Slow Painting

There’s a bias in urban and nature sketching for working quickly. The idea is to get the subject down while on location and to capture the moment, place, or experience. It’s a worthy practice and many people do it well, completing sketchbook pages with lovely drawings and paintings in an hour or two. But there’s also a lot to be said for working slowly. Careful observation and allowing time for a subject to resonate gives you time to figure out how best to approach it on paper. Sometimes I build a painting… Read More

Showstopper

The color of poppies is outrageous—so bright and red you can scarcely believe it. But there it is, once a year, a showstopper in the early June garden. When other flowers are just contemplating what kind of tune they might sing, the poppies belt out their solo. Confidently, they command center stage—knowing, perhaps, that a good rain will soon end their performance. Tips and Techniques– Because I work during the day, I am often snatching time for sketching and painting in the evenings. I made several trips to the garden this week,… Read More

Catch it while you can

Today, the allium. Tomorrow poppies. Coming and going, a garden is ever evolving, never static. A bee, a swallowtail, if I’m lucky, a hummingbird. Even now, one moment makes way for the next. Catching it while you can makes all the difference. Tips and Techniques– Because I was away for much of May, I missed the flowering spring trees, many of the ephemeral wildflowers and bulbs, and the unfurling of ferns here in New York. When I got home the allium were in bloom but starting to fade; I knew I had… Read More

Burning Twice as Bright

I have been waiting for my Oriental poppies to bloom for two years. I am not disappointed. Their papery thin, flaming orange-red petals are outrageous in the garden. Still, some of the blossoms lasted only days. A few were knocked out by heat. Others by heavy rain. Only two of eight remain. Alas, I’ll content myself with these, plant more perhaps, and paint them again next June. Tips and Techniques– For the strong warm reds and depth of color poppies demand, I tapped the intense colors of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine… Read More

Oh, how beautiful

Rudyard Kipling was so right when he wrote, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” Except in this particular garden, that’s exactly what I did. With the sun casting a warm golden light at the close of the day, I sat in the shadow of a large maple tree and surveyed a lovely field of grasses and allium. I had no hand in their planting or care. The only finger I lifted was the one that carried lines and watercolor across this page. An unknown… Read More

A moment in the shade

After a hectic week in which I did no artwork, it was a pleasure to pick up my pen and paints and sit under two old maple trees to sketch wild columbine growing in the shade. The nodding delicate flowers, like tiny silent bells, are a welcome sight in spring woodlands and gardens. The flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and hawkmoths to feed on their nectar, while the leaves serve as a host plant and food source for the eggs and caterpillars of the duskywing butterfly. A child could well imagine fairies… Read More

A Host of Golden Daffodils

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance… Wordsworth’s classic poem of daffodils, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” seems timeless. Who doesn’t appreciate a host of golden daffodils or, later, the memory of them fluttering and dancing in the breeze? They are in their full glory this week in my yard and I am enjoying the show. The trouble with daffodils– I can only imagine that Wordsworth’s poem flowed more easily from his pen than this painting sprang from mine. The trouble with daffodils is not… Read More

Last Show

Fall is here, but the final blooms of zinnias and Mexican sunflowers continue in the garden, along with a tangle of scarlet runner bean and cypress vines. I’m hoping that the remaining tomatoes ripen before we get a hard frost. Perhaps there will be one more journal page to mark the end of the season. But just in case, the last of the show seems well deserving of a late season tribute. Tips and Techniques– I could have selected only the finest remaining blooms for this sketch, but it wouldn’t have reflected… Read More

Basil Time

When the basil in our garden comes into full force, it’s time to make pesto and caprese salad and fresh tomato pie. But first, it’s time to sketch. I wanted to try something different here to bring out the shapes, patterns, and summer colors of the basil. And now, to the kitchen! (Click to view larger)Tips and Techniques– Sorry I didn’t take a photo of the initial pencil sketch and first layer of wet in wet wash. But this shows the progression thereafter of painting mainly the negative spaces between the plants… Read More

In and Out of the Garden

When it’s 80-degrees with 90-percent humidity, sketching outside—or doing much of anything outside—is not easy. But flowers in full bloom don’t wait for ideal weather and I figured I shouldn’t either. Pen and sketchbook in hand, I found myself quickly wilted among the daisies. So, my afternoon became a dance between painting indoors and sketching outside, with welcome breaks in between until the page was complete. I can hardly wait for August!