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Botanical Watercolor – Iris

Taking a break from colored pencil, I decided to go back to watercolor for a change. A couple years ago, I was mainly painting watercolor flowers. At some point, I got interested in colored pencils and shifted to mostly working with them. There are some things about colored pencil that are much easier, in a way. Colored pencils are completely controllable and predictable. Watercolor is not. Even the best watercolor artists acknowledge the magic accidents that make watercolor what it is. On the other hand, watercolor is much faster and more forgiving on my hands and shoulders.

I have been following a bunch of botanical artists of various mediums and am inspired by the level of detail they manage in their work. I don’t find myself drawn to the strictly scientific, accurate representation of botanical illustration, though I admire it, but I do like focusing on the details of flowers. I like to include interesting lighting and shadows that isn’t strictly for accuracy. I also like to include backgrounds, though for this I decided to try a white background and I am pleased with it.

Here are some images from the steps I took painting this – the drawing, transferring it to the watercolor paper, painting a shadow/tonal under-painting, and finally adding the color. Overall I like the way it came out, but can also see some room for improvement. I could be better about making neat careful edges. And my greens need work. I found the leaves a lot more challenging than the flower. I enjoyed adding the tiny details most of all. (click for larger images)


Muted Iris
Winsor Newton watercolors on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb hot press
10 x 16 inches

watercolor-iris-web

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Nigella damascena

At last, I have found the ultimate answer to my plant identification needs in the form of a Facebook group called “Plant Identification and Discussion.” Once posted, a photo of any plant (it seems) will be identified very quickly. This morning I saw Nigella damascena, a flower I had not seen before, identified in the group, and then this afternoon I saw it in the park! It was identified before I even knew I needed it to be identified. Some common names for it are love-in-a-mist, ragged lady, or devil in a bush.

Lately I have been getting more interested in the plants themselves and not just photographing and drawing them. I’ve been reading a lot of books, blogs, and watching a lot of videos by botanical artists and illustrators. Plants are really cool.

Nigella damascena, Love-in-a-mist:

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Steep Ravine Matt Davis Loop

This is the third year in a row visiting Stinson for this hike in the last week of April. It was awesome to see the impact of the rain we got this winter. The waterfalls were rushing and plant life was thriving, almost overtaking the trails in places. We missed the “super bloom” by a couple of weeks, but there were plenty of impressive patches of wildflowers. To experience the following pictures, imagine the sound of rushing water and the ocean crashing on the beach in the distance, accompanied by many birds singing in the rustling trees.

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I Like Flowers

Walking around the park today, taking pictures of flowers with my new lens, I thought, “no matter what lens I use, I’m probably going to take pictures of flowers.”

I really like flowers. What’s not to like? They’re so colorful. They come in so many shapes. I love flowing, curved lines. I love bright colors. And they are so interesting to observe in various types of light. I like to photograph flowers and I like to draw and paint them.

So here are the spring roses in bloom, and one bird.

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New Lens, Canon 50mm STM

Trying out my new lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. It’s a small lens and the lightest of any I own. It’s also not terribly expensive, making it a good candidate for hikes. A lot of reviewers recommend it for portraits, which don’t really interest me unless they are flower portraits, but I think it’s going to be a good walking around lens. Here are today’s best shots: