Color doesn’t need to be complex to be strong.

Dutchman playing Harmonica

Portrait of Dutchman playing harmonica at the Blues Jam in Easton.

Black ink (dip pen) line drawing followed by washes of red, blue and yellow watercolor.

Every now and then I succeed with capturing the spirit of a musician with simple line and color.  It is for those moments that I show up every Tuesday night at the Blues Jam.  When I saw Dutchman in the room last night I stayed longer just for the opportunity to paint him.  He usually arrives late and my paints are already packed up.

The ink lines are even more abbreviated than usual.  The watercolor washes began somewhat neutralized on the palette after the night of painting.  They mixed even more, wet in wet on the hot press paper, blending to a rich display of variations.  Though the palette is simple, yellow, red and blue, the diluted wash of the shirt and the yellow of the arms (both high key in value) play against the dark values of the red and blue providing a full spectrum of both color and value.

As much as I love my fountain pens, the flexible tip of the dip pen is essential for these live sketches of musicians.