I've really enjoyed having this month challenge of doing direct watercolors. It's expanding my watercolor skills and making me think about using the paint differently. I've also learned some other techniques from the book Direct Watercolor by Marc Taro Holmes. I did several more over the weekend, and the one just above is my favorite so far. It's a view I'd been looking at and meaning to paint for a year now, so I also had it firmly in my mind. It was great to get to finally have a go at it.
Below is a front porch sketch. I love sitting and sketching from a front porch. These are alder trees at the place I was house sitting over the weekend.
I had people waiting on me for the next two. They were nicely patient, but that's always a distracting force fighting inside my mind with the work I'm trying to do. I end up self editing, even if it's not being asked of me. So these were quicker (and also a simpler subject matter). Two views of the same bay from the same pebble beach. The first one is Chuckanut Mountain, whose shape I had also been looking at as I drive around the region and wanting to paint. I'm hoping to get downriver and take another swing at it at some point.
I've been able to get to a couple of figure drawing sessions out here for the first time in years. I haven't done a life session since I started watercolor, so it's been a great new thing to practice. The sessions have 10 two minute poses to start and then 4 twenty minute poses after that. I do line drawings for the short ones and watercolor for the longer poses.
I'm definitely rusty, but it's been a lot of fun.
I've been on the road a lot and out of my normal routine, which makes it harder for me to stay disciplined about what I'm putting in my mouth. It gets easy for me to graze without paying attention as closely when it feels like I'm on vacation, and I was beginning to creep up a little bit on the scale. It wasn't time for a full fledged diet, and I'm not a big fan of feeling deprived. That seems to sabotage me over time. But I decided it was time to be more mindful and intentional about what I ate. Also the direct watercolor challenge had just started, and a sketching food journal seemed like one good way to participate. So I decided to keep a week's worth of food journal in a large watercolor sketch book. I've also been trying to up my watercolor painting size, so this was a good project across the board.
It's less fun for any dinner companions you might have, so I only did it for a week or so, but it did help me. If I have to want a snack badly enough to get out the paints and add it to the journal, I really am hungry. It was fun, and when I'm back to my solo living life, I may do another week. In the meantime, here are a few of the days. You can see that I was more painting for the moment than trying to keep a list of my intake for future reference. Chicken or lasagne aren't always that easy to tell what they are in a quick sketch done before food goes cold. But it served its purpose for the moment. It was also a good exercise in composing a large page of multiple images. I had fun and am overall pleased with the big, colorful double pages.
One day was busy enough I decided to do just line drawings instead, which had a different feel. That was fun too.
My knitting group out here is from 5-8, and I don't do late dinners very well, so I was eating early and in a hurry. That day I let myself just do breakfast and lunch, but I kind of liked this one. It's the last one I'll put here. I don't switch my food up that much, so they got a little repetitive, but it really was a fun project.
There's a challenge this month to paint "direct watercolor" (no or minimal lines first, just paint) from one of my favorite urban sketchers whose painting I admire, Marc Taro Holmes. I've got his book Direct Watercolor, and I've learned a lot from it. So I'm working on stretching my technique. Last night I took a gentle walk under a gorgeously dramatic sky with Mr. Darcy. I had tucked my small sketch journal in the pocket of my rain coat, but I was longing for real watercolor paper. I did my best with what I had, and I also took a quick snapshot (below), and this morning I decided to use real brushes instead of the handy but less fine brush pen and more absorbent paper and give this scene a second shot. It's such fun playing with clouds.
I've been doing some sketches along in my journal, but I'm behind scanning them in, so here are a bunch of recent sketches. Above is the view from the table in the window of my favorite diner. Below is the view from the front porch (looking over the houses opposite, anyway).
There was also tea in my favorite coffee shop and a trip to Rasar State Park, one of my favorite spots out here. I've been making some good rounds lately.
There's a 30 day "direct watercolor" challenge online right now, and I'm mostly playing along, trying to do watercolors with little to no line drawing first. These are a couple of larger journal sketches as practice.
I've done a new print this week. I was hiking with family out here and took this snapshot. It kept calling to me, so I dropped my other projects for the moment and just saw this one on through. I've been wanting to do more storytelling and narrative in my work (as opposed to the pure landscapes I'm also always drawn to), and this just presented itself. I so see myself at that age in the total absorption in a magic place. Bridges still feel magical to me, and I would have also (and still do sometimes) just plop down to drink it all in. This one feels special enough that I went ahead and put it up in my online store, though I won't be shipping prints until I get home in late July and print this on my press. (If there's a birthday or other celebration earlier, I can do one or two out here with my wooden spoon, but I'm definitely missing my press and my regular paper doing all this print work away from home.)
I've included a couple of process shots below, since it's always fun to see the backstage view of making art.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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