Paling camellia, wind-brushed magnolia, with a mallard for companion.

This week work on a new composition for the Tokyo 2024 international ink painting exhibition has officially begun. Until I feel ready to share more, this corner will be filled again with straight from the sketchbook, relaxing moments. Today, a late afternoon ink painting garden walk with my sketchbook, as the pink camellia start paling already.

Paling camellia blossoms, Zurich, 2023
Paling camellia, grey ink and watercolor on paper, 2023

I was only going to ink one camellia on my sketchbook, which was not as easy as I originally thought. Standing up in the path, the high contrast and warmth I enjoyed from the light coming though the branches just kept blinding me every time I looked up at the blossom. It added a new personal meaning to the words “blinding beauty” in painting.

Magnolia branches, grey ink and watercolor on paper, 2023

Then I noticed the magnolia trees were past their peak and the wind kept brushing the petals away already. I sat on a nearby bench to do a quick study of the thin low-hanging branches. It is still a crisp wind, my fingers got a little cold despite the sunshine.

While I kept adding one magnolia blossom after another on my sketchbook, a female mallard wandered away from her companion. She sat down right next to my foot, looking up every so often from the corner of her left eye. Just to make sure I wasn’t going to pull at funny stunt on her, I suppose.

Mallard (unfinished), grey and black ink on paper, 2023

I left coloring the magnolia blossoms for later and started capturing this “view from above” on a new page.

Unfortunately for my brush pens she was far too clever. The mallard laid very still until the minute she noticed my eyes were no longer trained on the magnolia tree, but on her. After two quick glances up, she got a little nervous and scuttled off, joining her male companion by the pine tree. I guess this sketch will join that long list of “expressive brush work”, the fancy expression for subjects that move too fast for accurate, detailed work.

Still, I left the garden with a very pleasant feeling. I mean, even the mallards seem to take an interest in this meditative art that takes its cues from nature. Isn’t that just the best?

I still had some time left, but looking at the fast progress of both wisteria and peonies I decided to save them for another time. Having something to look forward to in the spring days ahead is another way to prolong today’s feelings, don’t you think?


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