Utility pole, stormy sky

When looking back at Turner or others from the 18th and 19th century, I admire the drama, even in sketches. Some of this was the emphasis on the sublime, some perhaps from a rougher subject matter (Winslow Homer’s seaside and Adirondacks works, for example). Not so easy to find such roughness in Northern Virginia suburbs. Utility poles against a stormy sky can take a place in an electrical era sense of the sublime. Mechanical power versus natural power–not too different from Turner’s thoughts on lighthouses in moonlight. That’s overstating it in the sketch below, but there might be something to develop with that idea in some future works. Up in Providence the Manchester Street Power Station could take on metaphorical potential. I will have to pursue that when I am next up there.

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This was done with in my Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook with Paynes grey, yellow ochre, burnt umber, cerulean blue, and a little cad red light mixed with the burnt umber.

I am enjoying these sketchbook works, and if definitely recommend this sketchbook to work with watercolor in. They stand up to a lot, and the pages buckle just enough to add character.

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Another sailing sketch

Here’s another sketch from my sail a couple weeks ago. I did this with my compact kit in a Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook. While it buckles more than the moleskine watercolor sketchbook, the paint seems to behave better with a bit more life. I think I will work this one up into a larger painting later. There’s some good potential here, with a feeling of really being part of the action.

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Marina sketch

All sorts of things going wrong here, not the least of which is it was probably too complicated a scene for the mini moleskine to handle. Then again, this my first time trying to get a bunch of boats like this. I need to study Sargent some more on this subject. Having a larger sheet would help too. He manages to make a jumble come alive. I think I will try this one again, or something like it, on a larger sheet of Arches. There seems to be some potential here if I can sort out a few things.

Thanks for reading.

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Two sky studies

On Saturday we went sailing. As we got out in the bay, a brief storm came up over Annapolis. We stayed far enough out that we didn’t get rained on, but it afforded us some incredible views of the sky. I didn’t paint them at the time but got a lot of good pictures to make some studies of. I tried also to take a lot of photos to study the way light and color work on the water, and how different size waves take on light. I plan to work up some studies of these as well. There are so many different approaches to capturing these effects, from the brush-strokes and opaque colors of John Singer Sargent, to the photorealistic approach. Each has its merits. I want to explore each, and will likely do so with the same scene sometime soon.

For now here are some quick sky studies before I work these up into larger paintings. It was a rich outing this weekend. I can’t wait to get painting.

These are of the same scene, just with different quick techniques.
In both I tried using white crayon as a resist. In the first I didn’t press hard enough, so came back in with a white gel pen and white watercolor pencil. In the second the resist worked better. I also drew out some highlights with the gel pen. In both what I was going for was a rapid way to get an impression. I think I rushed my actions in the effort to finish quickly. I need to be calm about it. The first one felt like a screw up when I did it but now I think I like it more. I learned a lot from these.

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Finishing off design district sunset

I didn’t have much left to go on this one, just putting in the branches and darkening things a bit. I will leave this as is for now. Perhaps I can do a bit more in the upper right to darken that and focus things further but I want to post it now as is.

My verdict so far on the Fluid paper is that it’s too smooth and after a while I feel as if I am wiping paint off as much as I am putting more on as I glaze. I should have handled this more directly anyway. The sky was quick and most compelling. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to get the fence and tree dark enough with enough variation without glazing. After awhile of it I got impatient and just tried to get it darker and darker since it was most interesting as a framing device.

That’s all for now. I have some new experiments to undertake shortly. Here it is.

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