she finds her drawing & painting hand in a cast???? This is the result of having fallen down a set of porch steps last week; a broken wrist! But, as in all curses; there are hidden blessings. I am finding out that I am capable of doing artwork with my left hand. Will be posting my first left-handed sketch soon.

What We Focus On

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water-soluble graphite barn and springhouse sketch

water-soluble graphite barn and springhouse sketch

The Story Behind the Sketch:

My artists group met a week ago at Coldbrook Farm, a piece of artists’ paradise in Chambersburg, PA. Among the inspirational sights were a barn, springhouse, & pond with Canada geese.
The Technical Stuff:

Canson XLwatercolor tablet, Light and dark grades of  Derwent Graphitone water-soluble graphite pencils were used for most of this sketch, plus water & a Grumbacher #2 bristlette round brush, a #1 Plaid  3/4″ craft brush, & a Royal & Langnickle small #4 angle.

My Experience in Doing this Sketch: 

As in all situations we choose what we will focus on. While there were frequent sounds of sirens from the nearby hospital, there were  also

serenades

from catbirds & mocking birds. While the siding on the barn was actually asbestos shingling, I looked at the flavor of the structure  & drew simple vertical siding instead. A rough sketch was all I was after this time around; I was there to enjoy myself on that singularly beautiful day—& so I did.

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2013. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.

Summer Color Wins Out

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Water-soluble Colored Pencil drawing at Renfrew

Water-soluble Colored Pencil drawing at Renfrew


The story behind the sketch:

Recently, my painting group visited Renfrew, a wonderful park and restored farm from the 1700’s, just outside Waynesboro, PA.  http://www.renfrewmuseum.org/about_renfrew.html

While the old outbuildings beckoned to me; the clear sunny day with all its color sent my head & heart to a place of fantasy. I put away my graphite sketch pencils & got out my water-soluble colored ones, in hope of capturing what the day made me feel.

My experience in doing this sketch:

Using these pencils starts, for me at least, with sketching out what I want to include in the scene, followed by lightly coloring-in some areas that I intend to touch with a wet brush. Often after wetting, I add detail with the pencil.  I found that ,with this picture,  once I had colored & brushed everything in, the picture lacked impact. So I took the unorthodox approach of outlining the flowers & other things in the foreground with a dark gray pencil. This perked it right up!

The technical stuff

Canson XL Watercolor paper ( an inexpensive paper), was used. Eberhard Faber Mongol water-souluble colored pencils were  used to sketch-in most of the picture. These less-expensive pencils are fine but sometimes produce fairly light colors. So more intense ones were added with Derwent Inktense water-soluble pencils. Now, I’m told that the color in these pencils is not watercolor, but ink. I don’t know , technically , what the difference is, but they do produce a brighter , richer, color than the Mongol pencils.

If anyone has had experience with using any type of water-soluble colored pencil, I welcome your input on the subject.

“Leash-time Sketching”

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Sundrop And Wild Grapevine Sketches

Sundrop And Wild Grapevine Sketches

The story behind the sketch:I decided that our elderly cat Smokey, who seemed a bit depressed, needed a pick-me-up. It was time to end his mainly-indoor existence & let his feet touch the grass. I started taking him out on a leash, which he loves. My problem was that I ended up just standing around while he spends much of his time lounging on the ground & eating grass. A small folding chair & a bag to keep my sketchbook in solved the problem.

my experience in doing this sketch:

Leash-time sketching is different from normal field-sketching; It is “catch-as-catch-can.” When Smokey decides to move, I have to change subjects! I didn’t get any further on the sketch of the sundrops than a contour drawing. ( But I really observed how that plant is made, which is worth something in itself.) During the drawing of the wild grapevine, Smokey decided to take a nap—-so I had plenty of time to do some shading & detail on this one.

The technical stuff:

Because I had to carry my supplies around, I pared down to the absolute necessities: a #2 HB school pencil with a new eraser on the end, ( well-sharpened), and a “Master’s Touch ” brand hardbound sketch book.

NOTE: All images and text in this post are Copyright K. A. Renninger 2013. I am more than happy to have you share them through your own blog, and hope you will do so—but you must give me credit. Anyone who uses them to make money will be prosecuted.