14 October 2017

Fall signs

Signs of Autumn for people in much of the country are cooler weather, rain, and turning leaves. For we who live in California, sometimes all three of those are missing, well into October, and sometimes the rain doesn't come until February. We have to look for other telltale signs that the season is changing. One is that the light is lower in the sky in the morning and late afternoon; another is that the fruits on offer at the farmers' market and the grocery store switch from summer stone fruits like peaches and apricots to the staples of fall and winter: apples and pears. And one for me in particular is the blooming of the asters.

I planted a one-gallon pot of asters, about 15 years ago, in the flower bed that makes a border between my garage and the sidewalk to my back yard. The asters were part of a lavender scheme that included verbena, mexican sage, and alyssum. Slowly but surely, however, the asters ran their insidious little rootlets everywhere and took over the whole bed, crowding the others right out. Now, every year I have a bed of green that gradually, from winter when I cut them down to their roots, grows from an inch high to four feet tall (they have to be staked), and every year in October, they burst into extravagant bloom, enticing every bee, butterfly, and hummingbird to make, well, a beeline to my yard.

I had a few things to do today, so I didn't have much time for drawing or painting; but I wanted to put together two of the elements that say "Fall" to me and do a quick sketch. Also, after I captured the pretty blush of this pear, I was dying to eat it! So here is my "signs of fall" sketch:

I actually painted this twice; the first one wasn't bad, but I tried to do something tricksy with the background framing and completely flubbed it, so I decided to start over. Serendipitously, the sun chose just that instant to cast a really nice shadow across my patio table, so I painted in the shadow first on this one, to capture it before it was gone. I'm happier with it, although I would like for someone to give me instruction in paint spatter. Some of the sketch artists I know manage to get a beautiful array of perfect dots in three colors scattered in assymetrical patterns across the page, while mine tend to look more like arterial spray. Someone tell me your secret!

This was done in Micron pen #5 and watercolor, in a new little sketchbook given to me for my birthday by Brenton, one of my library pages at work. I didn't think I would like it, because it's smaller than any I've ever had; but since it has a seam between pages instead of being spiral bound like my regular sketchbooks, I can, if i like, go across the seam and paint double-wide, so it's working out well. The paper is nice and is holding up pretty well to watercolor, which is always a plus, and it's small enough to go in my purse. Thanks, Brenton!

Oh, by the way...