Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Autumn Sketches from Here and There

I've been trying out a new sketchbook lately, the Khadi 6-1/2" x 5" hardback with 140 lb. rough paper. I'm enjoying the highly textured surface and the way it handles multiple washes with ease. Pencil lines erase easily, and all of the pens I've used in it glide across the handmade paper easily.


The modest size of this sketchbook encourages me to open it on a whim and jot down a sketch, like I did the day I joined some of my sketching buddies for a visit to our friend Jeannie's house. It was a beautiful fall day, and she had tables set up in her back yard for an outdoor luncheon. Seasonal decorations here and there begged to be sketched, so I pulled out my brand-new Khadi sketchbook, opened to page 2 (I always save the first page to add a title page later on), and did this cute little painting of a bench in Jeannie's yard.


This next sketch was done at the Greene County Historical Society Museum in Waynesburg, PA, during my October "Sketching Retreat at Summerhill". The museum has a general store which was transported from its original location and reassembled onsite at the historical society. I could sketch there for a month and still not draw it all, but I made a good start during the time I was there, drawing and painting a colorful wall full of canned goods, medicine bottles, cigars, teas, and all the essentials that a 19th century general store patron needed.


It doesn't show up in the scan, but I added touches of metallic paint to highlight the gold on the scale and some of the boxes. It gives this sketch a little bling!

Another day during the sketching retreat, we drove through the countryside to Scenery Hill and the historic Century Inn, where we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch in a cozy private dining room. I had snapped a picture of the building on our way in, so, while we waited for lunch, I started sketching the inn, while others drew the cornucopia centerpiece on our table.

Click to enlarge

This place has quite a history. It has stood on the National Road (Route 40) for over 200 years, and I enjoyed sharing it with my guests who had traveled to Summerhill from as far away as northern California and Washington state.


A fire two years ago did considerable damage to the inn, but it has been restored and looks as good as ever. The ladies room was so classy I snapped some pictures of the wallpaper design and floral arrangement and added them to my sketchbook page. This isn't the first time I've been inspired by a bathroom. I used a tile design from a ladies room wall in my Spain sketchbook, too. Inspiration is everywhere, if you open you eyes and see!


A day out with a friend is one of life's greatest pleasures, and when you throw a little sketching into the mix, it doubles the fun! My friend Wendy and I took a day trip to Ohiopyle State Park one fine fall day and were treated to an amazing display of autumn foliage along the way. We drove up into the Laurel Highlands and stopped for lunch at the Bittersweet Cafe, a restaurant whose food was as yummy as their autumn displays were beautiful.


We had planned to head on down the road after we finished eating, but decided to linger awhile and sketch.


Sitting there chatting and painting together with my friend, without a place we had to be or anyone to answer to, felt like such luxury to both of us.


We still managed to fit in our Ohiopyle visit to see the waterfalls that afternoon, and as we drove home late in day, the setting sun glowed through the blazing maples and oaks that lined the road. What a perfect day! And I have this fun sketch to ensure that I'll never forget it.

This last fall sketch was done for my Sketching at Summerhill painting class last month. I had a lot of fun painting in this looser style that uses plenty of spattering and wet-in-wet watercolor, and it was good for my regular students to try something a little different.

7" x 7" pencil and watercolor on 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper

I'm glad I had a chance to get out and enjoy those fleeting October days with their dancing leaves and brilliant colors while we still had them. After a strong windstorm last week, the trees around here have lost most of their leaves, and with the changeover to standard time, the days seem so much shorter than just a week ago. Fall is beating a hasty retreat, and there's a November chill in the air. It's time to get cozy and settle in for winter.
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