I am trying to do something everyday when it comes to drawing or painting. Some days only allow for morning time, and that is when I did this drawing of a bee in a borage plant. Today, I used a dip pen, my ca. 1810 pewter ink well, and iron gall ink. I have never drawn a bee before, and using a dip pen and focusing on the shapes, rather than what I think I see (thank you, Sharon, for that great advice!), produced fairly decent results. I’m rather afraid to draw anything that requires a bit of realism as I really doubt my abilities to do this. Practice is needed here!
Borage is a lovely plant, covered in fur, with beautiful blue flowers. If I recall, it is an invasive plant, and one best kept contained in a pot. I had some in my dog free zone (DFZ) this summer amongst the lilies.
As an aside, I’m getting used to using a dip pen, which is really a rather nice skill to have as I don’t have the big blobs I used to get; I know when to refill the well and dilute the ink with water. Something we don’t think about in this day and age of non-dip pens.
If I could, I would spend my days gardening and painting. There is nothing more satisfying than planting flowers and herbs, watching them grow, inhaling their fragrance. The simplest things can be the most wonderful.
After doing the work and pre-work for the Mesa, Sunrise painting, I was feeling pretty burnt out. It was an intense experience as I needed to exercise restraint. So, a loose drawing of echinacea did the trick of clearing my brain.
I’ve been sitting on this picture, doing some research before finishing it. By research, I mean watching videos on painting the red rocks of the American West to figure out colors, practicing with colors and washes, and finally, practicing with blues over the colors. as this mesa has a lot of shadow areas.
Above, color practice. I used Pyrrol Orange, Organic Vermilion, Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna for most of the reds and oranges. The grey-green is a combo of Sap Green, Cobalt Green, and Payne’s Grey. The blues are Ultramarine and Cobalt. And below, the final result.
This is perhaps the first “researched” or “practiced” painting I’ve done. I usually just go-with-the-flow. The pay off is pretty good. I’m still not really sure if this sketchbook is good for anything “serious” but it did a good job in the end. It is really curly paper when it dries!
Every artist practices. Pianists do scales. Painters paint. I, on the other hand, have never been fond of practicing anything because I always want to do. However, I am finding myself rather stumped at the moment, and have decided I do need to practice. I need to practice brush strokes and colors. I realized this after I lay down this wash for the mesa and lower portions of the painting, which for now are at a standstill.
Looking at everything, I am thinking about two things. What colors should I use? What brush should I use?
Colors don’t require a brush choice, so I have dabbled with reds for the mesa, as you can see below. There are combinations of Burnt Sienna, Quin Gold, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Organic Vermilion, and Pyrrol Orange. Doing these early in the morning, I didn’t label them. That’s okay, because I know the colors I used, and I will check them out during daylight.
Next, I need to decide on a brush. I am inclined to go with a flat, so I can draw straight across to show the sedimentary layers of rock. Those I will get to sometime tomorrow and then choose colors and – yes! – practice making some strokes and mixing the colors strong enough to make some good contrasts, too.
Rather a blotchy Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Blue sky this morning. All I have time for at the moment!
For the next week, my schedule is a bit different. I have to be in to work 30 minutes earlier than normal, so I did this quick sketch in my Stillman & Birn softcover book. The ink is iron gall. I tried to keep the lines minimal, enough to capture important elements of the landscape, but not so much that they become dominant or what will (eventually) hold the image together. Hopefully I will be able to work on shadows and light, working to good contrast. I seem to need lines – I am comfortable with them – that are clearly visible. Interesting to find out how we all work, eh?
This is from my Stillman & Birn soft cover (blue) sketchbook with 180# paper. A part of me likes the thing, and another doesn’t. I’m not sure why.
Anyway, this shows what I am trying to do . . . establish shadow, play with color combos or swatches. I used all sorts of brushes on this. In general, it is overworked, and the trunk looks like some tree has landed on an octopus. (Poor octopus!)
This is the final product, with some work on it . . . The contrast is a bit better, but it still looks pretty much in the same key to me – in other words, the grey scale is pretty much the same to my eye when I see it in color. In B&W it is still not quite what I would like to see.
By nature, I am quite impatient. Maybe just not patient enough? What I mean is that sometimes I work too fast, rather than thinking ahead. In watercolor, timing is important, as is speed, but with patience thrown in. If I look at what I am doing, some are tight-ass line drawings, and others are just messy and rather free form, without lines. Here, I used a basic tree shape with cutouts to remind me where to not have leaves, so as to have room for sky and branches. I also worked for shadows.
Altogether, I worked too fast. I wanted to make some nice washes of the leaves, to show the color shifts from green to the glows of autumn. I also need to test out colors on a piece of paper. This is painted in a notebook, so the back of the previous page is a good place to do this (I keep trying to remind myself). Accomplishment, though, is no mud.
Colors were fun to use, too. I mixed together an especially interesting mix of Payne’s Grey, Carbazole Violet, and Burnt Sienna. That is part of the pleasure of a sketch book – playtime and exploring.
I will be doing a lot of trees as I move along, but will need to do some stilllifes as well.