Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let's Sketch Together in Spain!

Watercolor Sketching in Spain
May 6-13, 2019 

(Click here for complete information & to register)

Next May I'll be sketching, teaching, and touring in one of the most beautiful regions of Spain, and I'd LOVE for you to come along!

If you've been thinking about signing up for this trip, now's the time to jump on board. You can save $200 on the total cost of the tour by registering before November 30. (We have to reserve rooms far in advance of the trip, so early registrations are important to guarantee that the trip will be a go.)

Our tour will begin in Barcelona where we’ll meet our guides and be whisked away to our home base in a little village by the sea on the Costa Brava.

We’ll spend seven days exploring this region of extraordinary natural beauty that has a deep artistic and historical heritage.

Whitewashed cottages, craggy cliffs, secluded coves, and sparkling aquamarine water will have you scrambling for your paints the moment you arrive.

Our hotel sits right on the beach, and many guest rooms have balconies overlooking the sea (book early for the best selection). The village itself is a gem, with narrow, winding streets...

quaint fishermen’s cottages, inviting cafes, and the ever-present views of the Mediterranean...

After we’re settled in, we’ll have a delicious welcome dinner and a chance to get to know our fellow travelers. The friendships that are made during a tour like this are one of the best reasons to come along!

The next day we’ll be painting at a picturesque nearby village, and I’ll share a lesson on how to paint the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.

In addition, I’ll give you plenty of ideas for interesting page layouts in your travel journal and help you learn techniques for adding beautiful lettering like this to your sketchbook pages.

Our walk through the village will take us to the center of town where there’s a pretty white church just begging to be sketched…

Tree sketch from my Provence travel journal

The next day we’ll visit one of the finest botanical gardens in the Mediterranean. May is the best time to be there; all the spring and early-summer flowers will be in bloom. Can you imagine the colors? The fragrances? It will be a feast for the senses!

On day 5, we’ll venture out for a day of sketching in the charming medieval village of Pals with its cobblestone streets, stone buildings, and wrought iron balconies covered with flowering vines.

There are sketchable scenes everywhere you look!

And remember, on a French Escapade workshop tour, there is always a perfect balance of instructional time…

independent painting time…

and free time to roam, explore, relax, and shop!

For a change of pace, day 6 will include a visit to the incredible Salvador Dali Museum. I can promise you’ve never seen anything like it!

It’s a fitting representation of the surrealistic art that is Dali’s legacy.

The tour will wrap up with a leisurely day in our village by the sea, with time to fill those last few pages in our journals. We’ll finish with a final Show and Tell time while sipping sangria before heading out to our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 8 is departure day, when we’ll be driven back to Barcelona to catch a flight home. Or, as long as you're in the area, why not spend a few extra days exploring this uniquely beautiful city.

Barcelona offers a wide range of sights to see, including Gothic cathedrals…

tranquil parks…

bustling markets…

beautiful city avenues…

and architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudi…

You might take a tour of the Medieval and Gothic quarter to learn about the history and traditions of the people of Barcelona. Or enjoy a dinner of paella or tapas (small, savory Spanish dishes often served with drinks)…

You could even see a flamenco show!

Whether you extend your trip or not, I hope you’ll come along and join the fun on this week-long art workshop tour that showcases the highlights of the Costa Brava. Traveling with a group of artists guarantees that you’ll have time to stop, linger, sketch awhile, and really see what makes a place special.

Traveling with French Escapade, you know you’ll be safe and secure, and all the logistics will be taken care of. All you have to do is enjoy your time in this amazing place.

This workshop is being arranged through Jackie Grandchamps, co-owner of French Escapade, who will handle all booking arrangements. Visit their website for complete information about the itinerary, lodging, pricing, and class description.

Regular price is $3390 double occupancy + $550 single supplement.
Book before November 30, 2018, to receive a $200 discount off the price of the tour!

Rates through November 30, 2018: 
$3190 per person for a double occupancy room
$3740 per person for a single room

($600 deposit required to hold your place)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Step-by-Step Sketch - Mission San Juan Capistrano

My how time flies! It's been almost a month since I returned from gallivanting around Sicily and England, and I've been longing to share some pictures with you and work on finishing up my travel journal, but I've had to put all that on hold while I put the finishing touches on the two classes I'll be teaching in San Clemente, California, in a few days.

I wanted to get back in touch though, so I thought I'd give you a preview of one of the projects I'll be doing with the students in my two-day "Sketch Your World" plein air sketching workshop. We'll be visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano the first day, and our warm-up project will be an elongated sketch that captures a slice of a scene at the mission. I've dubbed this a "Stacked Layers" sketch.

Ink & watercolor in a 10 x 7 Handbook Field Watercolor Journal. Each sketch measures 1-3/4" x 3-3/4".

For this example, I did three line drawings on a page in my 10" x 7" Handbook Field Watercolor Journal using reference photos. Each box measures only 1-3/4" x 3-3/4", but the students in class will draw a single larger rectangular sketch. The idea is to draw the layers of the scene, starting with the foreground and gradually moving back through the mid-ground and background to the sky, stacking one layer above and behind another.

If you look at the full view of the completed sketch at the top of this post, you'll notice that I kept the layout simple and left plenty of white space around the boxes. This helped to focus attention on the miniature sketches.

After the ink drawing was completed, I painted the sky wet-in-wet using American Journey's Sky Blue. I kept the look of the sky consistent across the three sketches to unify them.

Next, I began painting the sunny base washes on the architectural elements using mixtures of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Getz Gray (American Journey).

Then I painted the lightest values on the flowers. These blocks of color act as placeholders, reminding me where not to put green in the next step. I also painted a violet shadow on the brick arch and masked out some poppies in the mid-ground of the sketch on the right.

Time for the green! Light values were brushed onto dry paper first, then darker values were dropped in here and there and allowed to blend a bit.

Next, I added texture to the buildings by brushing on tans, browns, and grays to suggest stone, brick and a stucco/brick combination. I also added color to the bells and fountain in the center sketch.

To give depth to the foliage, medium and dark values were added.

The deeper greens were mixed using Sap Green as a base, modified by adding Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, or Payne's Gray.

Varying the hues of the greens helped to distinguish one mass of foliage from another.

After I finished painting the green foliage, I removed the masking from the middle-ground flowers in the sketch shown above and gave them a base wash of muted salmon pink.

The final step was to give the flowers form and depth by adding medium and dark values.

I'm always amazed at how those darks make a sketch come alive.

To paint these darker values, I mixed concentrated color using the same pigments I had used for the base washes. To deepen the color even further, I sometimes added Ultramarine Blue (for the purples) and Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, or a bit of Payne's Gray (for the reds).

One final touch was needed - some bubbling water in the fountain! For that I brushed on white gouache straight from the tube and tinted it with a few strokes of blue-gray watercolor.

Here's my little sketch, all finished...

...or is it? I still may add some color to the lettering, or maybe a simple stroke of paint above and/or below the lettering. I think I'll discuss the possibilities with my students at the mission. Will sixteen heads be better than one? We'll see. :)

Why not give a "stacked layers" sketch a try? Pick a scene and capture just a slice of it, like you're peering through a keyhole. A single sketch would be perfect in a vertical format sketchbook. It's a great way to capture the essentials of a scene in a dynamic and efficient way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Arrivederci and Cheerio!

Tomorrow's the big day! I'll be flying off to Sicily to teach a week-long workshop near Marsala. On Saturday I'll be meeting my students in Palermo and heading off to our home for the week at Villa Salinara, an historic villa built in the 18th century. After the Sicily workshop, I'll catch a flight to London and take a train to the Cotswolds for a week of actual vacation. I've longed to see the Cotswolds for years, and this is one dream that's happily coming true for me (and my mom). I'm also checking out sketching spots, looking toward a possible 2020 sketching workshop there!

I decided to get a head start on my travel journal for this trip and was able to find time to complete five introductory pages. It feels good to have it started before I land on Italian soil.

I started a tradition with my last few travel journals of putting a quote on the second page (after the title page, which I usually design after the rest of the sketchbook is complete). I like this quote because it speaks of the internal changes that happen when I travel. I never return from a trip the same person I was when I left home.

Staedtler Stabilo pens & watercolor

I debated long and hard about which sketchbook to carry on this trip. I didn't want anything too large (takes longer to finish a page) or too small (not enough space for sketches + journaling). I finally settled on a spiral-bound 10" x 5-1/2" Bright White Kilimanjaro Paintbook filled with 140 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper.

What's interesting about this sketchbook is that the pages alternate watercolor paper with 70 lb. sketch paper. I've been using the lighter weight 70 lb. pages to make notes about the materials I used for each sketch and the date the sketch was painted, but I also think they will come in handy for making notes throughout the day when I'm out and about in Italy and the UK. The lightweight pages also protect my finished sketches from rubbing against the facing watercolor paper. I've had issues in the past with ink and paint rubbing off on the facing page when I painted on both sides of the page in a travel journal. That won't be a problem this time.

The Kilimanjaro paper takes watercolor beautifully and the cold press texture doesn't seem to interfere with any of the pens I've tried on it so far.

Since I've never been to Sicily before, I wanted to learn more about it, so I first drew a map of the island to get an idea of where we'll be in relation to the rest of Italy and Europe.

Pitt Artist's Pen, size S, gel pens, & watercolor

I included a few geographic facts on the map page, but while I was Googling I found lots of other interesting tidbits about the country, so a "Fascinating Facts about Sicily" page was in order...

Pitt Artist's Pen, size S, & watercolor

Sicily's history goes back to the Paleolithic period and, because of its strategic location, it has been plundered, pillaged, conquered, and occupied by foreign powers for millennia. I condensed Sicily's turbulent history into one small sketchbook page to show the number of times the long-suffering Sicilians have had to deal with a change of power in their society.

Watercolor, Pitt Artist's Pen, size S, washi tape, gel pen, & collage

With a general (if somewhat superficial) understanding of Sicily under my belt, I decided to do one more sketch before zipping up my suitcase and heading out the door...

Pitt Artist's Pen, size S, Pigma Micron 01, gel pens, and watercolor

Yes, I fit all that and more into one 24" suitcase! (Art supplies are in my carry-on.) I'm ready to roll!

There's just one looming issue that might interfere with our travel plans tomorrow, and her name is FLORENCE. Yes, we're supposed to fly through Charlotte, NC, tomorrow afternoon. Yikes! But the forecast looks okay for our departure time, and we have contingency plans in place, so we should be okay. Wish me luck!

I'll be posting updates on Facebook and Instagram while I'm away. I hope you'll enjoy following along with our adventures.

Arrivederci and cheerio!

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