Flowers and Portraits: Why I Post Flowers

Bouquet with mask and flowers for Purim, watercolor
I painted the bouquet of flowers (note the purple irises and the mask) that I bought from Roberts Florals in Highland Park, New Jersey on Purim. My guests enjoyed the bouquet along with the meal. I am relatively pleased with the result of the painting.

My current ultimate goal is to get better at painting portraits. I am confident in my flower painting abilities. I could improve in details, but I do not strive to be a realistic floral artist. One reason I chose to paint the bouquet is it was a good warm up to painting after Shabbat and after a week of little painting in general.

Why I failed miserably at 100 people week

Early in March there was a competition to draw or paint 100 people in a week. My start was delayed by Purim; I had lots of preparations to do for the holiday, and guests showed up to entertain us at our seudah (festive meal). Finally, I went out one day with my sketchpad and doodled quite a few people. I did not care much for the result, so it is not getting posted here. Then I ran out of time to go outside and look for people. So I went up to my attic late one night, and I took down several photos of people that I found inspirational.

How 100 people week Inspired Portraiture Adventures

boy showing a flower to a chicken, gouache painting
One of the photos that I found was one of my sons showing a dandelion to a chicken. I did one quick sketch; the proportions of the head were off. I started another. I continued painting into the night, and I am please with the result: gouache media, lots of strokes and movement. I like how the light falls on the figures and the variety of hues established.

Here is another portrait that I did, from an old black and white photo of a relative eating soup. This portrait is also done with gouache. Maybe I will do another version in the future with more attention to the background.
man in hat eating soup

More Flowers to Show

Whenever I go shopping with a certain friend, I am done long before she is. No problem! Each store seems to have a section of flowers. So I put my paid groceries in the car, and I return to draw with a Uniball pen whatever strikes me in the store. Often, the flowers stand out. Here are a few of my favorites:

buy local flowers
This one was painted after another one that had the brand name of a large chain store got rejected from an online shop that sells artists’ goods. Lesson learned: buy local flowers. Advertise local stores. No need to ruffle the feathers of any large chain stores.

flowers with palette
I often like painting a palette of colors near my watercolors. This palette compliments the flowers nicely, organic flowers shapes near geometric squares.

More on Painting Flowers

I am reading Painting Flowers in Watercolor with Charles Reid, a classic in the watercolor book world. Two ideas that I look forward to incorporating in future watercolor floral sketches or paintings:
1) Pay attention to negative shapes that the flowers make almost as much as to the flowers themselves. Do not overwork the details. Paint the background along with painting the flowers. The background should not be an after thought.
2) When painting the background, don’t do one solid expanse of one color. Do a variety of color in a mix that compliments whatever flowers one is painting.

Charles Reid uses a lot of cadmiums in his palette (Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange). I will substitute colors in my palette, probably Hansa Yellow (light, medium, or dark) and New Gamboge. One exercise is to paint daffodils. Another is techniques for white flowers. Daffodils and magnolias are in bloom now. Hopefully, I will be able to experiment with his ideas.

It is now the Jewish month of Nissan. In Nissan we celebrate freedom on Passover. We are also commanded to say blessing on a fruit tree when it shows its first blossoms. I will be looking around my neighborhood for all kinds of blossoms for blessings and for sketches.

Magnolia, Cherry Blossoms of Spring

magnolia buds
This post is all spring blossoms. Enjoy these magnolia buds.

buds avenue
If you walk down North Eighth Avenue in Highland Park, you can see trees in bloom – magnolia trees.

cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms are also beautiful.

buds on the avenue
I love seeing magnolia flowers on the ground with dandelions. The blossoms don’t last – maybe you can see them for two weeks each spring?

dandelion and periwinkle
Periwinkle with dandelions – this is a different version of the photo I posted yesterday. That post had reflections on recent events; today, I just want to relax among spring blossoms.

What blossoms of spring appear in your neighborhood?

Pink Magnolia Bud

pink magnolia bud
If you go to North Eighth Avenue in Highland Park today, most of the pink magnolia buds will probably be on the ground. I haven’t taken out my camera since April 17. There are other trees in bloom in Highland Park, but if I can spare a bit of time over the next few days, I am hoping to take out my watercolors and start a new painting. Not sure what will inspire me.

Thursday Challenge theme is SPRING. Next week: BEAUTIFUL (Attactive, Wonderful Colors, Hair, Smile,…)

Oh Deer, Rabbit and Magnolia

three deer in a backyard
I saw one then two then three deer in a neighbor’s backyard. I approached them with my camera, and they backed into this corner. Then two hopped the fence. The last one stayed behind and nibbled an evergreen bush. New Jersey is getting so developed the deer are living everywhere, or so it seems.

This rabbit seems to be living in our backyard. I saw him twice yesterday.

magnolia bloom
My neighbor’s magnolia tree has started to blossom. You can see the buds of the magnolia on this post. The yellow background in this photo is from the forsythia.

magnolia blue background
I decided to give my magnolia blossom a blue background.

Today’s Flowers: Periwinkle, Lilac, and Dogwood

Periwinkle is growing on the side of my house: it’s a great ground cover for shady spots.

The lilac blooms have already fallen off my neighbor’s bush. They don’t last long.

The dogwood flowers are such a pleasure to view in bloom.

Dancing Dogwood Watercolor
Dancing Dogwood Watercolor
A watercolor with goache I did in 2008 of dogwood flowers

For more flowers, visit Today’s Flowers:

Today’s Flowers: Grape Hyacinth

grape hyacinths

I appreciate grape hyacinths, small cone-like flowers that grow from fall-planted bulbs, more now that I have whole bunches of them popping up in front of my home.


The grape hyancinths go nicely with the creeping phlox blooming in patches of my front yard.


For more flowers, visit Today’s Flowers:

Today’s Flower: Magnolia

My neighbor’s magnolia tree is in bloom.
magnolia with a dot

This magnolia flower has a black dot toward the top.

I enlarged the dot, and I discovered it is a fly. Or some kind of bug.

>magnolia sky
There are few more days left of Passover, so blogging will be light until next week. One of the names for Passover is “Holiday of the Spring.”

Daffodil for Pesach

Daffodil, March 2009
Daffodil, March 2009

Isn’t it considerate of the daffodils to bloom just in time for my final pre-Passover post?

Links to Peruse, Ponder, Inquire, Invigorate

Today’s Flowers: Early Spring

crocus with orange stripe
Enjoy the lovely striped crocuses with orange stamen that grow in front of my home.

white crocus
I also have white crocuses that popped up recently next to my sidewalk.

The first periwinkle has shown its purplish blue petals on the side of my house.

crocus purple bunch
This is a fun bunch of purple crocuses that emerged under my climbing rose bush.

deer nibbled
My neighbor just showed me where the deer have already nibbled at his (and my) tulips.

deer nibbled marked
The pink markings show where the deer nibbled (upper left) and the deer hoof (bottom right). I am thinking of buying blood meal. Other deer-friendly scare tactics welcome.