Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

5" x 7" watercolor on 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough paper
South Florida.

A quiet walk outside is disturbed by a tumult of squawking.  A company of parrots traverses the sky.

Three lanes of traffic on US-1 come to a halt as a peacock casually crosses the road.

A car dealership on Bird Road (I kid you not), first thing in the morning before it is open is sprinkled with pepper - hundreds of nondescript black birds called grackles. They loudly perch in groups on every car, every surrounding wire, and along the rims of bordering buildings.  Every day I suppose the employees must rewash the cars if they are ever to hope to sell them.

In Miami, a white ibis, with its orange decurved bill, visits our home so often that my wife has named it.  When he appears we call for our son Matthew and stand together at the window, watching, as the ibis strides across our yard.  He is "Commander", his bearing so proud that it must be so.  Sometimes he brings his army - ten or twenty other birds.

After dropping my son off at a weekly Saturday activity, I'd drive to a spot  in downtown Davie, Florida, where the branch of a tree would extend along the shoreline of a canal.  There every week, without fail, a white ibis would stand.  I like to think it was the same bird week after week.  I sketched him and painted the surrounding trees and the leaves on the branch.

The next week, when I returned, the branch had been cut. The ibis was gone, the beauty of the spot diminished.

This also is South Florida.

This little page had a few incarnations.  A few months ago I sat in the backyard of my sister-in-law's house in central Florida, and sketched the stylized sun that was hanging on her fence.  I then attempted to paint the fence, in yellow ochre, and was not at all happy with the result.  I tucked the paper away.  Then, when I saw the ibis, I decided to put him on the same sheet.  I paint the trunks of the trees and then the leaves in the middle of the page and the leaves were so tedious that I quit.  I put off doing anything more with the page - again for weeks (if not months), not wanting to deal with the leaves.

But then I saw master watercolorist David Lobenberg, at his blog here, and his loose treatment of leaves, and I thought - voila! (because that is how artists express excitement - voila!) - and pulled out the page again.  I had done this before - why not here?  Not all of the leaves had to be so exacting.  I began covering the page with a wash and then the impression of the leaves and grasses from memory.  I was surprised at the richness of color and the depth.  It was enhanced by the yellow ochre underneath I think.

So there you are:  a Florida story. 

6" x 3" watercolor on 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico extra white hot press paper

A few days ago, from a distance, I spotted some more Florida wildlife.  Retirees.  In their native habitat.  A lucky find, I think.  Ah, South Florida, with so much to offer.

My Most Valuable Critic has complained that my last three pictures (the two in this post, and the one in the last) look too similar. 

"They are so green", she said.

"But they are outside", I replied.

"But they are so green," she said.

"Then you can consider this to be my Green Period!" I replied, brandishing my beret, then tilting it smartly on my head. 

And what, I ask you, could she say to that?


  1. Green is a fave color of mine, so...
    Create On ~ !

  2. How interesting. I love the development of this picture.

    A green period, fab retort

  3. Tell her that green is tough to pull off---and you've done it is something to be very proud of. You know, I love the narrative about the birds of Florida. My Mom used to have some sort of gigantic crane that would stand on the roof of her house. I think she felt very flattered that he only would stand on her house and one other neighbor's house. It was as if they were ordained. Commander would have been a good name for him too. I really enjoy the luminous quality of painting number #1 and the loose style in the golfers painting. Good work!

  4. Great art and great stories as usual

  5. I really like your South Florida story/experience =) And yes I'd love to visit someday... somehow, I am sure if fate permits.
    The art is beautiful as always Dan, fully of life, full of reality(not like those fake reality TV shows which I simply call bad acting from cheap actors)

  6. Green is my favorite colour (ok, along with every other colour).
    Both paintings have a wonderful watercolour treatment.
    To anyone who hasn't yet done so - try clicking on the pics to get the bigger err..picture. The larger versions look even better. I wish mine did that - mine just show the imperfections better.
    I'm glad you stuck with the first painting - it proved to work beautifully.
    And something about the colours and the way the paint blends in the second is fantastic.

  7. I am loving your green period! And seeing all of your native wildlife. And, of course, your trees are spectacular!

  8. Great surroundings and wonderful story, love your watercolor.

  9. Fun blog post - again you kept me reading to the end even though I'm on vacation and trying to rush through "gogle reader" this AM to get out in the snow. Almost no green here in the Sierras.

  10. I also enjoy the colour green a lot, more than oranges, yellows and blues... Lets just say green is on the top of 20 on my list. The first painting you did has a dream like feel to it, like there is a fog yet its sunny while its almost night time (Im sure that makes no sense and no, I did not have too much to drink...) It has a dream like quality to it. And I think its due to the layers that you worked with and added on. And for birds, I think it the second painting where you caught some retirees and if Im not wrong they are also knowns as Canadian Snow Birds, they come in all the colours under the rainbow and their main call is "Eh, Eh, Eh"

    Great work Dan and I think you can never have enough Green!!!

  11. You have a very distinctive personal style. Wonderful! I like both of these paintings. Thank you for the Bird Road story!!
    Happy Painting,

  12. Hi Dan, Your writings and paintings are so much fun I can't help but smile. Gotta love the native wildlife on the green! When you're done with tropical green you can come up to the Northwest and work on cool, wet green :)

  13. Again enjoyed your post despite the fact that, for me, only one picture appears. Ahhh, the love/hate relationship with computers.

  14. Great pictures Dan and a lovely Florida story...I'm enjoying your green period

  15. Good job you sketched the ibis before it disappeared, I wonder how long your 'green' period will last?

  16. You are a master watercolorist Dan. I'm sorry the state destroyed the state. I'll be back to read the Florida Story in full. I have to make dinner now.

  17. I am enjoying your green period; don the beret and keep painting. In my area we see cows in the middle of the road, but very few peacocks. I do have an occasional heron from my dock; I watch him from an upstairs window.

  18. Well I'm not going to give you the bird on this piece of writing Dan; you sure can turn a sentence. The top painting is a marvel--very special. It's so fun when you just keep playing with a painting you messed up and it suddenly becomes a masterpiece. I think that's what you've got here--as green as it is. As for the retirees in the green park, green is why we fly South.

  19. I am LOVING your green period, Dan. It is my favorite color, and yours have such richness. Beautiful, beautiful sketches! What color, I wonder, is the beret???

  20. Green indeed and so well done. As is your story of Florida life. An aptly named Bird street and then retirees who set a scene of Florida. Florida- home of the white Ibis, scratch golfers, and the artist, Dan Kent, who is in his green period.

  21. Thank you all so much! Green is good - hope you snowbirds see some soon. Addressing a few of you, more specifically:

    Celeste - You really ought to move back here, next door to I can really learn to pain.

    Alex, see you real soon! Get it?

    Stew - Thanks so much, that's quite a compliment.

    Mari - Yeah, those layers surprised me. Thanks. We are grateful for the calls of the Canadians, except when we are on the road. (Just kidding).

    Pamo - Yep, it is my native habitat.

  22. What's supposed to happen, at the end of a quest? Cheers and accolades, Josh knew; people throw their hats in the air, and you glow with pride as they lift you to their shoulders. What else? Medals, speeches and a great feast, and then a ballad about your exploits, and finally, as the fireworks go off overhead, a soft, clean, fresh bed.
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