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!

It’s Morevember! Starting with a Cardinal Tetra

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You might recognize this if you ever had a fish tank – well, almost. It’s a Cardinal Tetra, close relative of the Neon Tetra, which is one of the most popular aquarium fish in the world. I’ve always been a little obsessed with Cardinals and have kept plenty of them over the years. They’re hardy with a bit of care, and so incredibly beautiful. Saw a massive school of them at a public aquarium – in aggregate, they’re just breathtaking.     Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 31 – Candy Corn

103116-inktober-candy-cornAnd now, the last and final drawing of Inktober 2016. Some allergy has gotten the better of me lately, and if there hadn’t been a challenge on, I would probably have blown it off and gone to bed early. It’s been such a great month though! I couldn’t possibly let the last day go by without a sketch to commemorate the end.

So here it is, simple and seasonal and fun. This is my new best friend the Kuretake #40 Ink Brush and a few paints you’ve seen before: the orange team PO73/PO62, PY154 yellow, PV23 and burnt umber. Thanks to everyone who favorited and retweeted these, and especially @slczouk and @TheresaHaworth on Twitter for drawing through it with me. I would have probably fizzled out half way through except for you!

Now, at the suggestion of @GMTminus7, next month is going to be Morevember. I’m glad she said it, because I can’t stop anyway. Ink and wash is far too much fun to quit!

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 24: The Finished Bat

102416-inktober-fruit-bat-completeThis may be my favorite artwork of Inktober so far, if not the entire year! Now I understand why Flying Foxes are so called – fruit bats all seem to have very canine faces. Some do indeed look very fox-like; this one slightly less so. They are complex and interesting creatures I’d like to know a lot more about.      Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 23 – Lesser Short-Nosed Fruit Bat Portrait

102316-inktober-fruit-bat-portraitThis is a Lesser Short-Nosed Fruit Bat. It’s a long name for a very appealing critter! I like bats in general, and didn’t know this one had such a lovely face. Their mammalian nature is very apparent in the doglike snout and (apparently) soft fur.

So far he’s been a joy to draw. Wings and a body to come!

Inktober 2016: Oct 22 – Azure Kingfisher Repair Job

101816-inktober-azure-kingfisher-fixedRemember the eye that was bugging me a few days ago? Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore!

After so many years of trying to be a watercolor purist, I finally realized that there’s no reason not to adapt a few things. There’s nothing wrong with opaque gouache, nor is there any reason why a given work has to be declared “done” at a given point and never ever touched again. This is a very freeing feeling, and I decided to exercise my new-found freedom on That Eye.

It took a little care, but ultimately wasn’t that hard to do. The Platinum Carbon ink did most of the work, as I knew it would. So, making the eye bigger and more oval was really not the problem. Recovering the lost catch light and the light rim that defines the lids, THAT was the problem. A few minutes with gouache and the problem was solved! It matched the watercolor perfectly and other than a slight difference in reflectance, looked as if it had been there all along.

So, Inktober Oct 22: One eye, a few blue highlights, and a big sigh of relief.