Friday, May 22, 2015

Watercolor and more pen and ink


Another plein air painting, this time just of a single flower, the flower is a Canadian May flower and I was visiting Borderland State Park in Easton when I was painting. I had a wonderful view of one of the ponds and actually took a break from painting to watch a Great Blue Heron do some fishing. They are such beautiful birds. Anyway looking at this now I realize that I don't have the values right, well the scan is a bit off so that is part of it, but I have the background and the leaves almost the same value, not a good thing even if true to life. Bother, well I just have to keep working at it.

I did do a bit of pencil sketching prior to painting, then I added just a few pen lines to this piece.


I was doodling the other day and these two, hmm, illustrations I guess I will call them for want of a better word came out of the pen. No real clue why, just felt like it. I drew the one on the left first and added the caption, then I thought about the 2nd one so just drew the "cat" with a paw under, fishing for something, added the caption, and finally the mouse head peaking around the corner.

Peaking around corners seems to be the theme of these two drawings, and they have a certain amount of whimsy to them. Guess I had to get in my whimsy allotment for the month of May.


Another of my pen exercises, using all of my Technical pen tips, told you I was going to revisit the stars in my last exercise, still not sure I am done with these.


A Pearl Crescent Butterfly that I photographed yesterday at Attleboro Springs in Attleboro, MA. I believe this is a male who was seeking a mate. He was just perched on that branch gently waving his wings up and down, spreading pheromones I would guess. Hope a lady friend eventually showed up to reward his efforts, and bravery, after all he was just sitting out in the open, not really a good idea for a butterfly that might be someones snack. Crescents are a small to mid sized butterfly, larger than the Azures and Elfins I have been photographing, but smaller than Painted Ladies or Monarchs, and much smaller than Swallowtails.

This is a rather nice photo, when they aren't looking for mates they tend to flit and flutter wings making it hard to get a spread wing photograph.


Photo above was made at Oak Knoll MA Audubon site that is just down the road from Attleboro Springs. This isn't the main house but a storage shed adjunct to the main structure. I was photographing the white dogwood to the left and realized that I really like this photo with the contrasting greens/blue sky/white flowers/building. It says spring to me, even though the dogwood is a bit past its prime it is still pretty.  Unlike my painting of the mayflower this photo has a good range of values, darks, lights and midtones.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Plein Air, watercolor, pen and ink


I am trying to push myself to do more Plein Air work, or painting and drawing from direct field observation. Don't get me wrong I love being outside, but I prefer to be moving, going from point A to point B, listening and observing and occasionally stopping to make a photograph or to try and ID a bird or flower. I don't really care for sitting in one spot waiting for the bugs to find me and attack. But I can't draw or paint while on the move so I am trying to push myself into sitting and doing either at least a couple of times a week.

The above is this past weeks plein air watercolor painting. I was at Borderland State Park in Easton trying to paint the area by the outflow stream for the ponds. When I finished it, I though, ugh, this is terrible, but looking at it now I still find it pretty amateur but the tree isn't too bad, at least it is better than a lot of trees I  have painted in the past and I rather like the greens on the distant shore.

I really need to spend more time painting with watercolor as doing the paintings is the only way to get good at using watercolors. It can just be so fussy that sometimes I don't have the patience for it. But I sometimes need to add color to my pen and ink drawings and watercolor is the best method so I must just keep at it.


I also got in a trip into Boston this week and instead of heading into the Public Gardens I headed over to Quincy Market and then on to Columbus Park over by North Wharf on the waterfront. They have 3 of these trellises set up with wisteria vines climbing up and over. I was hoping the flowers would be in bloom and putting on a show. I was a bit disappointed as while the flowers were just starting to bloom they had pruned the vines so heavily last fall that there isn't going to be much of a show.

Anyway I sat for a while on a bench, had some lunch and then did a pencil drawing of one of the trellises. After finishing the drawing I added a bit of pen work to help shade and define features of the structures. I think I need to work on my buildings and structures.


Above is another of my pen and ink doodles with all of my technical pens. Using the larger tipped pens means that I put in dark areas as that is what they are best at. I sort of like this and think I may be using these designs for something else, Will just have to wait and see what develops.


Photographed at Borderland the same day I did the plein air painting, it isn't exactly the same view though I was sitting not too far away. I have photographed this view often as it is a favorite of mine, so here it is with spring greens in the background also with a blue sky and some clouds, looks like a perfect spring day, which it was.


I love Jack in the Pulpits, they aren't flowers that scream "HERE I AM, LOOK AT ME" esp. as they are often totally green as this one was. But their elaborate shape with the hood hiding the spadix below is so wonderfully elaborate you just have to admire them. I photographed this one at North River, a MA Audubon sanctuary in Marshfield, MA. I had been on a trip to World's End in Hingham to look for Juniper Hairstreaks (a small butterfly) and decided to go down route 3a and visit North River before going home. I was rewarded by being able to photograph and see quite a few Jack in Pulpit plants and flowers.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome, and if you are curious I place a photo of the Juniper I saw on my facebook page, link at the bottom of the blog page.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Inktense, watercolor and just Pen and Ink


This piece has actually been in the works for a while. I know it looks fairly simple, pen and ink, but I used Inktense pencils for the color on this and they needed to be activated in stages so sometimes I would need to let the work dry before moving onto another section.

The original drawing was the flower with the stems and leaves, I added the triangles as background and then added fills to the triangles. Once the inking was finished I use my Inktense pencils to color in the various areas and sections. Then came activation of the ink with a damp brush. I think that took longer to do than any other part of the small drawing.

Am I happy with it, I am not sure, it sort of does what I wanted it to do but... Colors were chosen to be complements of each other, red/green, blue/orange, yellow/violet. and the one background triangle repeating all main colors. That one I overlaid with grey to tone down the colors.

The work was done on Hot Press Watercolor paper with my technical pens and then Inktense pencils, size is 4 x 6 inches, so relatively small.



A real plein air watercolor, I hadn't done one of these since last summer, and I think it shows, not a very good watercolor, but I suppose it could be worse. I was at Ellisville Harbor where they have an Osprey stand. I chose the stand and the background hills to be my image for the painting. Not sure you get the sense of open marsh which is what I was going for. I did leave the Ospreys out of the painting, the female was sitting on her nest and while I was working on this the male stopped by to check me out. He never came to harass me so I wasn't close enough to the stand to bother them.


Photograph of what I was painting, with Osprey on the nest. I wasn't going for a lot of detail in the painting, just wanted to get the colors semi right which I found easier said than done.


Another of my "exercises" or pen doodles. This one sort of looks like an egg with bows on, no clue where this came from.


Yesterday I was at Broadmoor MA Audubon Sanctuary in Natick, MA.  I didn't see to identify a lot of birds, though I did have my glasses and I did hear a lot of birds, cardinals, chickadees, phoebes, and saw robins, canada geese, and various sparrows. I also saw and photographed a green frog, a couple of water snakes and a couple of garter snakes, it was sort of a good day to see snakes. I saw the lodge for the beavers but didn't see any, I know I was there at the wrong time of day for them to be out and about.

I didn't see a lot of flowers: several wild oat plants/flowers, a few wood anemones, some winter cress was blooming by the edge of one field, and the lily of the valley was setting buds for flowers by the path to the Sanctuary Office. That said I have been busy photographing wild flowers this week, several of those photos have been posted to my facebook page.

The photo above is of some ferns unfurling for their summer growth. The dark green sections are the reproductive fronds for this fern which will create and release the plants spores. Ferns don't flower, and don't create "seeds" but create spores that they release to the woods. If you want to read more about ferns and their reproduction you can go HERE


The above photo is still Broadmoor, and is just a section of woods with a marshy area. I rather liked this photo as it shows how the woods are slowly turning green, leaves aren't quite out yet, but they are starting to get there, a couple more days of warm weather and this scene with dappled sunlight will be mostly in shade.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Butterflies and doodles


Because I prefer to not kill or capture butterflies but only photograph them, I realize that often I can only identify what I see in the field when I am home and reviewing photographs. I fear birds are the same for me, unless I have previously identified the bird and recognize it. But butterflies are even harder to field ID than birds are, so many are really very small and fly so quickly that the small indicators that are often used to identify them can be hard to see.

The butterfly that I drew in pen and ink above is an exception, this large black and yellow butterfly is very recognizable as a Tiger Swallowtail. The drawing was made from a reference photograph I made a couple of years ago. I don't usually try to draw the butterflies I photograph, but I really loved this photo so made an exception. For this drawing I used only my technical pens with no pencil drawing, so things may not be entirely accurate, but I think you can still recognize this beauty if you see one in the garden.


I have been spending a lot of time outside making photographs and not inside doing serious drawing so my next two images are just more of my pen "exercises" and really nothing more than doodles. Still I have fun exploring shapes, textures and fills when working on these. They are done because I need to use the pens and not let them sit, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun with them.


Both were done in one of my smaller sketchbooks using the 5 technical pens that I keep filled. For the one above I made the doodle on top first, them it seemed to me to be some kind of hat, so I drew the face in afterward. A bit of whimsy that I don't often post to the blog.


Speaking of butterflies that can only be identified when I review photographs the one above is of that type. This is an Eastern Pine Elfin, and is about 1 inch in size so the photograph shows it larger than it really is. You have to be very aware of what is flying around you to see and photograph one of these little guys. I am getting better at "seeing" the small ones though it has taken me a while to get to this point. This one was photographed on one of the paths at Borderland State Park in Easton, MA last week. They are actually considered fairly common though I had never photographed one before. Aren't its markings beautiful, while not as colorful as the Tiger Swallowtail I think it is just as pretty.


I don't usually post two close up photographs in the same update, but I really love this photo of a blooming wood anemone that I made at Daniel Webster on Sunday. The oak wood stand in the sanctuary had many pockets of these lovely spring wild flowers. White flowers can be hard to capture in a photograph, I feel this one is particularly good.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pen and Ink, eggs, bottles and doodles


Not fabulous work this update, but at least I seem to be back into a cycle of getting some art work done, always a good thing even if the work isn't my best. Ah well, the above is from another of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge images. This is a plate of quail eggs, if you have never seen them in the stores they are about half the size of a Chicken egg and are speckled brown and cream eggs.

For this image that I drew on Strathmore Toned Tan paper I used first a brown pen for the eggs and their speckles then added black for the plate and shadows. For the black I used one of my technical pens. Size is about 5 x 5.5 inches.

I actually started this before I got sick and just finally got back to in the the past few days.


A bottle, drawn directly in ink for one of the Treasure Hunts in the Draw from Life forum in WetCanvas. This is a very wonky bottle, I am usually much better at symmetry but as I drew directly in ink there was no way to correct and I just had to let it go. It does have a certain charm, I guess, sometimes it is just better to accept that we can't be really accurate all of the time and work with what comes out of the pen.

The drink is a carbonated flavored water, no artificial or real sweeteners and as I try to stay away from soda (too many empty calories) this one of my preferred alternatives to buy when I can when I am out and about. Flavor for this bottle was black cherry, that or lemon or lime are my favs.


Another of my pen exercises is above. I start with a shape and then just work it, adding fills and other shapes as the mood takes me, the only requirement is that I use all of the pens, and I have 5 that I routinely keep ink in.


This week I made, with a friend, another trip to the MFA. We spent time in various galleries, seeing the new Leonardo da Vinci drawing exhibit; Herb Ritts photographs; In the Wake, photographs from Japan after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011; Hokusai, Japanese prints; and Court Ladies or Pin-Up Girls, Chinese paintings. Needless to say we didn't spend very long in any one gallery, more less just sampling the works. I do have to say that I have no clue how da Vinci and his contemporaries could get such a fine line with chalk, their chalk must have been nothing like any chalk I have used. Also the Herb Ritts photographs are amazing, I am not usually that interested in photographs that aren't connected to a story, but his really pulled me in.

Anyone in Boston in the next few months/weeks should plan a visit to the MFA, there is so much to see and admire. Oh the flower arrangements were already gone when we were there on Tuesday so I am glad that on my last visit I was mostly chasing them around the museum or I would have missed them.

After we reached our limit inside we went outside to visit the newly reopened Japanese Garden, above is a photo of some blooming cherry trees in the garden.


One last image for today, above is a Trout Lily, the first flower I have been able to photograph, I saw one at Borderland State Park last week, but it wasn't where I was able to photograph it. These delicate little yellow wild flowers are one of the earliest of our native spring blooms. They are very late this year due to the slow melting snow and our cool weather.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring is Arriving, sketches and a MFA exhibit


Above is a graphite drawing I made on site at a local State Park, the lake, a rocky outcrop and trees. Not wonderful, but not too bad either. Next time I need to add some color to this.

The drawing was made on a walk I took just prior to catching a bug. I wasn't terribly sick, but I also didn't feel like drawing so I have been neglecting the blog. It is hard to draw when the hand I draw with is busy holding tissues to my nose or mouth. Feeling much better now and am hoping to get back to my drawings.


On another walk I made a photograph of a Song Sparrow which I used as reference for the above drawing. The photo is a bit blurry, I don't have the right lens to really photograph birds but I rather like the drawing anyway. Done with one of my technical pens in a small notebook.


Another of my pen exercises using all of my technical pens. Started with just the straight lines, then added the curved lines and with a bit of imagination created a face. Looks like some kind of cat to me, but then maybe you see a bear, whatever it is all good.



I made a quick trip into Boston yesterday, mainly to photograph the arrival of spring in the Boston Public Gardens, but also included a quick trip to the MFA. On exhibit at the MFA is their annual Art in Bloom show. Each spring different garden clubs and centers around Boston select works of art on exhibit in the museum and create floral arrangements to complement them. Since works are selected throughout the museum you never know what you will be seeing in each gallery.

I had fun photographing quite a few of the different arrangements but thought you might enjoy seeing two that were presented in the Modern Art Wing. The flower arrangements are the top photos with their accompanying art work the bottom.

The art work above is Crommelynck Gate, Enamel on Bronze created by Jim Dine an American who lives in Walla Walla, WA.



This second piece is by Gerhard Richter a German who lives in Cologne, Germany, and is called Vase, oil on canvas. Love his use of complementary colors in this, the real painting is relatively large and the colors really pop.

I was almost ready to kill when I was trying to make this photo, three women spent many minutes (which felt like hours) standing where I needed to be to make the photograph, discussing the painting, the use of color esp. the white streaks and how they pull the viewer into the painting. UGH, I am sure they though I was listening to their conversation, I sort of was, but only because they wouldn't move and I wanted to make the photograph with as little distortion as possible.

This is just a sample of the many combinations of flowers and art that can currently be found at the MFA. If you are in the Boston area it is certainly worth a visit.


Last photo is from Boston's Public Garden and is of a early blooming Magnolia tree in full bloom, they and some early pink cherry trees were yesterday's attraction. The tulips aren't quite out yet, though there were a few beds of pansy's along the main walkway.

Weather was actually a bit chilly though sunny but still after the winter and snows we had it is a wonderful sight.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Hopefully there will be more art in my next update.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Flowers and other


Last Sunday I had Easter dinner with a friend and her family. Food and wine were excellent, company was good and I believe a good time was had by all. My friend had been gifted with a couple of potted flowers, the above an Easter Lily arrived while I was there brought by another friend.  I spent a little time sketching it first in pencil and then adding ink while her family conversed around me. I like to keep my hands occupied.


When I arrived these tulips were sitting on a table in the living room. At another point during the afternoon I sat on the couch in front of them and did this graphite sketch. The tulips were yellow so I tried to not add too much shading.

I love drawing Easter flowers, their shapes are relatively simple with not a lot of complex petals, and in the case of tulips also have large leaves which make relatively simple shapes. Lily leaves are a bit trickier, but both drawings were fun and fairly quick to do.

Hope that everyone reading had good holidays this past weekend, Easter, Passover or even just a good weekend with family and friends.

Otherwise I haven't been drawing a lot. I have been doing more reading, and when not reading I am trying to get out and about to various parks and nature reserves to check on their status, and oh yes lots of visits to library. Still I have been a bit hampered with my park visits since snow is still covering paths and so far there hasn't been much in the way of signs of spring. Oh, well I just have to have patience it will come, I know it will.


The above is my pen "exercise" for this week, I have been trying to think of a title for this, how about "Watching educational videos". Well the shape of the watchers did turn out to be a bit suggestive. It wasn't my intent when I started this, it just sort of happened, honest. At least that is my story and I am sticking with it. I did have fun drawing this though.


The above photo was photographed in my local park, standing water in the foreground and one of the parks lakes in the distance. Ice is almost totally gone from the lake, the mallards and geese are again able to feed. I spotted a couple pair of Merganser ducks diving for their dinners the other day, too far into the lake for me to photograph, and almost too far for me to ID them even with my field glasses. But with their distinctive heads and the males white fronts they are unmistakable. I was happy to see something other than the usual mallards in my local park. I have been over to Daniel Webster, but the water level in the pan is very high and not much was taking advantage of it. I did also see some song sparrows so at least the birds know that Spring is coming. Should see more in a couple of weeks.

Short post today, per usual comments are welcome.