Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dry Pen and a Lesson in Composition

6/12/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown and Iroshizuku Take-Sumi inks, S & B Alpha
Several of my watercolor pans were nearly empty, so I was pleased with myself that I remembered to fill them before going out this afternoon for a quick sketch. Unfortunately, as I sat down to sketch at a sunny Lakeside Plaza table near Green Lake, I realized that the fountain pen that is usually filled with waterproof Platinum Carbon ink was bone dry. And since I’ve been trying so hard to keep only the bare essentials in my bag, I didn’t have a spare waterproof pen! Curses! (See – there are good reasons to carry just-in-case supplies! Not that it helps to say told-ya-so to myself.)
Disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use color, especially since one of my chosen sketch subjects was wearing a bright red dress that would have been fun to paint, I did have two other fountain pens filled with brown and black water-soluble inks, so I decided to make do.
Ever since Gail and Frank’s workshop, I’ve been a lot more aware of composition. My sketch compositions are not always better than they used to be, but I’ve discovered that learning to abandon a bad composition is almost as important as being able to identify a good one.
6/12/13 Iroshizuku Take-Sumi ink, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
At left is the composition I started with. The woman on the right who was interacting with her baby in a stroller caught my attention first. Then I realized the stroller was nearly obstructed from my view by a chair, so I flitted over to a second woman – but didn’t leave enough space for her companion. Instead of continuing to struggle with this crappy composition for another half-hour, I stopped right away and turned the page.


  1. Your composition on the completed one is good. That is the drawback of sketching directly in can't change it once you start. Good for you that you remembered to fill your paint pans. I go for days before I remember. In fact my Lamy pen needed ink and that was for nearly a week. lol Happy sketching!

  2. I think knowing when to abandon a sketch that's not going to work out is a very good skill to develop. :)


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