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What is real and what is paint?

What is real and what is paint?

Without underestimating the value of talent, it’s not the most important attribute you need to become a successful artist. It’s not even second. More important than talent is desire. (Harley Brown)

Drawing or painting in the outdoors challenges us to shift gears, absorb what’s in front of us and try to decide what to include and what to omit. One can find many excuses to procrastinate – the weather’s too hot, too cold or too windy. Perhaps there’s no good place to sit, or you’re an insect magnet!

Guayava tree - (Guava)

Guayava tree – (Guava)

If you don’t make an effort to start, you’ve forfeited the potential for growth as an artist! There’s a slight chance that your efforts are going to look horrid, and if so, call them exercises and toss them in the trash! There’s a great chance that you’ll be very pleased with the results, and you’ll wonder what took you so long to sharpen that pencil!

A few weeks ago I taped my watercolor paper to a board, gathered my supplies and journeyed into the garden. I sat at ground/eye level with the thunbergia flowers and quickly focused on capturing their likeness in watercolor. Leaf-cutter ants adjusted to my presence and marched around me; black pepper-sized flies feasted on my ankles; the thunbergia vine swayed back and forth in the brisk wind. My eyes protested when the equatorial sunlight flooded the white paper. My paints evaporated on the palette before I could apply them to the paper, so rewetting the pigments seemed redundant.



There were times when I considered abandoning the painting, especially when my eyes tired from studying details in the swaying flowers. I wanted to shout to the wind, “Please STOP!” I ignored that voice of frustration and stuck to my task and reminded myself that it did not have to be scientifically perfect! Every so often I put down my brush and rested not only my eyes but also my back!


I was tempted to stop when I finished the flower study, although my plan was for a more-complicated design. That night I looked through my files and selected a black and red heliconia butterfly, photographed during a visit to the Mindo Butterfly Gardens. A painting’s freshness and spontaneity is often lacking when one works solely from photos.

P1870754 WATERCOLOR Pencil

The following day I returned to the garden and looked at details in the thunbergia vines and foliage. After painting those details, I moved my materials inside and waited until night to add the shadows.

We have this day, this hour, and we have the power to decide what to do with our time. If you have always wished to draw or paint, what’s stopping you?! The odds are that you won’t find a perfect time or perfect place, but if you have the desire to give art a try — GO FOR IT!



Do you like it?

Do you like it?

The week has been a unique one; photos and stories – and more stories soon, but here’s a peek:

Why won't the water reach the house? Where oh where is the break or the block?!

Why won’t the water reach the house? 250+ meters of flexible hose between the source and the house; where oh where is the break or the block?!