28 April 2013

spring blooms & garden notes

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." -- Claude Monet

Spring is a time of year when I wish I didn't work and could just hang out in the garden, painting the view. I'm so pleased that my irises are starting to bloom, along with just about everything else in my garden. I received a large variety of irises from a friend last fall, planted them and have been hoping they'd be happy and thrive. The one above is one of my favorites and the one below is a new bloom for me called "Hers". All their ruffles and folds remind me of fancy dresses and their colors are inspiring me to paint in watercolor.

I also have the idea to make a little notebook of my irises, marking where they're planted and how the blooms look of the different varieties. I've made some maps of my plantings but keep misplacing them as they're not in a book. The irises that get the morning sun seem to be doing the best, but a botanical drawing book of notes could help me keep track and get them all to do well.

I moved one grapevine to a new location, hoping it would fare a bit better than it has in previous years. In the meantime, the other vine (which has always been the swarthier, more vigorous plant) has shot off in all directions and is sprouting signs of future grape clusters in most promising way. Aren't they cute?

I've photographed the lavender at the end of its bloom, but it's still pretty. I've another variety of lavender that is getting ready to bloom. It's all shoots and buds, ready to spring into color. I can't wait.

I bought a new plant and already forgot its name. If anyone knows what this one is below, I'd be happy to be reminded. It has been blooming for a month now and grows as a tidy, spherical bush. I like the bluish tint to its leaves and the long-lasting flowers.

The azaleas really went crazy while I was on a trip to Oregon, so when I came back they weren't quite as fresh but they're still quite bold. They make this beautiful display every year and light up my courtyard. Since they blossom at the same time as all the roses, it becomes quite colorful.

We'll finish the tour with a quieter plant, the wisteria. She really peaked a few weeks ago, but is still putting on a pretty show. I missed photographing the cascades of blossoms that attracted so many bees a little while ago.

I've been wanting to paint on several canvases that are quietly blank, waiting for me to help them say something meaningful to the world. All the colors and shapes of these blossoms, especially the abstract shapes and negative spaces do inspire!

07 April 2013

mineral pigments

The local art store recently started carrying Daniel Smith watercolors, so I went to their "testing day" to try out some of the new colors. Most of my watercolor paints are Daniel Smith brand, which I like because their pigment is very intense and a little goes a long way with very reliable color. One of the things I was most interested to see was the mineral and rock display that the rep brought along. As you can see above, it wasn't the most organized collection but it was quite interesting nevertheless.

Here's a fuchsite mineral with a wash of the watercolor made from it.

This one is rhodonite - mineral and watercolor.

Rhodonite makes a good color to paint something like these roses, perhaps. (Slipping in another garden pic here!) :)

I enjoyed finding the paint that matched the mineral sample, but it wasn't easy to do since there were tubes scattered everywhere. I really thought the gems were beautiful and interesting since they weren't cut or polished.

Here are some of the colors I checked out. I didn't photograph it, but one of the new colors that I liked best was interference gold. It looked very pretty layered on top of a color, adding depth and sparkle at the same time.