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Nature Art: Painting Diamond Head

What do you bring home from your travels?  Seashells?  Photos? T-shirts?  Me too.  And I often bring home another thing: drawings of a natural symbol, or something I've drawn repeatedly, or a new shape that caught my eye.  I can never predict what it will be. One year it was crab claws.  I drew them open, folded, on top of seaweed, in the sand. I didn't realize myself how often I'd drawn them until I looked back at my sketches. 

Last month, I drew Diamond Head, the volcano at the east end of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Its iconic silhouette is a background for the city; if you forget for a minute that you are in that Hawaiian city, you have only to look to the East to remember.  Diamond Head's Hawaiian name, Le'ahi, means "ridge "and "tuna," perhaps referring to the dorsal-fin like shape of the volcanic cone itself.
Here are two sketches of the very top ridge I made looking back at the volcano from the beach. It was hard to capture the exact angles at the top ridgeline.

Below, I used a wax-resist paper called Bateeko to make the white lines in the painting I'm working on. This wax creates lines on the watercolor paper that resist paint, and they show up as white lines. You can draw right on the Bateeko, so I placed it on top of my watercolor paper and drew, pressing hard to transfer the Bateeko wax onto the watercolor paper. When my drawing was finished, I lifted the wax sheet and began to paint with watercolors on the paper. As I painted, the white lines stood out against against the colors, as if by magic. I have also drawn directly on watercolor paper with a wax candle (unlit!) or a white crayon to create a resist. You can order a pack of 25 sheets of Bateeko from enasco.com
Wax and water can mix! I hope you'll give this playful technique a try over the summer.
-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.

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