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.
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.
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.