I'm slow getting these scanned in (it's been a somewhat eventful summer), so here is a report on one lovely day taking the ferry out to Friday Harbor in the San Juan islands back in the middle of July. Jude's cousin Liz, an artist and photographer and all around delightful person, was visiting, so it was the three of us. I sketched on the ferry the way I did several years ago. I've been doing passenger seat sketches this summer, and the ferry is about the best version of that -- not as fast flashing past everything, but a kaleidoscope of a changing view. Such fun.
There were many more people in the way of the view in July than there had been in September, but it was still fun. I think my favorite ferry sketch was this simple one done only with green ink in a brush pen.
My last post was about Feature Show Falls, which was indeed a stunning feature (even if the name vaulted me back in time to my Rocky Horror Picture Show days). Almost as stunning, though, were the trees on the trail to get there. Especially this one, growing over a rock. After lunch at the falls, I left the others to explore a little further and came back early to sketch this one. Along the way I did a few other, much quicker sketches, of other gorgeous trees. Sometimes it's fun to just do line gestures and leave the paints in the box.
That original tree was so stunning, and my sketch of it so inadequate to convey its magnificence, that I'm adding a couple of photos from that day as well. The second one is for scale. It was just remarkable.
We've been driving around a lot to various appointments, and I've used some of that time to sketch and keep loose from the passenger seat. These sketches are a great test of memory, and they make a day of errands go faster. I'm still using the little Sennelier kit for ease and smallness and to keep testing it out.
I've been taking the new small set of Sennelier watercolors out to keep testing them. I miss some of my regular colors, but as I've said, I love the sap green that is a little cooler and darker than the Windsor and Newton one I generally use. The lighter green is fun, but it skews a little acid, and I try to tamp it down a bit instead of using it straight. I ended up loving those top two that I did, but the second time out for bigger pieces (instead of the tiny, quick passenger seat sketches I've been doing), I couldn't get the colors right, and everything felt overcooked. I'm pretty much at a loss to explain why I had such disappointing results the second time after feeling pretty good about the first outing, but there you are. I miss the transparency of my normal W&N set, and on the forest piece, I really missed the burnt Sienna that I depend on a good bit. I think the cobalt blue is also a little edgier than I'm used to, and that didn't come into play much until the tree trunk study. Overall, it's fun to switch things up sometimes, and I enjoy having this kit that's the right size for a purse or tiny project, but W&N still has my heart.
I've been doing more landscapes than anything else lately (which are always the primary draw for me), but I've done a handful of smaller scale, daily life sketches lately, and I really enjoy them as well. Here's a round up from the last month, since they haven't been fitting thematically into the posts I've made lately. I always enjoy opening sketchbooks back up later and remembering a favorite luncheon, a date at an ice cream parlor, or an especially yummy dessert.
Or even a medical check up...
And my very favorite -- Belgian torte from a dessert shop I had tried two years ago up in Bellingham on a day out up there. I was delighted that the place had made it through the pandemic. The torte was at least as good as I had remembered.
One of my very favorite places out here is Rasar State Park. It's small, but it has a huge variety of landscapes, from forest to beach to stone beach to meadow. It's right along the Skagit river, and it was a natural place for me to go to try to jump start my sketching a bit. I cleaned and refilled several fountain pens, and these are both done with my favorite green ink, a bamboo color that is warmer and more natural than a lot of acid greens you find. The first is a wooded walk along the side of the river, looking down to this spreading tree that hangs over the water. The second piece was sitting out on the beach proper with a view down the Skagit and off into the distance. I've drawn and painted versions of this view (from a few different angles) over the last several years, and it continues to sing to me.
The Sennelier sap green is lush and gorgeous, a little cooler and more opaque than the Windsor and Newton sap green that I've been used to. In fact, all of the colors are more opaque. This set feels like a step towards gouache. I've had fun playing with it, and I've enjoyed having a Paynes grey, which is a color I keep hearing about but have never used. I'm having trouble getting the dark richness that I can with my W&N set, though, and the light green in this one is more acidic than the warm green gold I have in my regular set. It's always good to try new things, and after feeling under the weather for several weeks, I wanted a new toy to jump start my sketching practice. I had real trouble getting up the energy to draw much of anything for a while there. This will be a neat set for keeping in a purse and being ready for on-the-go. I may try to get a tube of the green I like to add to my regular set, but at this point, I'm still a total fan of the professional grade Windsor and Newton watercolors.
I did finally get some depth in this last one, and I like how the colors bleed into each other. I also like that they dry faster than my W&N ones. I always thought that was more paper than paint, but these seem to dry more quickly instead of my having to carry an open book around for the next several minutes. But I'm still sticking with my main set for more formal work.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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