Wet Walk.

25 April, 2015. I was supposed to meet up with the USk/Midwest group for the monthly sketch but rain and thunderstorms kept most folks indoors. Between cloudbursts, I wandered the neighborhood, stopping just this one time as I crested a hill to quickly scribble down the most important shapes. I walked away with black lines and a memory of the lush, fresh, newness of green. Color, added later, simply doesn’t do the scene much justice. (Lamy Safari medium nib in Moleskin watercolor sketchbook; watercolor added afterwards.) Liberty, Missouri.

Back to watercolor!

17 April, 2015. For whatever reason, I tend to work mostly in pen over the winter months. Perhaps it’s the greening of foliage, but as Spring and Summer emerge I begin to work in watercolor again. This is a small sketch using my favorites: a Lamy Safari medium nib pen, a number 10 red sable round, and my portable kit of half pan watercolors which is made up of my preferred hues from a variety of manufacturers.

I began with a very quick sketch in a small Moleskin sketchbook, using a Pilot Varsity fountain pen. I’ll often do a quick scribble like this one before investing more time in a slightly more detailed sketch, just to make sure it’s worth pursuing further.

My first step is to loosely place the main shapes with light pencil strokes and then mark in accurate, but purposefully simple line work. I try to keep the pen in motion so that I don’t lose the energy of the sketch.

Next, I will use a brush pen to block in some dark areas. This helps to focus attention on important areas of the drawing. Still pretty loose!

It’s important to make sure all the black lines are very dry before throwing down washes of color. If the ink hasn’t quite cured, the black may bleed and contaminate the color. Notice that I tend to use color temperature for contrast, and to create the illusion of depth.

And this is the kit I most enjoy using – small, portable, and a perfect companion to my Lamy Safari pen. By the way, I almost never use the travel brush that came in the kit, preferring a full size brush instead.

Harlem, Missouri

12 April, 2015. Wow, what a sad little neighborhood. In the back of my mind I sorta knew there was an area called “Harlem” in Kansas City, but until yesterday it never really registered beyond that inkling. Turning under a bridge and cutting along the levee from the downtown airport, one encounters an area seemingly bereft of history, hidden from sight and simply forgotten – much as I’m presuming many residents are as well. (Surprisingly, I found out this is where the outlaw Frank James was born.) Out of curiosity I looked up the neighborhood online, only to discover some startling statistics as compared to the surrounding city proper. Driving through, it seems like an especially lonely place to live. I confess that it took me really looking around to discover anything I wanted to draw.

How sad that we are blind to places like this. (Kansas City North/Harlem; Lamy Safari medium nib in Canson sketchbook.)


Not made by hand.

11 April, 2015. Just outside Liberty, the city abruptly ends, the road is blocked off to cars and only permits bike and foot traffic to proceed, people are present yet largely unseen and unheard. The highway is, perhaps, a hundred feet away, cars rushing past. But one might never know. (Liberty, Missouri; Lamy medium nib pen in Canson sketchbook.)

I stopped along my meandering urban route today to sketch a few non-human-made things. It was a pleasure to discover there are trees, and even large “unimproved” areas of woods sprinkled along the river, between the downtown airport and the North corridor of warehouses. (Kansas City North; Lamy medium nib pen in Canson sketchbook.)

Exploring a few new paths

5 April, 2015. I’ve spent a pleasant several hours exploring unfamiliar paths that dart in and out of the suburban core of the Northland in Kansas City. Last weekend I discovered this old house adjacent to one such trail, a structure quickly finding its way back to the elements! I intentionally traced my way back today so that I could do a little bike sketching here and in other spots before trekking off onto a few brand new paths. Who’d have thunk this sort of derelict house and woods would still exist amidst all the nearby new homes? (Lamy Safari medium nib in Canson sketchbook.)

Squeeze Test

4 April, 2015. Are they fresh? Are they ripe? Are they just PERFECT enough for me to buy? Plenty of folks enjoy picking over fruits and veggies at the market using the time honored “squeeze test.”

Lamy Safari medium nib in Canson sketchbook.