California Rain

California Rain

My sketching group had a model this morning who was quite expressive. Towards the end, she picked up an umbrella and had fun channeling our mixed feelings about our week of rain here in California.

I used my new Inktense pencils with gouache again today and had more success in using both together.

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Inktense and Gouache

Inktense and Gouache

I bought some Inktense pencils this morning and had to try them out. Inktense pencils combine qualities of traditional watercolor pencils and permanent markers. The pencil marks dissolve with water but once dry, the color is bright and durable. I wondered how the Inktense pencils might work with gouache. Of course it will take a lot of time to figure out how to work with these materials, but so far, this is what I think.

Inktense works well alone on black paper. Some portions of this sketch, such as the hair of the two women in the foreground, are drawn with Intense pencils and then the marks were lightly dissolved with a water brush. I like the strength of these marks and how easy it is to use.

I am less impressed with adding the Inktense pencils over areas that I first painted with gouache. After the gouache dried, I colored over it with the pencils and then remoistened the marks with a wet brush. I was heavy handed with the Inktense pencils in the tree and less so in the sky. To be fair, I was clumsy with the technique, but so far think I can get a better look with only gouache.

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San Diego’s Spring Is Near

San Diego’s Spring Is Near

The little rain southern California gets in December can make for a spectacular spring in January and February and this year shows great promise. This morning when I was back at Torrey Pines, I was struck by how the coastal chaparral is already greening up. I wanted to capture the contrast between the still dormant plants and the new greens of some of the foliage.

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Same Lagoon, Overworked

Same Lagoon, Overworked.

Sometimes, less is more in a painting, as is the case with today’s painting. Yesterday I painted with a friend at the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Park, just north of San Diego. I finished one painting and posted it Monday.

I also brought home an unfinished one that I worked on today. You can see it below. It had the big shapes and colors blocked in but was still pretty rough and I hoped to fix several problems. However, by the time I finished, it looked overworked, which is a bigger problem than the ones I started with.

The fog had been rolling out to reveal the blue sky behind it, and I wanted to show that better. Also, I wanted the lagoon water to appear to be below the marsh plants, not above them. And then I loved my friend’s painting with its pine tree on the horizon, so I used a photo and added one to mine. Finally, I wanted more depth, so I put in some foliage along the lower left of the paper.

After making these changes, the painting looks flat and static. It lost its spontaneity and freshness, especially in the movement of the water and clouds. Knowing when to stop adding and refining is something to work on, as this sad tale so clearly shows.

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Lagoon in Winter

Los Peñasquitos Lagoon in Winter

I painted this morning at Los Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Pines Preserve. We stood by the edge of the road and looked south across the water. I got the greens a bit too bright but with all the rain we are getting, by next week this will be about right.

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A Few Sketches

We had a wonderful holiday and our house was full of family and fun. I did not do much sketching but we did make it to the beach twice where I was able to make several fast sketches while talking and people watching.

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Happy Holidays!

Holiday Card 2018 by Sarah Sullivan
Happy Holidays!

Wishing you peace, goodwill, joy, and a wonderful year to come!

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Lake Murray Afternoon

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Lake Murray
Lake Murray Afternoon

It was a quiet December afternoon at Lake Murray in San Diego, and a perfect opportunity for a 30-minute sketch. I liked the way the eucalyptus branch was shaped like the shoreline of the lake and shortened the tree’s height so the branch would fit onto my 6 x 12-inch sketchbook.

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Mission Beach in December

Mission Beach in December

This morning I painted at Mission Beach in San Diego, with the Wednesday Painters from the San Diego Watercolor Society. Even by ten there was still quite a bit of fog, although the sun was bright. The figures on the beach were backlit and seemed to be silhouettes against the morning mist. It seemed like a good opportunity to show the figures by using negative painting, that is, painting the area around the figures, but not actually painting the figures.

This is a 12 X 23-inch gouache painting on black paper.

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