Our New Strawberry Field

Once upon a time, someone got the bright idea to plant a bunch of bamboo as a hedgerow between our house and the one next door.  When done it probably looked like a good idea.  The problem is that over time, the bamboo takes over EVERYTHING because its roots propogate the plant(s) into a persistent monster plant.

So, ever since we bought the place we’ve been fighting it by cutting it back continually.  We seem to be winning the battle as this year we don’t have much of it along our driveway (its last stand), leaving a sort of grassless, bamboo-less area.

What’s happened, though is a big surprise.  We’ve got a “field” of tiny strawberry plants.  There are hundreds of them, most less than two inches high and sporting 3 distinct leaves.  Normally we’d be mowing and/or planting something but I’m going to let things go to see what happens.  I don’t think that these plants are going to get much taller and I could find only a couple flowers.  But I did find one plant that had two microscopic strawberries.  They even tasted like strawberries, though you’d need a couple hundred of them to make a handful.  I had to draw the little guy.  Full size this plant measure just over 1″ high.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6 softcover), Micron 01.

The Beauty Of Ink On Paper

In another venue I commented that if not for the internet I might well never use color.  I met a friend for coffee in a park and saw this scene.  The next day I returned to sketch it.  I just couldn’t bring myself to mess it up with color.  The plants seemed to speak volumes, at least to me.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5 softcover), Kaweco Lilliput, DeAtramentis Document Black ink

A Dip Into Contemporary Art

Every time I visit a museum and am faced with large canvas panels painted with a single color I wonder why I waste time drawing stuff.  It’s not that I’m enthused by these boring wall coverings.  It’s that I’m told they’re worth millions, while my art is worth nothing.  For some reason that matters.

So, I’m doing something about it.  I’m switching mediums again (acrylics this time) and increasing the size of my resulting artworks significantly.  My brush is now 4″ wide and I use a very limited palette but buy the paint in one gallon containers.

The one downside to this sort of art is that surface prep is extensive.  It involved cleaning and scrubbing, followed by sanding.  But ultimately I was ready to make modern art.  Here is my equipment.

I decided I should start small to get used to the materials.  The first problem I ran into was that I’m a sketcher of things so painting without things just isn’t right, so my first attempt was too representational.

My second attempt didn’t go much better.  I realized that I need to paint a different view from typical, working the angles and shapes to achieve art on a higher plane.  I’m afraid that I may still have missed the mark.

I must admit that modern art is harder than I thought.  I’m sure, though, that when my eight-foot square canvas and paint roller arrive, I’ll do better.

Until then I’ll pose a question.  Is this urban sketching?  These paintings were done on location.  They were done in an urban environment and there’s a reportage component to them.  And I’m sharing it with others, one sketch at a time.  Hmmm….

One thing is for sure.  While we say that sketching is about the process, not the product, this is not that.  The process is not fun.

Have a nice day everyone.

 

 

Un Petit Hommage: Vicky Williamson

I was hunting for something in my sketch bag and found one of those tiny Hahnemuhle fan-fold sketchbooks.  I’d never used it.  My first thought was of Vicky Williamson, a sketcher who has done some wonderful sketches in such a book and probably the reason I bought it.

Vicky has always been special to me.  I’ve never met her but I’ve followed her sketching for years.  She’s something of a “tiny” specialist.  She owns half of the small palettes on the planet and most of her sketches are small.  5×8 is a large sketch for her.

Each of her sketches is a little gem and she always has a story to tell about them, whether it’s of a hospital scene, travel sketch, or just a flower or two.  Each shines brightly.

And so I thought I would do a tiny sketch in her honor.  We were putting some odd-shaped (at least to me) marigolds in our garden so the subject was easily chosen.  Only one thing was missing, my Kaweco Lilliput pen.  Vicky uses one often. Hers is copper and mine aluminum, but it seemed appropriate for the task.  I loaded up some DeAtramentis Document Black into it and started drawing.

 

I used a Micro-Palette that I attach magnetically to my sketch bag drawing board and a simple clip to hold the sketchbook in place. This is my standard on-the-go system and it worked just as well with the tiny sketchbook as it does with my 8×10 S&B books.  I can see why she enjoys sketching small.  The results somehow seem brighter than if done in a larger size.

 

Vicky writes in her sketchbooks but I’ve always preferred doing that on my blog, so my sketch lacks the complete presentation like Vicky’s sketch pages.  Nevertheless, I was happy with the result and it was fun to walk in her shoes, if only for a while.  Here’s to you, Vicky, for all the inspiration you’ve provided over the years.  Say hi to Bill, Tater and Tot.

What Did We Do To Offend Little Miss Nina?

This spring and summer is rivaling COVID lockdowns for disrupting the flow of outdoor life.  Spring and summer for those of us living in a certain northern latitude continues to be a steady stream of rainy days.  We’re trying to get our garden planted, some house repairs done and, for the most part, we sit watching the rain.  The worst part is that weather has become completely unpredictable so it rains when sun is predicted and it’s sunny when it’s supposed to rain.  So, while we’re making some progress, it comes from saying “It looks like it’s not going to rain for the next few hours, I’m going to…”  Weird that.

Anyways, I sat on the deck, watching the rain (very pleasant) and decided to sketch one of an army of Impatiens that are destined to form a defense against grass invaders to a flock of hostas.

It’s been raining all day so I thought I’d write a blog post.  Hope you like the plant sketch.