Monday, June 27, 2016

Inspiration in My Yard

We finally got around to building a garden this year. I have a large terra cotta strawberry pot in which we've planted strawberries at the top, then basil, garlic chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary, peppermint, and sage in the rest of the holes. Everything's doing well except my poor sage, which died from being at the bottom and thus the unwilling recipient of all the water that drained downward. I'm also aware that since all the other plants are thriving I'll probably have to move most of them to their own garden! It's a good problem to have.
In the two beds we built, we've got red onion, sweet potato, bee balm, orange and green bell peppers, grape and roma tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber. There are so many other things I want to grow but these will do for now. It's my son's job to water everything at least once a day but we all pitch in if he doesn't have a chance to do it himself. This means I get outside more than I used to. I hate summers in Virginia Beach - I realize how crazy that sounds since I live so close to a gigantic resort beach, but it's terribly hot and humid, I'm not a beach person anyway, and I much prefer my air conditioned house. I enjoy the outdoors, but I don't like the heat and I despise the mosquitoes.

So I was able to get some good photos of other things growing in our yard. Namely, the gardenia my grandmother planted when I was a baby, and an apple from a poor, scraggly tree in our yard that we just can't decide if we should let it live or chop down. It makes all the wildlife happy though, so it's staying for now. My daughter had plucked an apple about 2" wide with leaves, and I snipped off a branch from the gardenia with one bloom and several leaves. I used a large white sheet of Bristol paper and my Nikon 12.0 megapixel digital camera on the macro setting. Caveat: I hate photography. Wait, that's not accurate; I don't hate photography because I appreciate it and love the work of real photographers (read, not me). I just hate taking photos. The problem is, I know I need to at least be decent at it because I need to use my own reference photos. I took at least a half dozen shots of each branch from different angles with the plan to do watercolor, colored pencil, and even gold leaf renditions.

I penciled this one in between taking care of two toddlers and a baby today. I'm working on Fabriano Studio 140 lb. watercolor paper which I stretched before starting my drawing. This is where drawing well becomes important. I'm going for a botanical illustration look so it's crucial that my drawing be accurate and detailed, and that my lines are clean and sharp, and since it's going to be a watercolor, it's only a line drawing with no pencil shading. I'm using a Tombow 4H and my usual erasers: kneaded, white plastic, and Tombow Mono Zero. I had to tweak the photo a lot since the pencil marks are so light.

Next step is testing colors on a separate sheet of paper and making notes. ;)