Extreme Bloom du Jour

Summer Solstice and a Full Moon…can’t miss this.

Let’s see what’s happening on the Hill.


“Strawberry” moonset.


I pick a palette with orange for sunrise and tone the paper.

I want to paint before the sun, without artificial light. I am surprised by how difficult it is to see, surprise surprise no light, no see…What I learn is that, because I’ve been practicing in this spot with the same subject and I know where my colors are, I can do a lot without needing to see. Memory and habit kick in…this is fun!

But, if you are wondering what I’m looking at:




By 6 AM sunlight strikes and the dawn light fades. Time to pack up.

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Time is running out for our bloom and fruit catch 2016. The few hours I have left to record are of course during the hottest parts of the day.

I am bombarded with the dangers of being outside but, can’t stop now.


It is 108′, not a cloud in the sky, a little humid.

I have the palo verde.


Actually quite nice.


The noontime light brings out the true colors of the crown.

Yellow is cheery and red-violet super sweet and delicious.

I tone yellow because I see it but also because I need an uplift. I have to pretend these cast shadows are not obstructing the drawing, like looking through bugs on the windshield. Selective seeing such as it is.



And that’s 1:30-3PM.

Here is a peak at the project coming along. I wanted to take it into the night but won’t have time…perhaps another separate project, too bad that moon will be gone.

It starts at 4:30 AM and changes every 90 minutes. Ends around 5:30-6PM. I’m missing 10:00 and 11:30 now, but will get those in pretty soon, before the fruits fall.


(I will) Never forget the Saguaro Bloom!


Bloom du Jour # 7: First Fruit

Fruits are in full force. The crown I picked is slower because of its orientation away from the rising sun (I think). Today it is humid and cooler and so I go up at the dreaded noontime hour.

Reward! Fruit (well was fruit, all gobbled up now).


This means PINK, long wait, at last…here is the tetrad with red-violet (pinkish), yellow-green, red (pink) and green.

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I am using sanded (400-600 grit) U-Art pastel paper for these studies. You can’t mess around with the sanded paper…see it-state it, as they say.


Mixing the two reds and then applying alcohol for a quick drying wash/tone of the entire page. When in a hurry, 90 minutes, and with a larger format, 12×12, pre-toning the paper will let you leave areas alone that match or support the overall image.


The draw-in takes one-half hour.


Got my extremes in first; darkest darks and lightest lights.


And there it is! The, Aha!


And for the Grand Finale, a little gnat catcher swings in for a sampling of saguaro fruit deliciousness. This bird is really hanging out, long enough for me to find the camera, focus and snap a picture, well 20 pictures…so the fruit must be really worth it.


Big risk=Big reward, that’s our mantra.

No Bloom but Fruit du Jour 4 and 5

Here are the “warm”afternoon pastels of our favorite Saguaro crown…Did you know that blooms close as the sun sets!  I never noticed this…such are the benefits of observation.

On the Hill, it is 100 degrees, thank you Palo Verde tree shade.


Things are looking yellow-orange around 2.


And that’s a wrap for today.

The temps are going to skyrocket so I make a plan to get out for another afternoon before the big guns.

Fruit du Jour 5

I’m thinking I’ll catch some blooms today, since there were obvious signs of more action.


Awe, missed it!

This one starts later at 3:30 PM.  Not a one Saguaro with bloomage, too late in the day. Plenty of other interesting developments to observe…it never goes how I think it will, always a surprise!

Like this color choice…who would of thought, chartreuse?

But, then the red-orange creeps in…oh my, this may turn out to be my Frankenstein.

Possibly the heat is effecting coherency. Although, the afternoon breeze and thinking of Jack in the snow has a cooling effect.


The palette: Yellow-green, red-violet, red-orange and blue-green, a tetrad (4).


5 PM, the shadow of the Palo Verde moves over the crown which changes everything. 90 minutes is average for plein air.


Hmmm, kinda wild.

Surprisingly, not a walker at this usual high volume walker hour, smart walkers.


Still, a few more paintings to go. Can’t wait for those juicy red fruits!



Bloom du Jour 3

Had to leave town last week so missed out on Mejor Bloomage. But, that’s ok! because my mind has gone to fruits already anyway.

Welcome bloom du Jour third time, 8:30 AM start, earlier than the others, I see mostly violet this morning.


I tone my sanded paper violet and choose a color harmony which supports this hue. I pick a tetrad (4) of two complementary combinations; violet and yellow, blue and orange.

Also, must consider the “orange vest” effect which may be influencing the violet/orange choice. I like!

photo credit Paul Mirocha

Holly Hobby of Tumamoc Hill photo by Paul Mirocha

First pass of outlined drawing with slight pink and orange reflection.


I almost deviate to make a study of this other arm because it is so different and has blooms in sunlight which are attractive, but must stick to the plan.


Stay focused!


It’s 10:00 and the sun is moving around to pick up the crown. Everything is going to change dramatically now so it’s “Times Up”.


The morning studies are very cool overall, so I’ll try one in the afternoon next, to see if a warm color will dominate.

Until then,