Inky Thots: Birmingham Slag Grey

Blue-green-grey Birmingham Slag Grey ink is named in honor
of the Homestead Steelworks, built in 1881.
It became part of the Carnegie Steel company in 1883.
For many years was the largest steelworks in the world.

Remember that others review these inks just for writing;
I am also interested in how they are used for ink-painting!
Also, this review shows the older version of Slag Grey ink at the bottom, and here.

I adore the new Slag Grey!

Properties of with Birmingham Slag Grey ink:

It is a well behaved ink which
dries relatively quickly. It feathers slightly on Post-its, and in my Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal when my dip pen drops a blob! But not on watercolor paper, above, nor when used with stub nibs. When scrubbed, top, it showed quite a lot water resistant, and further test sketches in my journals show it to leave a good imprint of water resistant ink lines when the waterbrush moves the color.  It has no sheen that I could produce, and is not a strong shader with my 1.1 stub nib, but when painting it separates so I consider this a complex ink color.

Above you can see the pretty blue that pulls out of the dark writing ink.
The paper towel test shows how many colors lay beneath the grey.
When the edge is touched with water it moves easily
into dark blue, blue-greens, and a green-yellow.
Looking at watercolor comparisons, I offer these colors:

*Above, watercolors, from Daniel Smith, QoR, and Senelier.*

MOST water soluble ink companies do not pay attention to lightfast qualities
and Birmingham is no different in this line of inks.
Most artists who use ink are making prints of their work —
But ink-painting is becoming more interesting so maybe it is time!


I drew the Homestead Steelworks on my test page with a dip pen —
a rather poor dip pen and so it tends to splotch out —
on cold press watercolor paper and touched the lines with water using a Pentel Aquash waterbrush.  This was a 30 minute sketch with water movement…
The lines stay slightly visible but also release ink; which means some water resistance.

Notice how blue-grey the lower image appears, versus the green-grey of the
top swatch or the grey in the pussy-willows, below.  This is the same Slag Grey
under the same lighting (smooth versus textured paper),
and shows the range of color in this ink.

Slag Grey linework and ink-painting with a touch of yellow watercolor, below;
you can see slight feathering on the lowest catkin where my dip pen blobbed.

 I like what Birmingham says on their website:
We started Birmingham Pen Co. in 2012 in
the Southside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The region of Pittsburgh where we began once  called “Little Birmingham” due to the area’s prolific manufacturing industry in the early 1900’s. The Birmingham moniker was derived from Birmingham, UK – a manufacturing hub that specialized in, among other things, pen and nib manufacturing with thousands of craftspeople employed in the industry. 
We chose the name Birmingham Pen Company  to share this little known piece of history and continue in the traditions behind the name.”

Birmingham’s bottles are glass, and functional
even in the small sizes.  I like glass bottles;
they feel like they will last longer.


Birmingham also turns their own pens,
which I’ve noticed often sell out as fast as they make them!
*I LOVE my Model-A Demonstrator, Violet Beauregarde!*

This is a small family business run by four people!  The brothers, Nick and Josh;
Dad is the chief pen machinist;  and Mom does one of the coolest things about Birmingham, which is their amazing historic names!

Disclosure, I was gifted with this sample ink from Birmingham.

New Slag Grey, below…

Old formula, below….

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Recipe, Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans


Rancho Gordo’s Yellow Eye Bean was a bean I tried earlier and ruined….
Now that I am an old bean-cooking gal, it is time to revisit some of the beans
that I did early on because now I can coax their amazing flavors.

Yes, I am still a fanatic!

Yellow Eyes are creamy with a rusty center eye…
I did not soak, and cooked them as I’ve been cooking my beans  now, simply,
with 4-5 garlic cloves, a chopped raw onion, 4 de Arbol chilies, 1 chipotle chili
(I was seeing how much chili was too much and think I reached the point!),
2 bay leaves, a few dried sage leaves, and one pint of the
yummy Carman Ranch Beef Bone Broth (that is new to me and oh my was it good.)
Brought to a boil, 15 minutes, then began simmering.
This was just at the edge of too much heat for me,
but over rice or served with something else it is perfect!

Salt at the end, in the last 45 minutes!


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

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Crows and more Birds


We started feeding the crows during covid because the people
in the neighborhood that shared their lunch scraps with them were not here…
Then the jays and junkos and finches and even the occasional seagull showed up.
How can we say no?

As it went into winter we got very committed…
Mourning doves showed up too.
Now here is the thing…

THEY HAVE TURNED INTO DEMANDO BIRDS!

They know I feed them, know my “caw caw” and so if there is not food
on the roof they start looking for the window I am in and pushing me to get
the food onto the deck!  Everyone plays nicely, from the smallest birds to the crows though occasionally someone chases someone else, and it is usually
a couple smaller birds going after a crow.  When people start populating the area we will cut back on what we put out on the roof… or start thinking of them as pets!

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Inky Thots: Birmingham Boysenberry


Birmingham Boysenberry ink is named in honor of the fruits from
the Southside Farmer’s Market, built in 1915.
The original market house on this spot was built in 1893, burned,
and was rebuilt by architect Charles Bickel in 1915.
“According to Walter C. Kidney, “When it was rebuilt in 1915 after a fire,
the towers came off, the gable roof was brought down to the eaves on both fronts,
and a well-scaled stone cartouche was set into the south front memorializing
the new work. This cartouche is the building’s one decoration today, set off by swags and surmounted by a bull’s head. The Romanesque walls otherwise survive largely as built, industrial rather than civic architecture.”” (Wikipedia.)


Remember that others review these inks just for writing;
I am also interested in how they are used for ink-painting!

Properties of  Birmingham Boysenberry ink:

It is a well behaved ink
which dries relatively quickly.
It feathers slightly on Post-its, but not in my Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal even with a wet writer, above, nor on watercolor paper, top.
When I scrubbed it, top and below left, it showed quite a
bit of water resistance. It has
no sheen that I could produce, and is not a moderate shader
with my 1.1 stub nib… when painting it separates into
these beautiful pinks and
blues, so I consider this a complex ink color.

Top, above and left, you
can see the pretty blue
that pulls out of the
dark writing ink.
The paper towel test
shows how many colors lay beneath the dark purple!
Aptly named Boysenberry!

When the edge is touched
with water it does not move easily into the berry stain colors. Looking at watercolor comparisons, I offer these colors:

*Above, watercolors, from Daniel Smith.*

MOST water soluble ink companies do not pay attention to lightfast qualities
and Birmingham is no different in this line of inks.
Most artists who use ink are making prints of their work —
But ink-painting is becoming more interesting so maybe it is time!


I drew the Southside Farmer’s Market on my test page with
my Model-A Demonstrator pen with a 1.1 stub nib (below)
on cold press watercolor paper,  Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal,
and touched the lines with water using a Pentel Aquash waterbrush.
This was a fast sketch with water movement…
The lines stay slightly visible but also release ink; which means slight water resistance.
I added linework in, but left some lines untouched.

I like what Birmingham says on their website:
We started Birmingham Pen Co. in 2012
in the Southside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The region of Pittsburgh where we began once  called “Little Birmingham” due to
the area’s prolific manufacturing
industry in the early 1900’s. The
Birmingham moniker was derived from Birmingham, UK – a manufacturing hub
that specialized in, among other things, pen and nib manufacturing with thousands of craftspeople employed in the industry.

Birmingham’s bottles are glass, and functional
even in the small sizes.  I like glass bottles;
they feel like they will last longer.

Birmingham also turns their own pens,
which I’ve noticed often sell out as fast as they make them!
*I LOVE my Model-A Demonstrator, Violet Beauregarde!*
I placed the lovely Boysenberry into the pen.

This is a small family business run by four people!  The brothers, Nick and Josh;
Dad is the chief pen machinist;  and Mom does one of the coolest things about Birmingham, which is their amazing historic names!

Image of the South Side Market used for reference was taken by Piotrus.

Disclosure, I was gifted with this sample ink from Birmingham.

To hear about classes, follow me on Facebook
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Inauguration 2021


Like many artists, I sketched what I was seeing…
Except when I was so transfixed, as in Lady Gaga’s Performance,
and the oh-so amazing Amanda Gorman, I could not sketch.
I watched and listened intently, joyous after so much stress.


During the evening the fireworks were some of the most beautiful
I’ve ever seen, and I knew they were a stretch for me to capture.
My impression, done the day after from memory, of the gorgeous colors with the Washington Monument in the middle.
All ink, with a Fineline Masking fluid laid down
before I started painting with inks:
Robert Oster, l’Artisan Pastellier, and Krishna inks.

You can purchase cards and other objects with this image on it from RedBubble.

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VSW Vietnam, 1


I am happy I had the Virtual Sketchwalk group
(on Face Book)
to take me away to Vietnam
with images from Aniko Szedlak…

I started with an image of Aniko and ginger…
Love me some Ginger!

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VSW Vietnam, 2


In the midst of so much sadness having
these lovely silk lanterns and the beautiful lantern shop
with the bougainvillea in full blossom was a delight.


It took me forever.
Depression would pull me, sleepiness and distraction also overtaking me.

The sketch above is an ink-painting, no watercolors.
An assortment of L’Artisan Pastellier Classique inks were used.


I sketched the planters with
a Platinum Carbon Pen
with Platinum Carbon ink waterproof cartridges, and
chose delightful clear watercolors to depict
the bright silks!

I went back and forth on
writing the reality of what
is going on and in the end, decided to do this as this
is my art journal, and
I will look back and see
what I was struggling with
when I chose to sketch lanterns.

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One Week Later

Still processing.
Watching news, sleeping, reading, horrified.
This week diversion is the Closer.

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One Week


2021 1 6 I don’t have anything to say right now about this.
Sketching and watching.


Jan 12 2021 finished by labeling and writing on the sketches.

And let me say I am not tagging this post.
That alone should be an alert that this shook me to my core.
Staying out of the eye of Sauron.
One week today.

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Tools: Rhodia Touch

I’ve been playing in the Rhodia Touch “Lavis Technique” journal
made for pen and ink-wash and sketching, a journal that is new to me.
I usually would do a lot more testing of a journal,
but I am ready to let this journal go — it is not for me.  I like Rhodia papers,
but this journal has been a huge failure, and I will walk you through why
I am abandoning it as a inkpainting and watercolor journal below.

The paper is bright white, 90lb, and mine is A5 landscape, bound.

Positive:  A beautiful sturdy journal, faux leather, nice thick band closure.
It feels good in the hand, and when opened lays flat.
The front and back inside cover pages are black, and that is fine —
I used a white gel pen and often paste mementos in those areas.

There is no back envelope, but again, that is often true in good sketchbooks,
and if I was going to continue with the journal, I’d paste an envelope into the back.

I will say that there was a somethingness that I could quite identify that bothered me, but the truth is, I also was playing with new inks, so not sure what the issues were. Pencil worked well on the smooth sheets, but I can’t show it as they were underlayers.

Then I tested the new Birmingham Everlasting inks,
below, and began to see issues clearly.

When I test new inks in
my sketching journals, it is
often my first experience with
a new ink medium.  I lay the
ink in, and let it dry.  I add water and scrub the dried ink a bit
to watch it move.  If you
look at the water-resistant
Birmingham Everlasting ink test above, I let those dry then dropped water to see how the inks move in various ways.

What concerned me was
how quickly the paper began
to pill… See the circle that
pilled in the middle above?

Compare it to an example in Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook, where I have performed these tests for years.  Above right with Robert Oster Dragon’s Night ink,
you can see no pilling or textural change in the scrubbed areas on the right side.

This was my first solid strike on this journal.

My next and deal-breaking “test” was laying in several more test swatches,
all quite typical of what I would do in the Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook.
Each image above shows front and back in succession.
Both pages of swatching seeped through to the other side, unable to take the wet ink.
I don’t even experience much ghosting in the Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook,
as a comparison, let alone bleed-through.

This was the deal-breaker.

So in the beginning I was willing to continue to play, because of the new inks
and dip pens (I don’t usually use a dip pen), in a new journal…
but I don’t want to continue to play in the journal.
I will publish the last few images I have sketched and written, but I am moving on.

The only way I could continue to use this journal would be to use only one side
of the paper, and to place a barrier sheet between pages when using it.
Otherwise I’d risk bleed.

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Robert Oster’s Citrus ink


Santa also brought me another Robert Oster
new ink that looks edible:
This gorgeous Citrus ink!

This drawing was an easy choice for Citrus in that we use limes daily
in so many meals at this time of the year —
This Lime was created with a dip pen, which I am new to using to draw!

 Robert Oster Citrus ink can be found at Vanness and Pen Chalet!

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Robert Oster’s No Fixed Address Ink


Robert Oster has a new ink that has a lovely donation attached!
For each bottle of Shake & Shimmer No Fixed Address,
Robert Oster will see that 4 MEALS are provided for the needy.

Santa brought me several bottles of ink, and this glittery color
looked like it was made
at the North Pole!
In the image above and right
you can see that the red
reads bright and jumps
off the page  — that is due to the flash hitting the glitter.

When the flash is off
my iPhone takes a subdued darker image of the red.
Either way, it is a lovely red.

This Poinsettia was created
with a dip pen!

No Fixed Address can be found at Pen Chalet and Vanness!

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New Years, New Journal


Happy New Year!

I have been given a couple of different journals,
and am trying the Rhodia Touch starting this new year,
so a departure from my loved Hahnemuhle journals.
In the short time I have been using it, I am not sure I like it,
but will give it a bit before I do a review.


I have not been sketching, not even really testing inks and so forth for a few weeks…
2020 took it out of me, even to the point of not wanting to write about it —
not like me.  Exhaustion is a thing, and I had it!

I’ve been sleeping long hours during our time off, binge watching tele then falling asleep mid-program, and I guess this is resetting some circuits.
Gradually I have started fooling around again.

I’m not making promises yet!

I can sincerely say Happy New year like I’ve never meant it!
I look forward to the inauguration when perhaps our country can also sleep then reset to a nation of civility and following the constitution.

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Holidays


Every year I make some sort of holiday card…
But this year we are working through the holidays for a client, so no time!

Working this year is a good year to do it because it is a bad year for visiting…
Don’t feel badly for us — we will take time after the 28th,
and enjoy pulling the plug on the phones and enjoy
blessed silence, good food, and sleeping in.


I love Santa and stockings best!

When I found out my mom was Santa, she showed me how the tradition delights of making others happy, and how that was THE spirit of Santa.
She took me to shop for her stocking — I was nine —
and looked the other way while I shopped and wrapped.
I loved the first time I signed notes from all the reindeer, Frosty, all our pets,
and the Clause’s (she kept them all)… An orange or tangerine always went into the toe.
Stockings were about letting the person know you knew them well —
and was a chance as I got older to get new make-up, little earrings,
and of course, our favorite candies.  This is one of my favorite memories of her.

We’ve ALWAYS done stockings, my favorite part.
This year Santa is coming late as we are not going to take off until the 30th.
He told me he’d circle back to drop our stockings off for New Year’s Eve!


No tree this year — I’m a little sad as the tree now is for the cats,
our favorite family members.  They don’t bother the hot lights.
We put colorful cat toys and no longer fight them on climbing into it.
We enjoy their play.  Maybe someday we will do a normal tree again.

From last year! 


One thing that is a new tradition this year is that we have set up the roof
over the loading dock as a giant bird and squirrel feeder.
Twice a day we caw and let them know the food is being tossed out —
They come running now as it is cold and because so many businesses
around us are closed their scraps are less this year.
Crows, Bluebirds, juncos, mourning doves, birds I’ve not identified yet
and the occasional sea gull enjoy the goodies.
I love having a squirrel-head or two to make us laugh,
and this gives the cats something to worry about!

Find ways to make the most of this strange year —
Make sure you laugh!
I know we’ll watch some old holiday movies but also watch mysteries
and high-body-count movies — exciting thrillers!
Remember somebody loves you, even if they are far away this year.
Find comfort foods… mine are cookies and lasagna and fried chicken!

The video below is the funniest thing I have seen in years —
Seriously worth every moment!

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the creative life


This morning I received another email in the marketing blitz for a popular
bundled experience from an online art school.
Their classes are good — not great but good — and popular —
however, there are amazing teachers teaching art all over the internet…

Something about this marketing blitz keeps bothering me:
I have spent a week mulling it over and trying to put it into words.

I think they are really selling a well-heeled and privileged community…
A club that you must belong to in order to get the latest greatest info on becoming an artist… and now there are levels of privilege, based on $$$!
This bothered me because of the marketing lingo,
combined with an whopping monthly price tag with each level allowing you
into a higher level of the “club,” coupled with an implication that any
amount of money that can put you on the path to a happy life is a worth it…
which implies that if you believe in yourself you will fork over the dough.

Their phrasing is indicative of a privileged life,
which I am beginning to explore in a heightened way.
The extremely peaceful BLM movement locally, which I watch every night,
discusses this, and it has raised questions among my old friends
from Laguna Beach High School, a great growing up experience,
as well as new friends in the art community.  I grew up lower middle class,
as did my best friend, and yet at the time in Laguna Beach there was little class distinction.  It was an extremely creative community based on
inexpensive past-times… swimming, volleyball, being creative.

Beaded sequined textile by Yves Telemak which I had the pleasure of conserving.

I was living the creative life then, and moved into a plausible creative profession in architecture on scholarship — and this is where class distinction began to be a division.
I didn’t make the cut for some social interactions at University
because I was a scholarship kid.

But I did make the creative cut.
Creativity does not recognize money, just results…
though I will freely admit that having to make money can limit the time one might
have to be creative…. but it can also push you toward good subject matter!
**i often make my art late at night because I run a full-time business!**

The daily emails they send continued to imply that you should invest in yourself
as an artist — and I certainly believe that so that is hard to argue with that idea —
but the minimum $$$/month was high when you can take an excellent class with talented experienced artists through other places at $14-25.
There is something about this framing that is very slick marketing —
I think back to EST in the 80’s — and THAT is what is bothering me about it.
Maybe especially at this time in our lives, with so many out of work and struggling,
the price tag combined with their phrasing kept nagging at me… reminding me of self-help promoters who shame people into forking over monies they don’t have over guilt…
To be good, to be cool, to support yourself you have to do THIS or
maybe you don’t care so much about your art.

Textile art by Ken Ellis which I had the privileged of conserving… These materials are not expensive, and Ken made art about what he knew.

Shame and guilt have no place in teaching art.
*btw same is true for so many stupid rules that art teachers throw at you*
Inspiration and example, technique and opening doors —
this is what art teachers should be doing for you, and yes, teachers have to
make a good living too, but they should do so without shame or trying to make
you think you have to do this to sit at the cool kids table!

Making art is not about privilege… some of the greatest art was and is made by poor people and working folks, and expresses struggles and joy and real issues.

Real life.

Now, however, art and the creative life has become more and more
marketed until it has distorted into a commodity… “the art life”…
replete with the idea of an inner circle, often done with marketing phrases that imply that the inner circle is getting the real goods, and so the implication still is that you will be missing out of some special information on a lesser tier.

This is my two cents on the subject.  Be wary when someone begins to twist you into thinking that you have to do this or that to be a real creative…
Be wary when the price of admission is so high that it becomes a trade-off between necessities (food and shelter) and following your passion…
Or they imply that you’d come up with the goods if you really cared.
Remember that artists come in all shapes and financial abilities,
and might be raising kids, holding down full time jobs, or struggling financially.
You can make art with simple materials and little training…
and many of the school gurus are merely going to teach you to be small versions of themselves, not bring out the artist that you have inside you with
the singular creative bit that you have to offer… YOU!

Look instead to take classes from the artist whose work you really love…
The one who is going to share techniques with you, and has the ability to inspire you to be the best YOU, not a mini version of themselves.
Look for those that charge a fair price for their time,
and think about how the classes are structured to give you maximum information.

To read a bit about Ken Ellis and our conservation project, read this.
To read a bit about the conservation of Yves Telemak’s Madonna read this.

To hear about classes, follow me on Instagram, Facebook
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Recipe: Mustard Honey Hot Red Chilies


Thanks
Cynthia Leary Stroo for giving me an idea for a different glaze…
Bored and stuck in a rut, I didn’t have all her ingredients but made do nicely and we’ll make this again. Yummy with some carrots put into roast with the thighs.
Next time though, I will remove the liquids after the first crispy roast cycle without the glaze, and separate some of the fat before dropping the juices into the pan again…
A bit better for heart and arthritis issues!


Lifted me out of the doldrums to make something yummy and new.
I have been dreaming of take out and
we are simply not doing any of this right now in Oregon.

The Glaze, to be adjusted for how many parts you are doing… I tried this out with three thighs and 1 tsp for a part, below:

  • 1 part mustard
  • 1 part honey
  • 1 part hot Sugar Chili Pesto but you can also get a hot chili and slacken it in the broiler then chop it
  • 1.5 parts olive oil
  • 3-4 parts fresh chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes for extra heat
  • seasoned the chicken with garlic salt and pepper.

Put the thighs in a pan, seasoned then and cooked then under high heat to broil crispy for about 20 minutes (depends on the oven — I did this in our little oven.)  Drain the liquids and skim the chicken fat off, add to the glaze.

Cover the chicken in the glaze then roast at 375 until done, checking ot make sure they don’t burn (you can cover if they start to burn).

I put carrots sliced in half into a dry pan below while crisping the chicken than eventually popped them into the pan with the chicken and covered them with the glaze to roast.  They were just slightly crunchy.

Yum Yum Yum…

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Rona Keeps on Giving

I did this  thinking I was not going to watercolor it…
I think maybe I liked it better that way!

This feels is a neverending crisis, made worse by our politicians
(yes I am looking at you Kate Brown).
The restrictions in Oregon don’t make sense logically…
Limited Thanksgiving dinner to 6 people, but then allow the
inane Black Friday sales to run rampant in big box stores but at 75% capacity.
So instead of 500 people at Target there will be 375…
Oh yeah, like that’s gonna work!
Kate Brown is beholden to someone with corporate funding.
This is going to result in more deaths, more lockdowns later and frankly,
I’m getting pissed because Mitchell and I both need to see docs
but won’t go right now with the numbers climbing daily.


We are still ordering groceries and washing every dang thing that comes to us…
We do this at the studio… we are spending so many hours there and
frankly can’t imagine washing them in the small kitchen at home.
This process that takes a day, seriously.
Craziness but the rules of engagement on this damn virus keep changing
and so we do what we do in an overabundance of caution.


Gibbs has fallen in love with beef and looks for teeny handouts now so anytime I am in the kitchen he thinks maybe just maybe I will cook steak and throw him a bite.
If I ignore him he bites me on the ankles or the bum.
I caught him siting slapping his tail against the floor
which Izzee thought was a plaything and kept jumping on…
He ignores her, intent on vibing me.

They make our life happy, among the only things
these days that make our life happy.

And feeding the birds!

A lot of what goes into my journal these days is writing…
Quotes that lift me, my own writing about things that bother me.

To hear about classes, follow me on Instagram, Facebook
or check out my new, improved dkatiepowellart.com

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VSW Sydney, 6, Chinatown, Redo


Image for reference by Debi Taylor.
Thought I might leave this as is…
Then I didn’t!  Not sure I did it any good…
I’ve been playing with inks now I have to warm up to go back to watercolors!

To hear about classes, follow me on Facebook
or check out my new, improved dkatiepowellart.com

Posted in architecture, art journal, challenge, creativity, drawing, ink painting, journal, pen & ink, sketchbook, virtual sketching | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment