April 18, 2011

Ingesting Sunshine and Painting Progression Four - Bee and Grape Hyacinths

I've grown especially fond of bees in recent years.  Since noticing and learning more and more about their declining populations, when I do spot a bee, I gain a small sense of comfort and hope. For me, seeing a bee cross from bloom to bloom has become a little sign-- as if she's saying, "Yeah, things aren't as good as they use to be, but it's not over yet. I'm still here, doing my thing, and I still have lots of it to do."  There are plenty of invertebrates I would and do cheer for, and bees are at the top of that list.

My bee enthusiasm is also due to my honey collecting.  It's not the sort where I gather it from the hive personally.  I mean the sort where I seek out types of honey, anywhere I can get in and in any variety I can afford.  My favorites include a dense, dark multiflora blend from northern Spain and a jar from a local keeper of my hometown.  It has a subtile flavor of apricot and it's one I seldom offer to share when eager tasters visit the cottage. (Perhaps one of the perks of being so reclusive... it's easier to covet your local honey.)

I've always enjoyed honey in general-- the taste, the smell, the color.  I've long thought of it as a way of ingesting sunshine.  Granted you can say that about all edible things that grow thanks to the sun, but there's something especially beautiful about honey.  I now appreciate it the way I appreciate wine, or coffee beans, or new-to-the-market hair conditioner.  Honey is one of those wonderful things that offer a new experience based on everything that went into it.  It's a chance to be surprised with a new and amazing sensory delight, the likes of which your taste buds have never know... but even if it's like something you've had hundreds of times before, it's still good for what it is.  It's honey. And unlike wine or hair conditioner, the makers of it always know what they're doing and they know the best way to do it.  Honey is the result of hours and hours and miles and miles of warm spring days full of open blooms, visited by an incredible, and hopefully still irrepressible, little insect.

That insect is the subject of my latest watercolor, along with a few grape hyacinths.

 The reference shot was taken by a friend at the
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  I believe it was the
same day of the 
grackle painting shot.
Now, there's not a lot of technique to talk about here since the photo had to rendered pretty thoroughly before the painting could start.  Since each hyacinth bloom had to be established, I didn't leave much to later to be defined. Once everything was mapped out in watercolor pencil, it was really just about filling in the blanks. This painting was more about the initial drawing than the actual painting. If you're a fan of coloring books or paint-by-number, this method is probably one you'd enjoy, especially if you're confident in your drawing skills.  Scroll on to see how it all came together. 

And here's the scan:

Hope everyone is finding some spring wherever they are.  Remember to give something back to the bees

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