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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5 thoughts on “Autumn, From Overcast to Sunny

    • Neil, thanks so much taking a look and sharing your reaction. I do tend to bounce between “pure” watercolor, watercolor and ink, and pen (brush pen) and ink wash. I guess that makes me inconsistent … oh well. All three ways of working excite me.

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