I went out at the crack of dawn to Sand Dunes National Park and the dunes had great shadows. First I walked out to the grassy knoll to have a look at the view from there. It’s fantastic! I went back to the car and got my watercolor paper and color swatches because it’s too far to lug even watercolors over the sand. I got plenty of exercise at the high altitude walking on the sand today. People go the whole way to the top and walk on the ridge. They surf down on boards too.
I thought it would be less weight to carry if I picked a few colors of Inktense pencils. As I was working on my charcoal sketch the light changed and the shadows were gone. It was getting close to lunch time. I decided to go back this afternoon and see if the shadows looked better a few hours later.
I wish I could draw a more panoramic view. This doesn’t give you the perspective. If I drew people on the ridge they would be tiny. This isn’t as much of the mountain as I’d have liked in the sketch, but at least I got the tree line in so the altitude is showing a little.
When I left the dunes a little while ago the shadows looked dramatic again. I have one more full day that I can spend up there, then I’ll have to move on again, so I hope I can get another sketch tomorrow.
This morning I was talking to a guy and when I told him I’m an artist he gave me some great info on the most beautiful places. Canon City is around 40 miles west of Pueblo on 50, my favorite road. I was looking at it on the map last night. I drove through it going east long ago but I didn’t know about the Sky Line Rd. I was glad the young dude told me to check it out.
Pueblo is at 4600 ft. and it seems fine to me. Canon city is at 5500 ft and the Sky Line Rd. runs on top of one of the ridges up higher. When I pulled off 50 to the Sky Line Rd. at first I thought I was driving on a paved foot path, it’s that narrow. The guy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I’m not. But screw up and you could go down like Grace Kelly. The road is one lane, one way and when I got back down I was on the other side of the hill from where I started and I got kind of lost in Canon City. After a mile or so of driving next to the ridge in a residential neighborhood I saw some guys working and asked how to get back to 50. I was going the wrong way on the right road. After that I was confused which way was east for a few minutes.
Then I got a sandwich in Canon City and went back up to sketch. I got too much sun. Darn, I bet there’s not much shade at the Ghost Ranch either. Maybe I should get some sun tan lotion. I didn’t pack it.
I might go back tomorrow morning. I bet the light will be better. Then I’m thinking of leaving Pueblo and moving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Pretty sure I’ll be able to find a room.
When I’m traveling I think it’s good luck to give the spirits what they ask for. I’m not really superstitious, but if someone who looks like a bum asks me for money I give them a buck, if they ask for food or tobacco I give it to them. Tobacco especially, spirits love that stuff. Yesterday I a guy who was sitting outside my motel said excuse me ma’am, then started telling me his misfortunes. I gave him a couple bucks and a banana. Tonight a girl told me she’s homeless and hitchhiking with her boyfriend. She wanted a cigarette so I gave her one. She didn’t ask for money. Then she wanted food so I gave her a couple muffins and a yogurt. I hope this keeps me and my car safe.
This is watercolor paper stapled and stretched. It’s 15 x 20, larger than the pastel sketchbook I used for the previous marsh sketch. I did a more panoramic view this time, just outlining the shapes of the trees, sky, water and grass with charcoal. It’s a little easier to draw larger and on the second try. I didn’t start painting today because it’s too hot and humid. I didn’t want to stay out long. It’s cloudy and not much breeze. We’re on the edge of the cone of doom for hurricane Dorian. I didn’t hear any evacuation orders so I’m not leaving. We’ll have a couple days of nasty weather, maybe it won’t be too bad. Keep your fingers crossed for VA Beach. I hope the lights stay on. Maybe I’ll be able to start painting this on Sat.
So, this is the first step. I think this is a better sketch than my first try. I don’t know if you can see it very well.
I almost forgot to tell you about the weird noises. I guess it’s birds in the sedge. Every once in a while a bunch of them start squawking oddly. I don’t see them.
It took me about 1/2 hour to get this far. That’s ok for a start. I’ll take the proportions when I get back to work on it and see if I got it close to accurate. I only eyeballed it till now.
We have had a lot of hot and humid weather lately. Now it’s raining. A few days ago I went over to Pleasure House Point to scout for a scene to paint with my watercolors and the sand was too hot. I had sandals on, I could feel the heat. I decided to go early in the morning but I can’t get motivated. The weather is kind of sapping my energy. It will be better this weekend, they say. I did find a place to sketch where I could have some shade to sit next to a small tree. I might stand up in the sun to sketch, but I can sit in the small shady spot when I take a break. It will be great to draw and paint in plein air again soon, I don’t think it’s necessary to break a sweat for the sake of art though. Life makes you suffer enough, art should be fun. I’ll go back to Pleasure House Point eventually.
Meanwhile, there’s this horse. Maybe I can do something with it for an art project. I have an idea or two for it.
It was hot but cloudy with wind, so that made it tolerable for sketching the view from the overlook on the boardwalk going over the sand dunes. The bench was too hot to sit on, though. That’s ok, I like to stand up to sketch. I didn’t stay long.
I’d like to try to paint this with watercolors at home. I took my color swatch charts and picked some colors to work with. It’s almost a monochromatic color scheme, especially since it got cloudy. I’ll keep it kind of monochromatic with some faint tints of color when I paint it and see if I can get the values close to reality. The horizon line was fuzzy from the distance and straight so I’m going to try on a scrap of paper first to get the look I remember. If I use gray in the sky, I should probably use gray in the water and avoid the bright blues which I’d rather use.
That’s the plan. Keep your fingers crossed.
Now I’m getting somewhere with it. YEA! I took the proportions of my model by holding a pencil at arms length, resting my arm on my easel to hold it steady, closing one eye and putting my thumb on the pencil at the height of the body from the bottom of the hoof to the top of her back and compared that to the length of the body. The height equaled the distance from her rump to the middle of the front shoulder. So I knew the proportion was close. I made corrections on the head and neck to make them look right with the body. Then I drew her blaze with chalk because it makes the head shape easier to see. I also redrew the legs making a faint line at knee level and drawing circles where I thought the ankles should be. I didn’t erase all the measuring lines.
WOW! That’s a bad shot! hahahaha Nothing’s in focus! I had it set on auto. That’s ok, I never said I could take a decent picture with my good camera.
I put in in anyway so you can see how badly lit my model is on that shelf and if I drew it in proportion.
The plan is to transfer this sketch to a piece of watercolor paper and try to paint it. I’ll move my model to my work table where the light is slightly better and draw it one more time. I could still make corrections. Then paint with watercolors. I have some ideas in mind I’d like to try with the watercolors.
Should I stop here or should I continue? Does this look like a horse? This is how I was taught to draw, start out by blobbing in the general size and shape of the subject. By this point I’ve moved the legs half a dozen times but I’m trying to make the negative spaces between the legs look like my model.
I worked on this about 1/2 hour. That’s how long my attention span lasts for sketching, then I need to take a break. I’ll get back on it and try to refine it but there’s no rush. Taking frequent breaks refreshes my concentration.
One great thing about drawing is that you can take it in any direction you like. If you don’t want to render a finished drawing you don’t have to. If you want to draw from your imagination or do abstract drawing that’s fine too. That’s why I wonder what’s up when I read an article where the writer uses the words “slavishly copying”, like that’s bad.. To me, accuracy is important. I enjoy copying something beautiful. I feel like I’ve studied it in more depth if I get a tight drawing. In the long run, I’ll have a better file of it in my brain that I’ll be able to use if I want to draw that subject again, only it’s moving, or not in front of me. I won’t need to look up a photo of it. But drawing this way is a discipline. It helps if it was forced on you when you were young. hahaha The people who say slavishly copying, they can’t do a tight study.
It was so nice out there today. The botanical garden had a lot of visitors when I went out to sketch this morning. I smelled the roses as I was walking in and remembered one I loved last year, the Crimson Bouquet. I wanted to find the brightest red because I’m from Lancaster Co. PA. the red rose town. York, on the other side of the Susquehanna is the white rose town.
I can’t tell if the background is working or not, but I wanted to do the minimum for it.
I’m looking forward to my art adventure in New Mexico in 2 months. I want to take all my art supplies with me on the trip but it’s not practical. I don’t know what kind of drawing or painting I’ll want to do when I see the Ghost Ranch. If I take a lot of art supplies I’ll have a bigger job unloading my trunk every night when I stop at a motel. I’m definitely taking my oil paint supplies and I’ll have to prime a couple canvases in Aug, but I’d also like to take my Inktense pencils and a watercolor sketchbook. In the meantime, if I can sketch a few flowers while standing in the shade this summer, that’s good practice. I might have better luck when I try to do a landscape with the Inktense pencils out West.
It’s too hot and humid for me to enjoy drawing in Plein air and that’s ok because I have a lot of other things taking my time. At least I got this sketch done from a model horse. I love horses for subjects. They’re the most beautiful animals.
I’m trying to get used to drawing horse anatomy. The more practice I can get now, the easier it will be to sketch live horses in plein air in the future. That’s why I left that line at his knees. I drew it when I measured the proportions of the horse. Then I tried to visualize the muscles and did a little shading. It took me 4 hours or so to get this far and that’s all the visual info I need at this stage.
If the weather stays this hot I’ll transfer this sketch to watercolor paper and do a watercolor sketch of it next week. I’m also thinking of a place I remember in the shade to get back outside drawing. There’s not much shade on the beach. I walk there but don’t take my art supplies because by 10:00 I’ve had enough sun.
This photo shows my model on some books to bring him up to eye level. He’s made of china so he’s too reflective. I took the photo so you can compare my sketch to the model for accuracy. Darn it, part of my easel is blocking the model in my photo. Funny, I didn’t see it when I was drawing. I guess that’s because the camera has a different perspective.
It’s not finished. I have the leaves sketched in charcoal but I might not fill them in. The flower is the fun part.
This is close to life size on a 9 x 12 paper. The tree is next to my apartment and I stood on my balcony to draw it. The blossoms are starting to fall down on my car.
I’m glad I did this pastel today because I put it off while I watched Lucifer on Netflix. The devil is a good looking British chap. Did I feel guilty about abandoning my art for a week while I binge watched Lucifer? Not at all. And I learned that you don’t go to hell unless you feel guilty. So, that means I should be ok.
I think I’ll go to Back Bay next and try watercolor again.