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

Painting en plein air forces me to make quick decisions about every aspect of my drawing or painting.  I must move along quickly.  The sun won’t slow down for me no matter how strongly I protest.

United Methodist Church, Washington, NJ sketchbook page

Springtime landscape painting is making me crazy.  I feel as if I have forgotten everything I ever learned.  There are no solid forms; everything is delicate, the lights and darks flickering everywhere without combining into strong, larger shapes.  My eyes and brain needed to go back to basics of value studies.  For several years, I’ve wanted to paint the pink and green granite church across the street from Gibson’s Gym.  I did two quick sketches this morning, one parked across the street from the church and one from the parking lot behind the gym.  The wind was so strong, I painted in the car. I braved the wind later today at Willowwood Arboretum.

United Methodist Church, View from Main Street, Washington, NJ

I spent an hour on this sketch.  When I finally was ready to lay in the value wash of burnt sienna the shadow shapes had changed drastically.  I compromised between the current and former shadow shapes.  I hadn’t indicated enough of the original boundaries of shadows.

I started this blog off with the study of color value.  I keep returning to the idea that the value of a shape is more important than the hue of the shape.  If the value pattern doesn’t work, if it isn’t strong, the best color in the world won’t make the painting work.

Sketchbook value paintings: sketched first in pencil, followed by washes of burnt sienna.