USk: NW Portland USPS

The USPS moved our office which was in the Alphabet District to another location.
It is not a safe location, as it is deserted and is surrounded by homeless people (not that they are all dangerous, but they attract nutcases who don’t like them and some are dangerous).

While Mitchell went in to try to find someone (they still do not have anyone at the counter during normal work hours) I sketched the place quickly.

They have made no effort to make it a hospitable location.  It is all weeds, with the exception of a huge wild plant on one side and hedges on the street.  It has poor parking, which is not good if you have to park and walk in that neighborhood alone as a woman.

Finally, they have created what I am now calling rape alleys within the layout (see the small drawing below).  The boxes are located in long narrow corridors that lead nowhere, and you could easily get cornered while getting your mail.  Obviously no one with a yoni designed the interior, as they were not thinking — but truth is, that a man could also be mugged in that long corridor when few people are around.  There is absolutely NO excuse for this layout other than whomever did it is a bad designer, IF indeed any kind of designer did this.  I could do ten different layouts in my sleep that are better than this.  They don’t want to hear it.  And no one is taking credit for this wonderful stroke of genius.

Yes, pissed.  We now are moving our mail slowly somewhere else.

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©D. Katie Powell.
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VSW: Ich Bin Ein Berliner, 3

Berlin is our city this month, with contributions from two photographers, Rich Matheson and Eli Weisz, though todays image comes from the famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.


I played fast and loose with this sketch using a Sailor Fude pen, flipping the nib to get a fine tip then flipping it again for the fat side.  I did an under-coat of shadow in a waterproof grey ink, and then used darker grey in in a waterbrush for this VERY fast sketch – except for the billion peeps, which was done while I listened to an audio book and took FOREVER!

Berlin walk to date:

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Tools: Fall Watercolors

Gads I love color!

I’ve been asked why I buy so many tubes of watercolors…
It’s true, I could buy a dozen tubes and mix everything — well almost everything,
because the Primatek colors have their own lovely granulating properties.

But where would be the fun in that?

When I first started using the Daniel Smith Roasted French Ochre and Burgundy Yellow Ochre I wasn’t sure that they were strong enough colors for my palette… but then the more I used them the more I loved them.  I must buy second tubes because these may not be around forever.

Both colors were used in the two images above.

I haven’t used the Hansa Yellow Deep as often (above), but the beauty of it is it is a clear yellow leaning orange, or orange leaning yellow — but not as orange as say, Indian Yellow.

I buy colors because I love color.  For as long as I can afford it I will enjoy the variety!

Below, the very fast sketch I created using all the new colors shown left
(the small birds use the Van Dyke).  We feed the birds off the roof of the garage in our building, and this is the bird’s eye view during autumn!

I am so impressed with the Sennelier Transparent Brown.
It reminds me of Gamblin’s Asphaltum Oil paint!  It has a earthiness that I enjoy.
In general, I have not used as many Sennelier paints, but after purchasing a few this time I will be ordering them in future. The larger tubes make them economical when compared to Daniel Smith, which is my favorite watercolor paint.

I just noticed the word organic in a couple of my paints (it takes a long time, I guess, before curiosity sets in).  Organic pigments in general are pure, transparent and have strong tinting strength. Inorganic pigments tend to be dry ground minerals, are more likely opaque, and often contain metals.  For more info on organic and inorganic pigments, read about it here, and if you don’t know about Handprint you must — it is indispensable!  I also recommend this article: how watercolor paints are made.

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VSW: Berlin, 2, Direct Watercolor


As a lover of inky lines, the class in direct watercolor changed me.
I LOVED creating this very fast watercolor by diving in, no planning.
I wish I had a bit more foresight about placement,
(the image was crowded to the left), but I will get better!

This is painted from an image by Rich Matheson.

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 ©D. Katie Powell.
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Remembering 9-11

I created this last year on 9-11.
Just couldn’t post it, don’t know why.
Now, maybe, with the state of the world it is time.

This was a frightening day for us.


At the time there was no facebook, no easy social media access.
I had to get through to check on the New Yorkers I loved to see if they were all okay.

They were alive; they were not okay.
Most had lost someone or
were thinking they might have lost someone..

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 ©D. Katie Powell.
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USk: Oregon on Fire


Wildfire season is upon us again.

I sketched this quickly in in the studio in hopes I would get the worry and the words out of my system and be able to paint today on actual projects…  It looks to cheery, but the skies and everything around us are tinged with this oddly disturbing brown.  From my journal:

“I hate fire season.  The last huge fire near us was caused by a teenager tossing firecrackers into the the gorge.  His name was never released (a good thing, as he might have been lynched by some who lost everything) BUT the bad thing is he was sentenced with leniency.  As if he did not know the possible consequences.  NO NO NO, because unless he was retarded (is it okay to use that word anymore) there is no excuse for what he did and he should hae been given life.

The skies are brown and look ominous.

By the end of the day we will decide if we need to pack to leave.

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VSW: Berlin, 1, Tiergarten

New month, new walk for the Virtual Sketchwalk group on FaceBook.

Berlin is our city this month, with contributions from two photographers, Rich Matheson and Eli Weisz.

I played fast and loose with this sketch using a Sailor Fude pen.  I did an under-coat of shadow in a waterproof grey ink.

Watercolors topped the inks.  I didn’t get the image dark enough.  My limitation was the sketch paper of the Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook book, which is meant for LIGHT watercolors and sketching.


I used the Nostalgie as if it was heavy watercolor paper capable of taking multiple wet layers!  The thing is, I don’t always plan or even know where I am going with my sketches,
so I sketch so often in my Nostalgie, where I can noodle around!

This image intrigues me enough that I may redo it in
a Hahnemühle 100# Cotton Watercolour Book; possibly the challenge of
the shadows and the light coming through the darkness.

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VSW: Quibao


Virtual Sketchwalk (group on Facebook) from our Shanghai walk,
led by Aniko; this is from the town of Quibao.

I had the flu when doing these and made mistakes, oh well,
and one of them is I put Aliska on the image, not Aniko
(I have two friends with unusual names); another is the roofline is just OFF.


Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook, Pentel Aquash waterbrushes,
Platinum Carbon Pen with Platinum Carbon ink waterproof cartridges,
Sennelier, Holbein, DS Primatek watercolors, and Daniel Smith Watercolors.

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VSW: Sheree’s Naners

This post is about taking
a sketch to a finished watercolor,

or an idea to a commissioned piece.

Sheree, a friend from high school, posted a photo of her banana tree, above left.

I was intrigued by the color, especially the many reds in the leaves.
I created a VERY fast sketch in my Nostalgie sketchbook, which, while it is not specifically made for watercolors, does nicely when I am thinking about a piece.
I posted that in my personal feed.

Sheree was going to make a print of the images for her new home, but I wanted to do a nicer one for her, and send the originals.

Started again with a watercolor pencil sketch, above.  I used a rusty brown because it would be fine if it moved into the greens or the reds of the image.

I used my new Kakimori dip pen for the line work, above, and Super5 Australia ink.  I love the Super5 inks as they are “off colors” meaning not a clear brown or ultramarine blue or perfect red.  I find them more interesting to use in sketches.  The Australia ink reminds me of the purple-reds in the Australian landscape.

The Kakimori nib allowed me to have fatter or skinnier lines depending on how I hold the pen: Straight up for thin lines, and adjusting down to achieve the fatter lines.  (BTW, now that I’ve fallen in love with this brass version, I want the stainless steel version, as I understand that the lines can be even finer.)

I used a diluted waterproof brown ink in a waterbrush to lay in some of the areas where I would want shadow, below left.

Then the watercolors began, and frankly, I cannot stop and shoot pics of the watercolors as easily.  I need to move fast when they are wet if I want to use several colors in an area and have them blend — and I leave them to do that as they may, without trying to control them.  If you look closely at the image and details you will see the many colors I used, plus I had a length of watercolor scrap paper above the image and placed dots of the colors as I used them, above.

This image is leaving so I am placing notes with a photo in my sketchbook, above.


The colors change with the light, as you can
see from the one above and the one below.

Sheree is putting this image along with the image Sheree’s Posies, below, on her wall in her new home.  Another friend, Randy Boyd, a talented designer is doing their interiors.  It is old home week for Laguna Beach grads!

I am available for commissions!

(Damn.  If only I’d spelled Sheree’s name correctly on the floral image below!  I had NO idea anyone but me would see these and I am horribly dyslexic — and if you understand dyslexia you will know you can’t SEE a mistake easily.  So there you go…)

The post on the first image of the trumpet flowers can be found here.

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©D. Katie Powell.
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Taking Classes

I enjoy taking classes —
the camaraderie, and also, even if I know a lot about the subject, I always learn something.

This was a class by Pat Southern Pearce, called Paperbag Blossoms.  Pat often sketches on toned paper; that was the point of this class.

I was sick with a flu bug; this did the trick to make me happy.   I tested out my new Kakimori nib, which I will review later.

The paper I used was the inside of a Trader Joe bag.

This was my first go with the Brass Kakimori nib; I enjoyed it.
Dip the nib in the ink bottle and draw as if you were using a dip pen (you are!)
Takes a bit of getting used to if you want a skinny line —
and I understand the Stainless Steel nib has a thinner line.

Steps above; all the colors are inks. 

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 ©D. Katie Powell.
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Summer’s End


For me, the end of summer shows itself when our local peaches are gone.
We just took delivery on three dozen yellow peaches and so, summer is over.

White peaches are earlier, lovely and fleeting.
Yellow peaches are in for the long haul, not as sweet,
but this year the had a lovely citrus-y bite to them.

I’m okay with summer’s end. I’m an autumn gal,
the colors, the slightly cooler weather, and birthdays.


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©D. Katie Powell.
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VSW: Luis Barragán, 2

Second installment in the series on my favorite architect, Barragán.

To see the first installment, go here.

Casa Barragán, above and below.
In reality Opera Pink is not quite the right pink but it it the brightest pink I own
and so it had to be the right pink!

Below, the lovely water pool outside one room.

Chapel of the Capuchinas is so beautiful, above and below.
I have not done it justice… The colors are amazing!
The rooms are infused with warm light.

Above the sketch was a direct watercolor sketch.


Above and below, Luis Barragán’s Cuadra San Cristobal,
an amazing horse ranch located northeast of Mexico City in a once rural area.
All the wild Barragán colors, and water, a huge wading pool with a huge fountain that gushes water so the noise is constant.  One of the places I would most like to visit..


A corner in the Federal District, Barragán‘s neighborhood…
Some of his colorful paints are a reflection of his culture.
I LOVE Mexican culture and grew up with these colors.

A full length feature on Luis Barragán can be seen from a synopsis page from the Barragán Foundation.

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©D. Katie Powell.
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VSW: Luis Barragán, 1

I used line, and diluted waterproof inks,
with watercolors on top for Casa Golardi, above.

I went to USC’s School of Architecture at a time when the school was run by the new dean, Quincy Jones.  The school was populated by what many of us referred to as “Corb Jocks”, that is most of the architects I was required to read and “love” were just one, Le Corbusier.  I had some respite from it in design classes with Ed Niles and Pierre Koenig, but the history classes all focused on the white whale.  (Not that I hate Corb, but I do have a love hate relationship with him due to the force feeding I endured.)

This is the only background you will receive, but it is important because I discovered Luis Barragán at Hennessee and Ingalls, the best bookstore in Los Angeles for all things related to the arts.  I chose to devote a watercolor book on him for two art groups, one which I lead, on FaceBook, purely for the pleasure of sketching all things Barragán, both projects and images contrasting him with the places and architecture that was happening all around him as he was creating these literally brilliant buildings.


Casa Golardi.


Casa Pedregal. Watercolor and ink.

Chapultepec Park, near where Luis Barragán lived. Part of his neighborhood.
I had to do it, because, PALMS!!!! Love love love palms, home home home…
I also love line work… I always want to keep the line work and not move into watercolor….


I was using pencils (that is what was sitting around) and it wasn’t until a bit later I realized I had chosen the watercolor pencils.  So above is Torres de Satelite, in pencils after they were wetted.  If you want process it is just below.

Torres de Satelite, a series of tall prisms built in 1958 on an island by Luis Barragán and Mathias Goeritz (Poland 1915 – 1990) plastic artist.  They are located on an Island in the middle of traffic in the Ciudad Satélite district of Naucalpan, State of Mexico, and can be seen for miles, which was why they were commissioned — they wanted an anchor for the district.  As one moves about in a car, the shapes change from pointed surfaces to flat surfaces, which makes them look at times like sculptures, and at times like buildings.

From an article in Domus online: “(the) appearance is sensory, Goeritz himself described them as painting, emotional architecture, as a plastic prayer; the local inhabitants have made them their own, they are its emblem and also pride, the passers by car understand them as a point of reference on a city scale and the visitors on foot who perceive their real scale pass them by touching their hands along their sides, they look up and feel that they are buildings, even people have been seen hugging them, and it is just where perhaps, the emotion that Goeritz refers to art and Barragan as architecture is present.”


On a second day I gave Torres de Satelite context, as it sits in a busy island with cars flying by, above… colored pencil and pen and ink.

A full length feature on Luis Barragán, below, from a good synopsis
page on him from the Barragán Foundation.

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©D. Katie Powell.
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Sherre’s Posies


A high school friend has a lovely garden and one of her images caught me…
I didn’t do it justice and might try again!

I LOVE my sketch — and here is the secret, that I love line work.
But drawing is no challenge; I had years and years of professional time drawing in ink.
Watercolors are so lovely and a challenge,
and that is why I push for them.

What I wanted was looser, and getting looser in watercolors in my goal —
I want looser and I am a naturally detailed gurl.

I LOVE sketching flowers!


These are the paints I used… Many Holbein this time, some Daniel Smith

Remember, flowers fight depression!

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Soft Kitty Warm Kitty


I drew the lines using Soft Kitty Warm Kitty ink in a Pilot Metropolitan with a stub nib.
A waterbrush moved the lines without erasing them by moving it fairly fast only ONCE over the sketched lines (before below).  I was happy the lines stayed while the ink moved a bit.

Notice I left the claws SHARP!
Gibbs paw should be twice as big — he has huge paws!  I guess I’d best NOT do these in the middle of the night.

Soft Kitty Warm Kitty ink (a Robert Oster ink) is from the Cozy Comfort set from Endless Pens.  They are gorgeous!  Gibbs watercolor bottom; everyone likes a cat sketch!

(Watercolor of Gibbs.)

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Recipes: Ritual

I enjoy writing our recipes in my Khadi Journal, though it will never be a favorite journal (more on that at the bottom).  I have my journal when cooking; I make notes and sketch.

I placed Ganesha, my favorite Hindu Elephant God at the front of the recipe book.  He is known for his excesses, and loves chocolate and FOOD!  He is the god of beginnings and giverns writing; he is excellent for a cookbook!  I believe blesses our recipes, even though they are not chocolate, his favorite food!

I embrace ritual, and think other cooks do too, even if they don’t name it.
There is something wonderful about gathering our favorite worn bowl and instruments with history.

I lay out all my ingredients
in a pretty manner on a
nice platter or cloth
before I start cooking:
whole foods, powdery ingredients and spices, all sitting together waiting, like gathering instruments for a concert!

I have beloved utensils — old friends — and like old friends, they have history, and seem to know their way around my recipes. Some were my grandmas or my moms…  My grandma was not the best cook, or not the best cook by the time I was born, as I was the last of the grandkids, but I remember her squash bread, watermelons, and fresh corn. My cooking has rubbed off on her utensils, and they happily work hard to earn their place.

During the pandemic I began placing two beans from each pot o’beans into a blue Mexican goblet, left to me by my Mom, shown left and below. The goblet sits above my desk. My Hahnemühle “bone” folder (bamboo, a gift) is kept there as well, along with a bay leaf from Cynthia (a gift and of course, bay goes into many bean recipes.).


I find long white whiskers on the studio rug that fall from our cat’s faces and they too make their way into the goblet.  Do I know why I do these rituals?  No, but I know that it is a good thing to do.

I am not sure when the small scarab crawled on top of the beans… but as I’ve contemplated this I know it is a prayer for long life.  When I see the scarab in among the beans, it’s blue color heightened by the blue of the glass, I am pleasured.

Eating beans helps our hearts and bodies.  We still eat meat, but have moved into eating meat differently in recent years and the many varieties of Rancho Gordo beans are a big part of that change.

A bean or two goes on the floor for the cats to bat around… When Izzee hears the crackling of a bag of beans being opened she comes running, and her mates soon follow the sound of her batting bean around the floor.  I think Steve Sando would enjoy hearing that a few of his heirloom beans are used in a cat soccer match, grays against the Siamese, because cooking is joyful and that is part of our joy!!

My mom was a good cook and taught me to be adventurous in my cooking, though she was a diehard recipe follower. Even today, when I begin to stray from any recipe, I hear her voice admonishing me to follow the recipe at least the first time — then I ignore it!

I am so sorry that I don’t have gorgeous cursive to use in these types of books… but oh well, that is not something I paid attention to before, so my architectural scrawl will have to do.  The rough Kadhi paper is bumpy and not helping my scrawl along!
The Khadi journal paper is not quite right for my watercolors…
As I have started this journal I will continue in it and am learning to work with the extra bumpy paper.  It is hard to write on — yes, THAT bumpy — far more textured than cold pressed papers, which I prefer.

You can find many recipes under the “Recipe Journal” legend at the top of the page.

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Recipes: Ham and Lima Beans

Rancho Gordo’s Big Juicy White Limas are soooo good… I’ve made a ham and beans for years but never had them as tasty as with these beans.
If you try them you will never go back to any other Lima Bean!

The recipe in its entirety is bottom.

Wash but don’t soak the package of Lima Beans.  Place in large dutch oven or other big pot.

Trim any usable ham bits off the ham hock bone and chop smaller than the Limas.  I cut the skin into large chunks and pop it into the pot knowing I will fish it out later.  Add all parts.

Add the inner leaves/stalks of the celler, being careful to wash them carefully, and cut any strange bits off the bottom of the stalks.  This is often a part of the celery that you toss but I time my cooking of beans or stews so i can use these tender flavorful inner stalks.

Add 1 large Chipotle chili… No other chili will do!  You want that smokey flavor in the beans.

Cover these four ingredients with about 6-inches of cold water (photo left, below).  Bring to a boil then simmer about 1 1/2 hours.

While this is simmering, chop the last three ingredients (red onion, carrot, celery stalk) into bits smaller than the White Lima Beans.  For the carrots this means cut half the entire length before slicing.

When the first ingredients are “done” add the rest of the chopped ingredients (right photo above) and simmer only until they are cooked.  You don’t want to overcook the final ingredients.

I freeze these beans in pint Ball jars; they are so wonderful in the studio for lunches!

RECIPE

* 2 lbs Rancho Gordas White Limas (not soaked)
* Ham Hock, chopped
* inner stalks/leaves of the celery
* 1 large Chipotle Chili

and

* 1 larger red onion, chopped
* 3 large sweet carrots, chopped
* 4 large celery stalk, chopped

If you like you can buy a slice of ham for more ham (I don’t; I want the taste of ham in the beans).

Add salt and black pepper if you like when serving…  But taste before you salt!  You can serve with crusty bread.

Always organic or non-GMO, humanely raised. It matters!

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30 Posies: Sunflowers Field


I may be a bit obsessed with sunflowers.
This one is a much more typical Oregon field, with big green trees in the background…
Oddly, however, I think I went back to my So Cal days and thought of the
tall skinny trees that served as windbreaks in the fields around Ventura.

I made these colors more intense, and made a huge mistake,
which hopefully I was able to recover from.
Because of that, I splashed around a bit more and
played a bit more, trying to save the sketch.


Sunflowers with Barn, below.
I think that is the better one… What say you?


Remember, flowers fight depression!

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