February 20, 2021

Contour drawing (two continuous lines, plus individual birds) of arbor with climbing rose, not in bloom, with lamp post and aeonium succulent, Descanso Gardens, 1/5/2021 (non soluble black ink with Inktense pencils on Canson Mix Media paper)

Lately, as I have been sketching at an appropriate social distance from my fellow garden goers at the Descanso, I have been obsessed with capturing garden images using one or two long continuous line (s). Such a line can also be referred to as a contour line. When wandering around the Descanso Gardens I generally carry several different kinds of ink pens that can accommodate such contours. Those pens include a couple Fude nib pens with water-soluble ink in oxblood, majestic purple and black. I also have a number of black Pigma micron and Faber Castell Pitt pens with tips that range from brush tips to fine 05. I also carry with me some graphite pencils, a tin of 12 Inktense pencils, a 7 by 10 inch pad of Canson Mix Media paper and of course my sheet of bubble wrap. (As I have shared in previous posts, I always have a sheet of bubble wrap with me when I go sketching. That’s so I save something I can roll out and sit on when I sketch. I recently replaced my old sheet of bubble wrap. The new sheet is actually pretty clean and it’s very soft. I think that because most of the bubbles are still full of air and intact. It’s almost like I’m sitting on a cloud instead of a large boulder or a damp park bench.) But that’s all I carry! I don’t carry any water or brushes because water weighs me down. I add the water when I get home. For the art I am sharing here today I used a fine point pen (probably a 1) with non water-soluble black ink pen. When I sketch with the colored water-soluble ink I have a different process I go through (see last week’s cherry blossoms on 2/13/21 and 1/30/21). For these lovely colored inks, plus special pencils, I am hyper aware of my plan to make the long contour lines bleed and intermingle with the other water-soluble colors on the paper when water is added later. But whatever pen I am using I am usually in a hurry to do such sketches and tend to finish everything, minus the blending, in 20 minutes or so. Then I pack my few art items (rolling the now damp bubble wrap with the wet side folded together) into my backpack, take a walk around the garden and head home. When I get home, and I’m not worrying about social distancing from my fellow garden goers, I brush water on the spots I imagined while sitting on my bench. 

I really enjoyed sitting on a bench in the sun that day to do this sketch. And I came prepared with all my usual materials. But what I was not prepared for was my stopping in that particular spot to capture this particular view. Why is that, you say? Well, I have walked under that “Monet’s Giverny inspired” arbor with climbing roses countless times, but have never really stopped to look at it. The only reason I stopped on the 5th was because it was a cold morning and I was looking for a bench in the sun. It appeared as if by sunlit magic, just at the opening of this quite magnificent arbor. Looking down and through the many metal hoops I was astonished by the cool perspective and happy to sketch something so interesting while sitting on my new bubble wrap on a wet bench in the sun. It was perfect.

Contour drawing (single continuous line) of cherry blossom tree in bloom, Descanso Gardens, 2/13/2021 (non soluble black ink with Inktense pencils on Canson Mix Media paper)

Strangely enough I found myself on the other side of the exact same arbor a little more than a month later. I wasn’t looking for an another opportunity to capture this amazing structure, but rather I was again looking for a bench in the sun. When I sat on my rolled out bubble wrap on a damp bench in that sunlit corner of the rose garden I was drawn to the shocking pink color of the flowering cherry tree blossoms and the deep rose red of the asters at the base of the tree. It was only after I wrapped up the continuous contour line with the added Inktense color of the flora that I noticed the arbor in the background. What was I thinking? How did I miss seeing it? I guess I am thankful I eventually noticed it was there because I think it adds a nice bit of blue background pattern to that pink tree plopped center stage. Once I finally figured out what I was looking at I also noticed the exact same lamp post that was in the previous sketch. I looked at the pair of sketches side by side when I got home and noticed that I hadn’t captured the aeonium succulent for this one. Not sure how I missed it. Like for the first sketch, there were a number of birds here as well, but they were happily hopping around under my damp bench. That was really a treat. I think I was so still while I sat there, sketching away, that the birds didn’t notice that a human sitting on a sheet of bubble wrap was perched just above them. It was perfect, again.

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