Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the Old Year

One should say goodbye to the Old Year and start the New Year in the right way. As I started my jeans bag in 2014 and have been stitching on it in order to finish it soon, it is a good candidate to bridge the past and the future.
I'm stitching across the back pockets, inching along in the bitter cold that has hit Tunisia. There's snow over the north and within 5 miles of my house--drat, if it's going to be so cold, one might as well have snow. Oh, well, I'm not sure the citrus trees would appreciate snow.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2015 full of creativity and art! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Shoe Project, 1

Thanks to the Sketchbook Skool classes and playground (Facebook page), I have acquired enough skill to honor some very lovely shoes--which I myself cannot wear. While drawing this, I reflected on shoes as artefacts. This one pleases me because it is "patchworked" and the craftsmanship is excellent.
The challenge was in the textures of smooth leather and velours-like suede. I sketched it with pencil lightly first because I wanted some exactness. Most is done with a humble ball point pen, however, for the suede parts, I cross-hatched lightly in pen then went over it with a Prismacolor black pencil. I used colored pencils for the beige interior as well. The shadow is in watercolor.

The background will get a watercolor treatment.
I might get there's a pleasant thought.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Lake

Tunis is situated on a lake connected to the sea. 
Another view from the passenger's seat.
Have I overcome motion sickness?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Recurring Themes, 3

Motion sickness is my bane. Yet, I've been managing to sketch in the passenger seat of the car, which results in a lot of sketches of the backs of vehicles, among other things.

A day in Tunis running errands...

The "take-a-line-for-a-walk" has been developing into some interesting shapes.
Always a surprise to see what will happen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An Exhibit

Paul Klee, Auguste Macke and Louis Moilliet made a trip to Tunisia together in 1914, so in honour of its "centennial" the Bardo Museum (Tunis) is hosting a show of their work from that trip. No photos allowed of the small aquarelles and sketches, but, I went with the intention of sketching anyway, to sketch the sketches. I was surprised at the poor quality of paper they used (looked like newsprint), but delighted with the line work. 
Louis Moilliet, left: "Scène de la rue en Tunisie" ("Street Scene in Tunisia," 1914);
right: "Vendeur de rue arabe" ("Arabe Street Vendor," 1914). 
I was a bit disappointed that this exhibit did not include some of the wonderful color studies for which all three artists are known. However, it provided an excellent sketching exercise--I found that Macke was much more precise in his lines while Moilliet had a very loose hand. Enjoyable afternoon that is now recorded in one of my sketchbooks.
Auguste Macke, left: "Homme avec une brouette" ("Man With a Cart," 1914);
right: "Arabes assis devant leur maison" ("Arabes Sitting in Front of Their House,"1914)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recurring Themes, 2

The push to finish school work before vacation took up most of last week. Today I am finally on vacation. I managed to squeeze in a few sketches in my small journal during the week. 

Students and teachers will probably be a recurring theme for a long time...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grabbed Moments

Winding up the rather turbulent Fall semester, I haven't found much time for stitching. However, my small sketchbook attests to the moments I can grab during a day.
I add color at dinnertime, but, truth to tell, it may take longer...
I'm so much happier with my sketchbook/journal since I started adding the color. 
On the other hand, I think it helped to limit myself to pen sketching for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Recurring Themes

Some themes seem to be developing in my small daily journal. Watches and time for my bigger textile pieces. 

Students appear occasionally, sketched during a few brief minutes of quiet in class.

And I am forever delighted by the "take-a-line-for-a-walk." The possibilities are infinite.

Materials: ballpoint pen for watch, gel pen for students. Prismacolor pencils.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Time's Face

Another watch face drawn at dinner. An interesting old watch--from the sixties, I suppose.

As this is small (2 1/2" tall) I just hold the fabric down with my left hand while drawing. I'm using Copic multiliners on a tightly woven, smooth cotton and it helps to use a larger tip so it doesn't catch on the threads. I especially liked using a 0.7.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Morphing into Color

My small journal is morphing once again. This time from the 75-Day pen and ink drawing challenge into something more colorful. Since the paper is light, I can't use any wet media, but I have a luxurious 72 Prismacolor pencil set that I like to play with.
So I do the pen drawing, then add color (my version of the coloring book)..this makes me so much happier. In my search for a good quote for each page, I began reviewing The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, the book that saved my artist's life many years ago...tried and true.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Slow Stitching/Slow Drawing

Occasionally, I slow down in my small journal where I do daily pen sketches. I finally figured out that slow drawing is similar to slow stitching. I particularly like these two pages, one of my son and one of a chicken bowl, which I did over several days and will probably never "finish"... 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I seem to have developed a habit of sketching during dinner (easier than stitching at the dinner table!) since it's just the ol' man and me. This does not impinge on interpersonal communication since I can talk at the same time. 

Last night I decided to draw on a scrap of fabric with a permanent pen (Copic Multiliner 0.5). I've been thinking about inserting watch & clock faces into at least one of my pieces about ageing. That idea would require more than one or two faces, maybe a bunch. That's a pleasant thought. Without hands...maybe the hands should be floating on the outside of the face...haven't decided

And then, to stitch or not to stitch...still ruminating.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Just inching along--with relief--on the reverse side of my jeans bag.
A quiet evening...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Made it to 75

Although I can't seem to be able to catch up to anything, I did manage to finish the 75-day pen-sketching challenge.

And now I will keep going as there are 300 pages to fill in this small journal...enough for at least another year. I think I'll add colored pencils to the mix.

And today, I think I can finally do some stitching after a two week hiatus. I can't think right and I feel unfocused when I can't stitch....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Yup, I'm trying to climb back into the saddle after falling completely off the wagon--and I owe you an apology for the abuse of clichés, but they struck me as kind of funny in an absurd way. Suffice to say that my teaching load has become heavy and with all the excitement over elections in Tunisia, nobody has been able to settle into a routine, and here we are almost at the end of the semester. 
So I did a two-page spread in my sketchbook of one of the many absurdities facing me at work. It helped me get over the poorly conducted teacher "training" day for the new, super duper language lab that looks beautiful--but doesn't work. Fortunately, there were no guns around or I would have shot myself as an act of mercy.

Note the interior design of the "award"--that's me snoozing away.... 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bag Jag, 8

Thankfully, my stitching keeps me calm despite the bumps in the road of life in Tunisia. I've been picking up my needle often as elections approach--there's a lot at stake. Last night I dreamt that I returned to the States with only one suitcase in hand. Fortunately, I don't experience prophetic dreams; it' just anxiety rising to the surface.

The rings for the strap are now zipper is next.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Some Progress

I'm liking these colors so much that I just want to pick my jeans bag up all the time to stitch on it.

The plaid is interesting to work with as it gives more of a variegated effect and adds some depth.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Things seem to be overlapping--I've been practising fast people sketching for Sketchbook Skool in my 75-day challenge journal. 
Went out for errands and sketched a few people while sitting in the car (black page). Then I practised people in the park from the teacher's video (green page). 

The assignment is to go to the park and sketch the stories of people: THOSE WHO ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE PARKS SHOULD BE THANKFUL. Any green spaces left in Tunisia have filled with garbage.

I'm preparing for a big day, sketching university students in the entrance hall of the school--this will probably create an "event" as I know quite a few of them...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Soup Recipe

I would never presume to tell anybody how to cook, however, the assignment for Sketchbook Skool was to illustrate a recipe.

I hated the assignment--I have to cook every bloomin' day from scratch! Still, it's a good soup recipe for its simplicity.

But, I felt like I was in a straight-jacket. Shoot me!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bag Jag, 7

It's beginning to look like something. I think the colors will swirl around to the left, onto the back and then around to the right front corner.

Monday, October 6, 2014

On My Sewing Table

The Pomegranate Tree sits on my sewing table waiting for me to find time to sit down with it and strike up a conversation. Slowly the machine quilting is getting done.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bag Jag, 6

And so it grows...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bag Jag, 5

Happily inching along late in the evening on my jeans bag.

And I'm rather pleased with the sketch of the day. Crossovers please me so much. You know what I really like about these daily journal entries? It's the take-a-line-for-a-walk. I just LUV wild lines. They might just take over...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Close Call

For ten chilling minutes, I thought I had left my small journal for the 75-day Challenge (a pen drawing a day) at work (meaning it would be lost forever). Wild thoughts raced through my mind, like "I won't be able to continue the Challenge...," despair. 

Then I checked my bag again and found it at the bottom (yeah, it's a big bag, has to be to carry art supplies and stitching). This made me realise how attached I have grown to this practice of diary entry, quote, sketch, take-a-line-for-a-walk, just using the humble ballpoint pen in black, green, blue or red. 

Fortunately, there are about 300 pages (6"x4") and I do both sides. I'm good for several long as I don't lose it. Name & phone number are now on the first page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bag Jag, 4

Inching along in the wee hours of the night, listening to Piano Jazz, 
and looking at "textile bags" on Pinterest just for eye candy.
There's something about worn-jeans blue that speaks to my soul.
An agreeable evening...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A New Restaurant

We found a seafood restaurant in our end of town that was very good, to our surprise. The downstairs portion is a seafood shop, where there are also the cooks and grills. You can buy anything you want and take it home or have it grilled to go or have it grilled to eat in the restaurant upstairs. And what a selection of fish they had.
So I had a slice of grilled swordfish (divine) and some shrimp in a sauce and fried calamari (squid). Wonderful meal. While the calamari cooled I had time to do a quick sketch in my mini-maze book (one page is 2"x3"), then added watercolors at home.

Unfortunately, with temperatures soaring over 100 F. it was not the day to go there, because the air conditioner wasn't working...we'll go back again when it cools off!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bag Jag, 3

In an effort to finish up smaller projects, I've been working on a jeans bag. I always wanted a jeans bag. Of course, I have a huge stack of old jeans (simply can't throw them out), so I could make a number of them in different styles. Here I wanted to use the pockets, well, just the whole top of the jeans, which has such a distinctive style. I made a cotton lining and zigzagged on two back pockets to each side, so I have four solid pockets on the outside and four on the inside. Nice engineering, if I do say so myself--although I haven't figured out the straps yet.
Then I found a pleasing plaid and picked out a couple of matching solids. More extreme needle turn adventures on the horizon! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bag Jag, 2

Somebody left a canvas bag behind, signed, but a little worse for wear. Solid, however.

So I added a pocket and a fun fabric around the sides and bottom.

And another pocket got added on the other side, plus a pocket on the inside. 

I'm wondering if the original owner is going to want it back....

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Tunisian Wedding

Last night a local farmer invited us to his eldest daughter's wedding, so we attended the outdoor celebration. Fortunately, the weather was lovely.

Because my maze sketchbook is palm size and easily fits into my fancy purse with a pen, I whip it out (discreetly) and draw while nibbling on pastries and sipping lemonade. Fast pen sketches. I might add color later; it's a mini-coloring book.

The bride and groom sit on a decorated platform in front of all the tables for guests, and then come down from time to time to dance to the music with all the young men and women (a sort of modified belly dancing).
My husband gets the idea:"Ok, when you finish the drawing, we'll go home." 
I had a good time!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rosie Revisited

Rosie the Riveter, the iconic poster girl of WWII that encouraged women to go work in munitions factories and the aviation industry (as if they didn't have enough to do already) is becoming Tessie the Tailor. 

A work-in-progress, this is an illustration rather than a sketch, I suppose. I've had this idea floating around in my head for awhile...Having fun with permanent Copic marker and Prismacolor pencils.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Friend

Life returns to "normal" as we move into Autumn. Having recovered from the invasion of kids and grandkids, Sketch Club members met peacefully and chose a cartoonish holder to draw using coloured pencils (members are now equipped with Prismacolor pencils--v-e-r-y nice). I sketched my friend sketching as well. She was so absorbed she didn't even notice I had changed my subject. 

She says she'll have to pay more attention at the next meeting...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bag Jag, 1

I must be on a bag jag. At least three wait quietly on a hook to be finished and I feel an urge to finish them so I can have them for school. Brighten the environment a bit... 
As I'm flying by the seat of my pants, just improvising, I have to think about engineering for utility and sturdiness. I had made two patched rectangles while working on another project. I decided to use old, patched jeans for the sides, bottom and straps, dipping into that big pile of worn jeans that I don't know what to do with and can't throw out. I like the design at the bottom where I took out the hems. Lining with pockets next...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Zooming Along, 5

It would seem that I have actually finished something. Really enjoyed adding the side stitching that gives a bit more depth to the overall wild design. Did I mention that the peachy orange is the colour I hate most in the world? It redeems itself by making the blues pop.

I'm reconsidering the interior pockets--do I need to add more? Pockets are key to organization.

Now I can go to school and shock the students with my wild bag. I have a reputation to maintain...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mother's Teacups, 1

Homework for Sketchbook Skool motivated me to look at the inherited teacups collecting dust in my cupboard. There are some beauties. This one was drawn with a Bic ballpoint pen in my fancy Stillman and Birn sketchbook.
Thought I'd better show it before I add the watercolor shadows (with the risk of ruin because I can't control watercolors very well). This has taken several weeks to draw. Then there's that geometric recycled watercolor painting in the corner looking very yellowed, but it sort of matches the gold rims of the cup and saucer. I like the contrast of very flowery and rigid geometric. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Zooming Along, 4

No more conversations have developed since I let my needle do what she wanted.

Stitching the other side.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Conversation with a Needle, 2

A conversation began in the previous post (here). So, yesterday, I took my favorite needle in hand (Milliner's number 7), and said: Ms. Milliner, here's the plan. We're going to lay down fill-in stitches in nice, neat rows to contrast with all those curving lines. Got it?"

To my surprise, she answered: "Eeets Docteure Milliner, eef you pleez." (Oh my gosh, I forgot. I have French needles.)

Rather embarrassed, I replied: "Well, excuse me, Doctor. I had no idea. Where have you studied?"

Dr. Milliner: "At zee Steeetch (Stitch) University, of course. Eeets only zee best."

Me: "And what was the subject of your dissertation? Wait a minute, how did you attend classes?"

Dr. Milliner: "Haven't you heard of ze ordinateur (computer)? I vrote about zee use of Milliner's needles by artists en Tunisie."

Me: "Really? And what did your research reveal?"

Dr. Milliner: "Vell, you are probablement zee only one: you vere my case study."

Me: "Really! Hmmm. When was the defence of your dissertation?"

Dr. Milliner: "Remember a couple of months ago you thought you had lost zee package of Milliner's needles? Vell, zee whole package came vis me."

Me: "So what are you working on now?"

Dr. Milliner: "I vould like to publish my research as a book...but, I'll need your permission for zee photos."

Me: "No problem. Do you have a publisher?"

Dr. Milliner: "Zat's a leettle difficult. You know anyone? Zee audience eez a bit limited, specialisé..."

Me: "Can't help you there. I've got the same problem myself. Good luck. Now can we get back to the stitching?"

Dr. Milliner: "Pas de problème, but remember, I am zee expert."

Me: "Fine." 

And so we got into the stitching. It seemed to start out fairly straight.

Then I noticed wavy lines developing and curves...

Ahhh, how can one argue with an expert?

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."