Sunday, April 5, 2009

Solomon's Seal, Meadow Rue, Birdbath

Today, beautiful as it was, was a day for work. So after transplanting many tomato seedlings, then tilling six raised beds to get ready for planting, I felt I deserved an art break. Though just about everything in the yard calls out for being painted right now I decided to try the newly visible Solomon's Seal and Meadow Rue, along with the handmade birdbath that is next to them.

I'm always impressed by the beauty of the Solomon's Seal as their red stems break the soil. About the same time they come up a number of Thalictrum, or Meadow Rue, do as well. They inhabit a dark, shady part of our yard next to an ancient bird bath I made from poured concrete years ago.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to work from life, not from a photo. I'm sure I could have gotten a really striking photo but I wanted to work directly. Unfortunately I chose to work in watercolor pencils and waterbrush. I'm still learning how to handle these and the results weren't that happy. Finally I brought the whole thing inside and went back to work with real watercolor and brushes.

The result is DARK. The scene itself was dark but I think that the first thing most people need to do with watercolor is decide where the light areas will be and be sure to keep them. I find this particularly hard to do with watercolor pencils. Though my guess is that I'd also have had trouble with plain watercolors if I'd used them because there wasn't much light, outside of part of the birdbath and some of the stones. So that's something I continue to need to work on: see the lights and darks, and make up some lights if I don't see them!

Obviously I could also use some work in learning to portray stones in watercolor. In the end I tried to use mainly dark colors to unite this small watercolor. I don't think it's all that successful but sometimes you just need to start working and make the best of the results. If you're not happy remember what you learned for the next one.

Either way, artistic success, failure, or somewhere in between, it was great to be able to be outside again, especially to start working from life outside.

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