Sketching with My Seatbelt On

We drove north on I-5 from San Diego and as we left the LA area behind I began to sketch. Live sketching in the car while the scenery flies past is invigorating, especially as you descend along the Grapevine. You have to work rapidly, accept input from the bumps on the road and make adjustments to the composition as you go along.

All three of these sketches are pastel and gouache on black paper.

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People in a Coffee Shop

People in a Coffee Shop

People in a Coffee Shop

Although I have been very interested in drawing crowds lately, this is not a real sketch of a crowd. Rather it is a few seated figures at a coffee shop along with a series of  people putting in their orders for coffee.

After I took a picture of my sketch I used the  Snapseed app to darken and lighten parts of it in order to suggest movement from the left to the right hand side.

This is a pastel sketch on black Bristol paper.

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Luke Will Be Missed So Much

Luke was such a good dog. He loved keeping us company, was always ready to help with the dishes, valiantly defended the house from the mailman, and was a terrific model for my sketches to boot. Funny how much you can love a dog.

 

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After the Storms that Broke the Drought

After the Storms that Broke the Drought

After the Storms that Broke the Drought

It was a gorgeous day and well spent with my landscape class at San Dieguito County Park. I pretty much painted the same scene from the same spot last week but several stormy days resulted in so much more greenery that the two sketches hardly look the same. It is amazing what a difference the combination of water and a week can make.

Most trees do not yet have leaves but their canopy is so full of new twigs and buds that the sky was blocked out behind them. The day was partially overcast and the lighting shifted between strong lights with shadows to muted lights with muted shadows. As I thought about how to show this moment of spring my intention was to use flat blocks of color separated by edges of unpainted black paper throughout the entire sketch. However, as I painted the lower section of the sketch I found it had too much contrast and filled in the unpainted areas somewhat.

This is a watercolor, gouache and pastel sketch on black paper.

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like!

This Is What Democracy Looks Like!

This Is What Democracy Looks Like!

This is a second sketch from the San Diego March in Solidarity with Immigrants. I made many line sketches Saturday of the march and am finishing them with gouache and comparing them for impact. Both of the two sketches, yesterday’s and today’s, have some elements that I think are strong.

An American flag dominates this sketch. The flag is a symbol that conveys a message of Americans exercising their consciences, voices and constitutional rights. As the sign indicates, this is what democracy looks like. Additionally, the people are all dressed in a common color and all face in a common direction and this has a stronger visual impact than the fully painted sketch of yesterday. However, the emotion of the woman in red from yesterday’s sketch is missing  and so makes the impact of today’s story weaker. Perhaps I should try a combination of both sketches tomorrow.

This is a pastel and gouache sketch on black paper, with help from Procreate for putting in the words on the signs.

 

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At the San Diego March for Immigrants

At the San Diego March for Immigrants

At the San Diego March for Immigrants

There were so many marchers at the San Diego March in Solidarity with Immigrants today and it was an amazing experience being there.

As I marched along a young man approached me, doubled checked that I was his old principal, and then told me who he was and what he is up to.  This once lively young English learner is now an engineer and travels the world on behalf of his company. And there he was, doing his part to keep the doors open so others can continue to reach for the American dream.  I felt so proud of him, the other previous students and colleagues I met along the way, and of my old school.

I could not sketch as we marched along but during the speeches I took out my sketchbook and sketched some of the  excitement around me. There were so many wonderful people and signs. I decided to share this sketch because the enthusiasm of the woman in red was lovely and infectious.

This is a pastel and gouache sketch with some editing in Procreate.

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A Finished Sketch from Falstaff

Finished Sketch from Falstaff

Finished Sketch from Falstaff

I sketch often with the San Diego Urban Sketchers and one of the guidelines we follow when we post to their site is that our sketches should be completely done in a live setting from direct observation, not from photos, memory or imagination. Yesterday’s live sketches from the San Diego Opera rehearsal of Falstaff were classic Urban Sketchers sketches because they were done completely on location from direct observation.

However, the sketches were also rough and unfinished because I had trouble sketching fast enough to keep up with the action on stage. Since I want to refine some of the sketches, these will no longer meet the Urban Sketcher requirements of being done completely in a live setting.

Today I began to develop a few of my sketches further by filling in gaps in the color with more gouache and pastel. I took a few pictures yesterday as I went along and was able to use them for reference today to develop the large moon and tree in the background of this sketch.  Tomorrow I hope to work on a few of the other sketches.

This is a gouache and pastel sketch on black paper.

 

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