Saint-Gaudens and the Mountain

I’m incredibly fortunate to live within a thirty minute drive of two National Park Service sites. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is the closer, just down the road in Cornish, New Hampshire.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited, with family, friends, on my own and most recently, with my plein air group.

I’m boring… I paint the same building each time, the Little Studio, getting better with every rendition even though I continue to struggle with perspective. This day I sat in the field ignoring the yellow-jacket buzzing around me and focused on grape vines twining on the pergola as the tours came and went.

Once I was finished I looked for my artist friends but they had spread out across the property. Eventually I joined one who was painting from a lovely bench with a view of Ascutney across the river in Vermont.

Yes, that’s the other scene I consistently paint but no regrets here… it’s just fun!

OK… I’ve had enough with the Little Studio! I hereby declare I will paint something else when I next visit. But sorry no promises about the mountain. As Cyndi Lauper sang, girls just want to have fun.

A5 landscape Arteza Watercolor Book

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 6

Auuuugh! No Tunbridge World’s Fair for me today. Instead I’m home dealing with a leaking kitchen faucet and sink!  Looking on the bright side, I’ll have more time to write this wrap up and I figure I can always sketch my kitchen instead.

I love going to the fair and over the years I realized my sketching success is inversely proportional to how much stuff I lug.  Carry less – sketch more is my motto. I pack two inexpensive permanent ink pens, a small watercolor set, one short real watercolor brush, a small nalgene jar of water, paper towel and my sketchbook into my extra small Timbuk2 messenger bag (I have an older version) and tuck my wallet and phone into the zipper pockets on my lightweight vest.

I brought my current sketchbook, the A5 landscape version of the Arteza Watercolor Book. Now this book has quite a few issues which may prevent you from liking it but its price may just be the best thing it has going for it. Currently Amazon has a pack of two books for approximately $20 USD. At that price I’m willing to overlook a lot of its faults precisely because it’s inexpensive and not precious… perfect for doing studies. Roz Stendahl published a series of blog posts reviewing the A4 portrait version of this book. If you think you might like to try the Arteza for yourself, I urge you to read the entire series. I think there are 9 or 10 posts and they’re well worth your time.

My own issues with this Arteza book revolves mostly around its construction. First off, I prefer portrait orientation to landscape but they don’t make the A5 in portrait. A few of the spreads don’t have matching surfaces across the gutter, although most do match. The book is not bound with the stitching parallel to the paper grain and the binding seems to separate where the signatures are sewn together. There doesn’t seem to be any glue on the book’s spine for stability either. And finally, watercolor takes a long time to dry. This must be due to its sizing and it’s not inherently bad… it’s just something to consider if you like to work fast.

But the good thing about the Arteza’s slow drying time is the watercolor has time to move, blend, and basically do its magic thing. You can see this effect in yesterday’s Nubian goat images and the images of the Porcelain Bantam Pullet from Tuesday’s post. Those effects are what allows me to overlook the faults and keep using this book.

But will I buy more of these books?  Probably not. There are other watercolor papers that allow those wonderful effects and I’m fortunate to be able to bind my own books. I guess I’ll be binding more watercolor books as one of my winter projects.

Finally, next time I must make time to sketch the other mammals at the fair… you know, the two-legged ones. There are humans, big and small, short and tall, young and old, all over the place but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at my fair pages over the years.

Next year’s fair.  You heard it here first!

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 5

Yeah… no wrap up.

Life got in the way and my poor planning left me with no more hours yesterday. Believe me, I have a hard enough time writing something coherent when I’m fresh much less late at night after a busy day.

So, I’ve saved my last images… and the elusive wrap-up… for tomorrow.

Gotta go… Tunbridge (VT) World’s Fair is calling… gates open at 0700 and it’s Youth Showmanship in the Poultry Barn!

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 1

A week ago Friday I went to New Hampshire’s Hopkinton State Fair. The blurb on their website states “a Labor Day weekend tradition for more than 100 years.”

I’ve only been going for the last 6 years and I’ve learned from my past experiences that I tend to burn out if I hang around too long. Heat and humidity seems to exacerbate any symptoms I may have but this year we were treated with beautiful weather, partly cloudy and low 70s.

Nevertheless I didn’t overstay my welcome… I only spent a little over five hours on site but there were productive. I created 14 spreads (28 pages) of ink sketches with selective watercolor washes.

I’m going to share all my work over the next few days without commentary but look for my State Fair insights and takeaways when I wrap up my final images this Friday. In the meantime please sit back and have a peek at the creatures through my eyes.

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

Portrait Retrospective

Where does the time go? This morning I realized I haven’t posted in over a month and yet I’ve completed 2 additional sketchbooks since then.

I guess I’ll start in by showing you a few of my favorite portraits from May and one from early June. All were drawn from photographic references posted on the Sktchy app by other creatives. You’ll see I often switch things up by sometimes forgoing my beloved ink lines and instead choose to sketch in pencil before I paint. There’s a different feel to each of these methods but I enjoy them both.

This month watercolor was my only constant.

Three Favorites

There are times when inspiration just isn’t to be found and you’re at a loss for an interesting subject. I know this intimately and I believe every artist goes through this at one time or another.

The essential question is how to escape the vortex. My tried and true models are always available to draw… I have three. My feet (slippered, socks, or bare), my hand (or hands), and my face (either a mirrored self portrait, from a photo, or from my imagination). Any one of these can spark an illustration and memories.

March was a month of reflection… but at least I wasn’t at a loss for a model.