Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sketching on Location at the Casino - Part II

As promised, here's the last sketch I did during our day of sketching on location at Casino San Clemente...
Ink & watercolor, 10x7 Handbook Field Watercolor Journal

I used a composite page layout. This is a great way to squeeze in a lot of information about a place on one page, so it's perfect for a travel journal. I sketched the main elements of the page onsite using my Platinum Carbon fountain pen. I like the nice fine line I get with the extra-fine nib. I use the Platinum Carbon permanent black ink cartridges with it. It's so easy to pack a couple of them when I travel, and I don't have to worry about leakage.  If I already have a partially used cartridge in the pen, I wrap the pen in a paper towel and store it in a Ziploc bag, in case it leaks. I pack it in my carry-on bag, because I never know when the impulse to sketch will strike!

When I started painting this sketch, I tackled the plants in the center box first, starting with a light-to-medium initial wash. After that had dried, I built up layers of darker tones to give the plants a sunlit look. It's the contrast between light highlights and deep shadows that gives the feeling of intense sunlight.

I thought you might like to see how I changed things from the scene I saw, below. I darkened the pots to make them look older and more weathered, and I conjured up a pot of pink flowers for the foreground, just to add a touch of color.

After the plants were fairly complete, I started on the palm tree. I added interest to the palm fronds by using a variety of colors like Yellow Ochre, Earthen Green (American Journey), Burnt Sienna, and Perylene Red (Daniel Smith). The trunk was painted a warm tannish gray using Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, and Cobalt Blue. Darker values were added to the entire tree after the first layer had dried.

The beautiful old building with its deep front porch and Mission style architecture came next. The front part of the building had a terra cotta roof which required several passes with paint, but the round ballroom had a smooth roof that made a nice background for the tree growing up in front of it. How convenient for me!

Before painting the ballroom roof, I masked the twigs and branches of the tree with masking fluid, making it a simple matter to go back at the end, remove the masking, and add some color to the branches. (I love that cupola, don't you? So cute!)

(Oops! I just noticed that I forgot to finish painting the little palm tree on the right. I'd better take care of that! It needs some darker values. This happens all the time - I don't see the mistakes or omissions on a sketch until I scan it and go to use it in a post. Sheesh!)

Finally it was time to finish off the border. I almost always leave the page border till the end. Even if I draw the border design in the initial stages of laying out my page, which I did in this case, I always wait until the end to paint it, so I can coordinate the colors with the sketches on the page. It's often a tough decision, deciding what colors to use on the border. It can affect the whole look of the page. In this instance, I think I made the right decision. The Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre tie in to the terra cotta pots, brick steps, and roof on The Casino.

The design for the border was inspired by a stenciled wall border in the West Wing of the building, just off the Patio of the Stars, where we were sketching. You can see that I enlarged the curlicues to make it a little more interesting.

The corner stars on my border came from the star tiles embedded in the floor of the Patio of the Stars...

A lot goes into planning and painting a page like this, but it's so satisfying when it all comes together.

Quick sketching seems to be the goal of a lot of sketchers nowadays, but that's never really been a priority for me. I draw fairly quickly, but I like to take my time when painting my sketches. What's the rush anyway? I don't care if it takes fifteen minutes, an hour, or even a day or two to complete a page. All that matters is that I'm doing my own thing and enjoying it. There's no right or wrong way to do this - we each have to find what works best for us.


  1. I read all your posts, and would like you to know that I love that you take the time to share with us, especially all the tips you include . . so helpful. Please keep posting, can't wait to see what's next!!

    1. It's so encouraging to me to hear you say that, Mary. I never want to come off sounding like a know-it-all, but I'm glad to know that by sharing my own process, you and others can learn something to help in their sketching efforts. Thanks for reading my posts!

  2. I agree with Mary N. Thank you for taking the time and work that goes into producing this blog. Your information is always helpful, your words are always kind, and of course your art is beautiful!

  3. Such great harmony in this page with your color echoing throughout the entire page!
    Also, I like your style of taking your time with a page. You always have such beautiful results!

  4. Amen to your last paragraph, Leslie! Thank you for doing your own thing with such confidence and joy. Finding your site three or so years ago was a Godsend. I have enough chaos in my life without deliberately creating art that feels disordered and restless to me. I prefer the calm of a more meditative approach that comes with intentionally creating beautiful pages. In a strange way, your work, before I ever knew you, gave me permission to do my own thing when so much of the sketching world was encouraging others to instead do their thing.

    1. Your comments warm my heart, Susan. It means so much to me to know that I've made a difference in your life. Thanks for always lifting me up with your sweet comments.

    2. You're very welcome, and thank YOU! :-)

  5. Hi Leslie, Ditto to everyone's comments above. I love your work, it's so beautiful. I just found your website not too long ago, and now I always am happy when I get an email saying you have a new post. Thanks for sharing your talent and advice.

    1. You're welcome, Sharon. Since you're a new follower, you might enjoy going back and reading some of the past tutorials I have here. Check out the Tutorials and Videos tabs above. I'm so glad you're enjoying my posts. Thanks for commenting - I love having feedback to what I put out there.


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