Archive for the 'Field' Category
On Monday, Jan. 21st, MLK day, it was rainy and cold. I didn’t have anything planned for this day. No coffee dates, no lunches, no meetings. And I was trying to fill my time in San Francisco, doing creatively inspiring things. Sketching, meeting sketchers, looking at art, meeting people in Bay Area animation. I needed to find something to do to keep the juices flowing. This would’ve been a good day to go to the Cartoon Art Museum. I wanted to see the Mary Blair exhibit they had showing there. Alas, the Cartoon Art Museum is closed on Mondays. In fact, it seemed most museums are/were closed on Mondays. So I just decided to get out to the café and huddle over a glorious coffee and my sketchbook. Ritual Coffee was calling my name. I drove out to the spot at 1026 Valencia. It was crowded. I shared a table with someone. My latté arrived and it was indeed glorious, with its lovely “Rosetta” made of coffee crema and foam. I pulled out my drawing materials and I decided to play with inks today. No smudged or smeared graphite, no losing of the line when I go in with watercolor, no erasing. I used a #0 Rapidograph technical pen and Kuretake brush pen and I stuck with smooth, plate-finish papers that the ink would glide onto nicely. First, in a Moleskine Sketchbook and then on a pad of smooth Bristol. Both surfaces are a joy to ink on and the Bristol takes watercolor okay. I also dedicated myself to drawing people on this day. Really, that’s about all there was to draw in this place, anyway. Lots and lots of people in various sizes, shapes, and fashions. This was a really great place to observe and sketch.
The day after Sketchcrawl 17, I met with Martha of Trumpetvine Travels for a mini-crawl of sorts. We met up in North Berkeley, an area that Martha knows well and one I was interested in getting to know a little better. Even though I grew up in the city of San Francisco, I didn’t venture outside of it very often, and so it’s only in more recent years that I’ve gotten much of a feel at all for areas like the East Bay. There’s still plenty more in the Bay Area that I haven’t explored, but my brother lived in Berkeley for a while and my visits there helped me begin to get a sense for it. I like the slightly warmer weather (vs. the city of SF), the spacious laid-back feel, and the craftsman-style homes.
Martha introduced me to the area of North Berkeley known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” — primarily a one-block stretch of Shattuck Avenue lined with several restaurants, a.k.a. “Foodie” establishments, the star of which is Chez Panisse. Apparently, you have to book about a month in advance to dine there, so we went to the Tapas bar one door down called César. We spent about an hour chatting and sipping Cava (Martha knows how to start lunch right!) and munching on beet salad and little salmon sandwiches. Everything was quite good, but the little dish of olives they brought out shortly after we sat down was quite possibly the most delicious part.
At some point, and after ordering a couple cappuccinos, we figured we’d better get to sketching. I took a somewhat slower pace than at Sketchcrawl (it helped that I was mellowed by sparkling wine and good food and wasn’t freezing) and just completed this one sketch looking toward the bar:
The sketch was done in my “Frankenskine” sketchbook, pictured here:
…a Moleskine daily planner which I gutted and converted into a Watercolor sketchbook. The construction of this book was developed by Martha. She’s filled many of these modified Moleskines with her beautiful sketches. Detailed instructions and samples of her sketches are available on her blog. Here’s my account of the project.
Update: Martha has posted her sketches from our lunch over at Trumpetvine. Be sure to take a look! I love the way she uses negative space in her sketches and simply leaves things out. I have a hell of a time doing that (in case you can’t tell from my sketch, above). Her approach can lead to some interesting results. Organic sorts of compositions and non-rectangular framings. They’re not overladen with detail, and so they are very relaxing to look at and leave a bit to our imaginations. In that way, they can help transport us to the scene being depicted all the more, because life is like that. We tend to look at just one thing at a time, and often in an impressionistic way, feeling it, rather than looking at the minute detail, and objects in the periphery are frequently either vague or almost non-existent in our experience/memory. Also, another effect of her use of white space is the quality of light. Take a look at the second sketch in her post and you get the sense there’s bright light shining through the windows.
Also, more sketches to come from my visit to San Francisco…
I spent the most recent Sketchcrawl (#17) in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It was one of those tricky days in SF. The sun was out and shining brightly, but everything was cold everywhere. If the sun’s rays hit you directly, you could get a little toasty, but as soon as you were in the shade… brrrrrrrr! I sketched as fast as I could, trying to keep my hands warm. The plus side, I suppose, is that it was not raining.
So here are my sketches from the crawl.
The gamers/gamblers were a popular subject:
One of my favorites from the day is the one on the left here with the lanterns:
I really slapped this one onto the page fast. Not too happy with the colors, but I do like the way it looks in grayscale!
And of course, Chinatown would not be complete without Peking Duck.
The crawl was great. There were about 65 sketchcrawlers there, in all. I finally got to meet a few people whose blogs I’ve been following for a while. Namely, Pixar artists Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie del Carmen, and Martha of Trumpetvine Travels. There were new people as well, and lots of great sketches from everyone. Many different tools, techniques, and styles, and lots of inspiration.
Visit the forum to see work from others at this sketchcrawl and crawls all over the world.
I took my car in to be serviced this afternoon and it took several hours before it was done. They had a shuttle service that could take me within a five-mile radius of their location downtown, so I had them drop me off at Alvarado and Sunset in Echo Park, Los Angeles. There I spent the afternoon with a bagel and lox, a lemonade, and later on, an iced coffee. I sat first at one of the tables on the sidewalk and sketched the view:
Then later, at a table inside, I did this one:
About a year and a half ago, I did some sketching in this same location.
I saw this guy on Pico Blvd the other day. I don’t know if he realized his shirt was on backward. He was carrying a big ring of keys and seemed a little lost. I hope he found his way home.
Wow that last post was pretty wordy, but the bottom line is, I thought I’d put one kind of watercolor paper in my Moleskine mod, but it was another. Still hot press, and still Fabriano Artistico, but bright white instead of off-white and 50% heavier. Good news is it still managed to fit in the book and it works fine.
On to the subject of watercolors. I have two Windsor & Newton sets. I bought the smaller one first, but then I bought the larger one so I wouldn’t have to mix colors as often.
The smaller one didn’t have any browns, grey, or black, and so I found myself mixing those pretty often [edit: it has two browns!]. The larger one has a good number of colors which still can be mixed if I choose, lending itself to an even broader spectrum and allowing me to work a tiny bit faster. It also has a good amount of palette space, which is nice. But when I took this to Sketchcrawl 15 on Aug. 25th, it was a little cumbersome. It didn’t fit in a pocket, and so I had to bring a bag, and it just made it a little more difficult to watercolor on the go. It was easier sitting, but standing proved more of a challenge. Picture this:
So when I went out to Santa Monica about a week ago, I took the smaller set with me and it was much easier to use standing up. Much much easier! See here:
And another plus is everything fit in my pockets! I was wearing cargo shorts, which helped some. If I were a lady or man-bag-guy, I could put it in my purse, but on that day I was cargo-shorts-guy. I also found that since I’ve been using watercolors more readily, I’ve gotten a tiny bit better at mixing colors, and so I didn’t mind mixing my browns, greys, and blacks. In fact, I felt those tones turned out a bit more interesting. A little richer maybe and infused with a little more color, so they could be warm or cool, depending.
So. Conclusion? I’m really happy with this combination of supplies for sketching out in the field. It’s my sketch-kit on-the-go.
(Shown here are my modified Moleskine Daily Planner turned Watercolor Sketchbook, Windsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box watercolor set, 0.9mm Pentel Twist-Erase mechanical pencil, and small Pentel Japan Waterbrush Pen.)
(The only things that would complete this picture are a few paper towels and my Kuretake Brush Pen)
I’ll still use my larger set at home and as I continue to be more familiar with colors, I may end up swapping out some of the pans in my small set for ones I like better. The small palette space may still be a bit limiting, but that can be remedied somewhat with the wipe of a damp paper towel and… practice.
Jamie and I went to Santa Monica on Saturday and while she got her hair done, I did some sketching. This one was from the fifth floor of a parking garage on 2nd street, looking out toward the Georgian Hotel and the Pacific Ocean. Later that day, Jamie and I were walking among these very palm trees, along the brilliantly green grassy strip of park situated at the bluffs.