Thank you, Susan Rushton

Several weeks ago, I was itching to try some new art tools. I’d treated myself to a starter set of Inktense pencils and dozens of new Tombow markers. But I was stumped for subject matter.

Fortunately, I follow Susan Rushton’s blog. Her early February post and photos of seemingly ‘demure’ hellebores revealed stunningly complex and fascinating flower interiors normally hidden from view.  Wow!

The hellebore’s downward-facing flowers had seemed, until then, uninteresting in the early spring garden.  But Susan’s images and comments changed my mind and inspired me to visit my local nursery, where I found several varieties, capturing some reference photos for my test sketches.

Just yesterday, Susan posted again about hellebores, so the time seems right to thank her for her for giving me a new appreciation for these garden charmers.

Here’s how I’m seeing them in a few sketches using Inktense dye pencils, overlaid in some cases with watercolor, and with Tombow pens, which blend beautifully.

helibores inktense sketch March 2017

two helibores March 2017

helibore side show B March 2017

lighter side show helibores

helibore upclose March 2017

They say it takes two…

…Two people, that is, to create an artwork.  One to bring it into existence and another to say “STOP” when it’s finished.

Have you ever taken a good drawing or painting too far and ruined it?

I’ve blown up several sketches over the past couple of days, but I DID draw or paint each day so far this year. All five days of it. And I am not ashamed to share a couple of  watercolor pencil drawings/paintings.

Working from photos I took in my garden last May, these made me happy today:

Reference photo from May, 2016:photo-for-calla-wcp

My water color version, January 4, 2017:

wc-calla-mid-stage

I liked this but went further with it. Looking at the version below, I wish I’d listened to that voice that said, Stop!

Final Calla Lily, January 4, 2017:

Calls Jan 4 FINAL.png

I am not sure the addition of the small leaf at top right adds anything to the composition, though I do like the more atmospheric areas around the flower and leaves and the darker values add drama.

I’m glad to have photos of both stages so that I did not lose what I liked about the first version.

Today, I drew from a different reference photo, also from May 2016:

calla-for-jan-5-wcp

My January 5 interpretation, in watercolor:

calla-jan-5-final

Callas are dramatic flowers and interesting to draw.

Years ago, I made jewelry and created many cloisonne enameled pendants featuring this flower. I sold them all but wish I had kept one.  My original design sketches and photos of some finished pieces are tucked away somewhere. It might be time to review them and see what I can learn from them this year. I sense the need for another round of closet cleaning to find them. Oy!

However, for now, I am excited that new callas will emerge in my garden in a few months.

The days are already lengthening and I know that Spring is coming.

Inspiration from my garden

Something is always blooming in Seattle and my small garden offers a constant parade of subjects for drawing and painting. Much more fun than weeding!

This photo taken in late fall, looking down from above a large ceramic planter, shows fading heuchera and Japanese forest grass leaves above a cascade of flowering rosemary. I liked the composition enough to use as the basis for a watercolor sketch.

img_0524

I’d recently found some dusty art supplies that had been tucked away for years in various parts of the house. Among them was a set of watercolor pencils that I don’t recall buying and didn’t really know how to use. The colors were not impressive to draw with, but when I brushed water over the pigments, they became more vibrant as they melted and blended together. These could be interesting.

I used a grid system to transfer the design from the photo to a larger sheet of paper. Treating each square of the grid as a small abstract on its own, lets me concentrate on each section’s shapes, values, colors and textures. The grid marks can be erased, painted over or treated as design elements, as I did in this color sketch.

color-sketch-no-border