You can find all of my cypress knee models in the photos below.
This is my latest place to hang around sketching. Look how tiny the knees are in this picture. I could never see them well enough to draw them if I had to copy a photo. Maybe if I was a better photographer…
You can see the pollen on the water but it’s not swirling so nicely any more since it rained. A slight breeze is keeping the pollen moving and changing designs all the time.
. This is the tree I drew last but it was cloudy that day. If you compare this photo to my sketch you’ll see I didn’t draw all of the sticks around the base of the tree.
I think this tree is pretty because it has Spanish moss in the branches and another kind of moss is going up the trunk.
This photo shows a knee I didn’t sketch and pollen clumping up at the water’s edge.
Next week I might go back to the botanical garden to draw. I’m missing some spring flowers. The knees will be the same all year.
This spring I have a new attitude. Every day I feel so lucky. I’m so thankful for my good health and every day I’m glad I ain’t dead yet. I used to take it all for granted. Does that mean I’m getting old or is this the new “normal”?
It seems so ironic to me that I’ve lived like a hermit for years and finally got used to it. Now, I wish I could help the society that rejected me. I can’t hurt it because there’s no one around for me to infect even if I was an unknowing carrier of a deadly virus, but I’m sure I’m not. Society rejected me. We don’t need to go into all that. That’s why I’m an artist. It’s ironic because once I took a personality test that said I’m an extrovert and here I am reclusive. I don’t see myself as an introvert or an extrovert but dead center between the two. I like people, I’m just not trying to be with them. That’s working out for me now.
ok. enough philosophizing, back to the important job of moving.
The wisteria is growing on the trees next to the end of the highway. One side of the parking lot has a few spaces where you can see it so I sat in my car to sketch this. It’s raining but I had to get out of here for a few minutes. Plus, these are my last few days here and I might not get another chance to sketch this clump of wisteria.
Now I can’t wait to get out of here. This morning there was a fire in one of the apartments undergoing renovations. The renovations are loud, then the smoke alarm will wake the dead, sirens and fire trucks.
Some guys were coming over to get a sofa I’m giving away and couldn’t get in for a little while. So now that’s gone and I have room for more boxes.
Normally I’m as cool as a cucumber but I think a little case of nerves in showing up in this sketch. Good thing I did the sketch. I got the nerves on the paper, now I can get back to packing. That’s how art therapy works for me.
If I hadn’t told you that was pollen you might not guess. I’ll try to remember to take my camera along next time I sketch there. The pollen is making some interesting designs on top of the black water.
I think the swirly shapes on still water with the tree represents uncertain times and something not being affected. (me) And nature isn’t affected either but unlike the tree, I can easily uproot myself and getthehelloutofdodge if a situation becomes intolerable. Since the crisis started my life hasn’t changed. I’m not joining the mass hysteria. I’m not afraid to go out and last night on the news they showed some surfers and the anchor talked about how getting out and getting some exercise is a great stress buster. So that was encouraging. The state parks are open and busy. They’re not talking about martial law. It’ll never happen here. And I’m not going to catch corona. Stay tuned, you’ll see.
Is social distancing driving you crazy? I’m ok. That’s the story of my life. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself because I enjoy the company of people who like to talk. It’s just the way it worked out and it took some time to get used to. Now I feel ok with isolation. It can be liberating. My daughter isn’t too far away and I see her some times.
I’m not worried about catching Corona. I know it could kill me but I rarely ever catch a cold. Do I live a real healthy lifestyle? Nope. The thing that keeps me immune is my lack of exposure to viruses. The main thing I’m worried about is how this panic will affect the economy. That will recover too, but meanwhile a lot of people have serious problems because of it.
If isolation is getting you down the best thing you can do for yourself is go outside. Any activity you enjoy makes social distancing tolerable if you can get out in the fresh air and sunshine.
I really enjoyed sketching in the swamp today. The weather is great! It’s a good thing I got there when I did because when I left the parking lot was slam packed and cars were lined up at the gate to get in.
About the sketch : I decided to stop working on it and I didn’t do any reflections on the water. I might be able to use this sketch in a painting eventually but the reflections are a problem I don’t have to face until I actually get into the paint.
Redbuds are native here and I love to see them in the woods when I’m driving. Suddenly you see a slash of purple by the road and the other trees aren’t leafed out yet. Then they go back into hiding and are indistinguishable from the underbrush until they bloom again.
This one is in the botanical garden and I saw a couple more over there. As soon as the weather clears up I’ll go back and get another sketch. Last year I got an ok sketch, if I can find it. I need one more and I can start planning a painting.
I’ll need another big canvas so they’re not crowded. This paper is 11 x 14 and too small. I haven’t decided on what to use as the background or if I want to put other spring flowers in the painting. This painting might not happen until next year, I don’t know. I’m kind of distracted this week and it’s cloudy and rainy too, so, maybe in a couple weeks after I get settled in my next apartment, and some other things are settled… By then they’ll be done blooming though.
That’s one problem of this artist, life’s distractions can stop me from drawing and painting. (temporarily) The simpler my life is, the easier it is to concentrate on art. When things get complicated it isn’t as easy to do. I can still get out and sketch for a few hours on nice days but working on a finished painting won’t happen for a few weeks.
What I’m really looking for is Redbud trees. I thought it’s too early, then I saw a couple on my way home starting to bloom. They’re hard to spot if they’re not blooming because they’re small twisty trees. I’ll keep looking for the Redbuds but if I can’t find them I’ll draw other flowers.
This paper isn’t great for pastel. It has no tooth, meaning it’s too smooth. I can’t build up layers of pastel as well as on better pastel paper. It’s ok for sketches though, because I can save these and use them as reference sketches in a painting next spring if I get a good idea worked out by then for daffodils or azaleas. I also need to find the best view of the flowers, see what would work for a background, etc.
Meanwhile, this is drawing practice. It doesn’t matter what the subject is for practice. The more you keep at it the better your eye gets for things like color and contrast, directions of lines or shapes, sizes of subjects for a finished painting and another million things an artist decides while working on a project. You make a lot of decisions without much thought, but other things take more and more sketching to come to a good plan. The more flower studies I do in advance the better. Or I could just put these in the file and never use them. I don’t know for sure. It could be the first step of a painting or it could be nothing more than another sketch.
I don’t know the correct name of the tree. I looked for the plaque but didn’t see it. The chalk is the bead like tiny flowers. They’re light green but starting to turn brown.
I was feeling so lucky today to be able to go out to draw in Plein air. It’s the best therapy for me and free. Even if I’m doing a sketch that I’ll never use for a painting. Over the past 15 years or so, drawing and painting in plein air has had a cumulative effect of healing my spirit. Think of the money I saved by not going to a shrink. Then what? I’d have got a prescription for happy pills and probably got hooked on them.
I’ve also been watching the lock up shows. I watched “60 Days In” on Hulu and often thought that could have been me under different circumstances. I imagine if a person is only slightly crazy and they commit a crime and get caught then go to jail, by the time they got out they’d be crazy for real. I think that kind of stress could kill me. The next day when I go out the heavy traffic doesn’t even phase me and when I get in the zone of drawing I’m just fine.
If you want to draw in plein air you have to like people because they will talk to you. Today I saw an old couple looking at me so I said hi. The man said he thought I was a lego statue because I didn’t move. He saw me from the other side of the canal and walked over watching me the whole time and I never moved. I told him I’m sketching and he repeated that I never moved, so I laughed.
On the way home I stopped at Wegmans and bought this yummy thing. It’s a soft pretzel stuffed with crab meat. Now, I come from the land of soft pretzels (Lancaster Co. PA.) and fresh Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, which I love to eat, but I never heard of a soft pretzel stuffed with crab meat before. Genius. It was $12. In the oven now!
Do they look like E.T.s to you? They do to me. They’re cypress knees.
It’s nice out today. The sun looked great on the knees but it was spotty and moved fast. I enjoyed sketching much more today than last time when it was cloudy and decided to finish today’s cypress knee study by working on the reflections and adding a background color.
Last time I sketched them they reminded me of fingers pointing up but today I thought they looked like figures. They could be human if they were abstract but they could be nonhuman, aliens. If I titled this “cypress knee study” it wouldn’t be as much fun for the viewer because they might not think of E.T.s. Now you see them like I do, otherworldly.
On the way home from the swamp I decided to do a fun spring color in the background, not green, so that it would be easier to see them as something other than cypress knees.
It’s just a study for a painting I’ll do in the future. I need a lot more knee studies.
Yesterday was cloudy and cool. I was glad to get out and sketch because today it’s raining. There’s another great view of the swamp with a bench off the main trail where I’m planning to paint. The cypress knees have a lot of lichens and a lot of the knees look like fingers pointing up. This is only the first sketch. The painting might not happen until next winter, I don’t know. I also want to sketch Red Bud trees this spring and I’m packing to move. I’ll need around 30 cypress knees sketched in advance so I can arrange them in a swamp composition. This is only the first three. The chalk on this sketch is the lichens.
Every time I move, which is pretty often, I give away or throw away paintings that I’m tired of looking at. Last year I put a painting on the bench at the elevator in my building with a sticker on it that said “free”. I was glad to see the painting got grabbed up quick. Then another day I left the building and noticed a 6 pack of Corona with two missing sitting on the bench. I left the beers there because I’m not a drinker of alcoholic beverages. The beer was still there when I got back later and I wondered if the person that took my painting wanted me to take the beer, so I took it. I did drink a couple of the Coronas when I moved and enjoyed them. I mean, I can drink, I’m just not really into it.
A year went by and now I’m moving again because the apt complex is clearing everyone out for renovations. Oh well. I still have this one beer and funny, it’s a Corona because now the Corona virus is on the news all the time. So, if I drink this, I’ll be immune, right? (just kidding) Are you worried about catching the Corona virus? I don’t think I’ll get it. It seems like every year there’s some new health scare to worry us. I remember years ago when a lady at work got mad at me for saying there’s no chance I’d ever catch HIV. Then there was also bird flu, swine flu, SARS, Ebola, mad cow, etc. I don’t even get a flu vaccine, but I’m not exposed to many viruses, and only had a couple colds in the past 17 years.
Since I finished my magnolia painting, I’ve been treating myself to the foods I love as a reward. I bought this little chocolate dome at Wegmans. It was worth the $5. It’s chocolate mousse on top of a soft chocolate cookie and covered in soft dark chocolate icing with a chocolate curl. That thing was delicious.
This is rhubarb. My Dad used to make a great rhubarb custard pie that I always missed. Last year I found the recipe online and it was so good, way better than the rhubarb strawberry pies you can buy. Darn it, I’ve already packed my recipe box, but I think I can look it up again.
This is what I’m planning for the background in my next painting. This background will be mostly dark with spots of light showing through the leaves and some light on the ground. It has big dark green leaves that are shiny in the sun. Most of the leaves are on the other side of the tree so I’ll paint those sketchy and then make the leaves on this side more defined and shaped with more leaves showing on this side than I sketched here.
Kids like to go under this tree because it could be a neat fort with more magnolias around it. They can hide in the shade and peek out.
This Southern Magnolia in today’s sketch won’t bloom till summer but the other variety of magnolia that I drew the branch of a few days ago will bloom soon. The buds are showing some red today.
I bought a 24 x 36 canvas for it. After I paint this for the background I’ll paint the early blooming magnolia branch and flowers right on top of it. I think the red and white flowers will look good on top of the darker tree.
The weather forecast is cloudy tomorrow then 3 days of rain. After I sand and gesso the canvas a couple times, I’ll tint it gray and that might dry enough for me to start on the painting at home if it rains.