One of the nicest things about spending 2-3 nights at a place is that you get to explore. Independence, CA, is along Hwy 395 and is a town you would zip right by if your weren’t staying there. However, you really can miss a few things!
We stayed at the Winnedumah Hotel, in a room at the back. Out the door and down the road a few blocks is the local museum, and although it was closed the days we were there, we plan to go back. Outside the museum is a rather wonderful native plant garden. It faces west, so it is in the shadow of the Eastern Sierras. There is a creek running through it, complete with trickling water. Winter rains swell it and it obviously flows over its banks.
The sandy shore and rocky bottom depicted here create a dry wash. In canyon country these smooth areas are tempting for campers because the smooth soil makes pitching a tent and sleeping bag comfortable and easy, but if a rain happens upstream, a flash flood creates a swirling death trap. Even locally – where I live – people are drawn to these washes in the rainy season (if there still is one . . . ) and get washed away in the event. I had a wonderful friend who died in such a flash flood because the ground he was standing on probably got abruptly eroded from underneath. Even peaceful streams need to be treated with respect.
I went off for a morning walk in the local botanical garden, taking pictures with my phone (and film camera) looking for contrasty bits of landscape to paint. I took a lot, much to my surprise. What I found was dappled sunlight more than anything as the garden is in its summer glory with trees leafed out and bright sun trying to break through the canopy.
Truthfully, this painting is considerably more lush in color than the photo as we are in August, in hot weather, and the vegetation has dried and browned from a lack of rain. I really worked to create a gouache painting reflective of the photo, but couldn’t hack it! It was so dreary!
What I did like best, though, was simply the experience of a slow ramble through the garden. There were birds, scents of pine and sage, butterflies, the buzz of bees, bird song, caws from crows. I think, perhaps, the painting is more reflective of the richness of the experience of the garden rather than its current shades of beige, brown, and green.
It’s been nearly 10 days since my last post. Nothing traumatic to keep me away from painting – I just have had appointments and social activities accompanied by making sure all my retirement paperwork and insurance is in place for my “official” beginning of being a Medicare recipient on June 1st! It’s been a slog, but it is in place, and hopefully nothing will make me have to do it all over again.
That said and done, the weather here in California has been really strange. The new normal! We have had rain into the month of May, and as a result flowers and plants and butterflies are prodigious, with spring flowers lasting well into what might be considered the summer months. Even the hills are still colorful, but slowly fading to the usual beige and brown. The rain, though, fills the bright blue sky with big clouds, sometimes ones which sit around and slowly disperse, sometimes with ones that dance their way across the sky, changing with every glance. When I was a kid in the middle of nowhere, I loved lying in the hammock and making up stories as the clouds shifted and reformed. It’s as magical now as it was then.
The local botanical garden is one of my favorite places. It has so many things to see. A variety of habitats are represented – desert, Mediterranean, and woodland, to name a few. Today’s painting is a scene along one of the pathways, from the photo I took below.
I am always attracted to dappled light – the strong contrasts of dark and bright. Photographically, it is hard to capture, but I was relatively pleased with the way the photo caught it. I am also fairly pleased as to how I was able to interpret the photo and the light. It was a struggle, and especially difficult after nearly two weeks of inactivity, but it worked out in the end.
I have finally gotten out to the local botanic garden after a month long hiatus. I went a couple of days ago on a bright sunny day. Today, in the foggy gloom, I went again. Both times, camera in hand. The sunny day I was accompanied by a friend while this morning one of my dogs came along.
In today’s gloom, the bright green lichens on this tree caught my eye. I’ve photographed it a number of times, in different seasons, under different lighting conditions. There are spots of green, white, and dark grey. Textures range from smooth to rough. In the textures of the garden – leaves, flowers, critters, stems, branches, – it is easy to overlook the subtle beauty of a couple of branches.
With clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, spring has arrived! I packed up a watercolor book, pens, a couple of cameras, and myself – off to the local botanical garden to finally get a look after weeks of rains and closure. I was not disappointed. Flowers in bloom, hordes of butterflies as I haven’t seen in years (lots of flowers = lots of butterflies), people. The air was fragrant from the new growth everywhere, but in particular was a clump of daffodils beneath an old olive tree.
I sat down on a rock, and did this sketch, saving the colors until I got home. I also took a lot of pictures – digital and film – for reference. People stopped by and made conversation, a dog or two came to sniff. Nature, while beautiful, is also capable of irritation – the baby flies were a bit annoying and I wonder if I should put on some DEET to keep them away.
For months I have been thinking about drawing in the garden. It changes daily, and with the seasons. This is the first drawing of this project, which will be ongoing. I’ll be adding it to the page My Other Lives page above. (For now – WordPress seems to be having issues adding pages!)
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.