on location sketching

Character Sketching

You don’t have to look far to find characters to sketch! Your friends will do quite nicely. I borrowed the idea from my Urban Sketcher friend Vivian and her group and got some people together with costumes and attitude to pose for each other for 15 minute timed poses (with wine of course).

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We never got around to adding words at the time, but I stuck some in the next day.

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Actually I think I might have the wrong era here. More like Dickens era from the waist up, but who cares?! (She left the corset at home because it is after all the 21st century and California casual at that!)

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It’s all in the props. . .

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Switched to pencil here and more drawing with watercolor for a different look. Also got tired of painting in the clothing!

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This character reminded me of the cutest chick contest at the Butter and Eggs day in Petaluma!

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Becky’s character from Sweeney Todd. At this point I’d given up trying to get the whole figure into a 15 min sketch with color!

Hopefully these “characters” will be posting their sketches on Instagram and Facebook!

If you want to get some figure sketching practice and can’t get to a group set up, try these two free online resources:  the Sktchy phone app and Quick Poses

And then if you want to Put People in Your Sketches on location, join me on March 24 for my day-long workshop of that name, in Santa Rosa, CA. You’ll learn strategies for drawing people “in the act”, mixing believable skin tones, dealing with clothing, and connecting the figure with context. For more information visit my website!

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Color Mixing

I have another on-location sketch workshop coming up October 14, Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher! In preparation I got to thinking about all the obstacles to painting with watercolor on location and worrying a bit about this promise of “simplifying” it. From experience teaching these day-long workshops I know that some students will open up a freshly bought and previously unused palette on the day of the workshop. Many of us know this is a recipe at least temporary dismay!

So I’m asking all the students to make a color mix chart with their paints before class. I’ve done quite a few of these over the years and there’s no better way to get acquainted with your palette while learning the subtleties of mixes. You learn how to make black and gray and brown without having them in your palette to muddy things up. (Of course palettes with manufacturer supplied pigments may have those colors in them and then you can choose not to use them!)

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Simply put, you mix each pigment on your palette with each of the other pigments. This chart helps. I picked the eight pigments I would have most difficulty parting with at the moment and made a grid of eight squares. Then I painted squares of those colors across and down in the same order. Next I mixed the colors of each square according to the grid, the vertical with the horizontal. It takes focus, and there’s some value variation based on how much water gets in the mixture and the amount of each pigment in the mix. (The camera has distorted the colors here a bit, but you hopefully get the idea. )

And now I know how to mix an olive green and a brick red and the prettiest violet and deepest forest green, and a purply dark and a mauve. And by doing this I also know which pigments are so intense that they overwhelm the others, and which ones will never give me a dark. I’ve been painting for 23 years and I still learned something from doing this today.

I actually have more paints on my palette, a couple more blues (DS Cerulean Blue Chromium and HB Horizon Blue) and an orange ((DS Pyrrol Orange) that I wouldn’t want to part with. But I think I’ll jetison the Payne’s Gray and Ivory Black. We sketchers just can’t stop futzing with palette colors. It’s too much fun.

So now back to figuring out how to live up to the promise of Watercolor Simplified! Email me if you want to sign up for the workshop. There are still two spots left at this writing.

Sketch with me this Spring!

To all you wonderful visitors from all over the world, I wish you were closer (or I was closer to you). But if you’re local to the S.F. Bay area or coming to visit, you are invited to our charming and slightly quirky little town of  Sebastopol (and environs) for some on-location sketch workshops with me this spring. Registration is open now! Here’s the scoop.

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To register for any of these workshops contact me.

And this is just part of what’s happening in the Urban Sketcher universe this spring. To see the rest of the workshop offerings from wonderful and diverse teachers around the S.F. Bay Area, visit Urban Sketchers.org. 

But don’t worry! Even if you live on the other side of the planet from California there will be sketch workshops closer to you this spring, in over 30 countries on several continents. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You can find all of them on the Urban Sketch website here.