Beating the swarm of ladybugs

Taking the picture of the finished pastel yesterday was a bit more of an adventure than I wanted. The annual fall invasion of the Japanese lady bugs has begun. If I can, I take my pictures out my back door in the daylight. Unfortunately, this is where the ladybugs like to congregate when they make their swarming appearance, which can last weeks. And it just started this weekend. For those not familiar with the situation, they like to congregate in the thousands before they find a nice place to overwinter – preferably in your house. For some reason, they like the south face of our house, right where I want to prop my picture up for photos.

So there I am, trying to prop up the picture away from the masses of ladybugs around the door.  An unfortunate feature of theirs, besides a bite, is that they excrete a VERY nasty substance that both smells and stains.  Not what I need on a picture I have put long hours into.  I managed to take the world’s fastest set of photos and avoided any problem.

Stone grist mill

And here is the result.  I am fairly happy with it.  I didn’t add as much of the reds and yellows as I first thought I would, but I rather like it.

It is on the larger side for me at 16″x12″ but there was a method to my madness, so to speak.  A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from an on-line print seller who expressed an interest in selling prints of my work.  The only catch is that they want a specific size ratio and of course I had little that could be just popped in for that.  So now I am on a mission to make up several pieces that will fit their criteria.  This is the first.  Fortunately, I just got back from Nashville, Tennessee, where I was able to take quite a few pictures from the wonderful older area of downtown.  My next set of streetscapes will be based on them.  I can hardly wait.

I chose the pastels

After thinking it over, I decided to use the pastels to color in the mill. I wanted to have the depth of color in the foliage that I knew I could get with the pastels, especially with the size of this piece – 16″ x 12″.  I felt in the mood for going back to my basics after the linocuts.

Preliminary color

I have laid the preliminary browns on the stones and the greens for the foliage.  It lacks depth right now, but I will be adding that with some purples and reds as well as more of the earth tones.  It is still on the dull side since I haven’t sprayed it yet.  I am being cautious since on one of the more recent pastels, I overdid the fixative and it affected my photos.  The pastels themselves looked okay but when I tried to take pictures the light must have refracted between layers and I could never capture the depth of color that was there.  Most likely it will be finished by the weekend.

Finished inking the mill

It has been cool and wet here this week.  While I appreciate the rain, I am not looking forward to the winter cold.  I have seen quite a few does and this year’s fawns but no bucks yet.  And the squirrels have been scampering across the lawn hiding their finds. I think that the wildlife has appreciated the greening of the foliage that has recently occurred due to the increased rains.  The pond hasn’t risen yet, but I am sure it will as time goes on.

Inked stone mill

I have been inking the rest of the stone mill the last few days, avoiding the raindrops and the chill.  There wasn’t much left to do, but the stone and the lawn took a lot of time.  I actually stopped putting in all of  the grass early on, intending to leave parts of it white for a more contrasting effect.  After letting it sit for a bit, I decided that after I added the color, it wouldn’t look right without more inking.  So I spent the next few hours putting more time in on the grass building the positive negative space.

I am in a bit of a dilemma now.  I can’t quite decide whether to use watercolors or the pastels.  The past stone barns have been colored with the watercolors, but the size of the drawing makes me want to use the pastels.  The watercolors will have a softer feel but the pastels will be more vivid.  I will have to decide tomorrow when the coloring begins.  Maybe I should compromise and use crayons.  Now that would be different, wouldn’t it.

Inking the stone grist mill

Stone Mill

A little bit easier to see this time, isn’t it.  I’m not quite done with the inking, but you can get the gist of where it is going now.  It has taken me a while to figure out what I want to do in the lower left landscaping but it is slowly woking itself out.

As you can see, I have started the stone on the mill and should finish it soon.  The lower blank areas will be grassy perhaps with some foliage outcroppings to add depth.  I haven’t decided what to do in terms of the water outflow yet.

Stone Mill

Stone mill start

I have been thinking about drawing this stone mill for many years now and felt it would be interesting to work on now. I haven’t done a stone building in a while and it will be fun to work 0n one again.  I played a little with the placement of the covered bridge, moving it a bit to the right.  I decided to add some trees and small foliage to the front, rather than leaving the huge lawn that was in the photo.  It seemed to want a bit of softening.  As I start the inking tomorrow, I may move some of it around or adjust sizes, depending on how it develops.

I’m sorry the photo is a bit dark but I draw lightly in pencil so I can erase it and it is not conducive to photography on the white board.  Still, you can get the gist of where the picture is going, which is all I really want at this stage.  I probably will use the pastels for the color overlay instead of the watercolor.