Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Plein Air Sketching with Friends

I love sketching with friends on location. It's always so much fun to see what everyone chooses to sketch, what materials they use, and how they lay out their pages. We encourage and inspire each other, and it's just plain fun sharing something I enjoy with people that I love and admire.

During my recent trip to California, my friend Karen and I met another friend, Linda, for lunch and an afternoon sketching session in the cute downtown area of Del Mar. This is the sketch I did that day...

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

We sat in the afternoon sunshine by a bubbling fountain, chatting now and then but mostly focused on our sketching.


After blocking in the sketch on the page with pencil, I drew quickly with my Sailor Fude fountain pen, adding cross-hatching for shadows. I like the line width variation that's possible with the fude pens. (Read a review here.)

Painting was done with a #8 Joe Miller Signature Series 50/50 Travel Round Brush. It's my go-to brush when I'm sketching plein air. It holds plenty of paint, comes to a nice point, and has just the right amount of spring to it.


Working on Stillman and Birn Zeta paper makes me paint differently than when I use something like a cold-press watercolor paper with more texture. I find that the watercolor tends to slide around on the slick paper, and I tend to paint looser, with little layering of paint. I try to get as much value contrast as I can in my first wash. After it dries, the darkest values are added. Having the cross-hatching in place in this sketch helped to give me rich darks without spending so much time adding layers of darker value color.

We spent a little over an hour sketching that day in Del Mar. I was excited about how much I managed to accomplish in a limited time and was happy with the fresh bright colors on my sketch and the overall looseness of it.

Sketches by me, Karen Colson, and Linda Daniels

Later at home I added the page title and decided to give the umbrellas some color, like those I had seen in another location.

I think it's interesting to compare the photo of the place with the finished sketch:



Which is more appealing? I know which one I'd choose.

This is a great example of how travel sketching can capture rich, multi-dimensional memories so much better than a photo can. The photo shows a place. But this little sketch speaks volumes about my emotions that day: how happy I was to be there, how free and open I felt, how immersed I was in the experience. Looking at it, I remember the feeling of the sun on my back, the sound of the fountain, the feel of the brush in my hand, the swirl of colors on my palette, the people walking by, the conversations we had, and the enveloping warmth of friendship.


1 comment:

  1. I'd say it looks like a perfect day, Leslie! I love every sketch -- and the photo of the sketchers, too!

    ReplyDelete

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