Tag Archives: watercolor sketch

Mighty Oaks Watercolor Sketch

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On the advice of a Dove Candy wrapper (sea salt caramel & dark chocolate), I got lost on purpose….

Swallows dance above Crabapple Lake. Even though it is an overcast day, I can still see their shadow on the surface of the lake as they swoop within an inch of the water.

The wind pushes northward and along with it, a single cottonwood seed, floating in slow motion above my head.

The crabapple trees look thin. One looks as if it has changed prematurely, a brilliant red for autumn. But on closer inspection, half the tree has lost all it’s leaves and the only thing that remain are the brilliant little crabapples dangling in clusters.

The mighty oaks across the lake stand firm. Strong, thick, and firm.

How does one strengthen their faith as strong as the mighty oaks on Crabapple Lake?

By denouncing emotions and relying on the Word instead….

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Isaiah 26:3

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Crabapple Lake

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The brilliant red crabapple tree

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Bumble bee on goldenrod

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Here’s wishing you many happy adventures when we get lost on purpose.

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Difference Between Hahnemühle Watercolor Blocks Review

I was very fortunate to receive watercolor block samples from Hahnemühle USA out of Crystal Lake, IL, so that I can review them and inform my fellow watercolor artist friends how they preform. That’s you!

What are watercolor blocks?
Watercolor blocks are watercolor sheets, bound together as a block. The sides of the block has dried glue to keep the pages together. Somewhere along the edge there is a section without glue, so that you can separate the page from the block. You can easily do this with a letter opener, a knife, or your finger after your painting is dry.

Why are blocks advantages?
The advantage of using a block as opposed to a loose sheet is that you do not need to prepare your paper by taping it down, or by wetting it and taping it down (no pre-stretching the watercolor paper).

For this review I painted the same scene, using the same colors, with the same brushes, in the same sequence, using the same techniques, in the same weather conditions. I needed this control so that I can understand what each type of paper was doing and to be able to spot the differences which I am happy to share.

Click any picture for a larger view.

Block #1
Cézanne
300 g/m²  140 lbs. matt

The paper itself has a cold press texture but the texture isn’t uniform or repeating. It accepted my graphite sketch with very little pressure. The sky was done wet on wet, which means I pre-wet the sky with clean water before I applied my color. When I applied my color, the pigments spread fast and fluid. The colors blended together well  and I did not have to soften the edges. The tree was done wet on dry, which means I painted the tree directly on dry paper. The colors blended effortlessly (see close up photo). This tells me that the paper isn’t drying fast and my pigment is soaking in . The paper stayed wet a fair amount of time. The ultramarine blue in the sky has slight granulation showing on the paper. The paper did buckle as I was painting, however dried almost completely flat in the end.

Recap:

  • Paper has a varied texture
  • Stays wet a fair amount of time
  • Pigment and water spreads fast and fluid
  • Paper did buckle on the block; Dried mostly flat
  • Very minimal granulation in the ultramarine blue
  • Painting has soft look

Block #2
Cézanne Hot Press
300 g/m²  140lbs.

This hot press block has a satin finish and no texture at all. The wet on wet sky technique created a bead of water and pigment on the paper which tells me that the water wasn’t quick to soak in from the previous cold press block however the surface dries much quicker. Pigment does not spread out fast nor does the pigment mix quickly. This is shown in the close up of the tree that was done wet on dry. Edges have a hard look because of the quick dry time. The ultramarine blue in the sky has moderate granulation showing on the paper. The paper did buckle on the block as I was painting but dried flat in the end.

Recap:

  • Paper is satin smooth with no texture
  • Paper dries fast
  • Pigment does not blending fluidly
  • Moderate granulation showing in ultramarine blue
  • Paper did buckle but dried completely flat
  • Painting has hard edges

Block #3
Turner Cold Press
300 g/m²  140lbs. matt

Turner cold press has a small repetitious texture that resembles a screen. The wet on wet sky produced nice fluid blending of pigments. Edges look soft. The wet on dry technique with the tree also created fluid blending (see close up photo). However when dry, I noticed white speckle pattern in the dark green of the tree. Paper showing through? There is moderate granulation showing in the ultramarine blue sky.  This paper dries quicker than Cézanne cold press but stayed wet longer than Cézanne hot press. The painting never buckled on the block and remains completely flat.

Recap:

  • Paper has repetitious tiny grid like pattern
  • Pigments blend smooth
  • White speckles appeared in darkest green of tree
  • Stays wet an ample time
  • Did not buckle on the block, always flat.
  • Moderate granulation showing in ultramarine blue

Block #4
Leonardo
600 g/m²  280lbs. matt

This one is my absolute favorite and I am very much in love. But this is my own personal preference and you should explore yours.
The heavy weight paper has a deep varied texture. I was afraid at first, because I have painted on heavy weight watercolor paper with much struggle. Not this time. Blending was effortless. The pigments ran fast and fluid just like the Cézanne 180lbs. matt but even more so!  It accepted the water well, I did not need to use more water because the paper was so thick like with inferior brands. Paper stayed wet a fair amount of time. The wet on dry technique on the tree also produced nice effortless blending of colors (see close up photo). The ultramarine blue formed large granulation on the paper. The paper never buckled and is completely flat.

Recap:

  • Large varied texture of paper
  • Ample drying time
  • Colors blend well wet on wet or wet on dry
  • Large granulation of ultramarine blue
  • Paper never buckled and remains flat

Last but not least…
Block #5
Leonardo Hot Press
600 g/m²  280lbs.

This heavy weight hot press paper is satin smooth, despite what the watercolor painting looks like. The application of pigment was extremely fluid especially wet on wet and produced no hard edges like the Cézanne hot press. The wet on dry technique on the tree also blended quite nicely. The paper remained wet an ample amount of time. The ultramarine blue formed extra large granules which surprised me because the paper is so smooth. I like granules btw, so that doesn’t bother me. For hot press paper, this one is high quality with easy fluid blending.

Recap:

  • Paper has satin smooth finish with no texture
  • Pigments blend fast and fluid wet on wet and wet on dry
  • Paper stayed wet an ample amount of time
  • Extra large granulation with ultramarine blue resulted
  • Painting never buckled on block and remains flat

I want the thank Hahnemühle for allowing me to perform a review on their watercolor blocks. I have my personal favorite, but I encourage you to experiment with your own style. You can find Hahnemühle watercolor papers at the following dealers:
Dick Blick, WetPaint in MN, DaVinci Artist Supply in NY, Flax Art & Design in San Mateo, Binders in Atlanta, and Talas in NY.

Now get out, have some fun, and paint!

Christine

 

Sultry Summer Sketch

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With a burning 93 degree hot sun on hot skin turning red, shelter was a must. Without it this sketch would not exist.

Funny how the swallows don’t mind the heat as they zigzag above the water. Nor do the egrets mind  standing under the blazing furnace on their mounds. Crickets still chirp. Cicadas still buzz. Only I am the wimp.

The summer sun is harsh. I have to limit my outdoor activities as I am sensitive to the heat. It drains me and leaves me with a headache. I affectionately call that baked brains. Risking that, I just could not pass up the opportunity to get out of my air conditioned prison.

Here is the original scene. I took the liberty of changing the sky and reflection in the water to a hot yellow in order to accurately represent the heat of the day.

Sept 6 2015 reference

Enjoy the remainder of summer while it lasts, friends.

Sketch Class Results Lyman Woods Downers Grove

This month, at the suggestion of a sketch group member, we decided to meet at Lyman Woods in Downer’s Grove, IL, for our sketchbook MeetUp class.

What a tiny gem! And crawling with springtime woodland wildflowers right now!

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Prairie Trillium

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Lily of the Valley

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And my favorite…Jack in the Pulpit!
Amongst the beautiful, there was decay as well…..such is the nature of nature…

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A dead skunk lying right in the middle of the trail. Poor fellow. We did not see any puncture wounds but we dared not touch it as he did have a smell about him!

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The group found many photo worthy shots and took advantage. But now it is time to get to work! Chop chop!

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Gene and Celeste

Everybody found a spot suitable to their liking. The wetlands of Lyman Woods is impossible to pass up. It was calling to us. Not only was the landscape beyond words, but hundreds of swallows zipped to and fro having lunch in the sky above the marsh.

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Alanna

Some stood, some sat, it didn’t much matter how we accomplished our tast…our task to be students of nature.

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Donna and Jan

The bench made a perfect spot to lay out all of the supplies!

We braved the conditions as long as we could. It was cloudy in the morning, with a persistent biting wind. Here is the work in progress….

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The groups work in progress.

Sometimes it is just wise to finish at home than to provoke a harsh cold wind.

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Here is my final. I wanted to capture at least one tree swallow swooping in the air, flashing his bright white belly at me!

We had a wonderful visit to Lyman Woods. I can’t wait for our next adventure on the road!

Sketch Class Results Lake Katherine March 2013

We gather to cleanse ourselves from a stressful week by sketching nature. To be fully present in this moment, under the sun, in full view of the wildlife, and to slowly breath in the crisp air, is no small event. These few hours are precious as we collect the images of this day in our mind, to sustain us through yet another stressful week…

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This month’s sketch class was held at Lake Katherine. After walking around the lake in search for Mr. And Mrs. Swan couple (we did find them), we chose this location of a peaceful red bench under a group of pines.

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photo by Alanna.

Some of us decided to use the rocks as our desk.

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photo by Alanna.

While others relaxed at the edge of the lake.

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photo by Alanna.
(Alanna, Christine, Connie, Jan, and Becky {Donna not shown})

Which ever way was comfortable, we all came to same conclusion…beautiful artwork inspired by nature.

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photo by Alanna.

Here is a closer look at our terrific souvenirs. Our objective is not to critique the artwork, but to just enjoy the process together.

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This is a close up of my watercolor and black Micron pen sketch. I decided to add Mr. Swan even though he wasn’t in my view…he had his own agenda for the day!

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We did catch him though, along with his partner and the mallard clan. I look forward to the cygnet (baby swans) in the future that this couple will bring forth.

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photo by Alanna.

And NO sketch class would be complete without a hike! We decided to take the trail right under Harlem Ave and walk along the Cal-Sag river. Even though it is stillllllllll in the 30’s (hello? where is spring btw?), there was no wind and the sun did warm us up!

If you are in the Chicago area and would like to join us, click here for the MeetUp site link.

I hope you enjoyed our sketching and hiking adventures!