urban sketching, Watercolor Painting

Pumpkin Patch Plein Air

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Illustration: “Pumpkin Patch,” watercolor and ink on Arches cold press paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

Under a wonderful fall sun accompanied with nice fall breezes, a bunch of us met at an apple and pumpkin-picking farm this weekend for a bit of painting.  Hundreds of people beat us to the place on this beautiful fall Sunday, with scores of children ready to look at the pigs, goats, alpaca, chickens and other animals on the grounds.  It was the quintessential fall scene and a great vibe as everyone dragged their wheelbarrows around to gather up apples or pumpkins.  Many of the people enjoying this annual tradition spoke languages other than English, including German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.  Such a beautiful setting makes you want to come back!

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Summer Lingers On, Happily

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Illustration: “Indian Summer on the Potomac River”, Watercolor and pen-and-ink on a quarter sheet of Arches rough watercolor paper (2017)

It’s becoming more important than ever these days to take breaks from your computer screen, from the daily jarring news… lest all the traumatic news somehow dangerously deplete you.  Fortunately around here, the glorious weather continues without the humidity of summer, making every day the perfect day to be outdoors.  The leaves are still mostly green and lit up like jewels with the sun’s light behind them.  On a day in the middle of the work week, a few kayakers moved silently on the glass-like surface of the Potomac River in downtown D.C.  (The watercolor above was done initially as a pen sketch on watercolor paper, as this watercolorist discovered too late while out walking that she had no water with her to use with paint.  It was finished up later.)

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Photo of quote carved in stone at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C.

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Photo of quote carved in stone at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C.

Nearby, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial adjacent to the glorious Tidal Basin, many quotes from the former president are carved in stone and most of them seem timely today.  How wonderful that they are here to remind the many visitors from across the country and around the world what our country stands for.

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Photo: Photo of quote at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C. 2017

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Bartholdi Park In DC

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Illustration: Watercolor and pen-and-ink, “Bartholdi Park,”  in Canson Montval 5.5 in by 8.5in 140 lb cold press paper sketchbook by Black Elephant Blog author

Weekends are great time for meeting up with other people of all ages and backgrounds who like to sketch, draw and paint–and so that’s what a bunch of us did on a recent beautiful and warm Sunday in Washington, D.C.  Through this artistic connection, I learned of a park I’d never noticed.

It’s called Bartholdi Park, after the sculptor who designed the beautiful fountain the middle of the park.  Bartholdi later went on to design and produce the Statue of Liberty.(A previous blog post on Bartholdi’s home in Colmar, France is here on this blog.)  This park is an oasis of calm in the middle of Washington, D.C.–on Capitol Hill, no less.  The two-acre park is actually part of the National Botanical Garden across the street, but it’s a place where you can sit under any number of shade umbrellas at tables with chairs and enjoy the sound of the fountain and admire the bright flowers and greenery all around!

The Bartholdi Fountain is known as the “Fountain of Light and Water” and was designed  for the 1876 Philadelphia exposition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the United States (see Wikipedia for more info).  Thus its presence in D.C. seems appropriate.  Certainly, its beauty is something amazing to behold.  It’s an ornate fountain that is very hard to capture in a sketch but intriguing enough to make you want to return and try again.

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Lakeside reflections #3

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Ilustration: “Twilight on the Water,” Watercolor and pen-and-ink on Arches rough paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

Yesterday evening I returned to sitting on a bank of a nearby lake on the day we all got the horrific news of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history which had occurred overnight in Las Vegas.  And the view in front of me did not disappoint; perfect for a respite from the social media space of constant updates on the tragedy, I faced a tranquil scene as the sun slid ever more behind the trees at the far end of the lake.  The lake surface reflected the bright yellow of the leaves in the evening sun, making a sharp contrast with the dark shadows of the trees.  A very confident kayaker dressed in a flowing white shirt seemingly more suitable for dining al fresco on the Piazza Navona stroked briskly by right in front of me, with the brilliant red of his kayak dominating the scene.  Before too long, he was out of sight, and it was all I could do to try to recreate the impression he left.  After about an hour, it was time to go; the light was fading, some bugs were biting in the tall grasses, but the effort was well worth the time spent.

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Harbor of Konstanz

Continuing with watercolors from recent travels, I will post one of the harbor area near the Hauptbahnhof, or Central Train Station, in Konstanz (Constance), Germany.  At this spot,with your back to the waterfront of the Bodensee, or Lake Constance, the view of the cityscape is quite beautiful as the evening sun glances across the rooftops. People walk through the pedestrian underpass beneath the railroad tracks to get to the AltStadt (or Old City).

 

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Illustration: “Harbor in Constance”, 9″x 12″ watercolor and pen-and-ink on Arches rough paper by Back Elephant Blog author

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Bodensee painting on wood panel

From the hilltop on the Island of Mainau in Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, you can see sailboats gliding past, far below and across the lake.  Paths crisscross the ornate botanical gardens that drape the hill.  A nice breeze makes a walk uphill and then down again to the ferryboat piers quite pleasant.  I had tried my hand at some watercolors of this scene, and lately–with news of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, cyber-hacks and data breaches, and more surrounding us in current events–moved back to trying out some oil paints.  It’s a very different process from watercolor but keeps one’s mind on colors for the moment.  Also the palette knife, which the watercolorist mainly uses to gently peel a slice of watercolor paper out of a watercolor block, finally comes directly in contact with paint, when oil painting.  Lots to continue trying out…

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Illustration: “Bodensee”, Oil on wood panel (10″ x 8″ approx) by Black Elephant Blog author

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Konstanz waterfront on the Bodensee

Now that summer is coming to an end, it’s time to complete a series I’d started some time ago of watercolors of Lake Constance (or “Bodensee”) surrounded by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Standing near the harbor of Lake Constance as the evening sun sank lower in the sky was like being in a watercolor, and I vowed to try to capture the magical lights and colors.  This was water in many colors, framed in the background by mountains on the far end of the lake.  Ferries depart from the pier and paddleboats are lined up in the water near the Stadtgarten.

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“Harbor Twilight at Lake Constance”, Watercolor and gouache on 9″ x 12″ Arches rough watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

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