floral sketches

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!

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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.