|Winter Walk, watercolour, 11 x 15 inches|
Excuse the liberties taken with Ms. Streisand's lyrics. Just my sneaky introduction to a discovery I made some time ago, in a workshop with ArtCunanan, I think, that inserting people into a landscape painting adds both scale and interest to the subject. I also discovered that I had great difficulty actually drawing them.
When it came to inserting a figure or two into a painting, it was hit and miss. The figures often looked clumsy and distorted and did nothing to enhance the work. And so I was hesitant, fearing I would ruin the piece. "Winter Walk" is the exception, thank goodness. (It's long since found a new home).
In the meantime, I have begun sketching en plein air. In this, I am following in the footsteps – or sketchbooks – of thousands and thousands of artists worldwide who enjoy the phenomenon known as urban sketching. Of course, once I got outside with my pens, brushes, and pocket watercolour kit, I came face to face with … people. What to do?
No faces in this one!
Turning to Google for help in finding sites and videos, I came across Felix Scheinberger. Eureka! His book: Urban Watercolor Sketching opened my eyes. Where I had been trying to draw people realistically (and failing due to lack of expertise), Felix showed me how to loosen up and draw what amounts to caricatures. Perfect. I started filling sketchbooks with imitations of his work and variations on the theme
|A page from my studio sketchbook |
There are many more
However, I felt I could only go so far with these odd characters. I needed something between the caricature and an impression; similar to the way I have developed my watercolour painting.
Enter James Richards and his course Sketching the Energy of Places on the Craftsy web site. In this short six-lesson video, I picked up more information on sketching in the urban environment than I could possibly find in a dozen books.
There are many artists providing sketching information on the web; those that I recommend include Cathy Johnson, Liz Steel and the gang at Sketchbook Skool – and, of course, James Richards - links below. Be sure to subscribe to their various blogs and/or newsletters. (Liz Steel seems to produce a blog entry per day)
|Putting the Eye Line into practice|
There’s still a lot of plein air to go around, albeit somewhat chilly at the moment. However, one may still recall the feel of summer from the warmth of the studio.