Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Iris and Alley


5/20/23 Museum Aquarelle pencils on Hahnemuhle postcard

(“Iris & Alley” – sounds like it should be a pub, doesn’t it?)

A few years ago, I discovered a garden a few blocks from home with a spectacular display of purple irises. I’ve been walking by occasionally this month to see how they were doing, and like everything else this year, they bloomed a couple of weeks later than in previous years – but as spectacular as ever.

This one took a bit of planning to sketch. I wanted to make a postcard to send to a friend, which would be easy enough – I just had to remember to bring along a Hahnemühle postcard. But I also had to make sure I had the right shades of cool purple in my bag – and that’s when I remembered that the purple Derwent Inktense I was carrying is likely fugitive. While I’m not too concerned if sketches in my sketchbook eventually fade, I don’t want to give anyone a sketch with that fate. Inktense’s lightfastness (or lack thereof) is a distinct disadvantage for spontaneous gifts.

Iris notes in my color journal

Before I went out to sketch the irises, I studied their colors closely from life and also took a photo for reference. Then I went home to look through the relatively limited range of purples and lavenders among Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles (which are all in the 3-to-5-star range for lightfast ratings) and picked out three that looked right. I also picked out the two greens I used to carry regularly for foliage before I got hooked on primary triads. (I remembered to document them in my color journal for reference next year. I love how this journal is working out for me!)

After sketching the iris, I still had all the purple and green pencils in my hand when I remembered that one of my favorite alleys was just a few steps away – with lavender flowers in the distance. I couldn’t resist the convenience.

5/20/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood


  1. Lovely work!!! Irises are my favorite flower, and you really captured the weight and character of the petals. This time of year I spend a couple weeks painting almost nothing else! I may have to try and sneak in a purple and green landscape, too... Great ideas as always.

    1. Oh, I bet you've got some lovely paintings with irises for inspiration! Irises always look like they are laughing happily!

  2. Wow...what a lovely garden of irises!! Looks like you've got the right pencils for the color.

    1. Many of my neighbors have gorgeous gardens... they make it easy for me to sketch without my having to do any of the gardening work! ;-)


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