World Watercolor Month: Week Three


The sky looks like a pale under painting and the air is heavy with pending rain.

This week has been full of challenges, namely weather and time. But keeping in mind this month is about playing in watercolors and having fun, the challenges are turned into opportunities for creative thinking…well, that was the idea anyway. There were still moments I wished for more time in the day to spend on a painting, moments where I kept whispering to myself, “I have time…just a little more…”, then looking over my shoulder and half expecting to see a white rabbit shaking their pocket watch at me and telling me to hurry it up and move on.

So this week’s paintings are more like doodles of ideas that I might revisit in the future, and a fun exercise in finding moments to stop and allow my imagination a little time to play with paint.

Now where did that rabbit go?…


Draw a Bird Day: African Silverbill…maybe

Outside the room where I usually paint, there is a boisterous Tithonia Diversifolia, sometimes called a tree marigold, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, or Nitobe chrysanthemum. Throughout the day the tall shaggy plant dances to passing breezes and seems to collect birds of all types.  Yesterday a small flock of petite sepia brown birds joined in the afternoon dance, hopping among the leaves and dried seedpods of the sunflower tree.  Yesterday, was also “Draw a Bird Day”, celebrated by our blogging community on the 8th of every month and currently being hosted by Laura at Create Art Every Day.  These little feathered visitors seemed to be volunteering as subject matter for a painting.

I am guessing, as they blended in so well with the dried leaves and managed to flit quickly from spot to stem, that they might be the African Silverbill, or Lonchura Cantans. Long known in the islands as the “Warbling Silverbill”, (which turns out to be a different species altogether and a whole different story), these tiny Silverbills are thought to have been released on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the mid 1960’s.  Since then they have managed to fly across island channels and established themselves throughout the island chain.   Considering they are roughly 3 inches in length, give or take, that they navigated over rough ocean waters just boggles my mind with admiration and amazement.

Always a welcome distraction to the day and a delight to watch, they often travel in little groups sitting on tall stalks of grass and plucking seeds or nesting material, or visiting the shaggy sunflower tree outside my window and making the most of what it has to offer.

A bit late in the posting, taking time from today’s painting to finish what was started yesterday. These small feathered charmers are a subject I would like to revisit again, maybe even figure out if they are Silverbills or some other bird like a Waxbill instead.  Any excuse for taking a time-out to sit and keep company with these tiny warbling little birds.

African Silverbills copy

African Silverbills…maybe?

World Watercolor Month Begins

July has arrived and along with it the first annual World Watercolor Month celebration.  Charlie at Doodlewash, who initiated the World holiday, has proposed 31 days of painting with watercolors to celebrate, and along with artists from around the World, it seems like a fun thing to do.

It all begins with one step, or in this case…one painting. Happy World Watercolor Month!

Holding a white plumeria

July 01: Holding a white plumeria

White plumeria

Sweetens gentle ocean trades

Singing island songs


(With no theme for the month it is just play and have fun, make mistakes and splash around. Arches #140 CP; 11″x15″ using only a flat 1″ brush with transparent Daniel Smith and M. Graham watercolors…and plenty of coffee. lol.)

June Plumeria

It was the best intention, really, to take a few days, a few moments, to wander about the yard, painting and sketching, posting #NatureDoodlewash and joining in with Charlie, (from Doodlewash), and his fun plans for June. Then one thing led to another, a flower reminded me of a painting done last summer which included plumeria blossoms and mangos, it started me wondering if it might be fun to revisit the subject, which took me back inside to the easel, splashing in paint and water, visiting memories and shutting the door on my ‘hiking’ in the yard. Easily distracted it seems.

002 copy

A result of my distraction.

Now we are counting the days, minutes even, to July’s debut of National Watercolor Month. All one has to do is visit Facebook to get a sense of the excitement and energy that is building, on an international level, for the start of Charlie’s 31 day National Watercolor Month challenge and fundraising for the Zebra Foundation. To get a feel for it, visit here, watch the video, start getting your painting gear together and join the rest of us as we wait, excitedly and with eager anticipation for the start of July.

In the meantime, there is still June, where have all the days gone? So out the door I go, and with determination not to be distracted I am met again by white plumeria blossoms waving at me brightly under a summer sun. Feels like déjà vu.


Focus on the flowers…

The Singapore plumeria tree, our Grande Dame of the yard, despite the cat’s opinion, is wearing her summer frock of dark green glossy leaves.  A few months ago a single white flower bloomed on one of the lower branches and was promptly plucked by a howling northerly wind, our rainy season’s final stormy tantrum.

It seemed that the tree did not approve of losing the blossom so early, and as if overnight, with island magic, large bouquets of white plumeria began to flower all over the dark canopy.  The white flower petals easily reflecting the light of sun and moon had become a gleaming defiant crown of heavily scented blossoms for the tree.   Now as ocean trades slip by, the large clusters of flowers, nestled among the dark green leaves, nod and sway gracefully in the breezes, as if dancing to the song of summer.

Plumeria Sketching

Plumeria sketching


There is something in the air, a time of change. Our rather thin rainy season is trading places with our dry season and summer has stepped in close enough to spread warmer temperatures and bright sunshine over the islands. By now most of the Kolea, have left for their cooler northern breeding grounds, and local birds are rushing to build nests, raise their young, and in a matter of weeks, take off to enjoy the world under bright blue skies.

The birds are not the only ones feeling the energy in the air, the sense that a season’s wheel is turning even here in the tropics, the garden seems to be feeling it too.

Nympaea Colorado

Nymphaea Colorado

Passing by a group of water tubs that had laid green and dormant over the rainy season, there was a nymph waving at me, well, a Nymphaea or water lily that is, with a peach colored glow.

There is something in the air, and seeing the unexpected pop of color appear seemingly out of nowhere inspires me to get back to playing in water as well.

With an idea already in mind I start by pulling out three previously collaged watercolor papers, part of a group I did last summer to have on hand for something just like this.  Sometimes when an idea pops in for a visit I want to get to painting as quickly as possible before they leave again so it helps to have a little stock pile of prepared papers on hand.

Trio of collaged watercolor papers

Trio of collaged watercolor papers (11″x15″)

A glass of iced tea close by, reference photos at the ready, and I am off.  Starting with a sketch of the flowers using a water soluble graphite pencil, I want to take advantage of the abstract collage and draw over and under some of the papers.


Beginning Sketch


The next step is adding the watercolors and in the process lifting and blending some of the graphite lines with the paint.  The watercolors are nice enough, but wanting something a bit more opaque and with texture I reach for water soluble crayons to deepen the color and highlight the bumpy terrain of the collaged papers.

Watercolor and crayon

Watercolor and crayon

Once I have finished the flowers, my attention turns to the top border area.  Wanting to keep the water garden theme I draw out lotus leaves with a watercolor pencil. Liking the idea of a division between night and day, out comes the Moon in a cool darkened sky.

Adding the top

Adding the top border

Finally, to balance things out and bring the focus back to the bottom portion where the water lilies are blooming, I go in to the background with more watercolor, lightly adding clear water to allow for more movement and letting the color find its way over the ridges of the collaged paper beneath, pooling in the valleys and sliding over the smoother areas.

Now it is time to set this aside for a bit.  I still have two more prepared papers from this trio to play with, I like working in threes, and will continue on this path for the both of them though painting different types of water lilies for each.  When they are done I will collect all three and view them together and see if anything else will be added before moving on in my journey.  There is something in the air, the seasons have changed, and more creative paths are waiting to be explored.

Nymphaea Colorado

Nymphaea Colorado