Dog-gone dog gone

Castle entry inkied

Castle entry

Well, miracle of miracles, we met up with our German shepherd stray ‘s owners yesterday and were able to return her to her proper home.  She lived about 2 miles down the road and somehow managed to make it to our deck and park herself here for the week. A friend of the wife saw the notice I put on the Owen County facebook page and they called Monday.  We weren’t sure it was the right dog because they said a younger age than my vet thought and the facial markings were off a little in the picture she sent, but we agreed everyone would feel better if they took a look.  Sure enough, it was their dog.  Everybody went home happy.  The  funny part is that I couldn’t decide between the name Sadie or Sophie.  Neither one seemed quite right.  Her real name is Shadow.  Pretty close if you ask me, for a shot in the dark.

In the meantime, I inked up the castle entryway. It has a plain stucco wall for the entry area and rear turret, red window trim and some sort of wooden shingle above the lower stone.  There is a little bit of greenery growing on the stone bases, which will add some nice colors.  Washes up next.

Back to the German castles

Marksburg castle

Marksburg castle entry

I think I took this photo at the Marksburg castle in Germany. At least it was in the Marksburg section of my photos, one of the few documented areas in the trip album.  LOL  If I remember correctly, this particular castle was one of the few that escaped damage from Napoleon’s cannons because its hillside location was just out of range.

We went on a castle tour and it was fun to get the scale of higher class living in the middle ages. The interior was much smaller than I imagined it would be but that is probably due to all of the medieval castle movies I have seen.  It actually was quite beautiful inside the living areas.  The furniture was small and somewhat sparse but the fabrics pretty.  The rooms seemed to be very close together and more intimate than I imagined they would be.  I suspect that might be due to considerations for warmth in the winter.  I do remember the “indoor plumbing” was a cold little room that had an open air bottom under the bench seat.  That must have been a bit chilly in winter weather.  There was a small towered area with very limited access which I can’t remember whether it was a safe area for the family or a prisoner tower.

I think this might be the main entryway into the castle, where the horsemen and wagons came in.  Stables were off to the side of the interior courtyard, as was a prisoner area.  Other than that, I don’t remember a great deal.  I wish I had taken more interior shots to jog my memory.

As a souvenir, we brought back a small reproduction sword in the luggage.  The German screeners got quite the chuckle over that.  I’m sure they were thinking “American tourists”.


Dog-gone it

New dog?

New dog?

Guess what showed up on my deck again two days ago. You guessed it – another German shepherd.  Two years after our adventure with Alex, the long haired German shepherd puppy, another one showed up on the back deck.  She is very sweet and about a year old.  She has none of the dominance issues that Alex had and seems to have quite a nice, submissive temperament.  She seems quite intelligent and trainable at this point.  We are looking for her owners but maybe she will just be staying here.

I ended up taking off the last week or so.  After 3 home portraits in a row, on a quick schedule, I decided I needed a short break.  Back to work really soon.

Flags and bunting

Seaside house

Seaside house

The watercoloring went a lot faster than the layout and inking for this portrait.  The color phase is usually the fastest part, whether I use watercolors or pastels, but especially so this time around.  I am glad there was the added visual interest of the bunting and the flag in the porch area.  Being an all white structure and with minimal roof shown, there is not a great deal of color going on.  The flowers and fabrics added a much needed pop.

I’m caught up with the commissions now.  Hopefully a few of the inquiries I’ve had will turn into purchases.  It’s not too early to start the holiday shopping for made to order items.  This is not something I can produce in a day or two.

Ocean view home

Inking completed.

Inking completed.

Whew, I’m ready for the watercolors at last. After 2 days of layout and 4 full sessions of inking I am finally ready for the watercolors.  This is has been one of the more complicated drawings I have done over the last few years and it’s a small one to boot.  So much detail in a 6×8 area is difficult.  I was very careful with it all but I still have a few stray lines where I lost my place in the perspective, particularly in the porch ceiling area.  I had to work shorter sessions because my eyeballs began to cross, shifting from the drawing to the photo and then back to the drawing again.  The photo is relatively low resolution and with no real detail shots to help, I had to ask a few questions and keep peering at the enlargement.  It’s tiring for my poor eyes.

The siding is white, so the flag, bunting and flowers will have to provide most of the color interest.  The roofing has a greenish cast but there is not much shown of it.  Not much visual interest there to help out.  The rest of the landscaping is rather basic.  I think the watercolors will be much quicker to do, so maybe it will get out by first of next week.

Wednesday morning we had a bit more excitement than I would have preferred.  John and I were heading out for a walk when he found Mr. Turtle stuck on a sticky insect trap behind my car in the garage.  How he got in or how long he was there, I don’t know because we hadn’t left the garage door open for very long the previous days.  He must have been sitting in the flower bed just on the outside of the garage door and darted (for a turtle) inside at some point.  I was quite upset for my little friend and we had only moderate luck getting the remains of the pad off of him.  I called the local animal rescue about what to do, but there was no answer.  Then I did what I should have done in the first place – I checked the internet.  A video I found showed a mouse being freed by using vegetable oil where the hair was stuck to the pad.

By golly, it worked for the mouse and it worked for Mr. Turtle (mostly).  I sat holding him and used q-tips to apply the oil to his shell and legs where the goo was, for about half an hour.  Did you know that turtles can vocalize?  I didn’t but Mr. Turtle surely told me with his hisses that he didn’t appreciate his olive oil spa treatment.  I got most of the goo off except some spots that were higher up in the leg cavities of the shell because he kept closing up on me.  I decided to put him in a box for a few hours and see if he could work out the remaining goo and paper by moving around in the box, trying to make his escape.  When I came back later, he seemed to have accomplished that task fairly well.  I used the q-tips to remove what I could see remained up in his shell and on his legs.  Then I placed him at the woods’ edge away from the house.  After a few minutes, he scuttled off.  I hope he will be all right.  I am so thankful that John saw him.  I would have felt terrible had I accidentally run over him.  Who really ever finds a box turtle stuck on a sticky pad in their garage.  I guess we do.

Oceanside commission

Seaside house

Atlantic seaside house

This is really complicated for a small portrait.  Between the gambrel roof, the raised covered porch, and the windows, there is one heck of a lot of layout for a 8×6 drawing.  And that is not even counting the turret and deck off of the back.  It took the time of a much larger drawing to complete.  I increased the height some to accommodate the three stories, too.  I didn’t want to reduce the aspect of the house to fit the 6″ dimension and merely add more to the side yard areas.  The complexity of this house means it needs all of the space it can get.

It is an interesting home though.  I would never have guessed that it has a seaside view of the Atlantic Ocean. The landscaping is rather minimal, but there are large flower pots on the stairs and patriotic bunting on the railings.  There will be a flag hanging off of the right porch post pillar, too.  A small mailbox is situated in the beds on the right side of the porch.  All of these little details will help personalize the house and make it welcoming.

Inking starts today.

German train tunnel

Train tunnel

Train tunnel

Back to the German train tunnel.  I layered on the watercolors in 2-3 sessions after I added some rockish lines above the entrance.  I don’t know how well that worked out but I had to have some base for the brown/gray of the stone.  I think I need to work on indicating depth more with this technique.  I don’t want to overdo the watercolors so that the elegant writer pen washes disappear.  There is more to this than meets the eye.  I’m not unhappy with this, but I think it could be better.


I received another small commission over the holiday weekend.  Maybe the holiday purchasing has begun.  It is nice not to be rushed.

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