While the COVID pandemic generated a bunch of negatives, there have also been positives. For instance, because Shari Blaukopf couldn’t travel or do her in-person workshops, she decided to produce a series of video watercolor workshops and made them available on her website.
I bought several of them and will probably buy more because the pricing makes them irresistable. There’s only one problem. Buying them didn’t make me a better painter. And while watching the videos taught me a bunch of stuff, this didn’t improve my painting abilities much either. Surprise, surprise.
Seems I’ve actually got to move a fuzzy stick around… a lot, if I’m going to improve and I’m not good with fuzzy sticks. My approach to “painting” has been to do a complete pen and ink drawing and then to quickly add local color, being sure to stay “inside the lines.” Most of the time, my paint detracts rather than enhances the original drawing. Painting Shari style isn’t like that at all (grin).
Shari starts each of her workshop studies with a pencil, drawing outlines of the major components. I’m not much of a pencil-driver either, but a pointy stick is a pointy stick and so I have no trouble with this step. Here’s my first attempt at painting a Victorian window:
It’s not horrible, but it’s not even close to Shari quality. My brushwork is sloppy. I expected that (see above about my fuzzy stick management), but it’s the other stuff that suggests I wasn’t paying attention.
- Shari explains how to mix paint to the right consistency. I was anything but consistent.
- Shari showed me how to create the dark red shadow color. Mine isn’t dark enough cuz I got caught by the watercolor “drying up.”
- And oh my goodness. Shari talks about painting linework with a rigger brush. I couldn’t get a paint mix that was dark enough and yet wet enough to do it at all so I resorted to a fude pen instead.
I love how she presents these workshops, though, and with more time with my fuzzy sticks, I just might figure out how to do it. Hope so. Thanks to Shari for making these workshops available. With my help I bet Shari CAN teach me to paint.
Weather for many of us is weird this year, but I suspect we need to get used to weird. We’re in the middle of another heat wave, with records set in Montreal and everyone crying that their beaches are not open due to COVID.
Have you ever thought of how different a plein air artist views weather from the rest of the world? I have a love/hate relationship with sun. Love it for shadows. Hate it for how it blinds me when it reflects off my sketchbook. Gardeners, on the other hand, want every photon our stingy sun will give us.
Generally rain limits my sketching opportunities and right now we aren’t getting any (should be thunderstorm time), but farmers are in dire straits for the same reason that I’m happy.
Wind…yuck from my point of view, though a slight breeze on a hot day is welcome. I doubt the the windsurfers being dragged across the Ste Lawrence River by brightly colored kites see it that way.
We’ve been a couple degrees luckier than Montreal and while it’s blistering hot today, we had an absolutely perfect day a couple days ago. Jodie and I headed to the small park that’s just south of our house, her with a book and me with sketching gear. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve sat on my stool and let the world drift away for an hour or so. From a nice, shady spot, I sketched this old brick residence. I think the building complex may be part of the church that is behind it but I’m not sure. What I do know is that I had a perfect day. We even made milk shakes in the afternoon.
Fabriano Artistico (7×8), DeAtramentis Document Black, Platinum Plaisir
An exciting event occurred just down the street from my house; exciting mostly because it’s “just down the street from my house.” The Grande Marché just opened in Quebec City.
This is a huge farmer’s market that also includes cheese, pasta, sausage, etc., etc. shops. We’ve always had such a place but it was smaller, not nearly as fancy, and it was a significant drive from our house. This one is a two-minute walk. I go there nearly every day, if only to get my walking exercise started for the day.
What does this have to do with sketching? Well, it’s also a great place to sit and quick-draw people. I’m still experimenting with places to sit within the complex but there are several that are great.
Our growing season started really late this year but we’re starting to get farmers showing up with more and more produce so drawing their kiosks will be on the agenda soon.
Just so I don’t leave you empty-handed, here’s a drawing/painting I did of the exterior of the building. While the interior has changed completely, the basic structure is mostly as it was when this was the building that housed the horses and cows when we had a state fair. Only the entrances have been upgraded. It smells better too (grin)
Fabriano Artistico, Daniel Smith watercolors, some pen work at the end.
I attended another event organized by Denise Bujold’s Artistes dans les parcs. This one was held at a large garden on the other side of the city from where I live and I’ve drawn there a lot. On this day it was supposed to be sunny and hot. The sun never showed up and it didn’t get very hot. We lacked shadows, but the temps were just right for sketching.
I’m not sure I fit into this group very well, though everyone is very nice. But the members set up easels, tables, and paints. I sit down on a tripod stool with my sketchbook. A bigger problem, for me, is that my French is not good at all so carrying on a conversation is mostly out of the question. Nevertheless, it’s nice to be out with a bunch of people doing art.
I chose to draw a really tiny waterfall that connects two small ponds near the entrance to the garden. I started by covering the paper with some blotches of color to match the subject and then wandered around the garden while that dried. I really like the idea of doing paint first but I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to deal with the drying time. Eventually it did dry and I started drawing with DeAtramentis Document ink. More watercolor was added to finish the drawing. It’s a fun way to work, except for the drying time, so I’ll probably do it again.
In my last post I mentioned that I had to cancel a local sketching adventure because my knees weren’t cooperating and I suggested that I might sketch a pepper plant that I’d bought. That’s exactly what I did.
The weather was wonderful and I sat on our deck, got some sun, and communed with my pepper plant. I find drawing plants to be a challenge as it’s easy to get lost in the overlapping contours of the leaves. As I draw them they become abstracts; I’m no longer drawing a plant, but rather a whole bunch of curves relative to one another. There’s considerable cross-checking between the curve I’m drawing and those I’ve already drawn, locating my position by comparing angles and distances constantly.
When I finish with the ink contour a decision must be made. Do I add a bunch of cross-hatching or do I add watercolor. Sometimes I consider the third option of leaving it just as it is – a contour drawing. At this point I almost always choose one of the two ‘shading’ options but when I’m done I often wish I’d left the sketch as the contour. This may be because I love pen lines so much. Maybe it’s because I’m too impatient to do a good job with watercolor. Here are both stages of my pepper plant sketch. What do you think? Which do you prefer?
DeAtramentis Document brn/blk, Fabriano Artistico CP