flowers


My plants are never pleased when they are brought indoors after living happily on the front porch from May until late autumn.  All of the pots were brought inside before Hurricane Sandy hit land.

Unhappy Oxalis Plant

Three days after the hurricane hit, I caught a plane for California to teach two Color Scheme Game Workshops in Santa Rosa.  Tom, without power for almost two weeks, pampered my plants in my absence.  They have all survived, though a couple are still struggling.  This little pot of Oxalis has a giant corm standing out of the dirt in the middle of the pot.  Survival is such a strong, driving force among all living things.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Modified Triad (Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green and Blue Green)  Pot and dirt are neutralized hues of the triad.

A lone, petunia seed found its way into a package of zinnia seeds.

A petunia thinking it’s a zinnia

When the flowers began to bloom I was startled by the odd petunia in my flower bed of zinnia.  It has grown tall and strong among its peers, perhaps, as the swan thought itself to be a duckling, the petunia thinks it’s a zinnia.  Never have a seen a petunia grow so tall and upright.

I am reminded of the inspiration and standards set for me by my fellow artists and the significant mentors in my life.  I am so much stronger thanks to the example they set for me.

My children have fabulous friends and I’m fortunate that they share them with me.

Flowers from a loving friend

Tom and I sat in the backyard.  We raised our glasses to all those we love and have loved.

A UPS truck rumbled up the driveway.

“The coffee!”  Tom anticipated the arrival of another giant bag of beans from Chick. Tom was repairing Chick’s coffee bagger when his heart rebelled.  Chick watched over Tom the entire week he was in the hospital in Long Island.  He continues to keep us supplied with coffee and Tom still keeps Chick’s machine humming along, one of the few coffee customers whose baggers he still services.

Tom returned to the table with not one, but two boxes.  The second box was a long purple box, obviously flowers.  It was addressed to my son, Michael, whose father passed away on Saturday.  Flowers for the living!  Flowers for and from loving friends.  The cheerful daisies survived their voyage in the cardboard box and have now recovered, bringing smiles and hugs across many miles to touch not just Michael’s heart, but my heart, too.

Thank you, dear friend!

Painting for Michael:  ink and watercolor, drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor, followed by a few more lines drawn with the fountain pen.

I hated it.  I worked all day yesterday resolving issues on a painting I hated.  Why?  It wasn’t painterly.  Even before my first cup of coffee I had paintbrush in hand.

(left)- before, (right)- after

It boiled down to marks and edges.  I was overly focused on larger shapes rather than the smaller shapes that made up the larger shapes. There was little to none when it came to variation of edges.  I had not orchestrated the transitions between shapes allowing for subtleties of rhythm.  Darkening the value of the bottom right corner helped.  I’m still not crazy about the results, but I feel more confident that I will stay aware of painterly transitions when I set up my easel today.  Maybe I’ll tackle the cornfield!

Final version (I hope!)

If I feel the urge to go back into this one again, I’ll scrape it off instead.

Wildflowers, Detail, oil on wood panel

I am much happier with the marks.

Painting, 10.5″ x 18″ oil on wood panel, en plain air landscape

I’ve downloaded a photoshop app that allows me to snap a photo of my painting and change it to black and white on my phone.  This is incredibly helpful while painting en plein air.  I can tell immediately when values aren’t working well.

I painted Bob’s wildflower meadow a week ago.  The clouds were driving me crazy.

Original version of plein air oil painting

Before I could make any changes I had to wait for the oil paint to dry.  The sky already had a nasty green tint to it.  My original plan was only to clean up the sky and correct the cloud issue.

First Four variations

My plan usually changes.  With each stroke, new resolutions had to be found.

Next three variations

After the last resolution I have decided to move on …… whew …… I learned more from working my way through all these variations than I would have if I had started over eight times.  With each change, some elements improved and some nice passages were lost.

Comparison of first and final version of the painting

As always, the most important lesson is that paintings will go more smoothly, with more opportunity to play with color if I resolve the light and dark shapes FIRST!

Final Version of the wildflower meadow, 10.5″ x 18″ oil

I returned to Keyport to paint again in Renee’s garden.

Gladiolus blossoms

The absence of rain has taken its toll on the flowers.  The gladioli had just bloomed and were the only hydrated flowers in sight.  The blossoms were fresh, full of life and absolutely gorgeous.  They bent at odd angles, giving them the look of being blown in a gentle breeze in spite of the still air.

Gladiolus Blossoms, watercolor, detail

Another detail of the gladiolus blossoms

The drawing was complicated and demanded an enormous amount of concentration to capture the character of each petal without getting too stiff.  I wanted the drawing to look as alive and fresh as the flowers.  I’m pleased with the result.

Last night, as the sun headed toward the horizon, the clouds contrasted sharply with the blue sky.  Hmmmm. How dark a value would I have to mix my blue to get that breathtaking pop-up book look of the clouds?  A bit to the left the shadow side of the maple tree contrasted sharply with the blue sky.  Hmmmmmm, the sky only a mid-value, much lighter than I would have guessed.

Hollyhocks

I thought of the tree, sky and clouds this morning as I sketched and painted the hollyhocks.

Hollyhocks, Stage 2

I hesitated before painting in the blue shapes behind the flowers, but not for long.  I wanted to see if I could create a bit of excitement inspired by the drama of the evening sky.

Hollyhocks, 11″ x 11″

I’m glad I tried it.  I think I like it.  The blue is Joe’s Blue (Cheap Joe’s pthalo blue) with a touch of French Ultramarine.  The only other colors I used are Alizarin Crimson and Gamboge, a very limited palette.

Sketchbook painting:  drawn first in pencil, followed by watercolor.

Hollyhocks always make me smile.

Hollyhocks in bloom

In 1995, the first summer in our home in Lebanon Township, we were treated to garden surprises.  A peony plant appeared in the middle of the backyard.  Bleeding Heart bloomed in half a dozen locations, scattered about.  For me, the greatest delight were the red and pink hollyhocks blooming all along the south side of the house.  Over the years, we lost many of the hollyhocks.  Only the pink remain.  They were always my favorite.  This year they are exceptionally beautiful.

Sketchbook painting: Drawn first with fountain pen in ink, followed by pink ink for the blossoms and watercolor for the leaves.

Magnificent day spent in Keyport where I painted during the Garden Walk sponsored by the Keyport Garden Club.

Pink Yarrow and Lupine

I left early this morning to avoid the shore traffic and to check out some of the gardens before the event began at 11 am.  I visited only a few before making my choice for the day, Renee’s Garden on Jackson Street.  My friends, Dolly and Wayne, checked out several of the other gardens for me, but I’ve decided to return to Jackson Street tomorrow, as  well as future days throughout the change of seasons.

I’m not a big fan of garden ornaments.  However, I am enchanted with this garden filled with unique birdhouses, iron and glasswork “things” and miniature tea parties set up in an Alice and Wonderland fashion.  A giant clock was the subject of my second painting of the day.  As I painted, I thought back on the hours I spent reading to my children.  Lupine grew in front of the house along the sidewalk.  I thought instantly of Miss Rumphius.

The flowers and ivy flourish.  It is clear that Renee pours her passion into this magical garden and I can’t help but feel that energy coming back from the plants and trees.

I enjoy this sort of Plein Air event.  The artists are invited to paint.  There is no exhibit, there is no judging of the work. An opportunity is provided for artists to have access to new people and new places.

Painting: drawn first with fountain pen and ink, followed by watercolor

What a joy to sit on my front step and draw the Spiderwort (Tradescantia) that Alexis planted by the front door, many years ago.

Spiderwort plant, (Tradescantia)

I was counting on it storming all day, both today and tomorrow.  Instead, it was a gorgeous.  The sun shone brightly and a cool breeze kept the air fresh while I sorted boxes and piles in the basement, years of unsorted, need-to-be-thrown-out stuff.  It it emotionally wrenching to be smacked in the face with flashbacks every two minutes.

Before the sun had dipped too low in the sky, I treated myself to drawing the blossoms that had been battered by last night’s powerful storm….. the one that was supposed to have arrived today.  It’s so much easier to be stuck in the house cleaning when it is pouring rain outside.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor

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