Sunday, May 31, 2009


Another sketch in my watercolor moleskine with watercolor pencils. This one went a little better than the last one. Tricky, these pencils, but fun too.

And this makes the last post for the Every Day in May challenge. It has been an interesting experiment and a fun challenge, to keep up with making these sketches and posting every day. I really appreciate those who have followed along with me and left such kind and encouraging comments. But I am ready for a little break, as I am sure you are too. So I'm going to take a blogging break for a short while. Of course that doesn't mean I'll be taking a break from making art! When I return I will have lots of new things to share. Promise.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ocean sunrise

I have a just a few pages left in a watercolor moleskine, so I thought I'd try out my watercolor pencils on that. Plus I wanted to try a different sort of image, so it's an ocean sunrise this time.

Friday, May 29, 2009


This one was fun. I especially enjoyed scribbling in that evergreen. I don't know what those pink flowers are, probably some kind of thistle, as best I could tell from my old photo. I am looking forward to spending some time sketching outdoors this summer. These watercolor pencils are a lot of fun to play with and I am so glad I am taking the time to learn how to use them. This is another 4 x 4 inch study on Arches hp.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grassy Bald

More watercolor pencil play from an old photo taken while on a hike somewhere around here. They call these grassy mountaintops "grassy balds", and it seems no one really knows why some mountains in the Southern Appalachians are this way, while most are tree covered.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Now red

After the greens of the pepper I just had to try a subject in reds. Strawberries are so good right now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So I thought I'd try a simpler subject for my watercolor pencil class. This pepper was destined for spaghetti sauce, so I drew it first, playing with some new green watercolor pencils.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stand back

If you stand way back from your screen, take off your glasses, and squint, this may look okay. This geranium is another exercise that I did for the watercolor pencil class. It's 5 x 5 inches on Arches hot press. When working on this one I followed the same procedure but somehow I didn't have the groove, wasn't quite in the zone, or whatever, that I had when doing the hosta leaves. So it goes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Morning Shadows

Still having fun. Still playing with watercolor pencils. This is another scene from my neighborhood, done on Arches HP, 4 x 4 inches. I like doing these small, quick studies. I can play with an idea and then move on to the next thing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's all a part of the learning process

Continuing with my watercolor pencil studies, on Arches HP this time, 4 x 4 inches. I am currently taking the online class, Watercolor Pencil Workshop, with Cathy Johnson. The course started last week and will run through June, so you can expect to see a lot more sketches done with this media. I am having a blast playing with these pencils. I was beginning to feel that I was in a rut with my colored pencil works. This kind of experimentation is just what I needed to shake things up a bit. And of course there are several more days left in May to fill with the Every day in May challenge!

Another new adventure for me is that I have joined an online critique group, Real Life Artists, put together by Krista of Hope in Every Day. I admire her focus for art study and she has gathered an inspiring group of artists. In fact, I am still a little overwhelmed with the talent in this new group. But that is a good thing. It's a group I am excited to be a part of and look forward to learning from them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Buzz! Snap!

Yesterday afternoon I was all set up to do a quick sketch of the petunias I have in a planter box on the deck. I bravely started in with my watercolor pencils, no blocking in with graphite first, with the intent of seeing how loosely I could sketch these flowers. I needed a break from the control of the previous piece! But then a wasp with an attitude started buzzing around my head. I swished it away and continued drawing but the darn thing kept coming back. So I got up from my spot to wait for it to move on and it kept coming after me! That's when I made a quick dash inside. So this sketch was done even more quickly than I originally intended.
This sketch is for Everyday Matters #223, draw your favorite sound. Now there are many sounds that I just love. The sound of Kiddo's laughter, especially that uninhibited laugh she has when playing with our dogs. The sound of the peepers in the spring. The honking of geese or the sound our Corgie makes when she says 'waawooo' and it sounds like 'hello'. Wind chimes. And music, of course. But I really like the sound of snapping beans. That sound takes me back to when I was about 6 or 7, and on my grandmother's back porch, where we'd sit and she would let me help her snap the beans she had picked from her garden. Beans destined for a Sunday supper.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Hosta Leaves
watercolor pencils on Arches HP
5 x 5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It's all part of the learning process. Trying to slow down and really see what these watercolor pencils can do. Yesterday afternoon I snapped a few photos of the plants that are now growing in our yard and then spent the evening working on this from one of my photos. I think using better paper helped. It also helped that after I put down some initial color and washed it with water that I got up and walked away for a while. When I came back to dry paper then I worked a little more. I also limited my color choices and did test swatches before hand. I do think this could be better but I was happy that I was able to stop before mucking it up too much. I have a few more interesting photos to work from so we'll see if I can continue to show some patience while playing with these watercolor pencils!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can less be more?

March Marsh
Neocolor II and colored pencil on pastel board
5 x 7 Inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Couldn't think of a title, so I am definitely open to suggestions for this one! Some more color play on pastel board only this time with the specific image as a starting point. I wanted to keep the edges softer and the color more subtle. And I was trying to articulate the scene without being so literal.

I have the stages of this piece here, with a detail of my scribbles at the end.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Celery today

Maybe I just had a taste for celery today. Or that it was cold (about 40 degrees) when we woke this morning and even though we saw the sun it barely reached 60 degrees today. Frost tonight. So I made chicken and dumplings for dinner. Just felt like it. But I needed some celery to cook with the chicken. Brown colored pencil and water color pencils in my journal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Another "Every Day in May" watercolor pencil sketch in my journal. This is a view just down the road from my house, from a photo taken early one morning, in late the summer. I love how the hay looks when they roll it up like that.

We are now past the half-way mark, with only 14 more days left in May. This has been an interesting exercise so far, creating something every day and posting here (almost) every day. Before I began this challenge I made myself a long list of potential ideas for creating something in my journal, in case I was at a loss for what to do on any given day. I have yet to consult the list. Instead of running out of ideas it seems this producing 'something' daily has generated more ideas for things I would like to try. I never would have guessed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Everyday Matters

A couple of Everyday Matters drawing challenges, doubled up because I missed yesterday's Every Day in May post. The top is Everyday matters drawing challenge #221, draw a hand held game. It's done in graphite and watercolor pencils. So this is one of Kiddo's games. After successfully completing several levels of games, the stuffed toy popped out. Just in case you're wondering what the heck that thing is.

My other 'what the heck is that' is for drawing challenge #222, draw your favorite drawing tool, done in graphite. A kneaded eraser has to be my favorite drawing tool, along with graphite. I love to smudge the graphite around on the paper and then "draw" back into it with a kneaded eraser. And for graphite, in my sketchbooks, I usually use inexpensive mechanical pencils. The one in the drawing is made by Rose Art, I believe. Both sketches are in my small journal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing things

Here's a little watercolor sketch of a basil plant waiting to be planted in our soon to be vegetable garden. Because of the short growing season up here in our mountains, we are still in the process of gathering plants and seeds, preparing our small space designated for vegetable growing. Frost is still possible, but much less likely by mid-May. The basil must go into the vegetable plot because there is a protective fence to keep the rabbits out. Of course, once the tomatoes ripen the chicken-wire fencing does nothing to stop our springer spaniel from reaching over and helping himself to a tomato here and there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keeping up

with Every Day in May. And no, I didn't forget. Just got too tired to post last night after the day got away from me. To make up for the lack of posting yesterday, here are two very quick sketches done with Neocolor II crayons and Inktense watercolor pencils in my journal. Just to see what would happen. Reminded me of John Cage when he talked about "purposeless play."

The only structure
which permits of natural activity is one so
flexible as not to be a structure; I write
in order to hear; never do I hear and
then write what I hear. Inspiration is not
a special occasion.

-from Silence by John Cage

Monday, May 11, 2009

I dreamed of color

Neocolor II and colored pencil on pastel board
5 x 7 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I was thinking about the different ways I have tried using color in my work. So, as I was developing this little piece I scanned each step along the way. Sometimes, it is easier for me to evaluate my work when I view it on the monitor as opposed to when it is right in front of me.

The start of this piece was inspired by a dream of color that I had the other night. The detail shot at the end better shows my scribbling. I wish I could learn to get to my final intent with fewer steps though.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nine days and counting

This is another cloud study from an old photo, brown colored pencil and watercolor pencils in my journal. And here I am nine days into the Every Day in May challenge. The scanning and posting daily isn't as difficult as I thought it might be. But that doesn't rule out the possibility that I may skip a day here and there with posting, and double up on my daily sketches in one post. However, working with these watercolor pencils is becoming more frustrating instead of easier. With this being a new media for me I think I need to slow down a bit to really learn how to best make them work for me. And that's part of what Every Day in May is all about. What I am posting here are obviously not finished works, but the raw sketches quickly done in my sketchbook. I love seeing artists' sketchbooks, and getting a glimpse at how they work out visual information. Sometimes it's more about the process than the product.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I thought I'd give my Moleskine a try with watercolor pencils. It was okay but I think I like the absorbency of the paper better. Kind of a ho-hum image, too.

Thanks to those who responded to my art history question in the last post. I am curious as I enjoy reading about artists and exploring various styles. So now I have discovered two artists I wasn't previously aware of, Ray Hendershot and Rosa Bonheur.

Ray Hendershot's watercolors are incredible, very photographic when viewed on the web. I would like to see one in person to get a better sense of how they were painted. Beautiful imagery in his pieces. And I can't believe I have never come across Rosa Bonheur! Back when I took Art History survey, we used a text that pretty much excluded women artists. Her painting The Horse Fair is amazing. She sounds like a fascinating artist to learn more about. Thanks for mentioning her, Jennifer!

Jennifer also mentioned Michelangelo's sculptures as a favorite. I was just reading about Michelangelo last night from the book, Painters on Painting, by Eric Protter. Reading this book is partly what inspired my art appreciation question! Anyway, it seems that someone suggested that painting was more 'noble' than sculpture. Michelangelo argued that "Suffice it to say that, since both emanate from one and the same intelligence, sculpture and painting can be made to live in harmony together, and give up so many lengthy arguments, for these arguments take up more time than the actual practice of both arts." So I'll leave you today with that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who do you love?

Which artist I mean. Or artwork? Your favorite painting, drawing, sculpture? From any time period, contemporary, Renaissance, 19th century? What one art work could you live with for a very long time without growing tired of it? For me that's a tough question, there are so many, which is why I am curious about your favorites. What moves you about your favorite piece? Why do you like it?

One of my very favorite series of art works are the studies of clouds done by John Constable. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to see a small collection of his cloud studies and had one of those 'aha' moments. They were inspiring to me then and still are. Constable remains one of my favorite artists. So who do you love?

My sketch above is with the usual watercolor pencils in my journal. It is from an old photo of a storm approaching over Hatteras Island. The view is from the ferry from Ocracoke Island. I am doing these quickly (obviously!) yet with water media I have trouble knowing when to stop. My sketches are usually much better about five minutes before I stop working on them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Yes, I am still mining old photos for these Every Day in May sketches. This one is also brown colored pencil with washed water color pencil in my journal. I am thinking this will ultimately be a good way to explore compositions for future colored pencil works.

I am still feeling my way with these water color pencils. I like that not all of the marks dissolve and that some are still visable. That is often what attracts me to any media. I am usually drawn to art works that show off the media they were created in. I like to see brush strokes in paintings and linear patterns and the marks of pencil. It is a direction I am headed with my colored pencil works, hopefully. I would like to create pieces that do things a photograph can not.

Speaking of colored pencil works, here are two from this past year that were rejected from the annual CPSA International Exhibition. Now I have been around the block enough times to know that what one juror selects may not be what another would choose. And that's okay. Katherine Tyrrell over at Making a Mark has an informative post highlighting some of the accepted works. It was interesting to have this preview of the exhibition. There are some amazing works in colored pencil. I'll be looking forward to seeing the rest of the show when it becomes available on the CPSA website. In the meantime I thought I'd share an example of what didn't get in. Humph.

*top picture is Edisto Dune, colored pencil on pastel board, 8x10 inches, and bottom is Stratus, colored pencil on pastel board, 11 x 14 inches. All work copyright © Ann Thompson Nemcosky.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

By me

Another sketch with brown colored pencil and watercolor pencils in my journal. This is also from an old photo taken while on a hike somewhere around here. I have tons of photos like this from back when I used to paint. At one point I had organized them into envelopes by subject - trees, water, and sky. Now when I want to practice or just play in my sketchbook it is fun to go back through those old photographs and try to remember when and where they were taken.

I just have to share this video - maybe you have already seen it. Gives me chills every time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays

This is a sketch from an old photo I had taken at of Bass Lake. Again, I used brown colored pencil and watercolor pencils in my journal. I am looking forward to getting out and doing some sketches like this on location, if it ever stops raining.

I did have a wonderful surprise today. As someone who can't have too many bags, look what arrived in the mail for me today! I ordered this bag from Etsy artist 'Doodlescoot'. She customized her usual hipster design for me to be just a little larger. And it's perfect. Because I usually choose dark or unassuming colors for myself, I decided that this time I wanted something bright and colorful for spring and summer. And that would be large enough not only for my usual purse items but also big enough to tuck in a paperback novel or a sketch book and a few sketching supplies. This bag has two ample pockets inside for my keys, cell phone, pens, and other small things plus plenty of room for everything else. Plus the strap is adjustable so I can wear it across or over my shoulder. I love the cheerful fabric and colors. My new bag's arrival really brightened up this soggy day for me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roses for the ballerina

The ballet was spectacular. Kiddo was brilliant, of course. I am exhausted. Today I managed this quick sketch of some of the roses she received after her performance last evening. I would like to try another sketch of these roses when I am not so tired. Or at least get some good photos of them.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dance Day

After a long week of rehearsals, today is Kiddo's big day of dance performances. This morning was the huge recital with over a hundred dancers ranging from age 2 to adult. Kiddo performed in one tap, one jazz, and three modern dance numbers. I managed hair, make-up, and costume changes. This is Kiddo's seventh year of dance so she received her third trophy and a tiara.

The sketch above is with brown colored pencil and water color pencils in my journal. We have a few hours to rest before the ballet tonight, Alice in Wonderland. It should be magical.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Getting started

I am starting off May with a sketch of lilac blossoms. I was so happy to see my lilac bush survived the recent snowy cold snaps and is now full of blossoms. Spring is just beginning to awaken here in our mountains, a wonderful time of the year.

This is the sketching kit I put together for my Every Day in May project. I have decided to stick with watercolor pencils. I have also included a walnut brown colored pencil, a graphite pencil, eraser, water brush, and of course a pencil sharpener. I keep the pencil sharpener in a plastic sandwich bag so the shavings will be contained no matter where I am. I also have one of those re-usable, disposable cloths for cleaning my water brush. All of these supplies fit into this lovely pencil case from Peru that a dear friend gave to me last fall.

I was thinking that I would work in just one sketchbook for these May drawings. So I tried out a small Cachet watercolor sketchbook for the lilacs shown above. Although the texture of the paper will be nice for watercolor I don't think I will be happy using it for watercolor pencils. I may explore other journal options. My goal is to develop the habit of keeping a sketch journal and to become more comfortable with watercolor, particularly watercolor pencils, since they are so portable. We'll see how that goes.


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