This spring/summer has been a real spoiler for my daily sketching habit. Yes, I still “take a few minutes” and do daily doodles but since I’m retired, my “daily sketching habit” used to involve me spending a couple hours a day either sketching or going to/from sketching locations. Not this year.
Instead, heat waves, almost daily rain and trying to renovate and organize our place have kept me from daily forays out sketching. We’re also making up for several years where I couldn’t walk much and/or suffered too much “ennui” to do anything but watch reruns of old TV shows. I don’t know where the blame lies here but I do know that I don’t have as much time to be sketching on location right now. We do have a fully renovated front porch and are working on the back deck right now. I have stairs to replace and a WHOLE lot of stuff that’s just piled up.
One such pile is an entire closet of art supplies and other junk. This is not heavy work and some of it is fun but it’s eating a lot of time right now. In that closet I found a pad of Fabriano Bristol+ paper. This stuff is 145lb (250gsm) bristol board that is VERY smooth. I love bristol but normally I use Strathmore series 300 bristol in its “vellum” form because it’s cheap and provides a smooth surface but with some tooth. Ideal for pencil drawings if you want something cheaper than Stonehenge’s drawing papers.
I don’t know when I bought this but it doesn’t appear that I’ve ever used it. Maybe I decided it was too smooth. Art happens when an idea, time and materials come together. I’ve been following some of France, aka @wagonized, Belleville-Van Stone‘s crosshatching workshops and thinking about papers for use with ballpoint pens. So, an idea came to me. I could continue sorting through old computer equipment, wiring, bottles, and art stuff, or I could give Fabriano Bristol+ a try. The answer was obvious.
Like France, I used one of the 1.6mm Bic pens. I used an orange one and quickly drew a pear. It worked out ok but the Bristol+ is too slick and the ballpoint wasn’t as responsive as it should be. Just not enough tooth in the paper to keep the ball rolling and this also limited the number of layers I could use to create tones. I sort of made up for this a bit by being more heavy-handed but this detracts from the cross-hatching. Anyways, this is the result and I got to do some sketching. Now, back to work.
I guess this isn’t a real review, but in some ways it is. When I heard that Sakura was releasing its famous Micron pens in “Light Cool Gray” and “Cool Gray” versions I thought that was a neat idea. Though I don’t use Microns very much I thought this might be a great way for sketchers to draw background lines in typical black sketches. No better way to get background mountains to recede than to draw them in a lighter color.
So, when I found sets of both versions in my local art craft store. I bought a set of the Light Cool Gray. I could draw a bunch of lines, showing you that the colors were light cool gray and that they have the same permanent inks as their other pens but that stuff is a given with Sakura pens. So, I’ll just get to the part that surprised me and (spoiler alert) made me very unhappy.
You see, in a set of 3, light cool gray pens, comes an 01, 05, and 10 pen. That makes sense and provides a decent range of tip sizes. What’s upsetting is that while the 01 and 10 pens are light cool gray the 05 pen is a much darker (I assume this is cool gray) ink. This is more than my interpretation of the lines produced. As you can see, the color markings on the end of the pen reflect this change of tone. Note also that this fact is covered by the packaging so you only find this out after buying a set. That’s just goofy to me.
I’ll have to wonder forever whether the “Cool Gray” set has a light cool gray version of the 05 pen as I’ll not be buying them. I contacted Sakura, asking them about this but they have chosen not to reply to my query. I’m glad I use fountain pens.
It’s hot. It’s humid. Too hot for an old man to be out walking, that’s for sure. So, I put my stool in a shady spot in the yard and drew a small “scene” designed by Chantal. I thought these little guys were going to be hosta-guarding soldiers (wrote about that), but Chantal had other ideas. As usual, hers was a better one.
I’m trying to get back to a daily walk routine. It’s been hard this spring/summer because of all the rain and a bunch of house stuff we’ve been doing, but I was out the other day and stopped to sit in a park near my house. There was a birch tree there to keep me company and I decided to draw it, or at least its feet and legs.
Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6 softcover), Kaweco Lilliput pen, DeAtramentis Document Black, Daniel Smith watercolors
Once upon a time, someone got the bright idea to plant a bunch of bamboo as a hedgerow between our house and the one next door. When done it probably looked like a good idea. The problem is that over time, the bamboo takes over EVERYTHING because its roots propogate the plant(s) into a persistent monster plant.
So, ever since we bought the place we’ve been fighting it by cutting it back continually. We seem to be winning the battle as this year we don’t have much of it along our driveway (its last stand), leaving a sort of grassless, bamboo-less area.
What’s happened, though is a big surprise. We’ve got a “field” of tiny strawberry plants. There are hundreds of them, most less than two inches high and sporting 3 distinct leaves. Normally we’d be mowing and/or planting something but I’m going to let things go to see what happens. I don’t think that these plants are going to get much taller and I could find only a couple flowers. But I did find one plant that had two microscopic strawberries. They even tasted like strawberries, though you’d need a couple hundred of them to make a handful. I had to draw the little guy. Full size this plant measure just over 1″ high.