Monday, February 12, 2024

Tonal Confusion


2/10/24 Roosevelt neighborhood

Although Saturday dawned near freezing, by early afternoon it was warm enough to walk and sketch without gloves. Near Roosevelt Light Rail Station, I noticed this block of blah, boxy buildings of the type I am not inspired to sketch but somehow feel compelled to torture challenge myself with. It looked like a good opportunity for a tonal experiment.

When making tonal studies on colored paper, I invariably use the color as the midtone and add white and black for the lightest and darkest tones. Three tones to work with seem like plenty. Because I was carrying a light blue Posca marker and a white Pitt Artist Pen in addition to a white Gelly Roll, I got the idea in my head that I could add two more values: The blue would be between orange and black, and the white Pitt would be between orange and the Gelly Roll’s whitest white. But the sun dipping in and out of clouds combined with my lack of clarity about which tone was which I made a mess of it, and the values do not “read” well. Furthermore, the Posca marker is ideal for line drawings, so the tip is too fine to color in broad areas. I wish I’d remembered that a few seconds before I started coloring instead of after. Oh, well – that’s why it’s called an “experiment.”

Great to meet you, Marva (and Bob)!

The best thing about this sketch is that while I was making it, I met watercolor painter and blog reader Marva (and husband Bob)! When I’m out sketching, I occasionally meet members of the Urban Sketchers Facebook group who have not yet joined an outing but recognize me from the photos I post there. However, meeting blog readers “in the wild” is a very rare occurrence! A Maple Leaf resident, she knew from my regular references to the neighborhood that I lived nearby.


  1. I guess you just can't hide from the public now...too famous. It is nice to meet people that already know your work.

  2. Marva: I was so excited to meet you sketching! I learn something new from you each day. I love your Ugly Book drawings.

    1. It was wonderful meeting you, Marva! I hope to run into you again sometime! :-)


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