It was a gorgeous day at Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek when my plein air group visited. I walked around looking at all the beautiful plants, sculpture exhibit (and buildings in the private area we were given access to, where the 105 year-old Mrs. Bancroft still lives). With less than an hour before our session end I finally settled on sketching at the lily pond.
I painted the old barn the last time I was there and that barn sketch is one of my favorites ever.
Here is my sketch with the scene behind it and artist Catherine Fasciato painting a lily with oil paint. I sat right between her and the sculpture, choosing shade first and subject matter second on this very hot, sunny day.
Water Lillies and their sketch at Bancroft Gardens, ink and watercolor, 5×8 in
I started to title this post “Change is Good” and then I thought, yeah, but change can be difficult too. As I thought of all the things change is (hard, exciting, scary, growth) I realized that if nothing else, change is constant, it just IS; thus the title.
So what about change? Well, the most obvious change is my blog’s appearance. I’ve begun the process of converting it to a website that will host both this blog, JanasJournal.com, and my art portfolio website, now at JanaBouc.com. It’s a work in progress so please, if you notice any bugs, let me know.
The sketch of Stege Marsh above reflects another change in my life; it’s one of the first sketches I did while out walking my pup. I waited until after we’d walked about 3 miles through the huge off-leash dog park at Pt. Isabel (well I walked 3 miles, she was off leash and probably ran 10 miles running off and coming back). By the time we got to this spot she was happy to rest while I sketched this view along the Bay Trail. I carry a little bag of colored pencils and a small Moleskine sketch book in my bag all the time as it’s lighter than my watercolor kit for long walks so that’s what I used to color in the ink drawing.
I put my sketching stool in my front garden to paint the one iris that decided to bloom this year. The past two years none of them bloomed and I think it’s because you’re maybe supposed to dig up the bulbs and separate them and plant them further apart when they get too crowded? Gardeners, your advice welcomed!
I missed sketching the first blooming of my roses, when each rose is so perfect and beautiful it’s just heart breaking. I was “too busy,” putting it off one day too many and then the big rains came and the fresh perfect roses were no more.
I really enjoyed drawing and painting while practicing close observation of the different shapes and structures of this amazing plant.
I didn’t realize until I saw these two pictures together, that it was easy to tell that I painted one in summer (above) and the other in the spring (below), just by their color palette, even though they were both painted on warm, sunny days. I started the painting above plein air, but only got halfway done before it was time for the group critique. I finished it from memory and a photo but didn’t touch areas I already loved, like the yummy turquoise color in the background.
Briones Park (above) is gorgeous, but dogs are allowed off-leash there so the grasses along this beginning stretch of the trail are littered with stinky dog poo, thanks to irresponsible dog owners. But like bugs, wind and weather, smells are part of the plein air experience too.
I painted this watercolor view of Mt. Diablo in my 8×10 Moleskine. I didn’t have time to set up for oils because although we’d planned a day at Borges Ranch we learned on arrival that a 4-H club had reserved the area and we had to leave. The ranger suggested we go to Castle Rock Park down the road.
I parked at the Borges entrance for a while, catching others as they arrived and directing them to Castle Rock. Finally I left a big note on a brown paper bag taped to the Borges entrance sign, hoping latecomers would see it and know where to find us.
After the drive to Castle Rock and a hike to the top of a hill I only had time for a watercolor sketch. The bright yellow-green grassy field was beautifully spotted with lavender wild flowers. In the summer everything would be pretty much the same color of golden brown. This time it didn’t smell like dog poo; it was the pungent odor of the cows that graze there that accompanied the view.
After I filled the jumbo Moleskine watercolor journal I discovered I forgot to post several pages. From March! So here are a few of those sketches from early spring. Above and below are the John Muir home, with a bit of the fruit tree orchards and redwoods on the property. I sketched and painted these on site, with a little gouache added to the fruit tree blossoms at home.
Above is another spring sketch, painted directly with watercolor, of magnolia trees and the pretty little flowers planted around the tree.