Tuesday, July 31, 2018

World watercolor month is a wrap

I’ve been working on both series of prompts for July
For the final day of World Watercolor Month and the Firefly Watercolor Challenge I want an image that will help cool us down from the current heat wave we're experiencing.

I remember fishing in the Tumwater River near Wenatchee with my parents, cooling down by walking barefoot in the cold water. You had to watch your step because the round rocks were slippery. My sister and I were always disappointed when we took our pretty rocks out of our pockets at home and they had changed from shiny jewels to dull grey stones.

"River Rocks" I learned a lot from books and videos by Tony Couch
FireflyWatercolorChallenge Day 31: You Did It!
“Watercolor: you can do it!” — Tony Couch. Congratulations! You’ve done it! Our 31-day watercolor challenge is complete, and you’ve proven your creative skill and dedication to your craft. Let us know what you plan to paint next.

What’s next? I think I’ll take the little peg man for a walk with my sketchbook around Portugal and extend my virtual vacation. They have tuktuks there now, an added convenience since we were there last. 

Worldwatercolormonth - Celebration of color on Doodlewash.com prompts
I’m celebrating complimentary color, value and chroma. This time a real watercolor, not an illustration or a sketch. 

Stay tuned for all 31 watercolors in one post. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Did Somebody Say Collage?

The prompt for today's daily watercolor challenge from #fireflywatercolorchallenge is "paper collage." Say no more! I have a few drawers full of exotic papers and panels on which I've already collaged with "rice paper" and painted with abstract watercolor washes. (At one time, I was the president of the National Collage Society.)
A few of my watercolor and Asian paper collage panels from the studio hoard.
Serendipity! The daily prompt from Doodlewash for #worldwatercolormonth is "nature hike". I am still reminiscing about my recent Watercolor Nature Journal Workshop last month. I tore out a few pages of my little sketches from our nature hike on Saturday and collaged them into a mountain scene. I scored and two for one this time!
Nature Hike. A collage of memories and sketches.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Shells drawn with a Mapping Pen

I'm still having so much fun making my daily drawings on DIY postcards! I like the Fabriano Studio 140lb CP paper for the surface that takes pen and watercolor perfectly for this illustrative style.
I'm trying out my new dip pen and Dr. P.H. Martins Bombay Sepia ink. The ink dries relatively quickly in this 82°F weather we're having. (That's the cooler part of the late morning this week!) So right away I can start painting layers of watercolor washes from my DIY Altoids Mini Kit. No smearing!
I found my new "rare" pen on Ebay
Now about the pen. I saw Ohn Mar Win using it a year or two ago, but lately she mentioned that it was her favorite and I can see why. I wanted a dip pen that I could take sketching and not get too inky all over. Look! the nib stores in the pen just like my travel watercolor brushes do! I also wanted a flexible niib. Voila! Thanks, Ohn Mar!

William Mitchell Joseph Gillott Reversible Mapping Dip Pen Holder with 659 Mapping Nib. The 659 Gillott Mapping is a delicate and flexible nib which can create fine and wide lines depending on the pressure applied. Suitable for most mapping and drawing requirements.

The Gillott 659 Crow Quill nib can be stored inside the holder to preserve the point. The nib can be replaced when worn.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cooking up a Surprise in Hip and Historic Columbia City

In a show of solidarity with our fellow sketchers in Porto, Portugal, Usk Seattle met in the Columbia City neighborhood today. We knew that the participants at the Porto Symposium were attending workshops and sketching on the street in Portugal at this very same moment.
The hip and historic Columbia City Neighborhood at Rainier Ave and Ferdinand
Kate made badges and signs for our "Porto Pity Party" and Michele and Kate cooked up a surprise for those who met at "Geraldines" corner this morning. There were fresh baked Portuguese style pasteis de nata and our own Starbucks coffee to start the day. Patrick, USkSeattle friend and baker, came through with the tasty egg custard tarts. Thank you, Patrick! In true urban style, we spread a Portuguese print tablecloth over the Seattle Times newspaper box (Hi, Gabi!) and everyone helped themselves.
The Myers Music Street Clock leaned over in curiosity to get a closer look, much as the Clerigos Tower in Porto curiously peered at what was going on around it. (A nod to Isa Silva for a witty symposium logo)
The clock across the street was once located on 1st Ave

As we walked down Rainier Ave toward the Columbia Branch Library, Kate and I talked about the dramatic changes in the neighborhood since it was built. The branch's landmark 1915 building is the smallest of the libraries built for Seattle with gifts from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919).  The branch itself dates to 1909, two years after Columbia City was annexed into Seattle.
Sketching the Carnegie Library front door and patron
Carnegie would be astounded at how the library is used today.

Not only can you pick up a great book for your summer reading, you can play a game of chess, catch up on your email, research anything online or even engage in a popular art activity.
You can download and print a coloring sheet for your branch. Coloring sheets are available for all 27 Library locations. What a great way to start your urban sketching skills!

We are also celebrating the 9th Anniversary of the founding of Seattle Urban Sketchers. Kate had signs made of for that, too, which we proudly displayed at our sketchbook throwdown. See Kate's blog post with more photos.
Then we had lunch at Pagliacci.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Virtual day in Lisbon

Okay, I decided to visit Lisbon via Google Earth. That means I can't claim this as an official urban sketch. You have to draw on location for that. But the little peg man and I went there via our virtual feet and I relived some past times in that amazing city. Thinking of friends in Portugal now. 
My Virtual Paint out in Lisbon thanks to Google Earth

Firefly Watercolor Challenge Rainy Day?

I have moved out onto the “patio studio” where the forecast is sunny and warm for the next ten days! This is my virtual Porto location where I pretend to be at the USK 2018 symposium. So I am having my virtual pastéis de nata with real espresso as if in a cafe in Portugal. 

For my sketching buddies at the symposium: I miss you! You will need these natas to fortify you to climb all over Porto. (We know. We have been to all the cities you have mentioned before.)

Insider TipCheck for the words “Fabrico Próprio” when choosing a destination to eat your tarts. This means that the location makes their own pastries in-house, a guarantee that they are fresh and that care has been taken in their production. There are a lot of pretenders out there, keep your eyes open – as The Who so eloquently put it, “Don’t get fooled again!”  More info on natas in Lisbon
Looking over the day's challenge prompts for World Watercolor Month
Day 17 for Doodlewash prompt list is "city life". I can do that either on location or virtually through Google Earth. Hmm. Maybe I'll visit Porto or Lisbon.

Day 17 for FireflyWatercolorChallenge is "rainy day". I've been trying to do as many of these as possible on location. Aaack! What am I to do? Here in the Seattle area we finally have a real summer with sunny days in a row! I'm not about to mess with that! Is anybody getting rained on in Portugal right now? Send me a street scene.

In fact yesterday's prompt had me flummoxed as well. See? Here are the last two suggestions:
Day 16: Paint Night
You’re halfway through the challenge! Why not celebrate with friends by attending a Paint Nite or hosting your own at home.

Day 17: Rainy Day
Sometimes the rain is just as inspiring as the sunshine. Follow John Lovett’s lead and paint a rainy, abstract landscape scene.

I'm drinking my lemonade and thinking. Back in a little while

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's a Sign! Firefly Day 15 and WWM Day 16 "Casting Shadows"

The Firefly prompt for today is;
Day 15: It’s a Sign
They might have a bad reputation for blocking out the scenery, but signs can also be a great source of inspiration. Get up close and recreate a colorful sign.
I know just the thing! I've been wanting to sketch this little barbershop forever. Now the long time owner has sold it and the new owner's paint job really sets off all the signs. Is there any doubt as to what business is going on here?

Watercolor tip: When I have a building with a mid tone or dark overall value, instead of painting the entire building the local color, I just paint the shadows. Doing that in the local color is enough to suggest that the whole building is, in this case, red.
The red stripe on the old retro barber pole on the south side of the building had faded, so I refreshed the color. 
The Day 16 prompt for World Watercolor Month on Doodlewash is "casting shadows" which dovetails nicely with this subject as well. Watch a Hyperlapse video of the first part of my watercolor shadow wash on my Instagram feed.

Side Note:
Ha! I was sketching in the shady part of the off street driveway when I realized that I was in the wrong way. Although I moved over to the proper parking section, now all the angles were different and the shadows, too. As you see, I've taken a bit of artistic license to make a better composition while still getting the idea across.
Oops! I just realized that I'm parked the wrong way  in a one way driveway. 

Sunset on the Douro

Sunset on the Douro, Porto, Portugal
I was pretending to be in Porto again, inspired by the sunset photos some of the symposium participants posted the other night. So beautiful.

Here's the prompt for Day 16 of the Firefly challenge:
Day 16: Paint Night
You’re halfway through the challenge! Why not celebrate with friends by attending a Paint Nite or hosting your own at home.

Do you see my dilemma? Almost everyone is halfway across the world so how can I have them over for a paint night?

Then it occurred to me: paint. night. Yes! I will do a night painting! or rather a sunset one.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Cool Spot to Sketch at Bellevue Botanical Garden

As our heat wave continued, USk Seattle found refuge at Bellevue Botanical Garden for their monthly outing today. It was cool and comfortable in the shade of the forested garden. The outside temperature climbed from 78°F to 91°F from the time we met at 10 am. until many left the parking lot after lunch at around 2:00 pm.
The garden provided a cool quiet place for everyone.

The "Hobbit Door" was still there.
I was amazed at the transformation from the old familiar gardens that I last visited at least a decade ago. First, I found the "Hobbit Door" as I walked along the path beyond the Tea House. Although I was on my way to the Yao Garden, I just had to capture this enchanting little feature first.

I was entranced also by the serenity of the Yao Japanese Garden. I found a cool shady spot at the south end of the pond and spent the rest of my sketching time there. I sketched the summer sky reflected in the pond and the rocks and plantings bordering it all around.

Somehow I was subliminally influenced to go to the gift shop and buy two rocks with images on one side and sayings on the other. They make good paper weights!
With the air conditioning on full blast, I made the commute back home where the gauge on the deck said it was 92°F in Marysville! Isn't this supposed to be the weather in Porto during the symposium? I think we've switched climates!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Day 12 Firefly Challenge #TBT A. J. Casson and World Watercolor DayChallenge--Fast and Loose

I am hoping that the spirit of the challenge today is what is important. We have an appointment to take my husband's iPhone in for battery replacement at the University Village Apple computer store today;

Since my personal goal is to do all the Firefly challenges that I can from life or on location, it would not work for us to take a side trip to Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the same day. (I have sketched it on location in the past, but can't find the artwork now. Possibly it was sold.)
"Fast and Loose" and a "lighthouse" shape near the Apple Store, with customer
I did, however, find a metaphor for the lighthouse; the Information Post at the mall. It has a "lighthouse" like shape and I could sit and sketch it at a nearby shady table while waiting for our iPhone battery. So this is my result on a hot day in Seattle.
Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Altoids DIY travel palette, Sharpie pen

Even though I was standing on the shady side of Ravenna Gardens, it truly was necessary to paint the hanging petunias and purple stocks as fast and loose as possible. The good thing is that it takes no time at all for the washes to dry! That satisfies the challenge for today on WorldWatercolorMonth as well! What a relief to slip into the cool, air conditioned shop from the 85°F heat outside.
The beautiful flowers at Ravenna Gardens Shop

Since I painted the flowers with no preliminary drawing, I can check off another of my missing days for the 30x30DirectWatercolor2018 challenge as well!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shapes and Colors Revised

I had time to look at the composition with fresh eyes this morning after uploading the video demonstration of this scene yesterday.
Diablo Lake View

Compare the revised version of the lower left hand corner of the composition (above) to the initial one (below) as I left it on yesterday's YouTube demonstration.

While I think either one can work in the sense of a sketch on location, I enjoyed working with alternating simplified shapes, colors and values to develop that corner a bit more. The danger is knowing when to stop. The purpose of the sketch is to gather the shapes and colors into a unified whole while retaining the immediacy of a fresh experience with nature.
How would you have done it?
Initial shapes ready for watercolor. See my demonstration on YouTube

Day 9: Shapes and Colors
Creating an impression is all about the shapes you use. With a few circles and some horizontal and vertical lines, you can create a stunning beach scene. I was inspired to paint an alpine scene instead.

Day 9 Climbing Mountains

Monday, July 9, 2018

Climbing Mountains and New YouTube Demonstration

Day 9 of World Watercolor Month
The prompt for today is climbing mountains. I think this phrase fits both metaphorically and realistically because it seems like you’re climbing a mountain sometimes while trying to develop your watercolor skills doesn’t it?
After our sketching session we looked over the results.
A whole group of us climbed to the outlook past Buster Brown field during my recent Watercolor Nature Journal Workshop at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Along with the demonstration and my sketch of Rita already on the page, I added another little vignette showing the view below. I managed to indicate the bridge across the distant edge of the lake.
New Watercolor Demo on YouTube

I’m also using this sketch to fit the prompt of “shapes and colors” for day 9 of the FireflyWatercolor Challenge. The idea of the challenges sparked my creative  muse. I had just visited the North Cascades National Park and wanted to do something about that rather than a beach scene. (saving that for later, though). I concentrated on interlocking the mountains, lake and surrounding forest shapes in the composition and distinguishing them in atmospheric perspective through color.

If you would like to see a video demonstration of my process please visit my YouTube channel here. Give me a thumbs up if you like it!

After recording and uploading the video, I looked at the sketch with critical eyes and decided to develop the lower left c orner a bit more. See tomorrow's post.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

For the Birds...in a good way!

Circumstances prevented me from sketching with USk Seattle this morning. It was a perfect location and perfect summer weather. There is a saying, "It's for the birds!", meaning completely undesirable. That's how I felt about having to stay home and missing out on one of my very favorite activities.

This morning, I painted the bird bath in my garden as a nod to some of my sketch buddies who are at the Georgetown Garden Walk

Wait, birds? I remembered the time a Stellar's Jay recently took a bath in our pond....and I captured it on video. Good thing, because I tried to lure it back, but was unsuccessful. No problem. I just watched my video about a gazillion times and painted from that.
Bird Bathing
I have two challenges in mind to which I owe a few more entries: 30x30DirectWatercolor2018 for last month and MomentSketchers. Happily, both my pieces for the weekend fit the rules. See links for more.

Bird Bath
I painted both of these small direct watercolors on the same page of my Kilimanjaro Paint Book. They were done on location, except for the bird video, with no preliminary drawing.

I'm almost there as far as the 30x30 challenge goes. Four more paintings to fill the entire calendar of June. I will post the whole month in an upcoming article. So stay tuned!

Hey! Today's World Watercolor Month prompt is flying things! So three in one blow!
Oh yeah, then the bird bathing one fits the prompt for Day 7 - spattering - on the #fireflywatercolorchallenge list. So today, watercolor, tomorrow the world!

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Canadian Online Watercolor Challenge, Eh?

Looking for something to do with the extra hours of daylight this summer? Guess what? There are
TWO great online watercolor challenges for July:

1. I’ve already posted the July list for Doodlewash here. I enjoy participating on IG with Charlie O'Shields and his watercolor friends every year. Great stories he has to go with the fantastic watercolors that he does.

2. July is National Watercolor Month in Canada, too! Firefly Books is running an online challenge to do daily watercolours throughout the month of July. (Did you get that spelling?) I found out about this from Marc Taro Holmes. See the wrap up of his recent Direct Watercolor challenge on his blog. Enjoy the guest artists' take on their experiences.

In some ways the two have quite different prompts and yet now and then the prompts for some days are quite similar.  Check out both and compare.

#FireflyWatercolorChallenge on Instagram

The Firefly Challenge--How it works:
Use the daily prompts to spark your creativity. Take a photo of your work every day for 31 days and upload it to Instagram. Tag your photos with #FireflyWatercolorChallenge. It’s that simple.
All you have to do is show up with some painting supplies and your creative spirit. Good luck!

Each daily Firefly challenge has a directive listed on the blog; a quote, a book reference, a creative nudge. Here are the first three examples.

Day 1: Show Us Your Palette
It’s Day 1 of the #FireflyWatercolorChallenge and we want you to show us the tools you’ll be using for the challenge. Snap a photo or paint a still life of your kit.

Here's mine for Firefly Day 1.

My Prima Tropicals with custom colors and favorite brushes
The Prima tin comes arranged as you see in the layout on the right, as complementary colors across from each other. I prefer to put mine in spectrum order. I found a green in the studio hoard that is thankfully different than the ones in the set, but it's a mystery to me. I think it's Sennelier, but not sure.  
Day 2: Favorite Colors
What are your favorite colors to use in your work? Paint a color wheel using all your favorite shades.

Day 3: Start Simple
In the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Every artist was first an amateur.” Emulate 5-Minute Watercolor author Samantha Nielsen and start simple with a sketch of a house plant or other household item.

(from what I've seen in the preview, I like this book a lot for beginners.)

So, if you're interested, hop on over to the Firefly page and see if you're up for a fun month of watercolor. But don't tell me to stay in the lines! (Challenge #6)


Sunday, July 1, 2018

World Watercolor Month is Here!

Join us for WORLD WATERCOLOR MONTH throughout July!

 World Watercolor Month is an annual global charitable event featuring the ultimate challenge of 31 Watercolors is 31 Days! Yes!
That’s right, 31 days when artists around the globe come together to paint the world with beautiful watercolor and help raise awareness for arts education to get art supplies for kids who need them via The Dreaming Zebra Foundation.

Here’s all the information about how to participate. And above are the daily prompts.

Charlie says:
Prompts are entirely optional to participate, of course, simply use the hashtag #WorldWatercolorMonth throughout July any time you post your watercolor art whether you’re using a prompt of not! That way we can add you to our global online gallery and share your beautiful work with the world! AND, most importantly, it helps spread the word about our charitable cause to get art supplies for kids via The Dreaming Zebra Foundation!
But, when making 31 watercolors, it’s always good to have a little inspiration along the way, so here you go!