Cactus Cottage -

Cactus Cottage – 5.5″ x 8″ watercolor
Here’s an impressionist sketch of a cottage garden with a picket fence- inspired by a street we walked down in Capistrano.
Very quick and loose, with a minimum of explicit detail. I like the rambunctious feeling of it. In the midst of all the cottage flowers mixed with California natives there was a large beavertail cactus and some other tall, ridged kinds. I like the feeling of new world meets old, duking it out for visual superiority.

Back Country Creek

“Back Country Creek” – 9 x 12 watercolor on paper

A spring day in a subdued mood!

Wistaria branch

Wistaria Branch – 9 x 12″ on paper

Today’s paintout outing took us to a house in Sierra Madre where the world’s largest Chinese wistaria vine is growing. Sprawling, that is, over two homes. The perfume from the flowers was intoxicating as we painted the vine in all its springtime finery.

This was direct-painted primarily with a large, flat one-inch brush with no preliminary pencil drawing . The tiniest springs and trailing vines were added later with a very thin brush.

I think it has somewhat of an Asian feeling to it, appropriate to a plant that is native to China. What do you think?

­ Minerva Getty

Minerva – 9 x 12 graphite drawing on pastel paper – after Nollekens

Yesterday I had the opportunity to return to the Hillside Getty in Sepulveda Pass for a little drawing practice. I just had time for two drawings this time – This first was this Minerva, the Roman equivalent of Athena, goddess of war. Unlike the Malibu Getty where there are numerous seats for viewing the sculptures, at the Hillside Getty they want you to keep moving so drawing means standing and balancing the sketchbook on your arm which is what I needed to do here. I much prefer the stability of working on my lap, but sometimes you just need to make do.

There were throngs of people, as usual. I started drawing this from one angle which was completely unsatisfactory and I turned the page over to begin again. A group of women walked by and asked if they could look. Rarely, I say no, but this time I did. “Is it bad luck?” one asked. “Yes, I said, it’s bad luck.” Gotta remember that one. Later another woman asked to see and I was far enough along that I was happy to show her the drawing in progress and we chatted for awhile about both Gettys and their Friday evening drawing class which happens twice a month. The gallery guard stopped by periodically to see my progress, too. He was a really nice guy and seemed to enjoy seeing the drawing take form. He said that an artist occasionally draws upstairs in the painting gallery but he scowls at anyone who attempts to speak to him so that says to me that people generally don’t know what kind of reaction they’ll get from someone who’s drawing. If I’m drawing indoors with plenty of time, I don’t mind stopping and chatting. But if I’m chasing the light with a watercolor outdoors, whoa, that’s a different story and I’m guessing my body language communicates that, too.

Ripley and Shadows – Daily Painting

Now that spring is here, Ripley spends more time outside in her doghouse than under my feet in my studio. I miss the company but I can understand the call of fresh air, birdsong and the opportunity to bark at the gardeners when they visit our neighbor’s house.

I did this quick painting yesterday as an exercise in negative painting and patterning. My objective was to describe Ripley’s shape by using dark background shapes. My other objective was to use more linked shapes rather than painting separate things. For example, her chin blends into her collar and her flank color blends into her chest.

Ripley sez: Did you miss me?

Near Skye

Scottish castle – watercolor on paper 8″ x 8″

Back in the 90s we went to England on business and had the opportunity to drive up to Skye, the home of my distant ancestors. This castle was nearby. I’m sure it would be prettier on a bright sunny day , but somehow mist and brooding moors seemed to fit perfectly.

Back on the home front, we spent this afternoon doing some gardening. After two years my right knee seems to finally have healed enough for me to work outside without concern for pain or undoing the slow process of recovery. So we vigorously trimmed shrubs, pruned the bougainvillea that survived the frost and tethered up a blue hibiscus that was being pushed aside by the bougainvillea. There’s so much work to be done in the yard but I’m looking forward to the exercise in the fine weather.

In the coming weeks, or weekends, mostly, I’ll put in our spring vegetable garden and transplant a few new plants I got at the Descanso Gardens spring plant sale – a fantastic twice a year event not to be missed.