Saturday, May 29, 2021

Between a Rock and Loose Place


5/26/21 Museum Aquarelles in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
Before taking down the small pile of rocks I had set up for my assigned still life, I wanted to try it one more time (at left), but this time deliberately trying to be looser. Something about traditional wax-based colored pencils seems to encourage tightness, especially when I’m seated at my comfy desk with a still life in front of me. When I’m sketching on location, I seem better able to be looser if only because I’m usually standing, and I don’t want to take too long. For the second still life attempt (at left), I used my favorite urban sketching colored pencils, Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles, to see if they would put me in a looser frame of mind.

Does it look looser? I hope so. It certainly took less time: 35 minutes compared to the three hours I spent on the first one. I’m sure it helped that the forms were already familiar, so I had nothing new to learn, and the first attempt also served as a value study. On a purely practical level, it’s much faster to achieve saturated colors with watercolor pencils. Even so, I don’t think I would have been able to be looser if I hadn’t been tight first. I’d like to be able to make a loose first sketch whenever I want to without having to get the tightness out of my system first. It’s an ongoing struggle that I continue to work on.

5/27/21 Museum Aquarelles in S&B Beta
The next day, I set up a fresh pile of rocks and used Museum Aquarelles again (at right). It took the same length of time as the one above with about the same degree of looseness. It still isn’t as loose as I would like, but I think I did a better job of capturing higher color intensity and highlights in a short time.

I’m diggin’ rocks as a quick still life subject. Their colors aren’t as bright as apples and lemons, but I enjoy looking for the subtle hues. And I don’t have to worry about produce going bad on my desk.

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