I think I made the most of this quarter sheet of Fabriano 300 lb. paper. First I started a tulip painting on one side of it, but that didn’t turn out well. So I turned it over and used half of it for yesterday’s puddles. Today I used the other half for this sketch of my the undergrowth in my neighbour’s yard. Size: 7″ x 11″
After yesterday’s muddy painting I tried to do something a little cleaner today. With the melting snow creating lakes on the streets in my neighbourhood, it felt like spring might actually arrive sometime soon. I worked a little differently today too. Usually I work from mid-tones to darks, painting around the light areas. Today I added the darks in first and worked backwards. I think it’s something that helped establish the values early on and is worth trying again. Painted on 300 lb Fabriano.
I thought it would be a good idea. I would go out with three tubes of paint that I don’t use very often and paint with a new triad: Winsor Blue, Winsor Yellow and Winsor Red. It turned out to be a bad idea! The colours were dull, the mixes were muddy and I just kept adding paint to fix it. And when that didn’t work I added line. And then I added a thicker line. Painting every day allows me to try things like this. Sometimes they work and sometimes — like this — they don’t, but they are always a good learning experience. In this case one I won’t repeat again. At least not without trying the mixes in studio first.
I’ve been appreciating this breath of spring on my counter for the past week, but now that the petals are dropping this may be the last day they are around. Sketched on a little block of Fabriano hot press paper, always my favourite watercolour paper when I use a Micron pen. The line just seems to flow so easily on the smooth surface of the paper.
Drawing what you eat (or drink) is a common theme for sketchers, at least in the circles I travel in. It always seems like a great idea in theory. You have this arrangement of beautiful objects in front of you, a perfect little still life. But in practice what happens is that every time I draw what I am drinking, I end up with cold coffee. Or cold tea. And then today it hit me. What those tea and coffee sketching sketchers probably do is order two drinks! One to drink and one to draw.
I painted this out at McGill’s Macdonald Farm today. It’s always a favourite spot because it feels so rural even though it’s on the island of Montreal. There really aren’t many places left on the island where you can find cows, barns, silos and farm machinery. In fact, I can’t think of anywhere else. In the summer the farm is alive with activity but in the winter it’s an unusually tranquil place to spend a few hours sketching.
A couple of years ago I thought I was going to lose this beautiful Norway maple that shades our house. An arborist gave some good advice about how to patch the hole that was allowing rain water to seep into the tree and rotting it from the inside. The patch seems to have worked because the tree is still standing, providing not only shade in the summer but drawing material in winter.
Saturday’s tulips are a little different from the more upright ones from Friday. I think they are leaning a little more towards the window, hoping, like all of us, for some sun and warmth.
Yesterday my tulips were half closed but today they are starting to open and I decided to paint them in situ instead of isolating them like I usually do. I haven’t ever found an orange that I really like in watercolour (cadmium orange is so opaque!) so I usually make my own mix. For these I used a mix of New Gamboge and Alizarin Crimson. What I like about these types of mixes is that instead of having a flat orange, you sometimes get a yellowish orange or a reddish-orange if you let some of the blending happen on the sheet. That’s always a lot more dynamic than a flat wash of orange paint straight from the tube.
I’m always afraid of painting flowers that look stiff and dry. I was quite happy with the results of working on a large page of my Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook. With a good amount of wash on my brush I was able to obtain all kinds of juicy effects and lots of blooms on the blooms.