Saturday, April 21, 2012

Necessity -- The Mother of Invention

"Valeriano's Restaurant"
Los Gatos, CA
7" x 5" Acrylic Ink and Watercolor

"Stately Redwood in Los Gatos Park"
 5" x 7" Copic Pen and Watercolor

 Dick Zunkel demos ink and wash sketching on location

Some of the work done by the 29 artists who participated
in the Los Gatos paint sites event

"The Cherub"
12" x 14" Pastel

In case you are wondering what I've been up to, planning a major house remodel has consumed some of my art time. I attended the plein air event in Los Gatos sponsored by my Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society, featuring a demo by Dick Zunkel, one of our celebrity artists. For the modest membership donation of $30 a year, you get to paint with other artists 2 or 3 times a month at various Santa Clara Valley locations. I'm President of this 400+ member society, so I get to give a blatant plug for joining. This week we painted in beautiful downtown Los Gatos snuggled up against the Santa Cruz Mountains on a warm and sunny day.

When painting on location, Dick likes to lightly sketch his piece, apply some ink loosely, doing some of the sketching in ink freehand, and then use lots of water and a big brush to add light washes. Today we all bravely gave it our best shot and had a large turnout; almost 30 artists showed up. It turns out that my Sumi Ink was not waterproof and I had the wrong pens. My first attempt was poor using a Uniball pen that didn't take well to the Arches cold press and I also applied too much paint. Mary from Santa Cruz suggested I use the eye dropper in her acrylic ink bottle, so I did. I quickly made a freehand drawing, no prior pencil marks. I got blobs and inconsistent lines and I like it! So I added some light watercolor washes and voila, the piece was done. Everyone really liked this piece at the show and tell session after lunch. I also had a wide burnt sienna Copic pen so I drew one of the redwoods I as sitting under and splashed on a a bit of color. 

A couple hints from Dick -- don't get too carried away with detail, paint loose, and use some yellow under the blue of the skies to warm the sky. The sky is truly only cobalt blue over water. He likes Cheap Joe's Kilimanjaro paper as it takes the ink a bit differently than Arches.  Frank Webb also showed us this approach to painting. This is definitely a fun technique that I will use again when doing watercolor sketches on location. One more thing -- view Michael Rogan's art in the upper left corner on the bench, you will see what a master will do when they use ink that runs. 

Though duties as the Pres kept me away from drawing class a couple weeks, I attended the last two Mondays and worked on the cherub. Boy, he was a challenge to draw, being just about 6 inches tall, and then books are always a perspective challenge. Bob had to come over and tell me to punch up the highlights a bit, which really makes the piece.

A little PS: Go the our paint sites blog to view some of the paintings we produced. Sylvia was encouraging everyone to send them to her for posting so check back occasionally for additions. 


Plein Air Muse said...

Using the dropper was a stroke of genius mary - I love it! Sylvia

PAMO ART said...

Your cherub pastel is STUNNING! I'm in awe!!! Wow!
I also love the looseness of your other two pieces and agree the pen blobs add lots to the first painting. It just works!

House remodel? I'm surprised you have time to even think about painting. :-) Wish I lived close enough to be a part of your group. $30 a year is a BARGAIN!!!

janice said...

It WAS a great day for our plein air group, Mary! Your use of the stopper from the bottle to draw with is a genius idea and the drawing produced turned out to have a whimsical, fun feel about it.

CrimsonLeaves said...

Your work and your post is so fabulous Joan. What I really love is that pastel. It is gorgeous!

Marie Theron said...

You sure had a creative morning, Mary!

hw (hallie) farber said...

I really like your top sketch--keep blobbing, Mary. The pastel is wonderful; the perspective is right on. Good luck with the remodeling.

hmuxo said...

Wonderful sketches, Mary....The Cherub is painted so beautifully!! of course, I love your post, as always.