These flowers are huge. I’m sketching them life size on 9 x 12″ paper and they’re running off the edges. When I do a painting of this next year I’ll have to paint them smaller but drawing large is easier than painting small. These are for practice.
Vine charcoal doesn’t work well on this dark paper so I have to skip that step and block in the general shapes with pastel and chalk. The more flowers I draw the easier it’s getting but these sketches still took around two hours each. For my painting I need about three times the number of magnolia studies I have. Then I can eliminate the ones I don’t like. The tree has some buds so I might be able to get a couple more sketches in before they all turn brown and fall off. I’ll have to go back next year and do more.
Spring has sprung around here.
Last time I saw this tree all the flowers turned yellow overnight. It still had a lot of buds. Now all the second buds are open and it looks like the cold didn’t damage them. The tree is more beautiful than before. I hope I can get more sketches before they wilt. But it’s pretty even when they get yellow.
My next apartment is on the other side of town from the botanical garden so I want to get flowers sketched until I move. Then I’ll be hanging around at the ocean front more. I’ll still go to the garden but not as often.
When I got to the tree today I was surprised to see that a lot of the flowers are turning brown before they open but it’s a nice yellow ochre. I think the one on the left is a bud I sketched a couple days ago. I was glad I brought a yellow ochre pastel along.
Before I left home I checked the weather and there was a 5% chance of rain with the chance going way up in a few hours so I thought I could get a little sketching in. Guess what 5% I was under.
It started as a few drops and I continued to sketch. Then it was a pretty good shower and I took shelter under a tent for a few minutes hoping it would stop raining. It messed up my sketch and I thought about giving up for today. Then it eased up some so I finished the sketch.
I couldn’t blend or do any erasing on that flower on the left. The rain made my pastels run and smear. I thought WOW! This rain is giving my sketch that fast loose happy accident look so prized in the art world these days! Maybe I should draw in the rain more often! Crazy though it seems.
My goal this month, besides moving, is to sketch as many magnolias as I can. Next year I’ll do a painting but the more flower sketches I get in advance, the better.
It was cold out there yesterday and even colder today, so I might get back to the tree this afternoon, but I’m not sure if I will.
This is one reason why my paintings aren’t marketable, they take a long time in the planning stage. People seem to want art to be spontaneous and fast. They don’t want to pay for the time it takes for me to finish a painting but if I could ever sell a painting I expect it to pay the rent. I’d rather throw my old paintings away when I move or give them to my friends than sell them cheap.
Yesterday I worked on this sketch for about an hour and a half and got this far. First I blocked in the general size and shape of the flowers with the side of a small piece of charcoal then erased the excess and drew some lines. Then I erased the lines that were in the wrong place and redrew my lines. Then I erased again when I started in with pastels. Now you may say,” Chris, Why don’t you learn to draw faster?” I’d say, “If I liked to rush I wouldn’t have moved to Virginia in the first place, I’d have gone to New York. Also, why rush if you have the time and you enjoy what you do?”
Sometimes I think I can give in to peer pressure and paint fast, but why should I? I like my nonprofessional, “amateur” status and can’t conform to art society rules for very long, when I do try.
Between these sketches and the ones I do next year for the painting I’m planning, I could have 20 hours or more in the sketching phase. My painting won’t come out like I want it to if I skip this step.
These flowers are so big when they open that only one will fit on this size sketchbook paper. If the weather holds up I’ll go back with more paper next time.
If I do a painting of this tree I’ll only do a few branches not the whole tree. Maybe next year. I’ll put a piece of glassine paper over this sketch to save it. Most of the time I just put the sketch back in my sketchbook and they get smeared.
There’s also some lichens I want to sketch before it gets crowded at Seashore St. Park. I love their texture.
And I have a great plan to produce a video of a conceptual art piece on the beach. It’s still too cold for that but I’m excited about this movie I want to make. It’s a secret. You will freak out. My daughter said she’ll help me with it.
Sketching is more important to me than painting at this point in time. In a few weeks I’ll be moved into my new apartment, then I’ll have time to start on a landscape painting. I have a lot of my things packed but if I keep making a little progress every day on that job it’ll be under control on moving day. I’ve moved so many times in the past 15 years that it’s no big deal anymore. In fact it makes me feel free to know if anything bugs me about the place I can leave. I don’t have too much stuff.
It’s great to get out to sketch even if it’s cloudy. And sketching regularly will make me a better painter, if what our teachers at YAA told us is true. It will take years, but you just have to keep at it even if you only have a couple hours to sketch some flowers.
These flowers change fast. I sat down for a few minutes and when I looked at my sketch again the petals had moved. At first they have a pale pink line and as soon as they open they start to yellow.
Next time it doesn’t rain I’ll try to sketch some purple magnolias.
This sketch of daffodils isn’t finished. You can see the smudges from erasing. That’s ok, the smudges won’t show when it’s finished.
To start a sketch I use the side of a small piece of charcoal to blob in the general size and shape of the flower, then go back and erase to get the shape of the petals. I spend as much time erasing as drawing to refine the shapes then I outline the petals, then erase again so the charcoal doesn’t show through when I use my semi transparent oil paint sticks on top.
I did this a few days ago and it’s been raining ever since. When I go back the flowers won’t be the same. I’ll either start again or totally erase these and draw on top of this. I feel like I get a better finished piece if I get a good drawing to start with. Even if it’s only a sketch and will never get framed or seen anywhere except WordPress, I want to make it a strong sketch. There is a chance I could use it for a painting. If I never do, I’ll still have burned a file for daffodils in my brain which will make it easier to remember in the future. Those brain files are better than looking it up on google. Know what I mean?
This sketch of a slipper orchid is almost ready to go over with oil paint sticks. I need to erase more but I will be able to see it. Then my lines of paint stick will look free. Durn, there’s a smudge on the paper. Maybe I can erase it, or I could try to hide it somehow if it won’t erase. Stay tuned.
1st fish : What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?
2nd fish : I give up.
1st fish : Damn
2nd fish : Two goldfish were in a tank and one says, “You man the guns, I’ll drive.”
Ships and boats are all around us here. I should get some practice drawing them. Yesterday I went over to Fort Norfolk to check it out and it was closed for Presidents’ Day, which I forgot about, but the guard at the gate told me I could park in their field on the outside of the fort to sketch. It was great. The ships are close because the river isn’t too wide there. It was sunny and not too cold and I had the place to myself. A lot of people could see me from the tall buildings all around but it was safe because the guard was probably watching me too. Since you have to show a photo ID to get into the fort it might be the safest place on the waterfront to sketch. I’ll get back over there again soon. It’s the oldest fort and they have guided tours.
The ships weren’t easy to draw. My sketch kept getting bigger as I was working on it which means it was out of my control. Control, sometimes you want it, sometimes you don’t. If I was always in control of my sketch that means I’ve mastered drawing. So, there’s still room for improvement. My ships aren’t in exact proportion either, maybe that’s not noticeable.
I drew this much larger than life so I could do the detail of the red veins in the petals but it’s showing up on my computer screen close to the actual size of the orchid.
The flowers are oil paint sticks and the background and the yellow inside the petals is watercolor. I also used my yellow paint stick in the petals.
This is my charcoal sketch from the day before. The bud opened up a lot in one day. I erased this sketch when I went over it with the paint sticks, so I redrew the flower on the left using the paint sticks. I didn’t need to do it again with charcoal because it’s easier the second time.
There are a few more orchids I’d like to draw. I’m not sure if I’ll do it this year or wait till next year because one lady working in there said, “Oh, you’re back.” She didn’t sound happy about it and I ignored her, but now I feel like I should try to find times when she’s not there if I draw in the greenhouse again.
I love gardeners despite that important lady. Gardeners grow my inspiration.