Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tiny Sketches of a Favorite Road

One of the routes on which I walk my dogs is a dirt road.  At the corner of the main, paved road, and this seasonal two-track, stands a pair of broken up stone pillars.

Every time I walk by them I think, dang, I'd like to paint that.  But I'm not sure how.  That is a lot of stones.

It just seems like it would take a lot of time to do and do well, and me, well, I'm a scribbler.  An impatient sketcher.  I can spend a lot of time on one drawing, but I prefer to catch them with fast lines and lots of energy.

But recently I remember the Fifty Tiny Watercolors project I did last December.  Why not do a few tiny watercolors of that stone road?  No detail, really, but just capturing the shapes and the light.  And if I like it well enough, well, maybe a more detailed picture could come in the future.

I thought about composition and decided to do just the one pillar that often stands in the sunlight, with the road curving off into the woods behind it.

First, I started with ink, as I often do.  I just feel secure with my ink pen. This scribble is less than an inch wide.

 I dashed on some color to capture a sense of the light and dark, and away I went.... on to the next sketch!

Next, only watercolors, just to see what would happen.  I'm capturing composition and a sense of some of the values.  Kind of like a thumbnail sketch but with color.  This one is closer to 2x3 inches.

Next, I did a more careful watercolor, a smidgeon bigger.  Maybe closer to 4x6 inches.  Still wet in wet and not a lot of detail, looking at lights and shapes. 

I found myself stymied by what my eye saw as a space of very dark dark green behind and around the pillar.  I couldn't seem to represent it without getting a heavy dark blob in that area. 

I tried one more time, bringing back the ink, trying to capture the shape o the road and the blackness of the dark dense woods behind the pillar.

These were all a great challenge for me, and terrific fun.  I completed all four little sketches in well under an hour.   I got to try and try and try again with the challenges of representing the stones, the structure of the crumbling pillar and the highly sunlit areas against the shadows of the dense woods.

For me, in this time and with this place, this approach to sketching a favorite landscape was much more entertaining and satisfying that creating one single extensive work would have been.  My impatient scribbling self felt satisfied by the speed and energy with which I allowed myself to work and I learned a lot about the location and the challenges of representing it in the process!

I look forward to trying this technique again, here or elsewhere.  Multiple quick sketches of the same scene, just to see what new things you can see or depict each time!

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