The beauty of nature comes in many forms. In the last week or so I’ve found three mice that have succumbed to the rigors of summer. I don’t know if this was because of the stifling heat and humidity or not but that’s my guess.
In any case, I tried to have a conversation with this one, Ms Mouse. As I drew her she didn’t have much to say but she was a very cooperative model and didn’t move at all. Her peacefulness spoke volumes though.
Stillman & Birn Alpha, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Falcon, Daniel Smith watercolors
When I came to sketching I’d been using fountain pens for all of my writing for decades. It never occurred to me to use anything different to draw stuff. So I’ve spent years using fountain pens for sketching and rarely have I tried anything else, though I’ve spent a bunch of time with watercolor pencils in museums when watercolors weren’t allowed. But with the COVID scurge going on I’m doing more experiments. I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with me doing more art in isolation rather than going out with friends to sketch some location.
I was at an Artistes dans les parcs event last week. Even here I’m mostly by myself because the language barrier prevents a lot of interaction between myself and the rest of the participants. Anyways, I was out on the shore of the St. Lawrence River sizing up some rocks to draw. For whatever reason I got the idea to draw them with a pencil. I dug around in my bag and came up with a short hunk of Blackwing 602. Here’s the result. Another result of this experiment is the realization that I’ve never learned how to draw with a simple, graphite pencil.
Weed: A plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.
I’ve always thought that the word “weed” was a symbol of what’s wrong with human logic. Mostly it says, “If I don’t want it there it must be labelled as undesirable and purged.” This is our approach to nature, politics, social media, and a host of other things and the notion never yields good results. The same is true when we spray the heck of out our lawns with poisons just to eliminate dandelions which are more beneficial and beautiful than the grass we’re supposedly protecting. I bring this up because a “weed” showed up in our backyard.
Chantal has a big patch of day lilies growing next to the steps to our deck. At this time of year, the flowers are gone but the long strings of foliage are still nice to look at… except for our weed.
Yes, it has encroached upon the garden, invaded our space. It sits proudly, head up and says “What’cha gonna do about it?” Well, we’ve adopted it and it’s one of our favorite features in the backyard, if only for its audacity. I had to draw it – our single Rudbeckia. Where it came from we do not know. But it’s here and its our weed and we love her.
The thing about backyard plants is that they’re always there. Chantal plants them, tends, them and I always say “I’m going to draw them.” I never do because they’re always there. But about this time a year, when the days are getting shorter and cooler, I realize that very soon, they won’t be there. This happens every year but I’m a very slow learner.
And so I make the point of drawing some flowers. I can’t possibly draw them all because, like a student waiting until the night of the exam to study, I don’t have enough time because I’ve ignored the task all summer.
The silly thing is that I thoroughly enjoy sitting in the yard with all my concentration directed at a bunch of leaves and flowers I know little about. Chantal tells me these are anemone flowers. I know nothing about cultivated plants except they’re fun to draw as long as you don’t have the attitude that they’re “always there.”
Moleskine watercolor book (A5 portrait), DeAtramentis Document black, Wing Sung 8009, Daniel Smith watercolors
I attended another event organized by Denise Bujold’s Artistes dans les parcs. This one was held at a large garden on the other side of the city from where I live and I’ve drawn there a lot. On this day it was supposed to be sunny and hot. The sun never showed up and it didn’t get very hot. We lacked shadows, but the temps were just right for sketching.
I’m not sure I fit into this group very well, though everyone is very nice. But the members set up easels, tables, and paints. I sit down on a tripod stool with my sketchbook. A bigger problem, for me, is that my French is not good at all so carrying on a conversation is mostly out of the question. Nevertheless, it’s nice to be out with a bunch of people doing art.
I chose to draw a really tiny waterfall that connects two small ponds near the entrance to the garden. I started by covering the paper with some blotches of color to match the subject and then wandered around the garden while that dried. I really like the idea of doing paint first but I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to deal with the drying time. Eventually it did dry and I started drawing with DeAtramentis Document ink. More watercolor was added to finish the drawing. It’s a fun way to work, except for the drying time, so I’ll probably do it again.