Pushing 100 (degrees not age)

No rain yet and not much in the forecast.  I don’t count a 20% chance over the weekend to be promising.  The 90’s started today and the forecast is for 106 degrees tomorrow.  The next week’s whole forecast is for 90’s and 100’s.  Much too warm for Hoosierland.  I am trying to spend the time indoors except for evening sessions of watering my stressed out plants.  Put the baseball game on the radio and I am good to go for a while.

It told me red

When I went through my photos this time around, I decided this one of a museum in a Utah town had possibilities.  I liked the tower on the right and the upper level patio on the left. I wondered what the tower was originally for.  It is open at the top but there are no windows in the main body.  I penciled it in one day, pretty much following the photo, except that I moved the street lamp from the front of the museum to the left. Compositionally, it seemed to make more sense there.  I thought it drew the focus away from the museum and tower if placed in front of them.  The museum has an orangy brick and pink siding, but it called red to me, so that is what I did.

A couple of days later, I inked it and put on the first layer of watercolor before letting it rest.  At that point I knew it still needed a lot more color.  I wanted it to be red, red, red.  I haven’t decided if it’s finished yet, but on the whole it seems fairly complete.  Once again I don’t want to over do it. I do like to add on.  And add….and add…and add.


The droughts of the last 3 summers are finally starting to affect us I’m afraid. In the summer of 2010, the drought started in August and ran on into September. I could kind of keep ahead of it, watering mostly the new plants of the year.  Last summer it began in early July and lasted on into the fall.  I had to water quite a bit more but still was able to concentrate mostly on the newer plants.  I confess I did start to water of the Japanese maple that I love at the corner of the house as well as the hydrangea trees and the dogwood.  Most of the flowers were doing okay with an occasional bath, but except for the glorious wave petunias, I didn’t water much else.

My poor vinca

This year is bad.  There has been no real rain since some time in April.  My well established vinca is getting brown and actually dying back in places.  I have begun to water it.  The inner leaves of the hydrangea tree are dying back as if it were already September.  I have begun to water it.  My beloved Japanese maple, already hard hit by a late frost and struggling with half sized leaves of reduced numbers, is feeling stressed.  I have begun to water it.  The Black-eyed Susans  are drooping for heavens sake! I have begun to water them.  Only the petunias look decent.  I have begun to water them too.

Easy fishing for the heron

There are no butterflies around my butterfly bush, although there seem to be some honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps flying about.  The lake is down many feet.  The fishing for the Great Blue heron is easy these days even if the bigger fish have gone  deeper for cooler water.  The shallows are much extended.  The deer are hiding out most of the time.  The coyotes are missing and I only see a few squirrels and rabbits.  Mr. Turtle is missing. The only proliferation we seem to be having is that of raccoons and I think they are just attracted by the easy pickings in the gardens.

Drooping Black-eyed Susans

I cannot sustain watering everything for the whole summer.  We may just have to concentrate on the more valuable trees and shrubs and let some of the other things fend for themselves.  It is frightening to think that this is still June and there seems to be no respite in sight.  I wish it would rain…….  today, tomorrow, Tuesday………..

Southwestern Streetscape 2

I picked out two southwestern cityscapes before I started the last one so I was able to dive right in this time.  Like the last one, I changed  a few things to suit what I wanted to do, but not as much for this as for the last.  It was more on the order of some building ornamental detail rather than structural, but I wanted a little bit more embellishment.  I am enjoying creating these in pairs, each set with a little bit of a difference in theme and/or color from the others.  I think it helps keep me from getting too locked in for these experimental pieces.

Southwestern abstract building 2

This time I started with the teal color and then moved into the reds and yellows.  I once again worked on it for three sessions, trying to get the combination of colors right.  I am not one much for blues, but I do find this teal color quite appealing.  I wanted the viewer to se the teal first in this pair, rather than the reds and purples.  The bumped-out windows proved to be a slight problem that I am not quite sure I have addressed fully.  I wanted them to give a little depth to the painting, but I didn’t want to leave the roof tops brown.  That color in the pallet didn’t seem right.  I toned it down with a little purple and was happier with that.  I am still toying with the idea of more color on them, but have decided to let them sit for another day or two to decide.  Sometimes I just don’t know when to quit.  There is a little bit of teal on them that may not quite show up in the photo.

I layed back with the red this time around because it is so easy for it to overpower the other colors.  I think that there is actually a little bit more yellow.  All in all it matches up well with the first  so I might just leave it alone.

Southwestern streetscape

I felt in the mood to paint something that had a bluer base to it this time around and decided that some of my reference photos from the southwest might do the trick.  Rifling through my stash, I selected a few possibilities that were so angled and warped perspectively because of the narrowness of the streets that I would have had a hard time taking out the curves and do a really detailed drawing. 

Southwestern abstract streetscape

I made a few alterations from the photos by widening the gallery building from two windows to three so it would be more of a focal point.  I kept the movie theater basically the same because I liked the pillar effect as well as the recessed arch top facade and deck over the restaurant. 

I decided to use a teal blue rather than a royal blue hue in this case – mostly because I like that color better.  I started with the yellow and red before adding the blue and I can’t decide whether that was a good idea.  I felt that later on in the drawing I had to tone down the red to mitigate its effect and I softened the yellow with a little brown in order to not take away from the blue.  I ended up working on this piece three different times.  I knew after the first session that it still needed work and I wasn’t quite satisfied after the second.  I played with it off and on the third day but finally decided I was fiddling with it rather than making real decisions and it was time to stop. 

I do like the way the blues turned out here and have chosen another set of photos to make a companion piece.

Architectural whimsy

The street scape commission for the dog walker website that I did a few months ago has been the inspiration for the last six abstract architectural drawings.  At the time I had it in the back of my mind that it would be interesting to add loose, flowing watercolors over the buildings.  I couldn’t experiment on the commissioned piece of course, so I went on the current excursion of the abstract in my own pieces.  So far I have enjoyed the process and have seen a progression in the use of color.  I wanted to try something with a bit more whimsy, so I took a small piece of leftover art board and painted this piece.

Architectural whimsy

I was looking for a bit more of a cartoonish quality, so I inked in the houses a little cock-eyed and then added a figure and her dog.  I took up the brushes and painted away using the same basic palette  as before.  It has taken my eyes a little bit of time to adjust to the whimsical style, but on the whole, I like it.

On the black raspberry front, I have been able to pick a lot more than I thought would be possible this time around.  Even after the birds have taken their share, I think I’ve gotten about 1.5 gallons. I froze about 1/2 gallon, gave away and eaten about 1/2 gallon, and I still have about 1/2 gallon in the refrigerator.  I will probably go out at least one more time since I found two patches with large berries and lots of them.  It is amazing how fast the containers fill up when the berries are decent size and there are multiple ripe ones on the same canes.  The blackberry front is looking good.  The only question now is if we get enough rain to plump them  instead of having them just wither on the cane.  I am already watering my flower beds and shrubs.  I wish it would rain for a week at this point.

Black raspberry dreams

It is that time of year again.  Actually it is almost a month early, but the black raspberries have started to arrive and put all other activities on hold.   Yesterday I inspected my usual places and while some berries have not quite ripened yet, most others are well on the way.  In fact, I should have been out last week and checked more thoroughly.  The one place I kept tabs on unfortunately lagged behind most of the rest.

Black raspberry bounty

This year for the first time, I seem to be in competition with the birds. In the past, I didn’t find many that had been pecked at, much less eaten.  This time, I have found many clusters already fully consumed with the little white core all that is left. I know that my competition can’t be another person because of where the stalks are.  I think that with the mild winter and early spring, many fruits came out too soon and were caught in the frost and died.  Top it off with the subsequent drought in April and May and I think  it is possible that there is a lot less food out there for the wildlife and my berry picking has suffered as a consequence.  Drat and double drat.

Anyway, I spent 2 1/2 hours out picking this morning and got close to two quarts.  It was a lovely morning, temperatures in the 50’s-60’s and a light breeze.  Instead of having to get out at 7 am before the heat and humidity started to rise, I went out leisurely at 8:30 and picked until 11, barely breaking a sweat.  I found that the nicest and largest berries were deep in the shade where the drying sun couldn’t reach them.  The best were also intertwined with the rose bushes, to my skin’s everlasting sorrow.  While the raspberry bushes have prickers, nothing can quite compare to the ripping quality of rose bush thorns, even through long pants and long sleeves.  They also excel at grabbing hats and hair.  I would have normally gotten over a gallon in my first picking session, but I will have to be satisfied with what I have.  The wildlife evidently needs a whole lot more this year.  I will be picking again on Friday or Saturday.  Wish me luck.

A little helping hand – or feet

I had already selected the companion piece to the last architectural so it didn’t take long to set up and start this painting.  Since the watercolor board was already cut to size and the photo was approximately the same size as the drawing, the pencil up and subsequent inking went relatively quickly.

I always do the pencil and the pen inking on my big drafting table which has a comfortable slant to it.  When I use watercolor paints or something that I am afraid will run, I have a large piece of plate acrylic that can I wedge beneath the table top and the drawer to make a flat work surface.  It is big enough that I can usually put the drawing, the paints, and the water on it.  So, I set everything up, placing the little drawing there and putting the watercolor palette next to it. I wanted the colors about the same, so I kept the mixtures from the last painting covered with the palette’s plastic lid to keep the dust out.  I removed the lid and quickly squirted in some distilled water with my medicine dropper and got down to work.  Nothing unusual there.

Abstract entryway 6

After placing only a few brush strokes, I noticed something moving out of the  corner of my eye.  When I glanced over to the palette, I was surprised to see Mr Spider sitting right in the red, tapping his feet and seeming to taste the paint.  For the life of me, I can’t tell how or when he got there. He was about the size of my thumb nail – big, fat, and furry black.  At this point, you must understand, when I was growing up I was terrified of spiders, and while I can tolerate them better these days, they are still not my favorite creature.  Especially not sitting next to me, checking out the watercolors.  While I probably could have gotten an interesting picture of him sitting in the paint, my main concern at the time was getting him OUT of there.  I wasn’t willing to risk him escaping to unknown parts around the workspace while I hunted up the camera and then reappearing suddenly to scare the dickens out of me.  So he and the palette took a quick trip out the door and I flicked him from the tray with a brush handle.  He sailed off into the grass, none the worse for wear, painted feet and all.

I came back into the house and managed to finish the painting.  All in all and despite the distraction, I like the way it turned out.  Again, I boldly put the yellow on first and then moved to the reds and browns, trying to keep the colors flowing.  The last thing I did was put in a few red flowers on the shrubbery.  When I looked at it with fresh eyes the next morning, I didn’t feel I needed to change anything, so I will now be off to list it in my etsy shop to finally make 100.