Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting Back in My Groove: Garlic Sketch


Garlic Bulb and Cloves, ink and watercolor in watercolor Moleskine
© 2009 Sydney Harper

So getting back to my veggies that I’ve been sketching, here’s some garlic. Well, on second thought, I’m not sure most people would consider it a vegetable. It’s food so it will have to do. I decided to punch up the color a bit on the garlic, otherwise it would have been a little bland. At first I was afraid I had gone too far. Now that it is a day later, I like it better. I still may try it again sometime. You can see my previous veggies here, here, here, here, and here.

My personal life has been rather chaotic lately, so it’s been difficult getting back into my groove. I think I’m almost there now though. I still have some backlogged things I want to do but they should be easy to squeeze in.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

4 Favorite Not Quite Art Blogs


Three Leeks, ink and watercolor in watercolor Moleskine
© 2009 Sydney Harper

I thought I would do something a little different today.  While I read a lot of artist blogs, there are several blogs I read that aren’t necessarily art blogs but they cover topics that are somehow related to art. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. The Pen Addict

The Pen Addict covers pens of all kinds, mostly for writing but also drawing, and occasionally they’ll cover other things like paper products and pencil/pen cases.  Really though it’s all about pens.  There are frequent giveaways and Saturday is usually Ink Link day with links to other pen reviews. I found out about Jet Pens, a US source for Japanese pens, from the Pen Addict.

2. Photoshop Tips for Artists

This blog doesn’t have frequent posts or even a lot of posts.  If you’re trying to use Photoshop or want to use Photoshop for your art photography, these tips are very good.  If you don’t have Photoshop, check the very first tip for suggestions on how to afford Photoshop.

3. Seth Godin

Seth Godin  is mostly about marketing.  I’m on a “learning about marketing” kick recently, but mostly I read his blog because of his unique perspective.  If you don’t already read Seth’s blog, check it out sometime. I usually come away with lots to think about.

4. Abstract City

This is Christoph Niemann’s heavily illustrated blog on the New York Times site.  I’m as fascinated and amused by his story telling as I am with the variety of techniques he uses to create the illustrations. Go back and look at some of his previous posts to see what I mean.

The sketch at the top is another one of my ink and watercolor root vegetable sketches.  This time the subject is some leeks I happened to buy at the store.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Turnip Sketch

Turnip by Sydney Harper

Turnip, ink and watercolor in Moleskine
2009 Sydney Harper

I think I like turnips because they have that purple blush at the top. Well I like eating them too, but I would probably ignore them if they were just white. It’s interesting how important color is in our food. I was hoping to find some turnips with greens attached but it wasn’t meant to be. Probably because lots of people here eat the green tops so they can sell them separately.

An interesting historical tidbit about turnips is that turnip lanterns were the predecessor to today’s jack o’lanterns.

This sketch was done in ink and watercolor in my watercolor Moleskine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carrot Sketch


“Carrot”, ink and watercolor in watercolor Moleskine
copyright 2009 Sydney Harper

Digging through the refrigerator, I found a carrot.  It’s been there, uh, a while so why not sketch it. Beside it’s fun to paint orange things. Right now I’m enjoying sketching lumpy, bumpy vegetables more than smooth ones.  They just seem to have more character. Soon I’ll be left with only brown and beige root vegetables.   I guess I should have been mixing them in all along.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Red Onion Sketch

Red Onion

Ink and watercolor
in Moleskine watercolor notebook

I’m continuing with the root vegetable sketch theme, depending on what I’ve bought recently. This time it’s a red onion.  I’m enjoying doing these.  I think what I like most about these sketches is the pen. I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different pens lately, but I’m enamored with the finest tip of my set of Zig Millenium pens (005 size or .20 mm line) for these sketches.

I’m going to have to see what else I can find at the grocery store.  Of course, there’s lots of the usual stuff left to sketch but I’ll have to look for some out of the ordinary vegetables too. 

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato
ink and watercolor, 5 x 8 inches

Around here, it’s the sweet potato season.  Towards the end of summer and early fall, you’ll see flat-bed trucks beside the road filled with sweet potatoes for sale. That’s my indicator for autumn.  Earlier in the summer, you’ll see them with watermelons and tomatoes. Maybe it’s because I like fall or maybe it’s just because I like sweet potatoes, but the sweet potato trucks always make me smile.

This is done in ink and watercolor.  Lately I’ve enjoyed seeing other people’s ink sketch before the watercolor is added, so here’s my sweet potato before the watercolor was added.

Sweet Potato


Friday, October 02, 2009

Quick TV Sketching

One of the things I do to practice quick sketches is sketch while watching Sunrise Earth or sometimes just any show on TV.  Sometimes that’s as close as I get to watching TV.  It forces me to work quickly and not agonize over details.  Usually I just do ink sketches, but here’s a couple where I tried something different. Sometimes I’ll do little landscapes.  Other times, I’ll sketch random bits and pieces.

Some Shoreline

The sketch above was done in watercolor pencil.  It was a shoreline in Massachusetts or Maine, I forget which one. I like the sketch but the watercolor pencil didn’t work well for me.  I found myself spending more time on it than I wanted. But then I don’t use watercolor pencils that often so maybe it’s just an experience thing.

Plants and birds

Watercolor worked much better.   I used my travel watercolor kit for the sketch above. I don’t have much time to think about colors or technique and sometimes I don’t  get a chance to finish what I’m sketching.  It’s a good change of pace from my usual sketching.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just a Pepper

Just a Pepper

“Just a Pepper” – Sydney Harper
4 x 5 inches, watercolor

I was looking for something quick to paint. Then I remembered that I had bought some peppers at the farmers markets the other day. It was perfect for a quick little watercolor.  The paler yellow and green has a freshness about it that I like.

I have this big pack of small sample watercolor papers that I got from Daniel Smith years ago. Since the pack resurfaced recently, I’ll grab one of the sheets when I want to do a little watercolor sketch or practice painting.  This time I grabbed a piece of hot press watercolor paper. For some reason, I’ve never tried hot press paper before. I think I like the hot press better.  I’m not sure why I never tried it before. I may grab a few sheets of hot press the next time I buy paper.

Monday, September 07, 2009



Beautyberry by Sydney Harper
watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

I have an American Beautyberry bush in the backyard that’s one of my favorites. It’s an ordinary shrub for most of the summer with small flowers that aren’t very showy.  This time of year is when it really shines. Right now it’s full of clusters of purple berries. Plus it’s practically indestructible. We have heavy clay soil and unusual weather patterns since I’ve planted it. One year it froze to the ground when we had a late spring hard freeze, but it sprouted back up. Plants have to be sturdy to survive in our yard.

I started this watercolor sketch outside one afternoon, got about halfway, and finished it inside. This summer has been crazy. Painting and drawing has come in fits and spurts. Things seem to be falling into a better routine now so I’m looking forward to more painting time.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Three Mockingbirds

A little over a year ago I made a bunch of quick mockingbird sketches with the idea of a painting or drawing or something.  You can see a few of them at the link in the previous sentence.  Luckily I made lots of notes and stashed a couple of not so good reference photos. Plus if all else fails, we have plenty of mockingbirds around the house.  That was the last I thought about it until last night. I grabbed my old sketchbook, a piece of charcoal paper and my Pitt pen set and started drawing.  This is the end result.

Mockingbird drawing

Three Mockingbirds, 9 x 12 inches (8 x 10 inches displayed)
ink, gouache, and white charcoal on paper

I added a little bit of white gouache for the white feathers and a teeny tiny bit of white charcoal here and there.  I love to watch mockingbirds running around the yard looking for food.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Watercolor Papers and Moonflowers


Moonflower, watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

I’ve been painting the latest batch of small watercolors on some watercolor paper samples I have.  Normally I prefer Arches 140 lb or 300 lb paper.  It’s what I learned on and it takes a lot of punishment. Every time I try a sheet something else, I end up regretting it.  Since I’ve been using these samples, though, I’ve found a few that I might try again. 

Unfortunately the paper I used for this painting was not one of them. I lost the little identifying label so I don’t remember what it is, but hopefully I won’t run into it again. If you’re putting down multiple washes like I did here, it just doesn’t hold up. Pretty soon it starts bleeding and pilling. I ended up stopping before I planned to stop.

So if you’re just starting out with watercolor and having trouble, try some different papers. You might hate Arches and love some other paper. To me there’s a huge difference between watercolor papers.  So don’t assume it’s you, it might be the paper. 

In spite of the paper problems, there’s a lot I like this painting. I might try another version on a different paper one of these days. Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba) are one of my favorite flowers.  They’re one of those remarkable flowers that blooms after the sun sets.  They’re similar to morning glories except they’re white. The other remarkable thing about moonflowers is that hummingbird moths love them. I had never seen one in the yard until I planted moonflowers. They do look a lot like hummingbirds at first glance.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rooftops in the Negative

Rooftops at Dusk

Watercolor, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches

I’m still playing around with negative painting. I’ve always been fascinated with rooftops, so I decided to try some negative painting with rooftops. It’s very loosely based on one of my sketches, which is pretty darned loose too. Anyway I like the way this turned out. I’ll have to try some more of these. I might try it a little differently next time though.

This was one of those times that I had a huge ah-ha moment. I haven’t done that much watercolor and I’ve struggled to find a style of my own that I was happy with. But lately I’ve been working on Linda Kemp’s Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines, Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing, and Stephen Quiller’s Color Choices. Even though Stephen Quiller’s book isn’t strictly watercolor, I saw the connection between all of them. I could feel my style mentally taking form. Now all I have to do is find a way to make it take the form of actual paintings. So it looks like more practice is in store.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Negative Painting

Negative Leaf Painting

Leaves, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, watercolor

I bought Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines by Linda Kemp the other day. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I got it. It’s only 125 pages but it’s chock full of information and exercises. She covers supplies, paint qualities, underpaintings, negative shapes of objects, how to paint negative shapes, and composition and planning. Even if I decided that I didn’t want to do any more negative painting, I would still get a lot out of this book. The underpainting section seemed a little early and misplaced to me, but she admits at the beginning of the section that she debated where to put it. There’s probably not a perfect place to put it.

If you do get Linda Kemp’s book, be sure to check out her free video lessons at Jerry’s Artarama. There are eight video lessons that coordinate with her book. There’s also a DVD of the book which I haven’t seen. The painting above is one of the exercises from the book. Doing the exercises has been worth it for me. It’s more difficult than it looks. Below is another little exercise from the book, creating landscapes with layers of watercolor washes.

Negative Landscape Painting

Landscape, 5 x 5 1/2 inches, watercolor.

I’m about halfway through the book right now, so I’ll let you know my progress as I go along.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date – May 2009

Virtual Sketch Date - May 2009

14 x 11 inches, charcoal on paper

This month's reference for the Virtual Sketch Date was a photo of two sister's at a hoedown. I decided to focus on just one of the sisters. I also decided to do it in charcoal. It's been a while since I've used charcoal and I rarely do portraits. I ended up covered in charcoal so I must have had fun with it. I was nervous about it at first since I don’t often do portraits, but I’m kind of pleased with it, all things considered.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sky Studies

I was out of town at a conference, so I’m a little behind on posting these. Vivien Blackburn is having a sky challenge. I don’t get enough practice painting skies with watercolor so I took her up on the challenge. We’ve had lots of rain lately and I was afraid I would be painting mostly rainy overcast skies. But one day before I left, I decided to paint whether it rained all day or not. I did all of these from our front porch. Luckily, we had a bit of clearing and some nice changes during the day. It was good practice and by the end of the day, I had started to find my rhythm. I might have to make this a regular practice.

Sky 9may09 1pm

May 9 1PM, watercolor in Moleskine

At this point it was still gloomy and rainy but I could see a bit of clearing in the distance.

Sky 9may09 3pm

May 9 3PM, watercolor in Moleskine

Finally there’s a bit of a blue sky. I grabbed my sketch kit and rushed out to paint it.

Sky 9may09 6pm

May 9 6PM, watercolor in Moleskine

By late afternoon, there was a lovely, interesting sky with a nice sunset behind some dark clouds.

I’m hoping to get in a few more sky paintings. You can view all of the works of the sky challenge participants at Vivien Blackburn's blog.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Backup Sketchbooks

The other day I wrote about my traveling sketch kit that goes almost everywhere with me. Sometimes I’m caught without my sketch kit when I want to get something down on paper or just fill up some time while I’m waiting. A while back someone mentioned buying a bunch of little notebooks and stashing them everywhere for jotting down ideas and notes. (I can’t remember who it was now. If you know, shout out in the comments.) It was such a good suggestion, I thought I would share it.

I ended up buying a pack of tiny spiral-bound notebooks (5 x 3 inches) at the dollar store. I put one in the car, one in my bag, and several more on desks and such. I use them all of the time now. I make tiny sketches. I draft out painting ideas and take notes of things I want to remember. If I need to write something down for someone else, it’s easy to rip out a page. I use them all of time when I’m talking to clients at work and need to make a quick note. The one in the car gets used all of the time for jotting down notes.

Here’s a couple of pages from two notebooks.

Backup Sketchbook

On the left is a sketch I did at the doctor’s office on an unusually busy day. On the right is a note of a color combination for a strong dark black (alizarin crimson, viridian green, phthalocyanine blue). I keep them in a ready available spot with a pencil or pen so there’s no searching around for a piece of paper and a pen. I don’t know how I managed without them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date: April 2009

Virtual Sketch Date: Rhododendron Bud

Rhododendron Bud
Watercolor, 7 x 5 inches

The reference for this month’s Virtual Sketch Date was a beautiful photo of a rhododendron bud provided by Jeanette Jobson. I decided to use watercolor and focus on the main rhododendron bud. I had fun doing this one. I would lay down a wash and then do some other things. Then I would come back and lay down another wash. So it was a relaxed, enjoyable painting.


See all of my Virtual Sketch Date posts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Turtle Point Alabama

Turtle Point is a country club along the Tennessee River in Killen, Alabama. I was there one dreary, misty morning for a baby shower. The river (and the country club grounds) was just beautiful so I walked around for a while taking pictures for use in paintings later.

Turtle Point Alabama

Turtle Point
5 x 7 inches. Acrylic on painting board

This is a view up the river from the main country club building. I took some artistic liberties with the painting. In reality there is a boat dock and a small pier there. It was the rest of the view that interested me though.

There’s a lot that I like about this painting. This is another limited palette painting. Actually given a choice, I prefer limited palettes. If I have too many colors on my palette, I get caught up in the colors rather than the painting.

I’m still going through Stephen Quiller’s Color Choices. I had to smile at his comment at the beginning of Chapter 3. “I recommend doing many small studies before working large and going for your ‘masterpiece’! You can cover a lot more ground with a series of small examples rather than laboring over a large piece that, when finished, may or may not work.” I know I’m enjoying working on the small pieces and I don’t feel so bad when they flop.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Traveling Sketch Supplies

I decided to participate in ProBlogger’s 31 Day Challenge to Build a Better Blog. I had to travel to a trade show and then got swamped trying to catch up, so I’m a few days behind. The challenge for day 2 was to write a list post. Since I just got back from traveling, I thought I would show you my traveling sketch supplies. In addition to sketching, I’ll also use my sketchbook for jotting down notes and saving pictures of things I like. I’m pretty easy going with my sketching supplies though. I grab whatever is available.

Travel Sketching Supplies

  1. Paper - I have an inexpensive Cachet sketchbook and usually my Moleskine watercolor journal too. The Cachet sketchbook is a little more all purpose than the watercolor journal.
  2. Paint – I have a small refillable Holbein travel watercolor kit and a water brush. I’ve had the Holbein kit for many years. Their current version is much fancier. Sometimes I’ll also carry a few cheap brushes.
  3. Pens – Currently I’m carrying a set of black Zig Millennium pens plus a cheap ballpoint pen.
  4. Pencils – I usually have several pencils – a soft one, a hard one and one of my favorite Ebony jet black pencils. I also have a click eraser, a kneaded eraser stored in a pill carrier, a paper stump, a sand paper pad, and a pencil sharpener.
  5. Miscellaneous Supplies – The small ruler is for those times when I want to make sure I draw a straight line or just to measure something. Often I’ll cut out interesting items and paste them into my sketchbook so I take along scissors and a glue stick. I also take along a teeny tiny stapler and roll of tape, mostly because they’re so darn cute. But they have come in handy for meetings when someone needs a piece of tape or a staple.
  6. Not shown – Sometimes I’ll also take along a small set of colored pencils or a small set of watercolor pencils.

That’s it! If I want to travel really light, I’ll just take my Cachet sketchbook, a pen, a pencil and a click eraser.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date: March 2009

Virtual Sketch Date - March 2009

Pencil and colored pencil, 7 x 10 inches

This time I decided to sketch for this month’s Virtual Sketch Date. Partly because I knew if I painted it, I would get caught up in the details. Also I was just in the mood to try something different. This was done in pencil with a little bit of colored pencil added in here and there. I had fun with this. It’s good to shake things up and try something different sometimes. You can view the work of other participating artists here and here.

Selling Art

Earlier this week I was at my day job, working on a customer’s computer on site. While I working on the computer, Rick was showing someone my art on Flickr. They mentioned how much they liked one particular painting. Now I’ve never made much of an effort to sell my art. It’s more of a mental roadblock than a conscious decision. A more alert person would have offered the painting to them for x number of dollars. After all, I can make more. Me, I just thanked them. Oh well, next time. For those of you who make a better effort to sell your art than I do, here’s a list of observations and suggestions from someone who recently spent some time buying art. I thought there was some good information in there.


See all of my Virtual Sketch Date posts.

Saturday, March 21, 2009



Acrylic on Daniel Smith painting board, 7 x 5 inches

We have a lovely patch of narcissus blooming in the yard right now. The daffodils came earlier, right before our last snow. I brought a bunch of them inside and there are still lots of blooms outside. This is the best that I’ve seen them. So I just had to do a quick painting. I had to keep reminding myself that this was supposed to be a quick painting, using up some leftover paint on my palette.

Just to show that you can make art with almost anything, I'll leave you with this Extreme Sheep Herding video.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Truffles

Two Truffles

Two Truffles
acrylic, 5 x 5 inches on Daniel Smith Painting Board

I had two dark chocolate truffles left over from Valentine’s Day, so I decided to paint them before I ate them. it’s an incentive to paint quickly. I painted it on some old Daniel Smith Painting Board I found the other day. I don’t even think they carry it anymore. It is stiff and slightly flexible with a surface texture much like watercolor paper and the thickness is similar to the heavier watercolor papers. The down side is that it’s brittle. I haven’t had any chip with normal use, although I suppose it would if you dropped it. It’s not that easy to cut though. Even with a straight edge, that last little bit tends to break off randomly. Otherwise, I like painting on it.

While I’m thinking about it, check out this video at the Digital Photography School. It’s about creativity and inspiration and lack of inspiration. The focus is on photography but I think all creative types can relate. The Digital Photography School is also a good place to learn about using your digital camera, whether you have SLR or a simple point and shoot camera.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Backyard Sunset

Backyard Sunset
watercolor, 5 x 7 inches

We've had some beautiful sunsets lately. You have to be quick to catch them. When you do, for a few moments the western sky turns bright rosy orange. My only view from our backyard is through the trees and over the rooftops, but I love the bright colors filtering through the trees. I had to capture it.

I checked out Jeanne Dobie's book,
Making Color Sing, from the library. It's worth it just for the sections on greens, grays, and glazing alone. But there's a wealth of information above this. There's a lot of good composition tips too. Sometimes the colors in the step-by-step demonstrations seem a bit off, at least in this copy, but you can still get the idea behind it. Overall an excellent book.

Finally, a couple of links before I go. For you Freelancers out there, FreelanceSwitch has an
hourly rate calculator.

Roz at
Roz Wound Up has been covering Journaling Superstitions and other Journaling tips lately. Here's the link to Journaling Superstitions #3 but scroll through her entries to find the rest.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date, February: Lake Louise

Lake Louise by Sydney Harper

Lake Louise
8 x 10 inches, acrylic on canvas

This month's reference for the Virtual Sketch Date was a photo of Lake Louise, Canada was provided by Debbie Later. I decided to do this month's Virtual Sketch Date in acrylic. I tried not to get too caught up in all of the details in the rock layers. If I don't watch myself, I will. I had fun with this and learned a little in the process.

I visited Lake Louise many years ago. It's absolutely beautiful. It was spring when I visited. There's a trail that goes around the lake. At that time on the shady side of the lake, there was still some ice. Some of the ice was in little needle like pieces arranged vertically. When a breeze would come through, you could hear the little ice needles tinkling as they fell over.


See all of my Virtual Sketch Date posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gordon House, Natchez Trace

Gordon House by Sydney Harper

5 x 7 inches, watercolor

I'm still playing around with limited palettes. This is a quick little watercolor of the Gordon House along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. It's not inhabited in real life, although you can go through it during the day. I've been rumaging through my photos of the Natchez Trace lately, looking for likely painting candidates. The Natchez Trace goes by near our house so we end up taking it when we have the chance. I end up stopping along the way to take lots of photos.

This week, well this month actually, has been flying by. I can't believe the month is almost over. It's been a busy month but I've managed to accomplish a lot in spite of it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Week 7 Sketch Page

Last week was all about Valentine's Day, mostly because it turned into a drive-by Valentine's Day that lasted half of the week. We were in a magic show on Friday night, so Valentine's was spread over Thursday and Saturday. But it did involve much chocolate, dinner, and a singing balloon. It's supposed to sing when you tap the yellow circle, when I was taking it home in the car, it would sing every time I hit a bump.

Last week I also discovered
Floy Zittin's blog. Besides her own gorgeous watercolors, she covers the results of some of her classes and workshops. They're not quite tutorials but there's enough information and examples for you to experiment.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cypress Inn

Cypress Inn, 5 x 7 in, acrylic on illustration board
Sydney Harper

This is a quick little painting of the cross roads at Cypress Inn, Tennessee, just across the Alabama border. It's actually more of a community than a town. In this part of the country, you often see these older buildings right along the road. Often they've been abandoned and overcome with kudzu. This particular building looks like it's being used. I painted this from a photo I took last spring. At the time, it looked in better shape than the previous time I saw it. I've always been curious to know it's history though. It's located close to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

I said it was a quick painting but I tried it several times before I got something I was willing to keep. I started out a few times in watercolor but quickly ditched those efforts and moved to acrylic. I don't often paint buildings so I'm trying to get more practice at it.

Speaking of photos, I came across a good method for organizing your photos in the Adobe Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a Book. I take a lot of photos for reference and other purposes. Finding them again can be a challenge though.
Jay Graham proposes making a folder by date and subject and then numbering your photos by date inside the folder. For example photos of Yellowstone on June 20, 2008 would be in a folder called 20080620_Yellowstone. The photos inside would be named something like 2008_06_20_01 with the last number being the number of the photo. I do something similar. I make folders by subject with folders inside that by date. I may try to reverse that one of these days.

Finally thanks to
Michael Nobbs' tweet, I found a copy of Harold Speed's The Science and Practice of Drawing on the Project Gutenberg web site. I did a little search and also found Walter Crane's Line and Form. The last book is focused mostly on decorative arts but there's still a lot of good information in it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Week 6 Sketch Page

This past week has been one of those where I've been painting but I haven't been happy with any of my paintings. I'm working through it but let's just go right to the sketch page. We had to take our cat Katie to the vet this week. The first task is to sneak her into the carrier before she realizes what happens. She does not like to go to the vet. I almost had her in the carrier when the phone rang. Katie grabbed my back and wouldn't let go. I lost a bit of blood that day. It took two of us but we did finally get her into the carrier. I've also been doing a lot of knitting for upcoming baby shower gifts. The sketch is done in ink and watercolor with a little bit of colored pencil in the knitting sketch.

There have been a few links I wanted to pass along. Roz Stendahl has been posting a tutorial on eraser carving and printing. She's been giving some excellent information. I've learning a lot. She's up to Part 4 right now.

If you have a microphone on your computer, try out the voice drawing application at . I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I've got to dig out a microphone first.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Week 5 Sketch Page

2009 Week 5 - ink in sketchbook

Now I'm caught up with my weekly sketches. Last week I was stuck at the computer most of the week. It was a project I had been trying to finish for a while but kept coming up on a sticking point. I finally found a way around it. I also worked some more with my PITT pens. I might have to try out some of the other colors they have.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Week 4 Sketch Page and PITT artist pens

2009 Week 4
Ink and watercolor in sketchbook

I'm a little behind on posting my weekly sketches so I'll start with Week 4 and post Week 5 later in the week. Week 4 was inauguration week and Obama was on everyone's mind, including mine. This also shows what happens when you randomly add start adding stuff. You end up with random arms and heads coming out of Obama's chest and neck. But hey, the idea is to practice. Actually this has some good points. Portraits aren't my strong point since I don't practice them often. From that aspect, this isn't bad. The poor hand ended up short and stubby like a baby hand. Obama has much more graceful hands. I think I was hurrying a bit too much when I added in that arm.

This was also a practice piece for my new set of PITT artist pens. It's a set of 4 pens - superfine tip, fine tip, medium tip, and brush tip. I did this with the brush tip. The superfine tip doesn't seem that fine to me but when I compare it to my old pen, they're about the same width. I think the ink in the PITT pens are just blacker and more pigmented. I'm still getting used to the brush tip but overall I like them. I also did a quick sketch of Katie to try out the pens.

Sketch of Katie - 22 Jan

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date - January 2009 - Clementine

Virtual Sketch Date - Clementine by Sydney Harper
5 x 7 inches, watercolor and gouache

This month's reference for the Virtual Sketch Date was a peeled clementine. I decided to do this one in watercolor with a touch of white gouache at the end for the stringy bits. I don't like to use masking fluid and gouache seemed like a better choice. I had fun with this.


See all of my Virtual Sketch Date posts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week 3 Sketch Page

2009 Week3
Ink and watercolor in sketchbook

Last week's sketch page is kind of dull, I'm afraid. The only thing happening was the weather, but at least the sun came out. That's what everyone was talking about. I was going to enter the Different Strokes from Different Folks but I decided to abandon my painting before it was finished. I'm fascinated by buildings but I'm never happy with my paintings of buildings. Obviously I'm searching for a different look for them but I just don't know what it is yet. I'll figure it out one of these days.

Clint Watson has an interesting blog post by Keith Bond on making time for art. I know making time for art is always a struggle for me. Even if you never want to do art full time, there are some good advice and suggestions in there. It's easy to get caught up in things that aren't that important if you don't make a conscious effort.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Katie Cat

Katie Cat by Sydney Harper

Katie Cat , pencil in sketchbook
by Sydney Harper

I've been wanting to paint our cat, Katie, for a while now. So lately I've been working on some compositions. This is probably the one I will use. There's not a lot of detail except in the face. Mostly I just wanted to get the primary lines down. The face is where I have the most trouble, so that's where I focused my attention. I drew the eyes several times before they looked right, where I could look at the drawing and say "That's Katie cat."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week 2 Sketch Page

2009 - Week2 - Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor in sketchbook

I had a hard time getting back into any kind of routine this past week after my time off at Christmas. All of the rain we've had lately hasn't helped either. The week started with rain and ended with rain. The sun did come out for a little while. I went to the Army Surplus store and found a bag that should make a good sketching bag. It's 10 w x 10 h x 5 inches deep. It had pockets inside that look to be a good size for brushes, pens, pencils and such. When I went to purchase it, the guy at the counter said a lot of women had been buying them for to use as purses. I'm also very pleased with my little sketchbook. It's an inexpensive Daler-Rowney Cachet sketchbook with cream colored pages. I think it's the field sketchbook. It works well for pencil, pen and watercolor. It's not watercolor paper but it's not bad for a sketchbook.

I'm still going through my Photoshop Classroom in a Book and learning a lot. I don't think I would be learning this much if I was just trying to learn it as I used it. Right now I'm about halfway through the book. The examples used for the lessons cover a wide variety of uses too. I'm enjoying it and I think it will pay off in the long run.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year, New Start

First week of 2009, Sydney Harper
pen and colored pencil in sketchbook

Rick and I have been off between Christmas and today. It's been wonderfully relaxing and much needed. We've all been doing a lot of sleeping but I think we needed it. Tomorrow it's back to the routine, though. I'm starting to feel a little restless so I guess it's just as well. I decided that I would do a weekly combo sketch. I may not do it every week, but I like the idea. I'm ready to move on to a new year. Last year was an okay year and ended on a good note, but I'm hoping for a better one this year.

I'm taking
Christine Kane's advice and picking a word for the year. My word is Delight. I hope to find delight and give delight to others this year. Then to take it a step further, I decided to keep my goals simple too.

Be Creative
Make Money
Be Healthy

Obviously I don't have complete control over all of these, such as money and health, but my plan is to do my best. I have more specific plans for the year but I want to focus where I'm headed rather than specifics. One thing I want to do this year is learn Photoshop and Illustrator. I've already started learning Photoshop with the
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a Book. The instructions are good and I've having a great time with it. I don't know how it compares to the other books that are available but this one has been easy to follow. I've been moving through the book at a pretty good clip since I've been on vacation. Once I finish this book, I'll move on to Illustrator.