Here are some people sketches I’ve done over the last few years experimenting with various media and techniques.
Today I printed my first Cyanotypes on watercolor paper. The Cyanotype process was discovered in 1842 by Sir John Herschel the English scientist, astronomer and botanist. I started researching the process about a week ago. Iron salts turn a rich, dark blue when exposed to ultraviolet light. Water is used to develop the print. The process appealed to me because it was something I could easily do in the bathroom sink that was non-toxic and archival. I ordered a kit of chemicals and a UV lamp.
Photographic prints can be made by contact printing negatives. Digital negatives can be made using an inkjet printer and printing to transparency film. I experimented and discovered that I could edit images on my iPad and print a negative wirelessly to my printer onto film.
I brought in three items from my darkroom – an 8×10 tray, a contact printing frame and an electronic enlarger timer. The chemicals come in two parts that are mixed together in equal amounts to produce a liquid sensitizer. I coated the paper with a brush and waited for it to dry. I contact printed the negatives for three minutes using the enlarger timer to turn the UV lamp on and off. I then washed the print in a 8×10 tray in the bathroom sink in normal room light. I still get a thrill watching the image come up in the developing tray. Wash time is about 10 minutes.
Now that I know how to do the basic process, I want to branch out and try some variations. Prints can be toned with tannic acid to produce a brown or black tone instead of blue. Prints can also be hand colored with watercolor or colored pencil. Cyanotypes can also be combined with other printing techniques. There are lots of things to try.
Strathmore Mixed Media paper, OHP Film Overhead Projector Film 8.5×11 inch for inkjet printer, Jacquard Cyanotype Set, Lightstarter 60 watt 100 LED UV flood light.
This is an experiment to see if I can use a sheet of Sintra PVC 3mm 1/8 inch foam board as a printing plate. I was surprised how well it worked. I curved it with standard lino cutting tools. It is fairly easy to cut and holds detail as well as linoleum. It looks a lot like battleship gray linoleum, but it is a lot cheaper. I think I paid around $1.50 for a 12×12 inch sheet. Linoleum would cost around $5.00. Here’s what the carved plate looks like.
I printed the plate by hand using a baren. I printed on inkjet paper with water soluble printing ink. Each image is 2.3×2.8 inches (60×72 mm).
I painted this on my first sheet of homemade paper made from recycled junk mail. I used an old blender to turn the mail mixed with water into pulp. I poured the pulp onto a framed screen, but I didn’t use a mould to make straight edges. I wanted the edges to be rough. I ended up with a thick, textured, gray sheet. I air dried the sheet on a board overnight. The paper curled a bit. I ironed it flat.
The picture I painted is a combination of two reference photos I took of the Little Pudding River (it is really more of a creek) just east of us. The background trees are from one photo and the foreground trees and brambles are from another.
Painted on homemade paper made from junk mail using Turner Acryl Gouache with a variety of flat and rigger brushes. Image is roughly 8.5×7.5 inches (22×19 cm).
Same subject, same paper, different media. I’m comparing sketching with charcoal and water soluble graphite. Sketching with charcoal is fun, but it is not really the best choice for working in a sketchbook on location because it is messy and you run the risk of smudging the drawing when you close the book. Water soluble graphite is a better choice. It is not messy and it isn’t as delicate as charcoal. However graphite is shinier and you can’t get as dark a black as you can with charcoal.
I did the charcoal drawing first from a reference photo I took from the car. I started with a stick of homemade vine charcoal. I drew the midtones areas and smeared them around with my finger and a small, folded piece of craft foam and kept adding more charcoal to work up to dark gray. You can only go so far with vine charcoal. I switched to a dark charcoal pencil to add the darkest details.
I then drew the same scene with a water soluble pencil. Again I worked my way up from the lightest areas to the darkest sometimes smudging and blending with my finger. I then use a small rigger brush dipped in water to blend further and get the darkest darks.
Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media paper, homemade vine charcoal, General’s Charcoal 557-6B ex. soft pencil, ArtGraf Viarco 6B water-soluble pencil, and D’Artisan Shoppe Minute Series XII 2/0 Rigger brush. Both images are 5×7 inches (13×18 cm).
This is a small mixed media painting. I’m testing out combining watercolor with colored pencils and pen and ink. I used a toothpick dipped in masking fluid to save out some small details that I wanted to keep as white and then when I was finished and the painting was dry, I rubbed off the masking fluid to reveal the white.
Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper, Kuretake flat waterbrush, Daniel Smith watercolors, Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor pencils, Pentel EnerGel 0.5 Black pen. Image is 5×7 inches (12.5×17.5 cm).
I painted on location today in a parking lot. I started by blocking in the midtone shapes in the foreground and the trees in the background with gray and brown ink using a flat waterbrush to pick ink off a paper palette. It’s a good fast way to lay out the scene on the page because you are just putting down major shapes, no detail. I then switched to watercolor and painted in the trees. I used a gel pen to sketch the cars and a brush pen to add the darks on the cars. I used a white marker to add the parking lot lines and the last thing I did was to paint the red tail lights with watercolor.
Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal, Noodler’s Benenke Black ink and a mix of black and blue Pentel Sign Pen ink applied with a Kuretake flat waterbrush, Daniel Smith watercolor, Derwent #2 round waterbrush, Pentel EnerGel 0.5 black pen, Kuretake ZIG Brushables brown and gray pens, Kuretake #13 brush pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink, and Molotow 2mm empty pump marker with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White ink. Image is 16.25×5 inches (41.3×13 cm).
This is very close to home, just south of Silverton Road on Cordon Road heading south. The scene is typical for late November with trees silhouetted against a spectacular backlight sky.
I drew this with ink in my sketchbook. It’s fun to smear water and ink around first with my finger to get the sky and road and then after that is dry to add detail with pen and ink. I used a combination of brush pen, fountain pen, and gel pen and a bit of white marker for the two lines on the road.
Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal, mix of black and blue Pentel Sign pen ink, vintage Sheaffer’s Balance Black and Pearl Lifetime pen with 14K gold nib ca. 1929-30 filled with Noodler’s Benenke Black ink, Kuretake #13 brush pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink, Pentel EnerGel 0.7 Black ink pen, and Molotow 2mm empty pump marker with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White ink. Image is 8×5 inches (20.5×13 cm).
I did another sketch from one of the reference photos I took on the road a couple of days ago. Oregon has many beautifully scenes like this on its two lane country roads, but unfortunately there usually aren’t any places to pull off and sketch or take a picture. So, I have to settle for one taken from a moving car.
There are many ways to do a sketch. For this one, I blocked in the the color shapes first and then I added some details using a pen. It’s a good way to do it if all you want to do is quickly capture the impression of a place. You don’t waste time painting in a lot of unnecessary detail.
The other thing I tried in this one was to use a tissue to add a bit of texture to the color. I soaked up some watercolor off my mixing palette with a tissue and then dabbed it on the sketch. You can see it in the foliage on the right side and in the bushes on the left.
Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal, Kuretake large flat waterbrush, Kuretake #13 brush pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink, Pentel EnerGel 0.7 Brown ink pen, Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen, and Molotow 2mm empty pump marker with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White ink, and Daniel Smith watercolors. Image is 8×5 inches (20.5×13 cm).
Watercolor sketch done in my sketchbook. Yesterday I ventured out between rain showers to take pictures of roads nearby. I wanted to test a new photo set-up. I mounted my iPhone 7 to the dashboard of my car and taped a Bluetooth shutter release button to my steering wheel so that I could trigger the phone camera with my thumb while keeping my hands on the wheel. I took 38 pictures on a leisurely drive down Cordon Road to MacLeay, turned north on Howell Prairie Road and heading home on Silverton Road. It started to sprinkle near the end and I had to time the camera between windshield wiper sweeps. I got three or four pretty good shots and used one as reference for this sketch.
Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal, Derwent #2 round waterbrush, vintage Sheaffer’s Balance Black and Pearl Lifetime pen with 14K gold nib ca. 1929-30 filled with Noodler’s Benenke Black ink, Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen, and Molotow 2mm empty pump marker with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White ink, and Daniel Smith watercolors. Image is 16.25×5 inches (41.3×13 cm).