Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spied in a Community Garden Plot: the Welsh Onion

Leslie here.  I visited my daughter in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago.  After waiting several years she is now leasing a plot in a lovely community garden in the heart of the city:  Spring Gardens.
My daughter, Luren, working in her garden plot.

Her love of gardening thrills me.  She and her roommate have created a combination vegetable/flower garden.  On May 15th, which happened to be her 29th birthday, we wandered the garden together.
One of the things she is growing are Welsh Onions, a fascinating member of the Allium family.  One thing that is unique about this perennial is that it does not have a bulb, rather, the stems are hollow and tube-like, and sturdy, with lovely light sprays of blossoms at the top.  They are wonderful for cooking, and I find them very ornamental.

this is a botanical drawing taken from the Wiki entry.

I decided to look at the first photograph of the onions and start out with a very basic drawing.  I love working back into a basic drawing with gouache.  If I had not been traveling I might have used frisket along the edges of the stalks as a resist, but I didn't want to mess with a bottle of frisket since I was not checking my bag!  As a result, I'm not happy with my background, which I feel is a bit "overworked".

With water-based media I work from light to dark with the pigments as much as possible.
Determine where the lightest elements are on the drawing or painting, and preserve them.
Make sure to consider the shading, which gives shape to the object.

Call me crazy, but I see a lot of blue in the stems....

rather than use black, which I find rather harsh in both water and oil media, I prefer to use a deep
version of the compliment to create the shadows.  

In a more perfect world, I would have used frisket on the inner edges of my stalks, washed on the background, and THEN painted the stalks.  I did the opposite, without frisket, and it doesn't look so great at the edges.  Still I liked making the little painting.  You can see that I was not at all concerned with the background in the actual photo.  I was looking at the stalks of this plant as the sole focus.

One of the great things about making a drawing or painting is just that:  artistic license!  Who says everything should be included in the scene?  Heck no!  Pick and choose at will.


  1. Fun to watch how you painted this! I liked that you used a darker version of your paint for shadows. And, yes, the picking and choosing of what to include and what to leave out is our right as artists, lol! :D

  2. Thanks, Lisa. I love painting and sketching on postcards when I travel, then inserting them into my sketchbook!


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