From the pile

It was warm enough today to take a little tour of the mess in my backyard. I found a thick mat of oak leaves and enough sticks and branches to fill ten bins, but I wasn’t expecting to see any signs of life just yet. Surprisingly, though, I discovered some crocuses blooming near the shed, so I ran back in to grab my sketchbook. Seems like a miracle to see blooms, doesn’t it, after this difficult winter in Montreal?

For this sketch I really wanted the crocuses to look like they were emerging from a thick layer of leaves. After my pencil drawing I did an initial wash of diluted Burnt Sienna, painting everything except the flowers. When that was dry, I wet each bloom with clear water and added Cobalt Violet to the outer edges of the petals and let the full-strength pigment bleed into the clear water. The rest of the sketch was negative painting. I surrounded each oak leaf shape with progressively darker washes and shadow areas, and added a bit of splatter too, to reinforce the texture of the post-winter tangle in the garden. The darkest areas were saved for right around the flowers. Sketched in a Travelogue Watercolour Journal.

24 Comments on “From the pile”

  1. TonyU says:

    Double joy … finding the flowers and then sketching them. Make that treble joy to include me looking at it!


    • Ah Tony. Thanks for this. You can tell how happy I was to find those tiny flowers. Hard to believe that they could bring so much joy, but it has been almost six months of cold. We are ready for spring here.


  2. Anne Marie Pecival says:

    This is beautiful Shari…guess you are a long way behind UK….crocuses, least a month ago. Is this Cobalt Violet Deep? My Cobalt Violet is much paler and pinker


    • Thanks Anne Marie. I just checked and my Cobalt Violet is M. Graham. Maybe a different pigment number than your brand. I like this one a lot. I know what you mean by other brands being pinker and paler. Almost as if you can’t get any pigment from them at all.


  3. Chris Rusk says:

    It must have seemed like finding treasure when you first saw the crocuses. At least, to me, that is what this piece is saying. Really nice work 🙂


  4. jjbrynteg says:

    This is beautiful and thank you for generously including notes on your technique and colour choices – these are invaluable to learners like myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Judy Sopher says:

    What a lovely painting. The color of the crocuses is striking. It is a miracle to see life emerging in the spring. In ND, we needed a good snow cover for plants to survive. But it seemed that nothing could possibly live under that. Yet–come spring, everything did. Your crocuses are such a beautiful proof of this.

    Did you just add water to a limited portion of the petals? It looks so natural.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ronald Miller says:

    So useful that you briefly described the painting sequence. I admire, and try to emulate your technique, hoping to approach your level of results someday. I look forward to each of your entries. Thanks!


  7. Shari, you find simple, yet beautiful objects to paint . . . even nestled in the dried yard debris. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Barbara Beynon says:

    The crocuses seem a miracle, as does your exquisite sketch. I truly appreciate this sign of spring, even from my home in Florida where it will too soon be unbearably hot!


  9. balindsey2015 says:

    Very beautiful, thank you for sharing your method. As a new watercolourist, I appreciate learning other artists process.


  10. Denise says:

    Just delightful!


  11. Beautiful sketch. The flowers really stand out against the leafs on the background. Love the contrast between the lights and darks.


  12. Smart idea to let that purple bleed in on the petals. I’m going to have to try that. Glad spring is starting to show itself in Montreal!


  13. Bernadette says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to Spring. We have daffodils and just the beginning of buds on our lovely magnolia tree. Our home is on a deer path so my tulips and crocus were gobbled up many years ago. For now, the daffodils are still standing. Deer prefer sweeter flowers I assume.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to write in such detail of color choices and process. I so appreciate this.


  14. You truly captured the thrill of spring.


  15. joantav says:

    I am slowly catching up on all the posts I missed while I was in Venice for the month. This is such a treasure. I love the tiny blossoms amid all those leaves…perfect!


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