Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sketching in Seattle today

But before I get to that, I must to apologize for the infrequency of my posts since returning from Hawaii. I’ve been working out some ideas for paintings and my studio has been awash in compositional sketches, color tests, and geese paintings. (No joke!) I’m going to do a blog post very soon about how these ideas are coming together for me, but not quite yet. Things are still a bit messy in my head right now.

Instead, here’s a sketch from my travels in Seattle today. From my cozy vantage point across the room, I was able to make this quick little watercolor sketch. I was using my newest, TINY, painting kit that holds only four colors (Aureolin, Cobalt Blue, Rose Madder Genuine, and Lunar Black.) It’s an experiment, but I like it so far. :-)

Here’s the tiny sketch kit with a penny for scale. I bought the tin as a souvenir in Hawaii and have been having a great time carrying it (and my other sketching tools) around in my HUGE shoulder bag. It seems very funny to have my drawing and painting tools packed so small and lightly while still hauling around my big bag. *chuckle* Ah well, a girl must have her bag, it's kind of like a law. ;-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

EDM Challenge #296: Draw Something Orange

I know it’s more terra cotta than orange, strictly speaking, but I just couldn’t resist! We were having lunch recently at Fado in Seattle and were sitting in a room adorned with these wonderful plaques. Not exactly gargoyles, they must be allegories for the Winds. They were so charming I just had to paint one!


By the way, this is my first painting with the new palette. So far so good, I love the colors!

Palette Tests

In my seemingly endless (but enjoyable!) pursuit of the “perfect” palette of watercolors, I have been tinkering with my current palette yet again. I started by looking at my color cards, where I keep an ongoing index of color swatches. I pulled out colors that I have never used before in palettes, or that have been newly acquired. Then I created three temporary palettes from which to play.

Three Temporary Palettes
I have some wonderful PrimaTek colors that I have rarely used and was eager to try them out. Here is a small watercolor sketch of a stone using three Primatek colors: Lapis Lazuli Genuine, Sicklerite Genuine, and Zoisite Genuine. It’s really easy to create stones with these lovely colors, they practically paint themselves!

However, I wasn’t really looking for pebble colors for the new palette, but, in fact, colors that interact in interesting ways. I did a page of color mix tests and finally decided on this new palette. I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. And, darn it, I’m going to stick with it until I learn what it can do! I have high hopes for it as I think I’ve got a good mixture of colors here. By the way, I had to add Rose Madder Genuine to it, even though I know it’s a highly fugitive color. I’ve also added Quinacridone Magenta to step into the Magenta color spot (on the color wheel) for pieces requiring more permanence.

Now, off to paint!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three Leaves

I seemed to have had something of an intense artistic processing period over the past few days. This means that I haven’t done any art at all for the past few days. :-(

Last night I felt ready to get my tools back out and start painting again. My subject was three bright leaves I had picked up a few days earlier while out at brunch. Such lovely colors! In painting them I was able to give my Cadmiums a good workout along with some other new arrivals like the Rose Madder Genuine and Naphthamide Maroon. I have to say that both these new colors were totally worth the money! Although the photo I took doesn’t show it clearly, the shadows are a mixture of Rose Madder Genuine, Cobalt Blue, and Cadmium Yellow Light. I was completely delighted by the elegant neutrals they created together. Rose Madder Genuine is now definitely part of my palette. No doubt about it! 

"Three Leaves" - watercolor

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Value study of Punalu’u Beach in Kauai

Watercolor study of Punalu'u Beach (Payne's Gray watercolor on tinted paper)
Doing a value study of a black sand volcanic beach! Am I crazy? *wink* All the same, it was a perfect opportunity to get my watercolors out after the long layoff and get my “eye” back for painting. Boy, am I rusty with the brush! It’s always amazing to me that when you hard focus hard on one skill (like the speed sketching I was doing on my trip) you can appear to “lose” your skills in other areas. Of course, they’re not really lost, they’ve just been put on the back shelf for a little while. Once you take them out again and blow off the dust, they’re back ready for use.

In this piece, besides working out the relative values in Payne’s Gray, I was also trying out a bunch of watercolor techniques. I was testing their value (no pun intended) for potential use in a more finished painting. Techniques like stamping, scribbling, splatter, scraping, and dancing brush strokes are all really important in watercolor. For a long time I was against using such watercolor "tricks." I'm still not sure why. Watercolor is about light, shape, and color. Artist/authors like Cathy Johnson and Claudia Nice have helped me understand these concepts much better. Now it’s up to me to keep practicing until my brush works with me as easily as my pencil and pen. :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Puka Dog

While on Kauai we were recommended to a gourmet hot dog joint near where we were staying in Poipu. It’s called “Puka Dog” and is something of a local institution.
Normally, I’m not one for hot dogs but this place was special. If you can believe it, my tropical hot dog was a polish sausage (they have meatless too) served with spicy jalapeƱo garlic lemon sauce, mango relish, and Lillikoi (passion fruit) mustard on a bun. As my Dad would say, it was delish! In fact, we liked the place so much that we ate there twice during our five-day stay. :-)
Here’s my on-site sketch of Puka Dog and the marker drawing I did after I got back. I had to do this sketch in markers as the actual place was so bright and tropical.
Fast sketch of Puka Dog Hawaiian Hot Dogs
Marker drawing from pencil sketch
 A big thanks to Haley and Amy for being such great company during our visit! Also to Amy for her great snorkeling recommendations. Mahalo Amy! 
Mahalo Amy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My how time does fly!

I’ve been back for just a few days and already it feels like an age since I’ve blogged anything at all! Now that I’m unpacked and life is beginning to return to normal, I thought it high time to talk about my trip and what I learned artistically.

The main change I made while away was to always have my sketchbook and camera with me and be ready to sketch at a moment’s notice. No dilly-dallying! After 10 days of this treatment I actually started reaching for my sketchbook BEFORE my camera! It was a revelation to me. One I hope I'll continue now that I’m home! :-)

My Hawaii sketch kit. The smallest sketchbook, pencil holder, and plastic
container for my pencil sharpening shavings all fit in my purse.

A common site on the trip, my hat, purse, and sketchbook.
I thought I’d start my trip artwork posts today with the sketch and value study. We saw this clever goat near South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. He/she was so cute I just had to sketch them and later do this small watercolor study. It was a very nice process that really helped understand the subject.

This was a very quick study that took me between 5 and 10 minutes.
This watercolor value study was also pretty quick.
Sodalite Genuine on a cold press postcard.
I'm looking forward to doing more of these small studies (as well as more finished paintings) over the next few weeks.  :-)

PS. I had some trouble with my watercolor sticks while I was away. They tended to stick to the plastic palette I keep in my travel case. Most of the time they looked like this when I opened the box. :-(

A sad case...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Aloha from Kauai!

OK, obviously, I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d thought while on our  Hawaiian vacation. Both islands are beautiful but Kauai particularly so! What a beautiful spot. I have been drawing ceaselessly on this trip and have filled more than half a sketch book with drawings. I have also taken many, many photos for painting reference. I’m sure I have materials for thousands of paintings and we’re not done yet! :-) Due to time constraints about internet access, I’ve decided to wait until I’m home to post the majority of my sketches. But I just couldn’t resist posting this one. It’s a sketch of the fabulous Kilauea lighthouse and a photo of Matt and I, with drawing, at the spot where I drew the sketch. Really fun!

Matt and I at the Kilauea Lighthouse overlook
Sketch of the lighthouse from the overlook

PS. I love the fast sketching. It is so very freeing! I'm already starting to reach for my pencil BEFORE my camera. AMAZING! So far I have done one value study in watercolor following a fast sketch done on site. It's a great process and I can't wait to do more of it from sketches and photos when I get home. *weee!*