botanical sketch

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

fineliner pen and watercolor in w/c sketchbook

The Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma, WA proved to be a perfect match for our sketch needs on a sunny but cold winter day. The tropical plants needed the warmth and humidity and so did we. With so many exotic flowering plants to choose from, I’m not sure why I chose this wing of the conservatory with a whole wall of plants! There was something about the light filled opening into a different plane of existence (the gift shop) that beckoned mysteriously. To let my pen wander aimlessly from plant to plant, not naming or detailing or being precise and thorough. . .I had to give it a try!

The challenge always, with so much green, is to find the other colors to show contrast; the warm soil and dark mosses and blues and the burnt siennas with a touch of red. The fellow who was working there, planting and tending the bookstore, offered to help and found these lovely stamps for us to add the name in another artist’s rendering to our sketch pages.

If you’re in Tacoma, don’t miss the Botanical Conservatory in Wright park!


Watercolor Tips for the Urban Sketcher

The Watercolor Tips for the Urban Sketcher workshop was on Saturday, held at beautiful Sunset Gardens at Cornerstone in Sonoma. It was one of those exquisite sunny (but not hot) days and the gardens were showing off their spring blooms.


I’d started the planning of this “new” workshop with a list of watercolor tips. It got very long and boring, because watercolor can be a challenge and there is so much to learn. So I broke it down into the elements that work best when you’re out “on the streets” sketching and need to get the color down quickly! We had spring flower gardens to entice and serve as subject matter, so that’s where the focus was.


The demos were about getting juicy color down quickly, using analogous colors and complements to make interesting color shapes and create color drama.


For the novices the workshop was about learning how to get rich color from the palette. More advanced students were encouraged to mix color on the paper, painting wet against wet, charging color into wet shapes, and painting lively shadows.


The three hours went by in a heartbeat, with the fragrance of sweet peas and roses to intoxicate, and the good company of fellows sketchers to enjoy.