Study of Acorns in Watercolor Pencil and Ink

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I like to change my medium up a bit by experimenting with other forms. For these acorns, I started with a water soluble pencil, then added color with a few watercolor pencils, lastly sepia ink with a pen nib and well.

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I think this one is my favorite. It’s a bur oak acorn with a weevil hole.

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This is the tiniest of them all. Little nut and cap. Little color, little ink, which I think works just fine.

Speaking of weevil hole….

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Oh my!
I collected the acorns a week ago, but did not have time to draw them so I placed the acorns in this glass votive cup and placed them to the side. To my surprise a week later, when I dumped out the acorns, I found 4 tiny ALIVE weevil larvae were squirming at the bottom. I had no idea.

Let’s Paint an Easy Oak Leaf!

Yes, it will be easy. Yes, you CAN do this!
So let’s get started and learn a simple way to paint an oak leaf using watercolors. But first, let me show you my palette so that you have the names of the colors.

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The bottom colors are hard to see, they all look dark, but you get the idea. Click for a larger view. I listed the color name and in parenthesis, the brand name. I know I should be using all the same brand names and not mix, but beggars cant be choosers. I buy what I can afford at the time and make it work.

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Step 1: Using a regular #2 pencil, draw the outline of the oak leaf on watercolor paper. I am using 140lb cold press watercolor paper.

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Step 2: Do not pre-wet the paper. We are working small, so there is no need to lay down water first. Paint Cadmium Orange with a medium round brush, over the entire leaf. While it was still wet, I added more orange to the edges excluding that part of the leaf that flips over like a dog ear. See how the edges of the leaf are darker?

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Step 3: In this step we’re going to add different colors to the edge while the leaf is still wet. In the upper left add some Burnt Umber. Watch it spread some. In the upper right hand side add some Indian Red, excluding the part of the leaf turned over. Let dry.

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Step 4: On your palette, mix Indian Red and a little bit of Alizarin Crimson to create a rich red/brown. Make sure your leaf is dry. Paint a line on the bottom left edge of the leaf.

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Step 5: Wash your brush with clean water, tap on paper towel to get excess water off. Immediately after step 4, only touch the edge of the Indian Red/Alizarin color and pull the color inward with your brush that only has water on it.

Do you see what we did here in step 4 & 5? We painted on the leaf when it was completely dry with color, then we pulled one edge of the color inward with a clean brush that only had water on it. Let’s do it again on the bottom right side…

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Step 6: Ok, here we go. Paint the bottom right side of the leaf with a little line of Indian Red and Alizarin.

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Step 7: Clean your brush off with water, tap a paper towel to get excess water off, then immediately touch the inner edge of the line and pull it towards the center with your clean brush. You’re doing great!

Notice we didn’t cover the whole entire leaf when we added layers to it. Remember the leaf started a solid orange. Here you can see we went around some bug holes and veins.

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Step 8: Let dry. Next using a rigger brush and Sepia, paint in some veins and a few dark spots. Let dry.

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Step 9: Here we are going to do the same thing we did in step 4 & 5 and 6 & 7. With Sepia paint a line in the upper left corner. Clean your brush. Touch the inner edge and pull color towards the center.

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Step 10: Using Sepia and a little Cobalt Blue, paint the stem, around the bug holes, and under the edge of the leaf that is curled over.

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Step 11 FINAL: Watch this leaf POP!!!! We’re bringing it all together now! Like at the end of a symphony every instrument is playing!! Ha ha ha…I get so excited!
Using only Cobalt Blue, paint shadow on the right side only. And you’re done!

See you can do it! Just remember, watercolors are done in layers….lightest color first; Don’t cover the whole entire leaf, but let some orange show through, detail with darkest color at the end. Great work!

As your free autumn gift from me to you, I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step demonstration on how to easily paint an autumn oak leaf using watercolors. Now go out and collect some leaves!

Autumn Dwarf Maple Watercolor Sketch

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I go off track and sit in the middle of a plowed field, surrounded by golden tones.

A slight cool breeze brings a delight to my senses. The earthen aroma doesn’t depart like the breeze. I am thankful.

Sitting here, I make peace with my anxious spirit.
The trees calm me.
The birds sing to me.
The season speaks to me.

My Father says…
“Find rest here. You are loved.”

Last Sunday I had a peaceful hike. I really felt that the calmness I was feeling was a gift, or a realization. Sadly, the feeling is fleeting and I find myself the very next day, back to my restless thoughts.

With today’s current events, how can one not have a restless spirit?

A heart at peace gives life to the body.  Prov 14:30

Isn’t that the truth. But how? How can I stop the anxious thoughts and just have peace?

I grab on to the promises given:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.  2 Tim 1:7

therefore…

My soul wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  Ps 62:5

I write them down on post-its and stick them wherever….by my computer at work, on the fridge at home, in the car…and I say them out loud when ever I get tied up with stress. And do you know what? It works. A certain heaviness disappears until my human nature runs back to fear…then I do it all over again. I don’t know about you, but I need to keep reminding myself over and over, like pressing the reset button.

Here’s the neat part….it doesn’t only apply to me. God’s promises are for you too. There is power in His Word. And what does the bible say The Word is (John1:1)??? Christ himself. And who is Christ? The Prince of Peace. Hmmm…I think we’re on to something here.

Go Honey Bee GO! sketch

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Do you remember when you were a kid and played outside how many bees there were? I was constantly chased by them it seemed. Most of the time I outran them, with Wonder Woman speeds and fear mixed in. But 3 decades later….where are they?

You may have heard about colony collapse. In my opinion, I believe genetically modified crops (GMO)… where the DNA is manipulated… and pesticides (even store bought ones, not just commercial use ones) have done much damage.

Bees are our pollinators. They’re the best army to pollinate our FOOD, because even if we tried to hand pollinate we never would be able to keep up. If our food isn’t pollinated that will translate into famine down the road.

So now I celebrate the sighting of a honey bee and I no longer run away like a baby. I cheer them on like their own personal cheerleader. Go honey bee, GO!

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Here he is on some autumn aster at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Willow Springs, IL. BTW, they are having their annual arts & crafts show this Sunday, Oct 5th. The Little Red Schoolhouse has bee boxes on the property and they sell the honey made from this location. Guess what??? Bees that feed on autumn flowers produce a darker, more rich honey. You can buy this honey at the craft fair! Light or dark honey. Well, that was the case when I bought it years ago…. I hope it is still available.

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This is the END of the post. Get it….end!?! Ha ha ha… A friendly bee butt to send you on your way!

Herb Spiral Watercolor Sketch

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What is an herb spiral?

Well, it’s like a garden bed except instead of a raised box with plants planted in rows, it’s a circle and the plants are planted in a spiral pattern, allowing you to grow more in little space. What you can’t see it that it spirals on an incline, so the center is the highest spot. And guess what?? I made it MYSELF!

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I salvaged the stones from a sidewalk demolition and placed them together like a puzzle, filled the inside with soil and lots of compost, then planted.

I LOVE herbs!!!! I LOVE running my fingers through the leaves and smelling my hands!!!! Ssssmmmmm….It’s the oils in the leaves that give the herbs their aroma. I have used every herb in some sort of meal. My favorite is to put fresh tarragon on asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and broil for a few minutes. YUMMY!!!

How about you? Do you have a favorite herb recipe?

I first heard of herb spirals in my permaculture class. Permaculture is a way of growing in which you design using patterns from nature, catch and store energy, heal and replenish the soil as you grow, diversify, obtain a yield, and share the surplus with others. It’s better than growing organically. Not only do you not use pesticides, but you put the nutrients back into the soil as you grow.

Anyway…. Look at the rain gauge!!

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It’s my favorite yard trinket and look how nicely it measures rain! Functional. I love it. I’ve had a lot of rain in my area this season. My garden loved it.