|4/27/13 Noodler's Lexington Grey ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook|
Twenty-five lucky Urban Sketchers met in Mt. Vernon
yesterday for Frank Ching and Gail Wong’s drawing and watercolor workshop, “Line
to Color.” The morning was a crash course in composition and perspective from
Frank. His motto: “Look more, draw less,” which means that he recommends
spending a large part of one’s sketching time identifying an interesting
composition before ever putting pen to page. He believes that a good
composition, which is 80 percent of the success of a sketch, can make up for a less-than-perfect
drawing and still result in a great sketch. But a good drawing can’t become a great
sketch if it’s placed in a mediocre composition.
|4/27/13 Perspective study|
An interesting process step he takes is to sketch out the entire
bare skeleton of the composition first very quickly. Then you can add more and
more detail to small areas as time permits. “White space is your friend,” Frank
said, urging us not to be afraid to leave areas on the page blank. He also
encouraged fully drawing out any guidelines that help develop the structure or perspective
– in ink. If a line turns out to be wrong, simply redraw it. Even incorrect lines
add to the life and vibrancy of a sketch.
After lunch (crab mac & cheese for me – swimming in
butter, but delish!) at the Trumpeter Public House, which is adjacent to
the Front Gallery that hosted the workshop, the workshop was turned over
to Gail for another crash course, this time in watercolor. The most valuable
part of the workshop’s watercolor portion was seeing how Gail emphasizes a
sketch’s “story” or focal point by painting selectively. Avoid the temptation
to paint everything you’ve drawn, she urged. Selective painting is one of the
things I admire most about Gail’s sketches, so it was very useful to hear her describe
her technique and see examples. In the same way that Frank uses a drawing’s
detailed areas to sharpen the focal point and strengthen the composition, Gail
uses color to draw the eye. And like Frank, she uses white space as a
counterpoint to a sketch’s positive shapes.
|4/27/13 Composition thumbnail|
Gail’s palette favors transparent pigments to those with
more opacity. Her suggested watercolor list included the Valazquez palette of
Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, plus Aureolin
Yellow, Quinacridone Rose, Pthalo Blue, Cobalt Teal and Indigo.
She talked about developing a range of color values from the
white of the unpainted page to dark by thinking of the metaphors “tea,” “coffee,”
“milk” and “cream”: Start with the lightest value and layer each successively
darker value over the previous one.
|4/27/13 Lexington Grey ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook|
Rain in the afternoon and a chilly breeze all day were less
than ideal conditions, but the bar and restaurant at the
Trumpeter Public House provided comfortable shelter for indoor urban sketching.