Keeping green in your sketching

“If you are green you are growing.” A lot of truth here, and I do not know the first time I heard the phrase, but autumn reminds me of its wisdom. The yellow and orange at this time of year are a joy for most artists, yet we are capturing the glorious finale of leaves that are no longer growing. In life, and in art, when we stop growing we stop learning and stop improving; decline is soon to follow. Here are a few lessons and reminders from the last couple of weeks.

Sometimes you have to walk away from a sketch, it just isn’t working. BUT don’t give up too soon.

I did this sketch in bit different process for me. My 5mm 6B lead holder that I bought some years ago in Bath, UK comes out far to seldom, so it seemed about time. The result was a pretty complete sketch of all the elements you see. However, at that point it looked flat, one of the most important components of any art or photo is the contrast between dark areas and light, and at that stage there just weren’t many. So I tried using my Kuretake brush pen with water soluble ink to line the horizon then a waterbrush to pull the grays down, the results were not good. At that point I was ready to just give up on it, sure I had ruined it.

Being stubborn has advantages at times, so I fussed with the gray a bit more, then used my TWSBI fountain pens for some texture and definition – mostly Platinum Carbon black ink, but also a bit of brown on the stones. I finished it off with Koi watercolor gray brush pens.

Instagram likes are fickle of course, yet when I posted this sketch, that at one point was headed for the recycling bin, it ended up being tied with the autumn leaves sketch below as having the most “likes” over the last seven days, go figure.

This sketch was done mostly with my TSBI and Herbin Lie de Thé ink (a French brand from a company that was founded in 1670) on Moleskine watercolor paper. Black ink, brush pen, and Koi pen did the rest.

While Tricia was se faire couper les cheveux I had a beer at the Bar du Marché, watching the people at the market. Slowly waiting in line is part of life in France still you must sketch quickly as your subjects buy there poisson et saucissons and leave. So these were very fast and unfinished, yet they were well accepted; evidence that sketching is about capturing a moment, I did that.

After all the thoughts of fall colors it was only fitting that I do a sketch of the falling leaves. TWSBI with black ink, Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor markers, and the Koi grays on tan paper. Since the watercolor makers can make even Platinum ink bleed a bit I did the leaves first then did the ink.

One last sketch using ink and markers, a post card already mailed. When we drive into LaThebaudiere the cows stop eating for a moment and watch, we always wonder what they are thinking.

Quite a varied week, a lot of fun in spite of some of the technique challenges; I learned a couple of things to use in the future. But most importantly I captured some moments, even created a couple, and in the end that is why I sketch.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Keep on traveling and capture your moments. AND keep green in everything you do!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post and sketches. If I was an artist, it would be quite helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are an artist, your camera captures some of our best moments.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You are an artist, your photos are always so moving.


  2. Shirley says:

    Yes, I guess capturing the moment IS what it’s all about –whether sketching or painting or using a camera. In this post you really do ‘illustrate’ what is important: to keep trying to things–whatever our skill level, whatever our age. Thanks, Terry!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For a fun picture, I must admit that I love the cow. And your people sketches … I have no idea how you can get them so quickly onto paper (I can’t even manage to take a photo of them) 😄.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet I could teach you to sketch though.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I bet I could teach you to sketch, it’s fun

      Liked by 1 person

  4. David Buehler says:

    Being a WWII history buff, your first sketch at first looked like a battleship coming toward the beach at Normandy. Funny how our history affects our impressions.


    1. Not sure m’ont Saint Michael would agree


      1. David Buehler says:

        I’m pretty sure no one but me would see that except in my rorschach moment.


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