Keeping A Record…

Yesterday, March 16, kind of feels like the first day of the rest of our lives. And, as is true for so many, we’re now sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, we’re in a northern California county that had one confirmed case back in January (a person who had just arrived back from an infected area of China) and none since then. But people here are preparing just the same since it’s almost sure to make another appearance.

Not sure why, but I’ve found that I want to record what it’s going to be like between now and when the “all clear” is sounded. I’ll be posting whenever I have something to say or show you. My husband and I are fortunate in that we are in good health and we work at home. He’s the Executive Director of a tech consortium with members in a variety of countries. Their April meeting has already been pushed back to June, now with the expectation that it will be pushed back again to fall at the earliest.

I’ve been an art professional of one kind or another (sign painter, graphic designer, illustrator, now fine art painter) for over forty years, so my art will be part of this record. I’m also an avid gardener and have an acre to play with. All our travel is cancelled so the garden will get my full attention, including the vegetable part of it. We also have six apple trees, three dozen blueberry bushes and a raspberry “patch”, so I’ll be posting photos through the year of all that. The blueberries are already flowering. We get between five and six gallon bags of berries from them every year.

Right now the clematis armandii and wallflowers are blooming, along with crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils and early tulips.

Clematis armandii in full bloom. The fragrance is wonderful!
English wallflowers I grew from seed
Daffodils in bloom

We share our home with two rough collies Hailey and Peregrin (“Lassie” dogs) and two cats, Michiko and Alexander A Really Great Cat.

Hailey, our seven year old tricolor and Peregrin, our 3.5 year old sable merle
Michiko in front and Alex in the back; dog toy box to the left

In other news, I’m participating in a fun art event this year called Inktober52. The original event, Inktober, calls on artists to create one black and white piece a day in the month of October. Inktober52, in its first year, is about creating one black and white piece a week for the entire year. I’m going to do my best to not miss a week and so far so good. All the finished art is posted first on Instagram here with the #inktober52 hashtag, including mine. I’m also posting to my Facebook public page here and on Pinterest here. Jake Parker, who invented and runs both events, sends out an email on Thursdays with the prompt for the next week, so everyone is doing the same subject, but in their own way. Hundreds of artists from all over the world are participating. So, sheltering in place or not, I’m able to connect with other artists.

Inktober52: Prompt: Tower

This is what I had to say about this week’s drawing: “After thrashing around I decided that I could use “tower” as a verb, but then what was towering over ? I tried a couple of different ideas and then “towering redwoods” came to mind. I grew up, and live in, Redwood Country so I dug out a photo I had of me standing in front of a huge coast redwood right by the road in Prairie Creek State Park. I started out intending to fully render the trunk, but had the thought of doing a “reverse”. Less time (a LOT less), maybe more visually interesting and different. I also create downloadable pdf coloring pages that I sell in my Etsy store and maybe this piece will end up there. I used a Gillott 659 crow quill nib (Joseph Pennell’s favorite), Platinum Carbon ink on Clearprint vellum⁣.”

Ikh Nart Sunset, Mongolia

Finally, for now, the 12×16″ oil painting above has been accepted into the Fusion Art Gallery online exhibition “Sunrises and Sunsets”! The location is one of my favorite places in Mongolia, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. I own my own ger with all the furnishings and have been allowed to set it up in the reserve and live there for a week or so and that’s when I get to see sights like this and take photos that I can turn into art.

Location Watercolors In My Own Backyard

My portable watercolor kit.

Spring has sprung so I’ve gotten out the past few days to paint and sketch in our garden. I use a Yarka full-pan set of paints, a variety of brushes and either a 9×12″ Arches cold press block or 8×8″ pieces of Sanders Waterford cold press taped to a piece of foamcore with taped edges.

The south side of what we call “The Long Border”

I really wanted to do the lilacs before they faded, so I focused on them.

First washes

I got so involved in what I was doing that I forgot to take any other step photos of this first one. My goal was to limber up for the painting season and catch the lilacs against the dark green of the English laurel behind it. I stayed with really simple shapes working, as one does with watercolor, from light to dark.

I then went around to the other side to do a close-in version of the lilacs.


I kept it loose, starting, as before, with a light pencil drawing and then laying in the lightest areas of color.

As you can see I treated the lilacs as simple shapes, not getting into painting individual flowers. I also paid attention to color temperature, starting warm in the lightest area and going cooler in the shadows.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the way they came out. The roses are just getting started so stay tuned…

February Flowers In The Garden And A Hummer With Attitude

Male Anna's Hummingbird telling me who owns the place
Male Anna’s Hummingbird telling me who owns the place, 1-25-15

Unlike much of the country we’ve turned the seasonal corner out here in northern California. Unfortunately the day after day of nice warm sunny weather means that we’re not getting any rain, so we’re going into a fourth year of drought. At the moment, though, the garden is starting up again with the first bulbs blooming, plus a few other “early risers”. The Anna’s Hummingbird in the photo was in the yard at the end of last month. There’s usually hummers around in the winter and spring, dog-fighting for, well, just about anything it sometimes seems. This guy landed in one of the apple trees. I couldn’t get very close, so even with my long lens (Nikon 80-400mm) he was pretty tiny in the photos. But I thought it would be fun to share one of him in his full “don’t mess with me” display.

Here are some photos of what’s blooming today (all photos taken with a Nikon D750 and a Nikon 28-300mm lens):

White crocus
White crocus

Pink tulips
Pink tulips

Daffodils
Daffodils

Corsican hellebore
Corsican hellebore

Wallflowers I grew from seed brought back from England
Wallflowers I grew from seed brought back from England

Wallflowers I grew from seed brought back from England
Wallflowers I grew from seed brought back from England

Crocus "Pickwick" my favorite
Crocus “Pickwick” my favorite

Flowering quince
Flowering quince

Primroses
Primroses