plants


I’ve avoided embracing the excitement over Artist Trading Cards ….. until now.

Black Bush Sage

Black Bush Sage

I awoke late.  The sky was the color of cantaloupe.  As I sipped my coffee I created my first ACEO.  When I taught the workshop in Santa Rosa last month, Joanie nudged me to try creating a few trading cards.  After several weeks, my resistance faded.  I resolved the problem of working on such a small piece of paper (2.5″ x 3.5″) by stitching a sketchbook just for the ACEOs.  The sketchbook pages measure 4″ x 5.5″, a slightly more comfortable size to work on.
Now that I have my new website with my own little store, I can offer these little gems without a hassle, either cut to standard ATC size or full-page size for framing.

Full Page - Black Bush Sage

Full Page – Black Bush Sage

The sketchbook was created with a boring cover.  My intention is to cut the pages out as they sell.  If I liked the cover, I wouldn’t cut the pages out.  I always have to trick myself.  The little drawings I do in my sketchbook I like far better than the drawings I do on separate pieces of paper with the intention of selling.  I end up with boxes full of drawings that I eventually throw away.  The problem was that I won’t cut pages out of my personal sketchbooks.  The solution is to make specific sketchbooks that are intended to be cut apart.

Will I be able to trick my brain?  Time will tell.

Image: Black Bush Sage Against a Melon Sky – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

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Drawings often deviate from the original plan.

Pressed Red Tip Photinia Branch with shadows, backlit illumination

The plan was to paint the drawing according to color value rather than color hue using illogical and discordant hues.  I began drawing with a dip pen using Diamine Ochre ink.  I wanted to see what variations of hue the ink would separate into when I added only clean water along the edges of the lines.  The flow of ink into the water worked beautifully for the dry, pressed leaves, more of a burnt sienna hue than an ochre hue. I followed the inspiration of the leaves rather than proceed with my original plan.  After painting the shadows and cell shapes the leaves looked flat and uninteresting.  I pale wash of aureolin with a touch of burnt sienna brought life back into the leaves.

I’ll give my original plan another try and post it on the Creative Color Blog later today.

Sketchbook Drawing: Pressed Red Tip Branch and Shadows, ink and watercolor.  Limited palette of aureolin, french ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

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.

The overcast sky and the daily rainfall has revived my gasping Licorice Plant.

Athena Brazil, Helichrysum Petiolare, Licorice Plant

In spite of watering it daily, it remained unhappy.  Perhaps a move to the north side of the house would have been better than forcing it to stay among the collection of potted herbs on the south side of the house.  A rainy, Labor Day weekend appears to be what it has wanted all along.

sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun ink, followed by watercolor on BFK Rives printmaking paper.

An attempt at working in the same style, but larger.

Much larger than my sketchbook!

Using the same Rives BFK paper and my fountain pen I began a large drawing of the sweet potato vine in the hanging basket.  I wanted to see how the ink and watercolor sketches might translate into a larger format.

Laying in the washes

A drawing of this size, in this style, demands hours and hours of attention.  I had drawn too much detail, with ink,  into one of the leaves.  I had hoped I could disguise the problem.

Finished painting

Along with each new disguise, I created a new problem.  With each new solution, I lost some of the freshness and clarity of the painting.  I finally decided it is best to start over.  Numerous lessons learned along the journey!

Detail at an earlier stage

Sweet Potato Vine: Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by far too many washes of watercolor.

My potted herbs offer a variety of leaf shapes and an opportunity to play with warm greens and cool greens.

Potted Herb Plants

I braved the heat to sit outside and draw a selection of potted kitchen herbs.  I was hoping for at least one good thunderstorm to refresh the fields of corn and the crunchy grass.  No such luck.  Thanks to my watering cans, the herbs are still alive, though not thriving.

Drawn en plein air.  Line drawing using an old Scheaffer fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor.  Color Palette: Phthalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Carmine, Cadmium Red Scarlet, Cadmium Yellow, Gamboge, Viridian.  I used only a tip’s worth of the Carmine and the Cadmium Red Scarlet to tone down the green in a few areas.

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.

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