floral sketches

Garden Gargoyles

There are many rare finds in Pat’s garden. A collection of antique garden tools, a windmill, vintage gas pump, and rusty relics from the yards of her friends who lost their homes in the Tubbs fire. And then of course the flowers so bold and outsized that you feel like Alice when she took the “eat me!” pill and shrank down. But the stone gargoyles were too wonderful not to sketch. Mine copped an attitude which I had not intended. Supercilious? gargoyle

And the rudbeckia, in another garden where I found a few inches of shade to sit. . .Giant!

Patswisteria

The following week I got wooed by the wisteria, no longer in bloom of course, but providing lovely shade. I totally lost myself for a while in the winds and twists and when I woke up, I added the ladies to bring me out of my reverie.

 

A Simple Cure for What Ails you

About 15 years ago I renamed my art business IMAGINE WITH ART when I wanted to change my emphasis to be more about creative process than about product. I wrote the word Imagine in the wet concrete outside my studio door and added the name to this antique brush which has hung outside my door since then.

I recently got around to sketching the brush, when I saw the flowers in the planter below, showing off in the late afternoon sun.

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And then, joy of joys, my current Muse group “sisters” were all invited to Pat and Lee Davis’ stunning home gardens (definitely plural gardens!) for a morning of sketching, which turned into a (kind of urban sketchers’ type) on location event with space for social distancing.

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Oh, to have that kind of sitting-separately-but-together-serenity-in-a-garden-with-friends experience again (after all the Covid-shut-down-fear-and-alienation, and even while it’s still going on everywhere)!

It’s a simple cure for what ails us. Pick up a pen or pencil: draw what you see: put some paint on: notice how you feel now.

Bouquets to Art 2019

You have to take a deep breath before plunging into the scene at the de Young art museum in San Francisco for those few days when the Bouquets to Art exhibit reigns each year. There must be many thousands of floral enthusiasts in the Bay Area who live for this show, which pays homage to the art of floral arranging. What I love about it is that the stunning floral displays are inspired by the collection of artworks in the museum and actually the museum architecture itself.

I brought my sketchbook and pencil and took pictures so that i could add color later.bouquets1

The floral displays use live flowers, which is why the show only lasts 5 days. I imagine by the fourth or fifth day the flowers can get pretty limp and brown around the edges. The structures are as mind-bending as the flowers.

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Everyone was taking pictures and trying to get the right angle for a shot. People were particularly respectful of the sketcher, standing valiantly in their midst. But I was trying to stay somewhat out of the way as well, and choosing subjects that were not as mobbed.

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This was one of my favorites and a really interesting challenge. Here I’m sketching my reflection in the mirror in the arrangement structure as well as the art that inspired it!

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And this one challenged with another reflection, of the dangling roots on the shiny surface beneath.

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The petroglyph-inspired art behind the arrangement was the inspiration for this magical piece!

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At some point my feet were quite tired, not to mention my ears. The din and press of humanity made me seek rest in the native art section, where there were no floral arrangements or people! A bench across from this statue beckoned. I was sure I was looking at an androgenous figure, more male than female, until I read the sign. Surely a male artist at least, certainly one who had never witnessed childbirth!

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

The Bouquets Continued. . .

On my visit to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum last month, my eyes became saturated with the 120 stunning floral displays exhibited with the art they were responding to. I left with a voracious hunger for the floral image. Not surprisingly the fact that it is springtime here and everything that is not in bloom is swelling up with potential, has encouraged more bouquets of art.

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fountain pen and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook 5.5X8.5″

These Calla lilies, picked from my garden and placed in a lovely little ceramic vase. Not a very skilled arrangement to say the least. But the next morning I saw that I had created a most humble but appealing Bouquet to Art! And so I sketched it to add to the collection in my sketchbook.

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In the living room with my painting “Alvus” in the background.

And then as we started a new Muse Group, we used some fun mixed media techniques to create. . .floral paintings of course!

redsbouquetLots of acrylic paint slathered and fingerpainted on and scraped back to a warm underlayer of paint.

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There should be a way to get inside spring. To walk around first, hop up and grab a stem or branch, and stand up on the rim of it. Look down, and then ??

Secrets are like that. They don’t reveal themselves easily. They wait in the dark, hide behind the flowers and let you get all woozy with the fragrance so you forget to look. Do you really, really want to know what’s there?

Hang out a bit longer, just another minute.  Oh no! There you go again, drifting off. Spring is like that. Those blossoms give no sure footing, especially after a drizzling rain.

Does this part of spring make you a bit woozy? Does it make you want to do everything all at once and then to just sit still, do nothing, breathe it in? We’ve been drenched in sunlight here, watching the apply blossoms pop and the clouds of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies drunkenly imbibing their blossom nectar brew, then swooping down to lay their almost invisible eggs on the vines.