Seasons Change

A few months ago, this hill was screaming neon green thanks to the record rains we got in the first part of the year. Today? Everything’s changed! The lush, rich grass is now cured in place and the only green is provided by leafy summer trees and bulrushes. We’re back to normal, really. Wet winters are an exception around here. Semi-arid climate is the rule!

After the clouds broke, I spotted a lizard sunning on a curb. He was still, but for his head swiveling around, for plenty long enough to sketch him. Of course a car parked and scared him off before I was quite done. The sketch was far enough along at that point to finish from memory. Cute little guy, I enjoyed studying him from a little distance.

My Platinum EF pen was at home on my desk, so both of these are drawn with the Kuretake #40 brush pen.

Tiny Flower

This diminutive flower was growing on what looked to be some sort of spider plant. I know them better as houseplants, not sure if it’s the same kind, but they grow big and abundant on the northerly sides of the buildings. In addition to the interestingly-striped leaves, most of them had sprays of these tiny flowers and buds. This is probably double life size. Doesn’t look like I captured the light coming through the petals very well – live and learn! This bloom was backlit and shining over some shadowy leaves behind it. I’ll have to try for greater contrast next time and see if I can get that glow in the petals.

The flowers were perhaps a bit more lavender than this. PV23 would have been way too violet, and PB60 was close enough, so I spared myself the hassle of mixing. Leaves and background are Green Apatite and Jadeite, and there’s a touch of PY150 in the flower’s center.

Update 6.16.17 – it’s a flax lily. I don’t recall seeing blue berries on them in the past, those are coming next however. There’s an outstanding closeup of the flower at AphotoFlora.com.

In other news, I picked up a whopper of a sunburn while painting this. I am usually thoughtful about sun exposure and take care to employ hats, sleeves, and shade to my skin’s advantage. On that day, a delicious cool breeze and pretty tiny flowers had me transfixed. Plus, I very untypically wore an off-shoulder top. Add an hour-long lunch break and OUCH. The only thing that kept both shoulders from getting scorched was the shadow cast by my own head! Live and learn indeed.

High Summer Light

Admittedly it is not yet summer, per the Sun, but it’s getting an early start with the amazing blue light that makes me giddy for a few weeks around the solstice every year. The sun is nearly at the zenith at noon, the air is boasting a cool fresh ocean breeze scented with magnolia blossoms, and as I sat drinking all this in, the most colorful thing to be found in corporate landscaping was sitting there right in front of me.

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Aircraft and airships

I’m evidently feeling a little atmospheric this week!

The first was an experiment with PB27 and PR179, which I just added back to my palette after booting Piemontite off. Turns out those two neutralize (surprisingly) so I painted a cloud doodle to test them out. The clouds looked so creepy and dramatic, I gave them a jet to menace. It’s in calm air right at the moment, so I hope the passengers aren’t freaking out too hard. I’d be glued to the windows!

The other is a purely imaginary city scene wishing we could all get around by blimp. Life would just be better with more airships, right? This is also to test out a suggestion that cobalt blue plus a touch of black is just the right color for Mediterranean skies. I’ve got a few too many clouds there to notice the effect, but it does seem about right. Will have to do a bluer, broader sky soon and see for myself!

Late Season Weather

Spent a fabulous (and chilly!) morning at the beach this weekend, with a very late storm moving in. The storm only bothered dropping a smidgen of rain, but more than made up for it with dramatic skies. There was a tanker at anchor looking close enough to touch, container ships waiting for POLA/POLB, and… something between the drilling platforms. What is that? Read more

A Special Treat: Ladybug En Plein Aire

Today I found not one, but two, different ladybugs walking on my truck. One looked like the seven-spot ladybug I drew from a photo during Inktober. My lunch break was almost over, so I decided to concentrate on the spotless wonderbug that was toiling up the window frame.

This took maybe 10 minutes, much of which time was spent staring at the bug. I didn’t have a magnifying glass to see it any better. Fortunately for me, the face makes it easy to identify both the bug and its gender: it is a male Cycloneda sanguinea.  He stood still, cleaning his face for quite a while, and of course began walking away before I was quite done painting him. I watched him to the end of the door frame, where he spread wings and departed. A wonderful way to get back into plein aire sketching after spending time on some other projects!

Coastal Fog

Just a moody morning on the coast. I love the beach at dawn: it’s quiet and uncrowded, and the weather and waves have a subdued and beautiful vibe that can’t be found at any other time. Today, a fog bank held sway over the outer waters, providing a dramatic backdrop to the drilling platforms.

Bonus sketch: a random gull. This is tiny, a quarter would cover up most of the bird’s body.

Another Carousel Horse

This horse occupies the same page as the previous jewelry sketch. It came about for a very different reason than the first one. I received some paper samples to test, and decided to paint a full body carousel horse on it. Well, that paper and I are not a good fit! The entire experience was a disaster, drawing, inking, and painting. It felt and looked terrible. I’d taken a couple weeks off of painting to work on some other projects, surely I could not have lost my touch in so short a time… how to find out?

A spontaneous sketch, that’s how! This was done with a few swoops of the brush pen, and a splash or two of paint. So much better! The Garza Papel CP in my sketchbook works like a dream in comparison to the other paper. Not naming names until I’m ready to write a proper review; suffice to say that I won’t be buying that stuff anytime soon.

In the meantime, enjoy some fast, loose fantasy horses done on a joyful whim.

Boehlkea fredcochui

121516-blue-tetra-finish112116-blue-tetra-5-IPOK, it’s a little late for Morevember, but it’s in the same style. Another aquarium fish, this time the less-well-known Blue Tetra. They are easy to find in fish stores but nowhere nearly as well known as their more colorful cousins. The subtle play of color was a fun challenge. The fish look silver at a glance, and show their brilliant flashing blue when the light hits them just right. Reflecting and pearlescent color has always fascinated me, so these fish are a natural favorite. A little white gouache over the dorsal area gave it the exact hint of translucency I was looking for. Like the Cardinal Tetra, this one has a careful pencil sketch below the ink and paint.

Putting all the values in with stippling was a tour de force, but an enjoyable one. I love watching a form emerge from thousands of tiny little dots. It’s amazing what we can do with ones and zeros.

111716-blue-tetra-3-IP-detail

 

I’m looking forward to more of these fish!