Tuesday, 26 August 2014


I don't do it consistently but am always happy that I took the time to do a little thumbnail study before starting a sketch.  In this case, I considered both landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) formats.  In doing so, I also planned what would be in the frame and the composition.  Not only did it help me decide on the format, but I also decided to eliminate the tree behind the building to emphasize the interesting roof shape.

Many people use these thumbnails as a value study also.  I was using watercolour crayons and having trouble with controlling their values, so went with the flatter, graphic approach.

Often I do the thumbnail and then redefine the frame.  Many times his has saved me from running out of paper, simply by taking a minute or two to plan before starting.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Masking a Border

ink and watercolour crayon 
Jim absorbed and unaware of me drawing him
The sketchmaster, Jim Belisle, also introduced me to using masking tape to create a border when we were making smudges on Centre Island.  He recommends the green coloured masking tape and shared his secret of tacking it several times to your shirt so that it's not so sticky that it takes up the surface of the paper.

Many people draw a frame within the page, but the tape very sharply limits the paint and sets off the sketch quite nicely.  It's a rewarding moment removing the paint and seeing the crisp white border.

The upper sketch was done with watercolour crayons - I liked the intense colours but was having trouble controlling values to convey depth,

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Sketching with a Friend

10 1/2" x 2" Franklin's Garden
Jim busy "smudging"
with some new friends
On of the things that I learned and accessed through Urban Sketchers is how fun and it is to sketch with others.  Last weekend, I was in Toronto and spent a delightful afternoon with Jim Belisle sketching on Centre Island.  Jim was one of my wonderful professors at University of Toronto and I got to know him as a teaching assistant for a couple of terms.  He kept sketchbooks then and also introduced me to drop-in life drawing. He has been filing sketchbooks all his lfe and has not lost his enthusiasm to "make smudges".

So all these years later, it was not only fun to catch up but compare techniques and ideas.  He had generously bought me a box of watercolour crayons.  These are softer and more vibrant than  watercolor pencils and amped up my usual muted wash. So in addition to catching up I tried something new and came home full of ideas and enthusiasm for filling sketchbooks.

We encamped and did three sketches, of increasingly larger sketchbooks, from the same location.  That was an interesting exercise in itself and always fun to compare what we chose to portray.  I focused on the landform while Jim (lower sketch) dove into the colour and texture of the perennials in the foreground.