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.

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.

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.

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I’m looking forward to more of these fish!

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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It’s Morevember! Starting with a Cardinal Tetra

111316-cardinal-tetra-final

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 26-29 – Raccoon

102916-inktober-raccoon-finalLook at this cutie! Drawn especially for someone who loves raccoons. Hard to believe I spent four days on this, but that’s what it took. I have spent so MANY years trying to get paint and water to save me drawing every little hair of fur-bearing critters. It’s been an enjoyable pursuit!

This time, I drew every little hair. And, I enjoyed every moment of it! Well, except for one horrifying hour.

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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