Monday, August 12, 2013

Fountains: The New Sketching Nemesis

8/12/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
Before you read further, follow this link to a sketch of a small fountain at Fremont Coffee Company by Gail Wong. When I first saw this sketch last night, I was stunned by how beautifully she captured the water streaming out of the fountain. The stream is partly transparent to objects in the background, yet it also appears white as splashing, flowing water often does. I asked her if she used gouache, white ink or some other opaque white medium to capture that stream so accurately, and this was her response: “I saved the white of the paper for the water and put light washes of the blue mix without eliminating the white of the page.”
She makes it sound so simple! Imagining that the technique she described has got to be one of the most difficult things to accomplish with watercolor, I was intrigued and determined to give it a try (so call me a masochist).
I knew of a fountain at Northgate’s Thornton Place with multiple streams of water, so I gave it a shot. I was right: It’s got to be one of the most difficult watercolor techniques. (And never mind the tree gone wild in the background.) But now that I understand her technique, I’m going to give it a shot whenever I see a fountain.
Hey, a new sketching nemesis! Not that I’ve conquered cars, trees and architecture yet, but there are fewer fountains in Seattle than any of my other sketching nemeses, so they won’t haunt me quite as often.

1 comment:

  1. Good attempt at doing the spraying water! I agree that that is one of the hardest techniques...and Gail Wong seems to have mastered it. Like anything else it is something that has to be practiced, but you rarely get the opportunity to sketch fountains anywhere, since they are few and far between.


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