Le Cycliste and Le Tour de Pig

Sharpie & Sketchbook went with me to Lexington, NC this past Saturday to cheer on my husband as he came in to the finish line of the Tour de Pig bike ride.  The rest of us sat in our chairs ringing cow bells, hootin’ and hollerin’ as cyclists came in.  Many of them love being celebrated after the grueling 30, 50 or 64 miles they’ve just ridden.  Randy made his best time ever for a metric century! We then ate delicious barbecue together as this was a Festival for Lexington’s famous and favorite food: barbecue!

Trying to draw moving cyclists is not easy.  I quickly sketched in the areas that weren’t moving and then added in cyclists from memory of them as they went whirring by.

I see now that I need to go back into my sketch to put the date 10/13/2012.  I’ve been so busy lately I didn’t know right at the moment what the day’s date was.

If it weren’t for these sketches to pin me to the ground, October might have been over before it even started. TGFS! (Thank God for Sketchbooks!)

Botanical Gardens Panorama!

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A little accordian book of drawings made panorama style of the Ciener Botanical Gardens here in my little town of Kernersville, NC.

I hope you enjoy!

Following My Life

A dreadful photo of this! Early morning photography is next to impossible around my house.

For more on following your Life in contours…check out this post!

So many times, I wish I was like Harold, dragging my purple crayon around behind me, drawing every step of the way! I’m off in lots of directions this weekend: Ciener Botanical Gardens, Dixie Classic Fair, Wingate University, Lincolnton NC.  Purple crayon and sketchbook going with me for sure!

Multi-Colored Pens!

I recently went through a phase. Ha! One of many I tend to move in and out of.  It keeps things fresh.  It keeps me on my toes.  Different ways to view and then capture a place or a person.

All of my Flexi-Sketch drawings are done with multi-colored pens and Neocolor II crayons added in.  I used both of these in the first drawing,  as I sat downtown Kernersville at the Factory.  You get a whole different feel when you switch up your mediums.  The above portrait drawing was done at Barnhill’s Bookstore where I sometimes draw with other artists who love drawing people.

My teens are fond of a phrase I will use here:  Pens, watercolor, crayons, pastels, whatever…”It’s All Good!”

Portrait #16: The Gentleman Farmer

To attempt to paint a portrait of Mr. Leo Whicker, born September 3, 1927, is like trying to harness (with paint and paper) the wisdom of years and experience, coupled with an effortless joy that is surely hard-won through life’s ups and downs.  I have had the privilege of getting to know Mr. Whicker through numerous conversations with him over the past 8 years.  I think I could write a book about him.  Here are a few things I have learned:

The land on which he lives and farms (and which is directly next door to my house and neighborhood), was his grandfather’s land.  At some point, his grandfather sold the land to send a son to law school.  And then, at some point after that, Mr. Whicker (pictured above) bought the land back.  This land encompasses acres and acres and is sprawled in many directions throughout the southern part of Kernersville, in an area known as Sedge Garden.

Mr. Whicker and his wife Martha, had a son and daughter.  Up the hill from where I live, is a small house (now a rental home) where he and his family started out.  As the children grew, he built a larger home for them just yards away, perched on a small rise in the land.  You can see the house here in the charcoal, just a bit of the porch, complete with rocking chairs.

Mr. Whicker’s wife Martha died young, of cancer.  When he speaks of her, you can hear a love and affection for her that leaves you aching and thinking he must still ache and miss his dear wife. Both his son and daughter live in Kernersville and have families of their own. Mr. Whicker is blessed with grandchildren and extended family who live in the area.

In fact, as I’ve been able to gather from Mrs. Gail Smith Love, another neighbor whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know, Mr. Whicker is considered an Uncle to many from the Smith clan.  She recounts that growing up with Smith land and farms right next to Whicker land, the two families’ children all called the other dads “Uncle”.  So he was Uncle Leo to her and many others.

Mr. Whicker has memories of his grandmother telling him that soldiers used to hide out in caves on their land during the Civil War.  I have a feeling if I could sit for a while with him, I’d hear many stories of historical interest that are tucked away in Mr. Whicker’s vibrant mind.

Mr. Whicker has many barns beside his home.  The barn you see here, and in the above charcoal, can be seen from the road, Silver Dapple Lane. It stores his baled hay on one side, and keeps farm equipment on the other.  You can see a glimpse into the back side of this particular barn in the above portrait of him.  Sitting atop the tractors and equipment are various, huge stuffed animals, such as Kermit the Frog (seen above) and Scooby Doo.  These are here, says Mr. Whicker, to chase away the birds.  Apparently, birds have a bad habit of nesting in the tractor’s engines.  And when he goes to start one of these tractors, the poor birds are lost, and they can cause damage to the equipment.  I wish you could’ve seen the twinkle in his eye as he explained why he had these unexpected furry friends in the barn!

That twinkle in his eye is rooted in his faith.  Leo Whicker is a faithful congregant at Sedge Garden Chapel, just a stone’s throw from his home and farm.  He is, and I suspect has been for most of his life, devoted to worshipping his Creator with the folks in this small and humble church.  Hardly a conversation goes by without him asking me to pray for something on his mind, after inquiring how my husband and children are doing.

There is so much more I could write here.  The description in this post is merely the tip of the iceberg.  Talking with Mr. Whicker (as with other persons of mature years), makes me think I’m in the presence of a stately oak tree.  That tree has seen many years, all kinds of weather, lots of history.  It has withstood storms, change, seasons, “progress”.  It has been rooted in something far more enduring than this world, and its roots are deep and far-reaching.  At first you may only see a trunk and its weathered bark.  But as you get to know the tree, the expanse of the branches and canopy, the gnarled sections leading out to youthful buds and leaves, you realize there is something grand going on here which is very difficult to describe, much less to paint.

Mr. Whicker would never think of himself in this grand manner.  He was indeed a bit reticent about having his picture taken so that I could create a portrait (or two) of him. I just feel that his story needs to be remembered, and that his family would enjoy a painted portrait.

He is indeed, a gentleman farmer.

Gone Flickr-ing!

Well. I don’t know if I’m crazy. But it sure does SEEM crazy that when the goin’ gets tough, the drawings pile up! And with the drawings piling up, and my blog time diminishing, I thought I’d go Flickr for a while!

You see, I got this cool little sketchbook, 6″ x 6″, recently on a trip to my favorite art supply store in Boone: Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff.  Last week as I was facing teacher workdays and the crazy busy start of a new school year for myself, our college-bound daughter, and our other two kids(one high school, one elementary), I thought it would be fun to begin working in this little book for several reasons:

*One, to have a small space in which to work.  Not too big.  Not too little.  For little sketches.

*Two, to limit the type of medium I use in it.  My usual MO is to flit around with every kind of medium, from pens to watercolors, to oil pastels, to crayons, to collage, etc.  With this one, I wanted to fill it with just ONE combination: colored pens & Neocolor II Crayons (the watercolor ones).

*Three, to set myself the challenge of filling this little book, all 240 pages with the above mentioned medium choice.

*Four, to allow myself the few minutes, here and there, to make a little drawing for my own sanity.  To either sketch the lines on the spot, “from life”, OR to go through our awesome photos my husband and I have pooled together on my ipad, and draw from them.

*Five, to NOT blog about them…but just Flickr them! I don’t know how much time I’ll have to write blog posts in the coming weeks, but I thought I could upload the little drawrings to Flickr for you to enjoy if you want to. I WILL NOT be tweeting about them OR posting on Facebook, after this, so…

*…IF you’d like to have a notice sent to you that I’ve uploaded new drawings to Flickr, you can subscribe to my Flickr account.  I already have 14 drawings there, listed in the Flexi-Sketch category.

Go ahead and visit by clicking these blue words!! Then click on the category on the right, titled Flexi-Sketch.

Meanwhile, I’ll be off drawing in the margins of my crazy life! If you see a lady with untamed hair and a little orange sketchbook in her hands, you’ll know it’s me!

See you around the Flickr-ing Pool!

Hidden Falls


A friend of mine posted recently on Facebook, a photo taken from her hike on the Indian Creek Trail at Hanging Rock State Park, NC.  I immediately recognized the view! Many lovely memories came rushing back of hiking a portion of this trail which leads to two waterfalls.  Window Falls and Hidden Falls are beautiful, easily accessible falls, that offer a welcome respite from the hiking.  Maddie and I have gone twice now.

The first time we went, Maddie didn’t fare so well with the more treacherous Window Falls trail.  Though they have made rock steps to lead you down to the Falls, these proved too steep and uneven for her 9 year old legs.  Several “falls” later, with scraped knees and lots of tears, we determined that Hidden Falls was the one for us!  So the next time we went, at 10 years old this May, she and I opted to just enjoy Hidden Falls.

Armed with my sketchbook, I happily drew while she climbed all around, above the falls, following the rocks and paths made by the little river that forms the Falls.  I don’t even carry a camera, nor do I have a phone with a decent camera. I carry my sketchbook.  When I look at this drawing, everything comes back to me: the cool of the undergrowth, the sounds of quietly rushing water, the “oh look at this Mommy” and “I just love hiking Mommy” sounds as I sketched the lines of the beautiful jumble of rhododendron, rocks, water, etc.  Color gets added in later…a delicious way to RE-live a perfect moment.

Now I’m pining for a hike, with no open slot in my life for it anytime soon. But I’ll carry these memories with me, thanks to my friend, Sheri, whose photo jogged them back to the forefront of my mind.


A few thoughts to go with this sketch from a very full day at Wingate University with my oldest daughter, Catherine, for freshman orientation:

*It was as much orientation for me (a parent) as it was for her.

*Information overload hit me about noon.  Day wasn’t over until 6 pm. Whew!

*Overall impression:  Amazed at this wonderful school and that Catherine has earned and been given the opportunity to go to Wingate.

*In case you’re wondering…they are the Bulldogs!

*Sketch made with trusty bic pen while shivering in the air-conditioning, sitting for hours on end in between walking outdoors in the rain to the next lecture.  Note to self:   bring sweater AND umbrella next time!

*Watercolor added in early this morning.  I like working this way: draw on site, in the moment.  Then relive the moment as I add watercolor touches.  Nice way to savor life.

Encouragement from Across the Ages

I came across this quote on Ian Sideaway’s fabulous drawing blog:

“Do not fail as you go on to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worthwhile, and it will do you a world of good.”
(Cennino Cennini)

In case you do not know who Cennino Cennini is (like me), click here to familiarize yourself with this artist from the 14th-15th centuries.  It is incredibly amazing to me that we live in a world where the voices of artists who have gone before can still be heard.

I am also encouraged by knowing and drawing with artists who have been at it for years longer than I have.  My friend Susette (drawn above and here: second drawing; and here: second drawing again) is just such a person whose life-long love of and commitment to drawing has continued to inspire many in our area to draw together.  I first joined up with the Drawing Circle she started years ago in Winston-Salem.  I had two young children then and it was my getaway day on Saturdays to draw with them in the morning.  Sometimes I brought my kids for us all to draw.  Many of these artists still have their drawings of my kids and of my third child, when she was born and brought in her car carrier to Drawing Circle.  Susette has now begun another group on Tuesdays where I’ve been drawing at Barnhill’s Bookstore.  I’ve loved reconnecting with her and the folks who draw on Tuesdays.

Encouragement to draw can be gleaned from so many inspiring people!