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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Latest Watercolor Palette Choices



My watercolor palette went through a major overhaul about a year ago, with more lively colors that I continue to love using.  If you're out to "sketch the energy," these choices are hard to beat.  Frankly, most of the painting I do is accomplished with three--Naples Yellow, Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson, I don't think I could live without my beloved Cobalt Teal Blue and Mayan Orange.  The others do come in handy, so I'm posting them all  here.  

You'll note this selection is heavy on Daniel Smith colors; I find them much more vibrant than some previous choices, and I haven't had the issue of them being runny in the palette that some others have written about.  Some of my choices have been informed, with gratitude, by Paul Wang and Alvaro Castagnet.  I hope you find this helpful:

Daniel Smith: Cobalt Teal Blue, Ultramarine, Viridian, Deep Scarlet, Azo Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Deep Sap Green, Mayan Orange, Hansa Yellow Deep, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna Light, Neutral Tint and Carbazole Violet.

Winsor and Newton:  Naples Yellow, Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson.

I keep these in a metal travel "Paintbox" made in the UK by Robert Young; it's proven to be a top shelf, road-worthy piece! I also carry a very nice set of Escoda travel brushes in a nifty leather wallet.  This basic setup is ideal for my current ways of working.

That's all kids...keep dreaming...keep drawing!
Jim

Monday, March 5, 2018

A New Workshop in Costa Rica!

We are really excited about this one!  Head to the "Workshops" page for all the details.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Alan Moore on Design: Inspiration for a New Year


I stumbled on Alan Moore's thoughtful contribution to the "DO" series of small, inspiring books.  DO/DESIGN: Why Beauty is Key to Everything" had me at the first paragraph:

"I have always been fascinated by beautiful things: architecture, furniture, books.  Beautiful things are prepared with love. The act of creating something of beauty is a way of bringing good into the world.  Infused with optimism, it says simply: Life is worthwhile."

Try following a line like that!  Oh wait, he did:

"The effort to create enduring beauty is not dependent on style but truth...Beauty is life-affirming, it gives back to create more life."

Those of us blessed (or cursed, or both) with a calling to creative work, whatever our discipline or medium,  realize early on that it's a search for truth or it's nothing.  Moore's insights into that search are penetrating, instructive and inspiring.  True to its concept, this little book is also elegant and efficient in its language; it can be read in a single sitting (or two).  I recommend picking it up.

Cheers!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mike Daikubara's New Book Will Change How You Sketch!

Many of you have heard me say, "Don't aspire to be great.  Aspire to be prolific."  If that statement strikes a chord with you, then Mike Daikubara's "Sketch Now, Think Later" is the right book at the right time.  I received an advance copy, and can't help but grin as I read it.  Mike, a favorite Urban Sketchers instructor and correspondent, has taken his popular "Sketch Now, Think Later" workshop philosophy, ideas and lessons and expanded them into a book you'll want to keep in your sketch bag.  "Sketch Now, Think Later" is an important addition to the current canon of sketching books because it focuses on the issue fundamental to all sketchers--removing all the roadblocks to sketching every day, any time, in any situation.   There's a lot of great reading here on essential attitudes, but it's also rich in great tips, tools, techniques that are rooted in the thousands of hours Mike has devoted to location sketching, always with an eye to being more prolific and having more fun.  That's a hard combination to beat.

Another reason I love this new book is because every page reflects Mike's sense of generosity, good vibes and contagious enthusiasm for sketching.  The guy just can't help himself--he's a powerhouse of positive energy who loves what he does, and the reader reaps the reward.

I believe it always comes back to being prolific, and this book offers a wealth of shortcuts to that goal. I'm headed out for a week of sketching in Los Angeles, and I'm dropping Mike's book in my sketch bag to reread on the plane and for inspiration in the field.  I recommend it to you highly.




Monday, September 25, 2017

Life's a Beach: The Siesta Key Drum Circle

DATELINE: SIESTA KEY.  Every Sunday evening, lightening and hurricanes permitting, the Siesta Key Drum Circle gathers to celebrate the sunset.  Last night was my first attempt the sketch the gathering.  The line drawing was done on location in the midst of the action; the watercolor was added the next day.  I'm looking forward to many more opportunities..
Trying to let the spirit move the pen...
Just another guy in the circle...

Sharing the sketch with Boomer, one of the dancers in the drawing.


This pretty well captures the flavor of the evening...see you next week!

Friday, September 15, 2017

COME SKETCH WITH US IN TUSCANY!!


I can't tell you how excited I am to be teaching a 10-day location sketching workshop in Tuscany, October 4-14, 2018!  This opportunity provides the time, space, inspired surroundings and immersion in techniques to take your sketching experience to new heights.  The class is capped at 12 artists, so there will be plenty of one-on-one teaching and discussion in addition to group talks and demos. You'll also get to know the best of Tuscan food, culture, towns and countrysides with exceptional hosts and guides.  We'll be staying in our own villa, a relaxing departure point for the best of Tuscany.

Our partner in this exceptional travel experience is FollowYourSensesinTuscany.com.  I'm tremendously impressed with them, and am delighted to be working with such thorough and inspired professionals.

This workshop is filling up, but there's still room.  Don't miss this rare opportunity!  Every artist should go to Tuscany--and those who have been long to return.  Come with us--LET'S GO!!

HERE'S THE LINK:  Sketch Tuscany with James Richards

Thursday, September 14, 2017

On Location: Sketching Hurricane Irma

One month after relocating our home and business to Siesta Key, Florida, a barrier island off Sarasota, Patti and I found ourselves evacuating inland and upland to higher ground as Hurricane Irma churned across the Caribbean with Florida in her sights.   We found ourselves in a Lakeland, Florida hotel, a few miles east of Tampa, but well out of storm surge and flood danger.  Over the next 18 hours, we watched in shock and disbelief as the storm path moved westward from skirting Florida's Atlantic coast to a direct hit on the Tampa/Sarasota area.  A more southerly landfall spared us the full fury of the storm--it was a Category 1 by the time it reached Lakeland--but wind gusts to 100 mph and sideways blasts of rain and made for a harrowing 24 hours.

As Irma approached, I decided to create a series of sketches documenting the storm from the relative safety of our open hotel porte cochere.  This position allowed me to experience the wind and rain without being completely exposed to flying debris.  The first four sketches below capture four phases of my experience of the hurricane (the first three sketches were duly baptized in Irma’s rainwaters).  The fourth image is a photo of my open Stillman & Birn sketchbook, showing the raw double-page spread as drawn on location.

It was remarkable to me how sketching the storm robbed it of its power to terrify me--I had a job to do, and the hurricane became an opportunity rather than a bogeyman.  This was an invaluable lesson, and I extend special thanks to those who encouraged me.  So the beginning is over--here's to rebuilding--cheers!

This sketch, made Sunday at 10:10am, shows the calm before the storm.  The the sky has darkened.  All is dead quiet and the sky is still; even the birds have left.  

The second sketch captures the same view a little more than an hour later, when the first strong band of wind and rain circulated through.  



This image, sketched at 7:30pm, is made a couple of hours before the eye of the storm reached us.  Note the change in wind direction.  The rain is blasting sideways and the howling wind is shredding the palms, but we still have electricity (the parking lot lights are still burning). 

This sketch is drawn 9:30am Monday; the first sunlight and blue sky reappear.  The birds have returned.

This is the series as drawn in the 8 in. x 10 in. Stillman & Birn Beta series mixed media sketchbook, which held up well to the abuse of the situation.  All the images were drawn with PITT Artists' Pens (waterproof ink) and watercolor.  A white gel pen was used to help indicate the night lighting in the top right sketch.



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