225. Life Cycle of the Pomegranate

Well, I’m back!  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks dealing with all the little sticky bits of paperwork and choices for retirement, from choosing a supplemental Medicare program to whatever.  It’s a lot of drudgery, but has to be done.  I’ve everything except one card – the prescription card – but the rest is in place.  Besides that, I have also had the time and desire to focus on conquering some software issues, now resolved but only to have another pop up.  Thus, back to painting – so much more enjoyable and fun, even when things go wrong . . .

Here, the life cycle of the pomegranate, from flower to fruit to food for birds when it bursts open.  The local botanical garden has several of these lovely trees, now in the stage of bloom and setting fruit.  Large, ripe fruits come later in the year, of course.  I don’t know why I thought of doing a life cycle, but it seemed like a fun thing to do – maybe a mirror of my own life cycle?  Done with the weekly commute and such?

224. Loquats for the Picking

A couple of weeks ago I took a photo of loquats, not really ready to be eaten, but certainly not too much sooner!

The loquat is a fruit tree indigenous to southeastern China. It is frequently grown in California gardens for its fruit and decorative qualities. The fruit is a pale yellow to a golden color, and the leaves are stiff and dark green. The contrast of the roundish fruit with the wide, pointy leaves makes for an interesting painting subject.

The photo from which the drawing evolved:

Painting the loquat has a bit of cross-cultural history behind it, too; ink painting tradition honors the loquat in Asia.

It would be easy enough to paint a loquat in watercolors, without ink, as well.

221. Lichens on Tree Branches

I have finally gotten out to the local botanic garden after a month long hiatus.  I went a couple of days ago on a bright sunny day.  Today, in the foggy gloom, I went again.  Both times, camera in hand.  The sunny day I was accompanied by a friend while this morning one of my dogs came along.

In today’s gloom, the bright green lichens on this tree caught my eye.  I’ve photographed it a number of times, in different seasons, under different lighting conditions.  There are spots of green, white, and dark grey.  Textures range from smooth to rough.  In the textures of the garden – leaves, flowers, critters, stems, branches, – it is easy to overlook the subtle beauty of a couple of branches.

212. An Afternoon on the Patio

We headed out to San Diego for the last several days, to see the zoo, to walk around, to explore a bit of the city, and to just get out of town.  It was really nice, but no painting or drawing got done!  Lots of photography and fine dining and hiking all over.  It was a very welcome break from the daily routines.

Now, back in town, everything is caught up and time to play!  I moved out to the side patio where we have peppers, flowers, herbs, and sundry plants for our pleasure.  We have a few resident lizards, too; they dart around and sometimes we find them in the house.  When we do, they are gently moved outside.  They are a lot of fun to watch as they do push-ups in the sun.  And that is what we begin with below – a 5 minute ink and watercolor sketch of milkweed and a lizard that flitted in and out of the picture.  Rather a stiff picture – amazing what you lose when you don’t paint or draw every day.

From here, I looked toward the fence facing the front of the house.  Here we have a jasmine, bulbs, and mint.  Behind them are the blue tomato cages, sometimes used to support tomatoes, and sometimes peppers or vines.  Another ink and watercolor sketch; this time, 10 minutes allotted.

Finally, just watercolor.  Lavender is a lovely plant, and this one is making me so happy.  I believe it is English lavender, as opposed to French, as it is shorter and more compact.  I could be wrong.  I could look it up on the internet.  But I don’t feel like it!  Okay, I did.  I have no idea what kind of lavender it is!  There are so many kinds . . .

As an aside, I bought some Holbein water-based gouache when we were in San Diego.  There was a Real Art Store a few blocks from the B&B we stayed at.  And a bookstore.  And a lot of good restaurants.  So, expect some adventures into gouache in the future.  Meanwhile, it felt good to pick up a pen and colors to just diddle around on a sunny afternoon, enjoying retirement.

 

 

209. Miner’s Lettuce

Yesterday I went out for a bit of a hike, through one of my favorite trails, the Chumash Trail.  Last year we had massive fires, and what I saw was the remnants of that fire.  Burnt mountainsides, devoid of brush and the usual cover (like poison oak!).  Bare and burnt oak trees, rocks.  So many things were revealed by the fire as plants were burnt away.

Sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it?  Here in California, much of our landscape and plants are fire-dependent, meaning that fire is a normal part of the season.  With the drought and firefighting measures – like not letting entire neighborhoods burn down – brush becomes overgrown.  With a drought, you have kindling.

Now, with everything burnt away, new growth is beginning to emerge.  Flowers, weeds, leaves on the oak trees.  I was able to hike into an area that I normally avoid – too much poison oak and a lot of rattle snakes.  It is along a creek into a narrowing canyon.  And, sitting on a rock, listening to birds and the sound of water, I looked around.  That is when I found the first-ever Miner’s Lettuce I have seen in this area.  I took a picture, and this is what I painted.

A perfect spring morning!

208. A Matter of Perspective

Still working on my buildings!  And in the process I realized I am dreadful when it comes to both depth of field and perspective.  If you look at the roof of the building centered in the sketch, the line for it is much, much steeper than the building adjacent to it.  The same with its door.  It was that steep angle of perspective I was trying to follow – and failed.  I have a few books on perspective – time to dig them out and study them quite seriously.  I don’t think it will be that difficult, but I need to learn a few tricks.  On the other hand, I am rather pleased with the sense of shadow and sunshine . . . there is still hope!

205. In the Garden: Hummingbird Sage

Hummingbird sage – salvia spathacea – is a member of the salvia famnily, and is found throughout the woodland environment of California.  It’s smallish – about a foot tall – and has dark green leaves and the most complex little flowers with the strangest shapes.  Spring is always around the corner when they appear,  In a drought-ridden environment, such as ours, salvia plants add a lot to your garden.  This particular sage may or may not appeal to the gardener on a practical level – propagation is not only by seeds, but underground rhizomes, which could become a bit overwhelming.