Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sketching the Bones

The weather and my work schedule finally fell into harmonious synch and I got three days in a row to paint and sketch. I spent a day at Short Sands beach tackling the waterfall cliffs again. This time I went ahead and went through the new process with only slight progress. It was only that night that I realized I forgot to do one of the most important techniques, SQUINT! I know better too. My only excuse is that my head is filled with trying to remember the new process that I sort of let some of my old basics slide. Next time I will set my timer to remind me to squint every 10 minutes or so until the habit returns.
Here is the painting I did at Short Sands a couple of days ago.
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Short Sands Study- WIP, 8"x10", oil on canvas
This is essentially a block in with very little detail. It took me 2 1/2 hours. Slow going. I noticed a few issues with my subject matter. First, there is a lot of complex detail not only in the rock but the shadows, which move constantly. I did pretty good at not moving the shadow shapes around once I got them in but then I saw others I liked better. I didn't move them around but I sure wanted to make another painting. It was a bit too late to do that so I made note of the time and hope to hit it right next time.
The other issue that I need to get the hang of is coordinating the light and the tides. It isn't as easy as it sounds. This day I got there at low tide and the tide was coming in, which I wanted. One other issue I need to solve with this area is getting the underlying architecture of the cliffs. It can be challenging to see what is going on with the dramatic lighting obscuring the rock.
With that in mind I decided to go back the next day, yesterday, with my sketching pack. I keep two art packs ready to go, one is my plein air painting gear, the other contains sketching materials. I spent a couple of hours yesterday trying to get shapes and proportions down. The following sketch can be a bit tricky to read as I focused pretty much only on the cliff, not the trees and greenery above or the water and sand below.
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Short Sands Sketch, graphite on paper.
I know, it is hard to make sense of when the drawing subject is out of context but when I put it next to my Short Sands studies I have done, I can start to see the reason for the shadows and shapes.
I am obsessed with painting this area some reason. I really want to get a good painting that captures what I see and feel at this spot, and believe me, the feeling is strong. I will keep going back and painting studies until I have it down and have enough to paint a formal studio painting along with any decent plein air paintings I can get out of it. There is a lot to paint there in addition to this one area.
Today was a bit of a rest day and catching up on a few chores. However, this afternoon I went back to Devil's Cauldron to do a bit of sketching there too. We had a bit of a time constraint so I decided to sketch rather than paint. The afternoon was beautiful and I pulled out what is quickly becoming my favorite sketching materials, my water soluble graphite pencils, ArtGraf water soluble graphite in a tin, and Niji water brush. The water soluble graphite allows me to create something between a drawing and painting. I am having a lot of fun with it although I can see I need to refine the technique a bit. Here is the drawing I made at Devil's Cauldron today:
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Devil's Cauldron Sketch, water soluble graphite on paper
The values in the ocean and distant cliff behind the tree stump are way off so it is hard to tell what is going on there. I need a bit more practice with the stuff. This is the first time I used the ArtGraf tin.
I did remember to squint today!
I am also starting to consider what I want to take away from the workshop I recently took and what I want to leave behind. I am getting a good idea and I think I will know after another few sessions. More on that to come.

So now, a couple days of working at the store and then off to paint again

Summer is nearly officially upon us!

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