The sketchy and inconsistent blog of Bethie Engstrom...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

some ink sketches for today

Medium: 0.05 permawriter II ink pen

(sorry that the quality of the pictures are spat, they were taken with my tablet :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

not too much free time lately.

Recently, one of my favorite things to do with my free time,  while out of the house,  is to go study at the local library.
Study wise it changes every time I go,  but the library?  It stays the same.

The smell (have to start with that) of book pages,  new and old, wood and printer ink.  The sound of the book cart making it's runs to the many shelves and it's constant squeaky wheel. Books you can buy go a quarter, endless supplies of knowledge at your fingers, and even more if you're willing to search all the other branches of building stocked  with books your town.
 The older gentleman sighing after every second turning off his book, the line of computers with people sitting in front of (almost always playing some internet game -which did annoy me in the past,  but now,  I see it as "more-time- with- books- and- no- bumping- into- people- in- aisles-for- me!!!!  ;), clicking away...
The availability of taking a book down, scanning through it and jotting down little jewels of wisdom and wittiness that you want to remember forever -  and sighing (with an uncanny harmony to the man behind you) when your arms are trembling with the weight of all those words,  and you begin a list of all the books you'll be checking out next time.
Flyers for clubs and guilds you can join, large, stuffed animals in the children's section (admit it, you've cuddled up with them too when no one's around), big- open windows and covers of books that you stand in front of in awe.

The little jem I found today is related to all watercolorists around. I read it and immediately felt at ease.  Here it is for anyone else out there that has felt the same way as myself,  thinking that what I do and want to do in my watercolors,  isn't allowed and every time frowned upon. Here it is:

"For some reason,  watercolour has attracted a more comprehensive -and often inexplicable-  list of dos and don'ts then any other medium.  People feel that there is a "correct" way of working and that any departure from this constitutes a kind of unfaithfulness to the medium.  For example, we are told that we must never use opaque white because it will spoil the lovely translucence of the colours; while good painting aids such as masking fluid are described as "mechanical" and therefore in some way immoral.  Eyebrows are raised if you try anything new -it is simply not done. Interesting, all the theories of correct procedure have only sprung up in this century, while the more rigid rules surrounding oil painting were the product of 18th- and 19th-century academic tradition and have since been largely abandoned.  The best 19th-century watercolours, particularly those by (J.M. W.) Turner, reveal am enormous variety in the methods used, as well as many practices which might be frowned upon today.  Turner used opaque paint, he moved the paint around on the picture surface and allowed colours  to run;  he smudged paint with his fingers and even scratched into it in places. In short, he used the medium as the servant of his ideas rather than the other way around." 
-Hazel Harrison ("Watercolor, Oil & Acrylic")

That said, I am still very much afraid to pick up opaque paints, but I feel very energized by reading this for who- knows- how- many- times,  and this new chapter has begun. The chapter where I am no longer afraid of my own brush, the Purest of watercolorists and am now ready to go out once again and paint and paint and paint.

Lovely words from books make my day.

Au revoir!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

what's been happening...

 It's autumn...  which is just SO crazy...  but colors are beautifully stunning...  even though every thing is dead... O.o

I really, really wish I had more to show with my time absent from most of the computer world...  but first seen stars are not always reliable.  So,  here is just a few peeks into my...  for lack of more creative word:  life.

It always amuses me how many times you have to do drafts before final outcome.

 Reference photos from my grandparents woods,  so many amazing- lovely,  gnarly trees!!!
 :) my absolutely favorite kind.

I found that you can draw on guitar picks,  as long as it's not a glossy cover. Now,  to find some without logos and half of my friends Christmas gifts completed! ;)

Hat-tip (and big high five) to anyone who can recognize my inspiration for my pumpkin. (maws- hahaha! )

And, guess that's it folks.  It is now tomorrow and I have to work  in the early morning (but not in my sketchbook...  sadness), and then am going to see Fiddler on the Roof at the theater house with my sister.  Can't wait.
I'll leave you with this illustration of my rice maker...  just days before it went to kitchen appliance heaven.
(this is a totally correct drawing in the anatomy of it by the way,  not making any of this up: )

Much love!

Stuck in my head at moment:  "This Kiss " feat: Alex Day and Carrie Fletcher  :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

one, two, buckle my shoe...

Medium: watercolors

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WIP... Completed!

Medium: Color pencils

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tree on tree

Medium: Kohl Sepia ink pen
This is a real tree - and it's even more "Dr.Suess"-ish in person. =)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guess what just came in the mail...? (just a little WIP)

36 Prismacolor pencils! (in love here with them - I love color)
Medium: Prismacolor pencils


More later,


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tromping friends

Medium: Watercolors on 140lb watercolor smooth paper
Oi! Where has time gone - it's nearing the middle of JULY! *jaw-drop*

Two little sweet 'ums for today. Many blessings all.

(I'm looking into obtaining a camera... scanner doesn't truly do the best job with the original colors. Looking, looking, looking =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tribute to Alaska

Medium: watercolors

Hurrah! I actually took pictures while painting, so that you can see my techniques and general craziness of going about things. I got this idea to do a tribute to Alaska when I was looking at pictures of different moose, and sketching them (they are so fun looking!) and just kind of thought it would be fun to sketch my favorite mountain of Alaska behind it... (Pictured below) And than this just kind of... came to be. =)

Flattop mountain (my pic)

Here's the simplified sketch on 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper that was my start after compiling different elements from my sketch book (not shown)...

I first off used some fisket (masking fluid) to preserve the most important whites and areas that I didn't want the possibility of smudging or me just messing it up=)

Painting wise, I started with the sky first (I go back and fourth with starting or not starting at the top - just matters on the mood that I happen to be in at the time). Wetting some corners, letting it all run together and then using a paper towel to slightly dab away at the more intense edges to make them softer.

Moving onto the mountains (flattop is real, while the one behind it is just put there simple for the purpose of the artist quality for the painting)...

And than I created a heavy mist between the mountains and the loose evergreen tress (wet on wet).

After the first layer of trees dried completely, I added detail to the closer ones... as well as put a medium ground in (wet in wet again).

Adding mud, grass and small rocks (it is Alaska people =)...

I then cleared all the fisket out, and layered in another layer of foreground, as well as the distant field.

And on to the MOOSE! Did the legs, then added in my deepest values...  Added depth to the piles of snow...

Mr.Moose almost finished, layer two and three...

And than - Finished! Added some last minute details and am calling it a night...

My desk afterwards - not all that bad actually. =)


I'm so excited, and yet at the same time kind of sad. I just sold this painting, my first ever painting to ever be bought...
Let the new chapter begin!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The grand arrival

Medium: watercolors and ink

A small card I made for my dear friend for her baby shower - I'm a Aunt! (or rather a honorary aunt - but I love it for all it is).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just some (rough) sketches

Unfortunately, I've been a horrible blogger lately. But at least the time I haven't spent on the computer has been in my sketch book and at my drafting desk.
Here are some of them, all in ink because I was challenged (by TWO dead guys at that!) to only work in ink for a week. I was so scared at first, but now that the week is almost up, as much as I love my pencils, this has been very freeing to my style and mind. I very much recommend doing this.

"Do you realize what will happen to you if you practice drawing with a pen? -That it will make you expert, skillful, and capable of much drawing out of your own head."  --Cennio D'Andrea Cennini

(And Walt Stanchfield, if you were wondering who the other guy was. All artist out there, find a way to get your hands on both volumes of Drawn To Life by Walt Stanchfield, Edited by Don Hahn - Really!)

Camrea out of batteries, so had to use the scanner which hates scanning things from my sketchbook, thus the  blurry edges) =(

Happy sketching everyone!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ocean inside me

Medium: 2B
Funny thing about this is that when I got up the nerve to show some of my family this picture, I warned them that it was a little abstract (They always grimace when the "A" word is mentioned... and I used to as well... but now I have found my appreciation for the abstract as well as the fine art. I don't judge them together because you just... can't), and my dad nodded at me and took this sketch and looked at it. And looked, and looked and looked...
To be honest, I got a really, ton, a lot but mostly little-ish nervous. =)
He finally said that, yes, it was abstract, but he could see it now, "you're looking out of a cave!"

Oh well. I tried. (and if it's not just my lovable family and I truly need to work more on this, it's a figure with the ocean inside it... =)
All that said, when I said that I had to get my nerve up to show to my family, I feel like I should explain. I love my family, and they love looking at whatever I show them.
My only hesitation is that I sometimes don't believe them (does that sound bad - hopefully you can understands what I mean=)... and lots of the time I just want the hard truth ("you need to work more on this!").
There are times when all I want to do is hide up in a hole and draw and paint and not show anybody!
I sometimes hesitate (who am I kidding, I hesitate every time!) whenever I show/post a drawing/painting... I'm not afraid of harsh critics (I can only dream of them), rather, I'm afraid of myself... of what sort of monster I'll become if I keep showing people, and they "ooo" and "aahhh" over my work, say it's pretty or whatever... I get scared that I'll just stop. Right there. That praise alone will get good enough for me (and my pride, my horrible, nagging pride will get the better of me, has in the past so I don't doubt it will in the future. By God's grace alone I stand).
I don't know... I'm sometimes hope I'm just overeating in my head... but other times, I think I'm making sense (sort of, in a rambling kind of way I guess).
If you've read this- I'm impressed... (I don't even know if I would have!)

Anywho - Happy Sketching everyone!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I'm back! -and with more paintings + sketches!

Medium: Watercolors

It's been a very different month for me -  at the beginning of May, I thought it would be one of those months where I'd get tons done around the house and outdoors, dates and party and great fellowship. And I did have many of those things (although getting jobs done is still on my list), but there were some unseen hardships, trial and errors, and general "och's". I honestly thought that last year, my seventeenth year, was the year of death... but this year is being proven to me that it is just another circle of life, with my sweet dog Glorie passing away in April, and my friend, Josh, and his unexpected death at the very beginning of May. But there have been many, many good things as well, and I am so blessed with the people around me =)

errrr... blurry  =P
 I started this painting in class (which has just ended) and then finished it at home. The exercise was to take a painting (a watercolor painting) and recreate it... I have no clue where I could find my example, it was in some random book, but I'm pretty happy with it... I think I want to learn how to paint some more (realistic looking) clouds though.

Blessings you all!
More coming soon!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Until June...

Hello wonderful people, this is just a quick post to tell you that I won’t be on blogger (or any other media but my email) until June 1st. Every year, for the whole month of May, my family and I do a media fast (no radio, TV, movies, Facebook, blogger, or anything electronically entertainment) as a way of just focusing ourselves. It’s hard in the beginning but so worthwhile.

So, until we meet again!

Blessings and can’t wait to catch back up in 31 days!

(PS, need to email me? Just place a comment with your email and I’ll get back to you) =)

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Medium: Watercolors (16x12)
First off, I just want to dedicate this post to the Artist behind it all at the Blue Chair Diary Illustrations. Much love and prayers Alexandra.

This is another something that I did in a class I'm taking at the local collage - lets just say it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. To prove it, here are my two demo's (aka epic failures) that I did at the beginning of class:
(sorry 'bout the dark lighting - I live in Seattle area!)

Here's the value picture I roughly based the painting after...

And then the close ups.

Thanks for coming by!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sir Roost

Medium: watercolors (9x12)
(it makes me so sad when I see that the scanner puts a large shadow along the top half - darn)

Got to paint my first rooster in my first class in watercolors this past week. Was totally new and exciting. Although, it's being proven to me more and more that I am very much a self-taught person. I so tired of waiting (or annoyed when I'm left behind)... guess that being home schooled has put upon myself to teach myself, and to not be afraid of researching. =P (it was fun to use wax as saving the paper. Very neat-o affect for the tail feathers I think -almost a dry brush affect look...-)

Joining Paint Party Friday! So excited to see everyone else' creations!

Blessings on you

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Scars on the trees

Medium: HB and 2B pencils
 Just a quick sketch I did of a tree on my grandparents property that was first destroyed by the ice and wind storm a few months ago, and then was relieved of its branches. I am very happy of this sketch because it has that sort of  'harsh beauty' that I see everywhere.

And then this is me relieving myself of stress... =D Hi-yah! ;)

Medium: 2B pencil

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Illustration Tuesdays

Medium: HB pencil

Last night I was all alone, taking care of a sick old doggy (I love her so much - poor thing) and pulled out my series of A&E's Hornblower and sketchbook. And while some people would consider watching a movie by themselves a lonely thing, living in a house that is always full to bursting (ten and sometimes more people living here) its sometimes nice for some peace and quite. It's also fun for myself because when I'm watching a show, such as Hornblower, that I can giggle, overreact at things and in general put aside my normal coolness (oh yeah baby) to just enjoy a good show (of course, some would argue that Hornblower is the definitions of coolness... and I would agree). =)

Anywhoo, thought I would try and illustrate how I watch Hornblower... all curled up and hand over mouth (and sometimes eyes).

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Medium: watercolor

Wondering if I'm not the only one who talks and gets giggly/scared at some drawings... I've seen brown bears up close at a rescue zoo in Alaska (see post here... scroll towards the bottom)... relived some of those memories while sketching and painting this out. =}

Most of the time as artist, we only portray the beauty - because it's almost easier. And I can say that because I do - sometimes all I want to sketch out is a pretty girl, doing something epic and exciting. But at times to stretch yourself and start climbing higher up the ladder of experience - we have to put ourselves in situations, and our characters and subjects, into something that's not always pretty.

I never want to be someone who just stop making things that I think are pretty, beautiful and lovely - but I also want to be able to do things that don't fit into that category. Anywho - just rambling here.

... darn... I forgot about daylight savings - technically it's midnight right now.. =P urg.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bravery of the mind is a powerful thing

Medium: HB pencil

Just a quick sketch that I did for a friend. =)

  As I began to draw this, I was thinking about how nervous I am to be starting a class next month. I'm taking a watercoloring class that is both scary and exciting!

Wish me luck!

MUCH love to you all!