Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Museum of Flight: More Values with Markers

9/28/15 ink, Pitt Big Brush markers, fountain pen, colored pencils (Lockheed Super G Constellation)

The day after Don Colley’s urban sketching workshop, he met Urban Sketchers Seattle at the Museum of Flight for more sketching. Other than at life drawing, I have never been much of a fan of toned paper. But I’d seen Don’s effective use of it, especially with his favorite gray Pitt brush markers, so I grabbed my Strathmore Toned Gray sketchbook to give it a try.

9/28/15 Pitt Big Brush markers, fountain pen (WWI Caproni Ca 20)
Like the previous workshop day, Monday afternoon turned out bright and sunny. I climbed up to the museum’s “control tower” for a great view of the Lockheed Super G Constellation. It seemed almost a travesty to make a sketch including that gorgeous blue sky – on gray paper (although it would work well most of the year)!

Next I wandered to a part of the museum I’d never seen before – the World War I gallery. Unfortunately, it was very dark, making it difficult to identify the values in the Italian fighter plane, the Caproni Ca 20, let alone shade them accurately.

9/28/15 Pitt Big Brush markers, fountain pen, colored pencils
(USAir 737 demonstrator)
I had only about 20 minutes before the scheduled meet-up time to share sketchbooks. With that time constraint to keep me from getting bogged down with details, I chose a challenging but fun composition: a nearly nose-on view of the USAir 737 demonstrator. Its polished surface reflected the light in the Great Gallery’s all-glass walls in crazy ways!

I have to say, I’m still not a fan of the Strathmore Toned Gray paper (which, admittedly, is made for pastels and graphite, not markers). The marker ink seemed to sink into its surface, causing it to appear lighter once it dried. The smudging and blending trick did not work at all. I might try a tan paper next to see if I like a warmer tone better. Still, with the markers in hand, I find I am observing values more carefully, and if that practice ultimately improves my sketches, I’m all for toned paper. 

See Dons Faber-Castell Road Trip blog for his sketches from the Museum of Flight.

Don sketching in the Great Gallery
From left: Kate, Feather, Frances, Tina, Michele and Don


  1. Looks like you guys had a great time with Don and that you got a lot of sketching done. I would have been watching him draw that GeeBee :-)

  2. I like the look of the white marker on the toned paper. Your sketches look really good. I haven't tried white ink in my toned book. I've used white colored pencil and I find that takes too much pressure and my hand aches too much. I'll have to try this.


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