I chanced upon this group of little kids playing in the park in Los Gatos. Because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to work to capture the scene, I started small and quick. I find it works best for me to sketch my way through thinking of a solution. If you follow through this sequence, you can see how these evolved in complexity as I worked my way from a simple vignette to a more complex scene.
This first piece is under 5 minutes and uses a brush pen for the figures and pastels for the fountain. Just two figures and a fountain. In many ways I think these first sketches with only the most essential bits are really the ones that capture the scene the best.
This next one is very similar, only with more figures and a little more of what was around to create a scene: Parents watch while kids play; and a sign explains why the fountains run only for a short time in the day.
In this next sketch, I switched to toned paper to make it easy to highlight the frothy water. The figures went in first with brush pen ( I often draw the figures first, even in more complex scene, because they are the ‘riskiest’ bits of the scene for me, and the later in the process I wait to sketch them the less chance they have of being fluid). Next I added the fountains with white pastel. Working them in at this stage helped me establish depth in the image with some figures partially behind the fountains. Primary colors on the swimsuits helped bring focus back to the figures.
Next I worked in some of the setting. The park is set in a grove of redwood trees.
And in this last piece I decided to bring in more media. The figures are drawn in pen, the fountains are mostly just left out as blank paper with the background going in in watercolor. And then I used pastels and a white gel pen to add texture and detail in the fountain.