No, this isn’t a warped Christmas tree! It’s a tabasco chili plant. Every summer we grow a variety of chilis, usually hot, to dry as they mature, and when we have enough, grind them into powder. Then it’s shared, often as a Christmas present!
We all have those days – everything you think you are going to accomplish turns to some sort of monster or horror or nightmare as you do it. I sure had different ideas for what I was going to do out on my patio this afternoon. Ugh! Ugh! to the point I have to laugh. I really don’t know what to do with either of these except to chalk them up to experience.
This first one (above) is supposed to be some really brilliant orange geraniums on my patio table. I don’t think so. I get so – what? Impatient may not be the right word. What I feel is a need to work quickly, and perhaps therein lies the problem. I drew them in with a pencil and set up all my paints and water and other supplies on a table outdoors. In 85F or more weather, it was hot. But the heat is not the driving force for haste – it happens to me all the time, particularly with watercolor. It’s something to really think about.
After shuddering at that first painting, I decided to just paint – no lines, nothing, just move along. Sometimes in watercolor it has proven to be a great exercise. Here, not so sure. These are tabasco chilis that are ripening, and will soon be picked and dried, to later be ground into chili powder (we make our own every year, with different peppers.) Like the first painting, everything went head over heels, and in the end, I just decided to make it more decorative than painterly.
I can always tell when I haven’t picked up a pen or brush for even a couple of days. I felt all clumsy and disconnected. Maybe being outside – something I have never done with gouache – added to it. I really tried to paint from real life, plein aire, and I am not so sure that was for the best.
Oh, well. I had fun. Maybe there is something in that.
I’ve been rather busy of late – running here and there, sewing, hanging out with friends, and so on. As a result, I have not been able to sit down to paint for the past few days. Today I made the determined effort to do so, and am glad I did. Instead of working in the studio, I went outside onto my rather warm and sunny patio – 95F / 35C – and moved what I could into the shade of the canopy. A small table, a chair, some water and paints, my home made iron gall ink and my dip pen all accompanied me. Pandora and Donna Summer, too!
I pulled out a watercolor sketchbook, and immediately found that the paper has a sizing issue, as well as cannot handle water in any amount. Wah! However, for pen and a small amount of color, it will do. I also used a Rhodia tablet, very smooth and polished, and works very well with a sharp pen nib. The results are straight above – and captioned! It worked out quite nicely.
Watercolor sketchbook. Iron gall ink applied first, then watercolor paint. Milkweed in bloom.The watercolor sketchbook, as I said, was disappointing for wet work. However, for ink and color, it is not too bad. Here, I did the ink drawing first and then applied the color. The color rather overwhelmed the lines at time, so I went back and added more ink after the paint dried. In 95F weather, it dries pretty quickly.
A flowerpot with a dead sunflower (left), oregano in bloom (middle), and the stalk and leaves of milkweed plant. Color applied first, dried, and then iron gall ink drawing.This last picture was an afterthought. The first drawing found the color overwhelming the ink at times, so I decided to paint first, and then draw. Artistic experiment!
Anyway, the art bug has been temporarily allayed. More tomorrow I hope!