Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sketching with Friends...Finally!

A few days ago I met up with a couple of my sketching buddies for a morning of drawing and painting at the Greene County Historical Society in Waynesburg, PA. 

Ink & watercolor in a 6-1/2" x 5" Khadi sketchbook with 140 lb. rough paper

We all needed this, sitting together in the sunshine, painting, chatting, and venting about the state the world is in these days. Talking helps me to deal with things, and I've really missed having regular get-togethers with my friends these past few months. It felt so good to reconnect.

My sketching pals, Cathy and Carol

We got there early, before the museum opened, and walked around looking for some appealing subject matter. The antique Studebaker truck was cool...

If you love old trucks, you're welcome to paint this one! (Click to enlarge.)

but I really liked the rickety old barn, too, so I decided to draw the larger scene of barn, truck, foreground building and distant trees. 


I used a 6-1/2" x 5" Khadi sketchbook that has a fairly rough surface, blocking in the large shapes quickly with pencil, then drawing the scene with a Sailor Fude fountain pen and black ink.

Smoke from the California wildfires has blanketed our region lately, and I wanted to note that fact in my sketch, so I painted a smokey sky with pale yellow and orange, instead of the normal blues of a September sky here in PA. I painted on dry paper, allowing the colors to merge and blend. Moving across to the trees, I added yellow ochre, sap green, and ultramarine blue to indicate a variety of foliage in sun and shade. I dragged my brush across the dry paper in the foreground to leave some white sparkle in the grass. 

The barn is a faded yellow color, but instead of broadly brushing on one tone, I varied the colors to make it more interesting, adding pink and blue-grey to a base of yellow/burnt sienna.


The roof was painted next....


and some darks were added to the trees and the shaded interior of the barn.


The building in the foreground was a nondescript color that looked like someone had dumped all their leftover paint together to use it up, so I mixed up a warm, muddy neutral color and varied the tones by dropping in some blue here and there to keep it from looking too flat and dull.


The barn window was painted to show reflections of the red brick museum building behind me, then I drybrushed some texture onto the barn siding by dragging the side of my brush across the paper.


The truck was a challenge, because the dark blue color of it was almost exactly the same color and value as the inside of the barn that framed it. Why couldn't it have been red??? 

I was tempted to change the color, but I preferred to make a faithful rendering of the scene before me, so I tried to make the truck stand out by darkening the background and lightening the value of the framework in the bed of the truck. The ink lines and detail help a bit, too.


In my sketch kit that day, I carried a brand new palette filled with a set of 24 luscious QOR watercolors from Cheap Joe's. 


I especially like using the QOR watercolors when I'm working on off-white paper like I have in the Khadi sketchbook. The colored paper tends to mute the colors somewhat; the rich, concentrated pigments of the QOR colors help to compensate for that and brighten up my paintings.


I'm trying out a new set of brushes, too, thanks to the generosity of Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. (I'm a Cheap Joe's Ambassador!) It's the Princeton Neptune Series 4750 synthetic squirrel set. Round brushes in sizes 4, 6, 8, and 10 are included and they come with a cap which protects the bristles when they're tucked away in my sketch kit. The cap converts to a handle when painting. 


A handy carrying case is a nice bonus.


I painted most of the barn sketch with the size 10 brush. It holds a ton of paint, dispenses it evenly, and comes to a fine point for detail work. Usually squirrel hair brushes are too soft and floppy for me, but this faux squirrel, although softer than the synthetic brushes I usually use, has enough body to keep me happy. And the softer bristles work really well when I want to cover larger areas quickly and blend colors on the paper like I did in the initial stages of this painting. I'm finding I really like this set.

To finish up the sketch, I drybrushed some texture on the foreground building, painted the windows, and indicated some siding lines here and there. Rusty brown paint was brushed onto the metal roof. I didn't want to call attention to this part of the painting, so the dull colors of this nondescript structure worked to my advantage.


To finish off the barn, I indicated vertical siding and other detailing, then added lines to the metal roofing. 


Later at home, I added a title using a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner and brushed some more blue into the sky.

Click to enlarge for better viewing

Total time at the museum was 2 1/2 hours, but we spent the first half hour walking around, deciding what to paint, and setting up our stuff. If you subtract all the time we spent catching up with each other and solving the problems of the world, that probably left me with about 60-90 minutes of actual painting time. I didn't feel like I was rushing, but I'm glad I was able to finish almost all of the painting onsite. I don't need any more unfinished sketches! 

Getting out in the sunshine and spending time painting with friends was the highlight of my week!
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