Thursday, October 28, 2010

Look Up

On a hiking forum, someone told the story of how they were walking along the trail when they heard a *snort* from overhead. Looking up, they saw a Mama bear glaring down at him, with a cub visible a little farther up the tree.

Now in this situation, what's the first thing you do? If you answered 'grab my camera', then you might be a hiker. "Look Up" is a quick study, loosely based on that photo. I like it enough that I'm probably going to do again in a larger format.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Santa brought me a set of Artists Trading Cards last year. They're little - 2.5"x3.5" - and can be pretty much any medium (paint, pen, etc.) as long as it's permanent. You can trade the cards, or some artists are popular enough that they can sell their cards. I signed up for a card exchange this month. The theme is Autumn. Here's my first card, I can do up to three. It's the smallest thing I've ever tried to paint before, so it was quite challenging.

Sometime in November all the entries will be put into a hat and then I'll mail my card(s) somewhere in the world to the new lucky owner of an original Ted. And I'll get someone else's card(s) in the mail to start my own collection.

Update: Ok, I finished the other two.


Perfect Tree (in my dreams).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Abstract Planter

Saw this planter in front of a building downtown and did a quickie abstract, mostly to play with the bright and vibrant colors. Watercolors and waterbrush in a 3"x5" Handbook sketchbook.

Tropical Fishing

Watercolors and a new travel-sized waterbrush. Going for loose, definitely achieved that. 8"x5".

Country Road

Did this over the course of three lunch breaks at work. Watercolors and regular brushes on 3"x5" Handbook sketchbook.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Monochrome Rock

Simple quickie done with a black watercolor pencil and waterbrush in a pocket sketchbook.

Lombardy Poplars

Still playing with watercolor washes, and this time a couple of runaway floods made me turn the paper upside down and after it dried, I worked with the shapes that accidentally happened. I like it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zhao Bin

I've always admired oriental art, especially the Sumi-E style of Japan and the landscape paintings from China. Recently, a coworker visited China and presented me with a gorgeous postcard upon her return. I immediately had to try it for myself. Watercolor pencil and waterbrush.

Oh, and if you think those paintings are exagerrated, check out the photos here. Amazing.

Figure Study 3

Another female figure study. Watercolor pencil and waterbrush.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Words

Two Words

The most
hopeful / tragic
inspiring / deflating
soothing / terrifying
exciting / devastating
anticipated / dreaded
calming / troubling
words in the world:

"Things Change"

note: Formatting is screwed up here. I need to fix that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hawk Mountain Shelter

All along the Appalachian Trail, you'll find these shelters for hikers and campers. Most sleep six or more (plus mice). I'd rather hike on and find a nice tent site, but they are a nice place to relax, cook and eat, and socialize.

This is watercolor pencil and waterbrush, from a photograph.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


More technique work. This time using a scrubber.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sierra Pass


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Story: 'Go To' Girl

'Go To' Girl

Jeanine is my best friend. She also works as my husband's office manager, or as he calls her, his 'go to' girl. When something needs to be done, Jeanine is the one who will come up with a plan and drive and push and cajole until she makes it happen. Church bazaar? Let Jeanine handle it. Emergency neighborhood watch meeting? No problem for Jeanine. When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer a few years ago, Jeanine was there for me every step of the way. When the doctor told me that it was in remission, Jeanine was the only one not surprised, because she wouldn't have had it any other way.

That Jeanine had some plan in mind wasn't in the least bit surprising. What that plan was, was.

"You," I told her, "have got to be out of your mind."

She giggled over her coffee cup and lowered her voice to a husky whisper. "Remember that Hitchcock movie, 'Strangers On A Train'? I'll kill your husband and you kill mine. It's perfect!"

"More like 'Dial M For Murder', where we both get caught and spend the rest of our lives in prison!"

"Just think about it, and so will I." She continued, "If you can agree to the idea, I'll come up with the perfect way to get away with it. Gotta run, grocery store!" And with that, she was off.

Truth be told, it wouldn't be hard to move on if David died. Twelve years of so-so marriage, most of his end of it spent at the office, wasn't much to miss. Jeanine was in pretty much the same situation. Her Conrad was a skirt chasing scumbag with political ambitions and he was more interested in being everybody's best friend than in being her husband.

So, really, there was no practical reason to not consider the idea. I didn't find the concept morally repugnant, because I've never thought of myself as a paragon of virtue anyway. 'Do what you gotta do' pretty much sums it up for me. Which brings me around to, "why not?"

We'd been on cruise control for a long time. David did his thing and I did mine. Did I really want to upset the comfortable equilibrium we had? Was I comfortable enough to not want something more?

The next time I saw Jeanine, I'd just gotten back from a doctor's appointment and she stopped by with sticky buns from the bakery. I fixed coffee and we indulged in the goodies and gossip. Neither of us went anywhere near 'the question', as I'd taken to calling it in my head.

Finally I said quietly, "OK, let's do it."

Jeanine smiled softly, nodded once, then launched back into her story about how a local busybody got arrested for being a peeping tom.

One week later, our plans were set.


It was almost 10pm when Conrad pulled into the parking lot of the Roadhouse 263. As he exited his Buick, I casually started walking towards him from the shadow at the side of the building. I was wearing a short blond wig and even shorter skirt, and in the dark, people might mistake me for his current girlfriend, a young thing who served beer inside.

Conrad's eyes moved up my body as I walked towards him, and when our eyes met I could see the faintest spark of recognition. I shot him in the face, and when he fell back I stood over him and carefully shot him three more times just to make sure. And to make sure that I was seen. I then climbed into my rental and drove away.

Ten miles away, I pulled into the rental garage. It was paid up for two months, so hopefully things would calm down some before being found. I stripped out of the clothes I was wearing, tossed them and the gun into a plastic bag and then drove my car back home. On the way, I stopped by Jeanine's house and dropped the plastic bag inside her back door. I carefully made sure the door locked behind me. According to the plan, Jeanine was going to take care of the evidence.

Jeanine's car was in my driveway. She was sitting in my kitchen, looking worried and drinking coffee.

"Done, and done," I said, dropping into the chair across from her.

Jeanine looked up at me uneasily and said, "David wasn't at his office tonight. I couldn't find him."

I smiled and said, "I know." I got up and said, "Let's go see him, he's down in the rec room." When Jeanine hesitated, I withdrew a small pistol from my purse and pointed it at her.

Jeanine looked sick as she led the way downstairs. Not sure how her planning had gone wrong, she wasn't prepared for the sight of her lover David sprawled across the couch with three bullet holes in his chest. She spun towards me, eyes horrified.

I casually aimed the gun and shot her in the knee. Jeanine screamed in agony and toppled over onto the floor next to David's body.

After a long moment, Jeanine struggled to sit up and she managed to ask "Why?" She sobbed, "I'm your best friend!"

"Yes you were," I began. "And I was content with that. I knew you were sleeping with David, had known it for years." I sighed, "but when you and David decided that you wanted me out of the way, his 'go to' girl came up with that stupid plan to rid ourselves of our husbands, well..."

I continued, "You mistook apathetic for stupid, and you didn't plan for that."

I'd been watching her carefully, and when she'd propped herself up on her hands, she'd felt the hard shape of something on the floor just under the edge of the couch. I had to give her credit, she was still planning, thinking of how she might still salvage the situation.

Through her hiccupping sobs, I saw her steel herself and whip the pistol up and around in my direction. She fired three times before the gun clicked empty, and I silently congratulated her because it looked to be a solid grouping, considering the circumstances. Yes, I'd probably be dead if those had been live rounds in the pistol.

She stared, uncomprehending, as I rose and gave a polite golf clap towards her. "Now forensics will show that you fired the pistol that killed David." Holding up the pistol in my hand, she could see that it was the same type as the one she was holding. "There's no doubt that I shot you with this pistol, but there will be confusion as to which of us shot David. And Conrad? That pistol was the same kind too, remember?" I smiled, "and now it's sitting in a bag full of clothes inside your locked kitchen door."

"My oh my, confusion all around."

Jeanine's face dropped as my words sank in. "But why?", she asked again, "we'll both go to prison."

I regarded her steadily. "True. But you see, my cancer has come back, with a vengeance. I've got maybe a year to live, and might not even survive the upcoming trial." I gestured towards her with the gun, "You, on the other hand, have a long life ahead of you."

I jumped to my feet, "I'm going to call the police. Would you like a cup of coffee while we wait?"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two Minute Sketch

Done at work while talking to other people. Mostly, just playing with composition.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Figure Studies

My first ever figure studies (besides cartoon sketching). Done with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush. New medium, new subject.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grayson Dawn

A herd of wild ponies live in the highlands of Grayson, Virginia. They're not tame by any stretch, but they are used to hikers walking by, and usually don't fuss as you walk through the grazing herd. Rather than horrify you with my attempt at a pony, here's the view over the Shenandoah Valley at dawn.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Actually, it's Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue, mixed in various combinations.