For Mothers’ Day my daughter-in-law Brittney gave me this adorable flower-pot that she and her mom decorated with my grandbaby Sadie’s footprints (dipped in paint) as the wings of a butterfly. Then last week a florist delivered a beautiful double orchid plant to me from my veterinarian in memory of my kitty Busby who, sadly, had died the previous week.
The orchids were a perfect match for the Mothers’ Day pot and combining the two helped ease my mind and lift my spirits. I see the orchid and feel sad for Busby and then see the pot and feel happy about little Sadie. It was fun and challenging to draw while trying to keep track of which flower and bud were which.
When I received an email from a woman in Switzerland, asking if I’d be interested in a commission to paint the site of her wedding (the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park) as a 10-year anniversary gift for her husband I said an enthusiastic, “Yes!” We agreed I would have the painting completed when she visited the Bay Area a couple of months later so that she could hand carry it back to Switzerland.
I visited the site, took photos and we agreed I would use the one above as reference for the painting. Since I shot the photo in late spring it wouldn’t really match the colors and light of her August wedding so I also used my imagination and memory of the park in summer to capture the warmth and strong light of August in the Bay Area. Below are some of the steps in the painting process.
Do you have a happy face right this moment? I didn’t until I received a blog comment/email from a German blogger whose email and blog name is happyface313. It made me wonder what it would be like to be that committed to a happy outlook.
She inspired me to lose the grumpyface I’ve had the past few days while working on helping a loved one with difficult challenges, and to try out being Ms. HappyFace instead. I put on a smile, made the mental shift from grumpy to grateful, and surprise! It worked!
What does all that have to do with donuts? Well, “Happy Face” made me think of Happy Donuts and my old painting of their shop (above), which reminded me I needed to post my recent sketch of Dream Fluff Donuts (at top). And donuts used to be my shortcut to happiness but I stay far away from those deep-fried, greasy sugar bombs now.
I spent some time sketching and painting a calla lily that sprouted in my garden and while I was at it, tested a palette of Winsor Newton Cotman paints. Several of my friends have this clever, inexpensive Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Palette and I thought it was worth a try so I ordered one.
I started by testing the colors, listing the pigments to match them to artists’ quality pigments I normally use (click to see larger with pigment numbers) and making notes about which ones to swap out (at that point assuming I’d continue using the others).
I was very frustrated with the results I was getting when painting and in the end, took ALL the Cotman pans out of the palette and replaced them with pans filled with artist quality paints from tubes. I put the Cotman pans in a large jar of water to soak so that I could empty and reuse the empty pans. After dumping and refilling the jar many times I ended up with a jar of tinted water with a lot of white sandy junk at the bottom: the nasty fillers and binders added to the pigments to make it cheap.
I know that for the same $17 that this palette AND crappy paint costs, you can only buy one or two tubes of full strength, high quality paint. But I’d rather have only a few colors than use junk. Most of the following sketches lack vibrancy, richness in color, and paint application was difficult and unattractive. Here they are in reverse order of completion:
I liked the drawing above, but not the grayed colors.
I liked the shape of the leaf above.
I painted over an awful sketch with gouache (above), just loosely trying to get the shape of the flower.
Two previous attempts at the leaf, on 2 other kinds of paper I taped into the 8×10″ Moleskine.
The first sketch. I like the composition but the colors and application were yuck.
I’m still using the Cotman Palette. I think it’s a great for sketching because it’s light, compact and holds enough colors (12). And at $17 I don’t mind the price, even after throwing away the colors it cane with. It’s handy to have the now-empty, extra half-pans which usually cost about 50 cents each. So really, I got the palette for $11, and 12 empty pans for $6. Not too bad.
I was excited to sketch Berkeley’s 100-year-old Teddy Bear Fountain again. We found the perfect viewpoint, I sat down on the carved stone bench, pulled out my pen, opened my bag and discovered I’d forgotten my sketchbook! DUH! Fortunately Cristina had a 9×12 watercolor block with her and she let me use it.
When I sketched the fountain before I wasn’t happy with the results so I decided to start with pencil on the complicated scene this time. There was an odd optical illusion; it appeared that the water was only falling behind the fountain so that’s how I painted it. I also intentionally shrunk the width of the base of the fountain.