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.

204. In the Garden: Daffodils

With clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, spring has arrived!  I packed up a watercolor book, pens, a couple of cameras, and myself – off to the local botanical garden to finally get a look after weeks of rains and closure.  I was not disappointed.  Flowers in bloom, hordes of butterflies as I haven’t seen in years (lots of flowers = lots of butterflies), people.  The air was fragrant from the new growth everywhere, but in particular was a clump of daffodils beneath an old olive tree.

I sat down on a rock, and did this sketch, saving the colors until I got home.  I also took a lot of pictures – digital and film – for reference.  People stopped by and made conversation, a dog or two came to sniff.  Nature, while beautiful, is also capable of irritation – the baby flies were a bit annoying and I wonder if I should put on some DEET to keep them away.

For months I have been thinking about drawing in the garden.  It changes daily, and with the seasons.  This is the first drawing of this project, which will be ongoing.  I’ll be adding it to the page My Other Lives page above.  (For now – WordPress seems to be having issues adding pages!)

Happy Spring everyone!

201. Spring in the California Foothills

We have had a lot of rain this year in California, and throughout both ends of the state.  North and south.  As a result, the hills are a brilliant lime green, and when the sun hits just right, it’s hard to believe our once beige state has blossomed into such beauty.  The wildflower bloom is beginning, from the desert to the high Sierra.  Cacti, poppies, lupines, and so many other flowers await our eager eyes.

187. Sketch of a Rose

Yesterday was another run-around-and-get-things-done day.  Whew!  Taxes, appointments, scheduling, ya-da-ya-da.  It’s boring stuff, believe me.

Anyway, today was drawing day.  Eating lunch between all the craziness, I clicked on Alphonso Dunn (my hero!) on YouTube, and his tutorial of a rose popped up.  Very simple way to look at a rather complicated subject.  Essentially, a rose is a cylinder with layers peeling back.  Voila, there it is.

I did use a pencil to create the shape, and erased it multiple times.  If you enlarge the picture, you will see the paper is pretty dirty after 3 and 4 erasures.  However, the paper held up (Bee), the ink went down (Micron 0.3), and so did the paint.  I’ve never really done a rose well before, so Dunn’s tutorial has, yet again, explained things I never thought about.  Go watch him!