Monday, September 7, 2020

North Substation Tower: Process Steps

9/1/20 North Substation, Maple Leaf neighborhood

USk Japan continues to come out with fun and intriguing challenges to inspire their members. The challenges are often related to materials or approaches rather than subject matter, which makes them more appealing to me. Recently the challenge was to “show your process”: Take process shots as you work in your usual way so that viewers could see how you make a sketch. This was less of a sketching challenge and more of a sharing opportunity. The challenge, though, would be in remembering to take the step photos!

Walking through the ‘hood one morning, I realized it had been a few years since I last sketched at the North Substation (which I refer to as the “mother of all power lines”) a few blocks from home. The day after I had read about USk Japan’s challenge, it was still fresh in my mind, so I remembered to take a couple of photos along the way (though not as soon as I would have liked).

In Step 1 below (I would have broken these down into more steps if I had remembered earlier), I lightly blocked in the major elements to place them in the composition. Next I painted the sky wet-in-wet using the “licking”method. Then I focused on heavily coloring the tree and spritzing it. By spritzing foliage before drawing nearby elements or details that should remain crisp, I can keep them from being inadvertently washed away by the spray.

That little tip above probably seems like a no-brainer, but it took me a long time of using watercolor pencils regularly to plan for and remember to do it! I distinctly recall a moment at Kubota Garden last year when my carefully drawn Moon Bridge turned into a blurry mess as soon as I spritzed the foliage around it. As is true when using any water media, sequence and planning are important.

 I feel wistful and bittersweet sharing that tip here. Last week would have been my “Urban Sketching with Watercolor Pencils” workshop in USk Seattle’s 10x10 workshop program. After many months of thinking about and planning for that workshop, I was very sad and disappointed when I realized it would have to be cancelled. I had so looked forward to sharing and demo-ing tips and ideas like that with my students. It will not be the same – the direct interaction with students is the most rewarding part of teaching – but I will continue to share some of my workshop techniques and ideas here on the blog in the coming months. And someday when everyone can safely and happily meet in person, I hope to offer the workshop again.

Step 1: Block in the major elements. Paint the sky. Apply heavy color to the tree. Spritz the tree with sprayer to activate the watercolor pencil pigments. 

Step 2: After the sky is dry, draw the tower, utility poles, wall and shadows.

Step 3: Apply heavy color to shadows and activate with waterbrush. Finish with details.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see your process. I've tried to do sketches with steps to show my process, but I get so into painting that I forget. lol This came out nice. I like the play of the shadows and the overhead lines.


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