It’s been a year since I took the opportunity to do a watercolor sketch live and not from a photo. I tend to do these sketches while traveling away from home. Ellen and I just returned from celebrating her birthday in East Boothbay, Maine. We were there for only a few days but I was determined to do some sketching. The first sketch was done at Cozy Harbor on Southport Island near Boothbay Harbor. The fishing hut was just perfect for sketching and very picturesque with the yellow lobster traps on either side. It was a HOT day, around 90 degrees and I was in full sun so I worked rather quickly and didn’t realize that the sketch pad was on a slight angle. I kind of like the tilt. It’s like something Cézanne might do (only he would have done it on purpose)!

I did the second sketch later the same day from the porch of Five Gables Inn where we were staying in East Boothbay, ME. The house across the way, partially hidden with shrubbery and overlooking the inlet, caught my eye. It was much more comfortable drawing there. The porch was covered and I had a very convenient table available to put my paints, brushes and sketchbook on. I really liked the deep burgundy colored tree on the left behind the house. It made a nice contrast to the greens of the shrubbery and distant trees across the bay.

Both were drawn with two Micron pens (#3 and #5). Two brushes were used for the watercoloring, a 3/4 inch flat from American Journey and a #8 round DaVinci Casaneo. The sketches were done in an 8 1/4 inch square Hand Book Travelogue sketchbook.

From the Footbridge

I tend to do most of my urban sketching when we travel. Since the pandemic makes it hard to go very far, I decided to look at photos from past trips for inspiration. In June of last year we went to Ogungquit, Maine to be by the water and enjoy a short getaway. One of the photos I took was of a small snack bar and surrounding buildings near the footbridge in Perkins Cove. Using that as a reference, I did this drawing with a #3 Micron Pen and watercolors using a 3/4 inch flat and a #8 round travel brush. It was done in a 5″ x 8″ Pentalic watercolor journal.

The Ancient One

It’s been a while since I did any urban sketching and with the pandemic, I haven’t really been motivated to go out and try to do so. I had to bring the car in to our local garage for brake work and since it would take at least two hours, I decided to take along my drawing stuff and try to get a drawing in.

There is a small apple orchard right in town that we pass by every time we go into Danville. It has some old gnarly patriarchs that caught my eye and one of them cried out to be drawn. I used a mechanical pencil to do the first draft drawing and refined that with two Micron pens (#3 and #5). Two brushes were used for the watercoloring, a 3/4 in flat from American Journey and a #8 round DaVinci Casaneo, both travel brushes. The drawing was done in an 8 1/4 square Hand Book Travelogue sketchbook across two pages. What I loved about this tree was the way the clipped back branches created an umbrella shape over time. New growth has started to shoot vertically out on the left side and at the top. Overall it had a wonderful grace while commanding respect for its age and stature.

You can select the image below to see it full sized.

Two More Chairs

Here are the latest chair sketches in the ongoing social distancing saga. As I wrote to Laureen, one of the loyal followers of my blog, I will probably hereafter be referred to as “the CHAIR-man of the BORED”. The chairs provide a theme to keep me drawing in the sketchbook . I’ve been using a Platinum Carbon Pen, Micron 03 Pen and watercolor in a 5 1/2″ x 8″ Strathmore mixed media Visual Journal.

The subjects of the two latest drawings are very different from each other. The first is of my “computer/office” chair which, in its over designed padding, reminds me of an inflated ancient fertility goddess on a multi-pronged pedestal. It was tricky to draw because it doesn’t look like a real chair but rather a nightmare of some furniture designer’s warped judgement.

The other drawing brings us back to the “homey” feeling of chair reality. It is of a small rocking chair that I bought years ago as a piece of unfinished wood furniture. I painted it in a couple of tones of neutral green trying to bring out the scrollwork spindles. You will notice that the “rocking” runners that should be at the bottom are missing. They broke off a long time ago but we kept the chair anyway because it had “character”.

More Cheers for Chairs

As promised, I’m posting more drawings of chairs that we have scattered around our house. The first one of the green kitchen chair was done this morning. The other three were drawn at various times in the past but I thought they would fit in well with this project so they have been added to the collection. MORE TO COME!

An old kitchen chair (set of four) that I bought used before we were married (over 50 years ago). We still use them at our dining table. There’s a braided cushion on each of the chairs. In the background is a peace lily that sits on the floor near our dining table.
A drawing I did in 2014 when we still had our dear cat Toby. She tried out all of the chairs in the house and any other raised surface she could reach (which was just about everywhere)!
Another loveseat that’s in our living room. This was done several years ago on two pages of a 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ Hand Book Journal
A rocking chair in our living room. This was done some time ago as a very quick sketch. I went right to inking without using a pencil first and then added watercolor.

Cheers for Chairs

I send best wishes to all of my viewers that you are healthy and being mindful of safe guidelines in this difficult and trying time of COVID-19.

Since our life drawing group is not meeting I don’t have any figure drawings to share. My friend and artistic mentor, Shari Blaukopf has posted wonderful household sketches on her blog. Being stuck at home like so many others, she has inspired me to do the same. It is her suggestion that drawing whatever is in front of you is good practice in learning to “see” as an artist. With that in mind I thought it would be fun to do a series of drawings of several varied chairs in our house. It gives me a subject for drawing and a chance to get back to using pen & ink and watercolor. The two sketches below were done with a platinum carbon pen and watercolor in a 5 1/2″ x 8″ Strathmore mixed media Visual Journal. I hope to add more drawings of our chairs and other household items soon.

This is a comfortable armchair in our living room. There’s an appliquéd pillow against the back and at the top is a woolen lap blanket purchased many years ago at a craft fair in Scotland.
This antique handmade wooden chair is a family heirloom from Germany. We have a matched pair.

Île d’Orléans, Quebec

Ellen and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on beautiful Île d’Orléans situated in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City. On the island there are six farming communities. They produce everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to wonderful preserves, wines and hand crafted items. We spent six days on the island with one day in Quebec City and explored all of the individual farming communities, visiting wineries, craft shops and art galleries. Delicious meals at the island’s excellent restaurants were also very much enjoyed.

Farming and food production along with tourism are the main occupations on the island.

The last “urban sketches” I posted were done back in June of this year. I had hoped to do more in the intervening time but have been preoccupied with my iPad and Procreate app as well as life drawing. I finally had a good opportunity and the motivation to do some sketching while we were on Île d’Orléans.

pen & ink and watercolor sketch of farm fields on Île d’Orléans
pen & ink with watercolor sketch of an interesting shed on the island

Sketching in Ogunquit

We celebrated Ellen’s birthday by taking a few days to visit Ogunquit, ME and enjoy the ocean along with some great seafood. The local community has developed a wonderful walkway along the rocky coast between the town center at one end and Perkins Cove at the other. Called the Marginal Way, it rises above the coast and provides delightful views out towards the ocean and the rocks below. It was a bright sunny day so we stopped at one of the many benches along the trail (one of the few that was in shade). We sat down and I did a sketch of the rocks and tide pool below. It was just a quick half hour drawing but I think it captured some of the feeling of that open view.

Rocks and tide pool below The Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine (painted in 5″ x 8″ Pentalic watercolor journal)

The next day we drove down to Cape Neddick where the Nubble Light is located. From a massive stone outcrop you see the buildings of the light station located on a small island just across a narrow stretch of water. We were there in the morning and, looking East the buildings were mostly in shadow. The sun was bright and the sky clear making for good viewing. I spent about 45 minutes on the sketch.

The Nubble Light (painted in 5″ x 8″ Pentalic watercolor journal)

Another experiment

“November Tamaracks”

I had such a good time with yesterday’s drawing/painting experiment that I wanted to try to apply the same technique (painting first and then drawing over with ink) in a more compositional drawing. Looking out of our front window, that composition was just waiting for me.

The view from our front window

The view is looking southeast towards the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the “stars” of the scene are the changing Tamarack trees (American Larch). These trees are deciduous conifers. They are like pines and firs in that they grow seed cones but they differ by loosing their needles in the fall. Before the needles come down they turn a brilliant yellow orange and provide some of the last warm color before the onset of winter.

Anyone who follows my work knows that I have a penchant for detail and an annoying habit of trying to get everything I see in front of me into the drawing I’m working on. I also tend to make a “project” of drawing or painting and often fail to even get started with it by making too much of it. With this, I was trying to get away from a fussy, over-detailed style. Yesterday’s drawing inspired me to “loosen up”, work quickly and just put in the essentials of the scene.

“November Tamaracks” watercolor with pen and ink in 8″ x 10″ Handbook Watercolor Journal

I started with the brush and directly painted all of the elements of the composition very quickly, trees, hills, foreground and sky. This was done in about 8-10 minutes. When the painting was dry, I used a #3 micron pen to draw over the color (another 5-10 minutes). I added a bit more color (some of the purples to contrast with the yellow of the trees) and some final touches of pen work and that was it. In aiming for simplicity, I was able to use the brush to paint the middle ground and distant mountains almost as calligraphy, as symbols rather than realistically. That was a very freeing experience for me. I hope to do more like this.

That Old House

There is an old ramshackle house down our road that we pass by often. I’ve wanted to do a drawing of it for some time and finally did one. Because of various circumstances (uncertain weather, time constraints, etc.) I had to do it in stages. It occurred to me that if I photographed the drawing in each of the various stages, it might make an interesting addition to the blog. One of the aspects of art that I’m interested in is the idea of “process”. Most people who are not involved in the creative process look at an artwork, whether a quick sketch or a masterful painting and only see the finished product. They are not aware of the “process” of how it came to be. The idea is to show at least part of that process through several stages so that getting to the end result can be better understood. For this drawing I started with a light pencil drawing of the composition which I went over with ink. Then gradually added areas of watercolor eventually adding more detail both with brushwork and pen drawing. I hope you find this of interest. Let me know if you have comments or questions.

Old House-stage-1
Stage 1 – Ink drawing

Old House-stage-2
Stage 2 – adding color

Old House-stage-3
Stage 3 – refining color and adding detail

Old House-final
Final stage

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