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 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.


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.

When I arrived at 68 Jackson Street on Sunday morning, Renee invited me into her home to show me her father’s artwork.  She is the daughter of Tom Dunn, a well-respected illustrator who worked as a courtroom artist, illustrator/journalist during World War II, and a cover artist for Pocket Book Publishing among others.

Fish painted in reverse on glass

At the top of the stair hangs a breathtaking painting of a fish painted in reverse on glass.  On the walls of the dining room hang half a dozen framed, illustrated love letters written to Renee’s mother during World War II. Tom illustrated their courtship as well as his experiences as a soldier.  What treasures!

At one point in his career he was asked to paint a portrait of Liberace.  Without asking what the compensation might be, he proceeded to work on the portrait.  Hundreds of photographs and sketches produced dozens of paintings until he was satisfied with the portrait.  He called the agent to let him know the portrait was completed and to inform him of the price for the finished art.  The agent informed him that Liberace never pays for portraits …. the payment is the honor of being allowed to paint the portrait!  Bah!  I was happy to hear that Tom refused to give the portrait to Liberace.

Pink Hydrangea

After my tour, I set up in the backyard garden and painted several quick sketches of the various hydrangea blossoms before beginning  birdhouse painting that I posted yesterday.

Lacecap Hydrangea Blossom

The tiny spots revealed themselves after the painting dried.  I think this is a sign of mold.

Lacecap Hydrangea Blossom and Leaves

I enjoyed having several painting styles available for the garden visitors to view.  The variety appeared to stimulate more questions about art and techniques.

You can view the other two styles in my previous posts.

Paintings: drawn first with dip pen and ink, followed by watercolor.  Painted during the Keyport Garden Walk sponsored by the Keyport Garden Club in New Jersey.

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

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would paint today’s trumpet parts drawing as a monochromatic green color scheme.

Trumpet Parts No. 60

I only got as far as yellow/green for the table and blue/green for the shadows on the table.  The thought of painting the daffodil green made my stomach turn.  I simply couldn’t do it.  The first daffodil from the garden insists on a bit of dignity and wants to remain yellow. I was then left with the dilemma of the napkin.  I could have painted it a rich, dark green that would contrast nicely with the yellow blossom.  The truth is that I made the drawing in the early morning.  I didn’t have a chance to get back to it until this evening.  We threw a St. Patrick’s Day party for Tom’s family.  Everything was green, the tablecloth, napkins, three pots of green oxalis as a centerpiece, decorations as well as all of the guests who arrived in bright green clothing with green hats and green beaded necklaces with green pots of gold hanging from them.  We all had a delightful time playing in the yard, eating yummy food, drinking ale and ending the festivities by eating green cookies.  I had spent the day in a monochromatic color scheme of green.  A purple napkin felt like a better choice.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with black ink followed by watercolor.

At 4pm on March 8th flowers arrived at Kathleen’s door.

Smart florist.  Carl, Kathleen’s son, received an email from the florist reminding him that it was his mother’s birthday and that he sent her flowers last year …. would he like to do that again?  Of course!  and thank you for reminding me!

Ahhh….. the simple things in life.

Painting of birthday bouquet: Drawn first with fountain pen filled wit black ink, followed by watercolor.  I’m sure the iris is in full bloom right now.  It must be gorgeous.

Color Scheme Game: Complements (red/purple and yellow/green)

I became distracted as the guilt surrounded me. I should have been working on my taxes! The distraction took its toll on the drawing.

Look at that mess!

Little splotches here and there.  I wanted to stay attached to my sketchbook instead of my accounting ledger! Trumpet parts, lily blossoms, thoughts of spring and planting kitchen herbs…. a dash of color here …. a dash of color there ….. so much more fun than digging through piles of papers looking for toll receipts, petty cash receipts and medical receipts.

I solved my procrastination problem by calling my accountant and making an appointment to meet with her.  Now I can’t procrastinate any longer.  I have to be finished by Sunday evening.  Monday’s painting will be total joy!

Sketchbook painting: Trumpet Parts No. 26, dip pen and  ink followed by  watercolor.

Last evening, after spending half an hour carefully drawing the pink hollyhocks outside my door, I spilled my water container onto my lap, drenching my sketchbook.  I have only four pages left to complete the sketchbook.

Pink Hollyhocks Number 3

The Hollyhocks are gorgeous this year.  I can’t resist painting them over and over again.  This last sketch is from the same vantage point as the last.  When the water spilled, it caused the green ink from my fountain pen to bleed and altered the ability of the paper to accept further washes of watercolor.  With a sunken heart, I leafed through the soaked sketchbook to see what other damage had occurred.

Fortunately, only the edges of several drawings had been saturated by the unfortunate spill.  A quick trip to the hair dryer allowed me time to recover from the near disaster.  I decided to go ahead and throw washes onto the latest Hollyhock drawing.

Rather than use the highlighter, Dragon Catfish Pink Ink, I squeezed out a bit of Permanent Rose watercolor pigment.

Watercolor Sketch: drawn first with Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Marine Green Ink.  Followed by water spill in lap.  Followed by washes of watercolor, Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta, aurolean yellow, peacock blue, french ultramarine blue, and a touch of cadmium red.

So many inspirations and so little time to express them. I’m hoping to paint the bakelite belt buckles later today or tomorrow. I acquired them the same day I acquired the bronze totems of the alligator and lizard. They sit atop my dresser and beckon, yet I ignore them. The quotidian tasks steal me away from my passions.

Hollyhocks after the rain, ink and watercolor

Yesterday my monthly package of ink samples from Goulet Pen Ink Drops arrived.  In it were three highlighter inks, a “ghost ink”, an amazing mini blacklight to view the invisible ghost ink, and a Preppy Highlighter Pen to fill with one of the inks.  The ink tests will be posted on my Creative Color Blog tomorrow.  I let the ink tests dry overnight before applying washes.

When the rain stopped and I set up my chair beside the hollyhocks at the back door, I couldn’t resist mixing in the Noodler’s Dragon Catfish Pink ink with the permanent magenta in the blossoms.  I did resist the urge to use the Noodler’s Dragon Cat Green ink.  I prefer mixing my greens with yellows and blues.

Painting of Hollyhocks: drawn first with Noodler’s Flex Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Marine Green Ink, followed by washes of watercolor and Noodler’s Dragon Catfish Pink ink.