Bees on Flowers

I took some photos of bees in my garden using a very inexpensive lens extender tube on my camera to let me focus very close. It has to be focused manually though, and every slight movement closer or farther from the bee lost the focus, so most of the photos were out of focus. Click any of the photos below to open a 2560×1600 wallpaper version in a new tab.

Bee on Echinacea Flower 1 small

Bee on Echinacea Flower 2 small

Bee on Cantaloupe Flower 1 small

Bee on Flower 2 small

Native Bee on Cantaloupe Flower 1 small

This last one is a species of bee native to California. Honey bees aren’t native here, and I’ve read different sources saying we have over 1000 or maybe even over 1600 species of native bees. I don’t know which one this is, but I think it’s a solitary miner bee that digs little holes. They’re very tiny and move fast so it’s hard to even see them, and especially hard to get a close photo.

Cobalt Blue Comparison

Cobalt Blue Comparison

In a forum thread we were discussing cobalt teal and I posted this photo of various cobalt blue pigments in oil paint, which I thought I’d share here too. I can’t guarantee color accuracy in the photo, but I think it’s close.

Regular cobalt blue is normally made from the pigment PB28 and it’s a good, but often expensive, middle blue. It dries fast because of the cobalt content. Compared to ultramarine it’s a little more opaque and has a little less red while being lighter in masstone. Although this particular pigment is called by the name cobalt blue, all of the above paints contain cobalt. The difference between them being which other metals are included, such as aluminum or chromium, and in what amounts.

There’s two pigments that are labeled as cobalt teal by the paint makers that offer them. One is an uncommon and very opaque teal version of the standard cobalt blue pigment, PB28, and the other is a teal version of one of the cobalt greens, PG50. They’re similar enough that if you have one you won’t need the other. I almost never see other artists talk about having teals like these on their palette, so they must not be popular. I think they can be useful for painting green hills far in the distance, and definitely tropical water, but until now I’ve also rarely used them myself.

PB36 is another pigment that comes in a large range of varieties. Although it’s not the original cerulean blue, PB36 can be so close to the original in appearance that it’s often given the name cerulean. At the other end of its range are blue turquoise and green turquoise varieties. Shown here is a green turquoise. I like the turquoise color, but again I rarely use it.

The original cerulean is PB35. It typically dries to a more matte surface. Either this or the PB36 version labeled as cerulean would be good for painting skies, especially closer to the horizon where the sky has more green, as they are both slightly greener than cobalt blue. I actually prefer the PB36 version of cerulean because the color has a little more intensity to it. The name cerulean probably comes from the Latin word for heaven or sky.

Lastly, in the right column I mixed all of these with an equal amount of nickel titanate yellow, which is a somewhat dull lemon yellow, to see how they’d behave.

A Land of Hills and Valleys

Land of Hills and Valleys

Watercolor and gouache on paper, 3.5″ x 8.5″

Recently I was reading a passage in the Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 11, in which Moses was describing to the Israelites in the wilderness what the land they would enter into would be like. This chapter is one of several places that uses the famous phrase “a land that floweth with milk and honey.” After explaining that it wouldn’t be like in Egypt where they irrigated by their own work, they were told that they would receive rain for their crops. I especially liked the wording of verse 11, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” This is what I was thinking about when I made these little paintings above.

The chapter goes on to explain that receiving the blessing of abundance of rain would be dependent on their faithfulness to God, saying “…if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season…”

The paints I used the most was a 1:1 premix of phthalo green blue shade and ivory black, Monte Amiata natural sienna, a little bismuth yellow, a couple of different blacks with white gouache, and a light blue gouache premix. The rain in the bottom painting took a long time because I didn’t actually paint the rain. Instead, I painted everything, and then I darkened everything except those lines for rain. So it looks like those lines are painted lighter, but actually they were just left at the amount of lightness that everything had before I darkened everything.

Elbrus in the Daytime, after Arkhip Kuindzhi

Elbrus in the Daytime

Watercolor and gouache on 300lb paper, 6″ x 5.75″

Here’s another copy of a painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi. It’s one of several that I made. Actually, even though I haven’t been posting much, I have been making a lot of small watercolor paintings and sketches lately.

In the original the closest hill seems to have a lot of reds and yellows, but I’m not sure why or what it should be, so I just made it into a green grassy hill instead.

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch

Pencils: Palomino Blackwing, an old Sanford Turquoise H (now sold under the Prismacolor brand name), General’s white charcoal, Cretacolor white lead.
Paper: Strathmore toned gray 5.5″x8.5″ 80lb.

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch reference

A long time ago I took this photo of three deer drinking water in front of my house from a bowl that was for the birds. This is a new sketchbook that I got recently and this is the first thing I’ve drawn in it, just the top half of the page. Normally I always work on white paper, but this toned paper was an enjoyable change. The method I used in which a grid is drawn to transfer the image from the photo to the paper is too meticulous though and took me a lot longer to finish than I thought it would. Even with the grid I didn’t get every detail exactly accurate.