Mr. Flashy Bumblebee

brown fountain pen, watercolor, white gel pen in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Mr. Bumblebee had his haunches loaded down with red pollen while performing his nectar retraction on the purple lupine, with no idea of how flashy he was! Did the red come from the flowers next to the lupine? Or was the yellow waist pack another pollen carrier, and how did he keep the pollen colors separate? Watching nature always leads to innumerable questions. I looked up the dainty red flowers on the Leaf Snap App which I make daily use of, and found a great many variations on the name. My favorite is Purslane. So Shakespearean.

I’m trying to sit out and nature journal from life more now that the weather is cooperating. The patch of shade under the tree was working fine, though eventually the tiny green spiders covered my arms and legs; nothing scary/creepy, mind you, but it got pretty itchy, so I put the finishing touches on inside.

Geese at the old brewery

I’d come to sketch the historic brewery across the water at Tumwater Historical Park, but first the Canadian geese were putting on such a show of preening, with feathers and beaks going in all directions while also holding stiller than usual. . . so how could I resist?

fountain pen and watercolor on 9 X 12″ Canson Mixed Media paper

Of course that meant putting my stool down in, well you know what happens around flocks of geese. The two standing characters in the show actually held their posture for a good 20-30 minutes, leading me to think they must be the sentries, watching over the preeners.

I sort of remembered getting waylayed by the geese (or ducks) last summer when I was intending to focus on the brewery. See that sketch here. So, determined to have another go, I got a drawing and photo done and worked on that at home.

fountain pen, black brush pen and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

And I’ll happily give it another go another time. Maybe it will be an annual thing, a way to show my fealty to my new home town.

Papaver Orientale

Papaver Orientale with a bee visitor in my garden

I was shocked! Double shocked. I’d forgotten how blue the sky is, for one. And three monster poppies emerged in our garden. Since we didn’t plant any of the flowers, bushes, and trees on our property, having just moved here a year ago and having lots of other things to keep us busy, we have been in a constant state of discovery this spring as colorful plants emerge from bare soil. The red poppies were like an anniversary present to celebrate our first year here. 

So I got busy studying the unfolding of petals. 

The first bloom popped before the others opened, and the sheer weight of it, combined with a steady drizzle that toppled it, made it an early casualty. The seed pod on the bottom here was the “final” stage in the cycle. I was ready to stake the other two so they would live a bit longer, and the rains finally stopped, giving a few more days to study the full expansion of beauty.

And then this morning, of all things! another casualty after a combination of direct water spray from the irrigation and sudden scorching sun.

But can’t you just imagine the most ravishing outfit on a Flamenco dancer? It put my sketches to shame as nature always does, and rightly so!

watercolor, white gel pen, brown ink fountain pen in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Squirrel Acrobatics

watercolor, fountain pen and white gel pen in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Ever since I took away the squirrel and bunny picnic table feeder (it was attracting raccoons) my squirrel friends have become even more adept at bird feeder acrobatics. So I thought I’d try to capture the action. Not easy! but lots of fun to try. Can you imagine going through all that leaping and swinging and eating while hanging upside down, just to get a few seeds? It makes me dizzy to watch.

The bunny action here is ramping up too with lots of cottontails bouncing around the garden. I caught one getting through an opening in the fence around the vegetable garden and chased him around the beds til he stopped and took a nibble while looking me boldly in the eye. I felt as foolish as the Mr McGregor character in the Beatrix Potter books.

Spooners

This berry stand is three minutes from my house, and I’ve been watching the parking lot fill up with folks buying flats of strawberries every day lately, at least until about 11am when they sell out! These are not the California variety. They are a very deep dark red all the way through and you have to gobble them up quickly because they’re very ripe and juicy. And since red is probably my favorite color to paint, I couldn’t resist setting up the stool to sketch the action, and Ineke joined me. 

You may notice that the sky is dark in the picture. It was 11 am and the sun was doing its hide and seek game we’ve gotten used to here. That was then. Now we’re getting some real sun and heat this week, finally!

fountain pens and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Something about the bright colors compelled me to lay the paint down first and draw later. No way to get too precious and correct but the result has more energy. I also did another couple pages with figure studies, about a minute each, because that was how long it took folks to get their flat and carry it away. And then home to binge on strawberries!

Marsh Wren and more

watercolor, white gouache, white gel pen and brown ink fountain pen in Nova beige toned sketchbook

Such a funny little songster, the Marsh Wren. What I like about them is you can see them close up in the marshes and watch that beak open alarmingly wide while the strangest squeeky sounds emerge, plentiful and varied.

On that same walk on the Chehalis Trail here I can stop now to gaze at the osoberries and salmonberries and honeysuckle climbing out of sight up towering trees. The moth was in my backyard where I’m making an effort to appreciate insect life as well, in hopes that most of these tinier residents are the beneficial ones not eating my vegetables. At the moment it seems rather unfair that the hungry green-eaters are focusing on my spinach and chard while the abundant “weeds” in the yard are given a pass. 

Demo at Jubilee

I was invited by some new friends to do a demo at the meeting of the Jubilee Art Club last week. They had a beautiful set up with space for social distancing and an overhead mirror so that everyone could see. I knew they were a group of mostly experienced artists who would appreciate the focus on creative process and expressive painting, so I shared my experience with the Muse Groups.

I brought my inks and gesso and demo-ed that fun way to short circuit the left-brain thinking mind by squirting inks and gesso onto wet shapes and moving them around with a scraper, a roller and fingers. The results always lead to a group hallucination which is a hoot and makes people realize that art making can be fun and profound at the same time!

inks and gesso on w/c paper

You’re invited to the Jubilee you know.

Your presence is requested.

So wear your finest top hat.

Come roaring up in a race car

Or astride a steed with matching hat.

This party requires your presence

Inaugurates your next fifty years (more or less)

So no regrets to the host.

Take a nap, eat a hearty meal

Get yourself tanked up and ready.

Because this ship will be leaving and

You must be on it.

Preparations are arranged.

Destination will be discovered.

 

Your presence is required.

 

Saigon in Olympia

Sailor Fude fountain pen, black liner, and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

It was a last minute out-the-door call from Jane OlySketcher to sketch downtown. How could I resist? She has a great eye for sketch angles. And Saigon in Olympia? Well, we have a bit of every cultural accent in town. As you can see we are still dressing for the chill. Not unlike San Francisco actually, where you better have a warm hat and jacket even in the middle of summer.

So here is Jane in her down vest, clutching her hot coffee, with pens erupting from pockets on the sidewalk. I found a spot in the street behind a parked car, and soon we were meeting some young Asian men who happened by. One of them works at the Rendezvous restaurant . Another was a fine artist in his own right who showed us his sketchbook. So it was an hour well spent!  

Jazz at the Market

ink pens and watercolor in 5X7″ spiral bound mixed media sketchbook

I made a quick stop at the Farmer’s Market in Oly last weekend and got pulled in by the Jazz. Luckily I’d brought my pens and sketchbook so I pulled out the rough and ready Sailor Fude pen and a couple others and started in. Meanwhile excited shoppers were lining up for the strawberries and peonies which are this week’s freshest delights!

The drummer Malo caught me in the act and afterward asked to see the drawing. The name of the group is Clave Con Jazz, a trio of guys who really know their jazz! And is there any better music to punctuate a sketch than Jazz?! Later at home I added the watercolor hot pepper spice for the latin tunes.