Saturday, April 23, 2016

Red Rose and pastel landscape progress

Red rose in Derwent Graphitint on paper

Yesterday, my beautiful granddaughter Sascha came home from a walk with a lovely large red rose that was blown off a neighbor's bush with about half an inch of stem. It's still sitting in its saucer on my desk. I had to sketch it, so decided to use strong, soft Derwent Graphitint watersoluble graphite pencils. Dry, they're like 8B graphite pencils with a hint of color. Washed, that hint of color becomes a lot stronger but still has a subtle graphite sheen.

When I use pencil I love the softest graphite pencils, so these have been favorites for a long time. I'm not the sort of artist who shades by five or six or more delicate layers with a hard pencil. Scribble and smudge, give me sweeping motions and strong contrast right from the start! So these are a lot of fun and I've got quite a few of them - by accident at the moment I've got maybe 3 sets of 12 but can't find one of the sets of 24 that I acquired, so I need to replace that. But having an extra won't hurt! 

How I wound up with small sets was their inclusion in trades and gift sets. One of the small sets is in an awesome zipper case with watercolor palette, hardcover sketchbook, other sketch and wash pencils and a waterbrush all in an easily carried case. Can't find its native waterbrush but have so many Niji ones it'll be easy to replace.

Iris Hill and Oak pastel plein air

This is something I started day before yesterday, when the rain stopped and I hung outside with my farrier daughter while she fixed her truck. It was sunny and beautiful, the foreground in shade with this sunlit patch beyond the trees blazing behind the iris hill. The iris patch extends far to the right too and into the distance. I might be able to finish just from what I have done already... or I might go outside again to finish, which would be truer to the scene.

I used a complementary water underpainting, scribbled masses in pastels and then washed with a waterbrush. Paper is a tan Canson Mi-Tientes Touch piece, drawing board a battered aluminum clipboard with a box underneath that exactly holds my 60 Rembrandt half stick pastels. Might hold 60 Great American half sticks even though that box is slightly larger too, have to try that. Obviously not at the same time, but pretty handy for going outside!

In fifteen minutes I have Johannes Vloothuis class online so going out won't be till later. I'll see how I feel, if he gets me all wound up to paint I might amble out, but if the chronic fatigue or arthritis bites I might not. Pretty tempting though, it's sunny and lovely out there again!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Two Red Irises in Watercolor Pencil

Two Red Irises
Watercolor pencil on pocket Moleskine Watercolor

These are the ones my granddaughter got photos of. They looked violet in the photos, but in person they're cold pink over a deep cold red, clearly in the magenta range. Lovely flowers, two of them bloomed at once and they are so striking. There may be white or pink ones out there too just waiting to bloom.

So I'm having a lot of fun lately with my favorite flowers. These life studies will be good when I want to put together a garden painting. It'll come together with various flowers I've done from life brought together in a composed landscape whether or not they bloomed at the same time or even in the same state. I have some irises from San Francisco too in my photo collection.

Recently my Kindle overflowed, so I went in using my computer and started deleting photos of artwork while keeping photo references of cats and flowers and landscapes. I'm not tossing them out, just copying into a USB key and then deleting to make room on my Kindle.

Edit: Later, Sascha brought these flowers in from beyond the goats' field aka The Dry Lot (it hasn't got a spring or well on it for them to drink from).

Unidentified light purple flowers and red clover photo

So naturally I sketched and painted these as well, from the vase on my desk. The vase is great too but not at that angle half hidden by a plastic travel coffee cup and stuff. So today got two pages in the little Moleskine Watercolor journal. Good thing I bought a couple of extra ones right before the move!

Light purple flower sprays, pen and watercolor
in pocket Moleskine Watercolor book.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Light Purple Iris from Life

 Light Purple Iris from Life, pen-watercolor
in pocket Moleskine Watercolor journal

Hen, Goat, Cat, Rocks Page
pen-watercolor in pocket Moleskine Watercolor book

Missed posting the Hen, Goat, Cat and Rocks page when I finished it. Switched over to my other pocket journal, the sleek 3" x 5" Moleskine Watercolor one. Still has 140lb cold press paper but the grain is a lot finer than the Strathmore, allows more detail and smaller sketches with fine point pens. 

Everything's from life of course. There's huge patches of irises coming up in the yard across the driveway, under and between the trees and on a hill that used to have a fountain. The first to bloom was that rich red-violet. The second is a light purple, bluer, a good tint of Dioxazine Violet with touches of blue here and there.

Now a third has bloomed with dark lower petals and light upper petals. I'll have to paint that one too, naturally! Kitten says there are bronze ones, white, pink, other colors, so I can't wait to see what blooms next. 

The jonquils are all bloomed out but there were so many of them I was thrilled. Bulb flowers seem to do well here! I hope my hyacinth survives to bloom again next year and maybe propagate itself.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Purple Flower ends a Visual Journal

Purple Flower botanical, pen and watercolor
3" x 5" Strathmore Visual Journal 140lb Cold Press paper

Well, this is it! The grand finale, a last botanical picked this morning and painted from life. These flowers bloom in great profusion right across the driveway, still on my daughter's land. The scale of the farm never ceases to amaze me, bits I think must be the neighbors' yard turn out to be still more of ours and the longer Spring blooms on, the more I see in these patches of unknown vegetation.

I liked the Strathmore Visual Journal. It has a whimsical lightweight cardboard cover printed with an example sketch and its information, which I didn't tear off but kept as a protector for the sturdy, glossy, heavy brown alligator print board. On the front cover I taped off a picture area, painted it with Daniel Smith Watercolor Primer and did a pen and watercolor rose on it - thus had a reason to keep the glossy whimsical outer cover to protect it.

It's been banged around a bit. I started it in 2011 and filled about a third of it, then left it behind when I moved to San Francisco. When I came back it was out on a bookcase with a few other supplies that hadn't been packed off into the attic. So it went through two moves without me, got handled and kept out and still protected its contents well. It has not yellowed at all, being good watercolor paper. It's 140lb cold press, probably cellulose or it would've listed a cotton or rag percentage, did not mention acid free or buffered but the evidence is there. Most likely because Pacon used a standard decent paper in it. I'll know more in a few years, but it is just as bright as when it was new.

The surface is a bit coarse. Cold Press watercolor paper has a range of textures from very fine grained to texture valleys so deep and large it might as well be listed as Rough. The sizing was just right for my techniques. I prefer not to stretch watercolor paper and to paint on the sized paper as it is. That gives me a little more control and less unwanted blurring when I want sharp edges.

Overall it's a good journal! I may replace it with another one, or get several sizes. The pocket size is very convenient and easy to fill. Big spiral binding did not get mashed or come undone over the years either, a big plus compared to some of them. It's got a double-wire spiral binding, not single wire, also the wire is coated. This is good if you don't want loose wire ends catching your sleeves or skin or scraping pages once they work loose.

Well made, reasonably priced, handy little thing. I'm happy with it and happy with all its contents. The strong paper let me play with a variety of water media and techniques and not one page leaked through to its following image, so that's a big plus for the full strength heavy paper vs. some other journals. 

Not the super quality of a Stillman & Birn journal but this was a good one and I did enjoy it. At its price, it's much easier to relax and just use it as a sketchbook! I've filled it mostly with life studies that I'll use for later reference in paintings.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Golden Barn Cat and First Iris

Golden Sutekh barn cat and first iris
3" x 5" pen and watercolor on 140lb cold press paper

Only two pages left to fill! I had to capture golden Sutekh, the long haired ginger tabby barn cat. He is magnificent! I love that cat, he's my outdoor friend just like Calcifer. Very friendly and easy going.

The first iris of the year finally opened yesterday. I knew it would be purple but the hue is spectacular! Not the blue-violet I expected but a rich deep saturated red-violet that I managed to capture by shading in Dioxazine Violet, then glazing over that with Permanent Rose. It didn't entirely come through in the photo but in person the color's a true match. I kept the green of the leaves a little muted and leaning toward Quinacridone Gold to keep the saturation emphasis on the flower.

This is a good page. I don't know what I'll do on the next two, but happily I found my pocket watercolor Moleskine after weeks of searching. It was in the art supplies bag that I had in the hospital when I had pneumonia, but slid to the bottom where a magnifying glasses holder clipped onto its elastic so when we searched before all we saw was the glasses holder. Took getting everything out of the bag to actually find it - so now I have something in hand to keep going with small pen-watercolor life sketches!

White Lily from Life, 3" x 5"
Watercolor pencil on cold press watercolor paper.

Now there's only one page left in the journal. Very tempting to finish with a sketch of Ari or Kyra or both of them together. Get back to my sweet loving fur buddy as I keep getting distracted by flowers and other animals!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dried Leaf in Pen and Watercolor

Dried Leaf in pen and watercolor
3" x 5" cold press watercolor paper.

Only three empty pages left in this little journal! It's cool coming to the end of one. I don't know what I'll do on the last pages but I love its thick paper that doesn't bleed through no matter what I do.

This morning I looked down and saw this leaf. It's old, most of them are just a reddish faded brown - but this one had deep violet-blue areas and patches, some in shadow and blued still more by reflected sky. I know sometimes they turn black as they degrade into soil, this was a stage in that process. So I had to draw and paint it, the unusual colors and sharp dark shadows grabbed me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lily in pen and ink

Lily in pen on watercolor paper, 3" x 5"

Close to the end on that little Strathmore Visual Journal. I've got only four pages left but plenty of good life studies for reference in it. This lily came from my son in law's church, it had lots of buds and no open blooms when they gave it to him after the service on Easter Sunday. Now it's sitting out in the garden with three big white blossoms on it and I love it.

I've been getting photos but it's hard to get accurate values and details on a white object with a camera. The sketches are going to be a lot of help if I turn this into a painting. 

I'd like to get back to doing some pastels but need some time to rest up from all the medical overexertion lately. My knee got a sprain, ankle is starting to feel the stress, back is screaming including an area I didn't expect up by my neck because of the position I had to be in to get an MRI of my neck vertebrae. This is ugly and all I can do is ride it out. Tomorrow will be worse, second day after overexertion always is. I've got a bad feeling I might be stuck as a full time patient for some time due to overly proactive new doctor, and I'm skeptical about whether any of this will actually be worth it in the long run.

Enough grumbling for now. I'm still going to try for something in pastels as soon as I'm up to it, and I dearly want to start experimenting with my new Bombay India Inks and dip pens. 24 colors in lightfast pigmented ink should give me some spectacular results in pen-watercolor or just colorful pen work!