Sun Filled Street

Our Airbnb in Mazatlan is such a good place for sketching. It is on the fourth floor, overlooks the ocean, and a very steep hill rises to the left. About an hour before sunset the sun aligns with the street and floods it with a bright golden light. This afternoon I worked on capturing it, painting as quickly as I could in gouache.

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Book and Vistas

I began this early morning sketch of my brother-in-law reading in the morning light on the balcony yesterday, and finished it this morning. Since we all read so much here, I would like to compose a painting that shows the vista before a reader along with and the vista from a book.

I am having fun chronicling our days but this sketch is also about trying to understand the light and colors of Mazatlan. This is a 12 X 17-inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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What’s a Six Letter Word that Starts with a G?

The crossword solvers had to work hard this morning on their puzzle. I think I caught their thoughtful focus in this sketch.

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Settling In

We, my brother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and I, have been here in Mazatlan less that a day and already we are settling into relaxation mode- sleeping in, reading, playing Scrabble and sketching. Although I like this sketch because it caught a snapshot of our morning together, I did not get enough of a contrast between the bright outside light and the cool indoor light.

It is good to be here and good to know that I have 20 more days to get the light right.

This is a 12 X 12 inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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Delayed Flight

The good thing about a flight delay is it gives an opportunity to sketch your fellow passengers. The young women across from us fell asleep and I was able to get a rough sketch of them with pastel and gouache.

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Between Two Trees

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a landscape between two trees

Between Two Trees

Today I continued to try out new surfaces to paint on. This surface is black watercolor grounds applied with a roller. It made for a rough but uniform texture and absorbed the color down into its surface.

I painted at Torrey Pines Preserve in almost the same spot as yesterday, but I looked northeast, not northwest across the lagoon. After I planned and started, the sketch seemed to take its own direction. The white cliffs on the facing hill were underemphasized and the sea, which was to the left, got left out. I was distracted by the way the paint went onto the surface and just went with it, mostly seeing what it could do.

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High Tide at Torrey Pines

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of A High Tide at Torrey Pines

High Tide at Torrey Pines

There was such a high tide at Torrey Pines this morning, the lagoon was full of water and very exciting to sketch. In my enthusiasm, I painted over the shoreline and road but like the sketch anyway.

Yesterday I prepared a board to paint on that was a mixture of black and gold watercolor grounds and blue tinted gesso. When I got to my painting spot, I was committed to a composition that did not quite suit the moment. Because of the high tide, the foreground and shoreline had different shapes than I anticipated.  I think tomorrow I will just paint on a solid base of black so that I am free to respond to what I see.

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Taco Redo

Second Sketch of a couple in a taco shop by Sarah Sullivan

Taco Redo

For the last 10 days or so I have been experimenting with the surfaces that I paint on. My goal is to find something that allows me to rework sections of a painting. So far I have tried painting on paper prepared with watercolor grounds and gesso. Both mediums can be bought in black, gold and white and can also be tinted using your own paints. The advantage of using grounds or gesso is the paint is easier to remove, which makes it easier to rework the painting. The tradeoff is gouache does not adhere as well to the prepared surface and I don’t get as bold a picture as I would on untreated paper.

A week ago I posted a sketch called, Stopping for a Taco. I painted it on paper prepared with gold watercolor grounds. The feedback I got indicated that the painting needed more dark areas. Today I tried the same composition but this time on paper prepared with black gesso. I may have overdone the darks this time.


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A New Moon for A New Year

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of A New Moon on New Year's Eve

A New Moon for A New Year

My brother sent a picture of the new moon from his home in Phoenix this evening. That made me go out and look at the new moon as it came up over the trees behind our home in San Diego. It was so beautiful and so large. I had to get out my gouache and pastels and try to capture the moment.

Wishing everyone a New Year full of gorgeous moons!

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A Message from Afar

I have not had much time for sketching this past week but did use my iPad to sketch two people looking at a phone today. I like the way the secondary figure is faint, perhaps suggesting that he is far off and actually sending the message.

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