Summer Garden Art – Ink and Wash

Summer Garden Art – Ink and Wash


This summer I was fortunate to take a week off to visit some good friends of mine who live on the Sunshine Coast in west British Columbia, Canada.

Their delightful home is perched high on a hill with sea views that overlook the local bay.

This is a wonderful spot to observe sailing boats, cargo ships and cruise liners navigating up and down the coast.

We also spotted hawks and eagles.

In early evening, the full Moon rose from the east, climbed high and bathed us in shimmering light that danced across the water and set the scene for a perfect moment.

Garden Layout

Due to the rugged terrain, the front garden has deep lavender and cone flower terraces supported by tons of bedrock underneath.

The house is perched right at the apex of a rocky outcrop.

After a 3m wide terrace, the back garden falls off at a steep incline plunging to the lower garden level below.

Water Restrictions

Due to the incidence of forest fires and a lack of rainfall in the area, there are stringent water restrictions in place during the summer months.

This means that you can only water with handheld hosepipes or buckets for two hours each day.

Therefore, this garden must contain chiefly indigenous plants which can survive these dry hot conditions and those which can make it through the harsh winter snows that may accumulate up to two feet deep.

Because of the natural terrain, the back garden is particularly interesting with a walking path that winds throughout.

Looking with my artist’s eye, I decided to draw a plan view of this garden rather than to select one part to draw.

Garden Plan View

I created the sketch for the plan view from the terrace by lightly drawing the outline shape of the perimeter fence and the outside walls of the house.

I later realized that the garden is not actually square, but it’s a bit more of a rhomboid shape and that the house has a few more ins and outs than I had in my sketch, but in general, there are two rectangular shapes, the fence and the house.


With a 0.1mm black pen I lightly sketched the main features of the garden.

First, I drew the terrace round the back, the gates on either side, the pathways and the rough hewn stone steps to the east and west.

Seating Areas

Next came the sitting areas of which there are several.

There is the main terrace seating area, the Hummingbird café bench, the lower-level intimate chat section on the path, the main stage forum in an emerald glade of fine grass and finally, a few steps up from there nestled a garden chair in the solitary meditation area.

Along the wall I sketched in some of the massive external boulders as this garden was basically hewn out of bedrock.

Large Foliage

Some of the trees and plants are quite spectacular.

There is a gigantic wisteria on an espaliered fan just at the top of the terrace which I drew first.

A colossal magnolia tree with extra-large blooms dominates the scene right down in the main valley, but still visible from the house.

Around the corner to the left, is a delicate rose garden still under development.

A hardy white grape vine cascades over an aging trellis arch at the top of the western staircase flight.

Against the back boundary grows a towering clump of bamboo which eagerly shot up this summer.

Hard Landscaping

A sun-kissed covered seating area is fondly called the Hummingbird café for obvious reasons.

The guys have hung feeders and the birds flock in.

Down at a section which I think is called the “globe theatre glade” had been erected several vertical poles all around the circle.

This provides a strong statement area.

Topping each post are stylish multi-colored garden lights which can fluctuate from white to colored, warm or cool at the flick of a switch.

To have a wonderful area in which to gather on warm summer evenings is no doubt a serene place where the imagination can soar.

Raised Beds

The folks had strategically positioned several raised beds and grow a striking selection of herbs and vegetables including some immense tomato plants.

Pumpkins cascade out of terracotta pots to seek the warmth and light.

This vegetable heaven is over towards the east of the property, so on the plan view it is represented with oblong boxes.


Once I had laid down on the page the main hard pathways of this drawing, the key seating areas and some specimen plants, I was ready to fill in the rest.

I took my time in the core section and found different ways to illustrate distinctive plants.

Now this really is me using my artistic license as there are many component bushes and trees thriving in this area.


For most of this drawing I used plan perspective which means the viewer is looking down from above.

Plan view lays things out very much like a map.

For a lot of the unknown shrubs, I use the plan viewpoint where I just plonked the leaves on the page, but in some cases, I employed elevation perspective where I created the side view of the plant in its position.

This combination technique adds visual interest to my illustration.


A vast number of birds are attracted into the garden.

The hummingbirds came in their droves.

I saw blue jays for the first time in my life.

Chipmunks popped in and out of the shrubbery busily collecting snacks, peanuts and seeds.

Many chickadee birds fluttered in the trees and around the bench where I was.

As I sat on the terrace with my sketch paraphernalia, a chickadee bird swooped down and landed on the top edge of my sketchbook.

To start with I didn’t realize what it was and I let out a scream that had the household running as I leapt to my feet.

I soon realized it was a cute little two-inch wild bird.

I settled back down to my sketching and five minutes later another chickadee, probably the same cheeky one from before, landed on the toe of my flip-flop as I relaxed, legs crossed, sketching.

This time I kept my cool as by now I was an expert outdoors woman and not just a city slicker.

Evolution of a Garden

I had visited this enchanted garden last year and although the main features were in place and all the hard landscaping had been done, back then the plant life itself was quite a wilderness.

In the year I have been away, the owners have really labored to clear a lot of the vegetation to bring forth specimen plants that were there, but could not be seen.

By the sweat of their brow, they felled dead trees and cut back countless brambles and blackberry bushes to let the light in and which allowed lower growing shrubs to have a fighting chance.

Gardens, obviously, are living things and that they continue to evolve, whether we pay attention on not, is a natural wonder.

I look forward to witnessing how this well-loved outdoor space will develop in the future.


I had my traveling art field sketch equipment with me as I don’t like to take too much art stuff when I go away.

My minimal drawing kit included:



Side Note 

As I have recently been getting into colored ink work, I really wanted to take my tinted inks with me, but it was totally impractical to lug twelve small glass bottles of quick-stain ink my bag.

The thought did cross my mind and then I let it go…

Paint and Wash

After breakfast I set myself down on the back terrace with my field drawing equipment.

My water pen had some liquid in it which I prefer rather than a jam jar of water.

Mixing olive green and yellow ochre, I put two drops of water into the khaki pan and two drops of water into the mustard-like pan and with my paintbrush slowly stimulated the paints.

Then I mixed the two colors over on the paintbox lid palette.

I thinned the colours down substantially by releasing drops of water into my palette.

I’m really working with microscopic amounts of paint here with only one or two teaspoons of each color.


I started coloring the stone steps to the east and west and some of the main boulders with very light watercolor wash

Ensuring to let the pigments dry and to not work on adjacent colors that were still wet, I pushed on.

Lightly washing the shrubberies in different greens, I developed the plant life in the garden.

It was a scorching day around 28C and the paint was drying quite fast.

I turned to the large stones with some yellow ochre and a dab of sepia brown.

Once the boulders were dry, I mixed up a slightly deeper carmine red and added light shadows nestled below and to the left of each rock.

Adding shade again breaks from the plan view to the elevation view, but this is a piece of art, so that’s why I did it.

I believe the combination of top and side views created additional interest in this artwork.

Area Names

The owners have some fun and quirky names for the different zones of their garden.

Where I could remember some of the words, I wrote them on my drawing.


I did enjoy creating this artwork.

Although it is not correct as an architectural drawing or even perhaps a garden layout drawing, it is a perfect sketch representation of this wonderful and magical garden.

As my friends continue to pour love, warmth and energy into their property, it will no doubt mature, blossom, bear fruit and become a garden of anybody’s dreams.

I feel honored to have shared some time with them in their wonderful uplifting outdoor space.

Thanks to my friends for their exceptional hospitality and openhearted spirit.

I simply loved being an aspiring artist in their welcoming haven.


If you have are still with me this far in, then thank you for sharing part of your day with me.




Pin this image to your Pinterest board.

Aspiring Artist Activity

This activity is to draw an artists impression, or illustration of your backyard.

If you don’t have the luxury of a garden, find another natural space which you like to visit.


  • Sketch the perimeter fence of the property.
  • Add outlines of the big shapes like house walls and any other buildings.
  • Sketch in any paths, streams or ponds.
  • Now bring in greenhouses, raised beds, seating areas and the like.
  • Start to add textures to hard surfaces such as wooden decking, stone paths, gravel walkways, brick paving or boulders.



  • Now draw in all the main greenery such as large trees and specimen plants.
  • Using a variety of styles, fill in all the beds with different plant drawings.


  • Once you are happy with your pen drawing, get out your favorite colored art medium, so perhaps this would be watercolors, markers or inks and lightly wash color over your drawing.
  • Start with the lightest colors and work up to the darker shades.
  • It is okay to leave some parts unpainted.
  • When everything is dry, go over it all again with a black pen to sharpen up the images.


  • Add words to your page to add interest such as terrace, greenhouse, fishpond, glade or potting shed.
  • Let everything dry.
  • Frame your artwork.
  • Hang it proudly in your art studio.
Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a mature woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

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Warm and Cool Colors – “Grove of Trees” Watercolor and Ink

Warm and Cool Colors – “Grove of Trees” Watercolor and Ink

Warm and Cool Colors “Grove of Trees” Artwork

This week I created two similar watercolor and ink artworks of a row of trees.

One piece is painted with warm colours and the other with cool colors.



In a way, the first painting looks a lot like it is the autumn season and the second one is reminiscent of spring.



This time I did not create only one painting for my sketch journal, I actually created two really pretty cards with original artwork.

 I can use these cards for many occasions perhaps to send to family and friends for their special days or celebrations.

The bonus is that I get to share my creations with others.


The color spectrum of seven colors of visible light in order are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colors can be seen with a human eye.

At the further red end comes infra-red and at the further violet end we find ultraviolet both of which cannot be seen by us. The color spectrum can be loosely divided into warm and cool colors.


Warm and cool colors bring temperature to your work additionally they can suggest mood as well. The warm colors are hot and spicy and suggest friction, danger and sex.

The cool colors are restful and calming and suggest tranquility, peace and harmony.

Using either a warm or a cool color palette in your artwork will shift the mood of the piece even when the subject is the same as in our grove of trees.

Color Palette

Your palette refers to the colors that you have chosen to use in a particular artwork.

Avoid using all the colors in your paint box. Instead select a few colors that work well together such as the warm colors of red, orange and yellow or the cool colors of violet, indigo, blue and green.

Warm Palette

In general red is a hot color. The warm colours are found at the red end of the spectrum. Warm colors are red, orange and yellow.

Warm Paint Palette

Choose reds like Mars red, madder lake and cadmium red. Select oranges like burnt orange, cadmium orange and pyrrole orange. Opt for yellows like yellow ochre, hansa yellow and Naples yellow.

Choose reds like Mars red, madder lake and cadmium red. Select oranges like burnt orange, cadmium orange and pyrrole orange. Opt for yellows like yellow ochre, hansa yellow and Naples yellow.


Warm palette

Warm Colored Pencil Palette

In crayons choose alizarin crimson, scarlet red, deep red, pink carmine, orange glaze and cadmium yellow.


Warm colored pencils

Cool Palette

In general blue is a cool color. The cool colours are at the violet end of the spectrum and are violet, indigo, blue and green. Sometimes green can be considered as neutral because it nestles between warm yellow and cool blue. But typically, green is considered as a cool color.

Cool palette

Cool Paint Palette

Choose violets like caput mortuum, ultramarine violet and magenta. Select indigo. Pick blues like ultramarine blue, cobalt blue and phthalo blue. Elect for greens like sap green, olive green and emerald green.

Cool Colored Pencil Palette

In crayons select may green, light cobalt turquoise, phthalo blue, ultramarine, cobalt blue and violet.

Cool colored pencils

These color names are all from Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils, but you can find similar colors in your crayons.

When you start out you do not have to know the exact color names but rather let your instincts guide you towards using a limited palette of either warm or cool colors.


Picasso’s famous blue period is followed by his just as famous pink period.

It’s all about mood.

During his blue period, he was suffering from depression an during his pink period he had found a woman to love and life was rosy.

My Process

I painted my two groves of trees on separate cards.

I used Strathmore Mixed Media cards 140lb (300g/m3) size 5″ x 6 7/8″ (13.3cm x 18.4cm) which come with envelopes in the box.

I followed the process I’ve used before that you can see in detail in the “St. Chads, Poulton” painting and my recent sketch journal “Workdesk” picture.

I began with a simple 2H pencil sketch of three trees.


Pencil sketches


I added pen and ink over and then I gently erased the pencil marks otherwise they will show through the paint.


Pen and ink


I gave a super light wash of watercolor paint, one in a warm color palette and one in a cool color palette.


After they were both bone dry, I added more intense watercolor to the underside of the trees.

I added the sky and foreground still keeping in the color pallets that I had chosen.



Using colored pencils in the same warm and cool palettes, I enhanced the depths and shadows in the grove here and there.

Colored pencil touches

Cool colored pencil touches


I went over some of the main details with a black pen again to add definition.


Pen over


Final Thoughts

That trees are normally green, it seems that the cooler palette painting is better somehow.

It resonates with what we expect.

That’s the one with the green tree.

I may repeat this warm/cool exercise with something that can be either red or green like an apple.

That project might be something to create in the future.


Have you noticed, do you naturally gravitate towards a warm or a cool palette for your paintings?

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