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.
When I first posted the outline of these ferns, a reader, Sharon, suggested in her comment to fill in just the background. I was going to fill in the stems and leaves, but her idea was intriguing. I had thought of using watercolor with a brush, or watercolor pencils, or even just colored pencils. Instead, I thought brush pens (like Tombow, but not Tombow) might work. So, I ordered them from Amazon. Fun to use, and a lot of colors! And a great excuse to buy some art supplies, don’t you think? I rather like the results. Thanks, Sharon!
This morning I decided to do a free form watercolor of the tree ferns I photographed. I didn’t draw in any lines. As you can see, the stem on the left goes nowhere…amazing how you notice things when you see them in a scan!
The main purpose of the exercise was to use a 1/2 inch flat brush for most of the work. To do the fronds, I used the tip, but in reality such is a better way to express palm fronds. Tree ferns have a softer, more rounded shape at the ends of their leaves.
Consequently, I pulled out a small round. If you know the art of sumi-e, I am sure you can figure out how to make the softer, rounder tip of a tree fern. To do it, start with an upright brush and slow squish it down toward the end. That would be for the stem-t0-end-of-leaf. If you want to begin at the end of the leaf, squish the brush and then lift it as you move inward. Doing either produces better results I think.
I also just wanted to work on colors and shapes, try to get some contrast, too. As I painted, I imagined living in a jungle of tree ferns – looking up, sunshine, contrast, sparkles. At 6:30 in the morning, in a rather dark room (with the only light coming in from the eastern window of the studio, and the glow of the computer monitors), it’s always interesting to see what happens – happened – when you see it in the light of day!
This morning I wanted to work on the tree ferns, but for now, the jury is out on what to do. I ordered some watercolor marker / brushes from Amazon, as I don’t have any and the design element seems to warrant more control than a brush. So, I decided to use this photo I took over the weekend of a Toyon – also called Christmas Berry as it shows up Decemberish – for a quick morning paint. Below are the results using my palette with 5 greens (yay! green!) and a 1/2 inch flat brush. I painted directly, no lines.
I took this photo back in 2014, almost exactly to the date. Tree ferns are amazing plants -they have spores and fronds, and get huge. I wonder what it would be like to wander through a forest of these!
Anyway, I decided to scroll through my years of photos and found this one. I liked the pattern repeats and the shapes. A nice graphic quality. So, this is what I began in my sketchbook.
I may add more fronds. I may not. The big question is what I should use to color it. Something that contains itself seems appropriate, like markers, given how sloppy my painting skills are.