Autumn isn’t typically Sacramento’s best season. Most of the native trees don’t turn the brilliant colors you see in colder climates; we don’t have sugar maples or beech trees here. Oh, some of the newer subdivisions have planted Chinese pistache and liquidamber trees, which put on a nice show. But many of our trees are quieter in color.
I decided to sketch some sycamore leaves, to see if I could capture the very subtle colors of the leaves as they lose their chlorophyll and turn first yellowy green. (They then just fade into a kind of gray-brown, and then fall off the tree.) It made a good exercise both to try for the subtle changes and to practice my watercolor technique. I added the pencil later, to try to get some of the texture of the leaves.
In the comments below, let us know what autumn is like where you live.
My goodness, but I’ve been away from this blog a long time!
I learned a powerful lesson about the need for systems this year. Having good systems will support you in your whatever you do, from having an organized computer and file system, to building supportive habits of writing, drawing, or whatever it is you do. I fell away from writing at first because my computer decided to stop working, and had to be replaced. That meant recreating my old hard drive, re-installing software. (But of course nothing works quite the same. I would like to request that you software developers out there not fix things that aren’t broken.) And then I just got busy and never got back to posting.
So—I’m rebooting this blog. I intend to post approximately weekly, and to write about nature, painting, and painting (and drawing) nature. I hope you find something interesting here, and perhaps even learn something!
In a recent post, I posed the questions of why I don’t put birds into my paintings. Today, I answer that question.
I was a bird watcher long before I took up painting. I take my binoculars and camera with me when I paint outdoors, though birds can be a big distraction. So why not include them in the paintings?
In a word: verisimilitude. I’m not a wildlife painter. If I’m going to put birds into my landscape paintings, I want them to look like they belong there. I don’t mean the perspective of getting the foreshortening of the wings correct, though that’s important too. No, I mean getting the bird the right size in the scene. A friend suggested just putting in a dash for a flying bird. Well, ok, but I want the dash to be correct. Too big and the bird is too close. Too small and it’s just a dot. I want you, the viewer, to be able to tell turkey vulture from red-tailed hawk from great blue heron.
Here’s what I mean. These three birds are not the same:
Birds can tell a person a lot about the landscape, the ecosystem, the season. Birds move all the time. The presence if an osprey says something different about the territory than does the presence of a golden eagle. I want to be able to be accurate in my representations.
But all of that is just an excuse. So I guess my answer is: I’m workin’ in it.