Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jonquil and Plein Air Trees

8" x 10" pastel on brown sketch paper

Last Wednesday was my clinic visit and the elevator in my building still hasn't been fixed. So I called in to Paratransit and set my pickup time an hour late to have time for sketching. The stairs wiped me out, but the shot invigorated me and the weather was good. So I went out into the garden. The previous visit a whole bed of jonquils blazed bright lemon yellow in the back plus a few scattered around in other beds. This time there were three plants left. 

Two were in extremely awkward places that I had to step off the path and weave between beds of flowers just to get photos. That was difficult and strenuous. I lost a couple of pocket contents just getting photos of those and the micro lilacs from the strangest lilac bush I've ever seen - litle spikes maybe 3" long and tiny 1/8" florets in deep blue-violet. Wonderful scent though and I got a series of photos of those. I wore myself out on plant photography and then discovered even the easiest jonquil to reach still meant sitting on hte grass looking down at it, or lay down and get a photo at its level. I got down for the photo.

Then went out back by the patient drop-off and pickup spot, got some good azalea photos and sketched my jonquil from the best photo. I was not happy with the sketch, thought it was awful, covered the pad and put it away. Read a little just resting. Then got the sketch urge again and decided to do the big palm tree beyond the parking lot that I've never gotten a good photo of close enough for detail, plus the deciduous tree that overlapped it. The bases were actually blocked by some shorter bushes and plantings, but once I'd sketched them they floated. I picked up some green and added a harmonic line a little like those in Chinese paintings to make the sketches look better.

Trees study from life
Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers on Bockingford paper

Why I don't like this sketch is that the extra color I picked up blurred and created unwanted blossoms and bare patches at random in the foliage of both. It's not totally a success. But not totally a failure either. It is what it is - a tree study from life. I remember the trees better for sketching this. Where it's not literal I did get the basic shapes and identities and the feel of them.

I could probably have reworked and layered this, but that would change it a lot and it might come out overworked if I did. So I treated it as a study and after I finished the jonquil this afternoon, decided to post both. It can stand as what it is. Not every sketch has to be an inspired, perfect painting!

As for the pastel jonquil, I finished without looking back at the photo. I had enough sketch to go by and just strengthened it. Not my best but lots better than it looked unfinished. Again, a study, a sketch, not a fine painting on sanded paper. This is what that brown Bee Recycled Rough Sketch paper is for!

I started it with Cretacolor Pastels Carre' (hard pastels 36 colors) and finished with 60 Rembrandt half sticks, soft pastels at the "medium" range of softness. Good enough to go on the sketch wall!

Forget perfectionism, just have fun!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tulip, Marigolds and Petunias

Tulip, Marigolds and Petunias
7" square 
Pan Pastels, Rembrandt and Terry Ludwig pastels
White Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede pastel card

This little painting took three stages to finish, first blocking in the tulip over a bright orange background, then the yellow-orange marigolds and greenery and most of the tulip's form, then the last details came very fast and I added the petunias to balance the composition and unify the colors. Also some little forget me knots between the flowers. 

This garden is overgrown and unreal but I don't care, it looks the way I wanted it to. Or maybe the plants just filled out enough to fill up the spaces between them. I always liked that look in garden plants. It's not weedy though, all garden flowers. I love being able to use the bright colors in a painting and still be true to life. Ruffled petunias and the tulip were both from the Pastel Spotlight challenge this month on "Violet" theme at WetCanvas, photos by BlackHorse and DAK723. The orange marigolds were more or less taken from another painting I did some time back from a photo by DAK723 but I changed their color based on ones I remembered.

This month has been a bit rough for changing weather. Not that bad for pain but I've been sleeping a lot and doing less sketching and painting. Need to get back to sketching and painting so I scheduled myself an extra hour in the garden on Wednesday's clinic visit to be able to settle out there and sketch something from life. I will be packing art supplies, probably water media.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Azalea Blossoms

Azalea Blossoms
7" square, WN markers on S&B Zeta journal

Today was my nurse appointment at the family health care clinic. As usual I got out into the sun and saw the azalea bush at the patient drop-off blooming brightly. So I went ahead and snapped a photo. Then sketched from it in the waiting room. I didn't have time to get a lot of photos in the garden but did snap one or two of a patch of jonquils, may paint from those later if they're clear enough. I won't know till I go through them whether they're blurry or not.

I love these markers for fast sketching. On days that I'm not feeling up to art they can make the difference between whether I sketch or not. The water brush really brings out the lighter values too. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Sap Green and Alizarin Crimson Hue were exactly the right match for the real plants, though if I had started bringing in darks around them like the photo I'd have been doing a lot of layering to match both color and value. I decided on leaving it white because I liked it. One of those moments of recognizing less is more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why I Like Painting Pears cartoon

Once in a while I get a silly idea. This is one of those times. I'm still down with a cold, still not up to serious art, but a comment by my daughter about her cat's plumpness just gave me the idea. So naturally I had to draw it up!

The best cartoons come from a moment's silly thought. The best cartoonist I've ever known said "You don't have to be able to draw well to do cartoons. You just have to be able to draw consistently and get really funny ideas."

So here's one for a laugh. 30 Cats in 30 Days turned into a retrospective. I posted seven older cat pieces on Facebook yesterday and later today I'll do six more - subtracting any serious cat art or real Ari sketches I do. Tomorrow I'll finish with seven more cats and at least share 30 cat s in 30 days.

But this teaches me something - doing the same subject as daily art doesn't work as well for me as just "Daily Art" in general. Also finishing one intens daily art challenge followed immediately by another can be too much. Your mileage may vary, probably will since I'm still wrestling the Fourth Bad Cold Of The Worst Winter In A Decade. Yuck. I didn't think I could get this sick for this long in a good climate ,but maybe it can happen anywhere. There seem to be some obnoxious ones going around this year, other people seem to be down with colds a lot more often too and all are in very different parts of the country.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cat Sketches Page

Yesterday's cat sketch, under two previously posted ones. Also some saplings sketched after a lesson by Johannes Vloothuis on how to distract from it if you have to cross a couple of trees in a background. Ways to liven it up and keep it from just looking like an X including twigs, protrusions, adding more twigs, lots of goofing around to give an impression of tangled twigs.

Ari slept on my pants in the seat of my power scooter and stayed there a good long time. He looked so sweet cuddled up on my pants. He likes laying on my laundry. Many cats will sleep in laundry, it's because they know your scent and think of you as family. Sleeping where their loved ones were before is a comforting situation for a cat.

Maybe it is for people too, if you've ever been married and gotten used to the other hollow in the bed it's that kind of thing.