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

Blue sky lay hidden behind the cover of clouds as we headed to Pacifica.

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Pacifica, California, en plein air

The sun made bold attempts to break through the clouds, the neutralized colors enhanced by the silver light.

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Pacifica, California, en plein air

Finally ….. the landscape transformed as the cloud cover cleared and the water reflected the blue of the sky.

Sun Dancing on the Sea

Sun Dancing on the Sea

Sketchbook Paintings: Artist Trading Cards (2.5″ x 3.5″) en plein air, Pacifica, California

Top – Ink and watercolor

Middle and Bottom – watercolor

When I threw the die this morning it came up “Winter – Morning”.  I opted for a bright, clear, crisp morning … colors reflecting off the snow.  One of my inkwells cooperated, acting as a model without complaining about the chill.

Glass Inkwell No. 11 in Winter Morning Light
Color and grayscale mode comparison

The violet is the color of the bramble bushes in the hedgerows that cut across the fields.

Sketchbook drawing:  Glass Ink Wells No. 11 – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor mixing gorgeous neutrals from crimson, phthalo blue, ultramarine blue and aureolin.  Color Scheme Game variation …. “Seasons”


Treasures galore at the Route 46 Flea Market …

Flea Market Treasures

Deciding what to draw first was difficult, a toss up between the glass inkwells and the colored glass that filled a 1950’s mint tin (I remember those mints well …. soft and buttery).

Colored Glass

I threw the dice and ended up with an Analogous Color Scheme with Split Complements, Yellow as my dominant color.

Color Glass playing The Color Scheme Game

Colors: Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green with Red-Violet and Blue-Violet.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen.  I ran out of ink in one filled with Alt Goldgrun ink and continued with another filled with Noodler’s Black Ink.  Followed by watercolor.

Trumpet Parts No. 29 and No. 30 needed help.  Perhaps a collaboration between the two might find a solution to the problem of poor value distribution and design.

Trumpet Parts No. 29, No.30, No.31

Left  … No.29, Center …. No. 30, Right …. No. 31

I drew a somewhat careful contour drawing with a fountain pen. I threw the dice, came up with a Triad Color Scheme, and chose Yellow-Orange, Blue-Green and Red-Violet.  The values didn’t work as I wanted them to and the sketchbook paper is too thin to withstand significant alterations.  Turning the page, I started again, trying something totally different and still trying to get my mind free from laboring over my tax preparations.  I needed a small orange shape in the bottom left quadrant, but again, couldn’t make that change on the thin paper.

Trumpet Parts No. 31

With nothing to lose, I ripped up No. 29 and collaged it on top of No. 30.  The resulting, abstract image, No. 31,  has movement and vitality that the other two images are lacking.  For those of you who have been following my commitment to complete all of my uncompleted sketchbooks before treating myself to a new one, Trumpet Parts No. 31 completes another sketchbook!

Images:  Ink and watercolor sketches, torn paper and double-sided tape.

I don’t think I can get more portable than this.

Brush, Paints and Sketchbook

The Kuretake Water Brush measures 6″ in length, moleskin sketchbook is 3.5″ x 5″ x .12″ thick, makeup compact is 2.25″ x 2.75″ x .25″ thick.  All three pieces fit into a small cocktail party size purse or the inside pocket of a gentleman’s suit jacket.  Perhaps a thin cigarette case would be better for men to use than a makeup compact. But then again, if you are at a cocktail party painting I don’t think you would really care if anyone looked at you oddly for pulling a makeup compact out of your jacket pocket.

I gave the kit its first trial run yesterday afternoon at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the St. Luke’s Hospital Anderson Campus.  Fourteen of my paintings hang in the Bone & Joint Unit of the hospital.

Metal Makeup Compact

The idea of using a metal Makeup compact is not my own.  I read about it online after discovering the Peerless Watercolor Papers.  I’ve posted my version of cd gel case palettes as well as my cigarette case palettes in previous posts.  What I love about the makeup palette is that it is somewhat elegant to bring to events where art supplies might be frowned upon.

Tiny bit of paper towel for brush cleaning

A small piece of paper towel, folded, fits nicely in place of the powder puff.

A sample of each color

A sample of the true hue and value of each color is necessary since the papers are so impregnated with pigment that it is difficult to identify the color by looking at the paper, especially in dark environments where I often find myself painting.  This sample chart is taped into the powder puff well using double sided tape.  A piece of wax paper is cut and taped to the underside of the powder puff well with a flap to fit over the top of the color swatch chart, protecting it from the papers taped to the underside of the compact cover in case they are still wet when the compact is closed.  The paper towel will also absorb any remaining moisture, but there is no guarantee that it hasn’t blown away.

Eight different pigment papers

The powder puff well is hinged on the side of the compact to keep the face powder from falling out.  As a watercolor palette it lifts to reveal four more pieces of Peerless Watercolor Paper.  Four are taped to the inside of the lid and four are taped to the powder well.

The ultimate travel watercolor kit

This little travel watercolor kit is so portable that I can even paint while standing.  If I tape papers on a separate piece of cardstock rather than directly into the compact, I can easily switch out the colors of my palette.

Sketch: drawn first with fountain pen filled with mixture of Sherwood Green Ink and Heart of Darkness Ink, followed by washes of Peerless WaterColor.  I left room for the piano player and stand up bass player who had been playing on a stage behind the people I sketched.  The musicians, unfortunately, took a break just as I started the sketch.  I had to leave before they returned.