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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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New Step-by-Step Demo: San Miguel de Allende!

The previous post described some of the fun and adventure from our "Sketching the Energy of Places" workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with Meagan Burns and Art Leap Adventures.  While adding watercolor to this street scene sketched on location, I created a series of step-by-step photos to document my process.  I enjoyed putting this together very much; I hope you enjoy it, too!


Here I'm getting into the line sketch, while dodging cars in the narrow street.  Photo by Meagan Burns, the creative force behind our sponsor, Art Leap Adventures.

Here's the finished line sketch.  It's a "straight to ink" sketch (no pencil pre-drawing) using a PITT Artist Pen (permanent brown ink) in a Moleskine A4 Watercolor Album.


I usually begin with the sky--clear water first, then pigment applied "wet-in-wet" to achieve a soft, atmospheric effect.  I typically use W+N Prussian Blue for this technique; this time I chose Daniel Smith's Cobalt Teal Blue, just to see what happened--I like it!


Next, a wash of Naples Yellow over the areas where I intend to add more color.  This will act as an undercoat to brighten the whole scene and to help the subsequent colors relate to each other better.  At this point I've already decided to leave the street and cars in the center of the drawing as white space.


A richer orange on the central building, which will provide a nice complement to the Teal Blue sky.  I also added a little Alizarin Crimson accent to the tower while the Naples Yellow was still wet.


A graded wash, mostly Alizarin Crimson, on the building at left to pull the viewer's eye toward the central focal point.  The blue at bottom left is just wonky lighting in the photo.


Starting to add some color to details, remembering to leave the center of the drawing as white space.

This is the finished piece.  I added some bright "confetti colors" to the clothing of the pedestrians, as well as some black on some of the figures.  The color is a little richer on this image; that's because it's a hi-res scan rather than a quick iPhone photo in poor lighting like the previous images.  I'm very pleased with the balance of color to white space, and the way the complementary colors relate to each other.  There you have it!  Let me know if you'd like to see more of these step-by-steps in the coming weeks.  -Jim



13 comments:

  1. I love the piece and the step-by-step explanation! I really like ink + watercolour drawings, but I haven't tried it so far...now I will definitely try! This is very helpful! Thank you! Ana (snowsketches)

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    1. Great to hear from you, Ana, and thanks for commenting. I'm glad it was helpful to you!

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  2. I love to use ink and watercolor when I travel and I enjoy seeing your methods. The brown ink works well in Mexico, I think. I've been to San Miguel and you captured the bustle very well.

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  3. This is really wonderful -- and helpful too! It was great fun to have you here in San Miguel and we need to start planning the next gig! Howzabout February? Sketchcrawling around Central Mexico? :)) Thanks again for this helpful step-by-step Jim

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    1. We'll sketch with you anytime! Central Mexico and February sound great--let's talk!

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  4. The freedom and confidence of your line work is amazing, the end result beautiful.
    I'd love the end result even more if you'd let go of the need to crowd the scene with so many people. The number of people in the photo of the street plus a few extras would do the job.

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  5. Love seeing your painting process!

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  6. I am hooked on your style of sketching and watch your "Energy" DVD frequently. This type of step-by-step is extremely useful. Thank you.

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  7. Super helpful. I love your choice to leave part of the sketch unpainted, which really allows you to control the viewers gaze. More please......

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  8. Really enjoyed your step by step colour application Jim - and always look forward to seeing other artist's approaches. I would certainly love to see more.

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