Garden Sketches

Mad Hatter chili and Young Lemon Grass Leaves on Rhodia Tablet

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!

WWM #29: Glorious Green

In spring, bright new greens fill the world. In summer, greens are darker, interspersed with flowering crops and wild flowers. Color is everywhere, but all dotting a verdant landscape. In brilliant sun, the greens shimmer, but under the electric sky of a thunderstorm, the sudden bursts of sunlight render greens into a strange intensity . . .

“Glorious Green” – prompt #29 – #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.

WWM #19: Splashes of Color

I’ve been thinking about how I am developing a sort of painting style in gouache, as well as giving thought to the painters whose work I admire.  It definitely falls in the impressionistic and expressionistic varieties.  Gouache just seems to be made for exuberant color and enthusiastic brushwork.My colors are more subdued that I wanted – I wanted turquoise skies and pink flowers and a brilliant sunset.  Instead, I have a rather northern European type of town scene, with a garden or flowering park in the middle.  Summer’s abundance flourishes under the trees, but in the shade it seems.  In doing this painting, I didn’t do much planning.  I stuck to the prompt of “splashes of color” – and splash I did.  The result was a serious loosening up of my style, and a letting go of “this is what I want it to be.”  That is significant – I can be a real tight ass about painting, and in the end dislike the results.  When I let go – let things splash – I am usually much, much happier with the results.

Regardless, both paintings appear muddy to me.  I wonder if working with pure color – straight from the tube – would help.  Practice certainly will.  The flowers in the vase seem a bit overworked, too.  Again, practice and experience.

So, lots of splashes of color for #WorldWatercolorMonth 2019 is producing some rather pleasing results and, more than anything, a daily involvement with painting.

WWM #9: Shadow Play

Today is another gouache, and I will say it is beginning to feel a bit “natural” to be painting in gouache.

Doing all the waves the other day got me in touch with that sensuous quality the paint has when it has a specific texture, as well as the dry brush effect when a bit of scrubbing is needed, and when the paint is very thin.  Each requires  different ways in which the paint is controlled, by how much water is added, what is below the layer of paint you are adding, and what you anticipate adding later.

One thing I did learn in today’s painting is the value of the hair dryer – I used it so much in this painting, nearly after each layer of paint.  This got the paint as dry as it should be and it kept me from working more quickly than is appropriate for gouache.  The result was much more pleasing in my opinion and a lot less frustrating.

In painting this window scene, I wanted to accomplish a couple of things.  One was a more “painterly” style – a bit looser than say the butterfly of yesterday.  The other was to see if I could express the varying light of the shadows as the flowers were buffeted in the breeze.  If you think about how shadows move, they flutter, getting lighter at times, getting darker, as the breeze moves the flowers on the sill.

Friday Flower Sketches

I’ve been playing with gouache of late, but really have missed watercolor and its transparency.  Yesterday I thought I would sit down to do some painting, but it never happened.  Today, out on the patio reading a book, I looked around at all the plants, and realized, duh!  There is a lot to play with out here!

I’d moved all my orchids outside to water and air out a bit.  This is the last of the blooming phalenopsis, so I painted it – no pencil or preliminary value studies – just direct watercolor and let it happen.  I can tell by the awkward handling of the paint I am out of practice; as well, the paper is not the best, but that is what sketch books are for.

About 6 weeks ago I took all my old and new flower seeds and planted them helter-skelter.  These are zinnias, plants which are notorious for wilting with not enough water – like in a couple of hours they can look like they will just fall over – but come back miraculously with a bit of help.  Totally crack me up – such simple flowers to be so demanding.  Kind of nervy.  Anyway, what I like about them is that they have beautifully shaped leaves, lovely stems, and smallish bright flowers that burst out of all the green surrounding them.  Here, a bit better handling, with a use of negative painting to create the leaves and perhaps a bit of dimension.

Finally, my favorite of the bunch.  Brush control and forethought.  Here I was perched on a rather tall chair, looking down onto the pot of scaveola, a sort of creeper from what I can observe.  It has a variety of leaf shapes, and the purple flowers sort of send out petals from behind the leaves in a peek-a-boo fashion.  I took a photo of this for Instagram, but you can also see the photo below of plant and sketch, taken with my phone.

 

Dappled Light

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.

Across a Field of Flowers

I’ve had this painting on my easel for about a week.  There was a lot of thought put into it – an almost scary amount given my impatient, impetuous tendencies.  Sky and basic colors in pale shades.  From there, midtones, darker shades, and finally details.  The foreground was so challenging – the cone flowers want detail, but don’t want too much.  The orange ones are totally lacking in detail, and are just blobs of color.  And then the buildings . . . still some perspective issues, particularly in the house on the right, but better than anything I have done to date.  Dreams of summer now that spring is blooming here in California!