Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Back to Sketching

Scolid Wasp on Garlic Chives. Watercolor by Ken Januski

Wood Duck and Canada Geese in Wissahickon at Mt.Airy Bridge. Crayon and wash by Ken Januski.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Persimmons. Watercolor and Pen by Ken Januski

OK. Enough of those photos! They do help with documentation but they always seem lacking in expressive power. As I said in another post the opportunity to try a bunch of Stillman and Birn sketchbooks for the demonstration on April 27 has gotten me to experiment with various subjects. In most cases I've looked at these subjects for awhile, knew that I'd like to do something with them, but just couldn't figure out how to go about it. For some reason this demo has spurred me on to try many of them.

At top is a 7x10 watercolor on Stillman and Birn Beta paper. I used to collect and draw insects that I found, rendering them with a technical pen and viewing them under a microscope. It was a big switch from the 6x8 foot abstract paintings I was doing at the same time. In any case I came to see how fascinating insects were and spent a lot of time identifying what I saw.  A year or so ago I took some photos of the wasp at top in our garden. It's a very familiar wasp.

But  my familiarity with insects has lapsed. I believe it's a scolid wasp. In any case I've always loved the combination of it and the garlic chive flowers in the photo. I've shied away from the whiter Stillman and Birn papers but I've seen some people, like Debbie Kasari at Drawing the Motmot use it to great advantage. So this seemed like a good paper for the brilliant whites of the garlic chive flowers.

At bottom is another such photo, and scene - Yellow-rumped Warbler, with just a blush of orange, perched in the Persimmon trees at the dunes of 'The Meadows' at Cape May in the fall. The combination of orange colors, grays of the persimmon trunks, and often brilliant blue skies of October is a scene not to be forgotten. This is done on 7x10 Stillman and Birn Epsilon paper, a paper meant for line, especially ink line. It also is brilliant white like the Beta paper. I decided to render it with a ballpoint pen, then use a light watercolor wash over it. It worked well but I think would have been better off without the blue background. This isn't a style in which I normally work. But I think anyone who likes to combine ink and light wash will find this paper very desirable. Though I don't normally work this way I'm sure I'll try it again. It is truly amazing to realize what an arsenal of tools I'm building up.

Finally amidst all of yesterday's photos I did try a new Stillman and Birn 5.5 x 8.5 inch Zeta sketchbook, doing a quick pencil sketch of a Wood Duck and two Canada Geese on a large rock in the Wissahickon. It's viewed from the Mt. Airy Bridge and yes that is my attempt to render it, in the splendid glory of Wissahickon Schist of which it's made, in the foreground.

I had hoped to actually use the Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons on the spot but since time was limited. I added the color with the crayons and wash from various waterbrushes later in the day yesterday and this morning. Again I opened the sketchbook so that it was flat and used it as one whole sheet of paper. I've often seen this used very effectively and so I've wanted to experiment with it. The paper worked beautifully. But I think I just didn't make the best composition. On the other hand it's my first in the field use of this sketchbook. I see great possibilities in the future.

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