A trio of mandarins.

I recently attended the annual Internet Librarian conference in Monterey, and one of my friends from LA brought a passel of mandarin oranges and shared them with everyone at the table in a session about Big Data. I was reminded of how lucky we are to live in agricultural paradise when some of the people at the table ooooohed and aaaaahed about the idea of having a mandarin orange tree in one’s own backyard.

Knowing my mandarin wouldn’t last until I got home, since I still had 2 more back-to-back trips in my conferencepalooza, I photo’d my mandarin down at Fisherman’s Wharf and started drawing it when I returned to my studio a couple weeks later. I’m afraid I didn’t really do it justice, but here’s my trio of mandarins in monterey, oil left, watercolor above, pastel right:

 photo Mandarins_zps03eb66e1.jpg

Next up, and in progress: a trio of persimmons.

Previously, in the trio series: a trio of eggplants.

A trio of eggplants.

I know when I started this little trio project I said I wasn’t going to draw produce from my own garden, that I was tired of all the usual suspects out there and couldn’t stand to look at another tomato or pepper, but then I picked this:

 photo Eggplants_zps900df48b.jpg

It’s a standard variety called Black Beauty, and I usually only plant one of these amongst my many Japanese and Thai varieties because for some reason Black Beauties consistently give me just one fruit per plant. No matter where I plant it and what I do to the soil, I just get one every year. So at least this one really lived up to its name.

Watercolor left, pastel above, oil right. I’m still struggling with the immediacy of watercolor. I like to fuss and fix and re-work and nitpick for hours, and that’s just not in watercolor’s nature. You can tell this one is over-worked to death, but even so there are certain things I like about what happens to a watercolor when it’s re-wetted and worked over and blotted out and such. A balance of that and laying down the right value and stroke at the outset is my ultimate goal.

The pastel is different than my usual. I’m a huge fan of blending, but in this one I never once blended, except with the pastels themselves. Blending in pastel is ridiculously controversial in the art world, with all the old-school art teachers telling their students that one must NEVER blend lest your art die a horrible muddy death, and holier-than-thou artists who tell their interviewers that they never blend and never work from photographs because [insert ridiculous judgmental reason here]. I almost always blend the underpainting, and a bit of the finishing touches as well, because I love the way it looks. I’ve tried not blending a couple times, including this little piece, and really can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. I love blending, so I’ll probably keep doing it. Other artists might not, so they shouldn’t blend. See how simple that is? Shoot, I should teach an art class.

Next up, and in progress, a trio of persimmons and a trio of tangerines.

Previously, in the trio series: A trio of misfit apples.