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.

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 30 – The Monument

103016-inktober-slczouk-statueThis is painted with permission, and an invitation, from @slczouk  – link goes to the lovely photo she posted on Twitter. (Thanks, Sara!) All those swirls in the angel’s dress were irresistible! Like all the Inktober pieces, I went in cold with the ink, no preliminary pencil lines. There have been a few mishaps regarding proportion this month, so I watched carefully to make sure everything fit together, and that the whole statue fit on the page. The dress swirls are reasonably true to the ref – I went a little more freestyle in the wings, just to get it done in one evening.

Ink courtesy of the Kuretake #40 ink brush. (The cartridge ran out part way through, which was a very happy accident. The bristles were sufficiently ink-less for some nice drybrush texture on the monument base.) The statue is toned with Daniel Smith’s Bloodstone paint. I usually don’t like it, but here it offered just the right tint of color to give the statue a little character. The base is a combo of Bloodstone and Sodalite; trees are Green Apatite with touches of PO73, PO62, and PY154 for the fall leaves. Sodalite again in the sky. About 8.5″ x 4.5″ on Strathmore Windpower 140lb CP.

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.

Inktober 2016: Oct 19 – Common Yellowthroat

101916-inktober-common-yellowthroatThis rather silly-looking songbird came with an extra challenge. I met a friend for an impromptu lunchtime drawing session. We both wanted to paint the same reference, so I placed it upside down for me (right-side-up for her). Call me a show-off, but it solved the problem and we had a lovely time drawing and chatting. Thing is, I was working an upside-down bird upside down, Betty Edwards style.      Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 17 – Wet Grass

101716-inktober-grass-dropletsNot much to this sketch – it rained for the first time in months and I had to commemorate that somehow! These blades of grass had been intriguing me for weeks anyway. They were choking out the ornamental grasses in my favorite sketching corner. All of that dancing and waving in the breeze was making me want to draw them anyway; a few sparkly waterdrops finally made them irresistible. Approx 6.5″ x 4.5″ on Strathmore Windpower 140lb CP.

Inktober: Oct 12 – Snowy Egret and Bonus Cattails

101216-inktober-egret-1 101216-inktober-reeds-2Walked over to a different corporate park to check out their landscaping for a change. This park has an enormous manmade pond, big enough to support giant koi and to attract a variety of wildlife. Today, across the sand volleyball court, I spotted a Snowy Egret in the middle of the lake.

There’s some lily pads and pond equipment out there. The bird was standing on a pipe or something that was just at the surface, making it look like the bird was standing on the water. Several ducks were doing the same on other pipes. I stole quietly across the volleyball court, hoping the reeds would hide my approach. Shouldn’t have worried!   Read more

Inktober: Oct. 2 – Bob Tarte’s Sedge Wren

100216-inktober-sedge-wrenToday’s entry is a serenading Sedge Wren, drawn from Bob Tarte’s fabulous photo and used with his generous permission. Thanks Bob! Do check out his books and podcast at bobtarte.com.

Birdy at left drawn with the Platinum EF fountain pen on Strathmore 140lb Windpower CP.

Sentries

071516-Courtyard-PalmsThe queen palms serving as sentries for the mighty Date Palm. This is a favorite spot of mine in the landscaping, and these palms always seem so majestic. The viewpoint is a little below grade, from down among the blocks in the water feature. The decorative grasses are only about a foot tall, but I’m eye level to them here.

Laid out with the Kuretake #40 brush pen initially, then washed with color. The foremost palm frond and a few other points employ gouache, although the highlights on the date palm trunk are saved whites. Painted across the spread in my sketchbook.

Cobalt blue, green apatite, some PO62 to mute the blue and Jane’s gray mix for the background black glass building. The palm trunks are Raw Umber (with and without cobalt) and there’s a little PY129 and Naple’s Yellow among the greenery. Oh, and the shrubs are Jadeite. Nine pigments – no limited palette here! At least not for me.