Around here we are berry pickers, eaters, and painters. I guess you could say I’m a berry reveller. Starting when the strawberries ripen in June, through saskatoon, raspberry, huckleberry, blueberry and cranberry season, I just relish the amazing wild berries we enjoy in our northern Canadian region. So much bounty, and the experience of picking berries is a feast for the senses! Even if the mosquitoes are bad.
I do grow a few rows of domestic strawberries and raspberries, and while they never produce as much as I’d like, I love having inspiration in colour, scent and texture just a few feet from my home. These two sketches are purely fun, nothing I’m content with as yet, but just like berry picking, you never know what you’ll discover when you start out!
When I lived in Ontario, I loved the cedar forests. Such an amazing place for a child to play, carpeted with cedar needles and virtually no underbrush. We used to ride our bikes over the tangled roots, up and down along a lovely little lake.
Not so our forests in northeastern British Columbia. Tangled with underbrush, Devil’s Club and wild roses, you do not hike off the trail unless you are wearing thick pants to resist the thorns. Dark arching aspens and evergreens block out sunlight, and leaves rot under a maze of deadfall tree trunks.
But there are treasures in the forest if you know how to look. Stepping into a glade fawn-spotted with sunlight, one might see violet faces cupped by emerald leaves. The delicacy of forest blooms stands in contrast to the ruggedness of their habitat.
Twinflowers seem too fragile to pick. Pale pink, bell-shaped flowers, doubled on one stem (hence the name) they are best captured on film rather than trapped in a vase. And they are lovely to paint. I created these two paintings recently, and I would say I’m still in the “working out a painting” mode. You know my third painting is usually the one where everything comes together, so, two down, one to go!
Red and turquoise are a favourite colour combination, and very trendy these days. I’m not sure where I’d find it in nature, but I had fun imagining it in a floral painting last week.
This will be catalogued under “unfinished” unless I go with my instinct and crop the painting down to my favourite of the three blossoms, the one at the top left.
I started training for the Fort St. John triathlon this month. It’s a shorter length event, between sprint and Olympic length and while I’m only upping my exercise time a little, from 3-4 40 min sessions a week to a daily 40-60 minute, I’m feeling the effects on my time management. Amazing the difference an hour can make! The tri is in early June, so the demands on my time will be short-lived, and I’m sure it will get easier as I adjust to the new schedule. I’ve also signed up for a half-marathon in August, my first time competing in a long distance running event. I’ve come a long way since I started running 3 years ago and I’m proud to call myself an athlete now, enjoying so many different sports as a participant. Even if I am the oldest woman in my indoor soccer league!
Papua New Guinea seems very far away, and my life there very long ago. And then something will happen to bring it back; a photo of a Kandrian sunset on a friend’s Facebook page, or a display in the grocery store. I was surprised and delighted to find passionfruit in our grocery store last week, and immediately bought several at the exorbitant price of $3 each.
They don’t look especially appetizing, but they were my favourite fruit when I was living in PNG and those slippery little pulpy seeds pack a huge punch of flavour! I scoop them out with a spoon and slurp them down, enjoying every tropically citrusy tang.
Passionfruit are also fun to paint! The reddish-purple outer shell, the golden glow inside, the pinky white inner pulp. I just had to pull out my paints and see what I could do. I tried out two new pigment colours on this sketch – Daniel Smith Potter’s Pink and Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. The Potter’s Pink is a crazy dense clay-pink that granulates something terrible – I think it will be a fun addition to my palette but maybe more of a back-up colour than the star of the show. The turquoise is pretty – kind of a mid tone between the Cobalt Turquoise I love so much and Phthalo Blue.
It might be twenty years before I see passionfruit in the grocery store again, so I will treasure my reference photos and who knows, I might be painting this subject the next time I get a craving for exotic fruit!
So the plan was to paint my beautiful delphiniums – I just love the incredible colours of this statuesque perennial!
But I did the sketch above, and two small studies, and was bored. So bored! They were pretty and all, but they didn’t say anything.
So I’ve been working instead on something that scares the heck out of me – portraits. Just sketching, really, and nothing is turning out to look like my subject, but watercolor is a great medium for lively portraits.
Painting my daughter’s lovely blue eyes lined with sooty black lashes has me wanting to update my own eye look with a black eyeliner.
I am going for a loose, sketchy feel so I don’t want to draw in the features, but I think my proportions could have stood for some measuring and at least a few pencil lines. Her nose is too long and her deep set eyes are a challenge. How to get a pensive look without it reading as sadness or anger?
I like this sketch for its design qualities – very simple, just a suggestion of jawline and nose and a gleam of teeth. But the darks in the eyes ran a little more than I wanted and the whole eye is dark, without the beautiful teal of the first painting.
Branching out and trying something different and “scary” has given me more ideas and they are a lot more interesting than just painting “pretty.” Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty. Beautiful will always be a big part of why I paint, but “pretty and interesting” trumps just “pretty” every time.
My in-laws have a lovely yard in which to paint, and while visiting, I sat under a shady tree, facing their Texaco station, and did a little sketching.
Again, I just mixed and blodged and splashed about and had a lovely relaxing afternoon. One day I’d like to paint the Texaco, officially, as it were, but for now I’m happy to enjoy the view, dashing inside from time to time to grab a Pepsi from a vintage cooler.
I bought an inexpensive watercolour sketchbook while on our trip to Saskatchewan earlier this month. I am learning that the time I spend creating “no-pressure” watercolour sketches is improving my focus and strengthens my paintings.
My in-laws in Saskatchewan live several hundred miles south of us, and when we visit in summer I am always a little envious of their lush gardens, vibrant roses, and colourful birds. The goldfinches were so sassy, and there were so many of them!
I just had to sketch them, even if they wouldn’t hold still for me, and the kids kept running over to check on me and scaring the birds away!
I would love for this sketch to translate into a goldfinch painting – but I’m thinking something much more expressive; as sense of a rush of wings and colour rather than a bird “portrait.” You’ll be the first to see it if I try it.
I saw part of this music video over ten years ago and always remembered it. The song is beautiful (minus the single expletive toward the end) and the video itself feels like a painting to me. Like “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper. I love the clean simplicity of the footage. Enjoy!