During our recent trip we stayed in Aix en Provence as our home base and drove to other villages in the area mostly in the Luberon region. A forty five minute drive south form Aix is the lovely village of Cassis, which is absolutely beautiful. I can only imagine in the high summer season how crowed it must get there! We spent time sketching, walking around and then took a boat tour of les calanques, which are the limestone cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea that connect Marsailles to Cassis. The water is the most gorgeous turquoise, which photos never do justice to illustrate.
Well I said I was back but I haven’t posted since July 8! It’s been a bit crazy in the studio, in a good way! I got a call to do a Disney illustration protect that has kept me busy the last few weeks. It was a blast to do and I will share when the illustrations have been published. This little project couldn’t have been more up my alley. More details to follow.
I thought I would share a watercolor sketch I did while in Provence. I tried a new sketchbook on the recommendation of Iain Stewart from his workshop I took last spring. It’s a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series. The size I got is a 9″ x 12″. This is the first sketch I did in it and my first reaction was what the #$*%! I’m so used to painting on cold press rough or handmade Twinrocker paper, at first I felt really out of my comfort zone. This paper is a lot smoother. However, as I progressed I started loving the looseness of the sketches and how the washes dried on this paper! I’m a convert, not that I will give up on my other books and the variety of papers that are in those. I just have a bigger repertoire now!
This is Abbey Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a 12th century abbey in a small valley near Gordes, France.
I had to re-read this book when I returned home to keep Provence more alive in my head and re-live our trip a bit.
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Limited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris France, Watercolor Sketch
DAY 2 of the 3 paintings in 5 days challenge…I posted three watercolor sketches from my travel journals. I use two sizes of books 8 x 6 and a 10 x 7, one brush, sometimes two, a large round and a flat, and a small Windsor & Newton travel palette. If you want to know more about my sketching set up you can read a previous post here. Keeping these journals resulted in my passion and path to painting in watercolor! These mean more to me than any photo I have taken and looking through them occasionally brings back so many fond memories.
Chedi Beach, Phuket Thailand, Watercolor Sketch
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Watercolor Sketch
There is a group of artists that goes out every Friday to paint at Epcot and I’m joining them to make it a “painting practice” similar to a yoga practice. Just like yoga, it clears the mind and you feel great after you do it! I’m really enjoying it because it reminds me of watercolor sketching on my travels, and since we are painting the countries in World Showcase at Epcot, it especially feels that way! This was my third time and already I can feel an improvement in drawing, painting and time management.
(I have posted a number or my watercolor travel sketches you can see by clicking here. You can scroll through and look at a number of older posts.)
These sessions I’m painting a bit more in detail than what I normally do in my watercolor sketch book but I’m trying to stay loose and spontaneous as I do while sketching. It’s hard not to get too caught up in the details.
Work in Progress
I feel the key has been for me to take time with the drawing, site measuring and getting the proportions accurate. There is nothing more frustrating than to put a really loose drawing down, start to paint then realizing there is something way off, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago. I spent about an hour on this drawing, block in. Knowing I was going to paint, I wasn’t too detailed with the pencil work. I’m drawing with a mechanical pencil and painting on a 9 x 12 Arches Watercolor Block.
The last couple of times I stayed for two hours, this time three. One hour dedicated to drawing and two for painting. Having more time for the painting allowed me to get closer to a finished painting, but I still feel I have a few areas and values I would like to tweak.
I’m also being more conscious of composition and editing out details, not wanting to paint an area just because it’s there if I feel it won’t work in the painting. You can see from the view that I edited out the white building on the left. I didn’t want a big white block on one side of the painting.
If you paint plein air or sketch in watercolor, I wold love for you to make comments and share any tips!
Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to plein air paint with some Walt Disney Imagineers in Italy, at Epcot. We arrived at sun up to have just shy of a couple of hours to paint. Instead of working in my sketch book I thought I would give the plein air easel a go and work on piece of paper. I don’t know why but when I’m working in the sketch book I’m looser and don’t focus on the details as much. I need to start applying that same mentality to the piece of paper! Maybe I should work smaller to have the same size surface as my sketchbook and I won’t have the urge to be as detailed.
It was a glorious day and it’s so magical being in the park before the guests arrive!
Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper
I have had the wonderful opportunity to live in Paris on three separate occasions and have traveled there a number of times. A great advantage to living there is to visit my favorite museums on many occasions. I loved running into the Musée D’Orsay just to study and focus on one particular artist or area. I could really savor the moments there and not feel rushed as if it may be my last visit ever or for a long time.
Another place I visited on multiple occasions is Claude Monet’s home in Giverny. This place is so magical to me. It constantly changes and is never the same on each visit. I have been there in every season, except winter, when it’s closed. One fall day in October, it might as well have been winter, I froze my keister. However even in the cold with the garden declining it’s wonderful.
This sketch was done in the spring. I took a dear artist friend visiting from Indiana there and we toured the gardens and sketched. Every time I look at this sketch I think of her and the fond memories of her visit. That’s what I love about sketching. For me it captures way more of a feeling of the time and place then a photo ever could.
Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper
After finishing “Hope is Home” I’ve enjoyed some down time with my family and this week I have been busy preparing for the workshop I will be teaching in October at the Winter Garden Art Association. I don’t have a big painting on my easel at the moment but I have been doing some sketching. I recently got a new plein air watercolor easel for my birthday! (I love having a husband who is also an artist!)
A few weeks ago we went out with a group of friends and painted locally in Winter Garden. Since this outing was prior to the easel, I just did my normal set up sketching in my sketchbook with my backpack that converts to a stool. If you are interested in the equipment I use for watercolor sketching you can visit a previous post here.
I really like doing these long vertical formats and the water tower was a perfect subject. After I had laid everything in pencil and started painting, the car had moved. I painted it in any way, so it appears a bit wonky to me. Oh well, it’s just a sketch.
Three to four times a month, we have life drawing at the Winter Garden Art Association. My husband and I try not to miss it. We have been going for a few months now and I can notice a big improvement in my figure drawing which is not really my strong suit. Like anything the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. In a way this has become like yoga for me “a practice.”
Last night I decided to take my new easel for a test drive, and paint during the 20 minute poses. I have always drawn and never painted before for the quicker poses as opposed to one long pose for the whole night. So here is my first attempt. This one is the better of the three. I hope to get the hang of it to get more information down. What I learned is this forces you to be quick in your drawing and not futz with it so you have some time to lay some color down. Now I have a new thing to practice, practice, practice!
Watercolor sketches on Handmade Paper
I have been on somewhat of a self-imposed exile from the internet and social media lately. I’ve been working intently on a special project I will share with everyone soon and have had a little bit of vacation time with family.
Today, I thought I would share a plein air sketch I did one summer when we lived in Paris. We have friends that have a summer home in the Cévennes region in the South of France and we love to visit them and spend time there when we can. They are there right now so I have been thinking of them the last few weeks. The two sketches done vertically are views from the valley where they live. The Cévennes area is west of Provence, more mountainous and absolutely lovely!
Stay tuned, I will share what’s been happening in the studio and will start posting works in progress of my new painting. I hope everyone is have a great summer so far!
Watercolor on Handmade Paper
It’s been a busy week here in the studio. My newest work Gate of Reverence is finished except for a signature and a pressing. Will post the finished painting soon! I’m also in the process of researching and designing my next painting which I will be doing for a very special cause. More to come on that too! My daughter is home from school. I have been spending some wonderful time with her on her days off from work. And, my husband has some time off from work too! Life is good.
Today thought I would post a sketch done a while back of some local subject matter. This is a view of The Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World in Florida. It’s kind of challenging to sketch a big “grand” building on a small 6 inch by 9 inch page. It forces you to measure and keep it simple!
It’s been a busy week, I’m in the process of finishing Gate of Reverence, and am brainstorming and designing a painting for a special project which I will talk about when it’s a bit further along. Plus doing a lot of general life stuff, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, you know the stuff that still needs doing while we try to squeeze in painting time!
Today I’m posting another watercolor sketch from my travels. I love Spain, even though, sadly I speak no Spanish. I have probably seen more there than in any other country in Europe. I have been to southern Spain a few times and this sketch was done on one of those occasions in the Alcázar in Seville.
After sketching in many places oddly there are those select few where you find out after the fact, it is forbidden to sketch there! This is one. My husband and I settled down to do our sketches. We split up, he a few yards away from where I was. We were probably about 45 minutes into the process, just about finishing up and we were approached by a guard asking us to stop. Mind you if we were painting oils, I could see there might be some issue painting in the garden. There were no signs posted, nothing in the literature we received when we paid our entrance fees. You were allowed to take as many photographs as you like. The guard gave us no explanation. Needless to say we were a bit stumped. However, we came away feeling like we had gotten away with something, a nice memory painting in the Alcázar and some pretty decent sketches.