Loose Lines

It’s always nice when good sketches sneak up on you. They’re often the ones where you’re not trying too hard or thinking too much. Where your lines are loose and flow from object to paper quickly and without criticism. I wasn’t trying to create anything detailed or complicated here; I just wanted to capture form and light…which, I suppose is what we’re always striving for on paper.

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Tips & Techniques- If you need to loosen up with your artwork, I recommend grabbing a pencil or pen and leaving the eraser behind. Look at whatever you’re working on for a minute or two, and then jump in. Keep your lines moving and your eyes on your subject. If you don’t like a line, go over it with another one (and another one, and another one). Give yourself just a few minutes to capture the essence. Then turn the page and start again. Do a couple of these quick sketches in succession. When you’re finished, take a read on how it felt to work this way. Freeing, eh?

Making Muffins

What could be better on a cold Sunday in November than baking, eating, and painting muffins? And while there’s no recipe for painting muffins, I scanned this several times while in progress to share how I approached it.

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I painted this on Fabriano soft press 140lb watercolor paper in a handmade journal, using a limited palette of alizarin crimson, quinacridone gold, and phthalo blue. That’s not a combination I typically use, but I wanted to try it. I also added a little burnt sienna toward the end. Eat, paint, enjoy!

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Lessons from a Carrot

At the recent workshop I led in Anacortes, Washington, we started off with some back-to-basics drawing and painting techniques. Participants practiced blind contour and gesture drawings; did short, timed sketches; worked in ink to keep a drawing flow going without erasures; and put a number of concepts together while painting vegetables. Here’s my demo painting, which I went back to later to add tips from the lesson. Isn’t it great that we can learn so much from a carrot?

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Tomato Deluge

Tomatoes are the new zucchini! One neighbor dropped off a dozen; another went away and left a garden full, ripe for picking. That leaves me eating and painting and looking up new recipes.

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I did the first sketch in my Stillman & Birn journal with Zeta paper, which is a smooth, heavyweight 270 gsm paper. The recipe page is in a homemade journal with Fabriano soft press watercolor paper, which is a dream to work on. I wrote the main text in watercolor using a dip pen with a drawing nib. If you want to try it, simply load the nib using a watercolor brush. You’ll have to reload frequently, but that will give you a chance to alter the color and get varied tones in the letters.

Season of Abundance

It is the season of abundance. Farm stands and farmer’s markets overflow with luscious color and variety. Gardens are ripening toward their fullest beauty. I am utterly drawn in.

Red Cabbage

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Forgive me if you are a lover of cabbage. Aside from when it is disguised in coleslaw or egg rolls, I find cabbage hard to enjoy…except when painting it. Then the lovely blending of purples and greens and blues, of leaf shapes and of the spaces between them reveal the cabbage’s true beauty.

Pumpkin Vine

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I got down on the ground for this perspective of pumpkin vines. So much happening at that level!

I painted these in my Stillman & Birn “Zeta” sketchbook and I really put it put the paper to the test. Zeta has 270 gsm smooth, white paper that is great for ink but sometimes tricky for very wet watercolor. The paint doesn’t merge in the paper, as it does with most cold press papers, but rather on the paper. I find that there is very little reworking that you can do while the paper is wet, but the paper holds up to lot’s of layers of washes. These were worked very wet to increasingly dry, light to dark.

What lies ahead

I cracked open a new sketchbook this week: blank pages stared back. Who knows what will become of them? Pieces of life, seasons, artistic experiments, birds, experiences, memories. It seems fitting then that my first page records a journey. These are quick sketches made while driving from Connecticut to Maine, pulled together with text about what I was listening to in the car.

IMG_3972I wasn’t really sure where the pages would go when I began. With each stop along the way, I added something more. Built over time, the page, like the book itself, is record of my journey. Here’s to what lies ahead!

Work in Progress

This page—like my diet—is work in progress, but you can see where it’s headed.  And now that I’ve started this record of my downfall, I’m reluctant to find reasons to complete it. I ate with abandon most of last year and decided it was high time to change course and get back to healthier habits. The only problem is that I love desserts and snacking. The good news is that once I put these delectable downfalls on paper, I realized why the scale didn’t show progress last week, and I renewed my resolve to do better. So…hopefully, the page will remain unfinished for a good while longer.

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Click to view larger. Watercolor and Micron 02 pen in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook.

Doodlewashed-graphic
Thanks to Charlie O’Shields and the Doodlewash blog team for featuring me as a guest artist last week– and thanks to those of you who became fans because of the post! Doodlewash includes lots of fun sketchbook pages, product reviews, and guest artist features. Check it out!