Watercolors and Urban Sketching

This week's Sketchbook Skool instructor is Nina Johannson and her class is all about urban sketching with pens and watercolor. 

I've not explored urban sketching though it's been flitting about somewhere in the deeper recesses of my mind. It's not easy for me to sit outside and draw or paint knowing that someone might decide to stop and watch. Then again, I shouldn't be so insecure about my work. In fact, if a better artist came by, I'd welcome pointers. It's been years and years since art school. Why else would I be taking courses? 

I gave in to my timidity by opting to sketch something in the back yard. Why not? It's a start, right?

There's a shed out there that sits on both sides of the duplex property that we're renting. The door is on our side so it's ours to use. When I first saw it, I thought it might make a good studio. But then our landlord said they couldn't get electricity out there. Other than a small glass pane on the door, it's also got no windows.

It now just holds the lawnmower and a few gardening things. It's pretty much a nice, dry place for spiders to take refuge in. At least I hope it's just spiders. I've never actually gone further than the door.

Anyway, I thought it would make a good subject so I got my folding stool from Ikea (polka dotted, of course) and drew what I saw with a pen. First time I didn't use a pencil--Nina didn't use one so I thought it was how we were supposed to do our homework. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be (specially since I threw perspective out the window). I did the painting indoors because the window in my studio looks out at the yard anyway.

I know I didn't pay attention to the lights too much and I could've left the stone surfaces unpainted. It was overcast for sure but I think this needs a bit more in terms of highlights.

The other thing Nina did that I thought was a really good idea was to have a spread for a week-long sketch. You add drawings or paintings of everyday things to the spread as you go along so that by the end of the week, the spread will be a collage of your painting week. I think I'd like to do that but I'll incorporate mixed media--like real cutouts, real bits and bobs along with the sketches.

Maybe I'll bind up pages of watercolor or mixed media sheets into a handmade sketchbook. Something to keep in mind.

If you have ideas for such a project, let me know!


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