a little night time stress reliever.


Notes: sketch #  16 11.23 am 84f feel like 85f 28c feel like 29c  Slight breeze. Thought I would come out to the edge of town where the Heritage House Museum is situated. Just not a lot of shade to be had unfortunately. 

12.11 Had to stop suddenly. swarms of ants on my feet,- the biting kind! Just as I thought I was get(ting) to grips with this sketch. At least the temp didn’t increase, same as 11.23

The above barn is on the outer limits of Pflugerville where they have situated an original house, traditional barn and a windmill plus some other things to represent a past time in Pflugerville. There is also a brand new community pool beside it for the younger kids of Pflugerville and a play scape. Unfortunately, no one has thought to put in any shade around about, so I was hunting for a suitable spot which was a bench in front of play scape and red barn. The bench was barely covered with shade (from the play scape awning) and I could feel the sun beating down on my back.

I always check before I sit anywhere as ants are always a problem over here but there didn’t seem to be any when I first sat down. About 5 mins after starting I saw one random ant and quickly brushed it away. It was fairly large so I knew it was not one of the dreaded fire ants. ¬†I think they were attracted to the sweat in my feet which were almost in the sun, as more came along and then 45 mins into the drawing, they began to swarm and couple bit me. At least they weren’t fireants, so they were just little nips but enough to say to myself, that’s enough.

Its a pity because I was just getting to work with the drawing and probably only needed another 10 mins to get it completed.


Notes, No 17 ¬†Time midnight- 12.00 am. I can’t sleep and I saw something in A&I* ¬†about drawing at night so that is what I am going to do.¬†

30th August 2015 81f feels like 81f  27c feels like 27c

12.21 am Well drawing in the dark is a bit like drawing in the dark! ¬†I really couldn’t see what I was putting down on the paper but it was very freeing. I really didn’t care. I just put down fairly random ¬†marks. I would like to do it with paint next time!

Yes, very random and probably to do with having a couple glasses of wine and then going to bed with thoughts racing through my head. I enjoyed doing it though and just that 20 mins of drawing settled me down enough to sleep reasonably well for the rest of the night. Maybe I should try it more often as sleep is frequently elusive.

*Artists and Illustrators Magazine.

view from the window

sketch #15 Notes: 3.30pm 8/27/2015 Sketch #15 Approximate temp 78f

Thurs is watering day which is 3 hrs of shifting water hoses/sprinklers around the front/back garden every 30 mins- cut off time 10am. In theory, that mean I have time to beat the oppressive heat that is Central Texas. But I am lazy! ¬†So I am indoors ¬†today looking out over our back garden for today’s sketch.

4.15pm Really need to work on prespective then trees blocking the view wouldn’t be such a challenge. Not a good sketch!

As I was working on this at home in the comfort of air conditioning, I should have been able to work on this longer but I just found it frustrating. One thing was the faux window frame would shift ¬†all the time. I hadn’t realised that I move my head so much. Its a wonder I can draw anything with such a wobbly head. ¬†And then trees! Just have no idea how to tackle these. And again perspective. I have books on this subject but have yet to master it. ¬†Practice practice and more practice. ¬†Can’t believe I have actually managed to do 15 sketches since 1st August. That is a record for me and I aim to keep it up.

Sketch #14


Notes: Sketch #14 8/26/2015 10.52  84f feels like 90f  28c feels like 32c

found a nice shady point facing the main road through Pflugerville. trying out stool feels a little precarious to be honest and not that comfortable.

11.41 Рgetting too uncomfortable to stay on longer. Feet are numb from semi couched position the stool forces you into. Hip sore when standing (up). 

28c  feels like 32c  84f  feels like 90f

First attempt at something that has fascinated me since I moved to the US, 15 years ago- all the hanging cables. Even in the countryside you will see wires hanging as for some reason Americans don’t bury their cables as a rule.¬†Of course that means whenever we have a big storm, there are wires hanging everywhere, some of them live! We have been relatively lucky with storms for the past few years but an El nino is predicted (or is actually happening) this year which means we should have above average rain with storms in the fall and probably ice storms in the winter. ¬†I live in a new neighbourhood so all the the wires are buried but we still have the power outages due to cables getting snapped by falling trees somewhere in Pflugerville. It this scene there were numerous wires with trees directing behind them.

Sketch 12 & 13

So I have been a little lax in with the sketching over the last few days. I managed to push myself out very late yesterday despite the heat as I know if I don’t keep it up I will soon let the days slip by and before I know its months. I really want to make this a habit and not slip into my usual routine which is to browse the internet all day!

sketch #12

Notes:8/24/2015 time 2.47pm 97f feels like 100f  36c feels like 37c.

Had to force myself out as I missed my golden hr today. Restarted my running training today. Only 20 mins but it has put a stamp on my day. Tomorrow I will not load my time* until I have done all the things I plan, it starts with browsing the internet and end(s) up later hours later that (I) stop.  Anyway I am at the play park which is deserted as (1) its too hot to play outside and (2) school starts either today (Austin) or tomorrow (Pflugerville). I will try to keep going for 30 mins.2.53pm

3.29 pm 36c feels like 37c  97f feels like 100f  Slight breeze which is cooling. Started too small and too focus(ed) = unbalance. Banging in back ground Рsome kid on basket ball court, very distracting. 

* I am going to be training on alternative days so tomorrow is the day I will have to put this in practice 

I wasn’t particularly happy with this sketch and it might be because I am using a small sketch book. 8″ x 5¬ľ” . I have thought of changing sketch books but this one will be one I will use until 12/31/2015. Also I started to the right again,¬†so managed to miss most to the left part of the page unlike the sketch below where I used most of the page.

sketch #13

Notes: 08/25/2015 sketch #13 10.04 88f feels like 93f  31c feels like 33c  slight breeze

Back to pencil today. I am going to start moving out of the Park into town of Pflugerville from today. 

11.08 am  32c feels like 35c  91f feels like 95f 

Not very good with perspective!  Need to practice.  had a problem of smudging as my hand dragged across the page Рneed to learn to life hand off, difficult when you are standing and holding sketch book. Will come back to this again as its a challenge. 

So I think I have identified a key issue for me Рinterest, much as I like to see the green trees (I used one today to provide the necessary shade), I am not really that interested in drawing or painting them.  So I am going to try for a more urban mix. The above building are situated on the edge of the original old town before suburbia arrived. They are remnants of the old railway that used to run through the town, thence the name of the main artery road in old town Pflugerville (Railway Ave). It really is a gold mine for some one who is sketching and I look forward to exploring it more. This was a view from the Heritage loop trail which is an extension of Pfluger Park.

Heat and tree fagitue

This hit me on Wednesday so I didn’t go out sketching and then about 1pm I had a call from my grand-daughter’s daycare to say she had a high temp. She seemed a little pasty faced and tired when I picked her up but by the end of the day she seemed fine.

Yesterday, I was planning to go Pedernales Falls State Park with the Plein group.  As it was our watering the garden day, I would arrive late so I just planned to sketch. So organised my bag, switched the water off and locked the doors. Just as I was going out to the garage, the phone went off. It was my eldest daugher, my grand-daughter had been sick this time plus she had a temp of 101f again (it had been normal at breakfast time). She was busy with a meeting so could I pick her up while she arranged things with her boss. Of course I said yes and I also said to continue with her work. So that was my day, looking after my grand-daughter. At first she was very listless as you would be if you felt sick and had a temperature but as the day went on she started to perk up. 3yrs olds never stay sick too long, thankfully, so we had another wonderful day together. However, that meant sketching was on the back burner for the day or at least I thought so until Gordon suggested going up to Pflugerville Lake with him.


Gordon has a pretty set routine and Thursday night is when he runs around Pflugerville Lake. It is just shy of 3 miles, so it takes him about 24-26 mins depending on other factors. So my sketch had to be quick. It was also late, later than normal and ¬†the sun was already setting when we arrived, so it was about 8.05. ¬†I forgot to take my stool and there are few benches around. As it had been raining earlier I was not keen on sitting on the grass. All the fishing piers had been taken up by fisherman. ¬†So looking around I thought ‘ah, the limestone blocks that line the parking area would be ideal.’ ¬†I was going to sit on one but ended up standing while resting my pencils on one. Like the other day I used the Derwent Aqua pencils. No graphite drawing to begin with, I just dived in with colour due to the time limits and fading light. Gordon completed his run in 24.32 mins, so this sketch was done in about 15 mins after all the mucking around.

Managed some notes at the end when I got back to the car.

‘sketch 11 21st August ¬†time 8.32 Drawing complete.

came with Gordon to Lake Pflugerville while he ran. Found a spot. Immediately covered in fire ants! Had to work quick as the sun had set.’

Today I was going to go the Falls to meet up with a few member of the group who couldn’t make it yesterday. However, it ¬†has been very overcast with a threat of showers. Sure enough, at about 8.45 this morning, we had a brief shower. Houston is getting a lot of rain at the moment (which were the showers are coming from) but apparently most of it will not get here. So maybe this afternoon I can get out and sketch.

Today there will be colour

sketch 10

My notes for today: “sketch #10 9.17 am. 27c feels like 29c. 81f ¬†feels like 85f. Although it is slightly hotter than yesterday, it feels more pleasant as there is a slight breeze. Not sure what I am doing this morning. I had in mind the playground but at the moment I am looking at the basket ball court surrounded by individual trees with a a canopy of leaves. lots of lines. Also brought along another sketch book – multi media type in case I feel included to (can’t make out word) larger and use colour. Anyway time to get started. 9.22am

10.22 am stopping as I am fiddling and getting lost, in other words I have lost interest. Something i have to work on. I have the attention span of a gnat! 82f feels like 87f ¬†27c ¬†feels like 30c ¬†slight breeze (14mph)”

So I finally committed to some colour. I used the  Derwent Aquatone pencils I have been lugging around for the last few days. They worked well and the paper stood up to a fair amount of water plus scrubbing which was surprising. As I said I started adding details (with a fine tipped pen) but quickly realised I was just being quite random with the marks (like the branch that appears from nowhere on the right). An hour is longer than normal for me but  I really struggle to keep looking after about 40 mins.

tree rubbinbg

On my way back, I was really amused by all the squawking of the birds in the tree and did this LOL.

my notes back in the studio ‘ While walking home and hearing the squawking of several birds I had a sudden urge to do a rubbing of a tree stump. It didn’t work but I enjoyed the action of just scribbling and pressing down hard on the paper with charcoal with no purpose. Fun!”

Not sure why the birds were squawking but it was very loud and the Grackles were flitting all around the tree they were in. I also heard a cry of a hawk near by, so maybe they were in a panic because of that. Just glad they are not my neighbours!

Not a good day for drawing

sketch # 9

Today’s notes “sketch #9. 9.01am ¬†77f feels like 77f. 25c feels like 25c . Thought it would be cooler today but no such luck. Air feels very sticky even though it says it the same as yesterday. Location picked because it’s the closest to HEB (supermarket). Start 9.05 am. Will sit and observe for 5 mins before I draw.

9.46, Drawing is a mess. thought a clump of trees would be simple РNOT!  2nd mistake having the sun behind me shining onto the paper so difficult to see what I am doing. Tried a variety of ways to overcome this- changing to charcoal, drawing without my glasses, closing left eye. Ended up getting totally lost. Taking a walk for 5 mins. Sitting on a park bench also a mistake Рuncomfortable and cramping my arm movements.

10.08 am Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Today was not a good day for drawing but I have learnt a few things ie Sun glaring on paper!

81f feels like 85f 27c feels like 29c”

So today wasn’t great but at least I got out and tried. Sometime soon I will need to start thinking about colour. For some reason I am nervous of adding colour, probably because I am not confident with watercolour. However, I have some water pastels so I begin with those I suspect. Will probably have to use a different sketch book as this one wouldn’t take much water I think.

Pflugerville Watertower

Can you see it?  It just visible at the top of the trees on the left. Haha

My notes for today ” Sketch # 8 8/16/2015 8.56 am. Early today as grand-daughter with her mum, my very multi talented daughter comes over between 10.10.30 am. Temp is nice this morning, lower humidity than yesterday. 25c feels like 25c, 77f feels like 77f. Doing a ‘simple’ landscape. Here goes 9.59 am.

9.50am Finished I got lost again! My trees look more like rocks but I tried. 81f feels like 85f, 27c feels like 29c. Good spot for setting up my plein air kit at least. I will be back next month some time.”

sketch #8


Today’s sketch is mainly ……..

Miss yesterday as I just couldn’t face up to the heat but made sure I was ready for today by packing my bag last night and taking the bag plus stool downstairs for the morning. I was a bit later than normal as I decided to sleep in although in the end with the early morning rain, mewing cats and a strange beeping noise that turned out to be misbehaving electric toothbrush, I may as well of got up early.

down by the creek

Put my notes on the opposite page/back of previous sketch today so the drawing was more centred today.

My notes “Sketch #7 (below) 8/15/2015

Very steamy today as it rained quite hard for 10 mins this morning, just at Day break. When I put on my glasses they steamed up, the humidity is so high.. Trying out my new folding stool today.. So I have found a secluded spot by the creek with lot of debris from  last storm in May and generally overgrown.

86f feels like 92f. 30c feels 33c. 10.45am. Bit late today as I slept in. 11.32am  Got totally lost with this drawing. 11.35. Time to give up and start another day. Once I use to the heat I was fine. Stool very good.

90f feels like 93f ¬†32c feels 33c.”

All the landscape by the creek is a haphazard mess basically. Damaged trees, Dead trees, thicket and just general overgrown vegetation. ¬†Going down to the creek for me, is nerving racking as it full of nasty bugs and sure enough around my feet were some large ants which basically ignored me thankfully. Unfortunately I am very allergic to fire ants, so if they had been those kind I couldn’t have stayed. ¬†Fortunately they were normal ants and once I got into the drawing I became oblivious to all the flying bugs. Stool was very comfy so that is good.

I did add some colour this time, rather nervously and soon gravitated back to the pencil and thin tipped pen. Yet again I really couldn’t get a handle of the leaves of which there were a lot of with this view,although I am not sure you would know that from this drawing.

From next month, once the weather is cooler I think I will move onto painted sketches but until then I continue with what I am doing plus maybe start translating these into something more solid. They will be small to begin with, so a bit like marquette for sculpture. That way I will be able to judge what I am really looking for in a sketch.

Memorial to Pflugerville’s Fallen Warriors.

First sketch in nearly a week, already slacking!  Had a great trip to San Antonio where we visited the McNay Art Museum. What a wonderful place and I so wish the Blanton had been as as visionary as this building. It helps that it still has the original building in place with its Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture but the new part of the museum has been well designed and complements the older part. I will definitely be making another trip as I  only saw the inside as the weather was typical Texas summer heat, 100f +

Since returning from San Antonio, I basically got caught up in arranging for my Mother to be move from France to England. It really didn’t take up all my time and it is a very poor excuse for wasting my time. Anyway, today, the move actually happened and I decided it was time to get back on course. ¬†During that time though, I did update my supplies, not that I really needed to that but when you are sinking, you tend to fall on to your comforts. For me that is TV and shopping for art supplies I really don’t need. ¬†As I mentioned I am a big fan of Heather’s 805 blog¬†and she posted a picture of her mobile work station. I thought it was such a good idea I decided to copy her. Here is my mobile art studio (not quite complete as I haven’t actually put any paints or pencils into the trolley). I don’t actually plan to use the trolley until I start going to the plein air meetings but with all the stuff you need for that, the trolley will be ideal. ¬†The stool will be perfect for sketching (I hope).

my new mobile art studio

my new mobile art studio

I took the stool with me this morning but I didn’t actually use it as the Memorial has no less than 3 benches in front of it. unfortunately none of them are under any shade so although it was mainly overcast this morning, it still got very hot when the sun was out.

Memorial to Pflugerville's fallen WarriorsAs usual I put in my running commentary, I think I need to put it a separate page, they are getting so long.

“sketch #6 8/12/2015 – 9.36 am. Slightly overcast 86f feels like 94f (30c feels like 33c) A few days break due to life – mum returning to England today. No shade where I am sitting so only a quick sketch possible with the heat! ¬†Managed to last longer than 30 mins despite the sweat dripping down my face! Started too far to the left.10.17 am. 31c ¬†feels like 34c 88f feels like 94f ¬†Memorial to Pflugerville Fallen Warriors”

I think I will be going back to this a few times as its such a feature of the park.  At the moment the park is quite busy as summer camp is still on but I suspect this is the last week as school starts on 25th August.

Supposedly the weather is going to change next week. I hope so as the heat is oppressive at the moment.

Foliage and drawing

How do you do it?  Today was my 4 day of drawing in the park and I will be honest I am struggling.

IMG_edited-1This was my 2nd drawing. At the moment I do not have a chair to sit on and I don’t fancy sitting on the ground. Couple of things, I am too old and fat to sit comfortably on the ground. ¬†There are too many ants in the Park, biting ones. So I am relying on Park benches as most are in the shade, much needed in this heat. Unfortunately, most of the them do not have a great view. ¬†This particular bench view was situated so you can see across the creek bank. It is basically a view of tangled undergrowth and and spindly trees. ¬†You will see I have put notes (a habit I will continue) as I draw.

Notes: ‘ daily sketch No2. 8/2/2015 time 10.34am ¬†temp 86f/30c ¬†7b pencil ¬†Started off ‘blind’ 10.36 begin to draw in structure. Changing ¬†to ketch and wash pencil. Narrowed my focus too much. Finished 11.00am 88f/31


notes for this drawing ‘ contrasting man made with nature. 8/3/2015 Happy birthday to me. 9.44 Sunny 82f/27c feels like 86f/30c aborted drawing at 10.23 need to work on tone and pencil strokes. Only 3rd day so don’t despair . 86f/30c feels like 87f.

I must admit to some reluctance today as I know my drawing skills are not up to the challenge of depicting nature.  At lot of the park is wide open but it seems the planners have decided to place the benches at the most uninspiring parts of the park, so I will need to invest in a seat or use one of the folding chairs we already have. They are quite heavy, so not an appealing prospect and I have not drawn while sat in them, so not sure I would be that comfortable. With the heat, I need to be comfortable at least.  I am sticking to mainly pencil although I have used a fine tipped pen in all of them so far, as I feel I will gain more from seeing the tones rather than working in colour at the moment.

Image1-3_edited-1Notes with this drawing ‘ Daily sketch 8/4/2015 ¬†Time 10.00am 82f/27c feels like 88f/32c ¬†Very humid. Going to look for 2 mins before starting Being way too timid 10.18am Goring to try shading in mass and then erasing. 10.53 getting ¬†the lights and darks confused. Need to work on my mark making. drawing in with Pen. not worrying about how it looks. 88f/30c feels like 93f/33c ‘

I kept getting lost with this drawing. My eyes were wandering all over the place. It wasn’t until the last minute that I realised I had placed the bench on the right in completely wrong place and that was too small! I manage to correct it to a degree but it was important scale mistake. The mass of trees and bushes are proving to to be quite a challenge. I have a lazy right eye so if I closed my right eye, all I see is a blur which is great as it helps to see the real darks and lights but obviously it loses the detail. ¬†As far as I can make this park on the whole has not be ‘planned out’ but craved out of what was originally there so lots of different variety of bushes and trees are intertwined leaving a huge mash of textures.

Still not sure where this project will lead but ultimately I am determined to combine painting and beading together without it being considered crafty (such a dirty word in the art world) I have thought about doing it in the past but never really got that far with the idea. I must admit I am really inspired by the work of ¬†Grayson Perry. While I was in France ¬†I saw a channel 4 program on the house he created, it looked amazing and it brought to mind a comment Eileen Cooper made to me when I saw her in 2011 and show her my bead work. She wonder why I was not trying to get it shown in an art gallery and at the time, I was truthful, I didn’t think people would consider it art.


This is one of the pieces I created in 2007. I did a full twelve months, one for each month and it was part of a world wide project. At the time, it was best way to express myself in an abstract form. I still love beads.

Life intervenes and suddenly 4 months has gone by

Wow, making that matchbox museum piece seems so far away and the intervening months have been crazy. Just after my Dad’s 79th birthday, I received a call from their English neighbour to say Dad had a stroke. 2 days later I was in France and my life was basically put on hold for 3 months. Ever since I returned from France I felt unsettled and unfocused. I can’t even remember what I was doing before going to France as it seems like a life time ago.

I did intend to paint and draw while I was in Brittany as it is a wonderful place full of rivers, amazing architecture  and woods, all the things I would love  to be surrounded by in Texas. However, sorting out my parents and their affairs just drain me completely. I did take a lot of photos at the end of the trip when my husband came for 10 days and I do have an idea fermenting but at the moment artistically I feel spent. I actually took a bunch of photos specifically with that idea in mind. Once I am back up to speed I am sure that idea will become reality.

crucifix le cosquer

This is the one sketch I managed to do while I was away.  These stone crucifixes dot the countryside of Brittany (not sure if it is just a Breton tradition)  which marks the way to the local Temple (church). I have always been fascinated by these crosses and this one is at the bottom of the road that leads to the hamlet where my parents lived,  It was always a welcome sight at end of a long journey. So it was fitting this was the only drawing I managed (I made few other aborted drawings at other places) as this was the last trip I would be making to this part of France.

As I have said, I have not felt settled since coming back, mainly due to the fact there are still several loose ends to tie up in France.  Anyway yesterday, I decided I had enough of this moping around waiting for things to happen, life is too precious. I made the decision to move my table away from a wall to facing a window.  I figured all my energy was being sapped by the blank wall in front of me. Next step was to actually do something. For that I got inspiration from my friend Heather who writes a couple of blogs about drawing. Her latest challenge is found on 805 steps where she has chosen to document a very small part of the Hertford Union Canal, starting at Wick lane and ending at White post Lane in London. The drawings are amazing.

So this morning I took a short walk to Pfluger Park in Pflugerville and did a very brief sketch. One thing I always have problems with when working outside is deciphering what I am seeing as my eyes are darting all over the place. I am not comfortable drawing most of the time and drawing outside is probably my least favourite thing to do. In  my still life set ups I have complete control over what I see, with a landscape everything is out of my control and comfort zone.daily sketch no1

I began by not¬†worrying about drawing accurately¬†¬†by drawing ‘blind’ without looking at my paper. I have done this before sketching in my living room and back garden, it’s very freeing if you are worried about your ability to draw. As you can probably see from my notes on the sketch, I started off in pencil (B7) and then moved on a fine line pen. Towards the end I actually looked at the drawing and started to draw in the structure. ¬†The important thing to me wasn’t the actual view but the process of drawing and looking. So the fact it ended up not looking anything more than a scribble really didn’t bother me. Not sure anyone looking at this drawing would make out much but I know when I come to look at it in future, I will understand it and its shorthand.

I am not very good at keeping up on projects so I don’t know how much this will evolve but I am hopeful. Eventually I would like to have enough drawings to translate the drawings ¬†onto a canvas. That is another area where I plan to evolve and I will write about that next time.

looking back at my previous blog posts, all of the above seems too frequent theme, https://happyjacqui.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-fog-is-beginning-to-lift/.  

Need to try to be more positive!