Asparagus fern hanging in a ficus tree, November 2020 (POSCA pens on Strathmore Toned Gray sketch paper–medium surface)
Lamp at night, November 2020 (POSCA markers on Strathmore Toned Gray sketch paper–medium surface)
Time for fun art!
For this week’s post I decided to share the fruits of my exploration of a new material and technique. This may not be your idea of fun, but when I saw an artist from one of my sketching groups demonstrate how to use the PASCO pens on black paper I was all in with these unapologetically bright colors and possible artistic effects. She showed us how she typically uses them, drawing a delicate teacup and saucer covered with an old-fashioned floral design that was as thin as the strands of a spider’s web. And she did so with one continuous line that even revealed the black tea in the cup when she was finished. I think I ordered a set of pens the next day and couldn’t wait for them to arrive to try them out. But I didn’t have any black paper and have to admit I am a little intimidated to draw on black. I always worry it will look like paintings I have seen done on black velvet and I’ve yet to warm up to that style. I was actually happy I had some grey toned paper on hand and like how these two came out.
Monarch chrysalis on sage, November 2020 (POSCA pens on Strathmore black mixed media paper paper–vellum surface)
However, I was determined to have fun exploring a material I am not particularly comfortable using. I’m not sure doing something out of my comfort zone actually fits into anyone’s “fun” category. As you can see, I did order some black paper. And I found this monarch chrysalis on a sage stem in my front yard and thought it would be fun to render the colorful plant and chrysalis on a black background. I’m still not sure I like it as well as the grey. A friend of mine, who I think was trying to be kind, said it looked like I was painting with neon. Looking again at this rendering I am actually reminded of what was fun about creating the art you see here. It all stems from me finding this little green jewel firmly attached to a sage stem while blowing in the wind. I had actually seen the caterpillar hang itself upside down and miraculously change. That discovery and moment was absolute joy for me and I wanted to capture that on paper. But then I began to worry my little friend would not survive to become an adult butterfly as the night temperatures have been dropping and we were expecting rain. In fact my garden center had recommended cutting the milkweed back to encourage the butterflies not to hang around and migrate. It’s getting kind of late in the season for a new butterfly to emerge into the world and fly off. As this little guy was no longer in need of leaves to munch I was set to cut back the plant. But I didn’t because I thought the little flower buds that were coming on might be good for a new butterfly. OK, I’m having fun! How about you? Because, I am not done with this new obsession and the story goes on. I was so worried about the rain that I actually thought of putting up an umbrella to protect my unborn friend. Instead, I snipped off the branch and it is now sits in a terrarium on my kitchen counter. But the fun isn’t done. I decided the tiny flower buds I still have on the milkweed might not be enough and found a couple more plants with flowers at a nearby nursery and stuck them in the ground. Now, the stage is set for any monarch butterfly eventuality. And I am smiling!!
Time for a funny book!
I have a library card that I use regularly to go to the library to check out books—even in this time of COVID. Actually, I don’t go to the library to browse for something to read right now. I go to the library’s website and browse there. I put the books I want on hold and my local library sends me an email when they are ready for pick up. This works out pretty well, but I do miss actually going in, looking for a new author or books series to obsess over. But I have found an author that’s new to me that I am currently obsessed with and can heartily recommend. Her name is Sloane Crosley and she has written a collection of essays called, “I was told there’d be cake.” I am not normally in the habit of reading essays, but I am certainly glad I didn’t let that stop me. Her writing is so clever, insightful, wonderful and of course funny with regards to every topic she decides to look at and share. In this particular collection she has one essay called Sign Language for Infidels that is particularly appropriate for this week’s post as it is all about her desire to volunteer. She winds up working in the butterfly exhibit in the Museum of Natural History. It’s just one of the many stories she tells that are pretty funny and make you want more. Now I am a total fan and advise you to become one as well.
Photo of monarch found in my backyard, Sunday, 11/15/2020
Final word of fun
Look what I found struggling in the grass in my backyard this morning? Yes, another butterfly. It must have hatched this morning (11/15/2020) somewhere back there. I guess the rain didn’t hurt this one. Hmm… Maybe I over reacted with the chrysalis sitting on my kitchen counter? But, now I look forward to the fun of rendering this little flapping friend with the PASCO markers on black paper. Yes!! Stay tuned…