Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Current Project -- Europe 2011 Trip Retrospective Journal

I had started a Retrospective Trip Journal in January, and was making good progress through it (I got through ten years, to 1994!) when I decided to put that project in hibernation and work on our most recent trip, our month-long whirl-wind trip through Europe!  I was feeling the pull to jump to that trip since it was our most recent trip, therefore the most fresh in my mind, and certainly deserving of its own sketchbook.  I decided to use a Fabriano Studio sketchbook I bought recently on sale, and this has 12 sheets of cold press watercolor paper (for a total of 24 pages).  So I constructed a "budget" of how many pages I could allot to a particular place.  In total, we visited 14 places in Europe, so for some places I could only allot 1 page to that place.

Fortunately I took lots of photos on our trip so I have many references to sketch from.  Also, as I remember eating certain delicious foods in Europe, like baguettes, cheese, chocolate, and gelato, I am able to find photos online for reference too.  I also thought I'd include logo sketches, like Trenitalia logo, or the sign for Mary's Hotel in Paris where we stayed at, all easily found online.

For the cover of the book I had photoshopped a line of our train travel route on a map of Europe and pasted it onto the cover:

So we started our trip in Paris, and I ended up using 3 pages for that place, which will force me to reduce to one page for another place:

We next rode to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland and had a wonderful two days there:

I am currently working on finishing up our time at the Cinque Terre region of Italy (one of my favorite places of the trip!):

This project has been a lot of fun, and a great way to reminisce on a truly wonderful trip!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Zentangle Birthday Card

I love color, but there is something about the black and white chaos of the Zentangle that intrigues me.  I find them aesthetic.  They are fun to create, too.  So with a friend's birthday coming up, I decided to make a birthday card using the Zentangle concept.  I also have been working on learning calligraphy.  I mentioned in my previous post that I recently purchased a Brause calligraphy set, and I thought this birthday card would be a great way to put the set to use.  I found online what I thought was an apt quote for birthdays, and used the Uncials lettering style for the words:
I like how it turned out, my first time with the Uncials style!  Of course, I didn't do it cold, I practiced a few times in my practice book:
I also traced some letters in the Versals lettering style onto the envelope and filled in the letters with colored pencils.  Meghan often wears lime green, which is why I picked that color scheme:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Masking Fluid + Calligraphy Nibs Leads to Batik-style Painting

I love the look of either white or black lines in watecolor sketches and paintings.  I have in the past played around with masking fluid to preserve white lines, sometimes with a liner brush and sometimes with a ruling pen, not always with good results.  One of the keys to success is a good-flowing masking fluid, and after trying several brands, including Masquepen, I find that I like Pebeo Drawing Gum the best.  But the other key is a good tool that enables me to draw fine lines with the fluid, and I have a new tool that works pretty good.  I recently bought a Brause Calligraphy dip pen set from Goulet Pen Co., and I found the idea online of using calligraphy nibs to write in masking fluid.  Oh, I had to try that.  So I got the bigger round nib in the set, the Pfannen nib, and gave it a go.  With the disadvantage of using masking fluid that is already coagulating in the bottle (it must have been sitting on the store shelf for awhile, usually a brand new bottle is nice and homogeneous with no clumps), I was able to get the pen to work pretty well and draw smooth lines (for the most part).  You do have to keep on top of making sure your nib is filled with the fluid, and do the usual things like pre-dip the nib into soapy water and clean the nib often in the soapy water and wipe clean.  But with patience, and practice, I think this could be a good combination.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Recent Daily Sketches

I am 59 days into my 75-day sketch challenge and I am finding myself growing a lot more comfortable with the sketching and painting process!  I really do feel freer with it, and I find myself loosening up about it.  And that is wonderful!  I no longer stress as much about being accurate or perfect, but try to have fun with it.  That is the main thing.  I still wonder each day what I am going to sketch, and find a little anxiety about that.  I try to keep it relevant to the day, but that is kinda hard when days get routine.  I do have a big stash of reference photos I can sketch from, though, as I did one recent day:
The reference photos are from one of my Pbase photo galleries, here and here.  I have been very much into nature photography from 2005 through current day, though in recent times my photography has been more for trips only.  And now that I want to incorporate travel sketching into my trips, I am not sure how much photography I'll be doing since I'll want to sketch too!

But I do try and sketch from life when I can, even mundane stuff like running shoes.
 This sketch was one that actually required maybe the most concentration of all I have done so far...all those twisting laces!

Sketching our little Christmas cactus was actually easier than I'd have thought, given all the little pad segments:

So now that I am growing more comfortable with both drawing and painting, I hope to incorporate into my "schema" the ability to use more artistic license in my use of color in my sketches.  It's been difficult to pin down and articulate what I want to grow into, but I have come to understand that it's about choosing personal color rather than local color.  There is a great thread on Wet Canvas started by Virgil Carter on this topic, and I think Virgil's work is a wonderful (if especially vibrant) example of the use of color I'd love to incorporate into my art.  I've seen it before, in the work of John Nieto, Sinclair Stratton, Patrice Federspiel, Jo Lynch, Harriet Peck Taylor, and many others...artists who are not enslaved by local or realistic color, but freely incorporate vibrant and wonderful colors into their work.  I'd love to do that!

Mini Sketch Kit Ready To Go

Next month we are embarking on a long road trip from Arizona to Washington D.C. and even beyond to New York City!  So naturally I want to take along a watercolor sketch kit to do some trip journal-keeping, and I need to keep it small so I can always have it with me when I walk around these cities.  So here is the kit I am going to try, all contained in the Eagle Creek XS Pack-It-Sac.

First is the watercolor sketchbook itself, which I recent made using coptic binding and Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper.  The size of the journal is 3 1/2 x 5", which opens nice and flat to a 5 x 7" 2-page spread.  This will be the first time I've worked with this paper, but I chose it because it is nice and thin.  I made the book using four signatures, and each signature has four folios (i.e. 8 pages) each.  So this little sketchbook has  32 pages, comparable to a pocket watercolor Moleskine.  The cover is made with leather scraps, with the holes reinforced by 140lb watercolor paper I glued to the leather.

The watercolor palette comprises 5 half-pans of paint glued using rubber cement to the inside of an Altoids Smalls tin.  The colors I have in the palette are based on the "artist's primaries" palette on  Daniel Smith New Gamboge, DaVinci Red Rose Deep, DaVinci French Ultramarine, Daniel Smith Phthalo Green YS, and Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna.  I used rubber cement to adhere a cut-to-fit piece of a yogurt container to the top of the tin for mixing.

To round out the kit I have a Mini mister spray bottle, a large Niji waterbrush, a Platinum Carbon fountain pen filled with platinum carbon ink, a cuff to an old sock to wipe the waterbrush, a slide holder to help me frame my sketches, and a piece of Yupo paper cut to the size of my sketchbook to use as a color mixing palette.