Glory Days

These are the days we long for in the dead of winter: light-filled, warm, colorful, vibrant. Glorious.

This painting began last fall when I had the idea to build an Art Garden in our yard. I didn’t want a garden that I would spent a lot of time working in, as much as a place I would enjoy being in. My chief criteria for what goes in the ground is that it must be something I want to paint. This has turned out to be an eclectic mix of vegetables and flowers—beets, radishes, and tomatoes are at home with sweet peas, poppies, scarlet runner beans, and sunflowers. Something new unfolds each week. And as you can see, it’s a pretty colorful place right now.

Tips and Techniques– I started by drawing zinnias and a few sweet peas but, after adding color, I quickly decided that the page was much too sparse. After all, August is all about abundance. So I went back and added more and more until the page was crowded with flowers. The lesson here is not to be afraid to pause when sketching to consider what drew you in and whether you have captured it. It may be a something particular about your subject or it could be a mood or feeling. Once you’ve got that in mind, finishing the drawing, or adding color or text often flows with ease.

29 Comments on “Glory Days

  1. I love your nature sketch paintings! Can you tell me what kind of ink pen works well to use with the watercolor? What do you use?

    • Hi- any ink that is waterproof will work well with watercolor. I use Micron pens, other brands make similar archival ink pens with different size tips. You can also use a dip pen with ink; just be sure the ink is dry before you paint.

  2. Lovely, lovely, lovely, as are all your artworks. They are so delicate while intricate, complex but not complicated. I so enjoy the beauty you depict with watercolor, ink and text. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Really lovely sketches. And, I know what you mean about the abundance of August. On my side patio with the container garden (the only place at present to really garden), I have more than I know what to do with, and love the crowded, overgrown quality it has, even as things reach their peak and begin the process of seeding into the next life cycle.

  4. An art garden is a great idea Jean and yours certainly delivers! Lovely mix of different colours, shapes and textures making a very lively composition.. well done! But hang on, you started this a year ago so it represents your ideas for your future garden.. is that right?

  5. Really lovely page. I have that type of garden, what we would term a cottage garden but it peaks in June here in N.Wales.UK. It getting to look tired now but there are still things to come and of course the lovely seed Heads. In .June I challenged myself to sketch a flower from my garden and have decided to continue in a dedicated sketchbook (maybe not daily!’

  6. Re my earlier comment I omitted to say the challenge was one flower each day.

  7. oh how I love this page- just makes me happy to look at it! I agree…I’ve gotten to the point where I like to paint in my garden rather than do the gardening, hahaha!

    • Hi Roxanne- It seems to me that a lot of people just work in their gardens. I’ve kept mine to four raised beds and an arbor, so it’s quite manageable. I have a table and chairs there so it is an inviting space to sit and paint.

  8. What a great idea! It’s so cheerful too! I think it’s something you could back and look at in the dead of winter to lift a mood.

    • Good idea! I’m sure I’ll need it. And it might be fun if I am able to scan and print pages with temperature stamps from throughout the year to see the flow of color and growth/decay/renewal.

  9. It’s like wanting to bottle heat – if someone could do it, they would make a lot of money. I am not pleased it’s August, but the flowers are lovely.

  10. This is something I really want to do, plant a garden that’s practical (food, support pollinators) but also aesthetically pleasing, i.e what I would like to draw. I appreciate your tip here about pausing to reflect on what you’ve already done and add to it as needed.

  11. These flowers bring me so much joy! How beautiful. My mother-in-law has just been talking about how she would love take up water-colour painting of flowers from the garden, just as her own mother used to do. I’m going to pass on your blog to her as inspiration. I know she’ll love it!


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