Today was CoSo Fresh Paint day and I participated for my third straight year. I was feeling pretty confident this year because I only had to do an 8 x 10 scratchboard this year instead of the 14 x 14 size we did the last two years. I decided that I was going to do the view down Lansdowne Street behind Fenway Park. The Sox are on the road, but I got there and found hundreds of people on the road for the start of a 5k race. I found a seat out of the way, between a lamppost and a rubbish barrel and started working on this scene.
It took me until 10 am to get the scene sketched out in watercolor. I had to erase most parts of it at least once before I got it fairly straight. The pickup on the left and the 5k starting gate were soon gone, so they never made it into the final picture.
It took me until 10:50 to get the image scratched in so I could erase the watercolor.
This is as far as I had made it be noon, and I was starting to think I might not get it done.
By 2:00, however, things had progressed nicely. I had come prepared to color the picture, having mixed a batch of Green Monster green, and I was now at the point where I had to decide if I was going to color it or not.
I decided against coloring the picture and spent the last hour refining the values and fixing the details. At 3 pm I declared victory and headed back to the gallery.
My travels brought me by one of my favorite spots today, the cascades on the Thousand Acre Brook (I looked it up, that’s the correct word – cascades; a series of small waterfalls over steep rocks). It was a lovely day and the bugs aren’t biting yet. I was thinking of using this scene for a large scratchboard, so I took a few pictures and then I sat down to draw for a while. I picked up this technique of smudging the pencil with my finger to get middle values from my life drawing sessions and I’m beginning to like it a lot.
If you haven’t noticed already, I really like white pines. I am especially fond of older trees with a bit of character, the kind a forester would normally call culls or wolf trees. The area I’m working in this week has an abundance of big, old, ugly pines. I had been in this same area six years ago when I drew the pine on the left. The picture on the right is the same tree today. Unfortunately the intervening years have not been kind to it. It has lost its top and is only a couple of good storms away from falling apart altogether.
On Monday my path took me by this monster. Pines can live a long time, and this one is at least 200 if it is a day. In addition to its large size it had the characteristic bark that pines take on as they reach old age. I started drawing it that day but was interrupted by rain. The weather was more cooperative today, so I was able to do a more detailed drawing.
Some of the best work I've done isn't hanging on a wall; it's sitting in a box in my closet that's full of my old sketch books. I fill up one or two books each year. Some of the sketches end up as a basis of a more formal work, but most don't. They’re more important to me as a pictorial diary and also as on-going training; learning to really see and to understand shape, light and color.
This blog is to share my sketches as well as my sketching experiences.