Huckleberry Watercolor

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First, here is another study of huckleberry watercolor paintings. Loose backgrounds paired with detailed treatments to the berries is what I am experimenting with. “Why is that?”, you may ask. Ultimately, it is the berries I am looking for, when I am up there. Blurred backgrounds and focus on the berries is my way of trying to produce that same reality. While hiking, my eyes constantly rove left and right searching for a particular shade of purple.

HuckBerryWetI2819
9″h x 12″w watercolor of five huckleberries that are wet

Hiking to Pick

Secondly, hiking I love, but berry-picking while hiking is like having your cake and eating it too! Add a camera into the mix and we start to use words like heaven to describe the outing.

These berries love steep ground, or ground that has seen a lot of abuse. We find them where a wildfire has cleared and left the rich ash on the ground for regrowth. Also, we tend to find them where select logging has cleared areas so the shrubs on ground level get more light. I always notice a lot of logs to step or climb over as we spend a day discovering these tasty little gems. Additionally, we use our nose to find huckleberries. These berries  have such a sweet smelling aroma that drifts on the breeze as you walk. Sometimes, we just follow our nose and find them. This is a short video of a place I picked some berries up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort this year.

Today, I had been scheduled to be an artist vendor at the “Huckleberry Festival which is put on by the Roosevelt Inn” in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Unfortunately, stuff happens and I am unable to be there. The Inn is a great historical building (red brick school building) in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene just one block above the Hitching Post. If you are in the neighborhood please go check it out. After all, this show is my inspiration to do huckleberry image studies in the first place.

 

 

 

Huckleberries love-at-first-bite

I love huckleberries

Living in the Inland Northwest has given me the privilege of loving huckleberries every year. I look forward to every summer being able to go pick them. Climb up the mountain and taste just one, and you will be hooked-for-life! They are a divine, sweet and tart taste that can only be understood by experiencing the flavor, yourself. There is no better berry on the planet, they taste so darn good! Literally, it is a shame that huckleberries are not able to be grown commercially.

privilege |ˈpriv(ə)lij|
noun

a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people: education is a right, not a privilege | he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege.

Huckleberry Know How

Do you know your edible wild berries?

Lately, many thoughts of these berries have resulted in me doing a series of studies in the studio. I thought I’d share some recent watercolors of these magical fruit delicacies with you. Grabbing two small pieces of left-over 300lb Arches watercolor paper measuring 6″ x 5″. I draw close-ups of bunches of berries, showing how they look when I go to pick them. Then, using mastik to reserve light areas, I begin experimenting.

HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719_1
Initial study of a trio of huckleberries in watercolor
HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of a trio of huckleberries

Huckleberries

These berries are dark smooth little guys with a gorgeous purple color that sometimes show as a magenta in the sun or almost black in shade. Noticeably, they have a very unique bottom that is a little dimple inward with a dot in the middle.

HuckBerryFiveStudyI2619_1
Initial 6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries
HuckberryFiveStudyI2619
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries

Lighting and colors vary a lot for these bushes under the big trees of the forest. Consequently, I try backgrounds in different values and colors. Sometimes, we are in bright sunlit blue-sky areas where the green leaves almost look chartreuse in color. Here, the background is dark when the look of the brown ground kind of mixes into the leaf color.

Peer-to-Peer Birch Trees and Deer

Peer to Peer Teaching

Ron Stocke Spokane WA workshop
Ron Stocke at Spokane Washngton Workshop

Peer to peer teaching is so very valuable. This year I was fortunate to be able to paint with Ron Stocke for a weekend workshop. His style of painting is so inspiring. It reminds me of the much freer painter I used to be in my youth. This inspired me to return to a freer style and quit trying to render picture perfect images.

Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo
Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo

Sharing Talents Peer-to-Peer

Similarly, I painted another day with a friend and fellow artist (peer), Becky Gromlich, at her studio where we did some birch trees together. During this one day workshop, she showed how certain steps can make this kind of tree painting so much easier. It was so very helpful, to learn this.

Till then, I never realized how much fun these trees can be to paint. Birches and larches are no longer things that I face with trepidation in a layout. She opened me up to painting trees more often with vigor. Here is one I did shortly after her workshop.

Wish You Were Here - Fall Birches J3318
Wish You Were Here – Fall Birches J3318, 10″w c 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Later, using these same skills I painted many birch trees using house paints in a landscape mural up at the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. Using the same steps with a different medium.

Continued Experimentation

49 Degrees North Ski Resor winter mountain landscape mural
Winter mountain landscape mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Children’s Area.

This watercolor entitled, Muley Deer C1919, sold at the SWS (Spokane Watercolor Society) Member Show last year. It was painted using the same kind of approach for the trees combined (Becky) with a freer style of rendering for the deer, learned from (Ron Stocke).

Muley Doe C1919
Muley Doe C1919 9″w x 12″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

Here is another watercolor entitled, Yellow Rose J3218 which is another example of the freer style of watercolor (Ron Stocke). It was inspired by a beautiful rose blossom I picked in my garden earlier that day.

Yellow Rose J3218
Yellow Rose J3218 10″w x 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

As an artist, I benefit a great deal from fellow artists who share, helping to expand my skills and creativity. Additionally, I have found that it is easier for me to learn from a working (painting) artist (peer) than a school teacher type of person.

Finding My Peers

The SWS group that I belong to surrounds me with exactly this kind of inspiring artistic talent. The Spokane Watercolor Society is a club full of amazingly talented artists, sharing friendship along with many watercolor methods that they know and it has been a wonderful blessing to me.  Artists always seem to need to strive for growth in all kinds of new avenues and this open friendly club provides a very healthy circle of inspiration to me as I grow.

Bloom in Spokane, Garden Tour

Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour 2019 is the most recent art show I participated, put on by the Inland Empire Gardeners Club of Spokane. It took place on June 15, 2019 from 10am-5pm and included 9 beautiful gardens on the south side of Spokane. South Hill has historic homes with gorgeous landscaping and gardens guaranteed to amaze you. Being an aspiring gardener myself, helped to make this show seem like a real attractive option to me.

Sam & Jane Joseph's home
Sam & Jane Joseph’s home

I was lucky to be scheduled to exhibit my art at the “Explore Seek Discover Garden” which is the creation of Sam & Jane Joseph at 1910 S Upper Terrace Rd, 99203. They were absolutely fantastic hosts!

 

The greatest part about this was the wonderful group of people who attended the event. They were a relaxed crowd, looking at all the wonderful plants and settings in each of the gardens. This event is well setup allowing attending crowds the freedom to take their time and experience each garden area. People were relaxed as they strolled around the gardens. It was fun to visit with them. We were all busy admiring our surroundings. There were shady areas to setup our booths making it a thoroughly wonderful show to take part in.

Bloom “ing” Sales

Original art pieces that sold along with prints at this show did seem to be garden related.

Spokane in Bloom is a show I highly recommend. The location was so beautiful, and the crowd so very friendly. I look forward to repeat showing at this event as many times as possible in the future.

Cosmos Blossoms

Cosmos bloom providing a great splash of color in our garden. Graceful lavender petals on slim stems. Being a type of wildflower, they are easy to plant and care for, love to be “dead-headed” and producing volumes of blossoms all season long.  More information about these “daisy-like” flowers is abundant on the internet, check it out. I typically look up any new flower or plant on the internet before I sow any seeds, looking for what to do and what not to do. These seeds were given to me by a gardner friend of mine and now I see why she likes them so much. It is almost like a new painting every day I walk down to the garden and see these graceful creatures.

cosmos blossoms 19
cosmos blossoms 19

Soft Lavender Petals

A lavender Cosmos patch borders around the strawberries this year. After seeing the graceful color display this year, I intend to plant a larger variety of colors next year.

cosmos blossoms 20
cosmos blossoms 20

Everyone Loves Them

The bees, butterflies, and dragonflies in our garden are constant visitors to the cosmos flowers. Similarly, the blossoms seem to attract artists too! I hover close, getting a multitude of photographs to paint from. The cosmos are such a delicate and shapely inspiration to me. There will definitely be watercolors of these beauties in the near future on this blog. I made a hand embroidered tablecloth earlier that reflects the attraction felt to these colorful flowers.

Hand Embroidery

Doing embroidery by hand, is painting with thread for me. Typically, spending hours each evening hand stitching “one-of-a-kind” family tablecloth treasures. Embroidery used to be a common pass-time, but it is becoming less and less common. I enjoy, hand stitching both patterns made by others and designs that I have drawn myself. Creating cloth treasures to celebrate special occasions with.

I wonder….

Will there be any family heirloom linens to pass down in the future?

This tablecloth started out as a garage sale score for me. It was part of a tablecloth painting kit, hidden, in a stack of sewing materials. I noticed a stamped pattern on it. Not being sure of what I was seeing, I unfolded it. Discovering, a stamped design with baskets and cosmos blossoms on every corner along with random flowers strewn across the center.

A perfect full size tablecloth with edges finish stitched, and no stains. Only $2. How could I pass it up? I couldn’t wait to get it home and start stitching.

Cosmos Blossom Tablecloth 01
Cosmos Blossom Tablecloth 01

Cosmos are a wonderfully colorful wildflower allowing for a wide assortment of thread colors. I chose “satin stitch” to make the cosmos petals with. Because, I wanted to have a vibrantly bright tablecloth in the end. Here it is drying on the clothesline at about 3/4 complete.

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This tablecloth took a year to finish embroidering as I sat in the evenings with the family.

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This tablecloth was used in my artist booth for the the Inland Empire Gardeners, “Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour” on June 15, 2019. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and got a lot of compliments about this tablecloth, many even asked if it was for sale.

How much do you think it should sell for if I were to sell it?

Goldfinch Bird Visits Garden

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

A beautiful American Goldfinch yellow bird has been visiting in and around our garden this year. He seems to enjoy the flowers & berries in the garden. I have been unable to get a picture of him, because every time I would notice him I wouldn’t have my camera with me. Darn! That little phone camera is absolutely useless in getting a good enough shot of a faraway flying munchkin, only producing a blurry spec in the sky to see. More detail is needed to be able to identify what a new bird specie for me, but I had my trusty real camera Nikon with a decent lens when he showed up yesterday. I got this and used this picture to find him in our reference book and we do have beautiful birds here.

No Longer a Mystery Bird

Peter and I have, “A Field Guide to the BIRDS of North America” by Michael Vanner. This great reference, lets us discover what we are looking at. Following is the  info on page 252 quoted. Get this book if you like to look at birds.

American Goldfinch
(Cardulelis Tristis)

Common across most of North America with the exception of the far north, the American Goldfinch is a familiar visitor to bird feeders with its striking plumage. It is gregarious and will often mix with other birds in large feeding flocks. It breeds relatively late in the year, building a small tightly woven cup nest of grass and plant fibers high in a bush or tree. This holds 3-6 plain blue-white eggs which are incubated by the female for 2 weeks. The young can fend for themselves 12-17 days later and juvenile birds are brownish with dark wings and tail. It eats mainly seeds, but will also eat berries and insects. It shows a particular fondness for thistles, which it eats and uses to line its nest.

Thistle absolutely loves our place, and we are constantly at-war with those voracious thorns. I am never sure if we are just loosing a battle or if we have already lost the war. Weeds, weeds, weeds. Thistle is a never tiring foe. Now, I fully understand why he loves it here so much.

Photography Surprises

OCampo Wedding FOB 1 surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB 1

Surprises in  Photography

I love to find photography surprises when I am wearing my photographer hat! As I was swinging around to catch the “father of the groom” with “the stepmother” I got the first photograph shot and then stepped in for a better one…. and captured an unexpected wonderful surprise. Four members of the groom’s family instead of two.

OCampo Wedding FOB brothers surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB brothers

Right Place & Time

In the space of a second just between the two shots, the view changed to include two more who are the groom’s brothers walking behind their father. This would be impossible to orchestrate. Can you imagine trying to capture this shot right when the shutter opened. Take 1,000,000,000. It was simply one of those photography surprises. Lucky me!

New Equipment

I was not an official photographer for the wedding but fully enjoyed being able to use our new camera, a Nikon 7500 to capture the “non-pro” shots of the day. There is no better way for me to discover equipment capabilities than just jumping in and using a camera or lens to get familiar with it. The proof is in the pudding then, cause it either works or it doesn’t.

OCampo Wedding Photographer
OCampo Wedding Photographer

I was able to just relax and capture what was going on all around in the background. What a fully enjoyable day, I didn’t have to stress, because Pat and Kim Flanigan already had a wonderful lady doing a fantastic job in that department already. Sorry, I don’t know her name, but if you need a photographer you should get this one who is pictured above!

It is an honor to be able to attend our grand daughters wedding (alias Colleen Flanigan) this weekend. We are so lucky to have people who love us, and include us in their lives like our family does. There is now a proud couple in our family, Juan and Colleen OCampo! We love you!

Bravo!

Broccoli Treats

Garden Treats Are Here

broccoli spears in strainer
broccoli spears in strainer

Broccoli treats greet us from the garden daily now. I just can’t get over how much better home grown vegetables and fruit taste, you would not believe how sweet the flavor is. Now, store bought broccoli is a somewhat bitter second place loser to me. We planted one packet of seed and all of them came up, so our broccoli patch is surprisingly bigger than planned.

 

broccoli patch
broccoli patch

Broccoli treats are not the only vegetable we have. The first vegetable was the asparagus which peeked their heads out while the snow was still melting. It is a crop we started years ago and it finally is producing quite well. We love it and next year I am planning to figure out how it is pickle it. Though we appreciate the treat of asparagus spears, we actually got a little tired of them before it went into seed production.

asparagus going to seed
asparagus going to seed

Nature Treat Shows

Gardens are amazing nature shows. Our garden was planted 2-3 weeks late due to tractor mechanical issues. For awhile we were worried that we would not have much produce this year, but everything is growing real fast in the warm days we have had lately with temperatures of 80-90 degree daytimes with 40-50 nights. Again it seems like a wonderful carousel of delicious garden treats as everything matures at it’s own pace.

I weed and water for my daily (almost) meditation. This physical effort is well worth it, for healthy food that tastes so phenomenally good.

two pea pods
two pea pods

The peas seem ready to begin picking tomorrow, so we will be busy shucking pods while we watch tv at night. Beans and zucchini are almost ready and lets not forget the corn tasseling or grapes forming on the vines. The most candy-like treats are all the berries and fruits which are gearing up to be our next garden treat. There are many more items. Blackberry, blueberry, choke-cherry, raspberry, elderberry, cucumbers, tomatoes…. followed by apple, and pears later.

blackberry hedge, apples
blackberry hedge, apples

 

 

Pet Peeves in Photography

I have identified some definite pet peeves for me as I wade through the trending volumes of unprofessional photography available on the worldwide web.

Butt Shots!

butt shotFirst of all, these are the worst for me. How many “butt-shots” do we need to see? Honestly, it pays to get on the other side of the cake. How many backs, heads and butts do we need to see before we can actually see the face of the birthday-girl blow out the candles?

Please crop the crowd showing us their backs to focus on the recognizable face or focal point! Do the world a favor. Delete the photograph if it is only a shot made up of only butts.

Selfie’s!

selfieGirl
selfie Girl
selfie |ˈselfē| (also selfy)

noun (pl.selfies) informal

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.

Really! I love the way that this definition ends saying a new selfie every day is not necessary. Selfies are over used to document every day activities and companions by everyone. They have now become a standard portrait method.

Have you ever considered that those closeup faces allow widespread facial recognition and location tracking?

Is big brother watching? Yes, you bet he is!

I do not consider the selfie as an art form.

Artistic

Art is that image that invites us in….  to feel, remember and become part of  what holds our gaze. Those candid action shots that freezes the movement perfectly in the sports arena, or the thoughtful portrait that balances light and focus with a memorable expression, or even the magnificent storytelling essence of an expansive landscape or event in history.

Remembering, the importance of excellence makes me spat when I see a warped face in a group stacked together in a selfie!

Any image that we quickly glance at, see and move away from, does not fall into the category of art for me. 

Certainly, a selfie’s facial distortion, does not come close to the magical essence of the professional portrait capturing a storyline or personality elegantly.