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.

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.

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.