Sometimes it’s nice to slow down and try different products. I recently bought a Schminke travel split primary watercolor set. It is made in Germany and costs a fortune. I got mine on sale, thankfully. I haven’t really worked with it much until now. I had used it in a sketch last week, but the colors are not quite what I am used to, and I needed brighter colors, so fell back to my Koi set.
I set up a little plate of fruit—a half-eaten apple (I liked the ridges), a half-peeled tangerine (I liked the peel), and some strawberries. I sketched out the drawing in pencil, then started with the oranges. The orange color was nice and intense, I watered it down for lighter values, then built up layers with less water. The yellow color was perfect for the apple (kind of a Naples yellow), but doesn’t always give me the results I want if I mix it with other stuff. I need to experiment with the colors it will make. I worked through the berries, then mixed a purple to use for the shadows. I was thankful I took a color theory workshop years ago to help me know what to mix. But I’d be wise to make a color chart for all these new colors. Here they are: Perylene dark red, Saturn red, Cobalt Azure, Phthalo sapphire blue, yellow orange, rutile yellow, Potter’s pink, Perylene violet, perylene green, hematite black, viridian, and mahogany brown. I have a lot to learn, but I had fun, plus a ready-made snack afterwards!
On Sunday I went downtown Minneapolis to sketch with the Urban Sketchers. We met in the IDS Center, an amazing structure of glass and steel. After introductions, we went off to sketch in various skyways. I sketched the Hudson building. I liked the architecture—windows, stone, and archways. I sat with others on the floor above the Target atrium and also drew some people I saw below. One lady did a fantastic sketch of the Foshay building. We were happily sketching until a red-haired security guard came over, asked us what we were doing, and told us we could not sit there. We could stand, but not sit. I was coloring in the building, so rushed to get that done, which so often happens when you sketch on location. Your subject leaves, you get told to leave, something changes, so we got up and continued on our way. I went to Gaviidae Commons, but nothing grabbed me, so back in a couple other sky ways I went, before ending up in the IDS Center again. The sketch above was done there, from a white park bench. I liked the second level balcony, and a huge fountain dribbled water from stories above to a huge granite plate-like structure below. I sketched a couple people, a restaurant umbrella, a tree with white lights. Sparrows landed on the seat across from me, people talked, and we all later met up to compare sketches and take a group photo. It was a very fun and interesting afternoon!
Today I went to Central Park to do some quick sketches. I found some type of small expo happening—people set up at tables, selling things. Bottles and gadgets always make good sketch subjects, so I went into the library and sat in a big poofy green chair by the fireplace, facing out the window. A vendor had her back to me—but her purple jacket was hung over a chair and the color grabbed my attention. She had all kinds of bottles, baskets of items, and more. I didn’t know what she was selling, so after I finished the sketch, I went around to the front of her table where a dad and his kid were looking at her items. I saw an array of doggie bones, custom treats, and doggie shampoo. Her company was “Pet Wants”. That was cool! I heard barking dogs, and wondered what they were doing, so I kept walking down the crowded aisle and saw pet scratchboard portraits, primo pet supplies, and information about dog leash safety. I sat on a bench by the waterfall, as I noticed the next scene: a bright green and purple banner announcing–“Caring for Cats”. This table had 3 ladies at it, and a ton of cat toys, blankets, and other things stacked upon it. I couldn’t resist the colors, so I did a quick sketch.
The amphitheater was ramping up for All Breeds Obedience School demo, so I wandered past the leash safety info. table. As the demo began, I noticed three French Bulldogs, tethered to their owners, standing in front of another display. I couldn’t tell what it was, but two of the dogs flopped on the floor, their jowls oozing onto the floor, front legs splayed. I had about 15 seconds to sketch one of them before they jumped up to greet a passerby. I completed ink sketches of all these things in about 25 minutes, and added watercolor when I went home. It was a fun event and provided lots of sketch potential!
A few days ago I was at Barnes and Noble to sketch with a friend. We settled into comfy chairs, she looked down an aisle of bookshelves, I looked ahead and this scene is what I saw: umbrellas for sale! I liked the shapes of the handles, the unique objects, and the way they jauntily tipped towards the books on the table. I also liked the “Clearance” signs. I don’t normally see umbrellas in a row like this, so I knew this was my sketch! I used pencil to draw in the rectangle of book boxes and then switched to pen to do the rest. I slowly sketched the umbrellas, following them carefully with my eyes as I drew the lines on paper. They were light blue and had colorful raindrops on them. After the sketch was complete, I painted in watercolor. I think I’ll sometime go back and sketch, there are many delightful shapes, colors, textures, and outside-the-box objects in that store!
Last week I was sitting in the choir loft at church. I am a sub for the handbell choir and had finished ringing for the songs I will play this weekend. I began looking for things to sketch, and saw the piano sitting nearby. I am often drawn to something for its shape, texture, colors, or unique qualities. I have never sketched a piano, so decided to try it! I began with the shape—a large rectangular cube, then added the top, back, and sides. I added all the items on top of the piano too, a little clutter makes it authentic!
Last night, I once again found myself with time to spare, so sitting in the same area, I began to sketch a large saxophone, the instrument of our bell director, Pete. I liked the open box lid (a challenge in perspective), the dull gold of the sax, and all the pads and bars, and how it laid haphazardly in the case. The sax had been played during our rehearsal that evening, right behind me, in fact. I had a little familiarity with its sound.
I used pencil for both sketches, then followed up with watercolors. It gives it a nice soft look.
I haven’t sketched very many instruments except guitars, so now I add these to my collection!
Today I was waiting for some friends for a Valentine’s lunch. We were meeting at Crave, a fabulous restaurant with an extensive menu and awesome atmosphere. I brought my little sketchbook with off-white paper, intending to do a sketch with Faber-Castill Pitt pens. As I settled into my booth, I noticed a group of “Red Hat Ladies”. I don’t know if this is a national or regional organization, but I had a friend once who was in it. They go to special outings and events, and wear red hats with purple around the middle, or red accessories for their hair. I knew right away they were having a Valentine’s lunch. I saw their balloons over their table and red hats, and knew my theme for today. I noticed waitresses dressed in black shirts, so I drew one in, her blond pony tail bouncing around. I like the decor in Crave, and noticed I had a view of the dining room that included the server’s area, banquet area, flowers, volumes of drapes and fabrics, tables, and people in booths like me. So I began sketching as fast as I could. So much to sketch, so many fun designs and shapes. I started with the serving area on the left with the waitress, the Red Hat Ladies, then worked my way left. The last thing I added was the woman seated on the far left side. One of my favorite illustrators is Hilary Knight, the illustrator of “Eloise”, a precocious little girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York. His children’s illustrations have always fascinated me, and one reason is because they are done with black pen and accented with shades of pink. So today, I present “The Red Hat Ladies” ala Eloise— a black and white sketch with pink and purple accents! Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!
Last night I sketched at Kowalski’s from the second floor. I was noticing shapes in the flower pots, displays, and cylinder-shaped card rack. I liked the yellow, oranges, and blues as well. I sketched the pink flower stand first with the oranges, then built the sketch around that, working on the “halo” boxes and fruit stands. I added in the card rack, but it stood isolated. Finally, a lady came and was looking at the cards, so I quickly sketched her in. Finally, I sketched the fruit stand at the left corner, I also liked the shape of the baggies on a roll. All this was done in pencil. Then I outlined everything in pen and finally added watercolor. I considered whether to add stuff in the right corner, but kind of like the empty space. This was a fun sketch, probably took about an hour. There is always so much to sketch at Kowalski’s!