World Watercolor Month: Week Two

It is Aloha Friday in the islands and the second week of the World Watercolor Month challenge seems to have rushed by like ocean trade winds sweeping along the shore line.

This week was full of experimenting, playing with colors, going in all sorts of directions, and asking myself “How much is too much and how little is too little?” It will be fun to look back at the end of the challenge and see what studies can be developed for larger paintings, and what sorts of ideas or patterns emerged.  But until then there is fun to be had while paint brushes dance along the water’s edge across paper shores.

Draw a Bird Day: African Silverbill…maybe

Outside the room where I usually paint, there is a boisterous Tithonia Diversifolia, sometimes called a tree marigold, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, or Nitobe chrysanthemum. Throughout the day the tall shaggy plant dances to passing breezes and seems to collect birds of all types.  Yesterday a small flock of petite sepia brown birds joined in the afternoon dance, hopping among the leaves and dried seedpods of the sunflower tree.  Yesterday, was also “Draw a Bird Day”, celebrated by our blogging community on the 8th of every month and currently being hosted by Laura at Create Art Every Day.  These little feathered visitors seemed to be volunteering as subject matter for a painting.

I am guessing, as they blended in so well with the dried leaves and managed to flit quickly from spot to stem, that they might be the African Silverbill, or Lonchura Cantans. Long known in the islands as the “Warbling Silverbill”, (which turns out to be a different species altogether and a whole different story), these tiny Silverbills are thought to have been released on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the mid 1960’s.  Since then they have managed to fly across island channels and established themselves throughout the island chain.   Considering they are roughly 3 inches in length, give or take, that they navigated over rough ocean waters just boggles my mind with admiration and amazement.

Always a welcome distraction to the day and a delight to watch, they often travel in little groups sitting on tall stalks of grass and plucking seeds or nesting material, or visiting the shaggy sunflower tree outside my window and making the most of what it has to offer.

A bit late in the posting, taking time from today’s painting to finish what was started yesterday. These small feathered charmers are a subject I would like to revisit again, maybe even figure out if they are Silverbills or some other bird like a Waxbill instead.  Any excuse for taking a time-out to sit and keep company with these tiny warbling little birds.

African Silverbills copy

African Silverbills…maybe?

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:

 

World Watercolor Month Begins

July has arrived and along with it the first annual World Watercolor Month celebration.  Charlie at Doodlewash, who initiated the World holiday, has proposed 31 days of painting with watercolors to celebrate, and along with artists from around the World, it seems like a fun thing to do.

It all begins with one step, or in this case…one painting. Happy World Watercolor Month!

Holding a white plumeria

July 01: Holding a white plumeria

White plumeria

Sweetens gentle ocean trades

Singing island songs

-hkmb

(With no theme for the month it is just play and have fun, make mistakes and splash around. Arches #140 CP; 11″x15″ using only a flat 1″ brush with transparent Daniel Smith and M. Graham watercolors…and plenty of coffee. lol.)

June Plumeria

It was the best intention, really, to take a few days, a few moments, to wander about the yard, painting and sketching, posting #NatureDoodlewash and joining in with Charlie, (from Doodlewash), and his fun plans for June. Then one thing led to another, a flower reminded me of a painting done last summer which included plumeria blossoms and mangos, it started me wondering if it might be fun to revisit the subject, which took me back inside to the easel, splashing in paint and water, visiting memories and shutting the door on my ‘hiking’ in the yard. Easily distracted it seems.

002 copy

A result of my distraction.

Now we are counting the days, minutes even, to July’s debut of National Watercolor Month. All one has to do is visit Facebook to get a sense of the excitement and energy that is building, on an international level, for the start of Charlie’s 31 day National Watercolor Month challenge and fundraising for the Zebra Foundation. To get a feel for it, visit here, watch the video, start getting your painting gear together and join the rest of us as we wait, excitedly and with eager anticipation for the start of July.

In the meantime, there is still June, where have all the days gone? So out the door I go, and with determination not to be distracted I am met again by white plumeria blossoms waving at me brightly under a summer sun. Feels like déjà vu.

003

Focus on the flowers…

The Singapore plumeria tree, our Grande Dame of the yard, despite the cat’s opinion, is wearing her summer frock of dark green glossy leaves.  A few months ago a single white flower bloomed on one of the lower branches and was promptly plucked by a howling northerly wind, our rainy season’s final stormy tantrum.

It seemed that the tree did not approve of losing the blossom so early, and as if overnight, with island magic, large bouquets of white plumeria began to flower all over the dark canopy.  The white flower petals easily reflecting the light of sun and moon had become a gleaming defiant crown of heavily scented blossoms for the tree.   Now as ocean trades slip by, the large clusters of flowers, nestled among the dark green leaves, nod and sway gracefully in the breezes, as if dancing to the song of summer.

Plumeria Sketching

Plumeria sketching

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