Still Trying to Catch Up ...

More sketches from the backlog I've developed in the past few weeks ... This time it's a few watercolors from various places. Sketching small, in something like a 5" x 8" Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, is certainly enjoyable. And keeping things small usually means keeping things quick and loose, which definitely has its advantages when sketching on location. But to really get into sketching with watercolor I feel like I need more space on the page, and it's easier to work on a 9" x 12" pad or block instead of in a book. Using a larger, better brush is also a nice change of pace from the waterbrush I typically use for small subjects. Waterbrushes are fantastic for the small stuff, but there's nothing like a good sable #6 to get the water and pigment flowing. This first sketch is in the center of Rome, the Via delle Vacche, just off of Piazza del Fico. This was done just after finishing my sketching colurse with students for the morning ... one of my favorite times to draw on my own is immediately after teaching people about drawing!
The second sketch is from Ostia Antica, the ancient port city of Rome. Like the first sketch in this post, I had just finished up with my students and had found a nice shady, quiet spot to settle in and paint. This is the "Case del Giardino" ... i.e., garden apartments.
This one is from Paestum, a Greco-Roman settlement south of Salerno, along the coast. It was founded in the 4th/5th Century BC, and is one of my favorite places to visit ... amazing ruins in an equally amazing landscape. This is the lone intact column around the ancient Forum. I got a little bit lost in the act of painting and paid for it with a painful sunburn on the right side of my neck.
The last of this little collection is from Piazza Umberto I in Atrani. I started this one in the upper-left, and was having fun with the landscape with the little monastery on the cliff ... but I have to admit I got a little lazy toward the end, and sort of gave up toward the bottom. My patience has its limits, I suppose. So perhaps it's back to the small-scale stuff for a while.


Galleria Borghese

I don't think I could say it better than Gabi Campanario did in his post on Urban Sketchers, so I'll just quote him: "I can't think of a better way to experience a museum visit than drawing whatever is on display. You're much more likely to remember what you learned if you sketched it." Ordinarily, I'm too much in awe to sketch when I visit the Galleria Borghese here in Rome, but since I've been doing more figure drawing lately I figured it was worth a try.
The Galleria Borghese was created by Scipione Borghese in the early 1600s. His uncle, Camillo, became Pope Paul V in 1605, and Scipione was elevated to Cardinal the same year. He was an avid art collector, and this gallery was his personal treasure trove for ancient sculpture and the contemporary works of his day. Scipione Borghese was Gian Lorenzo Bernini's first major patron, and the gallery houses some of his most impressive early works, including Aeneas and Anchises, Pluto and Proserpina, Apollo and Daphne ... 
... and also his version of David, which is likely a self-portrait of the artist and which shows the protagonist in the moment before he slings the stone to kill Goliath. This last sculpture is the one I decided to draw on this visit. Since you are only allowed into the museum in 2-hour shifts, your time there needs to be focused ... so I did my best to move through the picture galleries and made brief visits with the other Bernini sculptures before settling in and drawing for about 45 minutes. When I take on subjects like this, I'm not always happy with the results, but I was very happy about this one. I'm already looking forward to going back at some point to try other sculptures, or perhaps this one again from a different angle.


Small Sketches from Atrani, Part 1

A week ago we went to Paestum and Atrani for four days. Beautiful weater and fantastic sketching opportunities. Here are a few from the Moleskine. The first is the view of the western bluff above town, toward the sea.
This is the view from Piazza Maddelena, in front of the main church in town and looking along the coast to the east. I was experimenting with blue shadows ... seemed to work reasonably well.
And this last one is the view from my room. I got the idea for doing this sketch while I was on the phone with my wife, who had just arrived in Rome. The reflections looked interesting, and the bright sunshine outside contrasted well with the cool interior of the room ... more to follow!

Short Watercolor Studies

Another example from sketching class ... in this case I was trying to show my students how to do very small, quick studies in watercolor. And I was trying to get sort of loosened-up myself, by not taking on too much at one time. These were done around the Portico d' Ottavia.

Catching Up ...

I've been very busy, and doing a fair amount of sketching .... but I haven't been posting enough. So I have a backlog of drawings that I want to get up on the blog and Flickr. The next several posts will probably come fast and furious, with not a whole lot of storytelling to go along with the images.

These sketches were done in the early days of the program, during the sketching course I teach. The goal was to show students how to keep their drawings quick, small, and manageable. Each of these is just a few inches by a few inches, and only about 5 or 10 minutes. (Derwent Venetian Red pencil.)

Much more to come very soon ...


Sketching Gear

Here is my sketching kit at the moment ... I have a few drawers of materials in my office, but this is what I'm currently traveling with for a summer in Rome. For pencils, I'm carrying three Staedtler-Mars (B, 2B, and 4B), a Derwent Venetian Red, a Derwent Chocolate, and a General's Medium Charcoal ... and a pencil-extender one of my teachers gave me a very long time ago. I also have a kneaded eraser for basic cleanup - as a rule, I never erase any lines, so this is just for accidental smudges - and a Mars plastic eraser for major accidents, like if a pigeon should happen to dump on my sketch. A small General's sharpener has been working fine, but I need to replace my little pocket knife - it was confiscated by TSA as I was on my way to Rome a couple years back, and I just haven't found a new one yet. For pens, I have a Uniball Vision Exact Micro (although I haven't been using it very often), a Lamy Safari with an extra fine nib, and an old Yafa fountain pen my dad gave me many years ago. I like the Lamy because it's so rough-and-tumble, but the Yafa is easier to draw with - it feels softer and much more fluid. Noodler's Lexington Gray ink is in both fountain pens. I had searched far and wide for a dark brown (sepia) ink that wouldn't bleed when adding watercolor to a sketch ... but no such luck. So I followed Nina Johansson's lead and went with the Lexington, and I like it very much - thanks, Nina! My watercolor palette is the same one I bought as a student about 25 years ago - a good, solid, hinged enameled-metal one, with a removable plastic piece that has the wells (makes it very easy to clean, and I like a clean palette!). My colors are all from M.Graham, and I really can't recommend them highly enough. The specific colors are, top-to-bottom on the palette, in some cases with two colors in the same well: Sepia, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Gamboge, Cadmium Yellow Light, Hooker's Green, Viridian, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, and Cadmium Red. Finally, my brushes ... I use a Koi waterbrush for small, on-the-go subjects, and one of two other brushes for larger watercolors, and for when I have more time. The red-handled one is a Princeton synthetic sable #6 round, and the clear-handled one is a Connoisseur Kolinsky sable #6 round (this is my favorite brush). Not pictured here is a small brass water reservoir that clips to my sketchpad when I'm not using the waterbrush. Also not pictured here are the paper towels essential for watercolors and the pencil case I use to carry all this stuff around. Portability is the prime limiting factor ... I have to be selective to get it all in the case, and being selective is good!


Quick Sketches

Here are a few quick sketches from last week - I have a slight backlog and I'm trying to catch up. Even though I've been trying to simplify things and move to just a single sketchbook ... well, that hasn't happened. The dinner sketches I recently posted were from my relatively new Handbook - which was the intended 'single sketchbook.' But the sketches in this post are from the Moleskine (5" x 8" watercolor). And I'm also using 9" x 12" pads of drawing paper and watercolor paper for larger drawings (will post some of those soon). So if anything I've just added to the confusion by adding the Handbook. Well, it's not really confusion. It's just a hassle sometimes to tote all this stuff around ... or, if I leave one of these books/pads at the apartment, then I always regret not having it with me. Not a big problem, I know, but these are the things that occupy the mind of a sketcher. The first one here, of the Piazza di Spagna, was another attempt at using watercolor as a sketch medium - i.e., not doing any sketching with pencil or pen and then watercolor, but just doing the sketch directly in watercolor. The second sketch, of a beautiful little space just off the Via Margutta, was done with a Derwent 'Chocolate' colored pencil (one of my students asked if it was made with real chocolate), and the last one - at the Villa Giulia - is the Lamy Safari, Lexington Gray ink, and watercolor. It was a nice day of touring with my students and sneaking in a few quick sketches along the way. I'm having good fun mixing it up with media over here!


Eating Alone in Rome

Since my family has yet to join me here in Rome, and since I haven't had the time (or made the time) to make myself dinner, I've been eating out on my own every couple of days. It can be lonely, and Italians often regard me as an oddity - I think it's uncommon for them to eat alone, and I must look a little sad sitting there by myself. But it's not so bad if I do a little sketching and writing in my journal before or after I devour the evening's pasta. The day's events, comments on the food, and assorted thoughts make up the writing ... and whatever happens to be in my view ends up as a sketch. For this reason, I usually try to grab a table with a view through the door, but that's not always possible.

I've been writing and drawing in this book, a Handbook Journal, with an old Yafa fountain pen, using Noodler's Lexington Gray ink ... and it would be nice if I could add a little watercolor, but that would make things a bit complicated at the restaurant table. So instead I've chosen to keep things simple and quick. This is a selection from a few of my favorite places here in Trastevere.

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