Monday, September 25, 2017

Watercolor class starting October 2!

My portable watercolor set-up.
Need a little post-Hurricane-Irma art therapy?  We are all recovering, cleaning, pruning, and hauling debris after Hurricane Irma passed over us some time ago.  Some of us more than others, but ALL of us have affected in some way.  Bear with us as we recover our Internet and phone services!  Hopefully, most of us have power and water now.
Join me for a seven-week series of classes starting Monday, October 2nd at the Naples Botanical Garden, for an introduction to the magical world of watercolor painting.  This class is perfect for the beginning painter or as a refresher or practice time for more experienced artists.  A list of suggested materials will be available for those who are new to this media, but feel free to bring your favorite supplies.  I will have materials available for our first class, so no worries if you have no supplies yet.

Each class features an introduction to basic techniques or concepts, then moves into play-time as we explore and practice what we’ve learned.  We’ll embrace the idea of process and experiential learning as we paint indoors from subjects at hand, with the possibility of painting outdoors at some point.  
Here is our class line-up for Mondays 9 am to 12 pm:
10-02-17:  Class 1:  Watercolor basics: materials, color charts, and local color

10-09-17:  Class 2:  Watercolor  building blocks: washes and mixes

10-16-17:  Class 3:   Watercolor control, local color practice, and edges

10-23-17:  Class 4:  Color wheels and a bit of color theory

10-30-17:  Class 5:  Glazing, negative painting, and dimension

11-06-17:  Class 6:  Composition and telling a story

11-13-17:  Class 7:   Special effects playtime!

To register:
Naples Botanical Garden, Kapnick Center, Room 124
4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples, FL 34112
Hope to see you there!
(I have very limited Internet service but can answer non-registration questions, email me at lizardart(at) if needed.)  
Thank you!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Local color ~ connecting to place

Trying out a new resource and exercise!

 I was recently gifted with a book by one of my watercolor students titled  Local Color: Seeing Place Through Watercolor, by Mimi Robinson.  What a fabulous resource this is turning out to be!  I have been entranced by the color palettes and swatches throughout the book, but hadn’t tried my hand at doing them until last Saturday.  

Simple, but not easy...  yet also very enjoyable!
Saturday morning, sketch-group friends and I met at Naples Zoo to draw and paint.  After a leisurely walk through the park, I chose a section of landscape as my focus and decided to warm up with a series of color swatches.  I found that what seemed to be an easy exercise was (in fact) more complex; while it was challenging, it was also rewarding.  I spent most of my time analyzing what I saw in terms of hue and value and then creating squares of color that reflected the colors around me in the landscape. 

I tried a larger rectangular swatch of the colors and movement in the water, and learned what NOT to do.  I then created a thumbnail sketch based on my color investigations that I felt was very successful.  Then of course, it was time to move on to lunch and to work. 

The landscape
Looking back, I can see that creating the 25 watercolor swatches taught me a great deal, both in mixing color, and in finding value.  I realized that the assumptions I made about what colors I saw in the water and sky were off.  While we often exaggerate color and value for effect, decisions about how far to go should be based on seeing colors correctly in existing light and in relationship to each other, not based on faulty presumptions (Isn’t the sky always some shade of blue?  hmm…). 

Exploring online later, I found the “Local Color Collective,” where artists can email Mimi to share their own local color palettes and create a world view of place through color!  Take a look!

Click on any image to view larger.

The Naples Zoo is an amazing 43 acres that’s gone through many transitions.  It’s based on the tropical botanical garden first planted in 1919 by Dr. Henry Nehrling, plant and hybrid pioneer, but now is home to primates, lions, giraffes, alligators, and water birds, as well as many other species. 

You can buy the book Local Color through my Amazon Associates store to help support this blog.  Thank you!

Sketchbook entry:
Strathmore Visual Journal (140 lb. CP watercolor), 5.5x8 in.
Daniel Smith watercolors
Niji Aquabrush, large

Monday, April 10, 2017

Everglades Found

Everglades Found, an exhibit at the Museum of the Everglades 

Enjoying time with friends, sharing ideas and inspiration!

A wonderful reception given by the Friends of the Museum -- thank you everyone!
Come view my multimedia exhibit in the Pauline Reeves Gallery at the Museum of the Everglades, with watercolor and acrylic paintings and assemblage pieces celebrating the Everglades and nature, all through April and May.

Museum of the Everglades is located at:
105 West Broadway
Everglades City, Florida

Open Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sketching in the Food Forest

My nature journal entry after my visit. 
Click on images to view larger.
The class
Tuesday I had the opportunity to be with a group of Professor Mary Voytek’s Environmental Art students as we scattered throughout the Food Forest at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. Sketching plein air in a nature journal is one of their assignments for the course, but what I saw from their work went beyond mere obligation. I was inspired by the deep observations made as they struggled to translate a moving forest of color and light and shape onto a two-dimensional rectangle of white paper. Some captured small bits of landscape while most focused on a smaller detail or a plant portrait.

 Making art
One of the things I always find fascinating is the way different artists translate the same subject. We each see the world through a different lens, informed by our interests and experiences. The story we record on paper is our story: our relationship and reaction to our subject. For instance, several students drew in the banana tree area. Some were caught by the torn and fluttering flags of the leaves, some by the structures of the entire tree, some by the contours of a close-up leaf. Each was unique, each a different story, each wonderful in itself.

And drawing and painting en plein air is a struggle, no matter how experienced you are. In the classroom or studio, we are surrounded by an environment we control to some extent. Outside, we are subject to all of our senses, to weather, temperature, other people, insects, and animals, noises from natural and manufactured sources. Our light source changes as the sun moves. Air currents lift and drop delicate leaves and branches. All of these serve as the backdrop of the story we tell with marks on our pages.

Red mulberry tree is native to Florida; its story
is linked with humans over centuries.
That particular story has deep roots. Back to the human who interacted with plants and some form of medium – a cave wall? A piece of blackened carbon? Is this plant good to eat? Does it help with pain in the head? With healing? Our entire food and pharmaceutical chain is founded on plant life. Humans have shared information on the plants good for food, shelter, healing, and making tools. When we put pencil or brush to paper, that action connects us to all those who came before, who recorded their story of the plants around them.

Shaded paths circle and criss-cross for access to all parts.
The garden 
In the Food Forest, it is easy to imagine that scenario. It is indeed a forest, not a traditional garden with plants in regimented rows. Tropical fruit and nut trees shade paths that wind through herbs and shrubs. Most of the plants yield edible parts, while some are there to entice pollinators. Tomatoes and other vegetables grow in sunny spots, there are fruit and flowers on several mulberry trees, and the bananas have finished flowering, stalks of miniature fruit on their way to becoming edible adults. Splashes of yellow, blue, and red signal flowers of pigeon pea and papaya, blue porterweed and Cuban oregano, Turk’s cap and tropical sage.

With permission, I brought home some things to sample and sketch – a perfect way to extend my visit! And to remember the participants and their wonderful artwork, their stories told with pictures. These are the people who are changing our future. It was a student who first conceived of the Food Forest, and students who maintain and plant, harvest and educate. How exciting to think of the new and ancient paths they are making and taking! I appreciate being part of this as a guest speaker and artist, even for the short time I shared with them. Thank you, everyone.

Read more about FGCU’s Food Forest on their website (also created and maintained by students): 

And learn about the day-to-day plants and activities on their Facebook page: 

 Strathmore Visual Journal sketchbook, 
140 lb. watercolor cold-press, 5.5 x 8 inches .
7 mm mechanical pencil 
Mondeluz watercolor pencils Niji waterbrush M 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Along the Borrow Pits

Click on image to view larger.

Our Fakahatchee annual outing led to the creation of this plein air watercolor in my journal/sketchbook – a view of one of the roads along the Borrow Pits within Fakahatchee Preserve State Park just south of Alligator Alley near SR 29. 

A Borrow Pit is a location where rocks, sand, and soil have been removed, usually to be used as fill for a project, in this case the re-vamping of an existing highway into an interstate.  Borrow pits in Florida often turn into lakes and ponds, as our water table is high. Florida ground is full of limestone, which makes for excellent gravel and is in high demand. 

Borrow Pits and quarries are great fossil-hunting sites as well, and in the past some companies have opened their sites to the public for weekend fossil field trips.  Much of Florida was undersea, so many of our fossils are marine related: shark’s teeth, shells, portions of manatee ribs.  Beads and other  artifacts sometimes turn up around previously inhabited sites.

I’m guessing that the term “Borrow Pit” is a common name now become proper through usage, and refers to the idea that stone and soil are “borrowed” for use elsewhere.  I suppose through time and erosion some may be returned… but doubtful! 

Regardless of the origin, it was a gorgeous morning ~ quiet and serene, hawks and vultures and tree swallows out breakfasting.  Cool sunlights cast deep shadows… this is a right place to be.

Aquabee Super Deluxe spiral sketchbook, 93 lb, 6 x 9 in
Daniel Smith transparent watercolors
Niji waterbrush M and S