Fast and Unobtrusive

This is Jane.

Jane never knew I was sketching her as I waited to be called for my appointment.

Why? Well, this sketchbook is small, only six inches square and I had it tucked behind my bag on my lap. I also used one of my clutch pencils with a soft and silent lead. No scratching sound to alert her.

A few days later I took the same set up to a basketball game and among other figures, sketched a fellow sitting diagonally ahead of me.

He never suspected.

I even played a bit with a child’s multicolor pencil but gave up on it almost immediately. I wanted that smooth buttery feel of soft graphite sliding across the paper.

I think this set up will be my daily carry as I leave my large A4 journal in my studio. I’m looking forward to traveling lightly for a while.

Strathmore 400 Drawing Paper 300 gsm / 80 lb.

The Days Got Away from Me

Recently I’ve been trying to be a more predictable blog poster… a quote on Monday and other art on Friday. My Monday posts are all set for a few weeks but Friday’s posts are usually recent work that I schedule by Thursday to publish early the next morning.

Ah, but life gets busy. Thursday evaporated as I got in the flow with a big book binding project and Friday turned out to be more of the same.

Dinner consisted of reheatables dressed up with one of my favorite seasonal dishes… Pomegranate Olive Relish. I’m just thankful I remembered to paint the Pom before making it!

I like this method of separating the arils, but I do it without the water bath. It works!

Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal

When Do I Know I’m Done?

I thought I was done… scanned it and closed the book.

I was happy, at least I thought I was, yet I knew something was off. I studied it using what Roz Stendahl calls the “editing eye”. This isn’t some rash commentary from my internal critic but an honest review of technique and composition to determine what could be improved.

Although I lost the tilt of his head in comparison to the inspiration photo I could live with that. Instead I focused on how washed out my watercolors looked. Now that was something I could change.

Another layer of darker pigments for his hair and beard and a deeper orange glaze for his jacket and I was done.

Not perfect… but done.

#Arteza A4 watercolor book

Meditation – 25 November 2019

Drawing is your brain transferring your idea, your knowledge, your intentions, from the electrical storm cloud at its center, through synapses and nerve endings, through the pencil in your hand, through your fingers, until it is captured in permanence on the page, in physical space. It is, I have come to appreciate, a fundamental act of creation.

Adam Savage

Into the Mystic with J.M.W. Turner

Last week I showed a few photos of my sketchbook from my visit to see the Turner watercolor exhibit but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. You see, today I’m going to inundate you with photos I took of both the location and the exhibit itself. Fortunately photos were not only allowed but encouraged.

J.M.W. Turner… Joseph Mallord William Turner (23 April, 1775 – 19 December, 1851)






The Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT is perfect, located on the Mystic River just as it empties into Fishers Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.  It seems William Turner, throughout his life was enamored of the sea and its seafaring vessels. The exhibit includes works spanning his life as early on he depicts architecture for his patrons while he transitions to studies of landscapes and light. All of these are awe-inspiring but I was particularly taken with his more atmospheric ethereal pieces done in his later years when he bucked society’s expectations and experimented and created for his own pleasure.

The photos that follow are roughly in chronological order and are heavily weighted to his later work that I love so much.  I’m not going to describe them but instead have captioned each work for reference.  Oh, and please excuse the reflections from the glass… you may want to google the captions to find better online images.


Loch Long Morning 1801


Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East Along the South Aisle 1797-8



Brent Toor and the Lydford Valley, Devon 1814-16


A Hulk or Husks on the River Tamar: Twilight 1811-14



Kirkby Lonsdale 1817


Shields Lighthouse 1823-6


Banditti, for Samuel Rogers’s Italy 1826-7



The Forum, for Rogers’s Italy 1826-7


Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore – Early Morning 1819



Marly-Sur-Seine: Color Beginning 1829-30


A Wreck, Possibly Related to “Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End” 1834


Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland 1837


(Whitehaven), Cumbria 1835-6


Coastal Terrain 1830-45



Sea and Sky 1845


Venice: Looking Across the Lagoon at Sunset 1840


Venice: An Imaginary View of the Arsenale 1840


Sea and Sky 1835


Brighton Shore, Looking West 1824


A Harpooned Whale 1845



Beach, (English Coast) 1835


(Flint Castle) 1834


Sketchbook and Loose Papers



Admission is to the entire Mystic Seaport Museum… its village, exhibitions, shipyard and vessels.




And if you stay overnight and are as fortunate as we were to have a brisk sunny day you might just want to find a spot to walk the shore and enjoy the scenery.



The Turner Watercolor Exhibit continues at the Mystic Seaport Museum until Sunday, 23 February, 2020. 

#jmwturner,  #mysticseaportmuseum