Cherry Blossoms of Spring

Spring is my busy season around the property, and this year has been par for the course with five goat kids, firing up the incubator, and rabbits kindling. While I have been on a charcoal kick so far for 2022, yesterday and this morning it felt so good to have a paint brush in my hand and to work with some color. The interesting angle on this is Judith over at Artistcoveries posted the other day about an historical debate between color and drawing, and how she feels she is on the color side of the argument because she can do color without drawing. I commented that given my ongoing charcoal drawing kick, I have to take the drawing side of that argument, because I can (and do) draw without employing color but flounder on the idea of using color without some drawing element. I suppose that is a succinct way of saying I just don’t feel abstract art like some folks do. We then agreed that it is better to not try to draw a line between these aspects since the art world is certainly big enough for not only both viewpoints, but some that are outside of this binary.

Inspiration

Yeah, I do indeed read other artists’ blogs, and heartily recommend doing so because the interplay of ideas often sparks inspiration all around. Case in point, fellow art blogger Steven of Backyard Image was inspired by my charcoal monarch butterfly I posted last time to play with his photographs and filter software to produce his own new piece. What he doesn’t (yet) know is a previous post of his inspired me to do up both charcoal and watercolor pictures of cherry blossoms, because what says spring quite like the brief glorious week of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C. in bloom? My post inspired him, and one of his inspired me.

I had intended to use the cherry blossom motif for a new art challenge which had the stated theme of “time,” but apparently the lady who organizes these challenges had a much more narrow interpretation than I do. I wasn’t the only participant who took a broader view of the theme, though most focused on timepieces of one sort or another. I just quietly dropped out to pursue my own thing, because that is what I do.

Value study sketch in charcoal

First step for me was to hop onto Pixabay and hunt up some nice cherry blossoms reference photos. As usual, I found a good handful that suited what I had in mind, then it was on to cropping it “just right” because I am just picky like that. Once I selected my target ref photo and had it cropped, then it was time for a charcoal value sketch, where I get a feel for the shapes and shadows. This is “just” a sketch, so nothing as fancy as a full drawing for a charcoal piece, and since it is in my raggedy sketchbook, there is no original to offer, but I did upload it to Pixels for art prints since it makes a nice companion to the watercolor version.

charcoal value sketch for Cherry Blossoms of Spring
charcoal value sketch for Cherry Blossoms, 9 by 12 inches, in sketchbook

Adding color

Once I was satisfied the image has enough value contrast to be visually appealing, it was time to transfer it to watercolor paper to paint. These days I do not sketch on watercolor paper, because even when I use watercolor pencils I can still see grid lines, so I now draw it in my sketchbook and use graphite transfer paper to get the necessary lines, which I often lighten up with a kneaded eraser before laying down paint. Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could pull this painting off only using three colors: cobalt blue, rose red (which is more a magenta if you ask me), and burnt umber. I think I succeed.

watercolor painting Cherry Blossoms of Spring
Cherry Blossoms of Spring, 9 by 12 inches, watercolor, $80 USD

For this iteration, the original is available, 9 by 12 inches, sealed with Dorland’s wax medium and if you are not local you can purchase through Daily PaintWorks via PayPal. Prints are through Pixels, along with a bit of swag like puzzles or a fancy shower curtain. I also uploaded the image to RedBubble, which has a nice variety of apparel, plus the face clock. I simply must include the image of the face clock – I think it looks awesome.

Cherry Blossoms of Spring watercolor painting as an analog clock face
Cherry Blossoms of Spring as a clock face

Now, for the best news: the goat kids are down to two and three bottle feedings a day, which means I now have more time to get back to my art. They are cute, they are affectionate, but for the first four to five weeks they are rather needy, but now they are growing up and two have gone off to a new home where I have no doubt they will be spoiled rotten (no change from their life here).

13 thoughts on “Cherry Blossoms of Spring

  1. Yes, it’s fun to read other art blogs and be part of the online art community. It’s so inspiring! I love your cherry blossoms.

  2. Hi Katrina
    I’m famous! Thanks for the mention in the post of my efforts and I’m glad my cherry blossom photos prompted your latest work. Can I ask a couple of questions though – as a painter, you can obviously choose what to include in the painting. With a photo I either have to move something physically if I don’t want it there or I can perhaps remove it in Photoshop! In your color version, there are two branches that I think spoil the composition – the one leaving via the top right is the main one, but also the smaller one on the left is a little distracting. I always think about where the eye might go and I think it enters clearly in the bottom left and focuses on the blossoms, but then it goes off on the very dark line to the top corner and away. You really want the eye to rotate around the blossoms in the center.
    Hope it helps and I hope you don’t mind this sort of critique.

    1. I don’t mind the critique. I was thinking after it was done that maybe I had too much branch, so that confirms my suspicion. Not all watercolor paint will lift, especially darker pigments (and anything phthalo) so I figured I would do a couple more cherry blossoms anyway and could either tweak this ref photo or pick another to play with. As for famous … I’m not exactly a major source of much other than links.

  3. I was utterly fascinated to read about your process, Katrina. Do you then use a scanner for prints on Pixels?
    And I appreciate the reference to Pixabay – never heard of it and now have it bookmarked for future reference.

    1. As long as I can fit it on my 11 x 17 inch scan bed, I can and do scan my artwork. I am still extremely pleased with this purchase (from stimulus money the other year).

  4. Lovely work Katrina.

    Watch out for the Steve guy. He has a way of inspiring on to do more work. For example, he doesn’t know it but he’s inspired me to expand my stock photo offerings through a couple agencies. Yep, definite trouble maker. LOL

  5. I’m watching this you know! I’m going to become a consultant and charge by the hour! I did a crayon version of a butterfly as well yesterday! Gotta keep busy!

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