102. Birds Above the Fields

I am sort of fascinated by flower farms at present, whether it is bulb flowers or lavender or other types, such as daisies for bouquets.  The lines of color and how to represent them is a challenge.  Here, we are looking across the fields – the rows are running parallel to the horizon.  Still, there is depth here, and I would think the rows would be evident, however subtly.  Well, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, but decided to add ink and some white to it, along with a lot of birds.  In looking at it, I realize the foreground needs to simplified and in my mind’s eye, I have some ideas.

95. Lines & Shades

Once more, the house is in total disarray – the trees in the back yard have been removed or severely trimmed back.  5 trees out, 11 pruned.  The guy who did it all is an artist – you can actually see the branches on the trees, and the neighbors.  So what does it have to do with a post called “Lines & Shades”?  All this disruption messes everything up!  With such disruption – and being unable to leave the house – it was a strange sort of prison.  I read murder mysteries for the most part until yesterday.  It was quiet and no one was home except me and the dogs.

Back to basics.  Pen and ink, contour drawing.  The first one was kind of stiff, but as things moved on, it got easier and more fun.  I wanted to make “lost and found edges” as well, to make things suggested, not spelled out.

I also decided to scan in a value study I did from a photo I took years ago of the Santa Monica River in the mountains nearby, on a hot, dry day.  This is to remind me to follow a more traditional route in painting as my own sense of contrast – light – dark – is not the best.  As you can see, I did it some weeks ago, but I hope to make it into a watercolor in the not too distant future.  The hard part is finding the right color for the sandy river bottom, but I have an idea . . .

74. 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.

72. Bush Anemone

Another flower from my ramblings in the botanical garden last weekend.  I may go back tomorrow.

The Bush Anemone – carpenteria californica – is a rather pretty little flower.  Not gaudy, just soft, subtle, and short-bloomed.  I penciled this in first, then used a brush to dab paint off of the tips of my Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils to see how that worked.  Not bad for a small touch here and there!  I then used a light touch with a very fine pointed pen.

69. Fremontia

I am trying to do something every morning, a quick sketch from a photo I took, or something that catches my fancy.  It’s not easy and most of the time I am disappointed by what occurs.  The reason?  It seems that often the only way to save something is to add lines!  I wonder if I will ever produce a “real” painting that is more than just sketch . . . Ah, well.  The point is to do something as often as possible.

Thus, a sketch of a Fremontia, a yellow-flowered bush found here in California.  It’s a woody shrub that splotches bright flowers against dark leaves.  I look forward to them every spring.

68. Hummingbird Sage

I went out looking for spring wildflowers this weekend and took a number of photographs.  Everywhere were blooms – wildflowers and domestic ones, all in the local botanical garden.  Hummingbird sage is one of my favorites.  I didn’t catch the fuschia-pink of the flower, nor the softness, but the shape worked out fairly well.

64. Hidden

This may be the last post for a few days as our house is torn apart and put together.  The bathrooms, closets, laundry room, hallway, and bedrooms are getting new floors on Tuesday.  The studio is bare.  I have a small box filled with a few brushes, some paper, some paint, but who knows if I’ll be able to touch it for several days!

Because of this, I decided to end my weekend with a small ink and watercolor painting, derived from a photo I took last year of a barn in the hills nearby.  I started by laying in pencil, then color, knowing I planned to deliberately finish with ink.  I’m rather torn about the bright white of the roof – but it was in brilliant sunshine the day I took the photo.  The windows are rather awful – looks like the barn has an eye infection!

Maybe I will tone the roof down later and fix the windows, but for now, it will remain as is.  After I post this, it’s time to finish clearing out the studio, the closet, and put together little boxes so things like soap and toothpaste are available for kitchen use – we will have no bathroom sinks for a few weeks!

63. Meadowlark

No, I haven’t forgotten my “Somewhere in Wyoming” picture, but as we are installing new floors in the back half of the house, my studio and supplies are packed up.  All I have left are a few paints and brushes, and a couple of smallish sketch books.  So, small things, done without the need for too much planning.  And, truthfully, with the whole house in chaos, it’s probably for the best.

That said, this morning I was listening to the birds singing.  The springtime songs are everywhere.  When I was a child, I lived in rural Illinois, surrounded by huge oaks and wide open fields.  In the fields were the meadowlarks, brilliantly colored and beautiful singers.  The notes of the meadowlark are memorable and unmistakable.  I found some photos, and hodge-podged one together.  I am not really good at drawing animals, so birds are always a bit of a challenge.

The watercolor, without lines.

And with some inking done, for contrast and a bit of structure.  I’m not sure if either really works well, or if there should be more color above the meadowlark instead of plain white paper.  What do you think?

61. A Bit of Victoriana

Last summer we went on a long road trip.  Of course, the camera came out.  Living in modern suburbia, I see little of “older” architecture in the form of dwellings, so ornate houses from the late 1800s-early 1900s have their draw.  This is a part of a Victorian house high up a hill, hidden by trees and bushes, and accessed by a long, long stairway.

First drawing was in pencil, then inked over, and the pencil lines erased.  I tried to keep the perspective – I am getting better at it – but there are still some errors.

And the final product, inked in detail, painted, inked again.

I am enjoying the meditative quality of drawing in detail and somehow not worrying if it is “right” or “wrong” – just doing it is enough.  I also try to remember what I have learned from experience or a class, such as reflected light in windows.