Another project that I have been working on is horse illustrations/art. Something I did a long time ago that I picked up again just recently. We used to own racehorses and I would sit in the paddock and sketch the horses as they were getting tacked up and harnessed for races. A lot of the horse folks would peek over my shoulder as I used to sketch. It was a lot of fun and I used to love it. We haven’t had a racehorse for a while now but it was awesome. My husband used to drive our horses in the races.

I also collect model horses and being part of the model horse world, you have to go to Kentucky for the Breyerfest at least once. Breyerfest is an annual model horse event held at the Kentucky Horse Park every year. I went a few times and it was a lot of fun. I did a lot of things there, like watch a polo match, that I was never able to do before. I was able to see John Henry and Cigar, were stabled there. (John Henry was a naughty biting horse so there was extra fencing around his paddock.) Some racing greats like Man O’ War are buried there. There are breeds from around the world there so you can see them in person. My personal fave is the Akhal Take. I want one.

The American Saddlebred Association is headquartered there and that brings us to today’s sketch. This was originally intended to be posted on Independence Day but didn’t, and it was the next one in my sketch book, so I am posting it today.

American Saddlebreds, aka Saddle Horses, were bred to essentially be gaited riding horses. They are a true American breed and they have a long history for gentle temperament, used as mounts in battle, performance in the show ring, as well as just pleasure riding.

Chocolate Palomino Saddle horse with rider with red white and blue banners for a national holiday.  Horse is doing an gaited pace.
American Saddle Horse Sketch in my Pentalic Watecolor Sketchbook

Mixed media Tempest

As mentioned in my last post, I have a homemade sketchbook in which I have been creating mixed media/collage spreads, and I have been trying to finish it for a while. Sometimes, I spend so much time on things I think matters, that I forget about the things I used to enjoy doing. It took me a while to get the hang of the whole collage thing, too. It’s smart to keep up the practice, at least weekly.

I have a large amount of 4×6 collage art because of my cat project that I started several years ago. I’d like to keep doing the postcards because I get a ton of ideas which led to creating larger works from those 4×6 pieces. Whenever you feel like you are getting stale, play in a sketchbook or do some postcard sized work. It really helps.

For instance, this page from my sketchbook has elements in it that surprise me. I look at the page and realized that I created some patterns that I can use in design work. This page was all intuitive work, placing things and not thinking about it, or at least, not planning. Just going with the flow. Sometimes when you go with the moment and don’t get hung up about perfection, creativity just happens. This isn’t meant to be a masterpiece, just sketchbook play to see how far I can go with it. Looking at this, I can almost hear Richard Dreyfus and Robert Shaw singing “Spanish Ladies” or something from John Williams and “Jaws” just a little ominously playing in the background.

(Like right now, I can’t get that Tango music out of my head, you know, the one from “True Lies?” …with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis…. Por Una Cabeza. I now have it as an ear worm because “Discovery of Witches” closed Season 3 with Por Una Cabeza. I am sure that will turn up in something I have created LOL….Harry, Helen, let’s not get distracted…….)

I guess there are worse things that could be an ear worm. Por Una Cabeza is pretty bad ass.

pale aqua background with collaged ephemera enhanced with gel and paint pens.  A few sharks, fish and a clipping from an old painting magazine.
Mixed Media – Tempest Sketchbook page

Mixed Media/Collage

Well, it turns out that the Inchie challenge was only 11 days, not 12. I was surprised when I pulled up emails Saturday morning and there was no prompt. Well that was a bummer because the Inchie challenge was fun. I’ll probably keep 2×2 squares with me to work on when I am out of the house. They would make cool thumbnail squares and I have plenty of art that I haven’t posted yet.

That being said…

Several years ago, before Teesha Moore had her stroke, I was a member of Teesha’s Artstronauts Club. I really miss that club. It was chock full of mixed media collage (MM/Collage) goodness. I started a few mixed media collage sketchbooks that I still have to finish. Some morphed into my Zombie doll Sketchbooks and my creepy portrait sketchbooks that I did finish. I never really thought of myself as a collage artist until I took a few of Carla Sonheim’s classes and things started to click. I have been playing with patterns, lettering and other techniques that gave me the skills I need to finish some of these unfinished sketchbooks.

Most of my MM/ collage sketchbooks are home made and hand stitched so that they would could be a specific shape or size and they have a theme. Most have a limited amount of pages which makes the project easy to finish.

This sketchbook is a mixture of cut collage from pretty much anything; some collage is home made from paint drips and such. I used Teesha Moore’s “Amazing 16 Page Journal” format. It’s a full sheet of 30 x 22 hot or cold press Fabriano watercolor paper that’s cut into 3 10×22 pieces and are folded into pages and stitched to create the 16 page sketchbook. On my mixed media pages I use paint markers and gel pens, fortune cookie fortunes, cut out lettering and quotes, basically a miss mosh of pieces assembled to make a whole page.

This has been in my “to do” pile a long time and I and finally posting some of these pages. The page size is 8×10 and the excess wasn’t trimmed, it is a flap that became a design of it’s own on one side and on the other it was part of a full page spread. I had a ton of chihuahuas from a 365 desk calendar that I save and used in various art projects. Lots of paint marker embellishments.

8x10 Mixed media collage sketchbook page using various bits and scraps of collage.  Chihuahuas, old ticket stubs, embellishments with paint markers. The Chihuahua heads were added to "bodies."
Pages 2/3 Mixed media collage
8x10 Mixed media collage sketchbook page with lavender background  using various bits and scraps of collage.  Chihuahuas,  embellishments with paint markers.
Page/Flap 1 Mixed Media Collage

Inchies Day 11

One more day of Inchies! I can’t say that this hasn’t been fun because it was a lot of fun. I like experimenting with tiny art. Today’s prompt is “interwoven” and I went in a bit of a different direction. We went swimming very early this morning and there was lightning out over the Atlantic. We debated the wisdom of our swim but we could see the storm clouds being shredded by the wind, slowly breaking up the top of the storm. The storm hovered offshore before being pushed out to sea.

This morning’s clouds inspired these Inchies;

It also inspired a bit of…writing…I usually make time in the morning to squeeze in a little creative writing. It helps my overall creativity.

2x2 inch square of watercolors in Indigo, Ultramarine Blue, yellow and pink....abstract pieces of an early morning storm, white gel pen illustrating the lightning
2 x 2 Inch squares of abstract storm clouds


In the distance, lightning flashes 

a spider web of electricity 

bolts down and across the sky

“It’s going offshore, right?”

“Will we be able to swim this morning?”

The sun is still considering its rising

But has to compete with the storm

Looming menacingly 

Slate blue thunderclouds

Adorned with puffs of light gray

An angry Poseidon reflected 

In the face of the storm

Thunder grumbles and rolls

“Should we get out of the pool?”

“But it looks like it’s going away

See, the top of the storm is melting away”

“Not yet!” says Poseidon

Stirring the sea with even more dark clouds

The winds challenge the sea god

Continuing to blow off the tops of his storm

Poseidon’s face is gone

Blown away along with the clouds

On the dancing taunting winds

gleefully shearing the clouds in the storm 

More lightning protests behind the clouds 

Slowly being pushed away 

But not without 

More clouds stacking and building

Poseidon shaking his fist at the winds

“I’ll get you next time” as the clouds and storm 

Get blown out to sea

Inchies Day 9

It is Day 9 of the Inchie Challenge and today’s prompt is “innovative.” The term innovative can be interpreted many different ways with illustration. It could be a light bulb over someone’s head, or an exclamation point to show a new idea. I decided to use innovative thinking to create a pattern out of something I usually use as a decorative border, a dash and a circle.

I started on the a 2×2 square with the dashes and circles, creating a pattern which included negative space. This is the square on the top left of the photo. I could have stopped there, but then I did a second one , top right.

Looking at the two, I figured, “OK, I did two. Why not a quad?” Before I knew it, squares 3 and 4 were finished. Then I took my photo. As I looked at the four together, I thought, “Why don’t I just color in the circles?” Filling them in gave the composition a whole new look.

I like how they can hold their own composition alone, and together as a set. This is an idea that is encouraged by Amy Maricle with her Inchies exercises. One Inchie can lead to an entire collection that can standalone as one square or be part of a large collection of squares. Last year I did 8 squares together as a set. I completely forgot about that until the “innovative” prompt. I have three more days of the Inchie Challenge to try a larger grouping.

If you are feeling a little stale in your creative practice, try creating art on separate panels, or breaking up a page in a sketchbook with squares divided like a window and then fill in each one with piece of a subject to look like you are seeing the scene from inside instead of outside. Or you could try adding different parts of the place where you are in each box so that each box has a piece of a location or subject and then the entire page is a compilation of the subject. The beauty of the Inchie Challenge/practice is the way it can clear your mind to inspire new approaches for creating art.

Four 2x2 squares with pen and ink dash and circle patterns.  The 4 squares were created to have individual compositions separately but they are also combined to be part of a larger composition.
Inchie Day 9 Dashes and Circles
Four 2x2 squares with pen and ink dash and circle patterns.  The 4 squares were created to have individual compositions separately but they are also combined to be part of a larger composition. The circles were filled in with this version
Inchies Day 9 with dashes and filled in circles

Inchie Day 8

Today’s prompt is “moth.”

I used my pre prepped cards for the background. The mixtures of blues and greens that worked for the ocean inchies also work for an evening sky. The white gel pen was the perfect choice for the moths. I added a hazy moon on the one piece because that area was already lighter in color which made the moon seem to look like it is peeking from behind some vegetation.

I like how the gel pen seemed to make the moths glow, almost like ghost moths. I tried to play with different angles to show them darting and dancing in the moonlight.

Moths are not a subject I normally draw so this was a fun change of pace. The Inchie Challenge is unlike many other internet challenges because we don’t get advanced notice of the prompt. The prompt comes first thing in the morning. The idea is to be spontaneous with your interpretation of the prompt and not get hung up on accurate representations.

There are only four more days to the Inchie Challenge. I will be sorry when it is over. I really like the size and not being concerned about whether or not they are masterpieces or playful exercises. The best part is just having fun and being loose. I have other prepped papers that I may cut down to Inchie size and just carry them in my handbag for when I want to play when I am out of the studio.

2x2 inch sized art displayed on a cutting mat to show the size.  Colors palette od blues, greens and a white gel pen was used to draw moths over the darker repainted paper.
Moths Inchies Day 8

On another note, John and I found this plant popping up in our garden. It had funny bulb like protrusions like an artichoke. I picked one of the tiny little flowers and I said to Hubby that they looked like they were orchids. After much research, I finally identified the little flower. Much to my happiness and then dismay, I found that it was a Chinese Crown Orchid, also known as EULOPHIA GRAMINEA. Apparently this little orchid has slowly made its way up the Invasive species list here in Florida and it is commonly found in flower beds that have wood mulch. Bingo! Flower bed and wood mulch is where we found several of them. It pained us to have to pull them out but Florida has 5 native species of orchid and that don’t need the competition in already shrinking habitats. The EULOPHIA GRAMINEA has tiny seeds that blow like dust in the wind so it is very prolific and it is recommended that gardeners pull them out and destroy them. I felt really bad for the little plants that were happily blooming in my garden, but I had to do what was best for the native plants. So sad that whoever brought this plant into the country didn’t think of the consequences.
EULOPHIA GRAMINEA aka Chinese Crown Orchid
EULOPHIA GRAMINEA aka Chinese Crown Orchid

It was so pretty, too. It looked like a tiny cattleya orchid.

Inchies Day 7

The prompt for Day 7 is “mussel.” I added tiny eyes to my mussels and then I, uhm, had a little dark fun with wondering how the mussels would feel about being dinner. I kept thinking about the song by Squeeze, “Pulling Mussels (from the shell)” so I thought of a bowl full of streaming mussels and their relatives dismayed over their demise.

It’s almost Halloween. What can I say.

Mussels with little faces done in Ink and ink wash on 2x2 inch paper.   Whimsy humor

Inchies Day 5

Today’s Inchie Prompt is “simple.” I used some of my “blob” drawings as inspiration for some simple character sketches using my Zig pen and a waterbrush.