Sunday, January 22, 2023

Green Lake, Warm and Cool


1/16/23 Green Lake neighborhood (Pitt brush pens, Caran d'Ache 
Museum Aquarelle colored pencils)

While our weather in general has been typical for January – cold, wet and gray – we are occasionally treated to well-deserved sun breaks. USk Seattle’s outing last weekend was one, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day was another. (A gardener friend of mine says that MLK Day weekend and the week that follows it is historically warmer and drier than the rest of the winter, and she plans her gardening with that in mind. I hadn’t noticed that pattern, but I’ll take it!)

Although it wasn’t what I would call “warm” (temps in the mid-40s), I took advantage of the sunshine for a couple of color sketches during my walk through the Green Lake neighborhood. The “warm and cool” in my blog title isn’t about the weather; it’s about my ongoing experiments with color temperature and underpaintings. Prompted by Liz Steele’s recent explorations in using markers for underpaintings, I started with color blocks of warm and cool Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens. My intention was to use watercolor pencils over the markers to intensify or complement the hues and add more details, but I didn’t get too far with that – even wearing my down parka and fingerless gloves, I got too cold. These sketches don’t feel unfinished, though – I think the quick color blocks still did their job of conveying light and shadow. And more than anything else, it just felt good to sketch outdoors.

Process notes: From these sketches, I decided that yellow works better than peach as a warm tint, but I think a paler yellow would be even better. Liz seems to prefer water-soluble markers that blend easily with her watercolors. Although I have water-soluble markers, I decided to use waterproof Pitt pens instead because I’ve sometimes had problems with mud when I’ve mixed too many water-soluble products. I’m going to keep trying these markers for a while (though probably from photos as our more typical January weather resumes).


  1. What an interesting idea! I used to do my plein air work primarily in marker (mostly pitts and double-sided kuretake zig brushables--their pale tints are invaluable in the field!), and I'd often add colored pencil or neocolor for detail and texture. I never did it with water-soluble pencils, though!! I really like the palette and effect in the bottom sketch, especially the tree.

  2. Nicely done! I like your underpainting idea with the markers. Even when the temperatures aren't really cold I mostly sketch from my mobile studio lately. The dampness makes me feel colder.

    1. Oh, definitely the damp air makes it seem colder! Brrrr.


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