Life Goes On, Part 18…Works In Progress And Roses!

“Almost There”, gouache on paper, color study

I was busy in the studio last week doing the second and third steps in preparing three new paintings to hit the canvas. I’ve been wanting to start using the Mongol horse race reference I’ve gathered over my twelve trips there since 2005 and the time has come.
Above is a color study, below is the previous step, the value study, in which all the darks, lights, and mid-range tones are worked out separate from color. It’s an important roadmap for coloring mixing since how dark or light is settled and the artist then can focus on hue and color temperature (how warm or cool).

“Almost There”, graphite on paper, value study

Here’s the value and color studies for “Patient”.

And, finally, for “After the Race, Scraping Sweat”

I have not determined the final sizes yet but they’re not going to be too big.

In other art news, Inktober52 rolls on with me doing my weekly pen and in drawing to go with whatever the “Prompt” is. I post all of them on Instagram, the “official” social media platform for the event. You can see everything I’ve done so far here. I’ve also created a Board for them on Pinterest here. I generally post new pieces on Tuesday.

Last week’s Inktober52 piece. The Prompt was “Fragile”

And, if you haven’t done so, here’s the link to my Fox Studio Etsy shop. I offer coloring pages created from animals I’ve photographed in my travels and original drawings and small oil paintings. Coming soon will be my hand-picked selection of dip pen nibs for artists.

Live events, as everyone knows, are either postponed or cancelled this year. For artists it means no live exhibitions or shows, galleries closed and workshops going virtual. However, I recently found out about and signed up for a new marketing effort just for artists...Artists Sunday, which will be on November 29. The idea, like the other themed shopping days after Thanksgiving, is to establish one just for artists/craftspeople. There will be national multimedia marketing campaign to encourage people to patronize the participants when shopping for gifts. I’m excited about the possibilities and am really looking forward to it. Look for new items in my Etsy shop and here on my website.

Rose ‘The Fairy’

Starting last Saturday, we had almost a week of smoke, so no gardening/fall clean-up got done. It’s a gorgeous sunny day today and it looks like we’re going to have a “heat wave” over the next week with highs in the mid/high 70s, quite warm for here on the coast and since our acre is in a sheltered area at the end of our street it will hit 80 in the shade.
In the meantime some of the roses aren’t done yet, some still blooming like The Fairy (above) and some getting in a last repeat bloom like the David Austin Rose ‘Charles Rennie Macintosh’ below.

The Jackson Perkins ‘Happy Chappy’ ground cover rose hasn’t stopped blooming since spring. I love the warm colors.

There used to be a fabulous old rose nursery in Sebastopol, about four hours south of us, called Vintage Gardens. The sales part was closed when the fad for old roses died down, but the collection the owner amassed is still there and being maintained by The Friends of Vintage Roses. There was a blow-out final sale in which a few hundred old roses, many of them floribundas from the 50s-70s were under $10, a type that is not in fashion anymore. I bought over a dozen of them just to preserve them for the future, but also looked like they’d be great in the garden. And they are! And how could anyone resist a rose called “Lily Marlene? It’s one of the best reds I’ve seen. It’s also bullet proof and sturdy.

And, speaking of names, I HAD to have ‘Leaping Salmon’ given where I live on the north coast of California. This rose is a SPECTACULAR salmon pink in color and quite the climber, with huge long-lasting flowers.

And finally, last year for the first time I participated in the creation of a coloring book, part of a series showing the wildlife and plants in various ecosystems of the US. The next one is under way and the theme this time is Pollinators. Without insects and other animals to pollinate plants our plant-based food supply would be in great, most likely fatal, danger. Bees are probably the best know pollinators and they’ll be well represented in the book. I did some research, though, and found that the white-lined sphinx moth I photographed in our garden years ago is a pollinator! I’ve used three of my photos to show the moth in action. This is where I start….with a pencil drawing that sets the composition. I’ll tweak it a bit more and it will be ready for inking on heavy vellum, which I’ll lay over the top of the drawing. I used photos of penstemon, also from our garden as the “target plant”. I’ll also be doing a second page with two Hawaiian honeycreepers and will show that one next week.

On the Covid-19 front, we had a post 4th of July spike in cases, mostly driven by large gatherings of locals and their guests. We seem to have gotten past the Labor Day weekend ok. Last Friday there were no new cases the previous day, the first time that’s happened in awhile. So unless something dramatic happens this will be the last “Life Goes On…” post because that’s how it is day to day now with following our regular routines, able to get haircuts, massages, etc. and do our regular shopping with no drama.

Life Goes On…Part 12 (new title)

My latest for Inktober52- Prompt: “Robot”

There were four cases yesterday all connected to a single contact. No new cases yesterday. The total is now 98. Sadly, there was a third death, a 97 year old resident of the care home where there’s been a cluster of cases. “Advanced” Stage 2 reopening has started. The really good news is that lots of local business, around 850, have gotten their certifications and have reopened or soon will. Restaurants can now offer dine-in service and churches can reopen with limited capacity. Masks and social distancing still required. We’re doing fine, in our usual routines. We chat with the neighbors who we encounter on walks and they’re ok also.

There’s supposed to be a corker of a storm rolling in tonight, complete with thunderstorms, which is unusual here on the coast. Going to spend most of the day getting the vegetable garden planted and tidied up. From 4-6pm I’ll be sketching from the Draw Breath Facebook group livestream. It’s a public group so anyone can watch or join. Here’s a couple of pages of three minute sketches from the last couple sessions. These were done directly using a fountain pen.

Here’s another of my Inktober52 pieces. The prompt was “Bubbles”:

This was a return, after a very long time, to the whimsical animals I often did as an illustrator

As always, you can follow my current art adventures on Instagram or Pinterest.

And here are a some of the roses currently blooming-

‘Citrus Splash’- Jackson & Perkins
‘Leaping Salmon’- Pierce 1986, purchased from a now defunct rose nursery
‘Crown Princess Margareta’- David Austin, 1999
‘Golden Celebration’- David Austin, 1992

Like so many gardeners we are in a constant struggle with gophers. But not everyone has a collie to help find them. Peregrin can clearly hear them when they’re moving around underground and will immediately start digging. Which provides me with great photo ops like this…

Sheltering in Place, Part 9

5 Minute drawings from Wednesday, during the Draw Breath virtual livestream figure drawing group on Facebook I’ve joined; Platinum Carbon fountain pen in a Strathmore Windpower Drawing sketchbook

I guess the big news here is that, at least for now, we’ve “crushed” the virus and plans for a partial reopening of businesses are being developed. We’ve only had a couple of new cases in the last couple of weeks for a total of 54. No deaths, currently no hospitalizations. We are required to wear masks now when out in public and to observe social distancing. Our public health dept. is doing a wonderful job, not only in dealing with Covid-19, but in the quantity and quality of their public communications about it. Locals can currently take a survey on what businesses they think should open first.

We’re going out for groceries, but otherwise keeping busy at home. On Sunday we’ll swing by the North Coast Native Plant Society place to pick up an order of….native plants. The ordering was done using a plant list on their website to make one’s choices of plant and quantity, then you downloaded the order form posted on their website, filled it out, photographed it and attached it to an email back to them. This was only one of four ordering options they offered. We will drive onto the property being used for the sale at noon on Sunday, pay with a check and then load up our plants. Everyone has a separate pick-up slot. It’s all been very well-thought out and organized so that they can still have their sale, but keep everyone safe.

In art news, I’ve been doing extensive repaints on some older paintings I’ve done of African subjects. I’ve entered three in an online animal art show and will get the results on the 5th. Here’s one of them:

“Playtime” oil on canvas 20×30″ (price on request)

And for serious fun I was invited a week or so ago to join a Facebook group called “Draw Breath”. Since live figure drawing isn’t an option now, a group of mostly illustrators who also attended or teach at my alma mater, the Academy of Art University, have arranged Monday, Wednesday and Friday livestreamed “virtual” sessions from 4-6pm. It’s a three way split screen with the model in the middle and an artist on either side drawing in real time and chatting about what they’re doing and why.

3 minute figure drawings; Koh-i-Noor Versatil 5340 clutch pencil with multicolor lead, 12×9″ Strathmore Windpower Drawing pad; I posted about this very cool pencil with a multicolor lead in my previous post

And, here’s some photos of the garden I just shot this morning. Things are really starting to take off. We’re supposed to get “real” rain tomorrow which is great.

Rhododrendron and forget-me-nots
“Citrus Splash” rose

And down by the pond on an old chunk of stump…

Finally (I have to pay attention to what my last image is because WordPress’ or some algorithm uses the final image in a post for the preview on other sites) here’s another of my Kenya pieces, a warthog…

“Ready to Run in 3…2…1″ oil on canvasboard 20×30” (price on request)

Gallimauphry Friday: New Work In Progress! In The Meantime…

apple blossom
Apple blossoms on our Cox’s Orange Pippin tree

I love to garden! Besides being great exercise, it’s so satisfying to be outdoors with growing things and when it’s plants one has started from seeds even more so. Anyone with a bit of yard or an apartment balcony can garden. We’re very fortunate in having an acre which is about a mile inland from the ocean in northern California. The soil is very good. We’re in a sheltered location at the end of our street. I’m limited a little by our mild marine-influenced climate (USDA zone 9/Sunset zone 15/17), so plants that need hot weather or seriously cold winters are off the menu, but otherwise if one can find a microclimate here or there, there’s almost no limit.

I got some seeds started a few weeks ago and and plants in the ground are starting to flower, so I thought I’d share what’s happening this morning.

So last year we were finally able to have a potting shed built for me after years of making do under a tarp on the north side of the house. I based my idea on the roofline of a barn in the neighborhood and our contractor sketched it out on a scrap of paper. We marked out the length and width, decided on a smoke-tinted polycarb for the roof and greenhouse end. Then he built this fabulous structure which is anything but a “shed”, so I dubbed it the “potting palace”

flats 1
From left to right: hollyhocks, sunflowers, wallflowers plus a couple of fuschias and a six pack of shallots from the local nursery. I’ve had the PVC pipe rack for many, many years, which we made from one I saw in a gardening magazine

flats 2
More hollyhocks and wallflowers, plus a collection of pulmonarias (lungwart) I bought from Joy Creek Nursery for the shade border I have planned for that north side where my potting stuff used to be

I have a regular common lilac also, but this one, called ‘Sensation’ with its picotee edges, is one of my garden favorites

I planted one cowslip plant close to ten years ago and it has self-seeded. I always take as a great compliment when a plant that can be challenging to grow from seed is happy with the spot I picked for it and increases on its own

Poached egg plant, a California native, but these are volunteers from seed I scattered years ago. We first saw it in a garden in England, covered with bees, and were really excited to find that we could easily get the seeds for it over here

fleabane, allisum
Sometimes plants pick their own “associations'”, as the expression goes. In this case, it’s fleabane and sweet alyssum with a patch of lady’s mantle on the right. All are volunteers

wallflowers, etc.
Sometimes I think wallflowers should be the national flower of England. Even the tiniest patch in front of an attached house seems to always have a wallflower or two. There are only two colors one ever seems to see in US nurseries, a mauve and a gold, but they actually occur in an absolute riot of colors. I’ve bought seeds in England on past trips there and started them here. Some germinated after ten years. In this photo at the top is a ‘Crown Princesse Margarete’ rose from David Austin. Under and next to it are two wallflowers. The single red-orange flower is a volunteer heliathemum (sun rose). At the bottom is a dicksia, which gets flower stalks with small orange flowers. It is armed and dangerous so plant with caution

yellow wallflowers
At the top is a rhododenron that has just finished blooming. In front are two more wallflowers. I like that the new leaves on the rhodie pick up the warm tones of the flowers around it, one of those happy accidents one loves having

pale yellow wallflower
This delicately-colored wallflower self-seeded itself among what will be some fire red Crocosmia ‘Lucifier”\’. We’ll have to see how that works out

R. chinensis
And I love, love, old roses. No hybrid teas allowed. This is Rosa chinensis ‘mutabilis’ so named because the flowers change color as the bloom and age

CRMc rose
They’re really just getting started now, with one bloom on some plants. This is the first one on my ‘Charles Rennie Mackintosh’ David Austin rose

forget...and lilies
I also use containers. These are on the patio. I had to resort to them have lilies after the gophers got all the ones that were in the ground. I threw some forget-me-not seeds into some¬† and they are coming back every year, increasing enough that I can transplant them into other pots. On the right is a mint that I’ve forgotten the name of

And, finally, we like to grow food too. The vegetable garden is ready to be cleared of winter weeds and planted in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime I got a baby greens salad mix going in a steel tub on the patio. It sits on a small wood platform with casters. The tub is right outside the kitchen/dining area French doors for easy picking.

I’ll post again next month when things really get going. Happy gardening!