Thursday, July 19, 2018

The art of taking it easy.

Pencil and watercolor on Handbook Watercolor journal 8" x 8"
It is satisfying to see how people have the capacity to discern the time to remain calm during the happenings of political turmoil.  At this gathering, there were no conversations over political matters during a time that is suppose to be recreational and to give us a break from the media's bombing. We'll have our say eventually by voting during elections and make it count when it matters. Meanwhile we should relax and enjoy life as much and long as we can.

Pencil and watercolor on Handbook Watercolor journal 8" x 8"

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hair salon.

Pencil and Coliro Watercolor on Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book A5
Hair salons are one of those places where waiting is inevitable, therefore we found ourselves with precious time in our hands for us sketchers putting to good use. The details and textures of surfaces in this place have been always ignored by me the many times I've been here. I'll take you through some of the things I noticed: the width of the mirror's frame is uneven, like taken out of a Dali's painting or a Tim Burton's film, the leopard print of the window valances, the retro pattern of fabric in the barber's chair, also unnoticed until today. The quiet awareness of these things may look irrelevant, yet it makes me feel somehow good about myself for noticing things others may not. Perhaps sketching is also a mental exercise to practice consciousness which can also be extended to other aspects of life. Being quiet and observe, draw and reflect. It feels good.

Friday, July 6, 2018


Pencil, watercolor on Winsor & Newton cold press watercolor paper 8"x 6"
Oh the color of these peaches are sooo beautifully intense, that I had to choose the paint suitable for this task. Daniel Smith watercolor paint was a perfect match. I used Carbazole Violet for the shadow. I normally mix French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson to get purple but having this new color in my palette makes it easier, saves time and the color is gorgeous!  

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Slimmer sketchbooks

These are  five watercolor sketchbooks I finished today. The 22" x 30" watercolor paper sheets I had stored for years never came out to light. They were always reserved for bigger paintings which over time, I found out it was not something I do, so a downsize project had to happen eventually. It was until I read recently a referral from Shari Blaukopf about a Brenda Swenson's post, the making of sketchbooks that got me on board. I had Arches 300 lb cold press sheets and Fabriano Artistico 140 lb cold press sheets.

This time I made sketchbooks with less pages, 10 and 12. The reason for this is that although I want to take these sketchbooks out to sketch/draw/paint on location, I don't want to do it often. I would like to prevent damage and to keep the beautiful scrapbook paper used for the covers in good shape. It is a delight, after all, to grab a sketchbook that is beautiful outside as it is inside. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A French stamp in Chicago

Pen, ink and watercolor on 8"x 8" HandBook Watercolor Journal
It was while I waited for a bus near LaSalle train station that I discovered this mural painted by French street artists Ella & Pitr in 2016 by the initiative of the Columbia College Chicago. I was amused by the simplicity of this figure and the impact it had on me, the great usage of an empty  brick wall and what I think is a beautiful painting. Mural paintings, as public expression of art for all of us to see, are particularly tricky, specially when you don't like them, but I happen to like this one so I drew the scene from a photo I took one evening on my way back to home. Sketching at home is something I enjoy doing on a rainy day. If you want know more about this mural click here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Countour drawing

Pencil and watercolor on 8.5" x 11" Pro Art Sketchbook

How fast can you actually draw a person? How loose? I can’t do any of them. That’s why I grabbed a pencil and did some contour figure drawing while watching TV. I didn’t pause the tv, it is kind of how it is in reality, people move. I mean, just a page practice is not going to make me better instantly, but it’s better than not doing it right? I started from the top left of the page to right to bottom. The first figures were stiff. It was until the last drawings, after some warm up that I started to liked them. Next time I should go out and practicing with real people. It will be fun as long I don’t get  caught.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Finishing the unfinished

Pen&Ink, watercolor on 8'x16" Arches cold press.
This is a piece I just finished today. I started it on location almost 2 weeks ago but the weather of Chicago defeated me this time. This is what I did on location. A placement of big pencil shapes on paper.

Back at home, the beginning of the painting process looked like this. It looked promising.
I used a couple of photographs that complemented each other. One was cloudy and dark with a full view and the other one was bright and sunny but partial view. It was quite frustrating not to have the view in front of me. I got caught up in confusion when referring to the photographs. Therefore I had a hard time defining values. I even had to add pure bright yellow wash to the top of trees in a desperate attempt to recover the lights I lost, the wash was so concentrated in pigment that it looked like gouache paint! In my experience adding detail can salvage a piece but this didn't work here so I stopped trying to fix it. Be the judge yourself.

Morning light, made in the studio with too many colors

Afternoon light, made on location with limited palette
To think that subtle changes make a big difference. This example is a great reminder. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

At the dentist's

Pen&Ink, watercolor on A5 Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book
-Whose that child?  The owner dentist at his office asked out loud, before he realized it was me sketching on the floor.  He thought I was a kid, LOL. 

I thought of the Norberto Dorantes' workshop I took last year, Extreme Angles, as I sketched that sneaker sole shoe, was it close enough to consider it extreme? 

S. is our regular dental hygienist, we adore her. She's kind, professional and very good at what she does. This is a little tribute to that office and its staff. We are always very happy with their service.

Monday, June 4, 2018

My two cents to the three days of Urban Sketchers Chicago Sketching Seminar 2018

Pencil, color pencil and watercolor on 5.5" x 3.5" Moleskine sketchbook
Well, it's been a long but fun and satisfying weekend. The Urban Sketchers met again in Chicago at the Palette and Chisel Art Academy, they allowed us to use their facilities to host this event. I volunteered as an instructor for the workshop How to Sketch Landscape City Spaces Using Big Shapes.

Days and hours before the opening of this event on Friday Jun 1st, I headed to the location I chose for this workshop to check it out. I looked for some views to make demos.

This view was the first contender and the thumbnail I did.

Pencil and Color Pencil, 3.5" x 5.5"

This view was the second one.

Pencil and Color Pencil, 3.5" x 5.5"
The following are images of demonstrations done during the workshop, about how to divide the view in big shapes, how to measure them fast and how to place the shapes in the paper. It pays off the few minutes it takes to invest in doing this, then the joy of inking and watercolor it follows.

Later, some watercolor demonstrations were done to explain how lines can be defined as boundaries between light and dark areas and how contrast can create more interest to the viewer. 

Sponsored Daniel Smith Watercolor Paint  and Canson Paper were used in this demo.  

It was a true pleasure to get to know more people this year and see familiar faces again. It's always interesting and fun to answers questions and have conversations about the subjects that we have in common in this community. Here it is the group photos of sketchers who attended this workshop and the sketches they did.

Here's a free download handout you can print. Print in both sides of the paper and then fold. 

It will look like this:

On the other hand, I had a chance to sketch here and there. I used my mini mini 3.5" x 5.5" watercolor sketchbook, a very convenient size. A couple of sketches were done during the welcoming sketchcrawl. 
Palette and Chisel Art Academy, pencil, color pencil and watercolor
 Biggs Mansion, pen&ink and watercolor
I had the chance to attend briefly a couple of workshops.  One of them was Sketch Now Think Later with Mike Daikubara. I sketch him in action and part of his spectacular high tech teaching set up.
Pen&ink and watercolor
Then I ran to catch Wes Douglas' workshop Sketching Vehicles the Urban Sketching's Way. I learned a method that it will ease my life, thanks so much Wes! I did practice it right away!
Pen&ink and watercolor.
A few photos of truly yours.
Photo by Xana Jazmin

Photo by Brian Wright

Photo by Marta Sitek

With Marc Taro Holmes
After dinner there was a raffle of many wraps with goodies from sponsors, and books of our top instructors signed by them.

And here it is the whole gang. We all had fun and are thankful to the organizers and volunteers for their hard work, to instructors and participants and also to the generous sponsors.
Photo by a photographer hired by Urban Sketcher Adm.
Happy Sketching!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A small conversation.

Pencil and watercolor on A5 Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book
-What are you doing here?
-Aren't you hot?
-Thank you.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

USk Chicago monthly meet up

Pen, ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle Watercolor book.
Once more, like every month, the Urban Sketchers of Chicago met. A lot of people showed up despite the rain and the cold. Yeap, that’s Chicago’s weather, yesterday was beautiful and today not so. I was late, I found a table with a view indoors. Nobody was outside when I started, which made my sketch easier to do. Later the rain gave up and people started to walk outside. I caught a young man challenging the weather wearing his hood. The water seemed mint green, I tried to get that. The clouds covering the top of buildings were mystical to me. A gloomy day today, but it was nice to keep in touch with the Chicago gang, I missed them.

Photo by Alex Zonis