102. Birds Above the Fields

I am sort of fascinated by flower farms at present, whether it is bulb flowers or lavender or other types, such as daisies for bouquets.  The lines of color and how to represent them is a challenge.  Here, we are looking across the fields – the rows are running parallel to the horizon.  Still, there is depth here, and I would think the rows would be evident, however subtly.  Well, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, but decided to add ink and some white to it, along with a lot of birds.  In looking at it, I realize the foreground needs to simplified and in my mind’s eye, I have some ideas.

95. Lines & Shades

Once more, the house is in total disarray – the trees in the back yard have been removed or severely trimmed back.  5 trees out, 11 pruned.  The guy who did it all is an artist – you can actually see the branches on the trees, and the neighbors.  So what does it have to do with a post called “Lines & Shades”?  All this disruption messes everything up!  With such disruption – and being unable to leave the house – it was a strange sort of prison.  I read murder mysteries for the most part until yesterday.  It was quiet and no one was home except me and the dogs.

Back to basics.  Pen and ink, contour drawing.  The first one was kind of stiff, but as things moved on, it got easier and more fun.  I wanted to make “lost and found edges” as well, to make things suggested, not spelled out.

I also decided to scan in a value study I did from a photo I took years ago of the Santa Monica River in the mountains nearby, on a hot, dry day.  This is to remind me to follow a more traditional route in painting as my own sense of contrast – light – dark – is not the best.  As you can see, I did it some weeks ago, but I hope to make it into a watercolor in the not too distant future.  The hard part is finding the right color for the sandy river bottom, but I have an idea . . .

71.1 Old Shack

I went out to lunch, so that is why interrupted the first part of this post.  And, there were a lot of pictures to look at.  Now, back from lunch, and awake from a 2-hour nap, here I am.

The next step was to put in the grasses on the lower and the left of the picture, and the trees in the background.  Shape and contrast were the goal.  The grasses, again, were straight lines with a bit of curve.  In the background, I used 3 different colored pencils, and drew small, tight circles to convey the thick foliage of the trees in the distance; this was repeated in front of the shack.  Longitudinal lines were used to create the direction of the fields.

Once the grasses, field, and foliage were put in, I used water.  Short straight strokes for the grass were done vertically, some blending into other grasses, too.  The trees in the distance on the left and right were next, being careful to work around the straight lines of the building.  The sloping fields to the left and right were worked with short brush strokes, to keep the colors isolated in some areas, and blended in another.  If you look on the right, you will see the fields are yellow, blends of yellow and browns, and finally, below the trees, varying shades of green.  Lastly, I worked the grasses in the foreground, top to bottom left to right.


Next?  The sky!

72. Bush Anemone

Another flower from my ramblings in the botanical garden last weekend.  I may go back tomorrow.

The Bush Anemone – carpenteria californica – is a rather pretty little flower.  Not gaudy, just soft, subtle, and short-bloomed.  I penciled this in first, then used a brush to dab paint off of the tips of my Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils to see how that worked.  Not bad for a small touch here and there!  I then used a light touch with a very fine pointed pen.

71. Old Shack

Pictures made with only watercolor pencils seem insipid to me.  The contrast is not strong enough to be interesting to my eye.

So, I decided to set out to make this a lie!  But, I started out by acknowledging that I would be using whatever means it took – pen, ink, watercolor paint, white pigment – to make the contrast I desire.

What I like about watercolor pencils is the fact you can draw with them, and they create lovely textures.  Working in conjunction with other media, I hope to create a picture I like.  I am using a 60-pencil set of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer pencils.

I put down a pencil drawing, and then sketched in basic colors, and then wet them to blend.

The next step was a bit of a gamble – putting down darker values and colors as texture.  Some colors were overlaid with one another, such as the blue shadows on the shack.  This is what it looks like before the water is added to blend the colors.

When wetting the picture, I decided to do two things.  First, work light to dark – that is, wet the lighter areas and then the darker.  The second was to follow the direction of the pencil lines.  Between colors I tried to be sure to rinse off my brush, and to blot as necessary to keep the paper from getting too wet.  I am also trying my best to preserve my white areas.

Next, establishing the pattern of the grasses in the foreground.  Here, I worked in the light colors to the lower right side, where there are white areas.  I drew the lines in the direction of the grasses, including white pencil to lighten the overall colors of the yellows used.  The lines are seen below, followed by the application of the water.  I laid the lines of the grasses down with some pressure, the idea to make them more distinctive and for the color not to dissolve into a blur.

Here, as before, I used water in the lightest areas and then in the darker areas, following the pencil strokes.  The lighter areas I did horizontally, and the darker areas more vertically.

To be continued!




70. Tiny Flowers

Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, the house will be back to usable today!  Toilets and sinks installed and operational.  I’ll find out when I get home from my watercolor class.  Meanwhile, I looked through some of my photos and chanced upon one of a small flower, tiny, and thought it might be a good way to warm up for my class – before lunch – before coffee!

69. Fremontia

I am trying to do something every morning, a quick sketch from a photo I took, or something that catches my fancy.  It’s not easy and most of the time I am disappointed by what occurs.  The reason?  It seems that often the only way to save something is to add lines!  I wonder if I will ever produce a “real” painting that is more than just sketch . . . Ah, well.  The point is to do something as often as possible.

Thus, a sketch of a Fremontia, a yellow-flowered bush found here in California.  It’s a woody shrub that splotches bright flowers against dark leaves.  I look forward to them every spring.

68. Hummingbird Sage

I went out looking for spring wildflowers this weekend and took a number of photographs.  Everywhere were blooms – wildflowers and domestic ones, all in the local botanical garden.  Hummingbird sage is one of my favorites.  I didn’t catch the fuschia-pink of the flower, nor the softness, but the shape worked out fairly well.

61. A Bit of Victoriana

Last summer we went on a long road trip.  Of course, the camera came out.  Living in modern suburbia, I see little of “older” architecture in the form of dwellings, so ornate houses from the late 1800s-early 1900s have their draw.  This is a part of a Victorian house high up a hill, hidden by trees and bushes, and accessed by a long, long stairway.

First drawing was in pencil, then inked over, and the pencil lines erased.  I tried to keep the perspective – I am getting better at it – but there are still some errors.

And the final product, inked in detail, painted, inked again.

I am enjoying the meditative quality of drawing in detail and somehow not worrying if it is “right” or “wrong” – just doing it is enough.  I also try to remember what I have learned from experience or a class, such as reflected light in windows.