Halloween In Sketches – Day Three

This is day three of my Halloween celebration.  I have to confess that I’ve been a bit sheepish about presenting the sketches that I did many years ago.  I’m not very good artist but I used to be much worse (grin).

I did this one in 2019 and I guess it’s really more of a Thanksgiving display.  It was just outside the large farmers market near my house.  I sat at the edge of the parking lot as I drew it and there was a steady stream of people stopping to take a look.  I really enjoy those interactions, though I struggle with my French.  People in Quebec are nice, though.  Nobody laughed.  This was a “take my time” sketch and I took a lot of time.  I was also quite frozen when I finished.

This is another 2019 sketch. Given the synchrony of Canada Thanksgiving and Halloween, lots of pumpkins are sold at this time of year.  I’ll post a couple more tomorrow.

 

Halloween In Sketches – Day Two

Yesterday I started celebrating Halloween by posting sketches I’ve done during past Halloween seasons, you remember….before COVID.  Here are a couple more.  This one I remember well because I “knew” that someone was going to get upset with me standing, almost in the street, sketching their front door.  This was done in 2013.

This one was done in 2015.  It’s of a display they put up in front of city hall.  And yes, the manikin looks that stiff (grin).  More tomorrow.

 

Halloween In Sketches

Every year, during this last week in October, the sketching community posts a flood of great sketches of pumpkins, witches and ghouls of all sorts.  It’s not happening this year because we’re all sitting inside, looking out on a world that has cancelled Halloween.

But you know, we all say that our sketching provides memories, that we’re documenting our world, and we HAVE done exactly that for many Halloweens in the past.  Soo…what I’m going to do is post a couple of my old Halloween/Thanksgiving sketches each day until Halloween.  Thanksgiving in Canada is in the same month as Halloween so pumpkin displays sort of merge together.  That’s why I’m going to include some of those sketches.

To start things off I’ve gone way back.  These are the first pumpkin sketches I ever did.  The first one was done on a very rainy, cold day and I remember sitting under the eave of our farmer’s market as I sketched it.  Mostly I remember the cold.

We always claim that each sketch we do conjours up personal memories of the day we did it.  I’m afraid this one does not.  I have no idea and I suspect that’s because I set up the still life in our kitchen or some such.  Note the dates here…October 2012

More tomorrow.  I encourage others to do the same.  Let’s not let these holidays pass uncelebrated just because of a pesky little virus.

Drawing Leaves In The Park

I had fun at the park this week.  I sat down to enjoy the fresh air and all the greenery and noted that in spite of the end of September date, our leaves have ignored the day length changes and had not started to change colors yet.  It has, indeed, been an odd weather year.  It was 25C as I sat in the sunshine.

But I noticed a couple red leaves on the ground.  There must have been blown there because I couldn’t see where it came from.  It gave me a leaf to draw so I put it on the bench next to me and quickly sketched and painted it.  This motivated me to look for more and while I did find a couple more red leaves on the ground, what caught my eye was a tiny little maple tree, sticking out of a garden area.  I decided to sketch a few of its leaves and add a splash of red to them as well.  If I were a real nature journalist I’d write stuff on this spread.  I guess I am not a nature journalist (grin).

I’m becoming quite fond of the Hahnemuhle Cappuccino sketchbook.  It’s definitely not a watercolor sketchbook but it’s a dream to draw on with pen and as long as I don’t get carried away with the water, adding watercolor works pretty well.  I suspect I’ll buy another when this one is full.

lHahnemuehle Cappuccino sketchbook, Platinum 3776, DeAtramentis Document Black

Walking On New Ground

COVID isolation has resulted in my covering new artistic ground as a substitute for daily urban sketching jaunts in old Quebec and elsewhere.  But here in Quebec City things have relaxed a bit as Canada has gotten things under better control.  We’re all shopping in our masks but we can move almost freely outdoors.

A couple weeks ago the Artistes dans les parcs group was supposed to have an event at a small park not too far from where I live.  The plan was to paint the old alley ways in that neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the event was rained out.

The next week I decided to walk there just to see the area as I’d never sketched there before.  As I walked the street I looked down one of the alleys and saw a scene that grabbed me.  It wasn’t the subject (an old garage structure surrounded by trees, but light/shadow situation.   The trees on the left side of the alley were nearly black from being in shadow while the garage and the trees on the right of it were brightly lit.

I decided to try to paint it in gouache, a medium I’m trying to figure out. Frankly, I was in a bit over my head.  I’m still working on Shari Blaukopf’s light and shadow course and trying to get my head around painting light rather than stuff.  To do it with gouache was, well, intimidating.  But in the end the exercise was extremely informative and fun.

In hindsight the sketch would have benefited from my “moving in”, making the garage a larger piece of the puzzle.  I started with a minimal pencil sketch and then tried to do washes to mark out the various values.  I think this was a mistake, but only because I was in watercolor mode, which to me means I was working light to dark.  I’m sure that an experienced painter wouldn’t have a problem but quickly I realized that I would have been better off laying in the darks first.  I had a hard time adjusting lights and darks to fit the scene.  I found myself longing for some Alizarin because my Pyrrol Red just couldn’t take my cobalt/yellow green dark enough to match the light grays I’d used to represent the whites of the scene.  Looking back, I realize that my REAL problem was that I was ignoring my tube of ivory black gouache, which would have solved the problem quickly.  I just don’t think about black as being part of the arsenal.  Pretty dumb when using an opaque medium.

As I said, I had a lot of fun.  One little epiphany I had during this effort was about my artist brain.  When I’m working with ink and wash, I think about proportions and relative locations of things, but most of the rest (perspective, edges, etc) is handled automagically by my subconscious.  It’s that ‘in the zone’ thing we talk about.  I realized that while doing this painting, I was getting no help from my lizard brain.  I was having to think about everything and it was HARD!

I remember that feeling from years ago when I was faced with trying to learn to draw.  How could I think about all that stuff at once?  Truth is, you can’t.  It’s impossible.  You simply have to do it enough that some of it becomes automated to the point where all you have to do is think about how big to make stuff and where to put it.