Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet Summer Cherries

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”   
—Henry James  

It's cherry season in the Bay Area, and there's a stand in my neighborhood that sells some real beauties. On Wednesday afternoon, I bought a pound each of the dark red ones—I think they're Bing, but I'm not positive—and the Rainier cherries, and they're so sweet!! (It was a happy coincidence that Illustration Friday posted this week's topic of "sweet" just as I was putting the final touches on this drawing.)

I decided to draw the Rainiers, as a companion piece to a drawing of the red ones that I did last year at this time. When you see these in the market, they're often a bit bruised and discolored—their light-colored skins make them appear more fragile. I think they have a more delicate taste, too.

It's supposed to be warm and sunny here for the next week or so, and cherries are the perfect warm weather snack—it's a wonder that I got through this drawing without getting cherry juice all over it.

Here are some set-up and work-in-progress pics.  Please forgive the bad lighting and inaccurate color; I shot these at my desk with my iPhone camera since I just didn't want to get up and do the whole scanning thing. I was going to write a bit more about my process, but oddly enough, when I went back to last year's cherry drawing, I'd gone through it all in that post! Strange...

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

My favorite liquid

A quickie sketch for Illustration Friday's topic, "liquid".  

I love coffee, as I've mentioned before. (Ironically, caffeine is supposed to have some protective effect against Parkinson's disease; I guess I missed the boat on that one. If you're interested, my fellow blogger, fellow "Parkie", and and wonderful painter, Amanda Bates, wrote a comprehensive post about it here a while back.) Anyway, I rounded up some coffee-related things from my kitchen, and decided to do a page in my new favorite sketch book—I just love this Strathmore "Toned Tan" paper! (I like the result, except for the fact that the French press is a touch overwrought and looks a bit like a penguin...)

I set my Prismacolors aside and used Derwent drawing pencils for this one. (3B Graphic, plus "Chinese White" and "Chocolate" Drawing pencils)  Derwent products are wonderful, and I've recently learned that they were the one of the earliest pencil companies. Their factory is still located in the Cumbria region of England, in the beautiful Lake District. My husband and I are visiting that area for a couple of days this summer when we vacation in England.  (Today's our 35th wedding anniversary, and the trip is our present to ourselves!) I don't know if we'll have time, but I'd love to fit in a trip to the Pencil Museum in that area—it certainly sounds like my idea of a great museum. The main reason that I wanted to add the Lake District to our itinerary (besides the fact that it's gorgeous country) is to see Beatrix Potter's home and gallery. I know that's a totally tourist-y thing to do, but I just have to see it. And, to be able to see some of her artwork first-hand is going to be such a treat—even better than a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A flower for Penelope

Prismacolor colored pencil and graphite on Strathmore Toned Tan sketch paper
(click to enlarge)

This week's topic on Illustration Friday is "Tribute", in honor of its founder, Penelope Dullaghan, who has recently moved on to pursue other projects. Before I launch into my own tribute to Penelope and IF, I'll explain my little sketch:

When my husband and I moved to California many years ago, we were invited to dinner at the home of a family friend. Along one side of their house, they had a profusion of different varieties of fuchsia on display, and I fell in love. I haven't had any in my own garden for years, so when we recently replanted a flower bed, we decided to add some fuchsias. At the nursery, I was instantly drawn in by their names. I love it when plants are named as a tribute to a famous person. I chose two, almost as much for their names as for their beauty. One is Fuchsia "Winston Churchill" (which I love because I'm an admitted Anglophile) and the other is the one I've sketched here. With its red "hat" and white "beard", how could I resist Fuchsia "Santa Claus"?! Such a lively little blossom; the whole time I was sketching it, I kept thinking of the Flower Fairy illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker. You can see her charming Fuchsia fairy here.

Now for my tribute to Penelope Dullaghan:

One of the reasons that I started blogging a few years ago was so that I could participate in Illustration Friday. For a long time, I was a very consistent contributor—I rarely missed a week! Early on, one of my drawings was even selected to be IF's "Pick of the Week" which gave me lots of exposure and encouragement. But most importantly, I got to know many fellow artists that also participated  in IF regularly. (Once I realized that if I commented on a drawing, that person often commented back, the communication floodgates were opened!) I consider a number of these people to be friends: I still visit their blogs regularly, chat with some on Facebook, and a few of us even check up on one another when we haven't posted in a while. For these reasons, I send my heartfelt thanks to Penelope for her devotion to this website that gave rise to such a wonderful supportive community.

Having said that, my recent IF entries have been few and far between. I've had a busy spring and wasn't at my drawing board as much as I'd have liked, but things are a bit quieter now, and I'm hoping to spend more time doing these quicker sketches when I'm not working on a more detailed piece. I will also be visiting blogs, making some new friends, and checking up on the old ones! So, in the spirit of the IF community that Penelope nurtured, feel free to leave a comment and say hello!