Thursday, April 17, 2014

Product Review: Diamine Sargasso Sea

4/17/14 Diamine Sargasso Sea ink, Zig marker, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
The ongoing drizzle today drove me to Zoka Coffee for an Americano and to try out a new ink sample: Diamine Sargasso Sea. When I was scribbling with it at home, the intense shade of blue – which looks nearly purple when wet – really appealed to me. But under all the soft natural light streaming in through Zoka’s high windows and against white watercolor paper, it was almost too bright.

I’ve found all Diamine inks to be beautifully wet-flowing, and Sargasso Sea is no exception. Coupled with my smooth Metropolitan, I get a consistently rich, bold line. I do like how easily it shades with just a touch of my waterbrush, but by the same token, it’s more difficult to control the ink’s intensity when I want more subtle shading, like on faces.

4/17/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi ink, Zig marker, Sailor pen, Canson XL
For comparison’s sake, I did my second sketch using Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi ink, which is easier to get soft washes with. Still, in looking at the two together, Sargasso Sea’s intensity gives the sketch a morning daylight glow, while Take-Sumi has a late-afternoon look. They definitely suggest different moods. (All the more reason to carry multiple inks at any given time: You never know what mood you want to sketch until you get there.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two Themes in One

4/15/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
With all the trees mashed by power lines that I’ve been sketching lately, and with all the blossoming cherry trees I’ve been trying to catch before they disappear, I kept hoping to find a cherry tree that had been split by power lines so that I could sketch two themes in one.

That tree turned out to be just around the corner on Fifth Avenue Northeast, but I hadn’t noticed earlier because I have to pay attention to cars while I make the turn onto my street at that intersection.

Yesterday I guess I wasn’t paying as much attention to cars, because suddenly there it was – two cherries, in fact. They’re not quite as badly mutilated as some trees I’ve sketched, but it’s impressive that they are wider than they are tall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Goats!!!

4/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Sailor pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Did my blog post title get your attention? It got mine when I saw it as the subject line of an e-mail I received today.

On a few occasions, I’ve seen goats “mowing” hilly, overgrown properties within the city, but they’ve always been too far from the street to sketch. My friend Tony let me know that a herd of goats was busily at work near I-5 in the Roosevelt neighborhood, in case I was interested in sketching them. Who could resist a lead like that? I dashed right out.

4/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Sailor pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
The goats, managed by Rent-a-Ruminant, had quite an audience when I arrived at the property just off the Northeast 65th Street freeway exit. People of all ages were peering through the chain link fencing, snapping pictures of the ruminants as they grazed on long grasses, weeds and blackberry bushes. The land slopes up abruptly there, and I could see how humans with power mowers would have difficulty clearing the area, but it was no problem for these hungry goats. A human team member helped them out with a weed whacker.

4/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink
Capturing a large number of goats grazing on the slope in
one composition was difficult. After a while, I gave up on that and moved over to a flatter part of the property, where nearly half the herd (I counted a total of 38) was chewing their cud or simply dozing. These resting ruminants gave this city girl a rare opportunity to sketch details of their strange horizontally slotted eyes and wispy beards. Sure, I’ve sketched goats at the Puyallup Fair and Woodland Park Zoo, but somehow these urban goats seemed more laid back. After all, they get hired to eat, rest and repeat – not a bad way to earn a living. 
4/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink

4/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink
Rent-a-Ruminant employees on duty.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Past Prime

4/14/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Kuretake brush pen, Pitt Artists Brush pen, watercolor,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper
A little past its prime, this beautifully asymmetrical cherry tree near Green Lake was nonetheless giving its all. The fat, round clusters of pink blossoms were still as exuberant as I was, dressed in T-shirt and sandals as I sketched.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Value Sketch at the Park

4/13/14 Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
We seem to be skipping over spring and going straight to summer! The temperature was up to the mid-60s this afternoon, and wherever I looked at Maple Leaf Park, people were dressed in shorts and flip-flops. (Although I wasn’t quite ready for shorts, I regretted the socks I was wearing.)

As I settled down on a bench and pulled out my usual pen and watercolors, something about the playground scene reminded me that I still hadn’t done a sketch for this week’s Urban Sketchers Flickr group theme, Value Drawing – “Don’t draw lines, only tones.” And then I remembered that I had done a monochrome ink sketch of the same scene about a year ago. The busy-ness of the playground and the two trees and their shadows must lend themselves to tonal sketching.

When I’m using watercolors, I feel compelled to create hues that match reality as much as possible. I know I don’t have to, but I can’t seem to help myself. When I’m focusing on value, though, I feel liberated to use any color. And so it was today when I pulled out the only two pencils in my bag: Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils, one with shades of green and a second with an odd mix of reds and pale blue. The fact that they were both somewhat unsharp also saved me from the temptation to draw in details. I don’t use graphite pencils much, but these multi-hued pencils are a fun kick in the pants!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Up Close and Personal

4/12/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Zig marker, Pitt Artists Brush Pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
When the “no parking” signboards started going up on our block a week or two ago, we knew something was up. Sure enough, a couple days ago the heavy equipment, noise and dust arrived. The next day the letter from Seattle Public Utilities finally came: A sewer line repair would be taking place during the next four weeks.

I waited until today, Saturday, when I knew they wouldn’t be working so I could get up close and personal with the bright yellow digger. Cars, planes, boats, construction machinery – sketching vehicles of any kind intimidates me. But I have been looking at and thinking about all the delightful vintage cars in Lapin’s book and how he makes them come alive. I have also been thinking about Inma Serrano’s Urban Sketching workshop in Barcelona last year, during which she urged us to sketch buildings as living, breathing monsters instead of inanimate architecture.

It doesn’t take much imagination to view a crawler excavator as a monster, so I pulled up my little stool a few feet away from the big guy and channeled my inner Lapin and inner Inma.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Danny Woo Gardens and Panama Hotel

4/11/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Canson XL
140 lb. paper
The Friday ad hoc sketchers were meeting at the historic Panama Hotel and teahouse, but I think everyone had it in the back of their minds to sketch outdoors if we lucked out on weather. Indeed, despite a bit of a chill, the sun was out, so most of us opted to walk across the street to sketch at the Danny Woo International District Community Gardens.

Rich with trees, vegetable and flower gardens and even a chicken coop, the multi-tiered space is a tangle of crooked stairways and surprising peek-a-boo views of many downtown landmarks. After a quick sketch of a couple of garden residents clucking and scratching in their coop, I settled in to sketch a tree that had been cut down with Safeco Field behind it. Like several other sketchers, I decided this community garden is worth several return visits, especially as the weather improves.

I explored the gardens a bit more, then went back to the Panama Hotel to warm up with a cup of genmaicha and a matcha green tea shortbread cookie. Now used as a bed and breakfast and teahouse, the Panama Hotel (which figured prominently in the popular novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford) is full of comfy furniture and fun d├ęcor to sketch.

4/11/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Sailor pen, Zig marker

4/11/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown and Grey inks, Zig markers

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