Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Garden Grids

I had been journalling for a while, but two years ago I decided I wanted to add illustrations to my journals. I wasn't sure how to start as I wasn't very accomplished at drawing. My garden is where I spend a good part of every summer day so I decided to start there. Surely the flowers wouldn't mind if their portraits were a bit wonky, surely they wouldn't whine that it didn't really look like them. Once a week, I would sit on my deck and draw each of the flowers that were blooming. Since I planted many containers, this soon became overwhelming, so I focused only on the perennials. This weekend, I noticed that it was time to start this tradition again as there were currently six perennials blooming. Six! That would make a perfect grid drawing! This is the result. It is done in the Aquabee sketchbook with my fairly new Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils. They are buttery and rich and smooth and I liked the result so much that I didn't even add any water. My previous attempts had been with markers and with colored pencils.
This one on the left is from June 2006. This one on the right is from June 2005.
It's gratifying to see that there has been some improvement. Certainly using better materials and daily practising makes all the difference.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

EDM 120 - Flashlight

I have a lot of flashlights because I believe you can never have too many. Some are big for manoevering around during power outages or Y2K type apocalypses. Some are small and are used to peer under the couch to rescue all the cat toys that Holly-the-Crash deposited there while we were at work. Some hang off my keychain because you never know when you'll need a light to squint into the dark places at the back of the computer monitor to plug something back in. Some stay in the pocket of my suitcase so I always have a flashlight when I'm in an unfamiliar hotel room. This brilliant yellow beauty is my favorite. It lives in the nightstand beside the bed because it is the one that makes me feel safe. It has a bright bluish white light that comes from a ring of tiny bulbs inside the lens. It's very reliable and big enough that I don't have to search for it when I need it.
I liked drawing this, it was a nice shape and easy to follow lines, and I enjoyed the colors. It's water color and wc pencil, and Pigma micron pen.

Monday, May 21, 2007

EDM 119 - Rocks

Rocks are quite difficult to paint. I'm not sure why. Perhaps its because of the texture or maybe its difficult to capture their shapes accurately, or maybe because I find the colors a bit boring. I don't know what my real problem was/is. I'm not happy with these, there's nothing wrong, but it just seemed difficult and I don't know how to fix it. I like the compostition though, the rocks fit well together and that part was fun. These are some of the rocks that we've gathered in our travels because they were odd and different. It's not often that you find a rock that is almost perfectly round, or one that looks like a pertrified dinosaur vertebrae.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

EDM 29 - Something architectural

This sketch of the Convent of St Antonio de Padua in Izamal, Mexico. We were there in December 2005 on a tour of the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan penninsula. This is the oldest European style building in Mexico, built between 1533 and 1561. It is built on the site of an important Mayan pyramid, dedicated to the rain god Chac. The Franciscans tore the pyramid down and used the stones to resanctify the ground. The atrium of the convent is said to be the second largest in the world, next to St. Peter's in Rome. There are 75 of these beautiful arches surrounding the atrium. It is the most beautiful ocher color, as are all the buildings in Izamal. They call it the "Yellow City".
I took this photo with an aim to paint it, so this is one of the lesser significant sides. The front of the building is large, and quite complex with bell towers, Madonnas, and steeples. I liked the angle of this with the arches diminishing in size over a short enough distance that I could keep from getting lost in the details while drawing it. Perspective has been difficult for me and this is the most complicated building I've ever tried to draw. I'm ridiculously pleased with it, though, so I've posted it. I'm often drawn to architecturally complex buildings, and want to paint them, but found them quite intimidating. I think this is an acceptable start. Here is a professionally taken (and color enhanced, I suspect) postcard showing the front of the building. It's sure not that yellow in my photographs or memories.

Tagged - 7 things

1. I have a Bachelor of Education degree, but I never taught. When I graduated, I took a job in a library, which is where I really wanted to be. Today I work in the library of a college on the cusp of becoming a university.
2. I get a massage once a month, whether I need it or not.
3. I had a truly happy childhood, and a non-dysfunctional family.
4. When I was 14, I went into Junior High school, where they offered "real" art classes. I signed up and after the first class, the teacher told me I had no talent and could no longer be in that class. It took me nearly 30 years to pick up a paint brush again.
5. I love to cook and to watch cooking shows on TV (watching someone cook on TV is weirdly addicting).
6. I am passionate about reading, and about talking about books.
7. I try to learn something new every day, and to compliment someone every day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

EDM 76 -Cyclamen

For my 50th birthday, my beloved gave me this beautiful cyclamen plant. I really like these plants. I like their quirky variegated leaves, their bold "look at me" colors, the way buds are swirled and ruffled, and then open up and bend backwards, and the oddly colored stems. Theflowers start out bright pink and then become almost lavender as they age. He has given me several of these over the years. I keep it inside until it's warm enough , then I plant it outside in a sheltered spot near the patio. Sometimes it will reappear the next summer, sometimes it does not. But that's what gardening teaches you - enjoy it today for soon it gone and you never know when or if it will return. Never wait til tomorrow to smell the flowers.

The flowers actually have 5 petals, but my view when I was drawing only showed me three. And that blossom was opening up even as I was drawing it. This is watercolor in the Aquabee sketchbook, and those leaves were really fun to do. I'm calling it EDM 76 "Draw some flowers".

Sunday, May 06, 2007

EDM 117 - Round

I actually had something else in mind for this challenge (there are so many round things!). I had put these mushrooms and peppers for our pizza in the colander and washed them prior to cutting them. They looked so nice and inviting and fresh that I decided to paint them as this arrangement fulfilled the requirement of "round" on several levels. The peppers were grown at a local greenhouse and were vibrant and shiny, and tasted exquisite. Buying locally tastes so much better, probably because things are allowed to ripen on the plant, and don't spend days in a cold truck. This is my favorite colander and I have often thought to paint the vegetables in it, as they are one of my favorite kinds of still lifes. I have been practising with creating my own dark colors by experimenting with combinations of the primary colors, and I think this one works well for the dark gills on the mushrooms. I like the way this turned out. It's water color in the Aquabee Sketchbook.

My original idea was to paint a sea turtle. I had visited the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and saw the sea tutle there. It had such clean, nice curves to its shell, flippers, and head, and its markings on shell and skin were also round. I may still do that.