There is a local "plein air" group that's starting to meet the first Saturday of every month, and this morning was the first get together. While the other two artists that showed up and painted pulled out big easels and paint sets, I had only my Moleskine notebook, a few pencils, my favorite pen, and a small watercolor set.
I'm glad the someone has started up the group, and if we keep meeting in the Uptown part of Mt. Lebanon, I'll definitely continue going. I'm quite please with the resulting sketch (with a few touches of watercolor):
Waiting for my daughter and her friends to get out of middle school gives me some time to get a little sketching in. Although there's a lack of variety in the cars, vans, and SUVs in the library parking lot, they still make for patient subjects.
Here are a few collages of car sketches from the last few months:
Now, while these aren't all that great, Lapin reminds us that car portraits can be something awesome.
I thought I'd try this Everyday Matters challenge a couple of ways: once with watercolor, and again with colored pencil. I definitely need a bit of work on my color mixing skills. But this was a fun exercise in any case.
FYI, here's the original photo I used for reference.
Cartoonist Bob Flynn posted some of his thoughts on how important doodling (and sketching) is for development as an artist. The mantra to "keep practicing" is there, but he definitely goes a little deeper than that:
Where I think doodling is important has more to do with discovery. Trying things. Messing around. The more you do it, the more familiar you are with how you draw in general. The more spontaneous your ideas will be. It puts you in touch with your imagination. And it frees you up from that pressure of making mistakes. Because who cares if you make a mistake? Work with it! And if you make a bad drawing, there's still plenty more room in your sketchbook to make good drawings.
And then he talks about why he uses a pen or other permanent medium to sketch:
You don't have to doodle with a pen, brush, or marker, but I do think the permanence of ink switches that planning thing off in your brain.
I'm not sure if that's the same reason I mainly stick to sketching directly in pen or not, but I do think using a pen has helped me improve. I must subconsciously realize how permanent the marks will be, so I'll be a little more careful while sketching. I also like the feel of a pen (either my fountain pen, or something else) in my hand, more so than a pencil.
As a side note, I interviewed Bob several years ago for The Tools Artists Use. And he puts out a great comic (called Heeby Jeeby Comix) with some friends. I highly recommend it!
I've been doing quite a bit better about finding a bit of time here and there for sketching or painting. My last Moleskine sketchbook took about four years to fill; my current one will be filled within a single year.
I've also been trying to add a bit of color with some watercolor paints. I'm still learning how best to handle the color, but I'll get there. Here are the sketches:
And I've uploaded a few other sketches, and should continue to do so, up on Flickr.
Since I last mentioned bringing The Tools Artists Use back to life, I've added 24 new interviews! I'll admit that I was a little unsure if I was going to be able to keep it going, but I've been doing pretty well at posting new interviews fairly regularly. To demonstrate my dedication to the site, I've even put together a Facebook page for it.
I'm happy to have been able to put up interviews with several artists I've admired for many years, and many more with artists that I've become recent fans of. I have interview #25 all lined up and ready for posting in a couple of days, and here's hoping there are still many more to come.
Just a quick-ish sketch done while waiting for my daughter and her friends to get let out of school.
And I mean to actually start posting more sketches here from now on. I'm doing a bit better at sketching more often. I just need to be better about scanning them in.
This last Wednesday, I finally posted another interview on The Tools Artists Use, after letting it sit unloved for over two years. And I couldn't have asked for a better interviewee than Tommy Kane to start things up again. I've been a huge fan of his work for years, and I was overjoyed that he agreed to an interview. I've received replies and confirmations from many other wonderful artists, so I should have a fairly steady supply of interviews for months to come. I'm really glad I got the site up and running again.
Below is a sketch of another one of the Everyday Matters challenges. I'm not going through them an any sort of order, and the reason I chose this one is because it was easy to complete while I was sitting in my son's guitar lesson. Although I do get better and better working directly with ink, I've found that a light pencil outline ahead of time can make things look a lot better as I sketch.
A list of books I've recently read, or re-read, that have helped me get the pen and pencil to paper and sketching again.
Everyday Matters, by Danny Gregory
Danny Gregory writes about how sketching was one of the things he turned to as a release when his wife became paralyzed after an accident. It's a moving and inspirational memoir.
The Creative License, also by Danny Gregory
Here Danny Gregory offers plenty of creative and inspirational advice for those wanting to start sketching themselves. The book's subtitle, "Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are," says it all.
An Illustrated Life, edited by Danny Gregory
This book, that looks through the illustrated journals of many artists, was the first of Danny's books that I bought. And since it also points out the tools the participants use, it started my obsession with all kinds of artists tools, and what spurred the creation of The Tools Artists Use.
The Art of Urban Sketching, editied by Gabriel Campanario
This book is a recent analog companion to the wonderful Urban Sketchers blog. I've been following the blog for many years, but I was overjoyed to receive this book as a gift, as it gives me an easy way to browse through some of my favorite sketches and artists from the blog.
Artist's Journal Workshop, by Cathy Johnson
This is my most recent book, and it was hard to put it down. I don't think I'll ever do a true "journal" with lots of writing along with my sketches, but the lessons and inspiration are still quite relevant.
What It Is, by Lynda Barry
This is actually meant to help spur creativity and inspiration for writing, but it does just fine for creating art as well. The life stories intermixed with mythology and creativity-boosting tips are wonderful. And you can't beat the lovely collages, making every page a work of art. Lynda Barry has another book meant for artistic inspiration, called Picture This, but I liked this one much better.
Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
A short collection of inspiring quotes and mantras for creating your own voice, whether you're an artist, a musician, or writer.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that have made the biggest impression on me, or that I'll occasionally pick up and flip through.
Right about the time I started my current job, I put a project I started a couple of years before on hold. Instead of just taking a break while I acclimated myself to my new job, I let the project sit and gather dust. I would think about it every couple of months, and before I knew it, two years had passed. Now, after a couple of weeks of late nights spent working, I'm just about ready to bring it back from the dead.
I'm happy to say that I'm going to start posting artist interviews over at The Tools Artists Use again. It may be a week or so before I get a new interview ready, but I've started sending out interview requests already. And since I'm considerably more busy now, I probably won't be able to post as often as I used to. But at least it's coming back.
And now that I'm starting to pick up sketching again, it'll be nice to have a resource for more art supplies ideas (that I probably don't need, but will buy anyway).