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Sketchbook work…

March 12, 2012

Downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio, Graphite Pencil

I’ve posted a link to this in Back Roads & Brushes.  It really belongs here, for my artist friends.  Can you tell I’m still trying to decide how this is all going to work?

When I was an art student, working on my BFA at the University of Houston, one of my favorite places was Texas Art Supply.  It was a big store back then, and it’s not only even bigger forty years later, but now they’ve got three stores in Houston.  Going in there this past Saturday was like going into a candy store, and a walk down memory lane as well.  We walked out with 10 sheets of 20×30 illustration board, some drawing leads, and a couple of sketch books.  Nell kept a close watch to see that I didn’t get carried away.

I also bought the April issues of The Artist Magazine and Watercolor Artist.  What a treat to sit down that evening and see an article by my artist friend across the pond, Maggie Latham.  I got acquainted with Maggie online at WetCanvas.  Back then, she lived in Florida, but eventually moved back to her native England.  Maggie has a great blog devoted to water media and color.

I cut all but three of the boards down to small sizes so I’d have a ready supply to paint on.  Mostly 8×10 and 5×7, with a few 9×12 and a couple of 11×14.  I bought Bainbridge #80 illustration board this time.  I’ve become a bit dissatisfied with Crescent over the last couple of years.  The lady in the matboard and illustration board section of the store said she’s noticed a deterioration of quality in the way the paper adheres to the cardboard backing.  My experience sort of bears that out by the ragged way the Crescent board cuts.  And I’ve noticed a real variation in surface textures from one lot to the next.  So… this supply of Bainbridge board should last a while and give me plenty of time to decide how I like it.

And finally, I’ve been wanting to start doing sketchbook work, so I bought two new sketchbooks.  The sketch at the top of the page is something I love to do.  Architecture with texture.  That pencil sketch was from a photograph I took on the square in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio.,

The sketchbooks are Canson Mixed Media, XL Series, 7×10, 98 lb.  I wanted something that would take pencil, pen & ink, watercolor and gouache without buckling too bad.  They were also inexpensive, a major criteria.  If I’m going to intentionally waste paper, it can’t be expensive paper.  I’ve started experimenting in it, just to get a feel for what works.

We saw this old barn somewhere south of Cincinnati, Ohio.  This was done in the sketchbook from a photograph, using a clutch pencil with HB lead.  The clutch pencil is a throwback to my drafting days, but when I was doing strictly black & white graphite work, it served me well.  I’ve actually still got several of them.   I’ve already determined that the HB isn’t going to give me the strong blacks I want, so I’ll dig out some softer leads to use along with the HB.

I did the little sketch above on Saturday night, also using HB lead in a clutch pencil.  Today, while I was doing some gouache work, I opened the sketchbook to this little piece and added some color with gouache.  I kind of like it.  It tells me that I need to do a lot more of this, maybe using watercolor over the sketches.

This afternoon, in between doing other things, I took a few minutes to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Just a few feet across the driveway, near where the RV is parked, there is a pond, and this little deck sits out over the water.  The other day, two boys were fishing there.  I sat at a picnic table and did this little sketch, this time using transparent watercolor.  I’ve not used transparent watercolor very much, so I need to learn how and when to get stronger color out of it.  But it was fun to use my sketchbook… and to sit outdoors and sketch from life.

I still struggle with that “must be a finished drawing/painting” syndrome.  I’m hoping that the sketchbook will help me loosen up and just focus on improving my sketching and drawing skills, while doing simple fun little stuff.

And you never know when a painting might be born out of a simple sketch.

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