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 to do 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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The last addition to my sketch.

Pen, ink and watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle Watercolor book
Oh, it was so beautiful outside today! Even the concrete bridge above the walking path seemed beautiful, a subject that should be in my Hahnemühle sketchbook. I aimed to sketch both. I thought I was done when I saw some birds flying under the bridge, birds returning to their nest or building one! They were the last addition to my sketch on the left. I always forget sketching living creatures other than greens. The birds reminded me there are many forms of life out there I need to pay more attention to.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The two seasons of the Midwest.

Pen ink, watercolor on A5 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book
It is that time of the year when you will see road construction/repairs everywhere in the Midwest. It's well known, for us residents of the Chicago area, that there are two seasons here, Winter and Construction. The harsh winters damage the roads and that leads to the eternal repair of the roads when the weather gets better. I have to say though, that here where I live, the seasons of the year are very well defined. You get to experience the drastic changes year long and there is beauty on it. The warm temperature at the beginning of the summer is a good reason to go outside and sketch. Here I used a watercolor book courtesy of Hahnemühle, one of the generous sponsors of this coming 2018 USk Chicago Sketch Seminar. The paper holds watercolor paint well. I love the size A5, it's comfortable to carry on and a little wider than other sketchbooks of similar size. I'll keep trying it, so far I like it. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A glaring object.

7" x 4" pencil and watercolor on Stillman & Birn Alpha
I find this view a little uninterested, indifferent, any way, I sat at a bench near this gas station and just stared at that big shinny tank like fish to baits, like cats to tires in motion, like sketchers to their view, you get the idea. The enormous gasoline tank parked behind various cars and I just went for it. I like how the reflective surface turned out, which it was to the one I put on most of my attention. It was a casual sketch. I used  here a new set of transparent watercolor paint for the first time and found out that the paint is highly staining. I'm not sure if I quite like or not yet but I'll keep trying it until I find out.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Handmade roll-up sketching case

Out of a creative urge and a necessity really, I have created roll-up sketching cases to carry-on my sketching gear in an organized and easy access way. I made one small and one large.  I tend to do my own whenever I can and that is what I did. Of course I tried to make them beautiful and colorful with patterned fabric so when I unroll the case it will make me happy to just look at it. Why wouldn't the sketching tool case be as colorful as the drawings I do?

They are mainly made of cotton, soft for the hands and tools, but sturdy and tripled stitched to reinforce key joints to make them last. Both have compartments of different sizes to fit it all in one case, from a travel watercolor palette and water containers to pens and pencils, brushes, clips and even a small sketchbook or notebook.

The small size measurements are 12" x 9".

Essential kit fits in for a fun day.

Easy to open and easy access to organized art tools.

Compact size when closed.
 Perfect size for an every day bag.

The larger size measurements are 15" x 15".

A bigger watercolor travel set fits in the large size.

They were made with care thinking on the needs of us artists on the go. 

I after I made mine, I thought these my be useful for some sketchers with the same needs, so I kept sewing more. For a limited time and quantity I'll bring some of them in different sizes and colors to sketchcrawls. If you see me and are interested in getting one of these, just come and say hi! I'll be happy to show you some.