Sunshine

Today was one of those rare days when everything came together nicely.

The Doodlewash theme for the month of June is “Outdoor Fun” and today’s prompt is “Sunshine.” As I thought about how to depict the sunshine (which we didn’t have much of today) I thought of a photo that my husband had taken on our walk through the bog a couple of days ago. The sun was shining through the trees and creating dappled shadows on the boardwalk.

My two favorite online watercolor instructors each recently posted videos showing how they paint sunlit paths, Angela Fehr in “Spring Landscape” and Steve Mitchell in his kickoff of a “30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge.” So, after watching these, here’s my sunlit path:

May the sun shine brightly on your path today!

A Visit to a Bog

A couple of days ago, my husband and I visited a bog.

There are many different plants in a bog due to the moist, sometimes wet, and acidic soil. I was primarily attracted to the ones that were flowering at that time, as you will see by my sketches.

When I haven’t gone out to paint en plain air I usually carry a sketch pad and pencil case with me, just in case there’s something that captures my attention and begs to be captured. My usual procedure is to start with pencil until I have the basic placement of the image on the page. I switch to the pen as soon as I am comfortable. I’m still surprised by how much detail I can get down in a few minutes. Watercolor is added after I get home, after erasing the pencil.

What has captured your attention lately?

Bluebells

When one moves to a new home, it is interesting to find what floral gems spring up from the ground, having been planted by previous residents.  We have had a wonderful flower make its appearance each year in this home, but until this year I haven’t taken the time to paint it before it faded.  It actually took me a couple of years before I looked up the name to find out that we had bluebells planted in a corner of the garden.

Bluebells
Bluebells, watercolor, 6″ x 6″

I had to grab a few painting moments between rainstorms.  Welcome Spring!

Painting a Tree in Watercolor

I made this tutorial in order simplify painting a tree for my watercolor students. There are many ways to paint a tree, but this one has given me the greatest success in teaching how to think about the light-to-dark process of painting a deciduous tree.

DSCN1066
Exercise for painting a deciduous tree in watercolor

This exercise uses three main steps for painting the tree.

  1. Using a light value of yellows and greens, paint one big shape to represent all the leaves. Make sure that the edges are irregular and “leafy.”  Leave some holes for the birds to fly through.  (The edges of the holes should be irregular also.)  Let this dry.
  2. Using a darker value of green, paint in some shadow shapes in the leaves on top of the first layer.  Only paint about 30% of the initial shape.  The arrow on the page is a reminder that the sun is coming from that direction, so the shadows should be mainly away from that side. Let this dry.  If the shadow shapes look pasted on, soften a few of the edges and let it dry.
  3. This is the hardest step to conceptualize.  Starting with the trunk, paint it down into the grass and up to the bottom of the tree.  Weave the trunk up through the leaves, making it thinner as it gets higher and branches out.  Only paint on the darker green and in the bird holes. (Because we want to suggest that the lightest leaves are in the sunlight and closer to us, imagine the branch going behind these leaves and coming out the other side.) The shadowed leaves and the bird holes are wonderful opportunities to show the branches dividing and going in a different direction.  Like the trunk, the branches get thinner the further out they are. (This tree could have had many more branches and twigs.)

I left a space on the left for my students to paint step 1 while looking at the example. Then they can use my first stage painting to practice step 2, and my step 2 to practice putting in the trunk and branches.

This is an exercise that I suggest you DO try at home!

Violin or Flamenco Dancer?

It is my pleasure to introduce “Camilla Serafina” who is here to dance for you.  Can you hear the haunting flamenco music?

While we are digging out after this weekend’s blizzard, she is on her way to Florida, to dance in the New Score Chamber Orchestra’s auction fundraiser.

Many thanks to my husband for his help in completing this project!

Will She Dance?

I wrote in December that I had been given a decommissioned violin to turn into a piece of art to be auctioned off at a fund raiser for the New Score Chamber Orchestra.  As I looked at and held this instrument, the idea that resonated most with me was that of a flamenco dancer.DSCN1039

So I stripped the violin of its remaining strings, pegs, and tailpiece and purchased some black and red fabric.

DSCN1034

My husband built a stand for the violin, both to hold it upright and to give it the illusion of having legs under the skirt.

DSCN1038

The bow became the arms, with the frog and the tip acting as hands.

DSCN1052

Metal plates screwed into the joints allowed me to pose the arms at the angles I wanted.  Then the plates and screws were hidden under electrical shrink tubing.

DSCN1041

A souvenier fan from my niece’s wedding was cut down and painted to become part of her costume.  Here you can also see two of the pegs and part of the tail piece that became her face.

DSCN1051

Amazingly, as soon as we attached the arms, she took on the persona of a dancer.

Now to dress her!

I made a petticoat to hold the ruffled skirt away from the box stand and then began making her ruffled dress.  I have made clothes for myself and my children, usually from store-bought patterns, but I don’t know of a pattern company that has a dress pattern for a violin, so I was on my own.  As I was debating gluing fabric on the front, back and sides for a bodice, my daughter mentioned that she would miss the sound holes if I covered them up.  In what was actually a simpler option, paint would became the top of the dress with a ruffle to further define the bodice and a ruffled skirt glued on below.