Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who is Captain "A"?

This is on charcoal paper, done on the spot with pen+ink, then abused later with NuPastels and then with gouache.

Stopping just a hair past making a mess.

New gimmick: trying to connect each figure with the adjacent using a continual line. Goal: a pleasing layout/design for the page. Grade so far: a miss. Those two in the center are a little too close for comfort.

A Mess and a Miss. Great!

Q: Who is Captain "A"?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stubs for the Road

Based loosely on BOTH Michael Chesley Johnson's Extreme Limited Pastel Palette AND Casey Klahn's Six Unisons post ("What I am about to reveal will change your plein-air life forever."), I have been messing around with a sketch pastel kit that would be handy to keep in my everyday bag. It's in an Altoids box and is padded inside with just enough foam to keep the weensy stubettes from rattling around. Add a rubberband, just to be sure, and I am ready to rock.

These are almost all NuPastels, with a scattering of Conté and Polychromos.

I intend to experiment with it this week. Will report!

Value v. Temperature, from MCJ, showing how value ain't the be-all-and-end-all. Color temperature also 'telegraphs' value.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nulla Dies Sine Linea

The Ramblers was the name of a Washington DC sketch club founded in 1913 by local artists Charles H. Seaton, Winfield Scott Clime, and Edwin G. Cassedy. It soon grew to four, to include Benson Bond Moore. The Ramblers soon became the Washington Landscape Club, which evolved into the now-prestigious Washington Society of Landscape Painters.

"The motto of the Ramblers was "Nulla Dies Sine Linea," (Not a Day Without a Line) and their Log-Book describes a jolly but dedicated group of men sketching at every opportunity." (from 'Historic Plein Air Society Embraces 21st Century', by RG Ray, in American Artist, 25Mar02.)

Except for being a 'men only' club (which was an actual, explicit club rule), the Ramblers sounds like a gang to be emulated.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Final Battle / AP Hill arrives just in time

This is a view of the "Final Battle" area on the Antietam Battlefield. (The sketch is about 9" x 11" and is on tinted paper in a spiral-bound pad. I coated the paper with clear Colourfix Primer. Done with a mixed bag of soft pastels, mostly Diane Townsend.)

"Southeast of town, Union General Ambrose E. Burnside's troops had been trying to cross a bridge over Antietam Creek since 9:30 am. Some 400 Georgians [General Toombs' brigade] had driven them back each time. At 1 pm the Federals finally crossed the bridge (now known as Burnside Bridge) and, after a 2-hour delay to reform their lines, advanced up the slope beyond. By late afternoon they had driven the Georgians back almost to Sharpsburg, threatening to cut off the line of retreat for Lee's decimated Confederates. Then about 4 pm General A. P. Hill's division, left behind by Jackson at Harper's Ferry to salvage the captured Federal property, arrived on the field and immediately entered the fight. Burnside's troops were driven back to the heights near the bridge they had earlier taken." The Battle of Sharpsburg was over. (Map.)

The monument in the sketch is the 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Monument. It is on a mound bounded on two sides by a curved retaining wall and it dominates the little hollow between the new Branch Avenue (where I am) and the opposite ridge, which is the heights above Antietam Creek and Burnside's Bridge further to the east.

Pastel Plein Air

Here is my Blackfoot, from Alla Prima, the best pochade box on the planet, tricked out for pastels. I was on the Antietam National Battlefield on Sunday, sketching away here and there. It was a lovely day.

The painting is on a spiral-bound pad that's held open with the spring clip. It's held firm onto the box with the regular Alla Prima panel clips.

The bigger pastel box in the middle folds closed and fits into the right hand drawer for transport. The two smaller boxes have their own tops that are secured and I carry the boxes separately, in the rolling carrier. The box on the left is built with the Open Box brass brush tray. (The hooks work perfectly on the Blackfoot!) The box on the right sits open, in the drawer, while I'm painting.

The design, workmanship, details, materials, everything about the Alla Prima Blackfoot, suits me to a T. I love it! My three storage boxes leave a bit to be desired (I pretty much slapped 'em together) but the whole system works well for me. I can swap out the pastels for the gouache set-up in a jiffy as well.

I use an ancient Gitzo 026 tripod, at one time considered the "ultimate backpackers tripod". (Today an equivalent might be one of the tripods in the their Mountaineer line.) I do use a good-quality quick-release ball head, however, since I am not into wrestling with the pochade box: the G1276M head. It may weight nearly as much as the tripod. But the ease-of-use is worth it to me.

And here is the Blackfoot with my black folding chair in front and the red rolling carrier next to it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gouache Garden Sketch

This is a gouache sketch on the Paperchase kraft paper. There are a few views of folks sitting in the Kogod Courtyard the other evening. This beautiful space is in the middle of the historic Patent Office Building, which now houses the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The museum complex is (very cleverly) open until 7pm, so folks can scrounge food at the Courtyard Cafe before hockey games at the arena right directly across the street.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sketchbook / Road Trip 2008

To see this in full screen, click here and then click on the little full screen symbol in the lower right hand corner of the video screen.

Sketchbook / Road Trip 2008 on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hang on! Spring is coming.

LinkThis is on the heavy kraft paper torn out of the Paperchase scrapbook. PR Velvet Black ink and gouache.

Below is another from Metro, done with Noddler's Nightshade and gouache.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pears on Red

This is gouache (and a little watercolor, especially that wonderful acidy DS Green Gold) on Arches rough, about 6" x 9" after cropping. It is after a pastel that I saw the other day, by Barbara Noonan.

I scrapped on the thick red-orange paint in the background with the palette knife, which was kind 'o jazzy. I can see that much of the gouache fun is going to be the impasto aspect. Cool!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gouache en Plein Air

I had decided to convert my regular sketch kit from watercolors to gouache, so I got out a small folding box with half pans and filled 'er up.

THAT didn't work at all.

Since the box wasn't sealed, it was impossible to keep the paints in the open pans at a constant moisture. They just dried up, cracked apart, and went all over.

I don't want to carry whole tubes, so I decided to make a variation of Jamie's great plein air kit.

I got one of those snap closure food storage boxes from the Container Store, about 8" x 5" x 2" deep. The kind that seals tightly with an 'O' ring.

Then I took a 6" x 4" x 1/4" piece of plexiglass and epoxied 10 of those little paint cups onto the edges of that. Above is the plein air box, shown open, next to a 7x10 Arches paper block. The box on the left, the lid/palette on the right.

In the box on the left there is a folded piece of paper towel in the bottom. The plexi piece with the cups is on top. There is a small water bottle between the cups, a piece of damp sponge at the bottom, an extra paint cup, and a tube of white gouache. The brushes are on the side and the cut-down palette knife is in the middle.

I laminated a piece of paper (which I had printed a neutral gray) onto the outside of the lid. I am using the inside of the lid as my palette, as you can see. The colors are much easier to deal with on that neutral gray background. (There is another rolled up piece of paper towel sitting at the top of the lid/palette.)

This is pretty handy, so far. If I can't keep the leftover paint on the inside of the lid from drying up and flaking off, I will have to clean the palette area off after each session. I am going to try to keep it moist by keeping that sliver of a sponge moist. We'll see.

The size is just right. The palette mixing area in the inside of the lid is a good size too. The only thing missing is one of those big water containers. Which could be carried separately.