Monday, May 30, 2016

Plein Air in State Parks, just graphite

Spring is well advanced here in MA., trees are mostly leafed out, flowers are blooming, some butterflies and Odes are flying and I have been doing a lot of walking and photographing in my "local" state parks and Sanctuaries. Course with the leaves come those pesky caterpillars for winter and gypsy moths. UGH, I hate walking through woods and hearing the poop and leaf bits dropping. Not much I can do about it, though I do kill every caterpillar that lands on me or that I see hanging by a thread. I know not much of a defense against the on-slot but I feel better doing it.

On some of my walks I will take a small break to rest my feet and knees, and have taken to doing some small graphite sketches while I do so. So today I am showing 3 of these. The top one is from Borderland State park, shows a tree, one of the ponds and more trees in the distance. Hmm, I think I need to work on some textures for the trees in the distance. And I am not sure I conveyed the water very well.

Above is another image from Borderland State Park. There is an old farm house on the property (actually there are 2, but one is off to the side and I only drive by it, I don't walk by it) any way they have put in a couple of small garden areas near the house, this is a sketch of some of the plants, the rocks that surround the plot, a field with distant trees. Still need to work on the distant trees, but I almost like the way I blocked these in better than what I did in the first sketch.

The park represented here was Massasoit State Park, East Taunton, MA. I was down there looking for Pink Lady Slippers, it is that time of year for them to be blooming. And yes I found my Lady Slippers. Near the entrance there is this "table" made of a flat rock piled on more rocks and a concrete block, that is what is supposed to be in the drawing, with a bulletin board in the background that has a map of the park along with a couple of notices. I didn't spend a lot of time on this, but not too bad.

I am hoping that by doing these graphite sketches I will work up the nerve to do some watercolor ones. But a huge part of a successful plein air painting is knowing what to put in and what to leave out, and learning to narrow ones focus. You can't paint everything you see after all, so with these drawings I am trying to learn how to narrow my focus. Wish me luck.

I recently achieved a goal with my watercolor paints, acquiring Artist quality pigments for all the colors I had in Student paints. Now I just need to learn what they can do and how to use them.

So to help with that I am mixing color swatches. Since yellow tends to be the lightest color I am starting with my 6 yellow/orange colors and using a selected 7th color mixing swatches. The 7th color is shown in the right column, at various strengths (dilutions with water). The pair of cards above shows the yellows with turquoise. I inadvertently purchased 2 different tubes of turquoise but they are from different manufactures and actually are different pigments so the resulting color is different even though they have the same name. I found working on these cards very interesting, first the greens I was mixing are more like what I see on my walks but 2nd was the difference between the two manufactures. Now to decide which goes in my travel pallet.

I have finished more of these and will be posting them in other blog updates.

This spring I discovered that there were many more pitcher plants in Borderland State Park than I ever expected. I have been keeping an eye on them all spring and this week was rewarded by seeing them actually in bloom. Course the blooms face the water, and I don't have boots or a boat so can only photograph the back side. Still isn't this photo fun, with the new green pitchers (leaves) and the reddish blooms.

Another photograph from Borderland State Park. This year there has been a heavy I almost want to say infestation of Swollen Bladderwort, a pretty yellow flower on an aquatic plant. All of the yellow in the above photo is this plant in bloom. I don't recall ever seeing this before. Pretty but also a bit disturbing,there have to be thousands of plants to create this show.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. As I write this it is Memorial Day in the US. It was initially started to remember and honor the solders who fought and died in the American Civil War, it has since become a day to remember all of our War dead. I am not sure their sacrifice was always given in a good cause, but we owe it to them to remember and honor it and them.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Ink over Watercolor, some Graphite Sketches

ACK, where has the time gone, I kept meaning to post an update to the blog, then I ended up too tired, or busy and it didn't get done. Sorry about that. Above is another of my watercolor washes with ink overlay. For this one I actually sat down and did some up-front design work instead of just winging it as I had been doing. Not sure it is much of an improvement, but at least I gave it a go.

Size is still small, about post card sized, on cold press watercolor paper, I used a dip pen with India Ink for the ink work.

The drawing is loosely based on some of of my photographs of lily of the valley. It is that time of year here in MA. and the lily of the valley is in full bloom at the sites I visit where it grows. It isn't native to the US, but as I love the smell of the flowers I can't say that I can work up any desire to see it gone.

Above is a drawing I made of a Madonna painting in Boston's MFA on one of my visits. It isn't wonderful, but then I don't like to spend too long doing these. I am not trying to totally reproduce what I see, just to create an impression. I think there is enough done for you to get the general idea. I use a mechanical pencil for these as it doesn't need sharpening and slides into the rings of the small sketchbook so it is accessible. But I am finding the lead I am currently using a bit too soft, I will have to remember to purchase something a bit harder the next time I buy refills for the pencil.

Sketches from the bus trip into Boston. Top is basically just the outline of a sleeping baby's head. I didn't have time for more as she was given back to her Mother who was seated elsewhere on the bus. Other sketches, man with cap, hand holding onto rail, and another woman passenger.  Not wonderful, I really need to get back to daily sketching, but where I will find the time I am not sure.

That comment may have you wondering just what am I doing that is keeping me so busy. Well... it is spring so plants are blooming, butterflies, and odes are flying and I have been busy visiting various State Parks and MASS Audubon sites to photograph what I can find. So far that includes a couple of new to me Elfin Butterflies, and new damselflies, along with some new wild flowers. Oh, and least I forget there are also trips into Boston to visit the MFA and make photographs of the city. But all that looking requires a fair amount of walking/hiking which leaves me too tired in the evening to want to work on art. I may have to try and do something in the morning prior to heading out on my explorations. Have to think about this. Please note that I have been posting some photos to my facebook page, link at the bottom of the blog page if you are curious.

Above is one of the butterflies I photographed this spring. Most early spring butterflies aren't all that interested in nectar, they are more into tree sap, but as more flowers appear they also seem to switch to using them as a food source.  Anyway a lot of my spring butterfly photos show them on the ground looking for minerals that they need for their diet, not on flowers. But every now and then I luck out and find one on a flower. Above is a Spring Azure Butterfly on some Dandelion flowers. I just liked this photo, hope you do also.

I made the above photo in Boston. The statue stands in front of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank Building, and is actually about life sized. Another photo that I just like.

That is it for today, hopefully I will manage another update shortly. I really have some art work already finished, it is more a question of finding the time/energy to do the actual work of putting text with images. In the meantime comments are always welcome.