Marina, Sequoyah Park

Marina, Sequoyah Park

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring Sketching and Travels Far and Near

I have taken several short trips this Spring and have been taking my sketchbooks with me and capturing a few images here and there.

This one is from a house just across the street though with a lovely blooming tree in permanent pen and watercolor and is the first sketch in my Stillman and Birn Alpha 6" x 9" sketchbook.

The first week in April I visited Weatherford, Ok for a workshop at Southwestern Oklahoma State University with Susan Martin Maffei and Archie Brennan. Most of my efforts that week were tapestry related but I did have an afternoon off that I spent exploring in downtown Weatherford and having lunch at the Downtown Diner. They had big white paper mats on the tables so I took out the Sharpie in my purse and started drawing the interior of the diner.

I left the sketch on the table when I left and my waiter was surprised and happy with my extra tip!

Here is another quick sketch done in my motel room one evening. It was very comfortable but it was strange to be in the room at night without Mack or any of my fur kids.

Shortly after I returned home I had a sketch day planned with a friend at the Sand Springs Herb Festival.

I needed a way to support my sketchbook, paint box, pencils and brushes for sketching at the festival and got a great idea from Debo on Artists Journal workshop which I translated to this arrangement. Basically a foam core board, 12 inches square to which I attached some magnet strips and a couple of clip on medium containers for water.

Here it is with my handmade sketchbook, 7"x 10", my paint box and metal pencil tin attached to the magnet strips and all the tools I needed to sketch and paint. The board easily fit on my lap and everything went in a tote bag which was a great solution for times like this when bringing an easel would not work very well.

Here is my first sketch from the Herb festival. The morning started off rainy and grey and after buying a few plants for out gardens we settled down to listen to some Bluegrass. The music was great and I enjoyed capturing the band in pen and watercolor on Stillman and Birn Beta paper that I bought in sheets and tore down to size for my sketchbook.

The second one was done on the off white S&B Delta paper. This was a scene off to my right and I just started sketching figures as they were choosing plants. The end result is a composite of people I sketched at different times and the watercolor was added later.

The day cleared up and ended up being lots of fun. It was great to watch people emerging from the winter and all the festivity that involved.

A little watercolor sketch I did as a study from a book I was reading by Paul Laseau, Watercolor Sketching.

Toward the end of April I went for a yearly weekend trip with friends to Lawrence, Kansas. I started this sketch on Friday morning while waiting for a friend to pick me up. She came a little sooner than expected but I was able to get a little sketch of the Amarylis in the front yard bulb bed.

On Saturday I decided to challenge myself to make as many sketches as I could and to work as fast as I could and see what happened. Normally I just take my time with sketching and I like it that way but I have been reading lately how working quickly can be of benefit.

This one is from the front window of the Halcyon House where we stay every year. Pen and watercolor in my Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook mentioned earlier.

This one was sketched from the front porch of the Halcyon House. The lilac was blooming which made it quite nice to sketch and smell. I did both of these sketches before breakfast with the same materials and paper as above.

Next I drew a sketch of my friend Jeannine sitting across from me at breakfast with brown ink in a fountain pen and brown ochre colored pencil. the other figure was another guest at the Halcyon that I did not know.

Here it is with the watercolor added. One of my favorites from the day.

Here is another sketch of some friends taking a rest during our shopping trip at the Yarn Barn. This was done in the same sketchbook with pen and colored pencil.

Here is a sketch of lunch at Ingredients just across from the Yarn Barn. I really had to work fast on this one!

Finally, a sketch of a scene while walking back to the Halcyon from the downtown area.

This warm brick house against all the Spring greens was really appealing...

and here it is with the color added.

This week I have spent some time getting organized for a week long plein air painting class in Eureka Springs. It is no small thing to get supplies organized and packed for a class like this. Everything has to be organized to travel and carry, including an easel, folding seat and umbrella.

This week I have worked on organizing my palette,

practicing a few value studies with landscape subjects and

then a few more.

I have also been doing some brush testing by just working in the studio from imagination and putting some brushes through some sampling.

I normally use rounds for just about everything but I tested some riggers and sword or dagger stripers, also some nice squirrel wash brushes and a palette knife for lifting out of wet paint.

One of my goals for this class is to try for more of a painting technique and drawing more with my brushes than with pen. It remains to be seen how this will work out for me.

I am really excited about this class as it represents a real change in routine for me and time to focus on painting and sketching.

I have also been doing some reading to prepare for the class. The instructor has three books on the reading list and two of them I have already read and enjoyed, Cathy Johnson's Sierra Club Guide to Painting in Nature and Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger. The third shown here, First Impressions by Edward Norton Ward I was not familiar with but I managed to find a discarded library copy and am glad I did. Not only are the sketches, all done on quarter sheet size paper very appealing but it contained some good information about the process too.

It did not surprise me that John Carlson's book, Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting  first published in 1929 was on the Bibliogaphy in  First Impressions.

My copy is a Dover edition from the revised book published in 1973. While this is not a book full of lavish color photos it is definitely one of the most helpful books  have ever read on approaching the Plein Air landscape no matter what medium you choose to work with.

The black and white photos perfectly illustrate many of the important points about handling values...

and numerous diagrams  to instruct on various aspects of painting the landscape. If you at all interested in this subject it is a book that can inspire and inform every time it is picked up. I am rereading it for the third time and every time I discover more information that I wasn't ready for the time before.

I feel sure I will be sharing more about the class as events unfold.

Here is one last quick sketch of Maisie from last night. With all the storms lately all three of our fur kids have been kind of agitated. Last night was the worst, several times all three of them climbed up on the bed and walked all over us when the thunder and lightening kicked up.
Here is Maisie during one of the more relaxed moments. She has a special talent for comfort and repose which makes her a much easier sketch subject than Laddie the busy boy Border Collie.
Colored pencil in the Alpha sketchbook.