I continue to try to use watercolors without an underpinning of a line drawing, mostly without success. I can’t seem to figure out how to draw crisp edges with watercolors and, for complex drawings, I lose control over the drawing itself. This is a good example of both of these problems. This is a drawing (??) of a new pedestrian bridge over my river. Great bridge, not so great sketch of it. I added some pencil line buildings after the fact just to provide context.
I grew up in Arizona. The standing joke there is that you don’t need weathermen. All you need is a daily announcement of “Sunny and hot.” I didn’t discover seasons until I moved north where I had a lot of difficulty dealing with the demands of “dressing for the weather.” More than one kind of clothes? Who’da thunk it?
Lately, though, our Quebec weatherman has had a limited offering of “It’s about to rain,” “It’s raining,” and “The rain is going to stop for a couple hours.” So I’ve done little sketch wandering lately.
But yesterday we got a whole morning without rain so I headed out to to do a bunch of walking on my river. It’s also International Nature Journal Week and I thought I might do something in honor of it. Mostly, though, I wanted to spend time in nature, sitting on a rock or walking.
It occurred to me, however, that I was an urban sketcher and thus it seemed appropriate for me to select this common urban flower as my subject. So, I sat on a rock and drew a dandelion.
It was very relaxing and enjoyable and after completing my walk I headed home my walk culminating in an old-man run/jog/slog. It had started raining.
The title of this post is probably a misnomer, but I can’t think of a better one. Truth is, I’m comparing what I’ve done as a field sketcher to what I’ve tried to do as a neophyte oil painter. Sort of apples and oranges but the apple and orange were both done by me and they’re both apples. Does that make sense (grin)?
Ok…it was September of 2020 and a lull in COVID lockdown was in the air. We went apple picking at an orchard on the south side of the St. Lawrence. Everyone was enjoying being outdoors, climbing picking ladders and filling bags with apples. I relied on my family for the picking while I wandered around looking for just the right view of apples and a mix of leaves. I’m sure people thought I was nuts as I walked around and around trees, moving from one to another without picking a single apple. But I found the spot. So I sat down on my tripod stool and drew this with my fountain pen (S&B Beta sketchbook).
Fast-forward to 2022… and we’re in lockdown (again) because of Omicron. I wondered what would happen if I tried to replicate one of my sketches with my very limited oil painting skills. So, I applied a couple light coats of gesso to an S&B Beta sketchbook and went to work, using pencil to draw the closest replica I could from the original watercolor.
I’ve got to say that my limited abilities reared their head when it came to replicating the original. Also, my pen and wash style relies so heavily on the pen lines to convey their msg that I struggled more than a little bit without them. Still, the result kinda sorta looks like the original, though the watercolor apples look better to me.
This was an interesting experiment. Painting in a sketchbook with oils works pretty well except you can’t close the sketchbook for a couple days. This might slow me down as a street sketcher (grin).
I’ve pulled these books from my library and they now rest on the table next to my reading/TV chair. The Guptill and Harding books are still the best in my opinion but I like all of these books. Harding has a great book on drawing trees too but I don’t have that one.
So here I am, pencil in hand, drawing stuff. While it feels like a new road for me, I have done some pencil drawing in museums during winter, because many museums don’t like the idea of watercolors being sloshed about near the exhibits. This is when I work with watercolor pencils too, using a water brush. That was back in 2013-2014 though, and mostly I was still trying to figure out how to deal with basic proportions. Light and shade was mostly foreign to me.
I was walking the other day and found some mushrooms on their last legs I did some tiny sketches of them. It was hard because they were old and falling apart. Somehow I related to them (grin). Anyways, the highlight was that I found some milkweed pods and I brought some home with me. This was done in my S&B Epsilon 9×12 sketchbook.
Drawing this was… well… peaceful. I’ve mentioned that I draw slowly regardless of medium. That’s how this kind of drawing is done. Pencil books don’t spend time telling you to draw quickly (grin). The time flew by, however, and I felt refreshed at the end. On to the next page. I hope you find my stumbling around with new media at least casually interesting and that you’ll laugh along with me.
In my last post, I mentioned that I was laying down my pens (almost) and picking up a pencil. I’ve taken a baby step or two down this different road by breaking open a hardbound, 8.5×11 size Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook, wrote name and address in it and began.
I did this on the day that Chantal was chopping down our flock of Cup plants. These are very tall, sunflower-like plants but with many smaller flowers than your typical sunflower. They get their name by the fact that each branching of the plant creates a “cup” that collects water and the plant absorbs it through soft tissue. Pretty cool they are and we enjoy them every year. Anyway, I took the top of one of them and drew it on the first page of my new sketchbook. A pencil drawer am me.