Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Passion for Passenger Sketching...


About 10 years ago I started sketching on road trips, whenever I had the good fortune to be the passenger.  They started simple and small with just pen and ink...a way to see how much I could catch of the scene rolling by at 65 mph.  Now, depending on the length of the trip, I work with layers--throwing down the first impression sketch quickly, and then adding whatever seems to work in the moment.  Of course, terrain that doesn't change too quickly makes it easier!














When you're traveling a familiar road, the fun begins when you see how you can sketch it differently every time.  Of course, it really isn't the same road...the season, weather and time of day can radically alter what you see...

A weekly shopping trip--up the hill above Los Angeles, and then down again...an opportunity to play and experiment.  I like to keep it simple sometimes, and other times keep layering until I've gone just a little too far!












Passenger sketching in town usually means drawing the traffic...
The greatest passenger sketching is on a nice, long road trip.  I travel from Los Angeles to the Mojave Desert several times a year, and count myself very lucky that I get to be the passenger--sketching all the way!  Here I'm working with pencil, watercolor and gouache layered on tan paper...





 Once in awhile, a vertical format--why not!
Driving through Joshua Tree National Park...splashing down some ink washes...






 The desert in December...golds and earth colors, and purple sky...
And returning to the city...



Friday, June 9, 2017

Finishing out 2016 with no discernible theme...

But, these are sketches around town, and seem to usually include people...

Sketching in Pasadena's theater district during the annual ARTWalk...streets closed to traffic made a great sketching opportunity!





More people-sketching...at Gordon Biersch in Burbank before the lunch rush...







A guy I had to sketch just because he was there...I wanted to say, "hey, look out that window!"


The crowd at the Los Angeles County Museum waiting in line to see the wonderful Guillermo del Toro show...


Sketching at one of my favorite Los Angeles locations...in the Plaza at Olvera Street, with a view towards La Luz de Dia, where they make their own tortillas...

And inside La Luz de Dia over lunch...

Just a page of people...


 And sometimes I like to sketch something that just has the presence of a person...a gardener's little maintenance cart at Descanso Gardens...

A few more Friday Nights...

Free Friday Night at the Norton Simon Museum is a great monthly event, and a wonderful sketching opportunity!  I nearly always want to sketch in the gardens, even as the days became shorter--a pleasure to sketch in the changing light.  Here are a few...

Mostly it's dry media here, since the Norton Simon frowns on the wet stuff...so, mostly I sketched with ink, pencil and some water-soluble media (adding just a discreet touch of the water brush now and then).














































Almost night here...


























The gardens are home to some wonderful sculpture...interesting to see how visitors interact with them.  At left, Henry Moore and Maillol's large-scale "Mountain".  Below, Henry Moore...
 A glimpse through the window from the garden at Maillol's Three Graces gracing the lobby...


Sketching the fading light with water-soluble Inktense pencils on a fall evening...


This one...well, it was an experiment!  Sketching mostly by feel with a soft pencil on tan paper, and some white gouache added for the very last light...




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Finishing out 2016 and moving on!

To any of you who have so kindly checked in here from time to time, thank you!  And now, it's time for me to come back!  So, a few posts to finish out 2016 and move on...

I make an annual trip with students to the LA Zoo for some animal sketching.  I like to go in advance to get in some practice and map my route, so here's a batch from the last trip...

These trips start with what the Zoo calls "Elephant
Training"...essentially the grooming and feeding of
retired circus elephants, and an opportunity to get
close to these three beautiful Asian elephants--Tina, Jewel and Billy.  Controversy continues about whether or not the 6.56 acre habitat is adequate for all three.
















And a few meerkats...















Next, the orangutans in the Red Ape Rain Forest...










And gorillas, who have no interest in us whatsoever...



















Chimpanzee families, monkeys, Francois Langurs, a macaw and a bit of the bird show...






















And, I cannot visit the LA Zoo without drawing those most beautiful and elegant giraffes!
















And finally, the lovely Nubian Ibex family...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sketching at the Los Angeles Plein Air Festival

Last week was the third annual Los Angeles Plein Air Festival, with more than 100 artists drawing and painting the city's historic downtown core for 5 days.  I hadn't participated in this before, but decided I wasn't going to miss it this time!

I was asked by Celia of Raw Materials Art Supplies (the producer of this great event) several weeks before if I'd like to do a watercolor demo using Daniel Smith watercolors...and I thought, "sure, why not?!"  I chose the Downtown Farmers Market, the last day of the Festival for my demo.

Daniel Smith very generously supplied me with my "wish list" for a good basic palette plus some of their completely unique colors, like Moonglow, Buff Titanium and the lovely Primatek mineral colors.  I'm fast becoming a very big Daniel Smith fan!  I had plenty to share with anyone who wanted to try some of these colors at the demo...






This was different from anything I've done before...much more informal than a workshop, and given the venue, I thought I might have a variety of people coming and going, not to mention the general bustle of the market.  So, I started visiting the Sunday morning market in advance...first to just walk around and get a feel for the place...observe the light, the flow of people, architecture--the whole "vibe"!

My first thumbnails in monotone...
studying the light and deciding the best vantage points...thinking of what to include.  I believe selection is perhaps the most important aspect of the sketch!


I made sketches from the "quiet" end of the market...with a view of flower vendors and shoppers.  A nice view, but I decided a liked the "big picture", so found a spot at the busy intersection at the center of the market where I could see the way the vendor stalls nestle in the canyon between buildings, and people crossing the street.  

I added the palette to my color study, since that's a question that always comes up!




On the morning of the demo, I set up in my favorite (shady) spot, trying to stay out of the way of passers-by with and without carts, wheelchairs, walkers and strollers.  Here are couple of pictures from the location.  Again, the all-important question of what to include, what to focus on!





I knew I wanted to focus on the market itself, and let the environment of the buildings be somewhat secondary.  I liked the deep morning shadows as well...

































I planned to do a second demo from a different vantage point, but I noticed how different the light was by late morning...and the market was busier with people--so that became my subject for the second demo.  At right is the work in progress--I like to compose with light and shadows first...










Below is the finished sketch...



I also loved spending time at this site in the weeks before the LA Plein Air festival, just sitting on my stool sketching.  I met interesting people, like the artist who brought his portraits to show me, and offered to let me use his easel...or the man who offered me a discerning critique and said "you wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm homeless--I live at the shelter down the street".  All kinds of people live alongside each other in LA's downtown core.



























Here's the Daniel Smith color palette I had that day...including many of my new favorite colors!  Everyone seemed to be especially interested in the colors that granulate with surprising hues, like Cascade Green and Moonglow...

I especially like the "Lunar" colors with their heavy granulation, as well as the array of Quinacridone colors that are beautiful mixers.
During the Festival I also visited City Hall to sketch from the Observation Deck on the 27th floor--wonderful views of the city!  I made a quick ink and watercolor sketch looking northeast towards Pasadena...


I'd never seen Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall from a vantage point like this, and just had to take the challenge of all those wonderfully abstract reflective surfaces...


What a great event this was...I'm already looking forward to next year!