Past Their Prime

DyingTulips

Something in my morning reading prompted me to make my way to the Gardens yesterday to draw the waning tulips and daffodils. I also remembered a conversation with my father-in-law years ago where he suggested I paint dying flowers. I don’t remember too much of what was said. Perhaps there wasn’t much. But I do remember him saying something like “There’s beauty in things that are past their prime.”

DaffsPastPrimeLowRes

I situated my chair with watercolor paints, water jar, and brush resting on the side “table” waiting for when I’d completed a drawing. I first began with a patch of daffodils, some completely spent, others still hanging onto their petals. There was something of reverence in the air as I began to draw the  deep ridges, curled edges of delicate, fragile petals. I chose a 005, very fine tip Prismacolor pen to render the thin, wispy remains of flowers on still strong stems. Light colors, light touch. Aging, mature, old. Beyond their peak for sure. But lovely nonetheless in their delicate state.

TulipsPastPrimeBoldLowRes

I moved my chair to sit at the feet of a large patch of tulips in a similar state of demise. Something in me began to feel that they were, even though delicate and partly wilted, somehow strong and virile with their twisted, grooved petals, their inner stigma still standing, their curled edges. I chose a thicker pen, 05 this time, and wanted to display bolder colors surrounding these aged beauties.

TulipsPastPrimePlayfulLowRes

By the third and final drawing, I was working with the thickest pen, 08. Lines dancing around the page as I followed their playful contours. They now seemed jocund and full of frivolity, even though their days were numbered. Indeed, in some of the other beds, gardeners were working to pull up all the spent tulips and daffodils, making way for other flowers, who will surely bedazzle me as these flowers have done.

TulipsPrimeLowRes

The thing is…I’ve been here, witnessing and drawing these flowers throughout their life cycle.  Drawing shows me the full breadth of living: from seedlings to full-on riotous color (as in the drawing directly above this paragraph), to curling and withering petals fading in the warm spring sun. The flowers nod to me as I consider my own loved ones, their life span, as well as my own. I learn so much from these humble plants. I am hoping for the same beauty, strength, and frivolity in my own waning years.

Thank you tulips and daffodils. Thank you.

*****

For those who might like to know: The pages with a crease down the middle are from my Hand Book Journal. I love this paper to draw and watercolor…off white, toothy. The other images are created in an 8 1/2″ x 11″ Aquabee Sketchbook. Though the pages appear off-white here in the photos, the paper is actually whiter than the Hand Book Journal. A staple sketchbook for everyday drawing, painting and collage.

Out and About

CienerAutumn

I’ve been out drawing various places on Friday mornings and relishing every  minute! My friend Debbie and I parked our drawing chairs in the Gardens, finding all kinds of autumn beauty to draw and paint.

SmithHollowHorses

A few weeks ago, we ventured just across the street from where I live, to draw the horses at Smith Hollow Farm. My line drawings of the horses kept looking a lot like donkeys (ahem), due to not giving them the correctly proportioned long legs! I’m not sure my watercolor sketch got it right either, but they seem more like horses to me.

EmmausRd

Near the end of our time at the farm, I turned my chair to look down the road. I dashed off this simple watercolor and didn’t think very highly of it at the time. Debbie liked it a lot and encouraged me to look at it again in a week or so…I might like it better, she said. This happens to both of us fairly regularly…not liking what we’ve drawn, but finding that it seems to improve a bit after getting away from it for a while. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Something to do with being too close to it at the time of making the drawing, and needing a bit of breathing space.

I’m also busy revamping my Etsy Shop! I’ve decided to create a second Etsy shop purely for the knit & crochet patterns, so that my current shop, now named Drawn2Life will only have original works of art, cards & prints, and signed copies of my books.  It isn’t quite there yet, if you happen to visit. Soon….very soon!

I hope you are able to drawcument something about your life today. I have an encounter with a cow that I plan to paint today…can’t wait to share with you!

Draw (and Knit) in Public

PublicGardensDay

At the beginning of May, I sat drawing with other artist friends at the Ciener Botanical Gardens here in downtown Kernersville. This is our favorite spot in the warmer months for our Friday morning drawing sessions. In the winter we move indoors to the wonderful Eclection shop downtown. Below is one of the last drawings I made at Eclection before the weather warmed up. Though it is an indoor space, it is full of color, an artist’s heaven!!

EclectionInspiraton

Our “view” at the Gardens is vastly different, though no less colorful! There were several of us, in early May, enjoying the morning with our sketchbooks, and one with her yarn. It was a perfect morning… weather, friendship and creativity! One of us discovered while we were there, that it was National Public Gardens Day! What a perfect way to honor National Public Gardens Day–by drawing in a garden!

Nat'lPubGardens

Another big day is coming up this Saturday! It is known as the World Wide Knit in Public Day. I’m not sure that I’m yet up for being out in public for a length of time, but rest assured I will be honoring this day by knitting…perhaps out on our back deck! Not quite “Public”, but it will have to do. 🙂

Nat'lPubGardenDay

How do you plan to honor World Wide Knit in Public Day? Have you organized an event? Are you going to attend one? Or will you take your yarn to a Starbucks or outdoor cafe to knit or crochet? Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Nat'lPubGardenDraw

Perhaps next year, I’ll look for something local or organize something here in our area for World Wide Knit in Public Day. I absolutely love our weekly “Draw in Public Days” and I look forward to returning in a few weeks on a Friday to draw at the Gardens!

Painting & Poem

FromCienerGardens

Can I attempt to entice you once again to come out for my Art Show this Saturday? From 4-6 pm at Southwinds Gallery here in Kernersville, you’ll see this painting and many more of my town. I’ll also be signing books, both Genevieve and the Kite and Letters to an Artist.  I am walking around on a cloud these days feeling quite blessed by the goodness of it all.

The above drawing/painting is from our Ciener Botanical Gardens. There is a main area where I often sit and draw the various views, moving my chair around in that area. But just behind it, towards the “back” of the Gardens, is another area, a quieter less tended area. I like it for that reason. I often sit there drawing the flora and fauna with a view of Main Street Methodist Church in the distance. I absolutely LOVE it when the bells start ringing out a hymn tune! One couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting in which to draw!

And here’s one of the recent rhyming ditties I got down on paper–

This Strange

What be this strange which takes over my mind?

Words that tumble in rhythm and rhyme?

Is it a virus lasting only a time?

Or an inner well I had only to find?

 

Do the watery words stay calm in the well?

Unnoticed, unheeded, no fanfare, or bell…

‘Til such a season when the waters swell,

Bubbling up, spilling out of my pen pell-mell.

 

Whatever it be, this strange is a friend.

Who comes ‘round to greet me time and again.

At first I am shocked, a presence I cannot fend.

Just this one bucket– then it will end!

 

But no, this strange, it lingers a while.

As word after word, we mark out the miles.

One day I’ll cry “Uncle!” from under the pile.

But for now I pull buckets wearing a smile.

 

-jpe

11/16/2013

**I hope your creative well is brimming over for you this week! And I also hope to see you Saturday! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Negative Painting

WhiteFlowersCiener

 

At the school where I teach art part-time, I am asked to begin each year with a lesson on Nature Study in Dry-Brush Watercolor.  This approach to painting a nature study piece is one of the foundations of the Charlotte Mason approach to education that my school so beautifully exemplifies throughout the K-8 curriculum. Students are taught to “draw with the brush” as they depict in watercolor all the details and nuances of the bit of nature they have before them.

Since our theme for art this year is All Creatures Great and Small, we looked at bird feathers of many kinds in our classes to create these nature studies.  A common question is : How do I paint white? The palette of watercolors they use does not come with Chinese White, thankfully. This forces them to come up with a solution to this “problem”.

My challenge as a teacher is NOT to give them the answer. The very best way to teach is to allow the students to discover for themselves, as much as possible, how they might create “white” on the page in their little painting. In every class, without fail, at least one (usually more) student comes up with the answer: Paint around the white part, leaving the white of the paper.

In one of the upper classes, I reminded them that what they have discovered is called Negative Painting in the art world. A few students snickered! We had a fun time discussing how that description seems weird since it makes you think the artist is angry or upset in some way while he/she paints! We then had students remind us of the difference between positive and negative painting.  It’s fun to view these standard art descriptions from a kid’s point of view!!

The above painting is NOT feathers. I painted this on a recent day at the Ciener Botanical Gardens.  I wanted the challenge of “negatively” painting these tall white flowers against the backdrop of foliage.  I really wish I had looked on the little metal plate at the base of the flowers to see what they are called!! That would be in keeping with a true Nature Study. Oh, and using Dry Brush, which I definitely did not do here. Oozling and Wazzling is my favorite thing!!

This painting is now in my Etsy Shoppe for sale, along with a few others I’ve just added. There are two up-close cow portraits (Mr. Whicker’s cows are so paintogenic!) And there’s a daffodil piece that reminds me of spring.

I hope you can do a little “negative painting” of your own…hee! hee!