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.


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.


Sketchbook study of the base of a door

I tried out my new homemade clip-on water cup with a Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook today. I like the addition of the cup to my kit. This will make some location sketching easier. Sometimes the view standing up is better than sitting down. The cup makes that possible.

In this sketch I didn’t get the colors quite right (the sill isn’t lit properly), and probably picked the wrong subject for the available time of15 minutes, which wasn’t enough time to let the different washes dry enough, but I did learn that scraping into a wash is a nice way to give a weathered impression quickly.