Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling Sketchbook Project -- Prep Work

Trial run first in my own sketchbook!
Our Tucson Sketchbook Artistry Guild is doing a Traveling Sketchbook Project, where we each contribute 2 pages of our own sketching into a sketchbook, then pass it on to the next artist.  When the book is filled, we plan to auction it off at a future art show.

The theme of this sketchbook is "Flight", and when I learned of that I immediately envisioned sketching from a photo I took at Puerto Pinasco in December 2006 of some seagulls soaring above us.  We got their attention because my husband was tossing up bits of dog food, and they would catch it mid-air and gobble it down.

I am actually the first to sketch in this book, and I feel a little nervous about it.  So of course, I first did a trial run in my own sketchbook (image above).  This allows me to work out the process and see if the color schemes I have planned will work.  I could then use it as reference when I do the real thing.

To do this trial run in my own sketchbook (which is 5.5x8.5", yielding a 8.5x11" double-page spread), I drew the birds first in pencil into my sketchbook using the grid method.  Basically, I printed out a copy of my photo on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper, slipped it into a clear plastic sheet protector, and drew a 1" square grid directly onto the plastic sheet protector using a Sharpie marker.  Then I drew the same 1" square grid lightly in pencil in my sketchbook, then drew the birds lightly in pencil.  After a few erasures and corrections, I inked in the lines of the front bird in pen when I was satisfied with the drawing.  I also wrote the word "flight" first in pencil, then in pen.  I erased pencil lines where I drew over in ink, but left the pencil grid lines (they don't show up in the scan), and the pencil lines of the second bird.  I used masking fluid to protect the "flight" lettering.

Then it's time to paint.  I first wanted to do a light underpainting of the birds in soft grays, but I wanted the pigments that make up the gray to separate into warm and cool tones.  I normally would have mixed Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna for my grays, but this time I wanted to try something new.  After some deliberation, I discovered I also like the grays resulting from a mix of Daniel Smith Pyrrol Orange and Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue, with a touch of Cerulean Blue.  I like how soft the resulting grays are, and there is just the amount of warm and cool tone separation I was looking for.  For the sky I used clear water where the soft clouds were to be located, then while the paper was wet I painted in Cerulean Blue (with a touch of Ultramarine and Violet mixed in) for the blue sky areas.  When the underpainting of the birds was dry, I layered in with the Ultramarine + Burnt Sienna mixes.  I quite like how it turned out!

Next I will be working in the actual traveling sketchbook!  It sure helps my confidence to have already done a trial run of it in my own sketchbook.

The actual traveling sketchbook is quite a bit larger than my own sketchbook--11x14" opening to a 14x22" double-page spread.  Wow!  I can't recall when I've ever worked that big before.  To reduce risk in the drawing aspects of it, I taped together two 11x14" sheets of sketching paper, and drew an enlarged version of the drawing using the grid method.  I am now experienced in the grid method, so this is not so difficult.  The key for expanding to the needed size is to measure the grid out to the expanded dimensions.  In this case I used a 1.75" grid size (expanded from the 1" grid size).


So that is where I'm at now...  Next I will overlay my sketch paper drawing onto the double-page spread of the actual sketchbook and use transfer paper to transfer the drawing onto the sketchbook page (thus avoiding having a pencil line grid in the sketchbook).  Then I will ink & paint, like I did in in the trial run.  Wish me luck!

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