I don’t really care for sushi, but I admire the way it is often presented: fresh bright colors, lots of salmon pinks, avocado greens, soft sticky rice. And the shine of the sauces makes me want to stick my finger in the little puddles – raw fish leaves me cold, but I love those salty-sweet sauces! Speaking of shine, I need to find a better solution than this for adding highlights “after the fact” – I’ve never had much luck with masking fluid, but maybe I need to go buy a new bottle. That Chinese white watercolor that was handy just doesn’t make the highlight look as liquid and lovely as I had hoped.
One of the big trees in the park across the street seems a bit out of kilter lately – the left side branches droop while the right side reaches skyward, and although I think it has always listed a bit to the south, it seems more pronounced. I wandered over there a few days ago and picked up bits and pieces of bark, scaly needles, and cones while I talked to my neighbor about my suspicions that it wasn’t as healthy as it could be…
But leaning or not, the cones are beautiful. They look like rosettes if you regard them point blank. The old ones – last year’s? – are swollen to twice the size of the newer cones, black with moisture, rich with moss. My sketch is an exercise in turning the shapes into graphic representations – the motion of drawing the needles became like a decorative embroidery stitch, which I really like. The little border cones would make nice decoration for… well, who knows? So I fiddled with it a bit in Photoshop, added some triangles, used the Texturize tool to add more of a fabric look… and voila, fodder for a fabric design perhaps?
Bouquet Garni is usually a bundle of herbs used to flavor a soup or stew, I know. But on Friday I needed something to fill out a bunch of leggy Gerbera Daisies that I picked up at the grocery store (funny how you get them home and there don’t seem to be nearly as many blossoms once you take that wrapper off), so I ventured out into the bog in my backyard in search of greenery. I found several stems of slug-chewed mint, one twig of rosemary long enough to hold its own, and some glorious purple-veined Swiss chard… not too bad for the gloomy depths of February.
I spent the next 40 minutes breathing in the herbs and splashing on a watercolor base, then filling in with colored pencil. It was bright and colorful, and after an additional 10 minutes in Photoshop I pronounced it “done”. Anybody need cheering up? Here ya go!
When this orchid showed up last summer, I would have given you good odds that it would be in the compost heap by Christmas if not before. It didn’t even have a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot! …So here it is February, and it’s not only alive and kicking, it’s blooming beautifully! The inescapable conclusion is that orchids thrive on neglect.
The purple is almost effervescent, with just a touch of peach and lime. A lovely surprise, and a simple subject for a quick sketch. It’s fun to choose a couple of colors and begin sketches with a splash of watercolor before I make any other marks, then figure out how to either work around the splashes or work them in to the forms. The watery “bleeds” of the green into the purples made the perfect segue into moss.
February is a good time for sleeping in, especially if you’re a groundhog, or a cat. (I suppose that “sleeping in” is kind of a misnomer for cats because it implies actually getting up at some point in 24 hours.) If you have a garden, standard wisdom is that February is also when you need to get off your buns, grab your clippers and the bucket, and get out there and prune!
For our two baby fruit trees out front, it almost seems a shame to snip those plucky little branches, but I know from experience that they are way too skinny to manage the wieght of Asian pears, so snip I did. Then I tackled the herb pots, and I even dead-headed the hydrangea.
I brought one of the pear branches in, and a lacy blossom to sketch. The pear “stick” is full of color – wine-red buds, green-gold bark with ivory blisters. But the blossom is a literal ghost of its once brilliant blue self, papery, stained with mold and mildew, translucent. Even so, it’s lovely, and now I’ve accomplished two things today – pruning, and a sketch! It feels good. Who knows, maybe I will get the snow peas planted this year!