Autumn, From Overcast to Sunny

I love fall; I think it might just be the most visually intriguing time of year.

The changes from late summer are subtle at first. And, if like this year, there is ample moisture and the chill doesn’t come on too abruptly, the shift is almost imperceptible. Well, this weekend ended all of that. The first hints of frostiness began to take over the local terrain as the temperatures dropped into the 20s/30s range.. The color balance has begun changing in earnest too.

Chilly Morning Near Lower Sherando Lake WEB.jpg

Chilly Morning, Near the Lower Sherando Lake, inks & watercolor in a Canson sketchbook

On Saturday, it was over cast. The clouds were stacking up on the west side of the Blue Ridge all morning. Those hoping for a sunny sky would have to wait ’til well past noon. That meant that at the lower Sherando Lake (in the George Washington National Forest) everything was sheathed in a grey light. Perfect for a little bit of sketching with ink!

I had to work quickly though, so after a really quick and light gesture drawing with a mechanical pencil, I continued to create gesture lines with a Waterman Phileas pen. Not the most flexible of nibs but richly bold at times unless, as I often do, I turn and draw with the nib upside down. If I want a richer variety of line, I might pull out a Sailor Fude fountain pen; it gives me beautiful transitions between thick and thin lines and it can also produce rich broken ink lines if turned just right and pulled across the page quickly.

But not this time. Instead I opted for my Pentel Brush Pen. Back and forth, alternating between the two, pen and brush pen, I worked up the 5×7 sketch. Next, I took out a water-brush. The Waterman is loaded with a water soluble ink; the Pentel’s ink is only re-wettable for a few minutes. I rapidly moved water around, re-activating, softening, and redistributing some of the fountain pen ink to create a few small ink washes.

Even before the paper began to dry, I had out some watercolor and began to mix up a few subdued, even chromatic grey, tones, Soon I was adding these to the areas of pale grey ink. And as these and paper dried, I added a few more pen and brush marks to hint at the mass of the stones (in the stream and foot bridge) as well as the swift water racing down to the lake.

But today, is a very different experience. I am on my way to drop off posters and to teach a watercolor class later this evening, I am enjoying the brightest and clearest of cool autumn days. Only the smallest wisps of cloud have slipped or skittered through the breezy and intense blue sky.

I have been thinking about ditching the distribution of all those adverts for my next, late fall, class and spending the whole day painting … and maybe even doing some reference drawing and photographing too. But I figure that I should compromise with myself; still make my rounds but stop and make at least a sketch or two. The last sketch of the day, the one below, is still wet and I haven’t even gotten most of the unneeded pencil lines out of it yet!

October 23rd, into Basic City copy

a quick field photo of Autumn View, mostly watercolor over pencil

Like most of us, I wish that I could draw and paint most of the day, almost all of the time. It is autumn after all and the season’s visual possibilities are almost unlimited … even if my time is.

 

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Rainstorms or not, Sketch!

We’ve had a very wet summer. And an astoundingly wet early fall too.

That has made dodging or finding ways to work around all the rain a bit pretty much the norm the last few months. This last week and a half has been more of the same … whether I was working on my own or when I gathered some fellow sketchers  to visually explore a 100 plus year old local landmark.

In the piece below, while it had stopped raining for a bit … I wanted the lowest vantage point; sitting on ground  However, our recent over abundance of “precip” has been further augmented by the previous hurricane which passing this way the afternoon and evening before …. so almost everywhere was a muddy mess.

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( Southside Harrisonburg Skyline, ink watercolor and pencil, 5×11 )

To avoid all the rain, I have sketched from under overhanging eves and even my car.  This one, done yesterday from inside a local fast food joint, was an attempt to dodge

IMG_3389_WEBthe remnants of our most recent tropical system (Hurricane Michael) as it slip up the east coast. Eventually, I had to get wet anywayEarlier in the week, I met up with members of the Charlottesville chapter of Urban Sketchers to draw the old Silk Mill building.

 

 

( From Behind The Glass Door , ink watercolor and pencil, 4×5 )

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Silk Mill Tower, Ink and watercolor over pencil, 5×7 )

It is a grand old structure, built about 1895. I think the original part of the building and the 1940s addition was restored and much of it repurposed just a few years back. The complex now houses a number of professional offices, new tech companies, and even a large co-op clay studio/teaching/exhibition space.

I started this piece thinking that I might just work it up with only ink … maybe partially in the spirit of October’s month long “Inktober” challenge (#inktober, #inktober2018). Despite my intention to use mostly a fountain pen, a brush pen, and perhaps a little ink wash, I soon found myself reaching for a bit of color. Autumn’s hues are such a lovely enticement; even when the changing leaves are, as they are here, mostly backlit.

That was not a completely smart choice as the blue grey clouds where quickly thickening and darkening. I really did have to race to stay ahead of the impending rain. I made it with about 9-10 minutes to spare.

Damp, but undeterred; I will be back at it again soon.

 

If you would to see more of my sketches you can check out:

http://www.instagram.com/hancock_john_a

or

http://www.johnahancock.com/photogallery/sketches

 

 

 

 

 

Being there.

Here is a blog by an artist in the Kansas City area. The image is nice and the ideas seem pretty solid too. Hope you enjoy it!

Just Sketching

(Number four in a series of ten ideas I have about sketching.)

26 August, 2018. I had an early morning meeting in the city on Thursday, and misjudged the timing of my arrival so that I pulled up to the art museum way too early. Taking up pen and sketchbook, both of which were on my backseat, I walked from the car and found myself under a stand of trees, settled in on a park bench and I began to sketch my surroundings.

Ugh! My fountain pen almost immediately ran dry… what the heck? Had I forgotten to refill? (Yes.) I finished the sketch with a different pen, one I happened to have in my pocket.


I’ve been thinking a lot about these ten ideas I have about sketching lately. Some of my students think I should turn them into a book, but honestly it’s much likely I’d hand print…

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Summer Can Be Easier For Sketching

The open ground and fields are alive with color; the hills, cliffs, and peaks bounce brilliant light over the surrounding landscape, clouds create deep dancing shadows across the forested piedmont, and the sky alternates between an intense blue and a creamy summer haze. Those of us who love to sketch outside might easily be forgiven if we responded with an ever more raucous assortment of paints at our disposal. You have to know that we are just SO visually excited.

To be sure, like any other season … the weather can still cause a problem in our attempt to get out there to sketch. For me, it is the typically intense heat and humidity of our Southern summers that will sometimes hold me at bay.  And in the middle of the day, it is my abundance of caution that fuels an attempt to avoid the aggressive predation of UV light … especially with my once red haired/now just fair skinned self.  Thankfully, I’ve worked around all these the past few weeks.

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Oakmont Cemetery Gate

I have been working with adult students who are interested in exploring the practice of urban sketching so we have been seeking out all kinds of sites in and around town.  Above is a sketch I made two Saturdays ago when we had gathered on a large plot of land divided into three cemeteries. All three where all founded in the mid 1800 and have a wide range of vistas and types of cemetery architecture to sketch. When everyone had settled into their locations, I began this 5×11 piece; using a view up the slope and through an old stone gate that leads to a narrow lane.

I started with an extremely quick pencil sketch and quite soon began working with several pens to apply both permanent and soluble inks. As I neared the mid point of the sketch, a point that I most usually take out a brush and water to apply a few washes … I stopped. Completely.

Instead of that usually successful and satisfying strategy, I reached for my Caran de’ Ache watercolor leads and applied a mix of dry color; most of it beyond the wall. I even pulled back from wetting these rich pigments with a brush to unlock their waiting clear color washes. Rather, I left the soluble pigments dry; blending them a bit with a paper tortillon. Then, as I moved to finish the sketch, I did lay in some more intense solid blacks with a brush pen and even used a few drops of water to sneak in touches of a soft grey wash.

This wasn’t the first sketch of the summer that I approached this way either. Just a few weeks ago, I found myself flying through a sketch of an architecturally complex  pedestrian underpass with multiple pens, inks, and a water-brush.  At the time, I did intend to add a few hints of dry local color to that sketch but I got distracted from doing so while I was still on location.  To be sure, the idea of supplementing the inks with some quiet color is still pretty tempting; I could still persuade myself to do that. But I frankly like this sketch with all of it’s scruffy and unfinished qualities … just as it is!

Staunton RR Underpass copy

Pedestrian’s RR Underpass Arches, Staunton

For the time of year that almost always calls for so many of us to take out the watercolors for sketching the season’s light and color … it seems that I have been drawn to at least pepper my more colorful sketching this summer with a few starker and darker pieces. It doesn’t make sketching any easier but it has been rewarding … and quite fun.

More news about Art on the road

As I have said many times … sketch, draw, or paint … I will go almost anywhere. And for the past two months, I have been making images away from home and my studio. First it was just in places around Virginia; then it was out in Utah or when I was in transit.

Summers have been the time of year that I most often travel and now that I organized my life around being a full-time artist … I still end up doing most of my major trips away from home during the summer months. For the past few years, when early June comes around, I get to judge art for a week. This year it was in Salt Lake City. That meant flying to Utah!

Art While Traveling West

I keep any work I do while in a plane, train or other vehicle pretty simple; usually only working with ink.

First Dulles Ink Sketch, Drizzly Morning Window

I pull out a fountain pen (or maybe two), possibly a trusty fountain brush pen, and maybe a relatively new tool for me … a water-brush. On this latest trip, it was just my favorite Waterman and the brush pen for this first image. The view out a drizzle spattered airplane window began pretty traditionally, at least for me, with hatching and simple line work.

 

Cabin View (From Dulles to Houston)

 

 

Once I get warmed up, by using both permanent and water soluble inks, I can get a broad range of effects … from pen line, to brush drawing, dry brush, and even ink washes.

In Salt Lake City

Since it began a few years back, this gig of judging art for a week has been extremely enjoyable.  Judging art for shows or reviewing art portfolios is hard work but also a real joy. Well, for the past few summers, I have been part of a team of artists and art educators who evaluate portfolios of students wanting to get AP credit for studio art as they enter college. We look at art all day for a week; some of it completely amazing and wonderful. But, by the time our ETS day winds down, I want to be making images myself!

So, after a second day of working, at just after 5pm, a fellow artist-educator and I walked a few blocks, down to Main Street and took up positions to record the still busy city around us. Starting with pencil and then watercolor leads and ink, I do some small sketches. By the time I decided what to do, I had concluded that I wanted to continue working mostly in ink.

Main Street Evening sketches, SLC.

Gallivan Plaza Trolly Station, Main Street, SLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathedral of the Madeleine in Evening Light, SLC

Cathedral Towers, first sketch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being in Salt Lake for a week during some of the longest days of the year affords someone who wants to sketch after work lots of daylight for work. Several evening I went out with fellow sketchers and we explored various parts of the city but one evening I went out alone. I got just beyond the central core of the city and made my way over to the Cathedral of the Madeleine. I explored the building inside and out and found myself wanting to be able see and sketch or paint it in morning and mid-day light. Alas, my work for ETS keeps me busy from 9-5. Thankfully, the early evening light was intense; the creamy tan of the stone glowed a rich golden hue and the towers cast dark shadows across the aged green patina of the metal roof.

Union Pacific Station Roofline

 

 

On the last full day in SLC, we wrapped up early … so I headed westward through the city in search of more images. Being extremely wary of the high altitude clear sky sun, I applied lots of strong sunscreen and stuck to the shadows. The first place I stopped was at the old Pacific Union railway station. It is a huge and gloriously complex building but I only did a small sketch of part of the roof.

After a light dinner, I turned back east and hoped to locate an interesting image of the city skyline framing or being framed by the tall peaks of the Wasatch Range just a few miles further east of the downtown. Instead, I became intrigued by a vista of many elements of the cityscape and especially a pair of nicely matched buildings that seem to sit across the street from each other.

These two structures share ornate (Beaux Arts style?) decorative motifs. What really attracted my attention to them was the early evening light on their massive cornices and curved corner facades. I drew them and redrew them; correcting and adjusting my composition over and over again. I wanted to capture not just the two buildings (as lovely as they are) but something of the cityscape that framed them as well. The other rectilinear building elements, the contrasting organic shapes and the harmony of the multiple curves in all the signage, traffic lights, and suspended poles were quite exciting to me. I actually worked so long addressing the design and drawing issues, that I couldn’t finish laying in all of my color before the day’s light faded away.

View Eastward  From 404 South, West Temple, Salt Lake City

Even if it wasn’t getting dark, I also realized that I didn’t have any warm blues in my palette and none in my back up bag of pigments either. (How did that happen?!) I know that I could just leave it as it is; frankly I do the image like it this way. But I just think that I need to add a few more passages of color now thatI  home!  Yes, we all know, that isn’t really a kosher strategy with many of my urban sketcher friends or our true-believer plein-air colleagues.

Too bad!

I wanted to finish this piece. So, I promised myself that I would be vary careful … and very restrained; I would rather the painting to be understated, even unfinished, rather than it being over done.

Working Away from Home

I sketch, draw, or paint almost anywhere.

It has been a busy late April, May, and early June for me. These past eight weeks, I have made most of my images while working away from home quite a bit. Mostly it has been around Virginia but also out in Utah, and even some while actually traveling. It doesn’t hurt that I will happily work in the full view of others … almost as easily as I do in the privacy of my studio.

Lynchburg and Staunton

Abandoned Power Station, Staunton Va.

I was invited to participate in two plein-air events this spring, one in Staunton and the other in Lynchburg. Sketching in and near the urban environment has always been an interest of mine. It shouldn’t surprise my urban sketcher friends that I began to get serious about making art way back in my teens when I would go draw the “brownstones” of Wichita KS. I still like those Hopper-esque cityscapes.

For the Lynchburg event, I was even asked to do a demo while I was there. It was fun to do the demonstration and the onlookers asked some wonderful questions. I sure hope I was informative and maybe even a little entertaining.

Fredericksburg

Market Square Steps, Fredericksburg

After being invited to demo at the Lynchburg Plein Air event, I had the distinct privilege, a really rare treat actually, to be able to attend part of a workshop offered by the Urban Sketchers of Fredericksburg. The instructor/leader of the event was Shari Blaukopf from Montreal. I have followed her work for several years now and have even recommended her to some of my students. It may seem like something of a busman’s holiday to some but I have always found it interesting to observe how fellow artist-educators go about presenting ideas to students.

The artists of this urban sketchers’ chapter and those that traveled to the workshop did some really wonderful sketches and Plein-air paintings. They were also a nice group to get to know. 

And, to be sure, Shari did a marvelous job! I will definitely still be recommending her work and her workshops to students. 

Here is a link to her blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harrisonburg

After attending a family friend’s wedding in the small town of Broadway recently, I stopped in the city of Harrisonburg to get myself an iced tea. I then settled in along a street that I have driven down many, many times since coming to Virginia. What was drawing my attention this day was the sweep of a low brick wall and the deep shadows that played in the trees and inside the walled area beyond the entrance. After three to four sketches to work out what interested me the most, I was able to execute a fairly fresh and simple watercolor of the scene.

Sketches, Liberty Street Harrisonburg

Ink & Watercolor Sketch, Liberty Street Harrisonburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late May on Liberty Street., Harrisonburg

Back when I was a professor, as spring would melt into early summer, teaching would wind down and a bit of a respite would settle into my routine. I am reminded that back then summers were often the time of year that I traveled most. (Truthfully, it probably also had something to do with being a parent as well.) As I have re-organized my life to be pretty much a full-time artist … I still find that I end up doing many of my major trips away from home during these three to five months of summer-like weather. And for the past few years, when early June comes around, I get to judge art for about a week. So it is back on the road I go! 

This year, I definitely had to travel to that gig. I will post more about traveling as an artist (on the road and in the air) very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning A Watercolor

Whether one is working up a large and complex piece or the smallest of watercolor sketches, getting started well can be one of the most important, even crucial, parts of the process.

Late Summer Pasture, Augusta County WEB

Late Summer/Early Falls Pasture, Augusta County

When I start a piece badly or in a confused manner, I end up having to struggle so much harder to get it all worked out, Now don’t get me wrong, getting lost in that struggle can be a wonderfully fertile process. I find that wandering about in a painting project and searching for a way through that visual disorientation can eventually open up new and exciting pathways in my work.  But starting a new work, staying focused on my original vision, and following through as best I can be a very productive path as well.

A good example of this can be seen in Shari Blaukop’s latest posting about her approach to watercolor sketching.. It is quite close to my way of working up a smaller pieces and she does a really great job of verbally and visually explaining her process.

via A step-by-step street scene

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a recent watercolor sketch by Shari Blaukopf

Shari is a Montreal based artist whose painting and blog I have known and enjoyed for several years now. I even had the pleasure of meeting her this past summer when we were both in Chicago for the Urban Sketcher’s Symposium. Take a look at her blog post. I think you will find Shari’s painting and writing to be fresh, evocative, and engaging.

 

 

From Chicago; Then Back Home Again …

As I promised, I have finally gotten around to posting some more of the sketches from my recent trip to the Urban Sketchers gathering in Chicago a few weeks ago. This first image was actually done in the morning of the last full day of the symposium. I was on Michigan Avenue just south of the Chicago River watching the morning light and shadows play across the tall buildings across the bridge.

Early Morning Shadow, Wrigley Building

After doing the watercolor sketch above, I shifted a few feet on the sidewalk and completed a second sketch using just ink (both fountain brush pen and fountain pen). Here again, I was drew the Wrigley Building but it was after the full eastern façade was in light. (As an aside, I’ll admit that I really like the light poles and lights I found throughout the Loop and Grant Park  parts of the city!)

Wrigley Building, Chicago

Earlier, during in the first full day in Chicago I participated in a session led by Lynne Chapman, an illustrator and urban sketcher from England. Lynn had us concentrate on using line and color separately … finding ways for them to harmonize or counterpoint one another rather than always controlling our color with line. It was an interesting experience; one that I have many times worked on with my adult students in classes … but which I need to remind myself to incorporate often in my own work.

For our first exercise we glued down several pieces of arbitrarily shaped pieces of color paper onto to our sheets of watercolor paper. Then, using inks and other materials (I chose to use dry color marks made with Caran d’Ache watercolor leads), we drew a view of the skyline across Michigan Avenue. Here is my 2nd exercise piece from that session.

My 2nd exercise piece from the Lynne Chapman’s workshop USk-Chicago

I had lots of fun with this … it felt good to be back in “student” mode a bit, It resonated with how I imagine my adult student feel when I push them to try a new type of project. After several more related exercises, we all went off to try and incorporate some of this idea into a piece on our own. I worked up a watercolor sketch using a different part of that skyline viewed through some of the bushes and trees of the arboretum in Grant Park. I worked very loosely, applying color and lines … sometimes together, often separately; trying to define forms using both line and color … but rarely directly conjoining the linear and color shapes.

stage 2 of  my watercolor sketch of the Chicago skyline across from the arboretum

Chicago Skyline (as completed in my USk-Chicago workshop w/ Lynne Chapman)

One of the last pieces of my time in Chicago was again down along the river on Michigan Avenue. This one is in some ways my least successful piece of the symposium. I was working on a large-ish (1/4 sheet, 7.5 x 11) watercolor paper. It is a sketch of an icon of early modern architecture in Chicago … the Tribune Tower.  It proved most difficult. The building is a soaring mass with an ornate gothic style top; it  is so distinctive and so very impressive. This sketch had big shoes to fill; it needed to feel solid and yet leap towards that intensely complicated and powerfully graceful beauty that graces the upper portion of the building. My sketch feels too overworked: I should probably have diminished the visual weight and attention it gave to the dark building immediately behind (to the left) of the Tribune. Those shadows along the road and bridge are a bit necessary to ground the building and were also real … but they also seem a bit heavy handed to me.

I guess it an honest attempt … that just falls a bit short.

North on Michigan, Towards the Tribune in

Frankly, like trying to sketch the Tribune building, everything about the experience was SO very intense. There were many, many fine folks there; right at 500 or so talented and committed sketchers from all around the world. I worked with several great teachers and workshop leaders. Besides Lynne Chapman, I also had wonderful sessions with Uma Kelkar (the beauty of mystery) and Jane Blundell (she spoke on one of my favorite topics, the permanent watercolor pigments). And I got to meet some favorite artists, Marc Taro Holmes and Sheri Blaukopf … both hailing from Montreal.

And I must not forget to mention the friendly, gracious, and magnificently helpful members of the Chicago Urban Sketchers chapter (including Paul Ingold) all of whom worked tirelessly as volunteers.

Charlottesville Rooftop View

We did make it home of course. And I have returned to sketching between and in the cities and towns near where I live. It feels really good to re-acquaint myself, to re-adjust, to be back into my more normal practice.  And if I struggled a bit with the immense height that the central core of Chicago presented me with … my hope is that some of what I saw, did, and experienced in Chicago will rub off on my work as well as my teaching of sketching.

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Working Westward to Chicago & the Urban Sketchers Symposium!

Westward.

Earlier this summer I was exploring sites just east of the Blue Ridge range. In old neighborhoods and part of towns that I seldom cross through much less actually see.

Oak Street Cemetery Gate, Charlottesville

I was also up on the the Blue Ridge, south of Afton Mountain, and back into the Shenandoah Valley. Meandering a bit, both northward and to the south, I kept finding old places I wanted to re-explore and new ones that tweaked my interest … everything from old walled cemeteries entrances to beautiful vistas viewed from between road signs.

… an unfinished sketch of farmland in the Shenandoah Valley viewed from behind two road signs

But then, it was time to head to Chicago for the International Urban Sketchers Symposium.  And when I got there, what can I say …

Wow! Three days of non-stop sketching, working with a few hundred other artists … all sketching in pencil, ink, and/or color! I think they may be part of my tribe!?

I took a couple of workshops and watched lots of demos. These took me out of my sketching routine; a big help actually. (Besides revitalizing my work, it is a great reminder what my students sometimes feel when I ask them to do something new!)

Unity Temple, Interior, 3rd state WEB

Interior, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, Oak Park Chicago IL
 Wabash Street L, Chicagom WEB
Under the “L” at Wabash and Congress

The first two sketches I made, I kept them pretty low key and simple. One, the interior of F.L. Wright’s Unity Temple done with a fountain pen and a fountain brush pen. The second, of the “L” seen from Congress and Wabash, I started using a light, loose pencil underdrawing but quickly substituted the pen to continue the line work. As I neared completion of the lines, I began to use the pen to lay in areas of dark. Before the ink could dry, I applied a wash to unify most of the linear elements into a cohesive whole. This wasn’t my only sketch of Chicago’s elevated train tracks, but I think it was one of the most successful.

As the next three days progressed, I was constantly pushed and pulled by the workshop leaders and by the shear vertical scale of Chicago’s buildings in the central loop and at the lakeshore. The camaraderie was great; folks were intensely supportive too. The local Chicago chapter did a marvelous job as hosts as well. assisting all the 500+ participants in so many ways.

Well, I have to go do some work in the studio now; I will post a few of my more color rich Chicago sketches as well as some from the trip home pretty soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Ink and Watercolor

We have lots of contrast based pairings in our verbal and visual vocabularies. In our heads … and in our popular culture … we use or hear a number of them pretty regularly. It is common for us to hear references to iron and velvet, leather and lace or fire and ice. Some of them are used as cultural icons, as trade or service marks, as well as tag lines in advertising, books, movies.

We have stories within which we associate these pairing; we have truism that play over and over in our heads as soon as we hear them uttered. “Oil and water may not mix.” They convey a sort of tension, a tension that drives drama, fear, or even an ironic twist – all kinds of excitement.

It even occurs in the world of art. In fact, I had a lovely conflicting duality that played out in my head for years. As many of you have figured out, I really enjoy many forms of mixed media … and I can also be a bit of a purist at times as well.

In the past I found myself thinking that using watercolor and ink together was too often the last resort of someone who could not make watercolor work without ink as a crutch. And I mused that an ink sketch or drawing really shouldn’t need some weak color washes to make it more appealing. We didn’t need to be in the business of gilding lilies.

On the other hand, I LOVE mixed media. I have been exploring mixed media drawing and painting myself for over forty  years and lately I have been doing a lot of aqueous and mixed media sketching outdoors. Somewhere along the continuum between urban sketching and plein-air, these sketch have usually been done with either watercolor or ink. The ink has been with fountain pens, Japanese style brush pens, as well as ink washes. And, of course I continue to create watercolor sketches in monochromatic, limited palette, and even sometimes a full range of color. But quite a few have been fully hybrid pieces, straddling the line between watercolor and ink.

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So, YES, I have been using ink and watercolor together. Actually pretty frequently.

For this one I worked up a super loose set of pencil lines to get the visual movements I wanted in the piece and the barest indication of relative sizes and locations. From there I quickly started laying in ink line in the upper right corner where sky, rooflines, and the chimney meet laid. Realizing  that I was using a water-soluble ink, I stopped using my ink, got out a brush to put the lightest values of the middle areas of the paper. These were the hues of the sun lit portion of the building that I could see being the poles, trees, and bushes.

Once those initial washes dried, I added addition ink lines and color layers pretty freely. I paid attention to what was dry and what remained wet so that everything didn’t run together. However, if you look, you can see that I did allow some mingling of ink and pigments.

IMG_4493 copy

Now, my initial idea was to showcase the brightly lit space around the synagogue’s front steps seen through a gap in the dark foliage. As I worked on the sketch, I soon realized that my fairly high key colors were dominating the composition … and the darks were really nowhere to be found … except in the ink line work.

On Jefferson, at Beth Isreal copy

On Jefferson, View Towards Beth Israel                                                                                                                                                     Watercolor and Ink over pencil, 5×7, July, 2017

This one ended up being a relatively strange little sketch, an odd angle and odd vantage point … looking at a tree, hedge and bushes while focusing (but not to much) on the color of sunlight on the bricks and steps that are just visible between/behind them all.

Here are two others, both from yesterday, that combining multiple materials. I was working with one of my sketching classes and, once I got them started, I made quick little pieces. The first includes watercolor (Caran d’Ache watercolor leads) and ink (both fountain pen & brush pen).

The second one, below, is just a detail of an unfinished sketch combining water-soluble graphite and ink (again my ink brush pen).

C'ville Open Air Mall WEB

As you can see, my tendency to be a purist is only partially evident. In practice, the duality … the dichotomy over combining watercolor and ink in my head leans towards the inclusivity.

PS These are probably the last two sketches I will be getting in before              I head to Chicago later this week to participate in the Urban Sketcher’s International Symposium. I do hope to post about that experience… maybe even from Chicago itself. I am a wee bit excited!

 

 

Wish me luck!