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!



2 comments:

  1. Fantastic work! Wish I could have joined!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Suma! I hope you can come next time!

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