On my drawing table: A small still life

Watercolor and colored pencil sketch of a New Mexico aspen leaf and some apple blossoms

A tiny spring leaf from an aspen in my yard and a sprig of apple blossoms in an espresso cup were my sketchbook inspiration.

Tuesday I plucked a brand new leaf from an aspen tree in my yard and a twig from an apple tree (I think! It didn’t bloom or fruit last year, so I don’t know for sure) and took them to my studio for some sketch time.

It was difficult to get into the focus and concentration mode that day. All the normal little distractions plus the inner disturbances–”I’m chilly. How about some tea?” “Time for a bathroom break, don’t you think?” “Perhaps a dried apricot or two?” “The dryer just went ping.”

Like an apprentice Zen monk, the artist has to keep re-directing the wandering attention to the meditation at hand.

It gets better with practice. Or so I’m told.

Some days are easier than others.

Wildflower Wednesday: I got my eye on you

A 2-inch tall cactus growing by the side of a heavily used trail sprouts flower buds.

I spy with my little eye: This tiny cactus has 5 minute flower buds forming.

Two weeks ago, the Wrenaissance Man spotted this 2-inch tall cactus on the side of a neighborhood trail. Last Friday, we returned to check out its status. Thanks to recent snow and rain showers, there are now 5 itty-bitty flower buds waiting to bloom!

The great thing about walking with the Scottish terrorists every day is that I can scout out likely plants to paint, then return to photograph and/or sketch when the time is right. It helps to have the Wrenaissance Man’s sharper eyesight along for the scouting expedition!

Spring in New Mexico is a hidden season. With the exception of the spectacular white and pink blooms of the fruit trees planted by the early Spanish and Anglo pioneers, the landscape appears barren, wearing the same gray and brown as it did all winter. To discover spring, you must look closely at the ground around your feet. The early-flowering plants grow in tiny rosettes and clumps, huddled against the ground in tiny south-facing hollows for protection from the wind and increased moisture and solar warmth.


Welcome to visitors from Gail Eichelberger’s Wildflower Wednesday link party! Be sure to check out the Clay and Limestone trio of pink phlox, cadmium yellow ragwort, and scarlet-yellow bi-colored columbine. That’s a bold palette!

BTW, Blogspot garden bloggers–I’d love to leave a comment after I visit you, but it may not be possible. As a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, I have no OpenID, and the Name/URL option doesn’t always work for me (still haven’t figured why, maybe Safari vs. Google?). Certainly understand your need to have a defense against spam, though.

Sketchbook page: Watercolor artichoke

A watercolor sketch of an artichoke, painted in shades of green and purple, by Wren M. Allen

Working from life every Friday has been good practice, even if I haven’t “finished” any paintings so far!

In the most recent session of Lisa Coddington’s class, I sketched a rough outline of an artichoke, then painted it. I had originally planned to do a “proper” pencil value drawing, then add finishing washes, but as usual, could not resist just jumping right in with the color! lol

Lisa made the suggestion that I should try using a monotone wash to practice working only with values. A great idea if you’re like me and have a painterly approach.

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