Thinking ahead

 Thinking of our upcoming trip to Lakeville, MA by doing a toned paper study of something from last year. I want to be able to do short but moderately complete studies in the field this year. I tried to simulate the experience here–quick without too much detail. I love working on toned paper.


Decorative plates

Testing out an idea in my sketchbook. I liked the way these plates looked on the blue wall. The longest part of this sketch was painting the wall. I used too small a brush (Isabey pocket #6), but I wanted to see what it could do on the strathmore mixed media paper. 

It doesn’t always have to be a good image to be a good sketch


I am not very good about using my sketchbooks. They mostly get filled with random color experiments and half-starts of pictures that I don’t really structure–usually when I just feel like using the brush but not actually making an image. I prefer to try for finished images on proper paper, but then I go too long without painting because of te burden of picking the right thing to paint. 

I should be using the sketchbook for in-between work–just to look at something and paint it, to practice structure, mixing, whatever, or just have fun, whether or not it makes a decent image. 

I did the above sketch this morning. It’s a grey day, and there isn’t much interesting going on with the light, but I wanted to do something. At least I can get some practice in. This is in a strathmore 500 series mixed media paper sketchbook. I’d recommend these for watercolor. The paper is 100% cotton, takes the paint well, and the books are thinner than Stillman and Birn so they feel a little more portable.

Awaiting finishing touches and a signature


I was excited to get the top of the weathervane on this morning. It’s on the top of a building in Leesburg called the Carriage House, which I think is a very cool private residence. There’s something compelling about weathervanes, maybe that they make concrete and visible something as vague as wind.

Just letting it dry and I will put a signature on it and scrape out a few highlights.

Working on a weathervane

When I was in downtown Leesburg this weekend I came across this cool roof and weathervane and was reminded of a Wyeth painting I can’t seem to find. I took a quick picture more for the structure than the scene–in real life the sky was a flat blue and some trees were creeping up behind the roof. Very pleasant for a morning out, but not so exciting for a painting. I tried to draw on memory to make some clouds dissipating to reveal a patch of blue sky, and I lit the cupola(?) as if the sun were shining from outside of the frame.

The cool part of the weathervane is still to come, but I have to let the sky dry and the paper flatten again.
I am using a block of Fabriano Artistico traditional white cold press paper. I like the paper, though it is softer than Arches, but the block isn’t so good. I left it in the sunlight one day and the glue separated in a bunch of places, so it doesn’t quite keep the paper as flat as it should. Still, I like the paper for paintings like this or for still life studies, though I think it’s not as good for details as Arches. The Fabriano 5×7 blocks are great for small sketches and are a pretty good price online.

I am getting back into reading fiction after a hiatus for what feels like a binge of history/urban studies reading between several books and a whole lot of articles. Winesburg, Ohio will be my first book. I started it years ago, but it did t line up with what I was interested in writing at the time–I found it hard to enjoy reading while I was writing–, but I hope it will prove more rewarding this time around. I’ve been thinking about building more implied story into my paintings, at least for some of them, and Winesburg, Ohio might fit well with that. This painting is a first step. 
Thanks for reading.