Where Did I Go?


I went all sporadic on you again, sorry! I’ve been in Reduction/Organization/Creation mode, no time left over for much of anything else except for doing my taxes. Not that I haven’t thought about you- honest- everything reminds me of a blog post. Remember my little remark about cochineal beetle juice the other day? I just happened to be sipping my favorite new apertif, Campari and Cinzano With a Twist on the Rocks, enjoying the very interesting warm red color of the drink, as well as the peculiar bitter aromatic flavor with an underlying nuttiness, and looking at the ingredient list on the Campari bottle noticed that the only thing specifically mentioned was Natural Carmine Color. The rest of the ingredients, apparently, are a closely guarded secret. Only Mr. Campari knows for sure, or something like that. So I looked up Natural Carmine, and sure enough, it’s cochineal beetle juice. Who knew? I feel even closer to the splendors of nature drinking this stuff, and now I have something else in common with paint.

Think I’ll call this drink The Painted Bunting

Current art projects include a logo for OU’s Darwin celebrations (Darwin turns 200 next year- lots and lots of candles he’ll be blowing out), some new drawings, a pastel of a resting bison-see above-and a new commission of a pair of Australian Black swans. That’s a going to be a post all in itself. Do you know what I had to go through to get my reference material?

Q:Where do you find Australian Black swans in Oklahoma in the dead of winter?

A: You find them at the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole. Silly question.

Q: Are Australian Black Swans nice birds?

A: No. Swans are mean and will hurt you. Australian Black Swans will hurt you the hardest.


Oh no! A swan! Run like hell!

About the bison picture at the top of this post: the background was an experiment that turned out very well. I’ve been hearing all about pastel washes: you draw on the pastel and “wash” it with turpentine or turpenoid, in my case. Works real nice. You use as many colors as you want in the dry medium, get the colors where they look good, then brush on the turp, mooshing up and dissolving all the colors , smushing them around and into each other. When it all dries you can go over it again with more dry pastel. And turp it some more. As far as I know there’s no end to it. The pastel sinks into the tooth of the paper and stays there for good (I’m using Rives BFK heavyweight). Part of the beauty is that the paper doesn’t buckle, dries fast and flat when you saturate it with turpentine as opposed to water. Just don’t light a match while you’re waiting for it to dry, and use some ventilation, for God’s sake.


Pastel wash on Rives BFK, still wet.

Once you have your pastel washed paper, you can draw right over it, and add more pastel color on the drawing. Try it- it’s fun and easy!

14 thoughts on “Where Did I Go?

  1. TR says:

    DK – die hard Campari drinker here – mixed with the juice of a blood orange is my favorite way. Years ago I was told not to ask what was in it — and being a fan of it, never did. Now that I know – its too late to give up — so join me on a warm spring evening and let’s toast to beetle juice. Regards from Borlando, FL.

  2. zeladoniac says:

    Tell me where in Oklahoma to get a blood orange! By the way, beetle juice won’t hurt you, according to studies. Drink up!

    The Canna bunting won, and I’ll post the runners up soon. The daylily one fell a wee bit short, but I’ll show it anyway. And I think “Black Swans and Beetle Juice” might be a good title for something, maybe my memoirs if I live that long.

  3. caroline crayon says:

    The bison rendering is wonderful. I like the description of the technique. I have to catch up on your blog to get the beetlejuice connection. I’m thinking it has to do with “The Perfect Red,” a book that came out several years ago.

  4. bonnieluria says:

    Debby- as always, you provide us with fantastic art, great humor and very unexpected topics. Love love love your blog. There’s always something to learn and be inspired by. Thank you!

  5. julie Zickefoose says:

    I *liked* the movie Beetlejuice! Bleccchh on drinking it. That swan picture is the funniest thing I’ve seen since an obese llama galloped up to me yesterday. No, I did not get a picture, more’s the pity. She was broad and fat and loose in the stays.

    It is truly amazing what odd waterfowl can be found sequestered in backyards and gardens and zoos and golf courses. I remember when I was painting some diving duck plates I was able to find people keeping them in their backyards in CT–scaup and mergansers, smews, ruddies…who’da thunk?

    Real nice post, DK.

  6. zeladoniac says:

    I’ve heard of “The Perfect Red” and I keep meaning to get a copy. A wonderful book is “Color: A Natural History of the Palette” by Victoria Finlay. Each chapter covers a different hue, and the one on red goes into the origins of cochineal, and its semantic beginning.Fascinating stuff. There’s a cochineal relative in Europe that was used for centuries before the discovery of the New World. It was described and named by Dioscorides,a Greek doctor in Nero’s army in the first century AD. He named it “coccus”, meaning “berry”. Speaking of berry red insect topics, please see this for some marvelous parasitic weirdness:


    By the way, it’s been AGES since an obese llama chased me anywhere!

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