A new way to explore when traveling…. or even at home…. Nine Squared Walk’n’Draw!

The results of the Walk'N'Draw

The results of the Walk’N’Draw

It was time for me to make up a new game to play.  I’m now working on Design and Temperature.  In Susan Abbott’s workshop earlier this year, she emphasized the order of priorities when painting….. First comes Shapes, then Values, then Temperature and lastly, Color.  With that in mind, I used the concept of my video “Twenty Steps” to create the new game I’ve titled Nine Squared.

Basic Materials to walk with

Basic Materials to walk with

Before the walk, I drew a grid of nine rectangles on nine sheets of watercolor paper.  All I needed to bring with me were the sheets of paper, a mechanical pencil, a waterbrush, a mini Altoid tin with warm and cool pigment (I only needed two pans, not all three that are shown above) and my leather folder that I use as an easy-to-hold drawing surface that doubles as a folder to carry the paper.

Pencil sketch not shown

Pencil sketch not shown

I begin the walk, taking Nine times Nine steps in any direction (Eighty one steps).  I stop, choose a composition, snap a photo and start my timer for nine minutes.  In those nine minutes I determine my shapes and repeat them in two more rectangles.  I leave one as the pencil drawing, paint the second as a value sketch in browns and the third as a temperature sketch in warm and cool pigment.

Like any of my games, I allow myself to break the rules on a regular basis.  I do not stop in the middle of a busy street just because I’ve reach step number eighty-one.  If there is a nice place to sit in the shade and I reach it at step seventy-three, I stop and sit down.  If I need twelve more steps to get to a nice shady spot, I take those extra steps.  The rules are simply a guide to force me to be more observant of every spot I pass through and to determine warms and cools to create stronger design.

Images:  small en plein air watercolor sketches in Mountain View, California

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When teaching workshops focused on a variety of watercolor techniques, I present the students with a project that allows for experimentation and encourages a playful, curious attitude.

Abstraction From Traced Objects

Abstraction From Traced Objects

Why don’t I set up a lovely still life for the students to work from?  Because a still life requires drawing skills that many students have not yet acquired.  By the time the students are ready to add paint to their drawings, half the class is over and the students are already discouraged.  The poor results are blamed on watercolor being a difficult medium.

One cannot be either good nor bad at tracing objects.  By placing and tracing objects in a variety of positions on the paper, numerous overlapping shapes are created from which the students can easily extract an abstract design.  Within half an hour the students are still excited about painting and are ready to begin the adventure of playing with watercolor.

On January 14th I will present this exercise on the “Tools and Techniques” blog of my website.  This is just a sneak preview.

Sketchbook Image:  Watercolor  illustrating various watercolor techniques – Wash, glaze, splatter, adding salt, lifting, and wet in wet.

Color Scheme:  Extended Analogous with one complement

The yoke of the jacket is now painted and ready for the application of needlepoint threads.  To view previous posts of earlier stages of this project click on the following links:

Design of Butterflies and Coneflowers for yoke of Blue Jean Jacket,
Preliminary color comp illuminates flaws in design
Final Color Comp for Needlepoint design

The following images illustrate the stages of transferring the design onto the jacket yoke.

Jacket pinned over full-size reproduction of final color comp

The original color comp is full-size.  Because it is too large for my scanner, I had to photograph it instead.  Though I thought I shot it straight on, there is a bit of parallax distortion.  I lined the bottom of the print with the jacket yoke.  The top will just be more sky color.

Beginning to paint on the mesh

Using textile paints I began painting directly onto the mesh using the reproduction beneath it as a guide.

The original watercolor comp as reference

Painting on the needlepoint canvas is challenging.  I used the original watercolor color comp as a guide.  I had to simplify the variations in value and hue when painting on the canvas.

Finished transfer onto yoke

The image above shows the yoke without the reproduction beneath it.  The final nuances of value and hue will be up to the creativity of the man who will be doing the needlepoint.  I will include a quality reproduction of the watercolor color comp for him to use as a reference guide.

This was a challenging and enjoyable project.  I welcome comments from those of you who needlepoint.  This was a bit of a shot in the dark for me since I do not needlepoint.

After final approval I will paint the design onto the yoke of the jacket.

Butterflies and Cone Flowers, needlepoint design

To view the original sketches and the first color comp of the needlepoint design click here.  I think the design and the colors will translate well for needlepoint.  There should be no problem obtaining the threads of various values for each of the colors.  Some areas are straight forward and others call on the creativity and experience of the man who will be doing the needlepoint on this project.  My hope is that he will find the design both challenging and enjoyable.

After deciding on the final pencil sketch of the design, I traced over the rendered sketch to create a simple outline drawing that I could photograph, transfer to my computer and print out full-scale onto a sheet of 140 pound watercolor paper.  I saved a great deal of time by using the camera and the computer system.  I then painted the final color comp on the arches watercolor paper.  I will use fabric paints to paint onto the needlepoint canvas of the jacket.