Thursday, December 29, 2011

On-location Sketch Book Studies

Here are some recent sketchbook entries. These were all quick sketches (ten minutes or so), done on location in pen and ink and painted later in the studio. The application of paint took another ten minutes.

I was focused on the big idea: composition, value and mood, and pretty much avoided any detail. Light and shadow were important as well and I made expressing that a priority.

Using Quick Studies to Design a Painting

This series of images shows the process I sometimes use in developing the composition and values for a painting. I like to have a strong value pattern of lights and darks, and preparing these small studies helps me keep on track as I work on the final painting. When I am unsure of where to go next (or what color/value to use), I consult the sketch.

I usually start small with a pencil thumbnail sketch to block out the big shapes and values, then proceed to a small color version, sometimes using pen and ink. From there I prepare a larger version, usually in color. I begin to familiarize myself with the subject and note any details I want to add. After all of this preliminary work, I tackle the final version.

Even though I have theoretically resolved everything, I still leave a lot of room for change and for the "painting to work itself out on the paper" as Robert E. Wood said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Granada Building, Santa Barbara

This quick watercolor study was done in a large Aquabee sketch pad.


This is a scene at the former Ambassador College where stone steps go past a pond and climb up through thick trees.

The Green Hotel

The Green Hotel in Pasadena: pen with watercolor on hot press paper.

City Hall

Here is another sketch of the Pasadena City Hall, one of my favorite subjects. This was done with pencil and watercolor on hot press paper. I wanted a slightly different perspective, so I used a vertical composition.

The Langham

This is a sketch of the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, from the back, where the building wraps around the wide lawn. I did the drawing with pen on hot press paper before washing it with color.

Pasadena Playhouse

Here is a recent painting I did of the Pasadena Playhouse. I did a loose pencil sketch on hot press watercolor paper and painted it with bold colors, splashing and dripping paint in a casual way. I included a small value study in the lower right corner.

I mounted this sketch to a gesso'd foam core panel, and added a series of small pen and ink composition drawings and color notes below it.