Still Exotic to This Yankee

I have been in Savannah for eleven years now and palm trees still seem exotic, if not downright strange. When I walk Winslow in the woods it's easy to imagine that we're tromping through a jungle because, instead of spruces and birches, the woods here are full of palms!
     I did this sketch on Cockspur Island. The artistic challenge for me was to try and capture the intensity of the midday light in black and white, striving for a subtropical look with none of the color so strongly associated with scenes like this.

Work in progress

I don't normally do extensive demos in my watercolor classes; this is an exception and I'm having a lot of fun doing it! Tempus fugit!

Bad Hair Day

I know where I get my unmanageable hair from!

Lorenzo Roath was my 4th-great-grandfather. Orphaned at age six in 1817, he went on to become, first, a postal worker, delivering mail on horseback between Lexington and Salem, Ohio; he then studied law, passed the bar, and defended those with even worse hairstyles than his. He fathered twelve children before kicking the bucket in 1897.


I'm just finishing Hope Mirrlees's Lud-in-the-Mist, and I'm entirely enchanted by it! It's full of wisdom and humor. And I wonder how I got to be in my 50s without ever having heard of it, much less read it.

This is another pen-and-ink sketch, about 4 x 8".  

Willard and Sue • 1928

I recently inherited a boxful of old family photos, most of which I have never seen. This pen-and-ink sketch is based on a shot of my dad with his cousin on Christmas in Lansing, MI, in 1928. I cannot get over my dad's outfit, especially the boots (who needs that many eyelets?) and the hat!

Quaker Polly Felts

Polly Felts was my 4x great-grandaunt. In 1804, she and her husband Shadrack moved from their tobacco plantation in Virginia to Ohio. They, like many Quakers in their part of the tidewater, freed their slaves and could no longer maintain their agricultural endeavors without them; the result was a Quaker exodus into Stark, Columbiana and Mahoning Counties, Ohio.

I did this little sketch (5 x 8") using a #2 Ticonderoga pencil.

Fluid Enough?

I ran into Blick this weekend to pick up a brush pen. Once again, I was sucked down the watercolor isle (against my will — I don't know how this keeps happening)! This time I found a product I hadn't seen before: a Fluid 6 x 6 watercolor pad. It's fixed on two of its four sides, so not quite a block, though it works pretty much like one.

At just four bucks (it was on sale, and I get a discount), I had to give this a try.

And it worked pretty well! For four dollars, how could you go wrong? 

I tend to brutalize my watercolor paper because of the amount of glazing I do; the layering process breaks down the paper surface really quickly. I keep trying various papers, and I always return to Arches. But this Fluid paper is really nice. While the paper did start breaking down after about the fourth layer of wash, it held up pretty well.

When I was removing the tape from the edges of the paper, the adhesive tore up the surface of the paper. This would never happen with Arches. 

So while I will continue using this Fluid brand for easy, quick, no-risk pieces, I will return to Arches as my default paper.

Here's the piece I did:

Early Bo Peep

A few years ago I was doing a school talk in my hometown of Fremont, when a familiar face appeared in the back of the school library — Mrs. Tinkowitz's eyes still sparkled the way they did when I was a kid. She waved to me like any of the second graders she was seated behind.

After my talk, she came up to me and gave me this drawing of Little Bo Peep.

"You drew this at your kitchen table with a ball-point pen while I was having coffee with your mom," she recalled. I must have been five years old at the time. "You gave it to me, and I've kept it all these years. I thought you would like to have it."

I was tickled (and still am)! The instant I saw this, I remembered drawing it! Rather than giving Bo Peep a shepherdess's staff, I thought it would be more fun to give her a hobby horse. It's not well drawn, but -- hey -- I was only five!

This is the earliest of my drawings I have.

Thanks, Mrs. Tinkowitz, for hanging onto this for so many years!

Savannah Hammock

I went out hiking and sketching along the Savannah River. The bare trees make for wonderful patterns against the bright winter sky. The hammocks in the marshes are particularly interesting, the way their unexpected symmetry breaks the vast expanse of the spartina and cattails. I was lucky to glimpse a bobcat hunting at the edge of the marsh.