Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Quick plants

 Well, in the continuing mission to get out of my rut, this morning I did some (very) quick plant sketches. Quick, as in they each had to be done before my father's screen saver came on. 10 minutes, if I remember right. What you see here didn't take nearly that amount of time.

Pretty obvious, yes, but that's sort of what I was aiming for.

Like I said below, I've been too detail oriented lately so I'm trying to make myself not be. Sticking with broad stroke media (Prismacolor Art Stix, in this case), and trying my best to give enough detail to suggest the plant to someone who may not know it but at the same time to keep things simple and quick. And notice that I'm trying to use media that don't let me erase and second-guess myself.

Anyway, here's the first couple. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) up top and Common Plantain (Plantago major) below. Weeds both, yes, but distinctive shapes and -- as an added bonus -- both very useful plants.

I should probably explain that I led my last edible plant walk of the season on Sunday.

I should probably further explain that amongst other things I do at work, I lead edible plant walks...

Um, yeah. Briefly, dandelion leaves are good steamed or in salads. Choose the younger leaves to avoid bitterness, or put a box over a plant and let it grow in the dark for a while. Dried and ground roots make a coffee substitute, flowers make wine, and dried flowers and leaves together can make a tea. Don't use too much though -- the plant gets its French nickname (pissenlit, or pee-the-bed) because it's a diuretic.

Plantain is also good steamed or raw when it's young. It gets stringy as it gets older, though. What makes it more important for you outdoorsy types, though, is that it's very effective at calming the itching and swelling form mosquito bites. Chew on a leaf until it's mushy (and the chewing is important. Saliva contains a mild protease that makes this work better), and then just slap it on the bite. It works, I promise. Plantain tea can also be soothing for itchy skin.

Well, there it is, then. Your useful weed moment of the day. Will I do more of these? Maybe. It seems to help to have a topic. I just can't run away from the teacher in me, I guess.

And to anyone wondering why I keep using the paper with the (fake) laid lines (Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal, for anyone curious. It has the advantage of being inexpensive, if nothing else) for things like this, I really have no answer. I suppose I like the bit of added texture.

Or something.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Acorn and Oak Leaves in chalk pastel

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is tall.

Before anyone thinks that I've just pulled some random drawing and am going to stretch to make it work, I promise I did this specifically for the topic last night. No, really. I was thinking Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Tall has to start somewhere, right?

I've been too much hung up on details lately, which is one reason why I haven't been posting on this blog. When I'm dealing with detail work I'm that much more likely to be unhappy with it, so I've been throwing out an awful lot of stuff. It's a habit I thought I'd worked myself up out of, but apparently not. Time to try to fix that. Sooo...

Yesterday, armed with the whole mighty oak thing in mind, I clipped a piece from one of the two oak trees at work (oaks don't grow in my part of the world, by the way. Not naturally, anyway. So of course they included two oak trees in the landscaping around the NATURE CENTRE where I work. Sigh) and took it home with me. And last night I spent a couple of hours making a mess. Multiple doodles of the leaves and acorn you see above. All broad stroke media. No pens allowed.

Ok, well, I did use a sharpie at one point, but it wasn't one of those fine ones.

This is the only part of the exercise you're going to see, by the way. For the most part it's crap. That's all right, though. The whole idea was to get myself out of a self-created box, after all.

And did it work?

Oh, I guess we'll see. Watch this space, as they say.


Just as an aside -- I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm finding that the Illustration Friday redesign makes me less interested in participating. It's not because my blog visits have gone down; that's to be expected when a person doesn't have to visit the blog to see the picture. It's more because I'm finding that I don't visit the blogs anymore. It's faster just to look at the one page. Of course it is. But that, I think, is where the whole thing starts to lose something for me. By seeing all the works on one page, I'm missing the thoughts behind them. I'm missing the processes. Oh, I know it's still easy enough to click through and see the original page, but I'm much less likely to do so now.

Yeah, I'm basically lazy.

But still. It's a bit sad to think that my laziness is causing me to miss some good art blogs that I might be following now if I'd actually had to look at them to see the art.

As I said, though, I doubt that it's a majority opinion.
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