Duh! For years we have acted surprised when Spring arrives. We curse the fact, that just when we need gravel, all roads have restrictions (spring thaw). Remember the mud last Spring? Our driveway was a mud bog for two weeks, we were unable to refill our propane, etc, etc, etc. It was virtually impossible to drive up to the house and unfortunately, it was just as difficult to navigate by foot. You really know things are bad when your boot stays stuck in the mud producing the frozen barefoot feeling we all love. Check out, “Spring Has Sprung“.
gravel on turn-around 01
Toners Sand and Gravel delivered 5 loads of driveway gravel last week. Starting with the turn around area getting a full load all it’s own. That is where the propane truck got stuck last year in deeper than knee-deep mud. Intense!
Pete was home to show them where to put the loads. He used the tractor to smooth it all out on the driveway and now it looks really good.
It feels good to be ahead of a problem instead of chasing-it-after-the-fact. In our 60’s, it really is about time for us to grow-up, right? Good Job Woelk’s!
Very, berry, wet huckleberries! Drops of water are covering all the berry surfaces! The prior huckleberry study had a few drops on the berries and leaves? Another discovery of an artist challenge, “the rendering drops”. Drops aren’t easy, because each one is different. Due to, the surface that they rest upon and their location in the lighting scheme.
I reserve the majority of the white areas needed with mastik to be able to render the droplets. First, finishing up the leaves in the background allowing better definition of the edges of my main subject, the berries.
Next, defining the lights and shadows, ultimately shows roundness of the three berries. While applying light washes of color, then allowing the color to spread. Similarly, removing any unwanted color with a dry brush before my mixture dries.
First, using a touch of white mixed with the purple makes the opaque highlight where the light first strikes the berry. Next, adding magenta as a light wash brings out the red tint that shows through the purple on the berries whenever you view them in the sunlight. Touching the body with purple bleeds into the wetness of the magenta wonderfully. Darkening the purple with a touch of ultramarine blue and burnt umber brings a rich shadow out on the lower surface. Adding a mixture of blue, brown and purple produces the darkest shadows that separate the front berry form from the huckleberries appearing behind. Lastly, I give a light reflective edge to the edge furthest from the light source.
Now, it is time for the final touches which are the drops. It gets much easier to render these drops if I remember drop is a round shiny object that I can see through. Drops allow what is behind it to peek through, while simultaneously exhibiting highlights and shadows on its round surface. These little shiny round guys are rendered with white watercolor applied very carefully. Simple touches of white bleeding into the background.
I made the details on the front huckleberry with sharp and distinct edges. Similarly, the rear berries have subdued edges to emphasize that they are further away in our depth of field.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This tablecloth took a year to finish embroidering as I sat in the evenings with the family.
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?
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.
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.