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The details of a wisteria

The wisterias are magnificent now, their beauty cascading over walls and pergolas and trees and gates, windows and towers, roofs and even pathways. I just had to take on a painting or two, try and capture a little of their glory.

I tried twice again, not being too happy with the first try. I took on another corner, more “architectural”, more detailed, brighter colors, with which I am quite feels like “me”.


And I just can’t get away from it- detail- I need detail. Without it, I can’t stress. I can’t be obsessive compulsive. Without detail in my life, I can’t experience beauty. I can’t create beauty. Without detail, life is very foggy and leaves only an impression of what might be out there…very much like the first painting of these wisterias.


Watercolor and ink on Arches HP
23 x 31cm (9″ x 12″)



Fanta said…
Wonderful again, Ronell. I love the way the shadows “dance” on the wall surface created by your careful layering, especially in the first one.
Have a great Sunday!
April 22, 2007 2:01 PM  
Lindsay said…
I like how you do these a couple of times! Lovely job.
I’ve been trying to get my wisteris to bloom for YEARS. Stubborn things refuse to flower.
April 22, 2007 5:14 PM  
Teri C said…
You are persistant arn’t you! The signs of a good detail person….I recognize it because that’s me too.Those wisteria are wonderfu and beautiful. So glad you persisted to your satisfaction.BTW, I was just reading about creativity and a detail person is called “bios’ or the dteails of life, and the person that has an overview of things is called ‘zoe’ or the essence of life.

Hmm, I bet that is more information than you wanted! 🙂

April 22, 2007 6:43 PM  
Lin said…
GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS!!!! The frost nipped ours and I haven’t seen much since then — so I am thoroughly enjoying yours!! Did you know you can eat the flowers?? BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT THE SEEDS!!
April 22, 2007 11:13 PM  
Lin said…
PS — I’M RIGHT THERE WITH YOU AND DETAIL … MAKES ME SO UNCOMFORTABLE WHEN I LEAVE IT OUT!!! Hard to learn to live with simlicity — i do love the detail!!! lol
April 22, 2007 11:14 PM  
Dave said…
I love wisteria, and you’ve really captured it in these lovely pictures!
April 22, 2007 11:36 PM  
beautiful! i LOVE wisteria and the draping laziness of it. great pictures!
April 23, 2007 1:59 AM  
Nancy said…
Love the wisteria – I, too, have been trying to get mine to bloom – they are 9 years old now. Is there any hope?These a gorgeous!
April 23, 2007 5:13 AM  
aPugsLife-laserone said…
Oh my gosh, I just love these! My favorite is the first one. I’m such a sucker for blue. Very beautiful! 🙂
April 23, 2007 9:26 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
These are both beautiful, but the second one does more to convey the delicacy of wisteria – such a tough subject.
April 23, 2007 10:59 AM  
Sandy said…
I love Wisteria and mine is huge, but never blooms !!!!! I want to paint them too!!! Just Lovely! You have been busy!
April 23, 2007 5:07 PM  
Carole said…
I’m another wisteria fan, and I agree that you’ve really got the essence of wisteria in this second painting. The twisted branches and those wonderful long cascades of blue/lilac flowers. I once painted the detail of just one of those tiny little flowers – I may post it on my blog.
April 23, 2007 10:55 PM  
phthaloblu said…
I understand all about detail. Yep! As much as I try to get away from it, I am only happy when it looks like what I’m looking at. These are both so beautiful. I love wisteria, too, the way it hangs and looks. It’s all around my house, but not in my yard. Wonderfully done.
April 24, 2007 3:15 PM  
platitudinal said…
Thank you for your unrelenting pursue of details, we all benefit from it and get to enjoy the beauty you created based from your search.*Honestly speaking, though, Ronell, I think both takes of the wisterias are appealing. 🙂

Three times different

These are the results of my drawing afternoon with Casey yesterday. I tried something different to get out of my rut and ran into all kinds of trouble. Not that I can define “something different”…


The first one is just plain ugly and I’ve deleted it a few times from the blog, but decided finally to keep it. I wanted so many things fitted in and I chose the smallest format. I didn’t even complete it, just grabbed a brush pen and filled in some rough lines.


After Casey had left, I gave it another try, obstinate to get this scene in my pocket! I don’t feel much for this sketch…proportions are completely wrong, some ugly darks, even more cramped, in spite of a bigger format. Overall just a bad, disturbing painting that makes me want to come up for air.The third one I did this afternoon and decided it would be now or never. The plants need to get into the ground. I was still obstinate, so I kept to the same scene. I used an even larger format and this time I did use all the space. There is still too much detail and finicky pieces and not enough depth, but this it! I still can’t say what it is I wanted to do differently. I at least hope this last one broke my spell. 


 Watercolor on Fabriano HP. See Casey’s painting from yesterday, she also tried something different…take a look



Dave said…
You’re too hard on yourself! And anyway, trying something different is always with doing!
April 18, 2007 10:21 PM  
bec said…
I like the way you made the table and chair less of a focal point in the third try….it doesn’t compete for attention. I want a table and chair set like the one you painted. I bet your garden is beautiful!
April 19, 2007 1:26 AM  
Lindsay said…
I love them all! This was a hard subject and your really stuck with it. I wish I could come out with you and Casey!! Lucky you.
p.s. This is supposed to be “FUN”.
No being mean to yourself!
April 19, 2007 2:56 AM  
Brenda Y said…
Third time is the CHARM! I really like this! It’s so “SPRING.” Truly, this would look fantastic framed and hung on a sun porch. I love all the objects (particularly fond of the hat) and the pop of color from the pot of flowers is just perfect.
Thanks for posting all three! It’s really encouraging to see the progression and perseverance!!
April 19, 2007 3:21 AM  
Teri C said…
Bravo to you for your persistance. I love the third one but I also like the other ones too. It looks like a difficult subject, and I’m sure you learned a lot on the way.
April 19, 2007 4:51 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
Ronell, all three of these came out great. I don’t think the first one is ugly at all, as a matter of fact I think it’s full of charm. On the second one you’ve done an incredible job on the chair – you can just feel the texture of the metal basketweave, and the third is light and airy.
You have a distinctive style in watercolor, very elegant and yet relaxed(very French somehow) that brings to mind illustrations from the 1950s.
April 19, 2007 8:21 AM  
Carole said…
Actually, I really like the quality of the lines on the first one, and I also like the tones of the wash. The third one has a nice quality of light to it, and I love the flowers, particularly the flower on the hat. It’s a beautiful composition overall, so well done for sticking with it! I think it bore fruit, don’t you?
April 19, 2007 2:36 PM  
Sandy said…
Glorious taste of springtime, I love your work and envy you and Casey and your challenge/committment – Can’t wait to see them each week, who knows maybe I can join in some time.
April 19, 2007 8:11 PM  
platitudinal said…
What a dedicated artist you are! I love all of them. And, I’m glad you posted all of your tries. Each one has something special that the other doesn’t have.
April 20, 2007 12:35 PM  
Jana Bouc said…
Good for you to keep going until you get what you were striving for. The funny thing is that my favorite is the first one. I know it didn’t capture the look you wanted but it’s still a wonderful piece. The last one is technically better but the first one is full of energy and expressiveness somehow. They’re all worthy of appreciation though and not at all ugly!
April 20, 2007 6:06 PM  
Ujwala said…
All three are wonderful but I too especially like the first one.All the best with your new goal.
April 20, 2007 8:50 PM  
mARTa said…
well, the first one has it’s own charm, What I like about the 2nd one is the chair and compositon. The 3rd is light and airy and just as lovely.
So where is France are you and Casey? I will be in paris for 8 days in October…just roaming and skething…maybe we can meet and paint?
April 22, 2007 1:54 AM  
aPugsLife-laserone said…
These are really great! I love how determined you are. 🙂 🙂
April 22, 2007 4:21 AM  
Linda said…
Well, I love the last one, so I guess the third time is the charm, although I don’t know how you did three paintings of the same thing — all in a row! I would have been pulling my hair out!
🙂 All three have their good bits, though, as I think has been well stated by earlier commenters.
April 22, 2007 2:26 PM  
Africantapestry said…
thank you for all the comments…much apprecaited!
April 22, 2007 4:29 PM  
phthaloblu said…
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Any time you step outside your comfort zone, you are going to be challenged. Not only on how you see your subject, but on how you interpret it also. I think these are wonderful little sketches. Keeping playing with them and something will come out of it that will satisfy you. Just remember, it’s always a learning experience.

Ugly, but couldn’t do without

I have found “ugly” to be an emotional concept, at least for me…
When you know the story behind it, “ugly!”, turns into “oohh how sweet!”
On a bad mood day, I see more ugly people than usual; my car is ugly, which is usually not a problem, since I couldn’t care less about a beautiful car; the dry winter scenes, which are normally architectural masterpieces, are just plain ugly and my bedroom mirror, which is most days a sweet and kind soul, shows its mean side.

Today isn’t a bad day, so I couldn’t find anything ugly around me. Even the dishwasher and washing machine, fridge…all those machine-things have their beauty today, maybe because they still do their job so dutifully?

I decided that garbage bins are my love-hate passion in life. Every day. They are not emotion-related. They are a cruel reality of life on earth. I hate every form of waste… energy, time, food, water, garbage…A Garbage bin to me, signifies the ugly side of life. But I couldn’t do without it. In shame I hang my head and I embrace my bins, glad I only have to fill them and someone else, more courageous then me, will take care of the problem elsewhere! So, here I give you the ugly side of my life and unfortunately, yours as well….

I wanted to depict these bins as ugly, so I gave only 5 minutes to myself to do each, wash included and I kept to it. I used Pentel brush pen and watercolor pencils; black….and red and green for a touch of beauty, since this isn’t a bad mood day….



Kunya said…
Nice take on the subject and I amazed what you can do in 5 min.
April 12, 2007 7:03 PM  
Lin said…
Your words are so RIGHT ON!!! And you made those can beautiful, my friend!!!! I may have to tag onto your idea … I am having a hard time with this challenge!
April 12, 2007 7:17 PM  
Sandy said…
Wow – nice sketches for 5 minutes!! Yes ugly but sentimental by necessity!!
April 12, 2007 8:36 PM  
Shirley said…
Fabulous, as always. I love this loose style.
April 12, 2007 8:53 PM  
Carole said…
Great idea for the challenge – I too am having difficulty with it. I wish I could draw this well in 5 mins! But then maybe that’s why your sketches are so alive and vibrant? I like the little touches of colour in them.
April 12, 2007 10:40 PM  
Emma Pod said…
Wonderful choice of an “ugly” item. I agree with you about mood and ugliness….they do tend to go together. I like the gray tones in these drawing and the touches of color add something nice. You are right about the existential ickiness of garbage/waste.
April 13, 2007 1:28 AM  
platitudinal said…
Ronell, I like what you wrote about this ‘ugly’ theme. I appreciate your honesty when you admit you see more ugly people when you are in the bad mood. I see your perspective of the trash bin as a symbol of waste and how it pertains to our life.Thank you for the thoughtful post and the accompanying pictures. You tried to portray ugly, but you couldn’t help bringing some element of beauty in it … like the brilliant red of the trash bag tie, and the lush green foliage that slipped quietly in the corner.
April 13, 2007 4:50 AM  
Brenda Y said…
This post needs to be published! What a wonderful take on “trash to treasure!” You’ve made waste beautiful and given us so much to ponder as far as how our moods effect our outlook. Thanks!
April 13, 2007 6:00 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
I thoroughly agree with everyone’s comments – this is a wonderful post, and you’ve made charming drawings out of a rather un-lovely object. I just love the touch of color. Beautiful work, Ronell.
April 13, 2007 8:16 AM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for the comments, everyone.
While I was doing this post, I thought how I would enjoy doing more “important”(by lack of better description) art, not pretty pictures, but art that touches, rises questions, thoughts, discussion, even controversy…but to do that, you have to be brave and a bit careless, I think, not worrying about hurting feelings all the time, like I do!
I am working on that though, searching for how I can say something important with my brush…
April 13, 2007 8:23 AM  
Deb Salter said…
I really liked your thoughts on ‘ugly’! And your drawings are amazing, I hope it doesn’t spoil it, but they’re really attractive bins!
April 13, 2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous said…
Hello. These are incredible, great obervation and take on the challenge!
April 13, 2007 3:46 PM  
bec said…
I so agree with your ideas about this challenge–I’m having such a hard time finding something “ugly” to draw. Your trash cans are beautiful!
April 13, 2007 5:16 PM  
Silvia said…
Really wonderful idea on “something ugly”. :)!!
April 13, 2007 9:13 PM  
MrsSnowy said…
You get no points for Ugly because, as has been noted, you’ve made your trash cans beautiful! I love that tone and the character in your lines! You do get a star though, for a great post. 🙂
April 14, 2007 6:44 PM  
SCquiltaddict said…
TOOO funny and what a great job with a great idea!
April 15, 2007 1:30 AM  
nita said…
Great interpretation of the theme and excellent sketches for the limited time allocation. Love those little hints of colour.
April 15, 2007 5:35 PM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for all the kind comments.
April 15, 2007 6:04 PM  
phthaloblu said…
Nice choice for the theme. I, too, hate wastefulness of any kind, and I think it’s worse when you can SEE it. 5 minutes? Wow, I am amazed what can be achieved in that amount of time. Well done!
April 16, 2007 4:23 AM  
Teri C said…
it’s perfect for ugly and sooooo well done.Love your little quick sketches also.

The elegant fences of the countryside

The countryside provides a wealth of “elegant” fences…
I took Robyn( ), up on her suggestion a previous time, and did these sketches on site with a water soluble pen and 2 waterbrushes and my moleskin, along with nerves of steel(for standing right on the edge of the narrow French countryroads) and a pretence(so I would at least give the impression that I know what I’m doing) and chewing gum – that is for the nerves and the pretence…




Deborah said…
Once again a lovely little series of fences. They all look like cool breezy days but you have given them a real softness.
April 6, 2007 7:42 PM  
Shirley said…
These are such fun – interesting fences and nice loose sketches.
April 6, 2007 7:57 PM  
Lin said…
April 6, 2007 8:13 PM  
bec said…
You’re makin me want to get out and try the pen, brush and water plein air thing too! Nice atmosphere in your work….each of your fences seems to tell a story.
April 6, 2007 9:42 PM  
Carole said…
I could use some of these in my project! I really like these lively sketches. They inspire me to try and loosen up a bit! Great stuff.
April 6, 2007 10:00 PM  
Teri C said…
You are spoiling us…I love all your little answers to a challenge. Each one of these is wonderful!!
April 6, 2007 10:01 PM  
jill said…
fantastic job. amazing how interesting an old fence can be and how truly beautiful when done well. i really liked these!
April 7, 2007 1:54 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
Ronell, these are exceptional. And I know how utterly terrifying it can be to stand on a country road in France. Your sketching style is so free and expressive.
April 7, 2007 9:01 AM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for all the comments, I really appreciate them!Bec…You should give the plein air etc. a go, you’ll get hooked and there is a very special satisfaction in looking back at your sketch and remembering the experience.I’m looking forward to seeing yours soon!Carole, your latest landscape/fence is already a nice lively and loose sketch!


April 7, 2007 11:34 AM  
Lindsay said…
These are completely CHARMING! I love every one of them. You make them look as if they were done in color with the beautiful grays.
April 7, 2007 1:34 PM  
mARTa said…
oh Ronell, they are all wonderful. I love your sketches and would love to sit with you and Casey and sketch sometime!! If only we didn’t have an ocean between us!
April 8, 2007 6:47 AM  
MrsSnowy said…
I’d just like to clarify that I did NOT suggest you stand on the edge of narrow French roads, Ronell! You must have nerves of steel. Your fences are full of atmosphere and that tone looks very classy.
I’m grinning from ear to ear, from getting a personal mention in your blog. Thank you 🙂
April 8, 2007 10:37 AM  
platitudinal said…
To Ronell whose nerves are made of steel,I admire how you can produce such lovely sketches under strenuous circumstance. I especially love how the lines seem so lively and lithe … they told us a tale of how your pen and brushes danced deftly on the paper.*Many thanks for the chewing gum tip!

April 8, 2007 3:28 PM  
Emma Pod said…
I like your somewhat dilapidated fences! Each one has such good tonal values and they evoke the countryside. I think the gum-chewing was a good trick to give you courage and fortitude.
April 8, 2007 10:00 PM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for the comments, everyone!Marta..oceans, in my opinion, are there to be crossed! So, cross it and come visit for a 3 nights or so(I have more than enough room) and we can sketch whatever stands still long enough to give us a line and a color!My pleasure to you, Robyn, after all, it was your idea that roamed in my thoughts when I set out to do this challenge.

And, I actually hate chewing gum, apart from it being groase seeing someone chew constantly and stepping in it in the streets, it hurts my jaw!

April 9, 2007 9:07 AM  
Sandy said…
Each fence study is very interesting, and quite intriguing – you found unique subjects. Bravo!
April 9, 2007 6:06 PM  
Linda said…
Great studies! I particularly like the top one — although I’m having a hard time imagining what it would have been like standing on the side of a narrow road with no shoulder to draw! You get points for bravery!
April 9, 2007 11:29 PM  
Jana Bouc said…
Charming sketches and fun to picture you there chewing gum trying to look confident. I like the way you’ve suggested detail in a painterly way.
April 10, 2007 4:36 PM  
Fanta said…
I simply adore these dramatic fences. I like this “organized mess” that comes with it in your compositions.
April 13, 2007 12:18 PM  
andrea joseph’s sketchblog said…
These are fabulous studies. Really nice indeed. I think the new pen has worked well. They actually make me want to get out and do this challenge. The top one is my fave!