Day 2. Lesson: Understanding Colour
Sketch 1. The famous colour wheel. This exercise was about water to pigment ratio and mixing. I managed not to soak the paper and arrived at very bright colours despite the student grade pigments that I am using.
BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARTIST AND STUDENT MATERIALS.
I didn't think there was a huge difference between artist grade and student grade watercolour paint and paper but there is, there is a very big difference. However, I decided to use up all my student grade materials and try to make the best out of it.
Sketch 2. STILL LIFE EXERCISE. Today we are drawing from observation objects that we brought from home. I had forgotten to bring things from home and took stuff from my office. A ball, a black clip and my iPhone sock (for texture).
This sketch shows how student grade paper is unforgiving when it comes to water. I saturated the paper and made a big black blob under the ball. Not quite what I was going for. Colours are dull. This seems to not be working at all. It took me an additional 10 minutes, from the 15mins I had already spent, to just leave it alone.
Sketch 3. Started over and paid more attention to the water/pigment ratio. I managed to make colours brighter. Water/pigment ratio is key!!
I made black from scratch. I used a limited colour palette for this sketch of : burnt sienna, yellow ochre, burnt umber, cobalt blue, and alizarin crimson. Couldn't believe my greens mixture came out good. I had no trouble mixing colours. My biggest challenge continues to be mastering water/pigment ratio.
In this sketch, the water/pigment ratio was a success.
Sketch 4. Five (5) minutes to end of class. This is my 5min end of class sketch of the day. I love it. It came out very spontaneous and free. Before finishing, I was picking up my brush out of the water container and accidentally flipped it splashing paint over the sketch. It looked very cool and expressive so I intentionally added more pigment and repeated the spatter. I accidentally learned a technique called Spattering, which gives the sketch texture and expression.
What a great end to my class.
Day 1. Lesson: Introduction to Artists, Materials and Equipment
Finally got around to get myself enrolled in the NSCAD Extended Studies introduction to watercolour course.
First day of class, we talked a lot about other artists and materials (1.5 hrs). When we sat down to draw, I felt a bit intimidated by the thought of sucking at it in front of a table of at least 9 people.
Our Prof made a great effort to put our minds at ease by letting us know that it was OK to not be "perfect" on day 1 (or any day thereafter...). Yet my mind was set on being careful not to suck.
Sketch 1 (above) I managed to understand the importance of the water to pigment ratio. This observation from our prof was key for me. I was using too much water.
Sketch 2. We were asked to use only one colour for this exercise yet I didn't like any of my colours so I decided to mix cobalt blue + burnt umber and produce a nicer grey. Also, as part of this exercise, we were asked to observe shades and shadows on the object (fruit) and the surface of the table. I could see those shades and shadows yet how to draw them or paint them with my brush?
I am used to using watercolours as a background wash in my urban sketches but I wasn't sure how to do things here. The exercise was to paint so... how do I do that?
Learning about different types of brushes and how each one works differently was part of the lesson today. It may seem obvious how to use a brush, but it's not.
Sketch 3. I managed to show two colours in this sketch, good tone study and a more balanced/better geometry. This was not my favourite sketch yet. It turned out that this sketch was quite popular among my friends and it is my wife's favourite. I learned that when it comes to selecting the best pieces of my own work, I must refer to my wife and must not attempt to do the selection myself.
Sketch 4. Five (5) minutes before class was over, I decided to let loose and do one final sketch. This sketch turned out to be my favourite because I had no time to dwell over details or be picky about anything. It felt so free and unassuming yet it still showed what I was looking at and the happy energy at the end of the class.
We have an important task to do in these seven days of this course, we are to find our own "voice" as artists and develop our unique technique.
Summer of 2017 was a great time to sketch my beautiful city. I joined the Urban Sketchers Halifax that year and went around sketching different places. As an architect, I like having control of my lines. Working with watercolours has taught me to just let go, experiment and have no control. This has been challenging. I enjoy working with watercolours a lot because every sketch is a new lesson.
My best sketches are those ones I don't think about and just do.
I participated with my work in an exhibit of the Urban Sketchers Halifax hosted by the Nova Scotia Association of Architects (NSAA). I sold two of my four drawings. "Sketch 1 Stone (Hydrostone)" traveled to Alberta and "Schmidtville" stayed in Halifax, NS and it lives in one of my very best friend's home.
It was a memorable evening sharing my work with my family, friends and a great group of Nova Scotia artists.
Schmidtville. Ink and Watercolour.
A. Murray MacKay Bridge from Africville Park. Pencil and Ink.
Sam at Nova Scotia Association of Architects, Urban Sketchers Halifax Exhibition. October 2017.
Sam | Architect
"For many years, I have used sketchbooks to explore design ideas and sketch places around me, which is the best way to learn and understand them. This digital sketchbook illustrates my thoughts, processes, design ideas, places, and projects that I am working on and have worked on.”