Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ballard Locks

9-2-12 Akashiya Sai, Thin Line, Kuretake Brush Writers, Stillman & Birn sketchbook
When Gabi announced that an extra sketchcrawl would be organized this month so that visiting urban sketcher extraordinaire Tommy Kane could join us, I looked forward to meeting the man behind the blog I had long admired for its amazing yet quirky sketches.

Years before I had become a sketcher myself (though longed to become one), I had read (and read and read a total of four times) An Illustrated Life, Danny Gregory’s popular collection of sketches by many talented artists. In his profile describing his art background and how he came to become the urban sketcher he is now known for, Tommy said of the sketching habit, “It’s better than crack.” On my most recent re-reading of the book, after I had actually started sketching myself, I highlighted that quotation and wrote it in my journal, because I finally understood what he meant.
Crack aside, I was eager to meet Tommy, but when I heard where the sketchcrawl would be, I felt a bit intimidated. The last time I sketched at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (better known locally as the Ballard Locks), it was with Jane Richlovsky’s “Drawing on Location” class in June. Back then, I found myself overwhelmed by all that water, all those mechanical structures, all those boats, and all that all – too much of everything.
But since then, I’ve garnered the secret to sketching wide-open spaces: Japanese brush markers! Whenever I find myself dazed and befuddled by too much, I pull out those babies, and they instantly do the job for me of distilling all the detail down to the essence.
I also spent some time inside the fish ladder viewing area, where I knew the scale would be more within my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how dark it would be in there. It’s a good thing I know my watercolors by their positions in my paint box, because I could barely see them. It turned out to be a good values study.
As for Tommy, seeing in person one of his sketches – done not in a sketchbook but on what looked like illustration board – was worth a trip to the Locks.
9/2/12 Copic Multiliner SP pen, watercolor

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