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

Moving Beyond Adolescence

A few days ago my friend Bobbie Herron published “That Dang Adolescent Period” on her blog, Aloft with Inspiration. In it she describes the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability of watercolor and the importance of perseverance. Please take a minute to read it… I’ll be here when you’ve finished.

Finally I was inspired to revisit a sketchbook-painting I started… and abandoned… over a week earlier. It had hit the adolescent phase where inexplicably everything looked wrong. Not only were my proportions off but my colors looked pale and insipid.

It needed more layers… but where to begin? I was paralyzed. Instead I closed the book knowing it was unfinished.

The sketchbook sat on my desk all week mocking my indecision.

Then I read Bobbie’s post.

It took me less than an hour to add more hair to the crown improving her proportions. A few more layers of bold juicy watercolors and I called it done.

The adolescent had grown up.

A4 – Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook

#30x30DirectWatercolor2019 Part Four

Here they are… my last seven mini-paintings from The #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 challenge.

I loved this sweet bird. The coloration might not be real but sparrows really do stand with their feet in what ballet teachers call second position.

Chickens, on the other hand, don’t know ballet.

People in the park.

Salt n’ pepper shakers on the table.

Friday evening sunset.

Astilbe in bloom.

A lemon branch… not from the garden, but from the local craft store’s floral department.

Whew… it’s been quite a month!

I’ve decided I worked too hard to just give up and go back to painting with pens or pencil underlines but I’m also not prepared to keep working like this daily. Instead I’ll continue practicing direct watercolor off and on… maybe once a week or so. After all, I have many more pages to fill!

#30x30DirectWatercolor2019

#30x30DirectWatercolor2019 Part Three

June was moving fast and I was still committed to creating daily paintings in my tiny watercolor sketchbook. Oh yes, there were some days when I seriously considered grabbing my pen or pencil, even possibly giving up completely but then I thought about why challenges exist.

If it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge!

… and so the paint only challenge rolled on.

I haven’t seen any butterflies with this coloration but I loved painting her.

It was late and I had not found my inspiration during the day so these metallic horses became my muses.

Hummingbird first and the bee balm the next day. They’re always together in my garden!

Another busy day but there’s always a subject lurking in the mirror.

Much more time for this broken seashell. This really shows how lovely the watercolor blends and granulates on this paper.

I have struggled for a long while to paint my cats. Here’s our smaller girl.

Barred Owl at VINS, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, our local raptor rehab center.

By this time I could see the finish line. I’ll post the final bunch on Monday. See you then.

#30x30DirectWatercolor2019