Shari Blaukopf Teaches Light, Color & Shadow

Shari Blaukopf is known to many as an excellent plein air sketcher/painter.  She’s started to produce some really good watercolor course.  This is one of the reasons why I haven’t had many sketches to post; I’m taking one of them right now.

I don’t know who is doing the videography for these courses but I’ve not seen any better.  When Shari mixes paint on the palette, you see every swirl of the brush.  You see her apply every stroke to paper.  And you hear her explain every action she takes and why she’s taking it.  Anyone who has watched online videos knows that this is not typical.

What excites me about this workshop is that instead of selecting one or two large scenes to demonstrate how to inject light into your watercolors, she chose five small vignettes and one larger scene.  The vignettes are simple enough to sketch that you can do a bunch of them, trying over and over again what Shari is teaching.  I need over and over.  I have a bunch of copies laying around my studio, none of them are as good as what Shari presents.  This would be disappointing if not for the fact that edges with paint is a new thing for me.  I’m a pen and ink kind of guy (grin).  But I’ll get it… some day.

I have a dilemma, however.  I wanted to talk about Shari’s workshop but I don’t like to post any work done in workshops for a variety of reasons.  The most important one is that I don’t want to do any of the exercises with the idea that I’m creating something to display.  Also, I don’t like posting anything where someone else has shown me the path.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  I’m going to make a single exception here, however.  This is, I think, my second attempt at the third exercise of the workshop.  It’s very much over-worked because I can’t draw a straight edge with a paintbrush so I’m always “fixing” things.

Domestika – A Warning

I don’t live on Earth.  I live on planet Quebec and this isolates me from the many opportunities others have to associate with lots of artists and to see them work.  Because of this, I’ve become fond of online workshops.  I have a Skillshare membership and I’m currently taking Shari Blaukopf’s new workshop (more on this at a later date).

I’m here today to issue a warning about Domestika, an online service that is running ads everywhere about online classes.  I took one of their workshops, which seem to be smallish, inexpensive workshops.  The one I took was more basic than I expected but it was well organized and produced.  I was sufficiently satisfied with this to take a second one.  I won’t take a third.

The reason is fairly simple.  I downloaded a second workshop only to find that it is taught in Spanish.  That’s great for a Spanish speaker but I can barely speak English so it’s not for me.  Warning one: I saw NO indication that it was going to be taught in Spanish so beware.

Warning two: Supposedly, you have four days to ask for a refund.  I did it within 15 minutes.  This resulted in me receiving a canned msg saying they were very busy and that they’d get back to me.  In the 10 days since I asked for a refund, I’ve received three more of these msgs.  Just for variety they’ve also sent me a msg asking how I was enjoying the course.  In short, they don’t respond at all.  It’s cost me some money to learn this about Domestika.  Hopefully this post will save someone else some money.

Editor’s note: It took just over two weeks, and half a dozen “we’ll get back to you” notices, but Domestika refunded my money. 

My Creativity Doldrums

I watched the old Moby Dick movie, starring Gregory Peck the other night.  There’s a part of the movie where the Pequod (his ship) can’t move because of a loss of wind… the doldrums as they are called by sailors.  I feel similarly stuck as I’m struggling to “find time” (code for being too lazy) to draw.

It’s easy to blame COVID isolation, the daily doses of bad news, and even (especially?) the feckless leadership from the White House on so many fronts.  The news is definitely overwhelms the senses.

But then I think of my own situation and, well, I can’t complain.  I live in a country that takes COVID seriously and our governments at all levels have treated it without politics.  The results have been very positive.  And the other day I watched as our Prime Minister stood, amidst throngs of Black Lives Matter protesters as a full participant, no walls built around him, no guns or amoured police – just the Prime Minister, knowing that he was safe.  I’m sure there were a couple secret service people nearby but…  So this is my world.  Why am I in the doldrums?

A bit more reflection, however, provided clues.  I just finished a list of stuff we have to buy at the garden center and renovation store today, though it’s supposed to rain a lot today so that might be put off until tomorrow.  That may be a good thing as my knees and wrist hurt quit a bit from a long day of building the first of two raised-bed gardens we’re building.  The wheelbarrow I restored a week ago got its first workout yesterday.  I thought about the front door lighting fixtures I’ve got to install, the set of stairs I’ve got to replace and the painting that needs to be done.  As George Takei is fond of saying, “Oh my.”  I think I’ve found the reason I’m not sketching more (grin).

Left: Bic pen; Right: DeAtramentis Document Black. The book is a FIeld Notes “Dime Novel” notebook.

Not wanting to post without pictures, here’s the last two “scribbles” I’ve done while out walking my arthritic leg back into shape.  Hopefully those creativity winds will start blowing real soon.

 

Mixed Media And Shari’s Wheelbarrow

Recently I decided to work in a different medium, in fact a couple of them.  Now that my arthritis is kinda-sorta under control we’re doing more gardening this year and it was time for me to restore and old, rusty wheelbarrow we have.  It got sidelined with a broken wheel and it was left outside our cave.

Here’s the result.  I painted with most of it with Rustoleum, but used Minwax oil-stain on the wooden parts.  Once I fashioned a new axle it was smooth sailing.  Much easier than watercolor.

Most urban sketchers know Shari Blaukopf, or at least her art and most of those people know about her wheelbarrow sketches.  Most of us really enjoy them and I was quite disappointed when she announced that her wheelbarrow had broken.  Funny how you can get attached to things you’ve never seen in person.

Anyways, now that I have a wheelbarrow it seemed only proper for me to lean it against a tree, Shari style, and draw it.  It was fun to sit in the back yard with a pen in my hand.   It’s blistering hot here right now but the breeze kept it tolerable as I drew.  Urban.. + Sketch…, yep, this is a real live urban sketch (grin).

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document Black, Wing Sung 3009

 

Is This Thing On?

I’m hoping this blog is finally working again.  I think my blog got COVID or something because several things broke all at once.  People could access what was there (I think), but I couldn’t post.  I think I’ve gotten things straightened out.

Our “spring” took about two days and we went from frost warnings and wearing coats to a heat wave.  We’re now wearing shorts and sweating a lot.  Go figure.  We’ve been doing work outside, trying to fix things that broke during winter, and encouraging trees and other plants to produce some leaves.  It’s sort of weird to be hitting the mid-80s and not have the trees in full leaf yet.

Mostly, though, this is a test of my blog with fingers crossed that it’s working again.  I’ll post a few pages from my “try this” sketchbook just to give you something to look at.  Hope you can see it (grin)