Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Remembering Last Summer

Last July I sketched the gorgeous Asiatic lilies growing next to the patio in our back yard. They only bloom for a few short weeks, but their delicate beauty and sweet scent bring a smile to my face very time I walk outside. They're just so beautiful!

5-1/2" x 8", ink & watercolor in Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

I drew the flowers on day 32 of the 75 Day Sketch Challenge that I worked on last summer, but didn't have a chance to paint them until recently. It had haunted me since July that the page in my sketchbook which could have had some of the richest colors out of 75 days of sketches, had languished as a simple black and white drawing.

With the start of the new year, I decided to finish up some unfinished projects, and this sketch was one of them. Painting it brought back memories of the warm summer afternoon when I drew it. Using a photo I had taken as a color reference, I painted the flowers primarily with Permanent Rose, plus a bit of Carmine, and Ultramarine Blue added for the darker areas. That deep fuchsia color is so rich and intense!


I painted the background first, then the first layer of leaf greens, then the deep pink flowers, being careful to paint around the stamens. After I had the leaves and petals as I wanted them, the green and orange stamens were painted. Finally I added the dark maroon speckling on the flower petals. I tried spattering the dark flecks, but the spatters went everywhere, so I blotted them off and tried again, painting each spot with a small brush while trying to keep them random-looking.

It was a lot of fun escaping from the dreariness of January through the pages of my sketchbook. Spring is just around the corner, and I'm daydreaming of sunshine, flowers and warm breezes. How about you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quick Sketching in the Winter Woods

If you've been reading my blog for long, you may remember a post I wrote last spring about my 5-5-5 Sketch Challenge. (Walk for five minutes, draw for five minutes, then paint for five minutes.) Last weekend, I thought I'd give it a try again, this time without my sidekick, a big, sloppy golden retriever who, last time, managed to knock me down and splash mud all over me and my sketchbook page.

 (Click to enlarge)
9" x 12", ink & watercolor, Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook

This time, it was peaceful and quiet. I rambled through the woods just down the hill from our house. The weather was mild, but a cold front was on its way. Luckily, I finished up as the first raindrops began to fall.


A page like this isn't great art, but it's a good exercise. When I only have ten minutes to draw and paint a subject, it frees me from worrying about having to have things just so. I have to admit, though, that I added a few touches of paint after I got home, mainly to darken spots here and there.


The beech tree sketch, above, is my favorite of the six. It's a good reminder to me to keep things simple. I have a tendency to try to include way too much in a picture, but on this one, I restrained myself, and I like the results.


Why not give it a try? Go for a walk outdoors and sketch the random things you see. I was surprised to find mushrooms growing in January and green plants peeking out from beneath the dead leaves on the forest floor after only two days of warm weather. Tramping around in the woods is good therapy and sketching is fun - a perfect combination!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Skiing and Sketching

I spent a few days visiting with family and friends this week at my mom's place at Alpine Lake, near Terra Alta, West Virginia. I took advantage of all the snow they've had in the past few weeks and went out cross-country skiing several times while I was there. I brought home a nice reminder of my fun visit, a completed page in my 9x12 sketchbook. (Aquabee Super Deluxe 9" x 12" sketchbook. Colors used: ultramarine blue, permanent rose, carmine, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium, burnt umber, burnt sienna, Payne's grey, & quinacridone violet)

(Click to enlarge)
8-1/2" x 12", ink & watercolor

The first morning was blustery and overcast, with not another soul in sight as I headed out across the snow-covered golf course. I carried my sketchbook and pen in a small backpack, hoping to do a sketch or two along the way, but it was a lot windier and colder than I had realized. I had to wait until I found a sheltered spot to take a break and attempt a sketch. Drawing with heavy winter gloves on is challenging, but the alternative was frozen fingers, so I opted for the gloves. A quick pen and ink sketch of the guard shack at the resort entrance was all my fumbling fingers could manage before I needed to get moving again to warm up.

Detail, 6" x 3-1/2"

The red flag on the 17th green looked so jaunty waving in the wind; I thought it would make a nice addition to my page. It only took a minute or two to get down the basic lines, then I finished it later with watercolor at home.

Detail, 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"

My ski poles are from my college days, back when cross-country skis were actually made of wood, and we used wax to keep from sliding backwards down a hill. I think it might finally be time to replace them, but I'll be kind of sad to see them go. Those poles were with me when I skied into the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies in three feet of snow with a 35 pound pack on my back!

Detail, 4" x 4"

This last sketch was drawn later in the week, on a sunny day when everything was bright and sparkling. I took my time skiing along the lake, pausing occasionally just to look and listen, appreciating the beauty and the quiet.

Detail, 6" x 3"

The frozen lake bed began to thaw later that day and by the time I headed home patches of grass were showing on the hilltops. It's only a temporary respite from winter though - spring's a long way off. That's okay. I enjoy each season for what it brings. (And painting snow is a lot easier than summer foliage!)
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