When I get to thinking that I’m developing a drawing/sketching style, I stop and look at the work I’ve done over the course of just a couple of weeks. There is quite a variety, both in subjects and in the way I’ve drawn and rendered them. Some artists might be concerned about that, thinking “but I’m not developing a style!” At this point in my life, I find I’m more interested in how I can produce this image at this hour on this day. The variety is part of the fun, and it almost seems as if the diversity of my past work is telling me “this is who you are. Don’t fight it. Just let it flow.”
“Live Bait’ could be an illustration for a story about the Texas Gulf Coast. The scene is a bait shop on an inlet near Aransas Pass, Texas. I’ve simplified the view considerably, eliminating other boats, a shoreline across the water, and a multitude of flotsam that’s normally found lying around and hanging in places like this.
“Pennsylvania House” is an entirely different style: clean and simple, but much more loosely drawn and less precise than the boat scene above. The story here might be a family history surrounding life in this old Victorian house.
The structure itself is Virginia’s On The Bay, a seafood restaurant that is one of our favorites in Port Aransas, Texas. Dinner on a weekend often calls for waiting in the foyer or out on the patio. A friend told me this didn’t look like Virginia’s, because it didn’t show the steps and patio at the entrance, which is by the palm trees shown in this drawing. In this case, I wanted to indicate the architecture of the structure as well as the fact that there is a marina next door to the restaurant. The drawing, while still loosely done, is a bit more precise, and reflects a bit of my architectural rendering background.
The houses in Mount Vernon, Ohio have always fascinated me. especially up from the square along High Street and Gambier Street. This one never fails to capture my attention, with its covered balcony and corbels above the front porch. Although I did do a rough pencil layout first, I kept the ink line work very loose and suggestive. A relative saw this sketch on Facebook and immediately saw a haunted house.
When I was an art major in college, I wanted to be an illustrator. Bernie Fuchs was one of my idols. Somewhere deep in my psyche or memory or artist’s soul, I have apparently never given up the desire to portray things in an interesting manner.
I’m continuing to explore sketching a wide variety of subjects, from urban architecture to country landscapes. Since old barns have always been a favorite, I wanted to find a way to draw and paint them with pens and watercolor. Working from a reference photo, I went into this one working directly with a Sharpie Extra Fine Point. The first application of watercolor was a simple wash of ultramarine blue and with a touch of burnt umber over part of the barn. From there, I continued to build up color in the barn, the silo and the foliage. Once the color was dry, I went back in with the Sharpie as well as a Micron No. 1 to add texture on the barn. I’m really pleased with this little drawing.
This little sketch was fun to do. A simple scene with an old building and a chimney standing in the middle of the lot, I think what makes this image come to life is the tree. After doing so many storybook trees, this one, while somewhat faithful to the interesting tree that was actually there, almost drew itself, but I did work at keeping it loose and free-flowing.
If you want to see some outstanding drawings of this nature, look up Marc Taro Holmes.. Holmes is an amazing Urban Sketcher.
Sketches like this are good exercises in perspective. Fortunately, because it’s a loose sketch, I didn’t have to be too precise with the shapes of the dryer doors. In spite of that, hopefully I managed to capture the feel of the place. While I practice a lot with photographs, this one was actually done on location while we waited for the machines to do their work. I did a reasonably accurate pencil sketch first before inking it. Since I didn’t take my full sketching kit, the watercolor was added after we got back home. A neighbor saw it later in the day, and has bought it. There is a lesson in here somewhere: Never choose your subject based on whether someone might want it. Choose what catches your artist’s eye and just enjoy the doing.
Bakery Café, 5×7, Ink & watercolor
For the record, almost all of these are being done in a Canson Mix Media spiral sketchbook. Very inexpensive. I find them at Walmart in the craft aisle. The one I prefer is 5.5″ x 8.5″. 98 lb paper, 60 pages. I’m using Sharpie Fine Point and Ultra Fine Point pens along with Microns No. 1, 3 & 5. I use a Windsor & Newton 12 color portable palette. Brushes are typically a #10 Kolinsky and a generic No. 5 round. To see more of these, go to the Urban Sketching page.
I get asked periodically if I have a book on gouache. The answer is… “almost”. I’m in the proofreading stage, and should have it done very soon. Meanwhile, there is a book already published that you might find of interest. Becoming A Painter In only 45 Years is available through online publisher Blurb. I’ve also got a couple of other projects in the works, and I might actually finish one of them. If you’re interested, look up in the links at the top of the page here and find one called “Books”.
Check it out.
I’ve added a new page, titled Urban Sketching, to begin pulling the pen & ink and watercolor sketches all together in one place. I’ll keep adding to it as the collection grows. Be sure to check it out on the menu at the top.
I am of an age when old cars and trucks like this are reminders of simpler times. I lived in the country and had an old Ford coupe that was in about the same condition as this old Studebaker truck. This one sits at the Luling Farmers Market in Luling, Texas (Population roughly 5800). Directly across the street is the Stanley, a movie theatre that appears to house an indoor flea market these days. On the next corner is the shell of a long closed gas station. At the other end of the block, on the main drag, are some good barbeque places.
Small town Texas. Gotta love it.