Painting has taken a little bit of a back seat this week as I finally decided to make a James Gurney style lightweight sketch easel. He has a fantastic video showing you the details
and many more details on his blog
The materials didn’t cost very much themselves. The wood was $15 and I have enough to make 4 more easels if I want to :-). The hinges were $10 and the little nalgene 2oz water jar was $6. The jar and palette are held on by small neodymium magnets that were around $10. The easel fixes to the tripod using a t-nut and quick release plate which cost around $12.
My biggest purchase was the set of travel brushes that sit handily over the sketchbook for easy access. This was $40 but I suspect will get a lot of use.
I did spend a fair bit more on tools. I needed special drill bits for the magnets and to recess the t-nut for the tripod. Then there was glue, some clamps, epoxy putty for the hinges, screws, oil for wood finishing (I found wood stain in the garage). I suspect after some use I’ll be making another one – maybe a little bigger but who knows.
Here it is with a shallow tin as a palette which I’ve sprayed with white enamel paint. Good for gouache I think.
Here are some more shots! Can you tell I’m really pleased with myself? For its size and weight it really is a useful little thing. Can’t wait to try it out in earnest. Many, many thanks to James Gurney and all the wonderful helpful people on the
facebook sketch-easel group
I’ve been wrestling with this view of the Zakim bridge from Boston Naval Yard for a while. It has a lot of contrast and my first try I overdid the value range completely. So after finishing the heron this morning I thought I’d just do a quick freehand value sketch with no prior drawing and see how it came out. I think I might finally be onto something. Going in with the mid values first, then the darks and then the lighter values helped enormously to tie this together. Let’s see how it turns out with a full size attempt.
We were all sitting down by the dock on our Mystic, CT visit. What a good time to get out the sketchbook I thought. Just a small sketch but very enjoyable to do and I like the close crop that doesn’t quite reveal what’s going on immediately.
Life class yesterday with Andrew Cefalu. Always a good time even though I find it exhausting. We also had home made cookies which I shall remember to stay a long distance from next time.
I took the watercolors along but didn’t use them in the end. I didn’t really get into the flow and everything was a little stodgy. Adding watercolor to the mix would have ended in tears and nobody wants that.
We started with some 2 minute gestures.
I felt pretty good at this stage. The pencil was moving well and my arm felt free. Also our model was superb and did some wonderfully interesting poses.
Next onto 10 minute sketches.
These were ok apart from two disastrous attempts at the foreshortened pose.
And finally a set of 15 minute poses :
Looking back at these this morning they don’t seem too bad but I had come away disatisified at the end of the session. Too much focus on the face in most cases and some frankly embarrassing feet were in evidence. I will definitely be back in two weeks hopefully with some serious hand and foot practice under my belt.
Just the one sketch today as taxes needed to be done and that took priority. Again this was fun to do and it wasn’t a great scene at first sight. Not as successful as some of the previous ones but it keeps my hand in.
There’s something quite liberating about these small sketches. They’re quick to do and because of the small size brushwork and edges don’t need to be sweated over. And if one doesn’t work out – just do another one and it’s forgotten.
Only 3 sketches today. The people in this one were the trickiest bit. A lot of watercolor artists tend towards what I call ‘stock’ figures’ in their paintings. I feel that spoils things so I wanted to get more of a sense of real people walking towards me. I think it succeeded.
More sketches today. These were all from photos taken in Boston common a few years ago. These were all fun to do and it surprised me how well they turned out. All done quickly in a 5×8” moleskine sketchbook with a quick preliminary pencil sketch and then straight in with colored washes.
Another view of the George Washington statue. This I was pleased with too.
This photo I almost skipped over which would have been a shame as it’s my favorite of the day. The swan boats came out surprisingly well.
Final one of the day. Again another view through Boston Common to the buildings beyond. Not my favorite.
Still trying to get out of my painting funk. New strategy is to get away from the pressure of producing SERIOUS PAINTINGS and do a series of small things in sketchbooks. These are all in a 5”x8” moleskine which isn’t the most forgiving of papers but suits quick paintings. These were quickly done and much more fun.
Also while tidying I found this sketch which I wasn’t pleased with at the time but has quite a lot of charm now I have some distance from it.
Coming back to painting after a break is tricky. Normally when painting every day (or almost) . new ideas come quickly out of recent paintings. Sitting down at the easel cold after a couple of weeks away and there’s a period of indecision where you’re asking ‘So what shall I paint?’ Normally a quick bird can get the brushes flowing again but I did one yesterday and wasn’t feeling the pull today.
The outcome was a couple of quick(ish) sketches on cheap paper. The first came out a little garish so in the second I tried for more restraint in color and value but without making things insipid. I’m actually quite pleased and the cheap paper didn’t give me too much grief either.