2017: Focus on Travel Sketching

Sketches of Italy

I’m getting more serious about travel sketching this year, having enjoyed it immensely during our past 2 sojourns to Italy in 2014 & 2016. To that end, I’m taking Liz Steel’s online course called “SketchingNow Foundations”. You can check out Lizsteel.com to see sketches of her travels and her daily life in Sydney, Australia. By taking her class, I’m hoping to greatly SPEED UP my sketching. I can already create a sketch I’m happy with … in an HOUR. I’d like to bring that down to 15 MINUTES or less! I hoping to record what I discover during the course on DaneArt.org so I can refer back to it!

Testing Materials

The first week’s lesson is about getting to know your materials. That led to a pleasant afternoon gathering all the pens & pencils I own and making lines & squiggles with them. After that I decided to compare Daniel Smith, Windsor-Newton & M Graham watercolors. I tried out various Sienna’s & Blues because I use them so frequently in sketching.  I also tried out some new  paper called “Bockingford” by St Cuthbert’s Mill in England.

So, what are my results? My pens & pencils have been whittled down to 2 waterproof 0.5 Pigma Micron pens in black & sienna, an unbelievably light & handsome Italian Aurora fountain pen, a Japanese Brush pen for variable line work, a 0.9 mm Staedtler mechanical pencil, and a small selection of watercolor pencils.

On the watercolor front, I know now that I’ll be using a mix of brands. I’ve used Windsor-Newton for years but in this particular test I discovered the W-N burnt sienna is downright wimpy compared to M Graham’s. And I really like the rusty color of Daniel Smiths transparent red oxide.

Testing the paper was just a fun aside since my real decision will be about what travel journal(s) I plan to use. But since I was comparing paints I took the opportunity to see how I liked Bockingford paper. I’ve concluded I don’t! Water, and therefore watercolor doesn’t seem to soak into the paper readily. It just sits on top making it difficult to make colors blend or create soft edges. It’s not fair to condemn a paper on such short acquaintance but I am going to set it aside for the time being.

All in all, this week’s lesson has been informative and fun. I know I’ll be testing materials until the week before our next trip but this has given me a good “foundation” to start from, so thank you “SketchingNow Foundations”!

About danemerry.org

Welcome to DaneArt! I’m Dana Richards. I live and paint watercolors in the countryside near Stevenson’s Bridge in Solano County, California. Views of Mount Diablo, walnut orchards and farm scenes constantly inspire me. The birds, insects and animals along nearby Putah Creek and in my backyard pond provide additional sources of inspiration. Over the past year, I have been experimenting with Plein Aire painting with a group of other enthusiasts. My work has been shown locally at the Davis Art Center, the Pence Gallery and in other locations around Sacramento and Woodland. I can be reached at danemrichards@gmail.com.
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