For greater freedom and confidence with watercolor, I’ve been working on small studies using watercolor directly on the page, without any drawing in pencil or pen beforehand. This has been illuminating: while the spontaneity can of course lead to disasters, I am also often much happier with the way that I am able to capture light on form especially.
Here are some examples:
Last week, I completed a new monarch painting for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (for Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook in Black Lake Canyon Preserve). This time, the butterflies are overwintering on eucalyptus. The progress of the painting:
My interpretive sign has been placed at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. The sign is posted at a small creek overlook along the Homestead Trail.
I developed the sign to highlight how plants and animals make use of a seasonal stream in both wet and dry times of year. To illustrate the concept, I selected a set of organisms that represent a wide variety of strategies for coping with fluctuations in water availability in different seasons. Given a two-color design constraint, I used the colors to help emphasize the species and the changes in their environment.
Here is the sign alone:
And here are sketches that show my design process:
I finished the first of two paintings that will be used to make spring toys for a playground to be constructed by the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County at Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook in the Black Lake Canyon Preserve. This one is a California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and the second will be an Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna).
Here’s a trip backwards through four stages of the work in progress:
I have been catching up on adding color to the drawings I made at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve last fall and posting them on Wildfire to Wildflowers. Every six months I draw the view into the canyon from the old trailhead:
In September, I also focused on a blue oak that was blown down in high winds early in the month. The oak had survived the fire and had new leaves growing, but was weak enough that it was unable to withstand the wind.
I finished stitching together the four sections of the ecosystem panel for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County yesterday. It’s pretty exciting to see the whole image in one piece!
Now the artwork is off to LCSLO for text, labelling, and final design.
Here is the final section completed last week, the dunes:
The initial pencil sketch for the dunes:
I’m nearing completion of the ecosystem panel for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. Here is the draft of the riparian section of the panel:
And the pencil sketch to initially visualize the scene:
Each of the animals is overlayed from a separate painting, giving me the flexibility to move them around and otherwise adjust them in the final image. Here are the initial animal paintings:
I’ve finished the background paintings for the habitats interpretive panel for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to be placed in Black Lake Canyon Preserve and they’re off to be scanned. Here are some progress shots.
Transferring the sketches to watercolor paper and enlarging:
Just after applying the first background layer and removing the masking fluid:
Filling in details:
One more detail:
This week I finished a few more illustrations for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. First are monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and their host plant milkweed; in this case it is narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias fasciculatus).
The next is Nipomo lupine (Lupinus nipomensis), which is federally listed as endangered and is endemic to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. LCSLO has been working to save this lupine, monitoring extant populations and improving habitat so that they can thrive.
An important method of improving habitat for Nipomo lupine is by reducing competition from perennial veldtgrass (Erharta calycina), an introduced species:
The interpretive panel illustrations I am working on for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County include a long horizontal panel showing the four habitat types in Black Lake Canyon Preserve. I’ve completed the draft of the first habitat, Coast Live Oak Woodland. Here’s a preview of the woodland landscape and species, with just a little more cleanup and rearranging to do before the labels and interpretive text are added.
And here’s a little of the process; these are the two sketches I used to develop the scene.