Celebrating the Freehand Renaissance--sketching as a vital way to see and value culture, and to envision a better world.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free at last...

This little vignette of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is the last illustration for my book; added at the last minute as I was preparing the final manuscript submittal package.  That went out via FedEx this afternoon...time for a nap!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Music for the Eyes

This series retraces my steps in sketching Paris's magnificent opera house, the Palais Garnier.  It's an irresistible subject, at once visually overwhelming yet with a design structure that conveys a harmonious whole.
As with many of my urban sketches, I begin by trying to make sure everything I want to draw will fit onto my page.  In this instance, I used people on the street to set an eye-level (horizon) line, then blocked out the height and width of the three main levels of the facade.  Drawing a few people at different sizes has already created an illusion of depth.


I draw in the rest of the basic geometry of the facade.  At this point the overall composition is fixed on the page, and I can have fun observing and sketching the ornate design structure and details.

I've had to carefully observe and understand the design structure (counting openings and columns and finding alignments of key elements, for example) while simplifying the ornate sculptures and other details.  My goal is to capture the almost musical rhythm of the facade's design, and how the people in the scene almost become a living part of that design structure.

I've carefully chosen where to place darks to reinforce the rhythms of the facade and to add visual punch to the sketch.  Adding darks to some of the people ties them in to the overall composition.

I've added very light colored pencil washes to complement but not overwhelm the linework.  The sky is purposefully drawn in a heightened, energetic style to tie it to the loose feel of the rest of the sketch.  Some bright colors on the crowd help convey the palpable urban energy of this place.  Note how the color fades at the edges of the sketch.  I have a feeling this building will call me back to draw it many time...next time in watercolor?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A watercolor adventure in Turkey

This watercolor sketch is from an original done on-the-spot near Uchisar, Turkey, which is in the visually stunning Cappadocia region.. I recreated the step-by-step process of creating the original as a demonstration for my upcoming book, Freehand Drawing and Discovery.

I started with a pencil line sketch on 140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper.  I thought the contour sketching method--drawing the overall outline first and treating the subject as "shapes" rather than "things"-- would work best in this case.

As the sketch progressed, I tried to capture the visual texture of the scene, rather than the literal details.

A wet-on-dry wash over the entire area to be painted. 

Some shade and a warm roof color, mixed from burnt sienna, cadmium red and a touch of french ultramarine.

Windows added, again trying to capture a visual impression rather than photographic realism.  Some olive green between buildings hints at vegetation and provides some much needed contrast.  This is a detail view, showing about one half of the sketch.