It's a cool 70F today with a sky as blue as my grandchildren's eyes ...I sit on the grass and sketch one of my garden beds as it, and the surrounding trees and shrubs, don the late spring greenness.
The sun bleaches out some of the colors, and I see blue/green everywhere--from the rosemary on the right side of the bed to the very blue/green of the iris leaves. Spring has begun to fade into early summer.
This week's challenge was to sketch our 'sink.' Here's my kitchen sink sans color .... I sketched it before leaving for work and never was able to return to it with all the excitement of Taylor's arrival.
Oxford was once famous for its buggy factory, and a couple of the buggies sit inside City Hall. We snapped a few photos through the glass during our crawl, and I sketched this one just before I got the news that Taylor was on her way!
One of the major landmarks for Oxford is the Courthouse and City Hall. It sits prominently on the main street and is always a bevy of activity.
By the way, that 'lollipop' tree --- SIGH! The city INSISTS on trimming these hollies into lollipops that they string lights on each Christmas. Poor trees -- I think this unnatural shape embarrasses them ... it DOES embarrasses ME!
Oxford is still a predominantly rural community. Farms of all types -- tobacco (though those are slowly disappearing), cattle, grains, and more all add to the bucolic feeling of the community I love.
Charles was determined to find a tobacco barn for me to sketch -- those being so indicative of the industry that contributed relative wealth to this county. We have a few remaining -- many of those covered with vines and shrubs, others on private property that we simply could NOT get a decent angle to even photograph.
We decided though, that since there is a plethera of all types of barns, that THOSE too were symbolic of Oxford.
While my allergic tablet began to work, I sketched this barn from a photo I took this afternoon and then added watercolor. Charles loved it! (SO nice to have his support!!) I still still a number of angles I missed -- but it was FUN! The sky in the painting I did is MUCH darker -- with hints of red and clouds that indicate the rain that was heading our way.
After a really good night's sleep and recuperation from yesterday's long, wildly busy day, my dear husband and I set out to Oxford to do our 'crawl.'
We snapped a ton of photos around Oxford -- rural and town --to use for additional sketches.
We settled at the Old Oxford Cemetry to sketch plein air. We walked around the aging tombstomes and marveled at their ages. I sat before a group of five 1800s tombstones (I sketched four of these) that reminded me of chess pieces.
I sat on the damp ground to capture the greys and light on the stones, did battle with allergies and ants, and Charles practiced his mandolin. Some passerby saw Charles practicing and came up to chat. It seems this fellow used to play mandolin in a jazz band, and he and Charles exchanged phone numbers to try to get together to do a bit of 'jammin''.
Meanwhile, after two hours (I SAID I WAS SLOW!!), my sneezing and running nose was getting to me. We left to get an ice cream cone, and headed home, snapping more photos en route. We ran into a small rain shower, and stopped at the CVS for allergy relief!
Got home, and Charles went to a property owners meeting, and I went to work adding watercolor to my cemetery sketch. I can only say, this looks SO much better in real life than my scanner image shows ... really!
Yesterday while sketching my viburnum, I watched the bluebirds flit back and forth from food to nest feeding their young. I patiently waited with camera to try to capture these flashes of blue -- I simply am NOT a fast enough sketcher. I was able to capture two decent photos.
After a grueling, but successful plant sale (yes, it sunned, rained, winded, thundered, and stormed throughout our sale-- yet, we had record turn-outs and did as much business as we did LAST year when we had SUN!), I finished sketching from my photo and watercolored the image. I know I've overworked areas -- but since I'm just up to lesson 4 for watercoloring, I'm not too unhappy with the way this turned out -- especially since I'm operating on 4 hours sleep.
Do explain to me why ANYONE, except in a dire emergency, would be calling anyone else at 1:00 am?? And why a wrong number at that hour will get one's heart beating fast enough for a heart attack and it's so darn hard to go back to sleep!! SIGH!!!!
These glorious shrubs are in full bloom! I sat on my porch (resting for tomorrow's sale) and sketched and painted. The scent of tea olive was on the soft breezes, the gentle rain felt refreshing, and the song of birds: cardinal, sparrow, bluebirds, crows, and goldfinch kept me company.
In between watching my pencil lines, I kept an eye on the male and female bluebirds as they flew back and forth between finding suitable food and feeding same to their babies in the nest.
A number of years ago, my dear husband built this bridge for me. No, we didn't have a body of water to cross--it was simply a nice structure to create!
The bridge sits over a ditch on our property that we were planning to convert into a dry stream that would eventually lead into a pond. Since the last four years have been so very dry, we've abandoned the idea of a pond.
I realized that my quick strokes for the siding on the porch were heading in the wrong direction ... so I corrected these and darkened the values. Still not sure they're dark ENOUGH! But I sure can see that I've overworked portions of the porch ... SIGH!
My attempt this week is to continue my study of values as I begin more landscapes. I was outdoors this morning taking photos to take with me to use as practice while I"m away at work. The corner of my porch with the rose vine beginning its climb, called my attention ... so I've attempted to sketch it.
I'm not too certain that the values and shading is completed -- I'm sensing the darks need to be darker ... but for now, I'm just pleased that my SKETCH of the porch has achieved more perspective than I've been able to do all month!
We've spent the weekend with the grands ... such FUN!!! Laughter, food, naps, baths, playing dolls, balls, rides in the wagon, swings, slides, picking up gumballs, preparing food, meals, clean up, more playing, more clean up, reading books, going for a walk, more rides in the wagon, bed, food, more food, Easter surprises and egg hunt, sweets, and before I knew it, the weekend and holiday were gone, and the grands gone back home with their mom and dad.
The house echoes with quiet, and the babies' empty beds make me a bit sad. Though my arms ache and throb from lifting these growing toddlers, their laughter and their smiles remain in mind and in the journals I keep for them.
But I can't help but think how mighty fast the time flies. Wasn't it only yesterday I was doing this for MY CHILDREN!
For our Easter dinner, Charles picked up these huge artichokes -- my favorite!
I sketched these trying to learn VALUES ... so I did the pencil sketch.
Then I tried watercolor. I passed my work onto Kate as part of my watercolor lesson and homework, and she kindly made some very helpful suggestions as to highlights and overhead lighting. I took her suggestions, removed some paint from the top of the choke and darkened the bottom. You can't see the mid-tone shadow in this scan that runs along the bottom of the choke and shadow... I'm hoping for a new computer and scanner soon!!
I have to say, I'm mighty pleased with this .... and thank Kate (and other kind souls who added their comments) for the corrections.
Here and there in my 'Secret Garden,' the bed of phlox has migrated under various shrubs and moist crannies. They are so delicately scented! I picked a few and placed them in an earthenware vase this evening.
I used to think spring was brightened with yellows and purples. After viewing my sketches lately, my spring seems to be filled with PINK and purple!
I sketched this chive blossom as the chives were blooming in the Arboretum's kitchen garden. I water colored the sketch when I got home--trying to render appropriate shadows. Alas -- the chives look like they're floating!! SIGH ..... more to learn!
The azaleas are in full bloom where I work in NC, and at the B&B I frequent, Rebecca's gardens are in full glory!
Her week too was mightily busy, and so her vases were a bit scanty as she didn't have time to fill them with the bounty her yard showed. I found this azalea in a glass vase the ONE night I got home before 9:30 pm ...
Another intense week and next week will follow the same insane 12-14 hour schedule. But AFTER THAT, things should (I HOPE) slow down.
Sketching this week fell to those minutes prior to falling into bed ... but I did manage sketches each day. I have one to add watercolor too before I post.
This sketch is of Rebecca's hurricane candle ... what interested me in this was the egg-holder shaped 'vase' holding the candle. I brought this piece to my room to sketch, knowing I had only a small amount of time before sleep would claim me. Since I had but a card table and chair -- I was gazing at the candle from a weird angle ... looking INTO the cup pretty much -- and compressing the hurricane shade INTO the glass plate it all sat on.
I thought I'd have time (HA HA!) to redo this for the EDM challenge and sketch it from a different angle -- but meetings ran far too late for me to do it again. So here it sits in all it's 'squashed' lookingness.
Palm Sunday - Easter, and the dogwoods are bright against the Carolina blue sky. I snip a stem from one of the trees, and place it in a vase for my daughter-in-law's birthday dinner. I sketch the blossoms, in their unnatural face-on view .... but I'll have to do this again standing by a tree and stem to capture their quality of DANCE that I see each time I look at those blossoming trees.
I also found trying to capture that light yellow/chartruse/sienna/gray that lines the cupping petals a REAL challenge!
At night when I want something to sketch and can't seem to settle on something, I grab a wee book I picked up before the holidays, "The Watercolor Flower Artist's Pocket Paintbox." It came with a few pan paints (unknown brand) -- but I bought this for the book. It's only 63 pages -- with tiny illustrations of watercoloring the most common flowers. The authors would lightly sketch a flower, then show in 2 illustrations how watercolors are added. What I like best is being able to SEE the colors they are using and how their shading is done.
What I'm finding, is the most I study THEIR methods -- the better I am able to SEE the various hues and tones in 'real life' flowers! It's as if someone is say "See, Lin -- there's a bit of blue in that green" or "Look at that splotch of yellow on the petal." And then, when I go out to my own garden -- I suddenly can SEE!! (or at least see a bit better!)
So last night, in the rain and dark, I practiced a tulip and sunflower. I added a bit more of my own 'twist' to the coloring since i"m familiar with these flowers .. but I really like having a few other artists at my fingertips to study!
Due to unexpected expenses -- eye doctor, Easter, new contacts, etc., etc., my plans to join the crew at the Asheville sketch crawl had to be postponed. SIGH. Big disappointment! Undaunted, though, I decided that I would join them virtually.
It rained on and all off day today, so instead of crawling at any of the local Arboreta, I dropped by the N.C. Museum of Art. I hadn't been there for a while and so I took a bit of time to walk slowly through the paintings, some wonderful statues, some GORGEOUS etchings (teeny) by Rembrandt (SORDID AND SACRED: THE BEGGARS IN REMBRANDT'S ETCHING--Selections from the John Villarino Collection), and some marvelous Egyptian vases!
I knew any rendering of statues would take me several hours and much consternation, so instead, I focused on some of the vases (which I really love!!!).
I'd never sketched in a museum before (I think this is also an EDM challenge!) and so was not sure what to expect. I quietly pulled out my folded sheet of watercolor paper, stood in front of a case of vases (no nearby seats, and I sketch SO SLOWLY), and used my pencil to sketch. MAN, those museum lights are LOW!!!!!
I sketched without anyone stopping me and pretty soon lost track of time. I made notes of color, and then found a seat and opened my wee portable wc pallet and began to watercolor. I went back and forth from seat to case to try to get the colors as correct as possible. (DARN those shadows -- I MUST LEARN MORE about how to do these!) Anyway, I was able to mix and paint, correct, walk back to check, return to seat....... But holy moly, those lights are so DIM!!! BTW, the vases range from 300 bc to 3500 bc!
I was about done with the vases when a young couple came by and asked me to see what I was sketching. (blush blush) I explained that I was a novice and trying to sketch the vases since photos were not permitted (why did I feel the need to justify??? LOL). Anyway -- they made very nice comments .... and I went on to finish my vases.
I stood up -- and got a bit lightheaded. WOW!!! Already 1:00 and a LOONNGGG time since my tiny bowl of cereal. I was in a quandary. I really wanted to do more vases, but my stomach, its emptiness now acknowledged, began to embarrass me with its rumbling. So I had to leave and give it some sustenance.
It was FUN! Though I know it would have been much more enjoyable had I been able to join the others in Asheville. But I was there in spirit and hope to make the next crawl!
I'm still field-testing my WN paints. I sketched a few irises on this Cotman 140# watercolor paper. I wanted to see how the paints reacted. They did well, I think, but the paper was not as smooth nor as absorbent as the Fabriano Artistico.
I woke up this morning to rain. After a few hours, the sun peeked through the clouds, only to play a game of 'Where Am I' with the clouds and the wind. The pollen is getting thick and heavy, and with the wind blowing, sure makes a wonderful coat of yellow over everything!
I've been sketching flowers for the last few weeks, so I decided today to broaden my subjects. HA! I walked outside and was hit with so much in bloom I could hardly stand it! Flowers on the elm trees, flowers still on the maples, flowers on the oaks, the pine flowers covered in dusty yellow, my allspice bush (along with heavenly wafts of perfume!), and my trellis--abloom with Carolina jessamine.
So I gave in -- and sketched the trellis as it welcomes guests to the secret garden. Guess you could say I've got a soft spot for the flora! LOL
My 'real' paints arrived today! I purchased a dozen Winsor-Newton artist watercolors as well as some Fabriano Artistico 140# coldpress paper. I decided to 'test drive' the paints and paper while meeting this challenge.
I grabbed three lemons from my refrigerator (gee, it's so good to be home!!), cleaned out my portable pallet, and used a pencil to sketch the lemons and some of their values. I used cad yellow, olive green, French ultramarine and burnt sienna to paint them.
MERCY! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The paints were like butter, especially on THIS paper ... they actually FLOWED on the paper .... evenly ... cleanly ... I could add water and yet keep a consisent coloring! I could add several glazes without puddling or shifting (too much) the layer underneath. MY GOODNESS ... why did I wait so long!
I'm pretty pleased with this sketch and the watercolor ... and my new toys!
One night this week after a very stressful few hours, I drove around campus and found the Lady Banks in full bloom. I broke off a cluster of the flowers and sketched them while I listened to a book on tape and ate dinner. I really MUST have my students propagate this lovely shrubby vine!
I was beginning to 'not see' the flowers I've been sketching over the last month, so I decided to sketch something different to 'wake me up' again. Just before dark, I drove to this lovely little park and attempted to sketch the pergola. SIGH. I must admit I'm out of practice here and must vary my subjects to keep SEEING!
Another busy week at work. By the time I would arrive at the bed and breakfast, I had only enough time to sketch some of the glorious flowers from Rebecca's garden as they sat in tiny vases throughout the house.
Here are some of them: azalea, petunia, phlox, and a few others.