Pacific May Lilly at Tilden Botanical Garden, ink & watercolor, 4x6"

Pacific May Lilly at Tilden Botanical Garden, ink & watercolor, 4x6"

My plein air group met at Tilden Regional Parks Botanical Garden this cold and foggy morning. Since I wasn’t familiar with the park I explored a bit and then decided to sketch instead of trying to drag my painting gear around the hilly, pebbly paths. Since I only had my large Moleskine and a Micron Pigma .01 pen with me, I added watercolor later at home. The May Lilly above was so sweetly but delicately scented that drawing beside it was like breathing in a dessert.

Bridge & Creek, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Bridge & Creek, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

This bridge and creek was the first thing I sketched when I arrived, still arguing with myself about whether to go get my painting cart, whether to go home because it was too cold, whether to go home because I arrived late, how I should have brought my watercolors, how the scene was so complicated and so maybe I should just go home.

But as I drew,  I started noticing interesting details, how dark and light shapes lined up,  where one puzzle piece fit against the next, the design the water was making as it poured over rocks and down the creek, the sound of frogs and birds, and before I knew it that busy, chattering mind had shut off and I was having fun.

Manzanita Tree, Ink & watercolor, 5x16"

Manzanita Tree, Ink & watercolor, 5x16"

As I sketched this spectacular Manzanita, I began noticing how much like strong lean muscles the branches were, with their smooth, polished red surface. Then I found other human attributes: the knotholes looked like eyes while the bends in the branches looked just like elbows. This led me to consider the oneness of all things and I felt very connected to all the nature around me. During our critique at the end of the paint-out, we each take a turn showing our work and talking about our process. When I shared these thoughts someone laughingly asked what I’d eaten for breakfast! I was high on drawing, not Cheerios!

Cat Napping in the Buckwheat, rev2, Ink and watercolor

Cat Napping in the Buckwheat, Ink & watercolor, 4x6"

Walking to our critique, I spotted this garden kittie, having a nice nap in the buckwheat section of the garden and had to stop and sketch it. Nothing bothered this plump pussy who slept amidst the plants, little signs, wood chips and stones near the garden entrance. I added the whiskers with white gel pen.

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Category:
Bay Area Parks, Drawing, Flower Art, Ink and watercolor wash, Landscape, Outdoors/Landscape, Painting, Places, Plants, Plein Air, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. Jana, I don’t care whether you were on Cheerios or Maui Special or 12 year old malt – I love the way you see and relate to things when you sketch. I try to keep you in mind when I sketch.

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  2. Gosh, you were really on a roll, and these are all gorgeous! The cat looks just like my Mum’s – huge thing!

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  3. Jana,
    It looks like you had a great and productive time. Your sketches are great-my favorite is the first one. Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing.

    -Jane

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  4. These are all so impressive, Jana – really gorgeous. The fur on the kitty, the dtail in your ink line – I love them, and I’ll bet they’re even better in person.

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  5. Hi Jana, I found your blog through Casey’s. I like your work and particularly enjoyed the lily and manzanita. Interesting narrative about the pieces fitting together.

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  6. The lily is particularly wonderful, delicate but striking!

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  7. I loved the head trip you took to get yourself to paint. Isn’t it amazing how we fight the things that make us feel good and happy, you know like eating right and the other food for life, painting!

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    • You are so right! I made a list today of all the reasons why I should exercise every day (which I used to do but it’s slipped out of my schedule). I think it’s really similar to drawing since when you start doing it, you get into that zone and start enjoying yourself and always feel better afterward. Thanks for getting me thinking in that direction! Jana

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  8. Busy, busy, busy! You have a nice free touch in these picures – e.g. the white negative spaces in the tree picture. Lovely flowers too with a light touch. Hey, I haven’t tried putting one picture over another – that text and bird picture. How do you do it?
    Wendy

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    • Thanks Wendy, Yes, somehow I managed to not overwork things that day. The instructions for how to put the text over the painting are there in that post. You just have to click on “read more” (or is it “keep reading”). Jana

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  9. I’ve just discovered this website (as a result of searching for pictures of cacti for a rather boring man in Tennessee who keeps emailing Kew!) and have been completely distracted from Boring Tennessee Guy and swept back into thinking of creative things and all the pleasures attendant thereon. Thank you for brightening my Wednesday afternoon!
    The Manzanita tree drawing is beautiful; wish I’d done that one.
    Best wishes,
    Imogen.

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    • Hi Imogen, I’m so curious about your story about the Tennessee guy who’s emailing you in Kew about cactus. I feel a bit ignorant as I don’t know where Kew is and when I looked at your blog, I see you must be in the U.K. and you went to a reception for the queen!? Curiouser and curiouser. And why would someone in Tennessee want someone in England to find pics of cacti?

      But anyway….thank you for the wonderful message and your kind words about my artwork. You brightened my day too! Jana

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  10. Jana,
    I just found your journal last night. I love it and am hooked. I hope you never stop. I can’t afford art lessons so am following your journal as a lesson plan. What do you think are the most essential supplies for a very beginner?

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    • Hi Kathie, What a nice message to get! Thank you so much. I don’t plan to stop, that’s for sure! I hope you find inspiration from my journal that you can use to explore your own ideas and environment. In terms of essential supplies for the beginner, tell me more about your interests. If you are interested in doing my favorite thing which is drawing with ink and then adding washes of watercolor, and want to keep it very portable, I’d recommend maybe a micron pigma pen or a super fine sharpie, a sketchbook a small portable set of watercolors, and a waterbrush. I can send you specific product links if you tell me more about what you’re primary interests are as you get started. I can also recommend a couple of good books.

      Thanks again, Jana

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  11. Jana: I came across your blog while searching for something else on the web. I’m a volunteer at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden who is always looking for ways to illustrate items about the garden. I doubt that this is the proper forum to discuss details, so could you contact me by e-mail

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