Sunday, January 29, 2012

God Save the Queen's Lace

 This wasn't the post I expected to write, but Mari (MJ) Brown of Colour Blob Design posted her photograph of a Queen's Anne Lace here and said the magic words "you can use it" and "I would love to see what and how you would create it on paper."

So today, when I was going to be out and about and it looked like I would have some time to paint, I quickly printed her photograph and took it with me.

Now, I don't know what Queen's Anne Lace is, and have no idea if I've ever seen it, so this was to be something like Durer sketching a rhinoceros.  Except I had a photo of course.

The photo brought to mind when I used to run around as a boy in the field behind our block.  There were small ankle-high scraggly weeds with tufts of cotton-like wisps that would sometimes catch a breeze and float in the air.  At least that's how I remember it.

That was how I saw this plant.  I could see the whole thing floating along in the wind.  I toyed with painting it that way.

So doing my due diligence, never having seen a Q.A.L. before, I used my cell phone to bring up images of Queen Anne's Lace.  There was momentary confusion when I saw beautiful small petaled white flowers.  There were none in the photo - but that's okay.  I had a photograph, and photos never lie, do they? 

So I painted my wispy Queen Anne's Lace.  I was very satisfied.  I am still satisfied.

But I had forgotten where Mari lives.  She is in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  She said it was a "fantastic winter day" when she took this photo.  It was -5 degrees Celsius (which is 20 degrees Fahrenheit) so what I took for cotton-like wisps were balls of ice!!  Those dark scraggly dead stalks were where the flowers should have been.

What do I know?  I'm a Floridian!

I spent more time trying to get the colors of my picture right on this darn monitor than painting the plant itself.  They still are not right, but as close as I can get.  The painting was too subtle.  I hope the feel of it has been conveyed to you anyway.

As you know, I love drawing people.  Then comes the time to paint, which I also love.  I had the sketch of the guy to the right in my sketchbook, and the other day another gentleman sat down in a small eating establishment in just the right spot -and he was involved in a conversation.  And the skin tones were just right.  There is no substitute for a live model.  I managed to finish before he got up to leave.

And it just so happens that as he was leaving, he glanced down at my sketch.  He was delighted!  He told me how much he liked it and proudly announced that he had a BFA from such-and-such a school and did computer animation!  That was the first time that anything like that had ever happened to me.  He was so awfully nice that I almost told him that the skin color on this man was his!  Then I thought that that bit of info might be better disclosed on another day.

The model for the sketch (not the painting) moved around a lot.  This accounts for the odd positions of the arms.  What is he doing?  I don't know!  Conjuring flowers?

What is he holding?  Beats me!  Is it a tv remote?  A Wii controller?  I hope not.

I think this is why artists say haughtily, "I leave it to the viewer to interpret my work."  [Clear throat].  So if you have any idea what he is doing, or what is in his hand, or what I can put in his hand, please let me know, dear viewer, because you know better than me.

A few days after painting that sketch I was at Einstein's Bagels, sitting outside, painting another of my sketches.  Another man walked by.  This guy got so excited and he too proudly announced his degree in art - such-and-such a school, and all that!  That's twice in one week!

He said, "I'd have expected you to be at a cafe', not here."

"I am. This is a poor man's cafe'" I said.  In fact, I added, "I've yet to see anyone else doing what I'm doing anywhere in Miami, have you?"

"Come to think of it, I haven't!" he responded.

So tell me, where are all the other Miami artists?  Why aren't they out and about sketching at every eating establishment like the artists in Toronto or in Portland?  Or in public with their easels? 

It's not as if the weather isn't good.  Right Mari?  Right?


  1. Great sketches Dan, love the Queen Anne Lace. The guy looks as though he's throwing flower petals over his shoulder in a love me love me not kinda way...don't think you need anything in his hand but I know nothing about portraits (as I'm discovering)

  2. I remember driving down the road in a small town close to where I live and seeing a woman on the sidewalk painting with an easel. She was creating the bookstore acorss the street. I wanted so much to have been able to look over her shoulder, talk to her, reach out. Art sometimes does that you're very fortunate for those experiences.

  3. I love the Queen Anne Lace it's beautiful and delicate, I remember seeing Mari's photo last week, I'm sure she'll be pleased.
    If you widened the 'object' that the man has in his hand he could be playing a garden?

  4. Hello Dan,
    Well the first painting is beautiful. I keep telling myself to do some sketches like that. Maybe of wild flowers on the island. Although a lot of wild weeds can be fantastic close up.
    Queen Anne's Lace (Anthriscus sylvestris) also called Cow Parsley or Cow Mumble And some people call it Galiums(well in the UK). It would be a shame if we were to loose names used for 100's+ years.
    The second painting is great too. I wish I could sketch people like that. Come to think of it - I wish I had the guts to just go out there and do it. I think the guy is holding an artist detector.
    Great colours and tones.

  5. Great post, as usual, Dan. You captured the delicacy of Queen's Anne Lace.

  6. Love your paintings and your courage to draw in public. I'm still not there.

  7. I'd ahve thought it was fluffy stuff not snow too. It is a lovely delicate painting, who cares if it's an artists interpretation. I've just read Stew's comment and I know cow parsley and this is pretty close :)

    Conjuring flowers is a lovely image, as is your sketch of the guy.

  8. Obviously you are getting very good at drawing people. Kudos from other artists at the scene is a great pat on the back. YOU will be starting the local plein air group. My guess is that the subject is getting ready to eat a candy bar!

  9. You got QAL down pat. That is what it looks like when been cut. QAL is a botanical challenge--very lacy, very delicate, very pretty. When cut, it begins to die immediately.
    As for the guy, I think from your hand form that he was holding a glass--no clue what was in his left--might have been gesturing the waitperson to bring him a refill? We don't have any cafe's around here at this time of year when there's a blizzard blowing outside. If I lived where you do, I'd be at Einstein's Bagels often with pad and pens--and have been. It's as good as place as any and the coffee's good. As for running into people who have their BFAs and stop to chat, that is unusual--and a compliment. They wouldn't have noticed you if what you were doing wasn't note worthy.

  10. I'll have to keep an eye out for Queen's Ann Lace--it looks familiar. Great work; now you can try the rhino.

    I think Stew is right--your model's holding an artist detector. I'd worry about his right hand, though--could be casting a spell. Wonderful color in this sketch.

  11. great work, dan - love the delicateness of the flower, something very mystical about it. ANd love the watercolour treatment in your portrait. fabulous!

  12. Hey Dan...Love the Queen Anne's Lace. When I was a girl (in Illinois) it was everywhere and considered a weed...but I always wondered how it could be a weed, when it was so beautiful and had such a great name! Your guy looks to be gesturing as he is telling a story..the story might be about "chopping". I don't know where the Florida sketchers are...but oddly enough, I have never seen any sketchers here in Oregon. I know there are here, but I've never "run into" any of them! (The people I know who occasionally sketch with me do not count). Love both your sketches--I am glad you are noticed by people who graduated from art school....your sketching in real time may be just what they need to go by themselves a sketch book and pen. You are like an ambassador!

  13. Thats fantastic painting Dan, you got the QAL spot on. I can understand why you were confused with the images you found on line when you looked up QAL, because a lot of the images are from the flower it is during summer months. Its a pretty flower and very lace like, and the name comes from a legend of Queen Anne (I will put in my blog : )
    The picture I had/have is of the flower what it looks like in winter (the seed pod stage).
    You did a lovely painting of it!!!

    I also like the painting of the man, its hard to do when the subject is moving all the time, but you did really well. Great post, as always!!!

  14. I finally got here! Love both drawings. I think I'm afraid of fragile things like the Queen Anne's Lace. My stuff always seems so heavy. You've done a great job at keeping the delicate look. The man is great. How wonderful that the artist guy stopped to acknowledge your work. Excellent!!! And as usual, great story!

  15. Love your take on Queen Anne's Lace. In the second sketch-WOW I love how you rendered the face!

  16. I just came from Mari's blog and am delighted to find your Queen Anne's Lace here. It is a beautifully elegant painting! And I love your people sketches and the stories that go along with them.

  17. Thank you all so much. Together we have concluded that the man is telling a story in a garden with grand gestures - he is throwing flowers in a love-me-love-me-not kind of way and occasionally throwing a Karate chop. In is other hand he is holding an artist detector, disguised as a chocolate bar or a queen of diamonds, and look - he has found all of you! Now we know.

    And it looks like I've captured QAL despite myself - or you all are just being too kind.

    Thanks you - your comments mean so much to me.

  18. That Queen Anne's Lace =) Breathtaking (cough...cough) and you made it look so soft and fluffy! That guy looks like he's holding a salt shaker and he's spilling too much on his invisible food, and probably holding some parsley on the other hand and he's impulsively throwing it away because he couldn't believe people don't seal the salt shaker properly....hahahaha.. ^^

  19. Love the plant. Especially the colours. Very nicely done.

  20. I'm intimately acquainted with Queen Anne's Lace, and I say you've done a superb job of capturing the plant in the seed stage. I'm sure that you'll do just as well with a rendering of QAL in full flower. You ARE planning such a painting, aren't you?:)