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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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.

A Thanksgiving treat: Praying Mantis

This was a very happy surprise while visiting family for the holidays: a Praying Mantis on my mom’s garage! The first I’ve seen in all the years she’s lived there, and the only one I have ever observed live and up close. Such incredibly interesting creatures. She was very visibly turning her head to keep an eye on me as I checked her out.

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Inktober 2016: Oct 21 – Beach Rocks

102116-inktober-beach-rocksThis is one of my personal favorite drawings of the year, because it was done in the company of my bestest friend on the planet.

We only had a day together, a day that started far inland and needed to make up for all the years we’ve missed in just a few short hours. Thanks to the magic of an old truck and a tank of gas, we accomplished all that and so much more. Time has been hard on both of us, but this is an eternal friendship: it picks up where it left off, regardless of years or miles, never a beat missed.      Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 20 – Leaves

102016-inktober-leavesA quick lunchtime plein aire of bright new leaves. Yes, that’s new leaves – no idea what kind of tree this is, but it makes new leaves and flowers in the fall. Whatever it is, it reminds me of an avocado tree, and the top of it is an easy target from my favorite space in the parking structure. Add some sunshine to backlight them, and I could not resist!

That rich color behind it is Daniel Smith’s Piemontite. Leaves are a combo of PY154 yellow and Green Apatite with a dash of Piemontite to pick up the “new leaf” redness visible on the brand-new foliage. It was first outlined with the Kuretake #40 ink brush, so I’m counting it in for Inktober.