We lost power long before the tree hit the house.

Strong winds at 3pm

Throughout the night the wind sounded like a locomotive on a loop around our house.  Sometime around 1 am, a different sound was heard above the howling of the wind.


We are fortunate that the tree fell as it did, taking hardly more than the gutters along with it as it fell to the ground.

Hurricane Sandy retreats from Polt Mountain

A reminder of the power, the fury and the beauty of nature……

Last night I transplanted thirty-five, eight inch tall, GirasolMammoth Sunflower seedlings.

Sunflower Seedling

Eighteen were planted in the far corner of the yard between the raspberry bed and the Blueberry house.  At daybreak, only eleven remained.  I believe the groundhogs living under the tool shed had a tasty, midnight snack.  It is survival of the fittest in my backyard.

The rest of the seedlings were planted along the fence close to the house amongst the poison ivy vines.  I’m hoping the poison ivy will act as a deterrent.  Once the seedlings are too large to be munched on by small critters, I’ll yank out the poison ivy.

Odd colors for a sunflower seedling?  I decided to use the same color scheme for the seedling as I used for this morning’s Trumpet Parts No. 91.  The color scheme game dictated Analogous with one complement, violet as dominant color.

There were still eleven seedlings thriving between the berries after dinner this evening.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen and ink followed by watercolor.

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Pea seeds are planted!

Pea Seed Packets

A delightful day of working in the yard, the sun warming both my skin and the soil.  Gardens were raked, dirt dug, step shelves for the kitchen herb garden built, deer fence constructed and peas planted.  What could be better than that for a Sunday afternoon in the middle of March!

I really should give up on using watercolor in my current sketchbook.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first in pencil, followed by watercolor, followed by carbon pencil.  Based on value studies created as examples for the next variation of The Extended Game – An extension of The Color Scheme Game.

Plans often change along with a change in the weather.

Snow Covered Farmhouse

It continues to flurry and grow colder.  I opted to sketch, gazing through the living room window rather than brave the wind and snow on the front porch.  The rotation of the landscape is something I want to play with a bit more in the future.

Sketch: Drawn first as a line drawing with a  Waterman Phileas Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Black ink, followed by watercolor using only a Kuretake water brush as my source of water.

In 1956 I gave this candle to my mother as a Christmas gift.

Crayon Candle - 1956 Christmas Gift

The candle was made from melted crayons in Mrs. Morecraft’s First / Second Grade Class.  We took a month to hand dip the candles.  I found the candle, never having been burned, wrapped in tissue paper in a cupboard when we cleaned out the house in Martinsville this fall.  We lit the candle first to repair Tom’s broken wax angel that had belonged to his Great Grandmother.  It fell while decorating my Tim Burton Christmas Tree last week.  We then used the candle for our Christmas Eve Dinner centerpiece.  The awesome candlestick holder was a gift from my sister, Louise, several years ago.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Nikita Red ink, followed by ciao copic markers to create patterns of light, middle and dark values.

A red fox crossed my path as I set out on a walk, flashlight in hand and wearing a reflective vest.  The light of the full moon was obstructed by layers of clouds spinning webs of mist upon the landscape of the night.

A gray evening

My plan for a pleasant day of painting while Dave connected the oil lines to the new oil burner turned out to be a day of multiple interruptions and disappointments.  Our relatively new oil tank is faulty and Dave will have to return to install a special retrofit unit to make the Roth Double Wall tank function properly, allowing the oil to flow to the burner.  Another week without heat.

My day began with a cup of coffee and a gray morning watercolor sketch.  I didn’t find with paintbrush in hand again until the sun was already going down.  The gray evening sketch was more successful than the gray morning sketch.

Though my day was a bit of a disappointment, my walk made up for it.  There is something intriguing about the fragmentary glimpses of life framed by windows, illuminated by warm, interior lights.  I walked the two mile loop.  My nose inhaled the fragrance of fruit wood burning in fireplaces or wood stoves.  Music poured out through an open window of a teenager’s upstairs room, the multicolored curtains glowing like stained glass windows, the sound of tools clanking as a car was worked on in an open garage.  I like the sound of life.

Sketch:  Blocked in with pencil, painted with watercolor

How long has it been since I have escaped from my life and entered the someone else’s world through a masterfully written novel?  Too long.  I am wanting that escape.

The pencil sharpener from my childhood

Getting “in the zone” for drawing or painting cannot be done by flicking an internal switch to the “on” position.  I was reminded of that after the first two contour drawings of the pencil sharpener I removed from the wall behind the back door of the house I grew up in, the house my family built, brick by brick.  The message to me was that no matter how horrific I find the result of my daily drawings to be, the value lies in the priority to draw daily rather than to draw something well on a daily basis.

I am distracted.  I am distracted by my love for my father and my inability to accept that he cannot remember anything from moment to moment.  It makes me question all of life.  It makes me question why I draw, why I paint, why I even get out of bed in the morning.

But then….. I begin to draw and I realize that I have an addiction that nurtures me in a way that nothing else can except spending time with my children.  Another day means another day to learn one more thing about color, about line, about the world around me, about the face I am looking at across the table.  Another day means that I can explore what a dip pen can do with a gentle touch.

This might be a long winter.  I am already looking forward to spring.  I am looking forward to blooming in a new way this coming spring.

Ah…. the pencil sharpener.  I am rather attached to this pencil sharpener.  I wanted to express that connection in today’s drawings.  I vaguely remember when my father first screwed it into the wall behind the back door in the room we call the workroom.  It still sharpens a pencil beautifully.  I love the sound of it sharpening my pencil.  I love the smell of the shavings of wood and graphite.  I love everything about the process of finding my pencil dull and going using this amazingly simple machine t0 make my pencil sharp.

I will try on another day to express that passion.  I must find a place in my own home to screw it to the wall, to allow it to do the job it was designed to do and still does so well.

Sketch: drawn first with Preppy 0.5M fountain pen converted to eyedropper fill, filled with a mix of Noodler’s Sherwood Green and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness ink.  Followed by washes of water and watercolor using a Sumi Water Brush (I’m not too excited pleased with at the moment).

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