Month of Love - Love is All Around


Plein air sketches, Mercer Botanical Gardens. Watercolor & pencil. 6" x 9".

The Month of Love challenge for this week was slightly different from the others: "Get outside your studio and your comfort zone. Go somewhere you’ve never been and look for “love”...The possibilities are endless if you go out with eyes (and sketchbook) open."

Sounds like a plein air assignment to me, so I went to the Mercer Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, which I've been meaning to visit for over a year. On the way I took a wrong turn and found myself on a toll road with no way off, and no cash to pay the toll. The lady at the tollbooth gave me a card announcing "THIS IS A NOTICE OF A TOLL VIOLATION EVENT." I was terrified I'd have to play several hundred dollars in fines for taking a wrong turn-- but since I was a first offender, in the end I only had to pay the cost of the toll.

Never doing that again. Ever.

The Botanical Gardens were beautiful. I can't believe I waited this long to visit. Even though the flower beds were still mostly brown and dead, the gardens were still beautiful. Daffodils were blooming, the grass was green, and there were lots of white flowers that resembled lilies-of-the-valley. I also made the acquaintance of one of the gardeners, who happens to be a one-eyed cat.

The Bride


Watercolor (opaque and transparent) on illustration board.  36"x22".

A portrait of my new sister-in-law in her wedding dress.  I experimented with opaque watercolors because I wanted to get a true deep black for the background.  This black is a mix of Payne's Grey and Yellow Ochre.  I also used opaque Titanium White for the veil.

Plein-Air Painting

I haven't done any plein-air painting since my sophomore year in college.  I enrolled in a Painting 101 class that promised to teach oils, acrylics, and watercolors.  Unfortunately, I went to class hoping to learn the techniques of the Old Masters, and the professor had other ideas.   I wanted to paint like Vigée Le Brun, my teacher wanted me to paint like Edvard Munch. Our class did one plein-air painting session during the middle of summer, in a particularly ugly area of the campus.  (My teacher's theory was the uglier, the better.)  I was hot, irritated, and ants crawled all over my canvas.

This month, I've started working through James Gurney's Color and Light,and I'm giving plein-air painting another try.


First effort.  Sunshine.  This golden tree looked brilliant against the blue sky.  It's unusual for any trees to change colors in autumn/winter in Florida, so this tree really stood out.

Creepy Druids

So I've been working on the St. Patrick's painting. (See the drawing here.) I'm making a sincere effort to make these menacing druids very creepy, because I don't usually paint creepy. The druid on the far right has a blurry lump for a face right now, because instead of an ominous stare he ended up with sort of an angry pig expression, so I rubbed out the paint. I'll try again tomorrow to give him a face...I've been sick the past few weeks, and I find that drains a lot of my energy.

Also, I looked at my blog stats and realized I now have 98 followers! Very amazing!  Thank you to everyone who's following me.   :-)