Thursday, May 5, 2016

Changing Gears Quickly

5/5/16 non-hairy brush pen, Zig marker, colored pencil
Walking through Maple Leaf Park, I was delighted to find my favorite kind of excavator – bright yellow and idle. I circled it slowly to find the composition I wanted: a side angle with our iconic neighborhood water tower in the background. I thought it would make a nice companion piece to the red and white excavator I sketched in the same park last month.

With a light breeze and the sun darting in and out of clouds, I felt like I had all the time in the world to sketch it on this lovely afternoon. I put in small marks to set up the composition and had just made some preliminary lines, when suddenly break time was over. An operator appeared, drove the excavator away, and a crew of other workers started pushing dirt around. I thought I had lost my chance to sketch the excavator, so I settled for a few stick action figures.

5/5/16 hairy brush pen
5/5/16 hairy brush pen
But then things changed: Returning from the other side of the park, the excavator began to dump a load of dirt. It was moving fast, so I knew I had to, too. Changing gears, I put away my fountain pen and got out a non-hairy brush pen, which is just right for making broad strokes quickly. During the next dump of dirt, I added a few details, gave it a swipe with my trusty “construction yellow” Zig marker, and called it good.

Here’s the best part: Making the initial setup marks for the incomplete sketch (below) had taught me a bit about the excavator’s proportions and general shape. The second sketch, made very quickly while the equipment was on the move, was much easier than it would have been if I hadn’t learned from the interrupted sketch. It’s one of the many lessons you can learn while drawing on location because conditions are always changing.

The sun kept darting behind clouds, so when it popped out, I quickly put a shadow in. 

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