Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Not Quite Leaves

4/1/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Kuretake brush pen, watercolor,
Zig marker, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Everywhere I look, I’m starting to see bits of pale green on trees. They aren’t quite leaves yet, but they’re not buds anymore, either – they’re more like tiny clusters of pre-leaves. (I’m sure there’s a technical name for this stage, but I like the term pre-leaf.) Last October I sketched this same traffic circle maple when it was in its full fall glory. Soon it will be so full of leaves that I won’t be able to see its limbs anymore, so when I passed by it today, I decided it would be a good time to catch it in this delightful state – full of promise.

I’m not going to miss sketching trees in their bareness, but I’ve come to appreciate what they’ve taught me about the shapes of trees. In fact, I’ve learned that every season has something new to teach. It’s been more than a year – four complete seasons – since I declared that trees were a sketching nemesis. I’ve since called a truce, not because I’ve conquered them (they will probably remain a challenge for as long as I sketch), but because it’s impossible to have an enemy that gives me so much joy.

Technical note: In January when I sketched this same tree completely leafless, I had said that my Sailor pen was made for sketching bare limbs. But after sketching bare trees all winter, I’m now declaring that my Kuretake Fountain Brush Pen is ideal for sketching tree limbs. I don’t think I can get this kind of line with any other sketching instrument in my vast arsenal.

Another technical note: The last couple of times that I’ve opened up my watercolor box, I’ve found mold growing on my blob of DS Quinacridone Sienna. I’ve never seen mold on any other paint, and in the year or so that I’ve kept Quin Sienna in my kit continuously, I’ve never seen mold on it – until now. I don’t think I’m treating the paints any differently than before, and they almost always get a chance to dry out between uses. Have you seen this happen? Any suggestions?


  1. re Mold: Donald Getz, who led the workshop I attended last summer on Whidbey is the only person I've heard recommend distilled water. He said he only uses it and it is because he doesn't want mold in his palette. Maybe the folks at Seattle DS can connect you to one of their chemists who also might be able to explain why that particular pigment is effected. Since the factory is right there, I'll be the chemist is there, too.

    1. Thanks for the info, Kate. Hmmm. . .something to think about. That's a good idea about asking DS about Quin Sienna.

  2. I like how you've showed the pre-leaves just starting to show on this tree. It will be nice to see the trees in their glory after this very long winter. Sorry, but I can't help you with the mold problem. Good luck.


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