Sunday, August 28, 2011

MN State Fair Sketch-out

sleeping pig - full spread about 7x14 inches
on Rives lightweight in cream,
sketched with Sharpie pen,
Grumbacher watercolor added
Last Saturday I was at the Minnesota State Fair with a group of about eleven people from the MCBA Visual Journal Collective for a sketch-out. We had a lovely day drawing amongst the thousands of visitors to the fair. We met as a group at one and four so we could chat about our adventures drawing at such a large public event as well as to share our work with one another.

My first sketch - trying to catch the
crowds and booths along a street
brown Pitt pen
I began my day drawing just using a brown (sepia) Pitt pen. I was trying to draw fast and catch a sense of the crowds, buildings, and booths that line the streets of the fair. I have to say that was challenging and I moved on to drawing the livestock in the barns instead.

The cow barn- brown Pitt pen
The animals are always enjoyable to draw at the fair and I got a handful of drawings in before the first meeting was scheduled. After we met as a group, I inadvertently switched pens. I had been using a sepia Pitt pen and I grabbed my black Sharpie pen instead - no big deal just something I noticed later when I looked at my sketches from the day.
After the break, I also switched it up and decided to try my hand at adding paint to my sketches on site. If I am going to add color I very often add it at home after the fact, but so many sketchers had beautifully painted pages from that morning I decided to try and paint too. That is the great thing about seeing someone else's work, it can push you to try something new.

Little sheep - Sharpie pen,
Grumbacher watercolor,
my favorite from the day.
The sheep was my first attempt at adding color on the spot. I was happy it worked out to paint as I sketched in the barn using my travel set and a Niji brush, so I continued to add color to the remainder of my pages. (The pig at the top of the post came after the sheep.)
After the pig and sheep, I took a sketching break and walked across the fair to see the fine art building and other sights. After walking back and arriving at our meeting place for the afternoon, I sat and sketched while talking to Marty Harris, a fellow sketcher at the fair. I was sketching a group of five boys that all had on green shirts but they got up before I finished the whole group - I got two and they were the last sketch I did that day.
I feel like I had a great day, I pushed myself to try something new and got to get out and spend the day drawing. What could be better?

Two boys - my last sketch of the day
done while talking with another sketcher and
waiting for the rest of the group.
Sharpie pen, Grumbacher watercolor

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

At Guitar Lessons

Sketch done in Stonehenge journal with
a brown Pitt Pen, size S.
My daughter takes guitar lessons at American Guitar and Band. The shop/studio has a lot of great guitars to draw as well as some unusual elements (such as this huge skull) on the walls. While I wait for her half hour lesson, I draw stuff and sometimes people in the store.
The staff is starting to be used to me standing around and drawing stuff, which is good, I don't have to stop as often to answer questions or tell them I don't really need help with anything.

Half an hour might not seem like that long to draw but it is amazing what you can draw in that time. The skull drawing was my only drawing for that day, so it was a full 30 minute sketch. Usually, I do a couple of quicker sketches while I am there, either combined on one page or on separate pages, depending on size.
Stonehenge journal, Sharpie pen fine tip.
This page with two images done on the same lesson day, a different day from the skull, is an example with quicker sketches combined on a page. My plan was to draw the full display of vintage, signed guitars above the store owner's desk. My attempt at beginning this is in the lower left corner.
When my plan to draw guitars was unsuccessful, I sat back down in the waiting area. I was going to put my book away and just wait, because I was frustrated with how my drawing had turned out. At that point, the next student for lessons came in and sat on the other end of the bench. He was early for his lesson, so took out his guitar to play and I decided to sketch him while he played. This sketch of the guitar player was quick, maybe ten minutes, and done in stealth mode (he was sitting less than an arm's length away). I was happy with the sketch and it shows that I always need to push for just one more after I get frustrated sketching.
Now sometimes people ask, "what do you do with all of your sketches?" or "what is the point?". Most of my sketches do just sit in the sketchbooks they are drawn in, on a shelf in my studio. The point - they are for me. They help me focus my mind and see the world around me in a way that is uniquely mine. For me there is no other point needed. There is one other amazing advantage to keeping a sketchbook and working from life - having sketches to use in other artwork. Because the drawing was my work to begin with, I do not have to worry about copyright or changing something so it becomes mine, it is my work in the first place, so I can use it as I see fit.
The guitar player sketch, is a simple example of that idea come to life. I am involved in a sketchbook exchange with several other artists from around the world. For my entry into one of their books I needed to come up with a drawing that had a musical theme. I thought of my little guitar player sketch right away. I got out that sketchbook and used my light table to trace the sketch out of the book and onto the other paper and then added other more abstract elements and paint to complete a more finished piece of artwork from the quick sketch done in my sketchbook.
Artwork done on Arches hot press
90 lb paper, drawing in Sharpie pen,
with Grumbacher watercolor -
approximate size 8 x 11 inches
Now, if I had left my book in my bag and skipped the sketch because my first one had failed, I wouldn't have had the image for reference. I may have remembered the moment and wanted to use the idea but instead of having my own sketch to use I might have been tempted to find a picture online. Sometimes that seems like the easy option but it is always important to remember that the image you find online to use isn't yours to use. It is one of the many reasons that I sketch or snap my own picture - the image is mine to use in my work. No toes stepped on, no one else's art "borrowed" so I can make mine.