Friday, May 26, 2023

Peony Bouquet


5/21/23 Akashiya Gansai watercolors in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

In the spring and summer, a family of flower growers has a weekend kiosk at a neighborhood gas station. I always admire the colorful bouquets when I walk past, and sometimes I can’t resist buying one. Last week these peony colors shouted for me to take them home.

Although I’m generally not huge on sketching bouquets, I was in a rare mood. Not only did I feel like sketching them – I felt like using watercolors! And to make matters worse, I felt like going direct to paint! In fact, the portrait I made with Inktense Blocks recently gave me this idea: Paint with watercolors without using a mixing tray! With the portrait, the idea was rooted less in creativity and more in laziness; late in the evening, I didn’t feel like getting out my mixing tray. But maybe it’s not as farfetched as it seems. As I noted in the Inktense Blocks post, in a weird way, the method is somewhat similar to colored pencils: Layer and mix the colors directly on the paper (except with zero control compared to pencils, of course).

To further increase the mayhem, I suddenly remembered a set of Akashiya Gansai watercolors that I think I had bought during my first year of sketching. (Edited: I totally forgot that I had written a review of these 11 years ago. . . my very first product review!) Without reading the dimensions carefully, I had imagined the set being small enough to take on location. It’s actually a large cardboard box containing loose pans that are larger than full pans – about as un-portable as a set of watercolors could be. Since I couldn’t take them out with me, they rarely got used. At home with the peonies, I thought, Why not?

A very un-portable set of watercolors that I'm glad I hung onto.

When I saw that my mess wasn’t overworked enough, I grabbed a couple of handy Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles, dipped the points into my water glass, and made some marks to try to delineate some of the petals. Now, I almost never dip my Museum Aquarelles in water because I’ve heard that doing so frequently can eventually damage the wood and make the cores break more easily. Yet, in my moment of carefree exuberance, I lost my head.

I guess that’s what spring-nearly-summer flowers will do to me.


  1. Ah ha! Those social media friends who suggest that you've become a painter are right (grin). I've never succumbed to buying a set of Gansi watercolors but they continue to tempt me.

    1. I do like this Akashiya set... but there's always the Kuretake set to consider! Stay tuned! ;-)

  2. This is really beautiful.


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