World Watercolor Month: Final Week + 2

Time flies when there is fun to be had, and July has done just that.

Under a darkening sky that seems to want to paint the yard in its own version of watercolor, Charlie’s challenge of painting a watercolor a day to celebrate the First Annual World Watercolor Month comes to a close.

Of  course that doesn’t mean painting and creating daily comes to a halt, maybe just not on 11″ x 15″ sheets of watercolor paper. A return to the sketchbook for a daily routine while a more slower pace with anything larger in size seems to be in order.

It has been a delightful month, and I am both inspired and left in awe of those around the world as well as in our blogging community who came together to share their love of watercolors on a daily basis.  My souvenir from this wonderful adventure is a neat pile of 31 quarter sheets holding painting ideas, experiments, and many things I want to  improve upon. The last group to be added to July’s works are from this past week and 2 days. Influenced by passing storms, and playing with fanciful notions, these final sketches in watercolor will remind me of options on approach with backgrounds and maybe a couple of thematic ideas.

The rain is falling, creating little puddles of reflected color in the yard. It makes me think of the puddles of paint in my palette that need to be cleaned up and the brushes waiting to be rinsed and put aside to dry, …until the next adventure in watercolor.

World Watercolor Month: Week One

Like any new adventure, the first step on a journey is usually made with confidence and determination, and if you are me, the next few steps might be less graceful with a mixture of pirouettes and stumbles. No matter, where water is involved any landings will be light and refreshing, or so I keep telling myself.

I also keep telling myself to “Let go, loosen up, and have fun,” this month’s self-motivating mantra for the duration of the 31 day challenge.

Doing studies, nothing serious, seems to be an easy generalized direction to start off with, and it is fun to see things evolve, to experiment and sometimes just goof off.  Day #2 is a classic example of a painting going sideways very quickly, but it became a good opportunity to doodle and play with inks. So far so good, the first week of the World Watercolor Month has been relaxing and educational.

The days tumble one into the other, a few moments here and there, a swish of the brush, and water carries dreams of colors across doorways made of paper for a month long journey of fun and exploration.

The journey so far:

 

Nymphaea

There is something in the air, a time of change. Our rather thin rainy season is trading places with our dry season and summer has stepped in close enough to spread warmer temperatures and bright sunshine over the islands. By now most of the Kolea, have left for their cooler northern breeding grounds, and local birds are rushing to build nests, raise their young, and in a matter of weeks, take off to enjoy the world under bright blue skies.

The birds are not the only ones feeling the energy in the air, the sense that a season’s wheel is turning even here in the tropics, the garden seems to be feeling it too.

Nympaea Colorado

Nymphaea Colorado

Passing by a group of water tubs that had laid green and dormant over the rainy season, there was a nymph waving at me, well, a Nymphaea or water lily that is, with a peach colored glow.

There is something in the air, and seeing the unexpected pop of color appear seemingly out of nowhere inspires me to get back to playing in water as well.

With an idea already in mind I start by pulling out three previously collaged watercolor papers, part of a group I did last summer to have on hand for something just like this.  Sometimes when an idea pops in for a visit I want to get to painting as quickly as possible before they leave again so it helps to have a little stock pile of prepared papers on hand.

Trio of collaged watercolor papers

Trio of collaged watercolor papers (11″x15″)

A glass of iced tea close by, reference photos at the ready, and I am off.  Starting with a sketch of the flowers using a water soluble graphite pencil, I want to take advantage of the abstract collage and draw over and under some of the papers.

001

Beginning Sketch

 

The next step is adding the watercolors and in the process lifting and blending some of the graphite lines with the paint.  The watercolors are nice enough, but wanting something a bit more opaque and with texture I reach for water soluble crayons to deepen the color and highlight the bumpy terrain of the collaged papers.

Watercolor and crayon

Watercolor and crayon

Once I have finished the flowers, my attention turns to the top border area.  Wanting to keep the water garden theme I draw out lotus leaves with a watercolor pencil. Liking the idea of a division between night and day, out comes the Moon in a cool darkened sky.

Adding the top

Adding the top border

Finally, to balance things out and bring the focus back to the bottom portion where the water lilies are blooming, I go in to the background with more watercolor, lightly adding clear water to allow for more movement and letting the color find its way over the ridges of the collaged paper beneath, pooling in the valleys and sliding over the smoother areas.

Now it is time to set this aside for a bit.  I still have two more prepared papers from this trio to play with, I like working in threes, and will continue on this path for the both of them though painting different types of water lilies for each.  When they are done I will collect all three and view them together and see if anything else will be added before moving on in my journey.  There is something in the air, the seasons have changed, and more creative paths are waiting to be explored.

Nymphaea Colorado

Nymphaea Colorado

National Peace Rose Day

Peace Rose

Peace Rose

Continuing with Charlie’s invitation to find a day to doodle from National Calendar Days, today, (April 29th), is National Peace Rose Day.

War was on the horizon when French horticulturist Frances Meilland developed a hybrid tea rose with petals light yellow to cream-colored and edged with crimson pink.

Wanting to protect the new rose, cuttings were sent away to friends in Italy, Turkey, Germany and the United States.  One story has it that the cuttings sent to the United States made it out on the last flight just ahead of the German invasion of France.

The rose cuttings thrived, and because the war prevented communications between the growers, different names were given to the new rose. In Italy, it was called Gioia, meaning Joy, while Germany named the rose Gloria Dei, for glory to God.  In France, it was called “Madame A. Meilland” in honor of the breeder’s mother, and is the official cultivar name for the rose.

As the Second World War finally came to a close in Europe, the trade name “Peace” was publicly announced on April 29, 1945, the name it was given in the United States, Sweden and Norway.  Later that year delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations were each given a Peace rose with note that read:

“We hope the Peace rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

Wishing for more trees (today, the last Friday in April, is also National Arbor Day), more roses, and of course more peace.

Ahead of the storm

Hope blossomed in foreign lands

Roses sweet as peace

 

Leading Lost Hearts Home

Shisa Companions

Shisa Companions

Started in 2014 and observed every April 23rd, today is National Lost Dog Awareness.

As described at National Calendar Days (continuing with Charlie’s invitation):

“This day was created not only to bring awareness to the dogs that go missing but to also celebrate the reunions.  Through networks of shelters, veterinaries, social media and other media sources, many lost canines are reunited with their loved ones. National Lost Dog Awareness Day is an opportunity to learn more about prevention and networking.”

Positive thoughts and prayers for the lost that they find their way home, for the searching that they find their friends, and for the many in between who help reconnect hearts.

If prayers were bells

All the world would hear ringing

Leading lost hearts home

 

National Pet Day

National Pet Day

National Pet Day

Joining Charlie’s invitation to celebrate a National or International Day with a doodlewash and because it is hard to resist the idea of celebrating National Pet Day, (April 11th), here is a morning doodle. Peace and happiness to all companions great and small and the people who love and care for them.

Friends through the seasons

Faithful in good times and bad

Sharing lives and hearts

Draw a bird day: Kōlea

Kolea

Kōlea

Navigators fly

Return to cold distant shores

Voices on the wind

Last night I heard the passing warble of a Pacific Golden Plover, (Pluvialis fulva), or, as we call them, Kōlea.  The name is an onomatopoeia that copies the plover’s flight call.

A timely reminder that April 8th is Draw a Bird Day, a monthly event in our blogging community formerly hosted by Laura at Create Art Everyday, and now cared for by Nina and Kerfe at Method Two Madness.

The Kōlea, navigator, messenger from the gods, guardian spirit, a god incarnate, and a familiar island guest, have wintered here long before man stepped foot on these sandy shores. Many believe the birds helped to guide early Polynesian explorers here and elsewhere in the pacific so it is not surprising they are part of our earliest oral history and even down to today they remain part of our belief system.

These amazing and mighty long-distance flyers, not only find their way back to tiny little specks of lava rock in the middle of the ocean, but they also find the same specific wintering grounds in the islands each year, … such as someone’s backyard.  There is a record of a banded Kōlea returning to the same site for over 20 years. No wonder many island residents become attached to seeing their guests arrive year after year.

Most Kōlea have fattened up and their plumage has changed from the golden sandy colors they arrived with in the fall, to more striking breeding plumage complete with a white racer stripe.  By next week a few will start to leave, and near the end of the month, large groups will depart on their arduous non-stop journey to as far north as the Arctic tundra.

Though a very few will remain over the summer, by the end of April the absence of Kōlea will be noticeable and people will start marking calendars waiting for their return in the fall.  There is still so much to learn from these travelers, they are a link not only to past traditions, but possibly our future as environmental conditions change.  As we say in the islands, Aloha a hui hou! (Farewell until we meet again)

 

(Sketch in Stillman & Birn Zeta series using Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Brown Oxide (Daniel Smith) and Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham) watercolor.)

Memory Keepers

Tonight in Hilo, Hawaii, the music of hula can be heard.  Carried on the evening breeze, melodic voices raised in chant and song, the percussive rhythms of shark skinned drums and hollowed out gourds, the vibrating strings of ukulele and guitars. This week marks the 53rd Annual Merrie Monarch Festival with a week-long celebration that includes parades, arts and crafts, exhibits and fairs, and of course hula, performed in traditional and modern styles.

While every day unfolds pathways for creative journeys, events like this can offer inspiration at every turn and from so many different sources such as the melody of a song, the words of a chant, the strong and graceful movements of a dancer, or the sweet fragrance of blossoms and ferns woven into a lei.

Honoring our ancestors and our elders, being thankful for the traditions handed down while being firmly in the present and looking forward to the future, this is definitely a time for celebration and inspiration.

 

The Memory Keeper

The Memory Keeper

Stories old and new

Keepers of memory dance

Weaving lei with song

 

(Painting is watercolor and acrylic on Arches #140 cold pressed)