A Dip Into Contemporary Art

Every time I visit a museum and am faced with large canvas panels painted with a single color I wonder why I waste time drawing stuff.  It’s not that I’m enthused by these boring wall coverings.  It’s that I’m told they’re worth millions, while my art is worth nothing.  For some reason that matters.

So, I’m doing something about it.  I’m switching mediums again (acrylics this time) and increasing the size of my resulting artworks significantly.  My brush is now 4″ wide and I use a very limited palette but buy the paint in one gallon containers.

The one downside to this sort of art is that surface prep is extensive.  It involved cleaning and scrubbing, followed by sanding.  But ultimately I was ready to make modern art.  Here is my equipment.

I decided I should start small to get used to the materials.  The first problem I ran into was that I’m a sketcher of things so painting without things just isn’t right, so my first attempt was too representational.

My second attempt didn’t go much better.  I realized that I need to paint a different view from typical, working the angles and shapes to achieve art on a higher plane.  I’m afraid that I may still have missed the mark.

I must admit that modern art is harder than I thought.  I’m sure, though, that when my eight-foot square canvas and paint roller arrive, I’ll do better.

Until then I’ll pose a question.  Is this urban sketching?  These paintings were done on location.  They were done in an urban environment and there’s a reportage component to them.  And I’m sharing it with others, one sketch at a time.  Hmmm….

One thing is for sure.  While we say that sketching is about the process, not the product, this is not that.  The process is not fun.

Have a nice day everyone.



Un Petit Hommage: Vicky Williamson

I was hunting for something in my sketch bag and found one of those tiny Hahnemuhle fan-fold sketchbooks.  I’d never used it.  My first thought was of Vicky Williamson, a sketcher who has done some wonderful sketches in such a book and probably the reason I bought it.

Vicky has always been special to me.  I’ve never met her but I’ve followed her sketching for years.  She’s something of a “tiny” specialist.  She owns half of the small palettes on the planet and most of her sketches are small.  5×8 is a large sketch for her.

Each of her sketches is a little gem and she always has a story to tell about them, whether it’s of a hospital scene, travel sketch, or just a flower or two.  Each shines brightly.

And so I thought I would do a tiny sketch in her honor.  We were putting some odd-shaped (at least to me) marigolds in our garden so the subject was easily chosen.  Only one thing was missing, my Kaweco Lilliput pen.  Vicky uses one often. Hers is copper and mine aluminum, but it seemed appropriate for the task.  I loaded up some DeAtramentis Document Black into it and started drawing.


I used a Micro-Palette that I attach magnetically to my sketch bag drawing board and a simple clip to hold the sketchbook in place. This is my standard on-the-go system and it worked just as well with the tiny sketchbook as it does with my 8×10 S&B books.  I can see why she enjoys sketching small.  The results somehow seem brighter than if done in a larger size.


Vicky writes in her sketchbooks but I’ve always preferred doing that on my blog, so my sketch lacks the complete presentation like Vicky’s sketch pages.  Nevertheless, I was happy with the result and it was fun to walk in her shoes, if only for a while.  Here’s to you, Vicky, for all the inspiration you’ve provided over the years.  Say hi to Bill, Tater and Tot.

What Did We Do To Offend Little Miss Nina?

This spring and summer is rivaling COVID lockdowns for disrupting the flow of outdoor life.  Spring and summer for those of us living in a certain northern latitude continues to be a steady stream of rainy days.  We’re trying to get our garden planted, some house repairs done and, for the most part, we sit watching the rain.  The worst part is that weather has become completely unpredictable so it rains when sun is predicted and it’s sunny when it’s supposed to rain.  So, while we’re making some progress, it comes from saying “It looks like it’s not going to rain for the next few hours, I’m going to…”  Weird that.

Anyways, I sat on the deck, watching the rain (very pleasant) and decided to sketch one of an army of Impatiens that are destined to form a defense against grass invaders to a flock of hostas.

It’s been raining all day so I thought I’d write a blog post.  Hope you like the plant sketch.

Sketching Without Lines

I continue to try to use watercolors without an underpinning of a line drawing, mostly without success.  I can’t seem to figure out how to draw crisp edges with watercolors and, for complex drawings, I lose control over the drawing itself.  This is a good example of both of these problems.  This is a drawing (??) of a new pedestrian bridge over my river.  Great bridge, not so great sketch of it.  I added some pencil line buildings after the fact just to provide context.

Boots With Micron’s PN Pen

I’ve always liked Micron pens in spite of my fetish for fountain pens.  The only thing I don’t like is their short life and disposable nature.  But when I saw a couple YouTube reviews of the PN (plastic nib) version of the pen, they peaked my interest.  Those reviews both suggested that this was a “writing” pen and mostly dismissed the variable line width aspect of the pen.  To me, that variability was the reason to try one.

So far I’ve only found them available on Amazon as a set of eight colors, which, to quote Shania Twain, “don’t impress me much,” but the pen sure does.  It won’t give as much width variation as a fude fountain pen but you can more easily control fine line widths and get the width of an 02 to 05/08 width simply by changing the pressure on the tip.  The PN delivers the same bullet-proof ink that Micron pens always produce.

My example is a test drive of the pen while sitting on our deck as it rained – a recurrent condition these days.  They depict my wife’s garden boots.

I do hope these become available as singles as I’d like to get my hands on a few more.