16.1. Holiday Cards: Birch Trees & Snow

As a present, my sister-in-law asked for some hand-painted cards.  Given I have enjoyed Peter Sheeler’s videos, I thought I would use his exercises as a way to practice painting, and fulfill a family member’s request for a Christmas present!  Here is Mr. Sheeler’s video:

Birch trees are some of the easiest and most lovely trees to draw or paint.  The white trunks and white snow made for a good chance to work at keeping white space.  The other thing is that the palette was limited, which I am beginning to find refreshing – a lot of colors can be made from two or three.

15. Trees, Shadow, Snow

This morning, in a room only lit by the light of my monitors, and a half-drunk cup of coffee at hand, I decided to go ahead and watch Peter Sheeler’s video above, and try to do a painting.  I dragged out a bowl for water, a few brushes, and my travel palette.  I sort of know where my colors are, so what the heck – paint and draw away.

I pretty much followed what Peter did, but obviously his work is better than mine.  Despite that, I did learn a few more things.  One thing I have always liked – and will continue to like – is ink with color.  Using a limited palette is also fun as it really helps you keep yourself under control.  I think – remember, it was dark, and I was only half of cup of coffee into my morning! – I used yellow ochre, quin gold, a bit of viridian, a bit of alizarin, indathrene and ultramarine blues, and burnt sienna.  Some of these were just little dabs because I couldn’t see very well, but the main colors were the sienna and blues.

That said, below is a scan of my painting before putting in the final lines.

Objectively, it’s okay.  There are some nice areas, and there certainly is some white space (yay!  white space!), which is why I am focusing on snow painting practices.  Some good light – dark areas.  A nice bleed or two.  Other areas are dreadful, such as that greenish area on the mid-right side.

Below, the inked in version.

Frankly, I like the final one better as there is more definition.  Now – finish that coffee and jet off to work.

Have a fun day!

13. Barrel Cactus, Aloe, and A Plant Named Audrey

Living in Southern California, we don’t get winter like other parts of the world.  Plants are green and living, not in dormant states for the most part.  In a botanical garden, one of the real pleasures is seeing the sheer variety of plants!  Last Friday, besides trees, I also did a barrel cactus, some red aloe (I think they are aloe), and a huge succulent that I always call “Audrey” from that strange and lovely life form in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Barrel Cactus . . . these look like a weird squash.

Red Aloe . . . no lines!

Fortunately, these Audreys do not require feeding!  Nor do they sing.

13. Under the Pines

Yesterday morning I met up with a friend, to chat, drink coffee, and sketch in the local botanical gardens.  The day was warm and sunny, and before you knew it, 2.5 hours had passed.  She did some wonderful pictures of cacti and tree branches, using only colors from a very tiny paint box!  Me, I need pen and ink to feel confident enough – I am still trying to make watercolors look like watercolors, instead of ink with colors.  I do like the ink-and-color thing, but I know I want to master solid colors.  So, after inking on site, I went home and filled in some colors, and more ink, and more colors, until I hope I got what looks like dappled light on rocks and cacti beneath some pines.

Being curious as to whether or not there is decent light / dark, I thought I would convert it to black and white to see.  Results are below.  I may go in and paint the bushes behind the rocks a bit darker in the center an to the right.

12. Sketches from a Week or So Ago

I started a small Meetup group last September. At our third meeting we hit the local mall. I was pleased with the turnout! There were 5 of us total, two of whom showed up last minute. There are some pretty talented people out there! I finally got around to scanning some of my sketches, none of which are especially great, but it was really fun to meet a bunch of nice people who like to draw and paint and be creative. We’ll connect again in January, sometime after the new year.


11.1. Fire Escapes – Sketch

From our trip to Flagstaff this summer.  Below is the original photo, to show the color and the actual image.  I think it might be behind the Hotel Monte Vista, from the parking lot, but I don’t remember.  Anyway, some artistic license.  I actually was planning to do the entire photo, but once I started my sketch, from the top left building, it soon became apparent that my proportions were totally off, and ended up with the upper part.  However, I think the fire escapes are actually pretty interesting, and are a strong point in the drawing, as are all the lines of the pipes and landings and stairs.

10. Cliffs at Mesa Verde

I had a brainstorm the other day:  Why not use vacation photos for drawing and watercolor subjects?  I certainly do have a bucket load of photos.  And, last summer we went to a lot of historical and beautiful places as we wandered through parts of the western U.S.  Here, a view from a cliff in Mesa Verde National Park.

Colors include indanthrene blue, quinacridone yellow, organic vermilion, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, phthalo green and Carbon Ink in a Pentalic watercolor book.