Azalea Watercolor Sketches
The top watercolor sketch, in my journal, was done last week.  My class this morning wanted to do some more with the azalea plant, because they were determined to keep it simple.  The bottom two are demonstrations I did for that class.  I know not everyone is interested in keeping it this simple, but I, personally, don't care for detail.  I don't like doing it, and I'm not crazy about seeing it.  I do appreciate the talent of  people who render a detailed painting, but it isn't my thing.

 Sometimes we think we ought to do that  - we aren't real artists unless we paint photographic realism.  And sometimes we just get caught up in the details of an object and don't know how to let go.  I think knowing what the object or subject is saying to us, knowing what we want to say about the subject, and using a large (no smaller than a #12 round) brush will all go a long way toward keeping it simple.

These were very quick little paintings zooming in, cropping, and trying to capture just what it was that caught my attention  -  in this case it was the straight bottom edge of the plant.

There are creepy noises in the house this afternoon.  Yesterday when I went to put on my boots,  I found about a half cup of cat food in one of them!  Do we have a critter lurking here???!!!


More Thumbnail Sketches

 Camellia Leaves
In class this week, we were doing thumbnail sketches, trying to pick up on what it is that attracts us to a subject.  I think we paint a subject  -  object or scene  -  not just for the subject itself, but because of something ABOUT the subject that attracts us.   It might be the shape, or the colors, or the way the light falls on it, or any number of reasons.  We have to recognize the reason and build on it.  

When I said it was the color of the camellia leaves that attracted me,  the class wanted to see how I would get that very dark, shiny green.  We experimented with a few different applications, such as mixing on the palette, mixing on the paper, a combination of  mixing on the paper and on the palette.  We tried different techniques for the highlights  -  lifting while the paint was still wet and painting around the highlight area, leaving the white of the paper.

Now I think I'll go play around a bit with some more thumbnail sketches.  I am intrigued by the very flat, horizontal bottom of an azalea plant I have.  I don't care for the color, and I'm not crazy about the floofy blossoms, but I really like the shape.  I had better get to it before Rudy the cat changes the shape of it.  Yesterday he ingested some of the leaves, and they seemed to give him super powers. He managed to open the basement door and almost opened the back doors into the garden (snow).  That's not possible for him without the use of the "azalea drug".  I googled it and it said it was mildly toxic and might make cats a little lethargic.  Rudy has re-written the book on all toxic plant ingestion. Yes, I put the plant where he can't get to it.  He's sleeping it off today.  He sleeps something off everyday.  How do you know when a cat is lethargic?


Composition Lesson

Still Life Composition Lesson and More Buttons
This morning in class we talked about the placement of objects on our paper.  Not the right or wrong placement of objects, but how they relate to one another spatially.

The lower left pencil drawing was just drawing things as they were  -  no arranging or composing.  We just drew what we saw, how we saw it.  We were trying to place things up and down the picture plane showing the volume of the objects  -  that is, making sure they would really fit where we put them.

The top left watercolor is just a very quick, three object still life, sketched only with watercolor  -  no preliminary drawing.  It was a salt shaker, a bottle of ink, and a spool of thread.  This exercise was to get the objects in place without fussing at all with any detail.

The buttons are just more buttons.  This is the beginning of a new session, and some of the students hadn't had a  chance to see the button demo or try it for themselves.  These buttons could become habit forming.

I see I am really behind with replies to comments.  I LOVE your comments, and I will get right at it!



A Peach Colored Rose
and a squirrel story 
I finally got around to painting one of the roses.  It was fun, and I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  I may have done the whole bunch, but I was a little (a lot) distracted by the squirrel in the attic. I had recently watched an episode of the Hoarders in which a homeless person was living in the hoarders' stuff, and they didn't even know it.  I swear that squirrel was moving things around up there.  He found his way from the attic down to the enclosed back porch (several times) and sat in the rafters or right on the window sill and watched me in the kitchen.  I went out the front door and went around the house to open the porch doors.  His friends were frantic  -  they were hanging on the house here and there and weren't afraid of me at all.  I must admit, I was afraid of them!

I determined from the looks of HIM (?) that he wasn't pregnant or nursing, so we were not dealing with a nest.  This was an accidental break-in, so why wouldn't he just walk out one of the open doors???!!! He obviously didn't want to be here, and his friends didn't want him in here either, so just leave already.  I was hoping that he was going to go out, and his friends weren't going to come in  -  I don't know how squirrels reason.

When my husband came home, he lowered the attic steps (they come down into the back porch) to make it easier for the squirrel to come down and go out the back door!!!   I was in stitches  -  that was the funniest (most ridiculous?)  thing I had ever heard of.  I guess not so ridiculous after all  -  the squirrel left then. Not exactly down the stairs, but it obviously encouraged him to get the heck out of there.

It was pretty quiet when he left.  A nice kind of quiet.



Library Demonstration

Colored Pencils in a Mustard Pot
White Buttons
I have an exhibit of my paintings at our public library, and yesterday I did a reception/demonstration/book signing.   A really nice bunch of people showed up.  They asked a lot of great questions and were very enthusiastic.  To those of you reading this, that were there yesterday, thank you so much for coming!

As I sit here posting this, I'm watching it snow, and watching the temperature drop on the digital thermometer.  When I sat down to do this it was 16 degrees, and now a few minutes later, it is 14!  We live in a very old house with large windows, and I'm sitting here looking down the street, over the rooftops toward the Bay.  Yesterday the Bay was very blue  -  today it is completely obliterated by the snow.  There are cardinals in the forsythia and lilac bushes, and there are always people walking within sight  -  crisscrossing the street as it goes down the hill.

Okay  -  I could sit here all day watching the snow, birds, and people, but I do have a few other things I want to do  -  like eat something.

What are you sketching today?  I'm going to do those roses I keep talking about.


Using Cobalt Blue

Color Mixing in my Sketchbook
I have probably posted small geraniums a million times, but  .   .   .  here are some more.  I haven't used cobalt blue in a long time, and I think I've really been missing out.  In real life (as opposed to photographing and posting) the cobalt blue in these mixes really glows.

I used cobalt blue and quinacridone red on each of the geraniums and switched out the yellows - using New Gamboge, Hansa Yellow, and Quinacridone Gold. 

There are some beautiful roses on my work table just waiting to be painted.  They are kind of a cantaloupe color.  Gorgeous!  I guess I am a little intimidated by the color and I am not a rose painter, but they aren't going to last much longer.  What would happen if I failed?  We all know absolutely nothing would happen!  I would have had the fun of splashing around in paint.  I would have loved drawing them and looking at the lights and shadows of that wonderful color.  Just go do it.

What holds us back?


Ellie's Flowers

Contour Drawing Demo
These flowers have been around for awhile  -  going on three weeks.  I salvaged a few for my classes to do a very quick contour drawing and a fast swoop of color.  It doesn't take much to get an impression of an object.   I wish I had timed myself, so I could tell you exactly what " very quick" and "fast swoop" really mean.  Wednesday's class wanted me to set the timer for ten minutes when they started theirs, and they were finished in much less time than that.

It is dark and gray here again!  That's okay  -  I have some class promotion to do, I have a play-date with a friend, and Youngest Granddaughter will be here late this afternoon.  Of course I also have some laundry, grocery shopping, errands . . . . . I don't think I'll do that stuff.

It's Friday  -  plan a date with your sketchbook.