A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a comment on a sketch I had of people on my instagram feed. They complained about how oppressive it felt to even look at my sketches. of people in masks. After my first reaction (an eye roll perfected from having 2 kids), it made me think of what I draw and why I draw.
I should say I strongly support wearing masks because it is good science. It keeps me and you safe. When we wear our masks, we not only protect each other, we also say we care that we all stay as safe as we can.
But there’s more reason than that for why you’re seeing masks in my sketches. I draw the world around me. I record it as I see it. So if I see masks, I draw masks. I don’t draw masks where I don’t see them, and I don’t draw unmasked faces where there are none. I am drawing the times. This is what the people in the streets look like just now. And while I miss drawing unmasked faces, I’m thankful that the person waiting outside the store next to me and the jogger who runs past me are masked.
Oh, a quick and kinda obvious tip for drawing masks on faces? Don’t forget the structure of the face underneath. It helps understand the shape of the mask and the way the light hits it .
Here’s a little project, an accordion book full of little sketches made while on walks in my neighborhood.
A big chunk of it was made on a weekend where I wandered around, book in hand, stopping and drawing wherever I felt like.
And then I added a few sketches over the rest of the week until it was done. Here are some later additions.
A grey day in my local park, listening to woodpeckers in the trees while I sketched.
A sketch of the view from the front steps, looking out at my neighbors golden tree and very blue car.
And one last sketch of construction in the neighborhood before the book was done.
I really like the how the idea of a walk and a linear layout like this book tie together so effortlessly and I’m already thinking of other experiences and sketches that could work well with this format.
Have you sketched in an accordion-style book before? (This one is the ZigZag book). How did you like the format? Any challenges that came up in using it?
The top of this image is the photo reference we worked from. On the left of my sketchbook spread are a couple of quick warmup sketches, to help get familiar with the strange color palette we used and to think of what I wanted to capture in my sketch: I knew I’d want to draw the man pouring tea: but would he be in extreme closeup? Would I show more of his shop? I decided to experiment quickly to decide for myself before jumping into the piece on the right.
In the end, I felt I needed the full figure to capture the dynamism of his pose and that “just about to pour the tea” moment. Also, I could not resist sketching all the paraphernalia in that little shop that made it so interesting.
Here is a screenshot of the end of the session. You can see Paul’s wonderful piece in it.
And here is a closeup of my final piece.
Some of the things we talked about were warming up for a sketching session, the color palette we were playing with, our tools, how we would have gone about sketching this on location, and what attracted us to this scene and how we went about capturing what we wanted as the focus of our story.
The original colors and reference image we used are posted here. If you have the time for a long, meandering watch or want to sketch along while you watch, a recording of that YouTube live session is here.
Are you spending more time online looking for inspiration? Usk Talks has a new series of talks that is live every Sunday and has some really inspiring artists talking aobut their process and projects.
Here are links to episode 1 and episode 2. I was so inspired by this Sunday’s episode, I scribbled lots of notes to myself as I listened. It was a wonderful way to begin my Sunday.
As this country seems to go completely crazy (and I’m not just talking Covid here) , I turn to home and to the kids in my sketches to find some sense of sanity. The everyday feels sane, and the kids losing themselves in their books, games and music is what I sketch.
The new year started with this simple line sketch in two colored inks and a bamboo pen. I love how the two colors mix for whole range of other colors.
This is a sketch of the kids waiting to start a board game. It’s strange to play a game called Pandemic right now.
This last sketch is Nishant at piano practice. When I settled down on the floor next to him to sketch, I asked how much longer he was going to practicing. “10 minutes” he said, so I knew how long I had for my sketch. Bamboo reed pen and iron oxide ink.
What are you sketching a lot of right now? Is it different from what you sketched pre-pandemic?
I’m doing a YouTube livestream this evening (5pm Pacific Time) with Paul Wang, my partner-in-crime at Sketching PlayLab .
Paul and I will be painting with a small palette of colors. We chose 3 colors each to bring to the palette and then each of us can bring along an extra color. If you know Sketching PlayLab, you know it’s all about fun, play and experimentation, so I chose some colors I know and some I haven’t played with, because, why not?
SUHITA’s color selection 1. Cobalt Blue Teal 2. Jadeite 3. Transparent Pyrrol Orange Nickel Azo Yellow ( my 4th “extra” color)
PAUL’s color selection 4. Aussie Red Gold 5. Indanthrone Blue 6. Quin Rose
.I miss visiting Asia so much, so I’ll be happy to paint from this photo of a tea shop, courtesy of Eric Roman Filipink @erfilipink
Come join us, we will sketch, and we can chat through the youtube chat function.
How do you join in? 8 Jan Friday 5pm (Pacific Time) On YouTube (Search for Paul Wang)
8 Jan Friday 5pm (Pacific Time)
.If you’d like to paint along ( you don’t have to use the same colors or media we use), download the photo above and be there!
These are the last of the 2020 season’s persimmon sketches.
When you draw something over and over, it’s easy to get overly familiar with it. So I sat these persimmon on my table, a fuyu and a hachiya, and looked at them carefully, turning and twisting them around, really trying to capture the feel of their surfaces, shape and color on paper. Not in a photo-realistic way, but in a way in which the lines and application of color can speak to how they looked, smelt and felt to me.
Here is a second piece, a colorful wicker basket full of persimmon.
Now that the season is done, persimmon sketches will only be back- but only in the fall of 2021.
Every so often, I get asked what’s in my sketch kit. I’m always happy to share what there is but it’s always “what’s in my sketch kit today”. Some things haven’t changed for a long time, others come and go.
Also in my bag: Caran D’Ache Neocolor I wax crayons which are so much nicer than the school supplies brands. Right now I’m loving playing within different colored inks so there is always a vial or two of ink around. I buy sample vials from Goulet Inks to see if I enjoy them before I buy bottles. Two inks I adore are Apache Sunset from Noodlers and this iron gall ink. Experimenting with inks means carrying around dip pens, which is a bit inconvenient but I love the line dip pens make, especially bamboo pens. The blue TWSBI pen and the mango colored Lamy Safari pen are super reliable pens with a juicy line. If you are new to fountain pens, start with one of these. They don’t give you a variable line, but I like their line a lot. The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is standard in my kit. I love using it for quick gestural sketches. Sometimes my kit includes watersoluble graphite and watersoluble pencils, both of which are really versatile: I use them wet or dry for different effects.
And lastly, my paint kit. In the large kit: Here is what is in my palette this week. Mostly Daniel Smith but I also use some other brands. (starting top left and moving left to right): Transparent Red Oxide, Cobalt Teal, Lavender, Permanent Alizarin Red, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Bleu, a purple I can’t remember the name to, Indanthrone Blue, Sap Green, Lunar Black, Pyrelene Green, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Hansa Yellow Medium.
And the tiny kit fromExpeditionary Artat the bottom contains two spaces filled with white gouache, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Transparent Red Oxide, Ultramarine Blue, and a large space filled with a mix of the red oxide and blue. This little kit is as close as I get to a monochrome kit. The mixed color is my standard neutral mix, the other colors all help shift it warmer or cooler. The white makes it function like a gouache kit if I want it to do that.
I usually carry around a round brush or two and a couple of dagger brushes from Rosemary Brushes.
This year my sketch kit has grown a fair bit. It’s because I’ve sketched a lot in natural settings and from my car and while all of that requires a compact sketching kit it is not nearly as compact as what it takes to stand in the middle of a crowd or a market and sketch.
I hope I can do that again in 2021. But meanwhile, I am making art, experimenting with new media, continuing to blog, and to teach workshops online. Wishing you a happy, art-filled and safe 2021.
The Bay Area Model’s Guild turns 75 in 2021. It’s been a super-tough year for them and they organized a fundraiser to help keep the guild alive. Close to 400 people attended through the day, and at one point there were about 260 of us drawing in one big zoom room. Their models, sometimes up to 20 of them at a time, posed online from 11am to 4pm, and you could draw from a range of poses, from quick gestures to 5,10 and 20 minute poses, one hour poses and even longer ones.
It is just wonderful to participate in a long, immersive experience like that. I took a some short breaks, snacked and drank a ton of chai through the day. I thought I was too exhausted to draw a few times, but in the end I stayed on and it was a truly fantastic experience.
Here are pieces from the day, starting with quicker charcoal sketches and then moving to a mix of different media. Some worked out, some didn’t. There’s a pile of these pieces on my studio floor: I sketch one, put it down and start on the next one. I think I have got them all, but if I find some I missed, I’ll post them on my instagram stream.
You can find out more about the guild, hire models or join their marathons and other life drawing events by checking out their website or joining their facebook group.