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.
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.
Ink drawing with watercolor pencil
Ink drawing with wetted watercolor pencil
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.
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.
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.
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.
I did this first layer of colors in the gloom of the evening, after work. I was tired but had played out some of the painting earlier in the day in between whatever I was doing. I used a small brush and deliberately tried – and will continue to try – a delicate approach. Both the bee and the borage have a lot of fine hairs which I want to express and preserve. Looking at the scan shows a need for contrast in the center of the flower, along with on the bee’s back, behind the eyes. In these areas, I will be working on glazes to create better contrast, and I hope a better sense of depth. As it stands now, the whole painting is rather flat and nondimensional to my eye.