On Monday morning I had an hour and a half to sketch on West Main Street in Salisbury, MD while Anita did errands.

From the corner of Mill and West Main Street, Salisbury, MD

On Thursday, Dave had errands to do, giving me the opportunity to sketch Main Street looking in the opposite direction.

Not quite finished when I had to catch my ride back to Tyaskin

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of left side

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of right side

Unfortunately, West Main Street, a lovely quaint street, is a bit of a ghost town.  A mother and son, waiting for I know not what, provided the opportunity to breathe a bit of life into the drawing.

Mother and Son …. waiting …. for whom?

Looks like I’ll be teaching a couple of multi-day, color scheme game workshops in Salisbury in 2013, most likely in February and again in April.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sketchbook, en plein air drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black ink… followed by watercolor and gouache.

I brought back a couple of palm tree paper sketchbooks from Mexico for Nicole and Alexis.  They were wise to leave them unopened and to eventually give them back to me.  I haven’t found a medium yet that adheres well to the odd paper.

Trumpet Parts No. 45, India Ink

I thought India ink would stick to almost any kind of paper.  Already Sharpie markers, watercolor and fountain pen had failed miserably.

Trumpet Parts No.46, India Ink, Ciao Copic Marker, Gouache and Casein

I’ll try acrylic paint next.  Maybe that will work.  I don’t give up easily.

Sketchbook drawings: India Ink using Kuretake Ink Brush.  Bottom Image has combination India Ink, Gouache and Casein followed by a few ink lines drawn in with a fountain pen.

Novelists often discard the original first three chapters of a book, despite the beautifully written passages.

Four phases of a sketchbook painting

Throughout the day as I made a few changes here and there I kept asking myself “What was my intent?”  Sometimes I allow a painting to take its own direction.  Sometimes I need to remember what had inspired me in the first place and attempt to capture a bit of that initial impulse.  It is so easy for me to abandon that initial impulse and go with the inspiration and creativity of the current moment.

One of the many reasons I am addicted to my sketchbooks is that I have the freedom to solve problems without the worry of ruining a drawing.  It doesn’t matter at all.  I feel it is a waste of the time I have invested in the page if I don’t make every attempt to resolve the problems that arise.  It’s great to learn what doesn’t work but at some point I have to find the solution to make it work.  Otherwise, I will repeat the problem in a future drawing.

Along the path, during the several stages of searching for solutions, I discover patterns, shapes and colors that intrigue me and I will save them in my memory to investigate in a future drawing.

Stage one:  Too many trees trunks.

Stage two: Painting separated too much into top and bottom, nothing grounding the row of trees to the bottom of the painting.

Stage Three: Too light a value on the right side of the telephone pole.

Stage Four:  A bit dreary.  Much closer to the initial vision of the scene.

Sketchbook Study:  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with mix of red and black Noodler’s ink, followed by watercolor, followed by more watercolor and gouache, followed by another glaze of watercolor.

Urania is one of the nine muses, goddesses of music, song and dance.  Urania’s distinctive attribute is astronomy.

Urania, Goddess of Astronomy, watercolor and gouache

This painting may or may not be hanging on the wall at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA as part of the Spring Show.  I will find out tonight at the opening.  The painting is one from the series of watercolor paintings based on mythology.  I return to the exploration of archetypes as I attempt to capture the essence of character, posture and personality of the musicians I paint on Tuesday nights at the Blues Jam. Understanding the archetypes of mythological characters helps me to observe and express the interactions of people in public places.

I mix gouache into my watercolor to bring back light areas and redefine shapes that create patterns of movement through the painting.

When designing for needlepoint the ability to execute the design must be taken into consideration.  I kept that issue on the back burner instead of the front burner.

First Color Sketch of Jean Jacket Design

My mind was on embroidery, not needlepoint.  As a result, I created edges and shapes that are not conducive to successful needlepoint design.  To remedy this, I simplified some of the shapes and added more flowers in place of the blades of grass that I had originally incorporated.  the butterflies will have to be simplified even more than shown above.  The value changes and shapes of the flowers against the sky will have to be worked out carefully, avoiding curves as much as possible.  The colors of the flowers will be adjusted.  After laying down the first wash in watercolor I went into the sketch with gouache as I started making adjustments.  The gouache dries lighter in some cases and darker in others making value judgments difficult, but not impossible.  This first color sketch illuminated the problems that need to be solved.  By the end of the weekend I hope to have the design worked out and completed for approval.  I wish it were to be embroidered instead.  I could leave in the beautiful edges of the butterfly wings and the intricate negative shapes between the flowers and stems.

The lower right corner needs to be redesigned.

Childhood antics with my best friend.

Kathleen and Chris dressed as witches

When Kathleen and I were very young we dressed up in the witches costumes her mother had made for Kathleen and her sister, Nancy.  We never wore the costumes on Halloween, we wore them during the summer to trick or treat at Mrs. Soroka’s house.  She loved children, but didn’t have any of her own.  She would invite us into her kitchen where she made us ice cream cones that looked like clowns.

Alexis and Nicole dressed as witches

The first costumes I made for Nicole and Alexis were candy corn costumes.  The witches costumes were the second.  Originally the hats and capes were black.  Both Alexis and Nicole were scared of themselves when they looked in the mirror wearing the black hats, capes and gowns.  I thought the gold metallic moon would be enough to lighten the look, but it didn’t.  I quickly made two new hats and capes out of pink and black zebra stripe fabric which the girls found totally acceptable.  For the purpose of the illustrated calendar, I changed the colors from pink and black top orange and black.

Both the painting and the illustration are done with a combination of watercolor and gouache on paper.

Happy Halloween!

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