Watercolor sketch workshop

Visitors From Denver!

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I had a blast this week sketching with my friends and fellow teachers from Denver, Colorado, Judith Cassel-Mamet and Carol Ann Waugh. I met them last spring when we were all taking an urban sketch workshop in New York city. I was honored that they wanted to come and take a workshop from me to get some sketching tips to add to their already considerable repertoire. I had all kinds of plans for on-location sketching in this gorgeous California spring weather. You know, sunshine and blossoms and happy people congregating in public areas!

Instead they got to experience the Pineapple Express weather that flooded roads, drove everyone indoors and kept us in coffee shops and restaurants sketching people. But since PEOPLE sketching was what they were after, it worked out fine! And apparently wet weather and dampness is a novelty to folks from Denver!

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We started in my studio with continuous line drawing to warm up, then adding color, letting the wet paint edge bleed to connect shapes. As time goes on I become more and more convinced that when you are sketching quickly from life, the continuous line improves not only accuracy but also expressiveness because it keeps your mind (and therefore your mind’s eye) from wandering off.

What’s that in the bottom right hand corner you ask? It’s my troll doll made of grasses and seed pods. I was also going with the idea that you overlap shapes to connect the images, and the Troll wanted in on the action.

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We had planned to go down to the foot of my road and sketch the goats in the green grass after lunch, but the rains had started. So they talked me into sharing some of my strategies for skin tone and painting shadow shapes of figures. I’m not a portrait artist, but I had a willing model and needed a subject to demonstrate on. Yellows and reds with a touch of blue for the skin tone with the green from the background glazed over in parts to show reflections. And here you can really see the limits on this Stillman and Birn Beta Sketchbook paper which doesn’t do well with wet applications!

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Next morning we met at one of Sebastopol’s favorite coffee shops, Taylor Maid, and invited the person who was sitting alone at the table we needed, to join us in sketching! Luckily it was Linda Kammer, who happens to be a watercolor artist friend,  who seemed happy to share her table and sketch with us.

Judith and Carol had asked for ideas to get their figure sketches to capture the uniqueness of the people as opposed to the stock figures. As the rainstorm raged outside, we worked on getting the gestures of specific coffee drinkers and practicing skin tones.  I guess the tech-y people were upstairs with their computers in the loft, because there was actually a young man reading a paperback book! And at another table a fellow engaged in deep conversation with another and no phones/tablets/laptops in sight. And then there was the fellow at the window writing. . .on paper with a pen. What is this world coming to?!!

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When it got even stormier there were fewer people to sketch so we stood up to try to catch the baristas in action.

Like I said, we had a blast, and even though I was the ostensible teacher for the days, I learned as much as them. They do mixed media workshops together and separately all over the country and even in Europe. They share a passion for teaching and exploring the creative process. They began collaborating a few years ago, combining Carol’s love of contemporary fiber arts with Judith’s focus on mixed media, sketching and art journaling. They have stitched, painted, sketched and dyed together….and now give workshops together called Mixed Media Adventures! They both have Craftsy online courses you should check out.

 

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Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher

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For more information and to register visit my website!

Watercolor Simplified Workshop

Yesterday I held the Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher workshop in Petaluma, CA under sunny skies with lovely cool temperatures, and best of all, fresh air! We all seemed to shed the mantle of recent fire storm woes and enjoy dipping brushes into color in the excellent company of other artists.

In planning this workshop I was acutely aware that “watercolor simplified” is indeed a bit of an oxymoron. Watercolor technique is decidedly NOT simple as anyone who is even moderately proficient at it will tell you. But there are certain strategies one can learn to make it easier to capture a scene quickly,  with less fuss and more fun.

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We started out in a park by the riverfront in Petaluma where there was a symphony of morning birdsong. The students all had good drawing skills but about the watercolor part they made comments like;  I want to get beyond painting by numbers. or I want to get more comfortable with sketching outside. or I want to learn how to punch up a sketch with watercolor. or I want to be freer with my painting.

So we practiced making decisions about what to leave white, painting quickly, dashing off a sky and ground shape with a wet application of at least two colors and a splash. And at lunch we took a wet-splash beginning and did a sketch on top of it.

petalumawkshop08It’s easier sometimes to start drawing on a page with some fun color already there. Instructions were to incorporate the under painting in the sketch design.

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It helped that we had such good eats on Petaluma’s riverfront at the Water Street Bistro.

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Phyllis’ hat was hard to resist. This is my sketch over a splatter-wash under painting.

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The old Petaluma Mill was the perfect setting for the afternoon lesson which was the old One-Two-Punch method.

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(above from my handout)

Paint just the shadow shape first using interesting mixed grays. When that’s dry, come back in with the local color of the objects/buildings, exaggerating or inventing color if you want! The Punch is where you define the darkest areas like windows and deep shadows with your darkest pigments. This will often rescue a pretty but timid sketch.

petalumawkshop07There was not time in this busy workshop to sketch entire scenes, so the students focused in on gem-like parts of the scene.

petalumawkshop04and drew borders around the focal point to further simplify.

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It was nice to have someone to sit with when sketching out in public. Different sketchers doing the same scene always makes for interesting variety. We get to see through each others’ eyes.

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Petaluma is such an enticing location for sketching with a combination of riverfront, older architecture, bridge, railroad tracks, old mills and granaries, and even an abundance of ducks under the tracks! I’m looking forward to another day of sketching there soon.

This was my last sketch workshop of the season, but there are more ideas formulating for new workshops in the series next year, so stay tuned! And let me know what you’re interested in.

Apple Press and Petaluma Sketching

If you live in Sebastopol there’s still time to bring your apples over to the free apple press and enjoy the nectarian pleasure of your own fresh apple juice. The volunteer crew will help you out and even clean the press after you and all with enthusiastic smiles. I guess I was too busy with art and such this season to bring my own apple harvest in, so instead I harvested some sketches last Saturday morning.

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The sponsor of this is the Slow Food Russian River group. For those of you who don’t know, the term Slow Food refers to “an alternative to fast food and strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.” Slow however is not how I would refer to the folks doing the apple press procedure. So my pen was moving pretty fast!

And then I got totally distracted by a little girl who was washing apples and then feeding them into the press. When she came over to check out my paints I couldn’t resist loading up a brushload and handing it to her. She knew what to do with it of course. Here’s Adeline’s version of the activity.

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Then last week we were checking out the scene for the upcoming Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher workshop in Petaluma on October 14. We were delighted to find the most appealing spots for sketching, not to mention eating, easy parking etc. So I’m quite looking forward to offering this workshop. For instance there’s the Great Petaluma Mill and the backdrop of those, are they grain shoots?

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and the cutest bistros, bakeries etc to go for the lunch sketch which is always assigned.

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Check out the meal I had. And yet even so I was tortured by the men sitting across from us who ordered a spectacular gluten free chocolate cake and only ate a bite or two! They were so friendly that I know they would have given me the rest, but truly I was already full. I’m quite impressed with these urban sketchers who draw and paint their food when it comes. I’m always too ready to dig in.

There’s still one spot left in the workshop. If you’re interested, visit my website for more info and to contact me.

A Celebration of S.F. Urban Sketchers!

Saturday was a day full of jubilation. So many things to celebrate – a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco, sketching at Mission Creek with 60 some urban sketchers – a party at Arch Art Supply afterwards to celebrate the 5th anniversary of S.F. Urban Sketchers and their generous new sponsorship of  group – ending with the official opening of the 10X10 urban sketch workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. This workshop series is happening in cities all over the world to celebrate yet another anniversary – the 10th year of Urban Sketchers worldwide – with 10 local workshops. I know, its a lot. But definitely an exciting time to be sketching in the Bay Area.

The workshops are filling up fast, so take a look at the offerings soon if you’re interested. I’ll be teaching workshop #10 on June 10, Sketch Vignettes to Share the Story That Interests YOU!  In this workshop, held in the picturesque west Sonoma County town of Freestone, we’ll use ink and and watercolor and explore tools for quickly getting to the story YOU most want to tell in your sketch using ideas of vignette design. Visit my website and contact me for more information and I’ll tell you how to register.

missioncreek fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ Hand.book sketchbook

I get so excited when I’m in the city and want to go for the big picture, even if there’s no time for details. Imagine the S.F. Bay right behind the stadium and entrance.

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There were soo many sketches of this houseboat! I think it was the antlers that attracted us all, along with a lovely strip of grass in the sun to perch on our little stools.

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