Monday, November 4, 2019

Little House on the Prairie

Pen&Ink and watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press 22" x 7"
I've been watching a TV series I saw when young in Mexico, Little House on the Prairie. It's a series I'm enjoying again, it's like a break from all those today TV shows that overload your senses with crime, violence, a thousand frames per minute, loud. On the contrary I enjoy a slow pace, a show that speaks of values like friendship, love, honesty, dignity, sacrifice, helping others, even sensitive subjects like religion and racism.
My favorite character are the always learning lessons Laura Ingalls and Harriet Oleson. Of course after watching seven seasons out of nine, the set becomes very familiar so I draw them on my sketchbook. 
A lot of detail going on this piece. I used for the first time a tool called fluid writer. 

It's a tool useful to make constant lines using ink or any color you can create with watercolor, a much needed versatile tool very easy to use.  It worked great for the lines of the house sidings. I used yellows for the school and Nellie's Restaurant and purple for the Oleson's Mercantile. I'm happy with the results. Every time I look at it, it will remind me of the happy old days.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Joliet Regional Airport

Pen&Ink and Watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua HP 11" x 7"
This is the Joliet Regional Airport. The symmetry of this building may not be very appealing to sketch but I was determined to make the very old side facade interesting. All these subtle differences in the same size monotonous windows were a treat to sketch.
Three planes took off while I was there (the runways are behind the building), the all appeared suddenly on top of the right side of the building. I wanted to take a photo of an airplane to add it later to the sketch but by the time I was ready to snap a shot it was gone. By the third plane I just decided to observe and memorize shapes, proportions and perspective, all of that in just few seconds! It looked like a Cessna. Also, a helicopter landed on the right side of the close! I could see only the tail and a blade, so I skipped it. 
Snow is in the forecast. I don't remember when was the last time I sketched snow, like never?! I hope I can continue to sketch from the comfort of my car, warm and lost in time.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Donuts, anytime.

Pen&Ink and watercolor on Legion Stonehenge Aqua HP 140 10"x 7"
Homecuts Donuts is a bakery located in Joliet. It is quite popular in the area and they are the best in Will County.  It's true. We sat indoors to enjoy donuts and coffee this evening, the amount of people who come is constant, boxes of donuts fly out the store (and the shelves are constantly restocked). They are open 24/7, all year. At midnight, it's police men who come for coffee. Yes, we have been here at midnight. Haven't you ever had the urge to savor a flavor you know even in the middle of the night? 

They have been featured on tv, and they have been here for so many years. No doubt they will be open for many years more. Cheers to that!  I sketched a toasted coconut donut after I had one first! I wrote the flavors available that I could read from my seat in my sketchbook. It’s the second time I sketch here. I sketched the exterior back in 2016. Wonderful place.

I used the Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press paper  in my handmade sketchbook. The pen glides beautifully on the smooth paper, the ink dries fast and it doesn't bleed. I applied watercolor paint and this time, the drying time was average like any other watercolor paper 100% cotton, I didn't notice a significant difference. I didn't use heavy washes, for me it's not practical on location. The watercolor paint remains bright, even though this paper is natural white. I'm very happy with my choice of paper for this sketchbook. It's affordable and performs very well for my style, lines and details. I still have to try the Lanaquarelle HP  which I have never used, and remember how Arches HP performs, it's been a while. It's an idea for another post.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

First impressions on Legion Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press Paper.

Pencil and watercolor on Legion Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press 140 lb 7" x 7"
I've been playing around with limited colors palette. For this sketch I used Yellow Ochre, Winsor Red and Cobalt Turquoise Light, all Winsor&Newton. Not an effort I made on putting this triad together really, I just liked it. This  sketch was the very first page of a third sketchbook I made entirely with Legion Stonehenge Hot Press Watercolor paper (if you want to see what other paper I used for the first two sketchbooks click here). I couldn't wait to use this sketchbook. I painted something cute to overcome the fear of the first blank page, a birdhouse and a family of three birds. It's like a nice presentation or a nice welcoming when you open the book.
I love the smoothness of the paper. The watercolor paint works nicely.  The granulation effect is to show off on hot press paper, it's just gorgeous. I found out this paper takes a long time to dry. While glazing, some sort of granulation forms, it's like you over rubbed the paper, not sure, it's not the paint. But once dry, the paper returns to its original smoothness, the granulation vanishes while you see the paint dries! I used very wet washes for the first glazes so it buckled lightly, it is easily manageable though, since the paint is not absorbed right away. After the paper dried I noticed the paper goes back to fairly flat! And didn't see distinctive divisions between the areas that were wet and the ones that never touched the water. This is a great feature, specially for a journal. 

I liked this paper to work in studio. I still have to try this on the go. l'll come back to you with another post about this. I'd like to see how the paper works with ink and lighter washes on location. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

It's a sin.

Pen&Ink and watercolor on Pentalic Watercolor Journal 7" x 10"
When I came to live to the United States, I learned cultural differences are important to catch on and one does better do it rapidly. Did you know that it is almost a sin to put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago? Rather fresh tomato is the way to go. You can put almost anything on a hot dog, I have to say here they are very creative gastronomically, just look at the menu sign, and that is just to begin with. The cultural heritage and influence of immigrants from so many countries makes this country so unique, it is what makes this country known for world wide. Did you know what is missing here? My mom's style hot dog, picture this: a bun lightly toasted with butter and mayo, a steamy hot dog topped with mustard, ketchup (yeah, we do that), bacon, fresh diced tomato and onion and pickled jalapeno pepper. Boom! Now the menu is complete! 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sketching the weather?

Direct watercolor on Pentalic Watercolor Journal 7" x 10"
Perhaps yesterday was a great day to practice direct watercolor. The weather didn't help the paint to dry fast but this work out well for this sketch. I did something I haven't done for a while, which is let the paint blend and mix on the paper. It reminds me that what we put on paper is not only what we see in front of us but the weather is a great influence on how the sketch turns out. Sketching the weather? It seems impossible, but it is a reality. Oh I love this medium.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Indian Summer

Pen&Ink and watercolor on Moleskine Watercolor Album 5.5" x 3.5"
A view from the restaurant we had lunch in yesterday. I used a water brush but it is becoming my least favorite tool, it is indeed a very convenient portable art tool but most of time I'm not happy with the washes, they are patchy. I still think I would use the water brush but only for the convenience.

A hint of fall colors shows at the top on trees. It was a nice and warm, and probably the last warm day of the year, it is what we call here Indian Summer. It's time to collect summer outdoor stuff and store them. In a few days or weeks more, we'll have spectacular fall colors out there which I look forward to see, I never get tired. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Who knew?

Pen&Ink, watercolor and color pencil on Pentalic watercolor sketchbook 7" x 10"

My friend and I went to Ottawa, IL last weekend. We were in search of new places we have not visited before where to have lunch. My friend found a restaurant at Heritage Harbor. We were in awe when we arrived. The marina resort community looked like any coastal town in the state of Maine (although I never been there ha!). The colorful cottages near the marina with access to the Illinois River makes the place very attractive. Vacation rentals are also available. This project started 8 years ago with still plans to expand. It was a pleasant surprise. I would never guess something this beautiful was this close to Chicago until I saw it! There, now I know, if you didn't either, now you know too. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Handmade hardbound sketchbooks.

I'm sooo happy with my newest creations. I finally learned how to hand bookbinding properly. I made this sketchbooks with watercolor paper of different makers. For so long I've heard so many reviews of papers that for me it is hard to remember the features of each paper, there are so many! So I decided to invest in a project to test them myself. 

I don't like having tested paper in lose sheets of paper, so a book seemed like a good idea to keep them all together and also I can practice my bookbinding, a recently learn skill. I will test the paper as I make sketches the way I do sketch, I think that would work well. 
36 sheets, 72 pages  Cold Press 140 lb 7.5" x 7.25"

The first sketchbook I made is a combo of seven makers of watercolor paper, all cold press 140 lb. I bought a sample package of half sheets. The challenge was to square the paper and to find the dimensions that would use most paper. I had to consider the grain of the paper, they were all different! I ended up doing a 7 x 7 (nominal), a very convenient size that fits in my purse and I think I will be very comfortable with.
 24 sheets, 48 pages Hot Press 140 lb 11" x 7.5"

The other one is made with three hot press watercolor paper makers, 140 lb. It's been a while since I used hot press paper. I used it in studio years ago but never on location, so although I've use it before, using it on location will be new experience. I also included some non-watercolor paper in order to write, like a journal. Sometimes I want to write thoughts about the location or the process. I like to have my drawings with nothing written on them, not even the date, so I'll see how this work out. 

I had to come out with a non invasive system to identify the paper I'm working at a time. I colored the edges of the paper, one color per maker and wrote the reference in the back of the sketchbook. I hope this works, everything is a test about this project.

I can't wait to try these custom made books! They are destined to travel with me to Mexico this winter. Woo hoo!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Egon Schiele in UMMA

Pencil and watercolor on Laloran sketchbook 5.25" x 5.25"

1. Standing Female Nude in Black Stockings 1912, watercolor and pencil on paper.
2. Reclining Black-haired Female Nude, Right Arm Covering Face 1908, watercolor on brown paper.
3. Female Half Draped, Reclining ca. 1908-12, pencil on paper.
4. Tightrope Walker 1912, watercolor and pencil on paper.
I was hoping to see some work of Gustav Klimt during my visit to UMMA, University of Michigan Museum of Art. Unfortunately his art was down. However I was lucky to see four recent acquisitions of Egon Schiele. Sketching was allowed but not watercolor. I could use pencil or ink, so I honored the choice of the artist and used pencil and added watercolor later. I first drew some frames in pencil hoping to draw each one of the paintings in them, but my failure resulted on a unintended design of the page rather artistic, which I ended up liking it. When I was adding watercolor I realized that although his drawings were similar, the watercolors were different. One had what looks like gouache and blended colors, another one had defined edges and  bold solid colors. It was the one numbered as 4, that made me notice how some parts of the body painted in subtle pink were strategically located and made a huge difference between a cold and a warm painting, I realized of it as I was adding the pink areas. It was a nice visit. Sketching others' art forces me to slow down and makes me wonder what went through the artist's mind that made him make those decisions. It was an interesting exercise.

Incidentally, I included this photo as a footnote.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Cool inside, hot outside.

Pen&Ink and watercolor on Laloran Sketchbook 5.5” x 5.5”
Kerrytown is a colorful neighborhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When I saw that view while I was sipping a spicy maya chocolate, I immediately took my little sketchbook to put that turquoise and orange-ish walls on paper. I sketched that person outside before he moved. He left few minutes later. It rained hard and it was hot and humid. I was indoors and although the interior was well illuminated, the exterior was brighter. So I went all in with shadowing the interior with purple, one of my favorite mix of ultramarine and alizarin crimson. I painted first the colors of the interior and finishing with a glaze of purple. I have done this the opposite way, first the shadow glaze and then colors, but in this last way, the colors in the sketch don’t look unified. I had plenty of wash and used a big brush size 10 to cover uniformly the shadowed areas and carefully leave alone the areas I intended to let brighter. My chocolate was delicious, so the company, so my sketch! Ha!