Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Find the beauty in the mundane

Inspired by Pete Scully and Larry Marshall, who turn ordinary fire hydrants into amazing works of art, I walked myself kitty-corner across the street to our nearest fire hydrant and sketched it!  It was great fun, so simple yet complex enough to be interesting.  Try it!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another outing with my sketch-mobile...

Cortaro Bridge over the Santa Cruz river
Tucson and neighboring Marana are doing really great for developing urban bike paths throughout the city, particularly along the major washes and rivers.  Within an easy bike ride from my home is a wonderful bike path along the Santa Cruz river, which actually has water running through it most times of the year!  This morning I hopped on my bike with my sketch kit and sketch stool in a day-pack and rode to a location I had noticed on a previous outing, offering a great view of the Santa Cruz flowing under the bridge at Cortaro Road.  And this is my sketch!

As I was putting the finishing touches on my sketch a man who had been jogging along the path informed me that he spotted a 5-foot rattlesnake a little ways up the path, if I cared to go check it out.  So after I packed up my stuff and I rode to the area he indicated, but the snake apparently had left.  Oh well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trouble in Preradise

Like any newbie sketcher (or perhaps some veterans, too!) I cannot resist trying out different art supplies.  Especially pens!  People wrote about sketching with this fountain pen or that, and I was so curious to try different pens.  I started with the Lamy Safari, widely regarded as a "reliable, dependable workhorse", but that has not been my experience at all with it (I've tried two of them!).  I then discovered the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen and I thought my search was done, I loved it!

But then curiosity rose again, and I bought a Noodler's Flex Konrad (what are those flex pens about anyway?).  It was okay, but the line was too thick for my taste.  Then I encountered a blog post from Quebec sketcher Larry Marshall about the Pilot Prera.  I began dreaming about the Prera as a pen that would make up for any deficiencies I perceived in my reigning favorite pen, the Carbon Pen (strange long shape, cap not post-able; I'm aware that I can saw the body shorter but such things are irreversible and what if I don't like the way it handles then?). The Prera looked sturdy, wrote fine, the cap posted, etc.  People seem to like it.  So I bought one (now my most expensive pen!) and I was in Prera-dise.  For awhile...

Now that I've had some experience sketching with the Prera I have found myself growing increasingly frustrated with this pen on the papers I am sketching on these days (Strathmore 400 CP, Aquabee Superdeluxe).  Sometimes the ink just stops flowing and I have to get out a scratch sheet of paper to get it going again, and sometimes even then I would fight the pen.  Yesterday as I used it to draw the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson, I was fighting with the pen again, and I said to myself, "That's it!  This pen is not working for me!  The Carbon Pen has never failed me so it's time to go back to that!".

But before I purchased a second Carbon Pen (one to keep on my desk, one to keep in my traveling sketch kit), I needed to make sure it was the pen what was the problem and not the ink.  So I flushed my Carbon Pen, installed a Platinum converter that I bought awhile back and never used, and filled the pen with Noodler's Lexington Gray ink, the ink I had been using in my Prera.  It worked wonderfully, as I thought it might.  Nice ink flow, no skipping, even on the relatively rough cold press watercolor paper.  I did a test page on the Strathmore CP watercolor paper and I was convinced the problem was in the Prera, not the Lexington Gray ink.

So made a JetPens order for another Carbon Pen this morning.  That should do me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Everyday Matters

Sometimes when I want to sketch something, I'm indecisive about what to sketch.  There are so many options (or sometimes nothing seems "right")!  It helps to have guidelines and the Everyday Matters (EDM) challenge list is an excellent source of sketch subject ideas, the best I know of.  I've been aware of it for awhile but have never used it.  The first item, EDM #1, is "Draw a shoe", and while I have already as a matter of course drawn three pairs of shoes, I thought I'd sketch another pair I haven't drawn yet and "officially" start the challenge.

I'm not going to push myself to do one a day, I want to feel free to sketch whatever.  But I can use this list when I feel stuck, indecisive, or uninspired.  I'm not sure if I'll get through the whole thing (likely not, the list is now huge and overwhelming at 328 items and counting), but that's...okay.  It'll always be there when I need it.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maiden voyage on my sketch-mobile!

Inspired by the Danny Gregory film "Red Hook" featuring Tommy Kane where he rides his bicycle to sketch the Red Hook bar, I've been recently getting my bicycle in working order (fixing both flat tires, fixing the shifter, tuning the gears, lubing the chain) so I too can have a "sketch-mobile". This morning was my maiden voyage to our local library. It was fun, and I want to do more of it!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Learning from other artists

Saguaro at Picacho Peak
I have been scouring the Internet, studying the drawing techniques of some of my favorite artists (Pete Scully, Tommy Kane, Steven B. Reddy, France Belleville-VanStone (aka "Wagonized"), and Paul Heaston).  They all create beautiful drawings, and most of them incorporate watercolor too, as I do.  One thing they all seem to have in common is that their works of art are very drawing intensive, even to the point of adding great detail with their lines, and using hatching or stippling to create darker values.  Though most indeed use watercolor, it's more as an enhancement to their drawing and not for creating the details so much.  I have felt that in my style of watercolor painting, where I prefer to work wet-into-wet and drop in colors, is not very conducive to creating detail and so I've always felt I've struggled with the details.  Well, these wonderful artists have provided me an alternative...create these details in ink!  So as I take my baby steps in this directions, I share with you an early attempt to do such.  See the detail in the saguaro?  I drew those lines and dots in their with my fountain pen!  This is not something I would have done before, but I really like the result!  I even did a bit of hatching in the distant trees, and the distant hills, for the dark areas.  Fun!  I love this style, and I think it solves some artistic problems I've been having with watercolor painting.

This sketch is from a photo I took at Picacho Peak State Park near Tucson, Arizona in March 2005.