Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hotel del Coronado Sketch - Finished!

In my previous post, I showed you several color options for the title lettering on my unfinished sketch of Hotel del Coronado and asked which you thought worked best. I received lots of comments both here on my blog and on a Facebook group that I participate in and could tell you all put a lot of thought into your answers.

Here's the sketch as we left it earlier...

and here are the color options I was trying to decide, blue-violet, peach, or olive green.

Color options on a Duralar wet media film overlay

It was so interesting to read the reasoning behind each person's choice, and I have to admit that the reasoning was valid in every case. Any one of the colors would have complimented the sketch in its own way, and, after reading all the opinions, I was still stymied as to which one to choose. Terra cotta red had been my first impulse, but when I looked at the other colors, they all offered viable options, so I ended up letting YOU decide. I tallied up the votes and picked the high scorer:


People liked how the green lettering almost became an extension of the foliage and acted as a subtle frame for the hotel sketch. I had to agree. It was a great choice, and one that surprised me, since my instinct had been to use a color that contrasted with the adjacent foliage.

I had penciled in the lettering when I did the initial page layout. Now I picked up a #2 round Escoda Versatil brush and carefully painted over the pencil lines with olive green watercolor.

Ink & watercolor in a 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" Stillman & Birn softcover Zeta series sketchbook

Next I used a Duralar overlay to test some colors on the background behind the ice cream sundae. I decided to use a peachy color that was a combination of Permanent Rose and New Gamboge. I love how it settled out as it dried, separating into pinker tones where the paint application was heavier and yellow where it diffused into white.

The color ties in nicely with the martini and the hotel roof.

I added some handwritten text to the box after the background color had dried thoroughly, then inked and painted the other lettering on the page. I used a Pitt size S black pen for the lines, then painted over them with a paintbrush to add some color.

The last step was to decide whether to put color on the narrow border surrounding the ice cream sundae. After considering the options of "color" vs. "no color" and testing various colors using a sheet of Duralar, I decided it would look better with a border than without, and it seemed like terra cotta red was the way to go. It coordinates with the peachy background color, the hotel, and the drinks.

The sketch is finished, and I love it! I hope you enjoyed participating in the decision-making that went into this fun, colorful sketchbook page. Thanks for playing along!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Hotel del Coronado Sketch - Opinions, Please!

Whew! The holidays are over and the January lull has arrived. Don't you love it? I really enjoy this quiet time of year, when there's not usually much going on, and I have time to catch up on some of those projects that have been put on the back burner for awhile. I haven't been blogging, teaching or posting anything art-related lately, just taking a breather, finishing up some travel journal sketches that have been languishing for a year or more, and completing the last sketch from my California trip in November....

Softcover 5.5" x 8.5" Stillman and Birn Zeta series sketchbook

I thought you might enjoy seeing a step-by-step tutorial on this one, and I'd like you to help me finish the lettering on it. Are you game? I have a cool new idea for testing colors on a sketch, and I think you'll LOVE it! But before I get to that, how about if I show you the step-by-step process I used to design, draw, and paint it?

(If you don't care to follow along with the tutorial, skip to the end of the post to see my lettering challenge and question for you.)

I started out by roughing in the sketch with a pencil to get everything in place on the page, then the lines were inked with a Sailor Fude pen. (I was working from reference photos I had taken the day my friend, Karen, and I splurged on lunch at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego when I was visiting.)

I wanted the architecture of the hotel to dominate the page, so I made the beautiful building big and bold, filling at least two-thirds of the page with it. A tall, skinny palm tree frames it on the left.

A Sailor Fude fountain pen filled with DeAtramentis black ink was used for the drawing.

The fruity drinks we enjoyed at lunch were so pretty and colorful, I just had to include them in the sketch. The shape of the martini glass was an inverse of the hotel's roof, so I tucked it in right next to the hotel. The other drink, in a tall tumbler, filled the corner nicely and framed the composition on the right.

See the ink smear on the rim of the martini glass? I fixed it later by covering it with Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen-White Ink.

A simple frame set off the ice cream sundae from the rest of the page and kept it from feeling like it was a giant ice cream-shaped balloon floating in the sky over the hotel.

The lettering style I used for the page title was copied from the distinctive lettering found on almost everything at the Hotel del Coronado, from the sugar packets and coasters on our table to the grand sign at the hotel entrance. I sketched it in by hand with a pencil and waited until later to ink and paint it.

Time to start painting! First, the sky. I mixed up a large puddle of Manganese Blue on my palette then wet the sky area with clear water. Wetting the paper first gave me a longer working time as I cut in around the building and tree with my loaded brush. I used a size 10 round Escoda Versatil, which holds plenty of paint, so I could cover the entire sky quickly and avoid streaky brushstrokes.

While I had the blue on my brush, I painted sky reflections in the upper windows of the hotel and in the glasses.

Next, I tackled the roof, starting by mixing up a generous puddle of Quinacridone Sienna + Quinacridone Magenta. Then a deeper, darker version of the color was made by adding some Ultramarine Blue to a second puddle of Quin. Sienna & Quin. Magenta. To paint each section, I started with the dark mixture on the shadow side, gradually switched to the pure mixture, and finally ended with a diluted mixture on the lightest sunlit areas. (It's important to keep the wetness consistent as you move across an area. If you flood paint into a drying wash, it will create a bloom.)

The vegetation was added next. Colors used:
Tree trunk - Yellow Ochre + Getz Gray (American Journey)
Palm fronds & bushes - Yellow Ochre + Sap Green + Ultramarine Blue (for darker areas). Leaf Green was added in the foreground to make it pop.
Spiky foreground plants - Cerulean Blue + Sap Green + Quin. Sienna

I always try to get as much value variation as I can in my initial wash by dropping dark colors into a wet light-value wash to indicate shaded areas.

Time to add shadows! Cobalt Blue with a touch of American Journey Shadow gave me a nice deep bluish purple mixture that I used for the form shadows on the building.

A bit of Naples Yellow was dropped in on the left side to suggest reflected light, then I painted the shadows cast by the dormers, and the deep shadows inside the window frames. They really make the windows look three-dimensional.

On my reference photo, the lower windows, just above the green hedge, were solid black, but I suggested indistinct shapes there by dropping rusty red and Burnt Umber into my shadow color.

While the shadows were drying, I laid down the base washes on the drinks. The martini was painted with New Gamboge + Carmine Red in a graded, blended wash. For the tall drink I used Carmine + Ultramarine Blue + Permanent Rose. Colored reflections were brushed onto the glass while the washes were drying, then I glazed (layered) on a darker value to the peach and raspberry drinks to deepen the colors in the shadows.

So far, so good! Next, I began painting the ice cream sundae. (Yes, I splurged on a sundae, but I had no idea it was going to have THREE scoops of ice cream!) A base wash was painted on the ice cream and blue-gray shadows were stroked on to suggest the swirls of whipped cream.

The chocolate chunk topping and the dark brown penuche under the whipped cream were painted, then I dabbed some texture marks on the ice cream with the tip of my round brush.

The sketches were finished, except for a few final touches. Now it was time to add the lettering. I like to wait until the end to finalize my page titles, so I can coordinate the colors with my sketches and make a cohesive page.

I always debate long and hard about what color to use for the title lettering on a sketch. The color can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a page. I've found a great product, though, that really helps me to envision what a color will look like on my sketch. It helps to take the guess work out of the process. The product is Dura-Lar Wet Media Film, a clear plastic sheet that can be laid over the sketch and painted on. Just wipe the paint off with a damp paper towel when you're finished and reuse the sheet.

So, for my Hotel del Coronado sketch, I chose several colors from the sketch and painted each one individually (and rather messily, in this case) on the Dura-Lar sheet laid over my sketch. Here's the first option showing how the title might look if I painted it a rusty red, similar to the terra cotta roof color...

 Or how about if I made it the deep purple shadow color?

Or maybe I should pick up the color of the peachy drink...

Or I could link the title to the green foliage by painting it Olive Green.

They all give the sketch a different look, don't they? I'm having trouble deciding which one I want to use, so I'd love to have your input.

What color should I paint the title,
and why?
Leave your answer in the comments.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Come Along to Croatia in 2019!

 Watercolor Sketching in Croatia
with Leslie Fehling
 10 days on the Island of Korcula
September 8-17, 2019

Azure blue water, majestic mountains, and charming seaside villages all await you on this sketching trip to Croatia, a country of stunning beauty and rich cultural history. For ten long, relaxing days, we’ll visit pristine natural areas, beautiful sandy beaches, and medieval towns, recording it all on the pages of your own illustrated travel journal.

Croatia is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Europe, and it’s easy to see why: the people are friendly, the food is fresh and local, the wine is world-class, and the architecture and scenery are spectacular, offering limitless subject matter for artists.

When you travel as an artist, rather than just a tourist, it changes what you see and how you experience a place. You’ll begin to notice details, marvel at light and shadows, and see possibilities for compositions everywhere. Instead of snapping a photo and quickly moving on, you’ll take the time to soak up your surroundings as you sketch what resonates with you. And when you return home, you’ll open up that sketchbook, and the memories will come flooding in. 

You’ll remember the warm sun on your shoulders, the vivid colors of boats bobbing in the water, and the fresh smell of sea air...

the quiet murmurs of your painting companions and a red geranium on a whitewashed windowsill.

From the time we step off the plane, we’ll be in the best of hands with our tour guide, Lynda Milina, whose family has lived in Croatia for generations. All the details will be taken care of for us, leaving us free to focus on painting and relaxing. It’s the best way to travel!

We’ll be picked up at the airport in Dubrovnik on September 7 (the day before the tour begins) and taken to our hotel where we’ll share a welcome dinner, giving us a chance to get acquainted and learn more about what to expect in the coming days.

The next morning, we’ll enjoy a tour of Dubrovnik and learn about the complex history of this stunning city, know as “The Pearl of the Adriatic”.

After the tour, we’ll have lunch then drive along the Dalmation Coast to Orebic, where we’ll board a car ferry to the Island of Korcula. We’ll be staying at the Lovric Pension in Lumbarda where many of the rooms have balconies and sea views (book early for the best selection!)

The hotel is a mere 50 yards from the sea, and it’s just a short walk to the downtown area. The rooms at the family-run Lovric are bright, clean, and comfortable, and there’s even a winery on site!

Lumbarda is a small port on the eastern part of the island of Korcula. It’s known for its local wine called Grk, so you can expect to see picturesque vineyards, as well as beautiful beaches, hiking trails, an art gallery, and wineries. There will be plenty to do during our down time there!

During our nine days on Korcula, we’ll start each morning with breakfast at the Lovric, then head out to explore different parts of the island. This part of Croatia is unique in its beauty, and the opportunities for artistic subject matter are everywhere - in old stone buildings and sturdy city walls, in quiet coves with aquamarine water...

and in craggy, gnarled olive trees that have stood for generations.

Mornings will find us visiting scenic areas such as Racisce, Zrnovo, Vrnik, the city of Korcula, Orebic and the Peliesac Peninsula.
We’ll draw and paint for a few hours in these beautiful locations then take a break for a picnic lunch.

Afternoons will be spent in a variety of ways: sketching, watching a painting demo on location, going on a walking tour of a village, visiting a monastery, watching a jewelry-making demonstration, and enjoying wine-tasting at a local winery.

When we return to our lodging later in the afternoon, there will be time to relax before the evening meal.
These will be full days, but not frantically busy ones. We won’t be rushing from one place to the next, trying to squeeze in everything in the guidebook. This tour offers a slower pace of travel, with plenty of plein air sketching time, making this a trip where you actually will have time to create that travel journal you’ve been dreaming of for years.

All meals are included on this tour. Breakfasts and dinners will be served in the restaurant which is attached to the Lovric Pension, while most of our lunches will be on location when we’re out and about. The food will be fresh, local, and absolutely delicious!

Evenings are yours to do whatever you like. You might want to take a walk along the beach with a friend…

look for sea glass to add to your collection…

or have a glass of wine and get to know your fellow artists.

At the end of the tour, on day 10, we'll head back to Dubrovnik, with a stop for lunch on the way in the little village of Ston, famous for its amazing 14th century stone city walls. We’ll have time to explore the town for a while (and maybe squeeze in one last sketch) before driving to the quaint village of Cavtat, where we will enjoy our last dinner together before flying home the next day.

Now, let’s talk about the art portion of the trip…

My teaching will focus on illustrated watercolor journaling and how to create a colorful, varied, and personal record of your experiences on the trip.

You'll learn how to design dynamic pages with unique layouts, borders, and hand-lettering styles, and I’ll offer daily demonstrations of techniques for painting the subject matter you’ll encounter each day, everything from a village street scene to a mass of climbing bougainvillea.

Each day I’ll suggest new ideas for filling the pages of your travel journal…one day you’ll give a theme page a try, while the next you might pre-paint a page with a layer of color then draw a sketch over it. And have you ever heard of a flow sketch? It’s a great way to condense an entire day onto one sketchbook page. We’ll try all these ideas and more during our time together.

Each painter will receive a spiral-bound handbook containing all of the information covered in the workshop. It’s filled with great ideas for designing beautiful journal pages, and it includes a section of helpful step-by-step painting instructions showing you how to paint the textures, colors, and beauty of Croatia.

The handout ensures that you can relax during the workshop, knowing that even if you can’t absorb everything during the week, you’ll have complete information that you can refer to later on and use to paint subjects closer to home, too.
With my enthusiastic support, encouragement, and assistance, even if you're a beginning watercolorist, you'll surprise yourself with what you can do! 

We're going to have an amazing time together as we immerse ourselves in all that Korcula has to offer. Painting, touring, shopping, eating, relaxing --- we'll have time for it all with this perfectly organized 10-day small-group tour. 

So, if you'd like to improve your painting skills, learn more about keeping a travel sketchbook, and have more fun than you can imagine exploring the unspoiled island of Korcula, I hope you'll join me for this “Watercolor Sketching in Croatia” workshop. 

Register today to reserve your place:
A $300 deposit is all that’s required. Register here. 

Cost for the 10-day all-inclusive program:
Tour Cost: $3100 + single supplement fee (most people will pay this if you are not traveling with a spouse/partner)
Non-painting partners: $2900
Single Supplement Fee: $200 Full payment due: July 8, 2019
Deposit to reserve your spot: $300 (non-refundable unless tour is cancelled by Slikamilina)
*Painters have priority, but non-artist partners (shared accommodations only)
are welcome to come and enjoy the island a their own pace.
This workshop is being arranged through Slikamilina Painting Tours, who will handle all booking arrangements. (Please read the GeneralConditions.)

Lynda Milina, tour operator. Email

Tour price includes:
• Transfer from airport to Cavtat on arrival
• Accommodation the night before the tour starts
• Dinner the night before the tour starts
• Transportation to/from Dubrovnik
• Transportation to/from daily excursions
• All meals, gratuities associated with restaurant meals, accommodations and instruction

Not included:
• Travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia, from home country
• Transfer to Dubrovnik airport on your departure date.
• Any airport arrival/departure tax
• Travel and/or medical insurance
• Painting materials and equipment
• Gratuities for service
• Any other cost incurred outside the workshop itinerary

More information:
Read about Leslie here.
Read about the tour operator, Lynda Milina, here.
Why choose to travel abroad with Slikamilina? Here.
Tour itinerary
Register here.

Email Leslie at Leslie or Lynda Milina, tour director

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