Primaterra Carrots, watercolor, 10" x 8"

Primaterra Carrots, watercolor, 10″ x 8″

Two other artists and I have joined together to show and sell some smaller art pieces at the local farmers’ market at Greenstreet Gardens.  Across the aisle from us today was Henry of Primaterra Farm. We all sniffed appreciatively when he shook out the basil and other herbs. We admired his radishes, beets, and the different greens.  But I was drawn to the carrots – delicious morsels in varying colors.  I went over and bought a bunch, asking if he minded if I stood there and painted them.  He shrugged a little and commented about Stacy Greenstreet buying bunches of them to feed to her horse.  After I bought them, he didn’t mind what I did with them!

Henry, with his carrots (now my carrots), and me with my painted carrots.

Henry, with his carrots (now my carrots), and me with my painted carrots.

It wasn’t until I set up my palette and easel that he realized the paint was going on the paper, not on the carrots!

What have you eaten recently that came from a local farm?

Every year we do a shakedown cruise before going off on an extended trip.  It is a chance to make sure all the systems work and that we have everything on board that was taken off when the boat was put away for the winter.  For example, the past two years we discovered on the shakedown cruise that our bed pillows were still on the guest bed at home, disguised as a permanent fixture.  Other times we have forgotten such necessary items as matches for lighting the stove and a can opener.  And no one wants to discover in the middle of the Bay that the plumbing doesn’t work right!

Whenever I go out on our sailboat, Cay of Sea, I take along a sketchbook and my pens and pencils.  I try to find something different to draw, something special about each voyage out on the Chesapeake Bay.  It is now the end of June, and we put the boat back in the water some time in April, so I have some catching up to do.

Originally posted on middlebaysailing:

The benefits of being married to an artist! Without Ruth, I’d have resorted to buying the stick-on letters from the hardware store to put the name on the transom. With respect to handwriting, or any eye-hand coordination that involves writing of any sort, I’m a hopeless klutz. And drawing something that you can recognize? Forget it. Ruth, on the other hand, does this sort of thing as easy as breathing.  Here are a few photos of her talent in action.

Hmmm. . . drawing a straight line.  That skill alone would eliminate me. Hmmm. . . drawing a straight line. That skill alone would eliminate me.

She lightly penciled a grid for the letters – about 3 inches high – and marked spacing for them with a ruler. After that, she sketched the letters in pencil, then picked up a paint brush and free-hand filled in the letter outlines. She used the same one-part polyurethane paint that’s on the sheer stripe.

I got distracted pulling weeds in the garden. Next thing I knew, she was nearly done. I got…

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Coneflower, watercolor, 7" x 5"

Coneflower, watercolor, 7″ x 5″

I painted this coneflower with my students,  As we contemplated the flower center with the spiky stamens, we talked about different choices for getting this effect.  We chose to paint the area a yellow-orange, cover the stamens with masking fluid, and paint the darker color over that once the masking was dry. Painting negatively around the top of the flower and giving the edge a spiky texture adds to the feeling that the whole area has that texture.

Pretty in Pink, watercolor, 13" x 5"

Pretty in Pink, watercolor, 13″ x 5″

I was teaching my students about making a line of watercolor and then using clear water to soften out one side of the line until it becomes a hard edge on one side and a soft shape on the other.  This carnation’s frilly petals provided a good subject for using this technique.

I painted the general shape of the flower with a light value of pink and let it dry.  Then I went back in and “found” the places where petals overlapped.  Which side became darker was a matter for observation, as sometimes it was the petal in front and sometimes the one in the back.

I received this flower for Mother’s Day, but like all things that come into the house, it was fair game for “posing” in my studio!  I sent my mother pajamas for Mother’s Day, and she looks pretty in pink, too!

I wish that I could grow flowers that would spill out of a window box like this! But, alas, I do not have a green thumb and the only way I can grow them is on paper. (Did you see the Gerber Daisy I painted recently? I watered it one day – and it died!)

No Title Yet, watercolor, 10" x 8"

No Title Yet, watercolor, 10″ x 8″

I also need some help, because I find that I am giving my paintings mundane names, usually based on the subject matter. Since my reference photo was of a Window in Assisi, that’s what I named the picture the first time I painted it. In this version, I have emphasized the flowers and downplayed the old stone walls.

Please tell me what you thought about when you first saw the picture and what kind of a title would help convey that message!

Fanciful Flower, watercolor, 7

Fanciful Flower, watercolor, 7″ x 5″

In her wonderful book Watercolor: Painting Outside the Lines, Linda Kemp has an exercise in negative painting that produces a fanciful flower.

After laying in an initial wash of my three colors, I traced around a stencil with six petals for the flower head.  I painted around that layer, using the colors that were already on the paper as a guide for the next layer.  Trace, paint, trace, paint, and then imagine some leaves and a stem and another flower further back in the picture plane.

This was a fun painting to do on a rainy day when I couldn’t be outside painting the flowers that are starting to bloom in my garden!

What do you do on rainy days?

A Sprig of Ivy, watercolor, 5" x 7"

A Sprig of Ivy, watercolor, 5″ x 7″

This watercolor painting of ivy was done by wetting the entire sheet of paper and then dropping in yellow.  While the yellow was still wet, I dropped in some greens, thinking about the shapes of leaves, but not painting them directly.  When the paper was completely dry, I went back into the soft shapes and “found” the leaves that had been suggested by the paint.  Weaving the branch and stems through the leaves was the last step in making “A Sprig of Ivy.”

And now that I have finished painting it, my husband can fulfill his original plan and put this ivy in the ground!

"When George Washington was your age...", watercolor, 14" x 10"

“When George Washington was your age…”, watercolor, 14″ x 10″

While crocus and daffodils are early blooming flowers, I have seen them covered with snow, making them unreliable harbingers of spring.  But cherry blossoms come a little later and usually wait for reliably warmer weather!

The cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington, D.C., reached peak bloom last Friday.  I had visited the area on Monday, when most of the trees were still sporting buds.  I stopped and sketched a tree, and while I was sketching a family walked by. The knots, lumps, deep crevice, and pronounced slant all made this an ideal climbing tree, and up scampered the little boy.

I came home and imagined what it would have looked like had the tree been in bloom.

What event signals the beginning of spring to you?


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