Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Monochrome Painting and Turtles

Recently, I treated myself to two specific colors of Daniel Smith paint to us to practice monochromatic painting.  The two, Indanthrone Blue and Burnt Sienna, stand out to Roz Stendahl as terrific complements for doing a wide variety of natural objects.  You can mix to warm or cool.  You can achieve a variety of neutrals.

I plopped a little bit of each into a tiny palette, grabbed my Strathmore 500 mixed media journal and a waterbrush, a Pitt Calligraphy pen, and a Prismacolor indigo colored pencil, and headed to my local public library's Turtle Tank.

I realized that though I have sketched people in public and taxidermy in public, and my own moving dogs, I hadn't actually sketched a moving animal out in public.  I did a frog a week or so ago, but he was reliably stationary.

Turtles seemed a good choice. Turtles.  Mobile but slow.  Right?

Not so much.  

I got there and plopped right down on the floor (the tank is at toddler eye-level).  The turtles were swimming, so I watched for a minute or so waiting for them to, you know, SLOW DOWN.

There was no slowing down these turtles. 

The voice in my head popped right up:  They are moving too fast; you will never be able to get anything down unless you resort to drawing what you imagine, not what you see.

It's okay, I thought.  I'm just scribbling.  If all else fails I will practice with the two colors and enjoy the turtles!

I watched and waited, because animals often return to the same positions and angles.  The proved true with the turtles and I was able to get some accurate and interesting observations, and I rendered them in a way that's meaningful to me too!

Here are the results:

I started with light colored pencil.  Then went to watercolor. When I used the black pen, it was over the watercolor to restate some lines I wanted to remember.

It was fun experimenting with the two colors.  I wanted to see what they were and what they did, so can see in the pages that I didn't just use a straight mixed monochrome, but let the blue and the burnt sienna shine through here and there.  Not true to the turtle's colors, but I'm okay with that.  I was looking for shape, angles, value, and proportion.  I need more work with the colors in the next few days.

Side note:  I have a personal belief in always introducing interested kids to my passions:  dogs, comics, and drawing.  Because I was in the little kids' area of the library, I had several small people come up to check out the drawings.  I was able to talk to them and keep drawing.  It added to my enjoyment of the whole thing.

What I particularly like is the middle sketch on the left side of the spread.  That's one where I looked down and thought, "GOT IT!"  Then I stopped touching it immediately!

I am also glad I kept going and really had an experience--my first!--drawing a fast moving animal, and not giving up!

I look forward to more experience with the watercolors and with direct brush sketching.

This post comes from work I did in a class with Roz Stendahl, Drawing Practice:  Drawing Live Subjects in Public.  I recommend it!

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