WWM #8: Flying High

If you have ever seen a sky full of Monarch Butterflies, you know what it is like!  Nothing can describe it.  The #WorldWatercolorMonth2019 prompt “Flying High” brought to mind this event, and so here we have a resting butterfly to be admired, and the rest are on their way to their next habitat.

I had planned on doing this with watercolor pencil and other water-soluble media, but we have a studio problem – things are packed up because of a slab leak!  Hopefully it will be done by the end of today, and for a reasonable cost, but the result is that 95% of my art supplies are out of the studio, packed safely away in boxes and such.  I couldn’t find the pencils anywhere.  Perhaps it was for the best, as I pulled out my Japanese watercolors, gansai, and enjoyed working with these old friends once more.

Tulips in a Glass Vase

Flower paintings are some of my favorite things, just because I like flowers.  Painting them is another story.  Tulips are such cheerful, seasonal flowers, appearing in the market for a short time; I always have to buy a bunch or two or three.

Determined to paint a vase and water with stems, to really look at them, I put the tulips in a rather coarse, rectangular glass vase.  The edges of the vase are wavy, and it is far from perfect, which gives it a rather pleasant charm.  It seems I rather avoided the stems – my picture got too big!  I’ll give it another try later.

Parts of this painting work, but overall it feels rather labored in appearance.  I’m not quite sure why – maybe too many glazes took away a sense of spontaneity as well as clumsy negative painting.

Daffodils

Today was just too nice of a day to stay home, so I headed out to the local botanical garden, cameras in hand, pen, and paper.  Bulbs are up and beginning to blossom; the ones in the shade are getting there – more for later visits!  Birds, butterflies, bees, cool breezes.

Since I have been playing around with the exercises in Alphonso Dunn’s fine book today, I decided to continue the adventure and draw some daffodils with pen and ink, but follow through using watercolor pencil.

I laid down the major lines in pencil, and followed through with a fine pointed Namiki pen with waterproof ink.

Next, direct application of Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

And finally, using a water brush, I wet the colors, taking time to use a light touch.  A few lines of extra ink, and it was done.  Below is a gallery if you wish to cruise through the sequence from pen, pencil, and water.

Field of Flowers

Up the coast a way is a town known for its flower farms – a big industry locally.  The climate is varied, so a lot of different flowers may be grown, both for florists as well as seed.  Agriculture isn’t all cows and Brussel sprouts!

This was a fun study – I did a lot of lines as a practice exercise (I forget about lines because I have color to use – in ink painting it is so much about lines) and decided to focus on lines as the raison d’être for the painting.  Wet lines, dry-brush lines, wash and lines, wet on dry, dry on wet, etc.  Dots, too.

 

English Lavender

I guess I’m a hippie – you know, “flower power” and all that stuff.

The fact is, I love flowers and want to have a flower garden again.  And a vegetable garden.  As retirement approaches, it look more of a reality than before.  And as our backyard gets cleared out, too, that will help.

So, today’s sketch is really last night’s sketch.  I went out with my tablet of tan paper and took a look.  Almost all green except for the lavender plant.  I used ink for the initial drawing and then Derwent’s InkTense colors.  Then, for the ones on the left, I just painted to see which looked better – pen and color, or just plain color.

Penstemon

Penstemons are simple flowers – tall, elegant, plain – with an incredibly beautiful red-orange flower.  They are another one I photographed last weekend at the botanical garden.  Maybe today I’ll venture out to the cactus garden to see what blossoms may be up there!

Here, I decided simply on using a brush, a stiffer one than a red sable, to focus on how the brush responds to pressure, paint, and amount of water.

Watercolor Pencil Studies

Even though I am trying to be a good patient and wear my splints all the time, it just isn’t possible.  I am still limping around, too, so I am not doing much hiking as my knee still hurts from the fall.  Rather, I am on the patio in the warm afternoon sun, away from those dangerous dogs!  I had a few pictures, a bit of imagination, and some watercolor pencils.  I decided to try them out in some rather different ways to learn how to better use them.

Above is a Black Phoebe.  They live in the trees around here.  Their feathers are darker om the head, and their faces are not quite so fat.  I tried to get in line detail and then used a fine  brush.  Darkest blacks were from an ink brush.

Next, just a simple Japanese maple leaf, no lines, only pencil and water.  I laid it on pretty thick, but it is still paler than what I would like to see.

Finally, Queen Anne’s Lace.  Here I wanted to draw into negative space, so what better subject than white flowers?  I used ink, and for the paler flowers in the background, I dipped my brush in water and took color off the pencil tips before painting onto the paper.