Sunday, September 19, 2021

Houses in Foggy Bottom


Pitt oil base pencil, graphite and watercolor on HP watercolor paper 10 in x 7 in

Foggy Bottom is a neighborhood in Washington DC, it’s one of the oldest settlements in the city. Houses are made of brick and I observed many of them are painted in beautiful colors, making the neighborhood nice. It’s within walking distance of the National Mall and perfect for first timers visiting this city. After several days visiting the city, we took a day off and did nothing but to rest and give the body a break. I couldn’t resist the temptation to go out down the street and sketch some houses in this neighborhood. I did the work line there and took a shot of the beautiful shadows and watercolored it back at home. This area is packed with young people from the George Washington University. Electric scooters are quite popular among tourists, many joggers and people with dogs made the streets here full of live, although it’s very quiet, this is not an area for night life people. The vibe in this area is safe, vibrant but serene also. We enjoyed our stay time here.

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Castle, a garden and Hokusai


Pen&ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle watercolor sketchbook

This building known as the Castle is in one of my previous sketches, at the distance. It’s the Smithsonian Castle Information Center. We went there to see it up close and ended up in the back garden, Enid A. Haupt Garden, which is a small but wonderful garden with lots of species of plants and serene corners to rest from the sun, crowds and the heat, we had again 90°F (32°C). I chose a table in this quiet heaven and sketch part of the garden and part of the castle, in the shade of course. I had a wonderful experience there, despite the heat, a rest well deserved.

From the garden, just a minute walk away, we enjoyed the last two hours of the Freer Gallery of Art, The National Museum of Asian Art. It’s a small museum, I really enjoyed the exhibition “Hokusai: Mad about painting”, Katshusika Hokusai is a Japanese artist who created Great Wave (one of the original prints is in the Art Institute of Chicago). This museum is home of  the largest collection of Hokusai paintings, sketches and drawings. And it’s free! Here’s an image you might find familiar.

Braking Waves.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Washington Monument

Pen&ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle watercolor sketchbook

We needed timed passes to get in the Washington monument.  The hill in which it is located is very exposed and usually very windy. It was 90°F (32°C) and the flags around were still…so still. Finally after waiting our turn to enter, the elevator shot us up 500 ft all the way to the top. Views are so cool, I thought about making at least one sketch but the scenes were too complex and the space was tight, so instead I’ll share a sketch I did of the obelisk, a view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I liked the reflection in the reflecting pool. 

The exhibit at the lower level, still high at 490 ft, was very interested. There’s a quote of George Washington that shows the wisdom and the character of the Father Founder.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Lincoln Memorial

Pen&ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle Watercolor sketchbook
Lincoln Memorial is a popular site in the National Monuments. Walking is so enjoyable, the vibe in Washington DC is relaxed and respectful. Once inside the memorial, I chose a corner where I wouldn’t bother anyone but a ranger spotted me, she has never seen a folding stool like the one I was setting up, she just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a tripod, since it’s not allowed. I was afraid I wouldn’t get Lincoln’s face to look like him, so I took extra caution and sketched it in pencil first to get the proportions right, then I used pen&ink making corrections as I was doing the pen lines. I think this method worked very well. People approached to me at this site for obvious reasons, someone sketching instead of taking photos. I specially enjoyed the kids, the little ones are not shy, no joke, the can held an conversation for a while! It was fun. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery


Pen&ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle sketchbook

Both museums share the same building. I went there exclusively to see the portraits of the American presidents. To think that presidents picked the artist to paint their portrait and to think that the artist had the president right in front of them, it’s fascinating to me. It’s the closest I would feel to be near a president, even over time. The choice of poses, the background, the suit or clothing, the painting style, the media, the colors. The artist had a tremendous load in the shoulders (I think) to portray the essence, spirit and personality of the individual. Fantastic. I made some observations that found interesting. Washington and Lincoln had premium locations and the paintings were very big. Nixon had one of the smallest portraits. The last president was the only one without a painting, just a photograph. 

The central courtyard was my chance to sketch the place, the tables and chairs made it an easy decision, pardon me my fellow sketchers for not providing whether or not sketching was allowed indoors, I didn’t asked, but I will show next my favorite painting of a historical figure who I admire deeply, it’s not a president, but she should have been one, Eleanor Roosevelt.


Monday, September 13, 2021

National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Pen&ink and watercolor in A5 Hahnemüle 

This is our first time visiting Washington DC, we expect to visit some of the Smithsonian museums, the National Monuments and Georgetown area. It’s Friday evening, upon arrival, outside the Train Union Station, the city was very quiet, strange for a city. The cab driver, from Ethiopia told us all government offices are closed now, we are surrounded by government buildings. We stayed in the Foggy Bottom area, best for first timers in Washington DC. The District is a very walkable city, so we did walked to our first visit next day to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In our walk there I liked this view and I sketched it. 

This museum is relatively new. Timed passes are require for visitors at this time, still free. We spent 5 hours there. The museum is very well set up, history of slavery, wars, reconstruction, segregation, fight for rights, racism, art, music and sports. 

There are some outfits of celebrities that show their real size. Diana Ross, my goodness was she slim, Oprah is not as big as she looks on tv and Micheal Jackson shirt and coat, although pop, it’s actually haute couture! We were glad we visited, very tired but happy.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Cardinal, Amtrak train 50 from Chicago to Washington DC

Pen&ink and watercolor on HP paper 11 in x 7 in

We booked a bedroom for the extra space, still tight, we had an enjoyable trip on board the Amtrak train 50, the Cardinal, a 25 hour ride from Chicago Union Station to Washington DC Union Station. One of the best scenic routes in the East of the United States, a train can take you to untouched remote areas to be seen the way it was meant to be. This is our first sleepover on a train ever and our first trip together after a year and a half. We boarded the train in the early evening. The scenery promised to be beautiful next day and did disappoint. The Appalachian Mountains are an exceptionally beautiful area, the Greenbrier River, the falls, the boulder rocks, the bridges, tunnels and valleys. If this time in September was gorgeous, the fall colors of October must be spectacular.

I didn’t measure the longest tunnel we went through but I count the seconds, the longest was 100 seconds. The night was rocky, I slept only a few hours but my husband didn’t have such problem. So much food I had to skip one meal. I was afraid  the food wouldn’t be good, according to reviews but I happened to like most of it. So I had a full day to sketch what I was observing, I did little sketches in one page to remember this ride. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Classic car show in Joliet, IL


Pen&ink and watercolor on pocket size Stillman&Birn Beta 

I’ve ran into classic cars shows in the streets of several towns multiple times. I don’t follow nor I know their scheduled shows, it’s just coincidence. Last August I drove by a handful of classic cars in the parking lot of a fast food business located in Joliet, IL. Because I had an hour to spare, I came back to sketch a couple of these cars. Owners usually take their camping chairs and stick around to have a good time among themselves, they are also willing to answer questions by anyone who is curious or interested in the subject. By the time I was done, I realized there were around a hundred of them, perhaps more! Most of them are in pristine condition as a result of the care these owners invest in their cars. They truly show their love for their cars, no wonder they exhibit them, they must be very proud.

Friday, September 3, 2021

White Nights Watercolor Chart and New Brass Palette.

The wait is over. I got my brass palette from La Petite Palette after 8 ½ months wait. What a beauty, so we’ll done. The palette has a weight which I love, the brass mechanism hold the pans tight so won’t move around which otherwise can be soooo annoying, it won’t rust, I can interchanged the pans, the water washes won’t leak, it has enough mixing area, it’s just perfect.

FYI this palette is specific for White Nights pans, it won’t fit standard whole size pans. 

Colors for this watercolor chart:

Group Yellow: 203 Cadmium Lemon, 201  Cadmium Yellow Medium, 218 Yellow Ochre.

Group Red: 302 Cadmium Red Light, 324 Quinacridone Rose.

Groups Blue: 503 Cerulean Blue, 511 Ultramarine, 513 Phthalo Blue.

Group Green: 716 SAP, 713 Emerald

Group Earth: 405 Raw Sienna, 406 Burnt Sienna, 418 Raw Umber, 408 Burnt Umber.

805 Neutral Black.

First thing I did was to make a watercolor chart to get to understand this brand. Right away I realized this paint is easy to wet and pick up. I did a quick test with pencil HB for transparency and staining properties, which are important to me, I noticed the black is the most staining one, follow by phthalo blue and emerald which was expected.

The paints are creamy and most of them with high concentration of pigment. Here are some observations.

For Group Mixing:

Yellows are on the weak side for pigment concentration.

Blues and Reds made decent purples.

Blue and Earth make beautiful blue grays.

Greens and Earth make fabulous muted greens.

For specific paint color:

Cadmium Light Red and Q. Rose makes a decent Deep Red (which I don’t have in this palette). 

Quinacridone Rose makes beautiful purples and reddish earth tones.

Cerulean is very gummy vs other brands.

This is just the begging, more to experiment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

People at the airport in San Luis Potosí city.

Pen&ink and watercolor on Moleskine Sketchbook 5 ½ in x 3 ½ in.

 Mask and face shields ever present at the airport in Mexico. On my way back to home, I had a cup of coffee at 6:00 am. I was not hungry, instead of eating I sketched people seated in the coffee shop. Everywhere I went in Mexico, people was wearing masks, everywhere I went they checked my temperature and hand sanitizer was suggested, other were mandatory. To be fair, the two bottom men at the sketch were eating so their mask were down. Is Covid here to stay? Time will tell.

Friday, August 20, 2021

A new colony in Tangamanga Park

Pen&ink and watercolor in Moleskine sketchbook 5 ½ in x 3 ½ in
 It rained plenty this summer in San Luis Potosí city. This part of the dam in Tangamanga Park was always  dry, it doesn’t rain often here you see, but the rain this year fill up every corner of the dam. The reflection of the palm trees on the water  made me repeat this scene I did years ago. But what was new was the big population of squirrels which’s nests were under the concrete slabs holding the water. Since when this animals have been here? Now they live in harmony with the ever present ducks.