Daily Life Drawings


In the early 70’s I rented an apartment near Cleveland Circle in Boston.

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The kitchen was narrow with high ceilings. A large window allowed the morning sunlight to pour past the potted herbs onto the glass doors of the cupboards, the counters and the floor.  The night I painted the walls bright orange and the cupboards fire engine red, I dropped into bed with a migraine.  I thought it was from the colors I’d chosen in too small a room.  Most likely, it was from the fumes.

Next morning, I awoke to the most cheerful kitchen I’d ever experienced.  The following year, I moved to a studio/loft space where I repeated the red and orange interior decor wherever possible … the bathroom I constructed and the one wall that wasn’t brick.  The memories of those days flooded back to me while painting this morning’s drawing, a sketch of Mike’s kitchen in Mountain View last month.  I threw the die and came up with the color scheme Analogous with One Complement.  The dominant color was to be orange/yellow.  As I remembered the effect of the fire engine red paint, my orange/yellow counter top became more of a red/orange.

Artist Trading Card – Morning Sketch: Sliced Apple, drawn in ink with fountain pen, followed (weeks later) with watercolor.

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Blue sky lay hidden behind the cover of clouds as we headed to Pacifica.

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Pacifica, California, en plein air

The sun made bold attempts to break through the clouds, the neutralized colors enhanced by the silver light.

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Finally ….. the landscape transformed as the cloud cover cleared and the water reflected the blue of the sky.

Sun Dancing on the Sea

Sun Dancing on the Sea

Sketchbook Paintings: Artist Trading Cards (2.5″ x 3.5″) en plein air, Pacifica, California

Top – Ink and watercolor

Middle and Bottom – watercolor

As much as I don’t like green and red together, I think green and rose is beautiful.

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Scented Rose Geranium

This is the second little Artist Trading Card I have painted inspired by my Scented Rose Geranium.  Both  days I threw the die and got a Complementary Color Scheme.  Link to previous painting post.

The colors work better because the red leans toward violet and the greens lean toward yellow.  Rather than being the same value, as red and green are, pink and green offers more of a value range allowing the shapes to play more dynamically with one another.  The value difference is subtle yet effective.

I leave in the morning to teach color workshops at Village Art Supply in Santa Rosa, CA.  I hope to see some of you there!  I’m giving a free demo on Thursday evening.

Sketchbook Artist Trading Card: Scented Rose Geranium No. 2 – drawn first in ink with fountain pen, followed by watercolor

Color Scheme:  Complementary Color Scheme

Two beautiful, red, anjou pears jumped into my shopping cart and the grocery store.

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Two Anjou Pears

I played only the first part of The Color Scheme Game. I wanted the Red-Violet of the pears to be one of my colors in my color scheme.  I threw the die and ended up with a color scheme of Analogous with One Complement.  I chose red/Violet, Violet, Blue/Violet and Yellow/Green.

Sketchbook Drawing – Artist Trading Card: Drawn first in ink with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

Limited Palette  – Cadmium Lemon, French Ultramarine Blue and Crimson

While sipping my morning cup of coffee there is always time to do a quick color study of something simple.

Cotton Swabs

Cotton Swabs – Artist Trading Card

My bathroom provides a multitude of objects to use as shapes for an abstract design with which to play with color.  Cotton Swabs is a study in complementary colors,  a limited palette of Yellow and Violet.  The cotton swabs are the supporting actors in the design performance.  The shapes of the background and shadows are the lead actors.

Morning Sketch playing the Color Scheme Game:  Cotton Swabs – Ink and Watercolor – ACEO – Artist Trading Card

Color Scheme: Complementary

Dominant Color:  Yellow

Bring The Color Scheme Game outdoors, even in the winter.

Fire Hydrant on Haywood Road, Asheville, NC

Fire Hydrant, Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC

When filming one of the videos, Twenty Steps to Better Drawing, for the upcoming series of online painting demos, I found myself beside this fire hydrant after my third round of twenty steps.  The fire hydrant wasn’t yellow.  It was a fabulous combination of bright blue, red and green.  For a quick application of color, I opted to use a limited palette with a basic color scheme of Near Complements, Yellow and Red/Violet. I wanted to make a strong statement using the extremes of color value. Reality doesn’t matter to me.

Sketchbook, en plein air sketch: Fire Hydrant on Haywood Road, Asheville, NC – drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by washes of watercolor.  The sketchbook is a moleskin sketchbook with slippery paper surface.

By altering the green with each dip of the brush an illusion of space is created around each fragrant leaf of the French Tarragon.

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French Tarragon – Artist Trading Card

The color palette is cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow, cerulean blue and a touch of french ultramarine blue.  Some of the leaves are painted with one stroke of the brush, others are painted wet in wet, adding variations of green within a single leaf.

Sketchbook drawing: French Tarragon – illustration drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by watercolor

Color Scheme: Analogous – Blue/Green, Green and Yellow/Green.  Dominant Color: Green

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