"Primrose Sketch", 5"x8", Watercolor on Moleskin Watercolor Sketchbook
I did these little sketches outdoors in the Lithy Botanical Garden in Peoria, Illinois. The flowers there were really lovely! But unfortunately, there is no shade around these beautiful little primroses... I really fell in love with the pink-violet color and the cup-shape formed by their delicate little pedals, and decided I had to sketch them despite the blinding sunlight reflected off the white paper. They sun also dried the washes much faster than usual and I just frantically kept on painting back into the half-dried washes -- surprisingly, the results did not turn out to be too bad and the puddles of paints formed lovely textures describing the subtle shades of pedals. They are not botanically accurate descriptions of the flowers, but I kind of liked how the paint and paper interacted with each other on the moleskin paper, and decided to try more of this way of working in the future.
I also tested a new box of Creatacolor Aqua Monolith watercolor pencils I just got from eBay, and was quite happy with the results. On moleskin paper, watercolor pencils can capture a certain degree of detail but still not as much as on bristol board or hot-pressed watercolor paper, due to the slight tooth of the moleskin book. But when I wet the drawings with a brush, the color also did not lift as much as on smoother paper, and redistributes more controllably with each brush-stroke. After it's dried, I decided that the colors were not as saturated as I'd like, so I painted back into the pedals with some more watercolor. Can you guess which two flowers are painted this way, and which two are entirely painted with watercolor? ^__^
After finished with the little primrose sketch, I tried to tackle this really gorgeous lily -- its inner pedals have really beautiful transition from the golden-yellow in the center to the deep purple-bronze color in the periphery. I found it a bit hard to control edge quality on the moleskin paper when trying to paint this lily the more traditional way (layering, wet into wet, blending, etc.). In the end I started to get a hang of how to do more controlled wet-in-wet strokes on this paper, but still feel it is not the best surface to paint this way. For more loose, sketchy effect, this is a good surface, but not if you want total control over it -- I still like it for what it is though. The colors got a little muddy on this lily sketch due to repeated rewetting, but I cherished the drawing -- I chose a really hard angle to draw it and felt really happy to be able to capture the wield curve of the pedals viewed from that angle -- and decided to post it anyway.
These are my first efforts to draw and paint flowers "en plein air" and I did learn a great deal from the efforts, as well as had loads of fun. Definitely should do it more often...
"Lily Sketch", 5"x8" (Page Size), Watercolor & Watercolor Pencils on Moleskin Watercolor Sketchbook