Lotus Flower / charcoal

lotus charcoal

This summer I want to do a painting of the Lotus flowers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This is my first sketch.

The Lotuses are surrounded by tiny Lily Pads and huge Lotus leaves on a background of blue violet water. I got the sketch in less than an hour, so it will be easy subject matter. This will be fun, but I’ll have to stand in the sun like when I painted the Pitcher Plants.

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Richmond skyline / charcoal sketch

My pretty city as seen from Legend Brewing Co.

My pretty city as seen from Legend Brewing Co.

Legend put out a call to artists for their participation in James River Days, scheduled for this summer. The city has a lot of events planned along the river. This art show isn’t until Aug. at Artworks, but I need to get started. We’ve had a lot of rainy dreary weather lately, which isn’t good news for your plein air artist. It seems like we only see the sun twice a week and not for long.  This weather pattern can’t last much longer.

I’m excited for the chance to draw at Legend! It’s a great view of the city, and it’s friendly and safe. They have a good reputation for their craft beers too.

My plan is to transfer this sketch onto three 12 x 12 canvases and paint a triptych. I’ll have to draw it again with charcoal on the canvases and make more corrections before I start on the underpainting.  You can see the smeary places where I made corrections and the charcoal didn’t erase very well. And I taped four pieces of paper together to get the drawing up to 36″. I tried twice to get a start on the sketch and didn’t get anything I could work with until the 3rd try. Then I used the width of the Federal Reserve building (the tallest one) as a unit of measure to check the scale as I went along from West to East adding the buildings. It might not be exactly accurate, but it’s not too far off. The temptation when I’m trying to draw buildings is that they keep getting bigger as I go along. That tells me my drawing is out of control, stop and check the proportions again. So, sometimes I check the proportions by measuring with a pencil held out at arm’s length, and sometimes I just eyeball the scale.

It’s going to be a challenge to paint this.

Abandoned Coast Guard Station on Assateague Island, VA.

charcoal and chalk

charcoal and chalk


I walked about a mile over sand to get there carrying my sketch book and a water bottle. You can drive down the beach if you have the right kind of vehicle. The refuge on Assateague was crowded that day because it was open free to the public on National Parks Day, but I was all alone that far down the beach.

The abandoned Coast Guard Station looks a little spooky to me. I guess the reason they stopped using it is because the shifting sand extended the island another half mile down from there in a hook shape and probably changed the channel too.

I’m not going to do a finished painting of it because it’s too far to lug my painting gear. It’s pretty with red roofs contrasting with the stark empty beach.

oil study after “portrait of a Young Woman” by Pourbus the Elder / painted by Tim Harriss

art opening debriefing follows

art opening debriefing follows


A friendly guard at the museum told me the employees of the VMFA had a show of their own work called “Inside Out” opening last night in the VMFA Studio School, an old house across Grove Ave. from the museum.

I got there about 6:30 and the empty wine glasses were everywhere. The space isn’t large and it was packed with people drinking wine and engaged in loud conversations. A good time was had by all. I didn’t stay to drink because I didn’t see the guards who talk to me and there wasn’t much food out.

I was curious to see if any of the museum employees are studying the masters. YES ! One of them is! I thought this was the most beautiful piece in the show. I don’t think it was traced. Rock on, Tim Harriss!

Pourbus the Elder was a Flemish Renaissance painter.

Pitcher Plant Flowers / charcoal

a study

a study


The name of these is Sarracenia Flave. They’re native from Virginia to Louisiana. They’re funny looking flowers, all droopy with heads hanging down. I also drew in some unopened pitchers coming up.

Bluebells / color study

oil on paper

oil on paper


I’m working on a painting of Poe’s enchanted garden. It’s almost finished except for the flowers. I was standing on one side of the garden wall to draw the architecture I liked and I noticed the flowers on the other side are blooming. So I have to use my artistic license to move them. The Poe museum is closed on Mon. and rain is coming in. I went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to work on my study. Lewis Ginter is only a mile away from here. Now that I have the colors I want and an idea how to draw the Bluebells I can finish the painting at home if it rains for a few days.

my study / Large Seated Lion by Antoine-Louis Barye

original in bronze. my study graphite and white chalk

original in bronze.
my study graphite and white chalk

The bronze is small but I get the feeling this is a very strong animal as I’m trying to copy all the muscle groups. A museum guard and I both wondered if Barye exaggerated  the anatomy. I think the sculptures are probably anatomically correct but they seem like stronger lions than what I see on TV.

It’s important when you do a drawing study to stand in front of your subject and make the drawing as close to what you see as you can. If you take a photo and trace it you don’t remember things like muscle groups as well. And the proportions of the subject get a little file in your brain that you can use in the future. But if I took photos of lions I would only have a drawer full of photos.

At York Academy of Art they told us drawing is the most important skill an artist must have. The better your drawing skill is the better your paintings will be. There’s always room for improvement so an artist is not wasting time if they do a lot of sketches they never use for a finished painting. Every study is a challenge and answers questions.

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