Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Good Job, Tree...and Thank You


"Good Job"
8.25" x 9.25" watercolor
on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

I walk by this tree daily and tell it "Good job" and "thank you."  We can't take these friendly giants for granted anymore. Just ask any Californian. 

My something-is-better-than-nothing sketchbook practice paid off. Practicing the composition and color study in my sketchbook gave me the mojo yesterday to start a more finished, stand-alone painting, which I completed this a.m.  

I hope eventually I'll have more technical skills for rendering a more pleasing version of this tree, but for now, I'll just keep loving my friendly neighborhood giant. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Something Is Better Than Nothing


There's so little at stake with keeping an illustrated journal, and yet it's a great creative outlet. It can simply be a record of images and thoughts that go along with everyday living. There's little pressure to make every drawing a good one. If the drawing is awful, maybe the writing will make up for it. If it doesn't, who cares? It's just a visual/verbal playground and a learning laboratory.

Lately, as sheltering in place has droned on, stalling my motivation for creating paintings, I've turned to a more regular illustrated journaling practice. I tell myself, "Something is better than nothing" and just start drawing -- trusting that somehow I'll continue to develop as an artist.

My latest favorite sketchbook is a hardbound "large portrait" 8.25" x 5.5" size from the Hand-book Journal Co. It has drawing paper with a good tooth (but too toothy) that accepts light watercolor washes. I use my carbon platinum fountain pen for the ink  and then whatever watercolors I have on hand.

Here are a few more recent spreads...

See how poorly drawn this guy is? Who cares. Something is better than nothing, and the spread does capture that heat spell. 

Madeline is an art buddy. We meet every 2 or 3 weeks to sketch -- with masks, and from a distance.

Our son texted a photo of his family's regal dog in those red booties. Just too cute not to draw. I'll probably make the family a card from this spread, with the right side the front of the card, and the left side the back. 

We escaped the box last Friday and drove to Sausalito. Biked a few miles and then ate outdoors at Scomas. The day felt so free and I wanted to capture it. This drawing isn't very good, but it does bring back that sense of freedom I felt. The air quality was great and the temps were in the low 70s -- now that's the kind of weather the Bay area is supposed to have. 

Later I was watching a demo video on watercolor and gouache from artist James Gurney's blog (great blog with great short demo videos!) and made notes on the right-hand side of the spread above. I often do make notes on art articles/videos in my sketchbook. Why not? 

I do feel I caught the character of this tree with this very simple drawing. For me, this spread will forever conjure the lovely feeling I have as I walk along the San Francisco Bay nearly every day.  

Katy’s Garden

Katy's Garden
Ink and watercolor
5" x 5" hot press paper

I'm sure this day lily was tended to with the utmost care. I know this because it comes from Katy's garden. Good job, dear friend! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Back to Home Base: the Sketchbook


Tennesse Valley Cove, Sept. 19, 2020 ink and watercolor sketch
in Handbook Journal, "Large Portrait" size, 8.25" x 5.5" 

Lately it has felt really good to get back to my roots.  

I'm talking about the sketchbook. The illustrated journal. Words and pictures.

I'll always be grateful for Danny Gregory's book, Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are, for getting me started on my words and pictures journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a jump start into making art. 

My own journey has recently veered off into just pictures (i.e., stand-alone paintings), but I will always come back, at least sometimes, to words and pictures. I simply love that combination. 

It's home base. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Take Heart, California


"Blue Skies" 
6.5" x 9" Arches 100% cotton paper

Sooner or later we'll have those beautiful blue skies back. And if we once did, we'll never again take them for granted. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

I Can't Be Blamed

watercolor on 7 x 10" Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress paper 

I can't be blamed for overworking this spiderwort painting -- can I? After all, the sky was an apocalyptic twilight-ish orange all day because of all the fires blazing in northern CA. So I used my desk lamp to paint by...but, as most artists would tell you, not much good comes out of painting by lamp light. 

My aim was to produce a stand-alone painting similar to the last spiderwort, which was in a sketchbook. My plan was to put down some color really fast and then finish off with contour lines with black ink, just as before. Somewhere in the process, my intuition dared me to finish the painting without ink. I wanted to avoid being too representational and stay loose, especially with the background. 

Instead, here's the result: too many layers of paint over everything (I couldn't see nuances in color because of the poor natural light, so I just kept adding watery layers that ended up weighing the painting down )...and a sense of confusion for the viewer re: where the light is coming from. 

(Kind of like the sense of confusion I feel right now about living in northern California.)

But I am not daunted. We learn by these mistakes. If we repeat them often, do we learn more deeply? I sure hope so.   

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Jackie and Gary’s Spiderwort


Jackie and Gary's Spiderwort
Watercolor and Ink
in Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook, 7.5" x 7.5"

Iowa, I don’t miss your governor. But I do miss your people and your prairies. 

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