Sketchbook: Autumn update

Updated on 20 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

7 November 2016. Time to update on my everyday inkpen sketches. I keep thinking that I find too little opportunity to use my sketchbook, but looking at this series maybe it is not as bad as it feels.

First some riverside impressions, trying very quickly (30 seconds per person at most) to express posture and mood of the people I happened to see there (Fig. 1):

Figure 1. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (1)

The following man, sitting on one of the benches, was incredibly difficult to catch. He was fidgety to a high degree, kept talking to a woman sitting next to him and looking around all the time, so despite my sunglasses I never had more than one tenth of a second before he spotted me looking at him. I held out, nevertheless (Fig. 2):

Figure 2. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (2)

Next some ladies watching their respective kids play with the gravel (Fig. 3):

Figure 3. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (3)

Then some more people “on the move” along the river, including a 20 minute sketch from my series recording “mass movement”, this time catching mostly cyclists (Fig. 4-5):

Figure 4. Sketchbook – people on the move (1)
Figure 5. Sketchbook – people on the move (2)

Next a series of very quick portrait sketches, which I made in preparation for an exciting evening in one of Salzburg’s art museums (“Rupertinum”), where I spent 6 hours speed portraying the visitors of the “Long Night of Museums” in October. The preparatory sketches were made while watching TV shows/discussions on the internet (Fig. 6-11):

  1. A boy stting for an artist who explained speed portraiture to an audience of future artists:
Figure 6

2. One of the Austrian TV news presenters (Tarek Leitner):

Figure 7

3. The mayor of Salzburg (Heinz Schaden):

Figure 8

4. Another TV news presenter (Armin Wolf):

Figure 9

5. The leader of the green party in Salzburg (Astrid Rössler):

Figure 10

6. Austria’s federal chancellor (Christian Kern):

Figure 11

Then something difficult, catching people visiting the “Rupertikirtag” fun fair in the city of Salzburg, amidst a great crowd, some of them definitely quite drunk and very suspicious of my actions (Fig. 12-13):

Figure 12. Sketchbook – Rupertikirtag (1)
Figure 13. Sketchbook – Rupertikirtag (2)

And finally, moving on to Part 4 of the course, some views on, through and out of objects and buildings (Fig. 14-18).
First, looking through the gap between the planks of a bench on the gravel, leaves, cigarette ends, bits of plastic and metal, which happen to accumulate under well-used public seats:

Figure 14

Then a very quick impression of an old mill (“Rauchmühle”), which at the moment is in the process of being torn down to make way for affordable flats. The rubble in the foreground are the remains of a house, which used to stand attached to the tall building on the right. The view was quite exciting and I keep it at the back of my mind for Part 4.

Figure 15

Next two views of the flats typical for the built-up area around my son’s school:

Figure 16
Figure 17

And last a quick evening twilight impression of our tiny front garden/vegetable plot as seen through the dining room window:

Figure 18

I am extremely glad how my sketching abilities have become reliable over the years, most importantly those regarding portraiture. Only on rare occasions now I fail to catch a true likeness of a person and I notice how I have developed a keen sense of the most descriptive characteristics of a person’s face and posture. Hopefully this is here to stay :o).



Part 1, project 1, exercise 1a: Getting to know your brushes – making marks and shapes

12 February, 2016. What a strange feeling to reset the exercise counter to 1. I start the Painting 1 exercises with the hope to be able to carry over what I learned in Drawing 1.

Asked to decide which type of paints I would choose to use in this course, oil or acrylic, I would have liked to say oil, but although I am privileged enough to call an attic workshop my own, our house is of an open type that supports rather strong currents of warm air up to the attic, followed of course by air from there – enriched with whatever toxic fumes happen to escape from the paint I use – to travel straight down to where we live. So it is not going to be oils yet. If, one day, we manage to put in a door on the stairs leading to the attic, I will start painting in oil, too.

For the first of all exercises, making marks and shapes with the brushes I own, I prepared the carton back of a large old drawing pad with a layer of white acrylic paint, let it dry and then divided it up into 3 squares to hold the marks of flat, round and filbert brushes, respectively. Since the task was to see the marks a brush can produce, I decided that it would be sensible to use one dark colour to contrast sharply with the white background layer.

By the way: In the Painting 1 study guide I read that it is difficult to keep acrylic paint moist once on the palette. What I do, and it has always worked so far: I spread a sheet of clingfilm over the edges of my makeshift palette, taking care to make it airtight, and the paint will keep moist for at least a week or two.

My makeshift palette and the set of paintbrushes I tried in this exercise (relatively unorthodox choice including watercolour pencils, but this mix is what I normally use and am very happy with)

Here come the marks I produced, round brushes top left, filbert bottom left and flat brushes all of the right half of the carton. I think that almost every mark can be produced by whatever brush used, it is just a matter of convenience and habit. All the brushes will leave marks with darker edges and a lighter middle unless reworked, an effect I usually choose to keep for two reasons: I love how the uneven thickness of the brushmarks will make the background colour shine through in an almost magical way, while at the same time the crossing of a new layer on top of a mark just made will let the painted structure itself appear 3-dimensional (see e.g. the spiral shape below).

brush marks, dark brown acrylic on white background