The Traveling Still Life Poinsettia

In my last post, I mentioned that one element of the still life I am working on in my teacher’s studio has to come home with me each week. I can’t leave the poinsettia because the studio cats might be tempted to nibble on this toxic plant. So the potted poinsettia gets tucked up in a brown paper bag each week and sits in the passenger seat while I drive home. So far the cold weather has not bothered it. It is so cold in my home studio that the plant is now on my dining room table where it’s nice and warm for this tropical denizen and also warm enough for me to draw it in my sketchbook today without freezing my hands. I sketched the plant loosely in pencil, then inked it in black. I erased the pencil marks, then added the color with a new set of watercolor markers that my daughter gave me for Christmas. The colors are vivid. The brand is ‘Primrosia.’

Drawing of a poinsettia
Poinsettia, watercolor markers

Hibiscus, pastel: making the yearly Christmas card

Technical stuff: I blocked out the drawing to be three times the size of a standard 5 x 7 greeting card so that when photographed to send to the printer, the resolution would be very high when the size was reduced from 15 x 21 to 5 x 7.

Choose paper color and go! The drawing of my hibiscus bloom, seen in the photograph attached to the easel, is blocked out with a white pastel pencil on green paper.

Drawing a hibiscus

Starting my 2021 Christmas card

Over several weekly sessions in my teacher’s studio, I added layers of pastel. I don’t generally blend the colors with a tortillion or paper or my finger, not until I layer in the color for hours and hours. If I get stuck at the end, I spray workable fixative to give the paper more grip. Finally, I might touch up edges with a pastel pencil and tortillion.

Hibiscus pastel

Adding color to the drawing

When the pastel painting was finished, we photographed it, and added the greeting using Photoshop. I also adjusted the colors of the leaves a bit to push them back, to not compete with the flower. The big impact here is supposed to be that vivid Hibiscus bloom I had admired last summer on my deck.
Christmas card of hibiscus bloom

The finished drawing for the Christmas card

I uploaded the finished image to Vistaprint to turn into my 2021 Christmas card. If you read the stories of my other greeting card misadventures, this year was a much smoother experience thanks to the technical and artistic guidance of my teacher. Thank you, thank you to her. And Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas!

Chickadee , watercolor
Chickadee, watercolor

This year’s Christmas card is a watercolor painting of a chickadee. The birds in my yard rarely pose long enough for their portrait (ha ha) so my source photograph was taken by my art teacher and used, with her permission, as the model for my 2020 card. I finished the painting in the Fall of 2019 and I sent it to the printers this Fall in time to mail out my cards. However, the mail system is so overwhelmed during the Pandemic, that I am sending more digital copies than usual. Merry Christmas!

Finishing Volume 1 of my Pandemic Sketchbook

When I started drawing and writing in my ‘Pandemic sketchbook’ in early Spring at the beginning of the stay-at-home advisory, I might have thought that the pandemic would end before I ran out of blank pages. Sadly, that is not the case. The virus continues to burn through all the dry tinder of non-immune populations worldwide.

I have three pages to go in my sketchbook and a new, blank one waiting to be filled. The latest page is of tumbling leaves falling downward. I wet the paper with a natural sponge, then painted and splattered fall colors onto the damp page. When dry, I drew the leaves. Using dried leaves I had pressed in a book as templates, I traced around them, adding the veins and details later. I’m hoping that by next Spring, when I have filled up Volume 2 of my Pandemic Sketchbook, we have an effective, widely distributed vaccine and the Pandemic is subsiding.

Watercolor of falling autumn leaves
Autumn leaves, watercolor and pen and ink

Pandemic Sketchbook: September

Charcoal drawing of a rabbit
Rabbit in my garden, charcoal pencil

Sketching wildlife in black and white brought me back to my Pandemic Sketchbook in September. There seems to be more critters in my yard and neighborhood, or maybe I just have more time to observe nature these days. I did not get to the beach this summer, but painted a gull from a photo I took years ago.

Watercolor of a sea gull
Gull on New Jersey beach, watercolor