Flowering Crab Apple Blossoms in Bottles: Oil Paintings

Crab Apple Paired, Oil on Archival Panel, 10x8"

Crab Apple Paired, Oil on Archival Panel, 10×8″

The branches I snipped from a tree in Berkeley provided many opportunities to sketch and paint. The first were watercolor sketches. Then I did these two oil paintings and some other sketches I’ll post later. Two of my favorite things to paint: flowers and glass. Crab Apple Paired (above) is available here.

Sake Bottle with Flowering Crab Apple

Sake Bottle with Flowering Crab Apple Under Warm Light, oil on archival panel, 6×6

This sake bottle is from a nice sushi dinner I had with my son. He’s much more knowledgeable about such things so he ordered the sake. I was delighted by its wonderful peach colored bottle with a kind of etched surface. I knew it would be fun to paint. I used a very warm light for this still life set up which made everything a little peachy. This little painting is available here.

Purple wildflowers in purple glass vase, ink & watercolor 8x5"

Gone Wild With Wildflowers (and Watercolor) Part 2

Purple wildflowers in purple glass vase, ink & watercolor 8x5"

Purple wildflowers in purple glass vase, ink & watercolor 8×5″

This was one of my favorites of all the wildflowers (see previous post for the wildflowers’ back story, which had such a variety of parts, from the pea-like pods to its spiky green leaves, plus I love purple.

Big yellow wildflowers on stalks, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Big yellow wildflowers on stalks, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

Another curious plant with a variety of features and quite vibrant in color.

Yellow spikey flower with photo

Yellow spikey flower with photo

Here it is above in real life (though a bit blurry) with its portrait.

Gentle white blossomed wildflowers, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Gentle pinky-white blossomed wildflowers, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

These were very delicate.

Gentle pinky-white wildflowers with photo

Gentle pinky-white wildflowers with photo

I had to take an allergy pill halfway through the day because all the wildflowers were making me sneeze.

California Golden Poppies, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

California Golden Poppies, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

The first attempt at the poppies above came out nice and fresh but my pen was running out of ink so I drew over the lines with another pen and then wasn’t crazy about the composition so I sketched them again (below).

California Poppies, first attempt,  ink & watercolor 8x5"

California Poppies, #2, ink & watercolor 8×5″

I liked the composition better. Since this is our California state flower, it deserved an encore anyway. If you know the names of any of the flowers, let me know and I’ll update the captions.

Bachelors Buttons (I think), ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Gone Wild With Wildflowers, Part 1

Bachelors Buttons (I think), ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Bachelors Buttons (I think), ink & watercolor, 8×5″

Just days before the city mowed down all the “dangerous” wildflowers on Carlson Boulevard for the second time, finally killing them, I walked along the narrow median strip with cars zooming by, and snipped specimens of each to paint. (I previously wrote here about why they were dangerous. They grew back after that first trimming.)

Pink Wildflowers, ink and watercolor, 5x8"

Pink Wildflowers, ink and watercolor, 5×8″

Pink Wildflower sketch with photo

Pink wildflower sketch with photo

I took them home and went wild, putting them in pretty bottles and vases, then sketching and painting them all day long.

Pink & Yellow Wildflowers, ink and watercolor, 5x8"

Pink & Yellow Wildflowers, ink and watercolor, 5×8″

Pink and yellow wildflowers with photo

Pink and yellow wildflowers with photo

My goal was to make free and fresh sketches of each flower that captured its personality while keeping composition in mind.

Little Daisy-Like Wildflowers, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Little Daisy-Like Wildflowers, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

Little Daisy-Like Wildflowers with photo, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Little Daisy-Like Wildflowers with photo

I postponed posting because of the time it would take to prepare the many sketches, scans and photos from that glorious day. I finally made the time; I didn’t want to be posting spring wildflowers in the Fall!

Lacy Wildflowers in Blue Bottle, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Lacy Wildflowers in Blue Bottle, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

Lacy Wildflowers in Blue Bottle with photo

Lacy Wildflowers in Blue Bottle with photo

Do you know the names of any of these flowers? If you do, please leave a comment and tell me and I’ll change the captions with the correct names.

There are many more wildflower sketches to come, which I will post in Part 2.

Dandelions and Wine

Dandelions and Wine, Oil Painting on Gessobord, 10x8"

Dandelions and Wine, Oil Painting on Gessobord, 10×8″

It was time to take a break from portraits and do some still life painting after ten failed attempts at painting a friend from a not-great photo. I gathered some dandelions from my neighbor’s yard (I’m sure he didn’t mind) and stuck a few in my favorite old French Cognac bottle (that I found in the street years ago). With the addition of a bottle of Spanish wine, I had a still life ready to paint.

Dandelions & Wine, Watercolor, 7.5"x5"

Dandelions & Wine, Watercolor, 7.5″x5″

But first I did this watercolor sketch. Even if I plan to finish an oil painting in one go, it always helps do a sketch first to get to know my subject. And since I’m eager to get started with the oil painting, I work quickly which keeps my watercolor fresh and not overworked.

It was a relief to turn out something I liked after my frustrating journey with the portrait. But I haven’t given up on it. There are still two failed canvases facing the wall, waiting for me to make them work (or smash them to bits!)

War of the Roses, Part I: Schmincke Watercolor Review

Schmincke Rose Saga #1, ink & watercolor

Schmincke Rose Saga #1, ink & watercolor

On the next test run of my new Schmincke palette that Roz introduced here, I painted some roses on a tablecloth in the sun on the deck. While the Schmincke pan paint is lovely to use, and the palette a good size and design, the colors frustrated me. Their version of rose called Permanent Carmine (PV19) is much redder than the Winsor Newton (PV19) Permanent Rose I rely on for pinks and several other colors didn’t appeal to me.

In the color chart below, the top and bottom rows are the original Schmincke colors that came with the set. I added the colors in the center row by filling empty half-pans from tube paint in the space designed for adding extra pans.

Schmincke palette original colors plus added middle row

Schmincke palette original colors plus added middle row

The colors (abbreviated above) are: Read More

Lightbulb Moment and Mini-Review of Stonehenge Wirebound Journal

Lightbulb, ink & watercolor, in 7x7" Stonehenge Wirebound Journall

Lightbulb, ink & watercolor, in 7x7" Stonehenge Wirebound Journal

I was trying to find a way to make this old blue photography light bulb (purchased back in the days of film) stand up so I could sketch it. I tried using tape rolled into a double-sided ball and sticking it to the table but it fell over. Then I found this little glass yogurt container about the size of a baby food jar that I’d bought primarily for the jar. Perfect. (Sketched for Every Day in May, EDM #108).

Stonehenge Wirebound Journal Mini-Review

The short version: Nope.

I loved the idea of a 7″ square journal and the paper seemed like it would be nice for pen and watercolor. The description on JerrysArtarama included this bullet point:

  • Excellent surface for graphite, colored pencil, printmaking, pen and ink, pastel, silverpoint, watercolor and more! [italic/bold added]

But it’s a no-go for watercolor. I couldn’t get a rich smooth wash anywhere on the page. When I tried to add a darker glaze over the first wash for the shadow on the table, no matter how light a touch I had, my brush picked up the first layer of paint instead. On the underside of the bulb I had a similar problem. And then there’s the mystery line across the top of the bulb. Something embossed the page in the brand new book and the color sank into it. Perhaps the edge of the ruler I used to pencil in a border before drawing in ink left an imprint, but I’ve never had that happen before.

When I ordered the sketchbook I thought I remembered Roz writing a couple of positive reviews of the paper but when I checked again, I saw that her third and final review came to much the same conclusion for watercolor.

Roses Requiring Reverence (or at least to be painted)

Rose Reverence, oil on Gessobord panel, 10x10"

Rose Reverence, oil on Gessobord panel, 10x10" - SOLD

My riotously rampant roses were bursting forth from their bushes so I had to put other plans aside and paint them. Their fruity scent was as intoxicating as their vibrant colors. These were two different kinds of roses, both of which change colors and shape as they open so I had to work quickly to complete this painting in one session.

I left the still life set up just in case I needed to fix anything the next morning. But of course by then they were completely different roses. And the painting was complete.

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