Untitled, 9×12, Gouache
It’s been a while since I did any serious traditional landscape painting, and I was in the mood yesterday. This is our back yard. I took a photo the day before, and I started this painting working indoors from the reference photo. About an hour before that “golden glow” hour when I took the photo, I took the painting outside and finished it there. I’m not completely happy with this photo image, but I feel good about the painting itself.
There was music! And dancing!
And Sherwin imagined himself tapping his toes and snapping his fingers!
I’ve been working on a collection of illustrations, intended to be part of a book eventually. The story line of the book keeps eluding me. Others have ideas and suggestions, but none of it has really excited me. The illustrations, however, have completely grabbed me. This illustration is a departure from the others, primarily because the little boy in the original story isn’t included. There is a theme here, but so far it hasn’t gelled into an actual story.
I’ll keep working in this direction for a while and see what develops.
Four days after returning from the October First Saturday Arts Market in Houston, we finally got most of the art put away. We think we had a good presentation, but we did come away doing some thinking. We’ve leaned heavily in one direction for a while, now it’s time to get some balance back into our show booth,
We love the fact that people love our whimsical pieces, but we do see a lot of people browsing through the unframed traditional work as well. We’re beginning to talk about ways to give additional weight to the traditional work, in order to better present both sides of our artistic endeavors.
The trick is how to handle the juxtaposition of whimsical art and traditional paintings. We’re already looking at booth arrangements that will allow a somewhat more balanced presentation of the work we do.
To that end, we spent part of today going through all of the show art. We did some serious culling of both traditional and whimsical work and, together, we eliminated a considerable number of pieces from our inventory. The good news is that, because we are somewhat prolific and have a large inventory, no one will notice.
Some of it was painful, but much of it was overdue.
Another “urban” sketch done sitting outside the club house here at the RV park where we live. I had a couple of onlookers stop by, so this proved to be a conversation starter as well. Again, these were done in a Cotman spiral bound watercolor pad. The paper takes the ink and watercolor really well. The line work is done with Micron pens and Sharpies.
I waited a little late to go out on this day, and it was just too hot. So I sat inside and drew the dining area in our fifth wheel rv home.
I find that I tend to overlook the hundreds of little vignette subjects that surround me wherever I am.
I’ve been interested for some time in a group called Urban Sketchers. It’s an international organization of people who sketch outdoors, using any media of their choice. I have fallen in love with the pen-and-ink and watercolor sketches that many of them do. From what I’ve seen, there are local chapters in cities all over the world, and they welcome sketchers at all levels of experience and expertise, from beginners to professional illustrators. So… I’ve spent the last couple of mornings right outside my door, sketching what’s right in front of me. Since I love pen and ink, and have been experimenting with watercolor, I decided to just take a very loose, almost illustrative approach. There is a freshness that makes these just plain fun to look at.
When Nell and I originally talked about living and travelling fulltime in an RV, the intent was to visit new places, and paint and sketch what we saw. Because we focused more on travelling, I tended to take lots of photographs, then used them as references for paintings when we were sitting still. That was only part of my original intent. I also envisioned sitting in interesting places – parks, monuments, sidewalk cafes, markets – and with a coffee or soft drink at my elbow, sketching the passing scenes as a record of where we had been and what we had seen.
That’s exactly what Urban Sketching is all about. While I focused on landscape paintings, I could also have been doing these little vignettes of old buildings, street scenes, and yes, even landscapes. I want to revive that intent, so I’m starting right here at my own doorstep. Then, hopefully, I’ll carry my sketching bag and a folding chair and work my way around the RV park, and also down at the river. From there, I just may meet up with the local chapter of Urban Sketchers in nearby Austin, Texas, and see how it works.
I’ve seldom been completely comfortable, or confident, when painting outdoors, especially around other people. It occurs to me that I just may find my niche in the plein air world with pencil, pen and watercolor. This is a completely different genre, and while I still need practice, it’s one I’m very comfortable with.
I occasionally hit a plateau with gouache, a time when it just doesn’t want to do what I want it to do. Of course, it could be because I haven’t done much painting recently. Nell and I are living our lives the way we want to, and sometimes that calls for other priorities. It does mean that if I go too long without painting, I lose my touch. So, since gouache isn’t cooperating (no matter what I say, it’s the paint’s fault), I switched gears and have been playing with watercolor.
Some subjects work well for me as just watercolor, and others call for additional pencil work. The old house above needed that added touch of loose, sketchy line work. It does have kind of an illustration feel, but that’s not a bad thing.
All of these are quick studies, without much detail. I had to stop on the sheds above because I really wanted to detail the bicycle, and was starting to add texture to the wood walls. I really want to save that for a more developed piece.
I approached each of these a little differently. I tried to keep the farmhouse above very simple, letting the shapes and the brush strokes tell the story.
A simple landscape. The house was touched in with white gouache.
Watercolor, of course, is not my first language when it comes to art, but when I can do a pencil sketch (my first love), and add color to it, I’m definitely in my element. This is a fun way to change focus for a while.