Sketchcrawl at the Huntington

It was a spectacular spring day, not too warm, not too cool and all five of us (me, Nancy, Robin, Diann and Wendee) enjoyed the natural beauty of the Huntington for another memorable sketchcrawl. Our first stop was the Shakespeare garden (I’ll be scanning my sketch and posting it tomorrow or the next day) … second was the Japanese garden (this one), which was my favorite location of the day. We wrapped it up in the desert garden where we were joined by Diann’s husband and daughter.

As usual, many people stopped by to see what we were doing throughout the “crawl” and one journal keeper from Orlando showed us some of his watercolors as we compared notes about Niji waterbrushes and other traveling paint brushes.

This sketch was painted in about 45 minutes, give or take a bit. I stopped before painting the tree in the lower right hand corner or the water under the bridge so this is a “not quite finished” work in progress. So if you’re wondering why it looks like I just sort of stopped, it’s because I did. (smile)

I look forward to going back again soon and painting this garden from another vantage point, and to visit several other highlights as well. There’s just too much to take in all in a day. And then there’s the arboretum, too. We really do have a wealth of botanical gardens within a 20 minute drive. And I understand that the Getty’s gardens are overflowing with color, too.

Arty bits: painted in my super aquabee sketchbook with portable palette of tube paints and a Niji waterbrush.

  1. Lin
    April 2, 2006

    STUNNING, Karen …. I can’t imagine how you so beautifully tackle such a large, complex subject and do it so gracefully and grandly!

  2. Robyn
    April 2, 2006

    Think that you have missed the point, Karen. On a sketchcrawl, you ‘sketch’, not make fully blown, gorgeous paintings that make some of look like the rank amateurs we/I are/am! 😛

  3. Karen
    April 2, 2006

    Thanks, Lin and Robyn,
    Actually, I have started sketching with my brush because I have just found the pencil to be very frustrating when attempting to convey value, not to mention color. There’s something so loose and free about the brush that eludes me when I try to draw a landscape, for example, with pen or pencil.

    But then again, pencil is so much easier for drawing something like a tree – like yesterday’s – it’s just more controllable. So I’m learning that I need to fit the medium to the type of project, which is why I drag around a bag with three or four sketchbooks – one for traditional botanicals – one for plein air stuff like this, a book for random pencil sketching – and a moleskine, well, just because.

  4. Robin N
    April 2, 2006

    Karen – This is my favorite garden too. Perhaps i would enjoy it more on a week day ,right after it first opens. Though, I think I need to spend a whole day in the desert garden too. Beautiful graphic shapes, and such beautiful colors today. Of course the rose garden will be in bloom soon. At the end of April, when I turn in all 9 oils for color class, I would love to have a day at Descanso. I look forward to that…. and the life drawing….and plein air ….

  5. Tami
    April 3, 2006


    Your paintings are just beautiful!!! I love the soft colors and how well you bring forward a feeling of the day and time in your work. LOVELY!!


  6. TeriC
    April 3, 2006

    Beautiful painting Karen. I am impressed that you are sketching with the brush. Sounds like a very fun and fruitful sketchcrawl.

  7. lindsay
    April 3, 2006

    I love this adn I;m so impresssed that you do this directly in watercolor. Lovely work. I’m writing down all these places because we are visiting CA in the summer
    and I want to be able to go out drawing with the family. Getty is indeed beakutiful but Descanto and this one are new to me. I just wanted to share with
    you how I sometimes work with graphite when I;m in a hurry and want to get a watercolor like look. I use a 9B stick of graphite and a blending stump.
    The 9B allows me to get really dark darks and the blending tool allows me to get the mid tones down. Very fast and very efficient if you are in a hurry.
    With a photo back up its easy to re do in watercolor later.

  8. Linda
    April 3, 2006

    Karen — another gorgeous watercolor sketch! I really like the way you’ve done it in “straight” watercolor — very fresh and lively!
    One of these days I’m going to have to get out there and see all these fabulous gardens in person :-)

  9. Belinda Del Pesco
    April 4, 2006

    Wow Karen, This is beautiful. I so wish I was there! Hats off to you for sifting through such a lush landscape, and documenting it’s beauty with such clarity and color. Very nice. Paint, paint, paint… :-) Belinda