Tag Archives: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Day lilies / pastel

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I sketched them with charcoal 4 times on 4 different days. Every time I got home and looked at my sketch I thought I could do better.  It seemed like each sketch did come out a little better than the previous one, and all that sketching helped me plan my pastel. Each time the flowers looked all different from the day before so I decided to use pastels because I can build up layers of color in one day, as opposed to oil paint, when I have to wait overnight for a layer of glazes to dry before going over it again.

One day when I was sketching with charcoal a visitor to the garden came over to this beautiful bunch of flowers and said to me, “I can’t resist.”

When I’m in the zone drawing I can still talk to people but sometimes it takes me a second to see what they’re talking about. The lady was pulling off something from the flowers. She told me they’re “dead heads”. She has day lilies too and told me they bloom better if you take the dead heads off. We talked for a couple minutes about the day lilies.  I asked her to look for the plaque, but she didn’t see anything saying what particular variety this is. She continued to pull off the dead heads, but I told her to leave some for me to draw with pastels the next day. She said, “Oh, you’ll have a lot of new ones tomorrow.” She told me they only bloom one day, that’s why they call them day lilies.”  I thought they got that name because they closed up at night. So you learn something new  if you hang around and draw.

Next time I draw them I might do an experiment to find out for myself if they really only bloom for one day. I could tie a thread around the stem of a big bud and check it for 3 days in a row as I’m hanging around there working on a pastel every day for a couple hours. I’m always kind of a skeptic, and like to verify  some things if I can.

We had some real nice weather this week. It’s going to get hot and humid again soon, but I want to do another pastel of day lilies in another color. I’ll go back next week and try to find a place in the shade.

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Daylilies / charcoal

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This is my 2nd try sketching daylilies. I think it came out better than the drawing from last week, so next time I’m going to take my pastels and do them in color. They say the heat and humidity will ease up in a couple days. That will make it easier for me to concentrate longer.

These flowers are a bright peachy pink! So bright! So pretty!

They change every day and even in a couple hours are moving to follow the sun, so I won’t be able to use this sketch. Some of the flowers I drew today will be wilted and some new buds will be opening.

I got a mosquito bite. I’m their favorite flavor, O+

canna and coleus / charcoal

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The canna is yellow (the tall stalk like plants) and the coleus is dark blackish red (the shorter plants in the fore ground).

I had a look at the lotuses standing in the sun and decided to find some flowers where I could sit in the shade to draw. It’s not as hot as yesterday, but sweat was still dripping off my hair after walking slowly around the garden. After cooling off on a shaded bench for a while I was ok to draw. And there was a little breeze that was nice. I haven’t been out to draw for a while and I enjoyed it very much.

A lady I know liked this sketch and asked me if I was going to do something with it. I told her I’ll just put it on my blog. Sometimes I do a lot of charcoal sketches before I get something that I want to paint.

The thing I enjoy about drawing and painting in plein air is not in knocking out a painting in a few hours, it’s hanging around in a beautiful place for as many days as I feel like being there. In fact, the painting is secondary in my mind. I’m so thankful I’m not on some kind of art treadmill where I’m under pressure to do fast unfinished paintings for some arbitrary time limit rule some person made up. That would destroy the zen like experience of it. And one of my main reasons for not fitting into the art scene. I don’t care if fast unfinished paintings are in style. I don’t care if all the other plein air painters out there take hundreds of photos then trace their best one onto a canvas and go back and hurry fill it in like it was a coloring book. I don’t have to do that.

I’m not interested in taking a class to see if I can paint fast. I’m not interested in taking a drug to make me keep painting all day either, because a drug is the only way I could ever get that kind of energy. So, there you have it friends, apathy to the art world in a nutshell. hahahahahahhaha

tie dye shirt and shorts I made / modeled @ Lewis Ginter

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The tie dye was fun. The shorts were difficult..

This time I cut 3″ off the length of the shirt and cut the fringe 3″ before sewing on the beads. I like this length and it’s more practical with the shorter fringe because it doesn’t get tangled.

The shorts are a polyester linen blend so they’re cooler than my denim shorts, but I had to resew my seams to make it fit right. I used the same pattern that was ok before, but this time it seemed too baggy. Now I want to resew the blue ones I made and then take them apart so I can draw my pattern to fit exactly next time. It will be a big job.

Sewing is more difficult than painting. I don’t understand why “craft” gets less respect than “art”. They’re the same to me. Art and craft both require practice, patience, skill etc. so I wonder why sewing isn’t seen in the same way as an oil painting or a sculpture. No one would doubt YSL is an artist, but is the seamstress who makes her own clothes also considered an artist? I would say yes. The sewing ladies are artists  too. And if you have enough dexterity and patience to sew you can also do any kind of painting you like. The more you practice and experiment the better you get at it. Good teachers help. I was lucky to have good sewing teachers and art teachers.IMG_1911 When I made that tie dye shirt, I wanted to try to do a flowery motif. I was thinking of making flowers on top of the shirt and green foliage on the lower part, kind of like the YSL dress.  This one is my 2nd try to get the flower look with tie dye. The 1st one didn’t come out.  I’ll probably throw it away.

I’m ruthless with the things I make. Sometimes I throw away a whole year’s worth of paintings if I decide not to show them again, and I’ll throw away any tie dye that doesn’t look good to me. If I wasn’t that way with my “creations” my apt. would be too crowded.

I’ll try another tie dye.

Meanwhile, here’s some roses for your inspiration.

The Trio / oil

Is it just my imagination, or does it look like the Pitcher Plants are singing?
Is it just my imagination, or does it look like the Pitcher Plants are singing?

They’re standing in the hot sun on the edge of the pond. The 1st few days I worked on this painting, it was rainy and cloudy, which kept it from getting too hot. Now the weather seems to be going back to the hot and humid. I like to work on my painting in the morning before it gets too hot outside. I can find some shade to sit in and mix my colors, then I usually stand in the sun with the plants to paint. It helps me see if I have my colors and values close to what’s natural in sunlight. I’ll stand up to paint because it’s more comfortable than painting sitting down. After 45 minutes or so, I take a little break and look away from my painting for a few minutes. I can go back to it and get my concentration back for another 30 – 45 minutes. But when the temperature goes up to 85 or so, I’m done.

Now I’m looking for a place to sit and stand in the shade for my next painting.

Pitcher Plants / charcoal study and drawing story

pitcher plants charcoalThe Pitcher Plants are my favorites in the garden! I’ll never get tired of drawing them.

I’m planning to do a painting with 3 plants and call it “The Trio”. I got inspired by a Rembrandt by that name.

This particular Rembrandt was on loan to the VMFA last year with 2 others. They are small paintings. He did his Trio painting of singers. It was so great to see it!  So I got a sketch started of Rembrandt’s Trio in graphite standing in front of it in the museum.. In fact, I had it to myself. I STOLE Rembrandts composition! hahahahahah I don’t see what’s wrong with stealing something great from the masters if you can do it. But then, the 2nd time I went back to steal a little better from Rembrandt, a guard did actually tell me to stop drawing. Drawing wasn’t allowed.  I probably can’t show you my sketch of Rembrandt’s Trio. I know photography isn’t allowed in all the exhibits, but drawing?  oh well, I got the inspiration. I studied the Rembrandt for hours too.

I’m pretty sure Rembrandt did charcoal studies before he did a painting. This is my 2nd try on a sketch for my Trio painting. The 1st sketch didn’t work.

Rose Garden ’15 / oil

2 important things I learned from gardeners without having to ask
2 important things I learned from gardeners without having to ask

#1   ”  We can only do this because we’re rich.”

#2    ” It’s not work if you don’t HAVE to do it.”

I though about it later. This is what happened.

When the Tulips wilted all at once , the volunteer gardeners at Lewis Ginter Botanical pulled them out and replaced them with Summer flowers so fast. I was amazed.  As I walked past them and saw the new plants going in, I said to the gardeners, ” OMG , You guys work fast! ” and “Nice work, you guys!”

They were all on the ground digging the dirt. A man said to me, “We can only do this because we’re rich.” I laughed and told him, “I’m in that club too!” hahahhaha

Then another day I was sitting in the shade mixing up my colors, and some guys were pruning the roses in the hot sun. One of the volunteer gardeners was very friendly and talking to people walking through. I heard him say, “It’s not work if you don’t HAVE to do it.”

Which answered one of my questions, because I can’t decide if art is “work” or not. I still don’t know. Do I HAVE to do art to keep my sanity? Does that make it ok for me to call it “work” even though it’s so much fun and it doesn’t pay?

We could debate that subject, but it sure looks like work to me what the gardeners do!

American Wisteria

oil pastel and oil paint on paper
oil pastel and oil paint on paper

I love to see the wisteria blooming wild by the side of the road when I’m driving in the country. Sometimes it gets so thick it can choke out trees. This is an old vine at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on a stone wall.

First I drew it with charcoal on the paper, then used oil pastel for the wall and as an underdrawing for the Wisteria.  The oil pastel alone looked a little weak for the flowers, so I used oil paint and put a second layer on to bring the flowers off the wall visually, by using the contrast of the more solid paint against the more sketchy pastel.

I’m glad I finally got a sketch of the Wisteria, because I’ve been wanting to draw it for years.

Poe’s Enchanted Garden ’14

This is my entry from last year. The new one is almost finished.
This is my entry from last year. The new one is almost finished.

I liked this view in the garden but only a few little pansies were blooming when I did the painting. So I looked at the Blue Bells in Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and faked in the Blue Bells on this painting. This year I’m faking in a huge Wisteria on the other side of the wall.

It seems like it’s taking a long time for me to finish the new painting of Poe’s garden, but as a plein air painter, I wait for the sun to come out and go there to work on it. That only gives me one or two days a week. Then I only stay for a couple hours at a time because the light changes and my concentration fades.

Now I’m waiting for them to turn on the water in the fountain that I’m painting this year. Water is always a challenge for me to paint. I  hope it works out. The paintings are due on April 18th for the show opening in the end of April. They’ll have “Unhappy Hour” that night.