I first discovered gansai — Japanese watercolor — about a year ago. I purchased a small set, tried it, and immediately fell in love with it. Now, having used up that first set, I have a larger set with many more colors, and I’ve found that the more I use gansai, the more I enjoy it. I’m especially fond of doing quick ink sketches and then coloring them with gansai. That’s my usual approach. Recently, though, since I’ve been working with graphite — another of my favorite media — combining it with gansai, and I really like the results.
This morning I started sketching one of the two aluminum plants (pilea cardieri) we have in our kitchen. Instead of sitting outside on the porch, I was doing my daily drawing practice at our kitchen table. Long story, but Flower Child is grounded. She got herself into a bit of trouble by squirrel-chasing too close to the street. Fortunately there’s little traffic where we live, but even so, she’s overstepped her boundaries and has temporarily lost her porch privileges. So, she joined me this morning in the kitchen as soon as I got out a few art supplies.
You might be able to tell from that perturbed look on her face that she’s not happy about losing her morning time on the porch. Oh, well. She’ll get over it. And, for what it’s worth, I bought her a new chirping bird toy this morning along with another new scratcher (and two new dishes for her food and water), so she’s really got nothing to complain about. Of course, I hadn’t yet gone shopping when this picture was taken. She was still in a little cat snit.
She is much happier now.
Being confined to the kitchen, yet wanting to draw a plant from life, the obvious choice was one of the aluminum plants. We have two fairly large plants. They were in the guest room before, but once we brought Flower Child home, I moved the plants. For some reason I was thinking they might be toxic to cats. They’re not. I just looked it up, so maybe they will go back to the guest room.
I started sketching with pencil, but Flower Child wasn’t having it today. She wanted to check out the plant, and again, still concerned that the leaves might be toxic for her, I quickly gave up on that idea, put the plant back on top of the refrigerator, shrugged, and simply colored in what little I’d drawn.
I actually drew only the topmost three leaves “from life” and then added a few leaves after putting the plant away. I knew I wasn’t getting it quite right, but, oh, well. I’ll probably do another drawing/painting of one of the plants simply because I love the colorful patterns of the leaves.
My simple sketch — on regular drawing paper — was fun to do and here are a couple things I learned:
- It’s good to work with media that we like using. It makes our art time more enjoyable and gives us more incentive to learn.
- Working from life really does help us improve our observational skills, and therefore, our drawing skills as well.
I’m having so much fun with graphite and gansai that I’m going to do a lot more of it, and I’m going to start using actual watercolor paper for some of my drawings. While I was out shopping for all those cat toys, I detoured over to the art supplies and picked up a pad of “Bee” Watercolor Paper. I was recently introduced to this line of paper products, and this pad — 140 lb. weight and cold-pressed surface — seems to be a decent quality. I found this at Walmart, and the price is quite reasonable.
Now, Flower Child is contentedly sleeping on a rug, the house is quiet, and I’m going to go do a bit more gansai and graphite drawing so I can try out my new paper. I might even get that aluminum plant back down and draw it again.
Happy arting, whatever you’re drawing or painting today!