1 April, 2017. Yes, it’s All Fool’s Day, but the second outing of USk/KC was no joke. We’ve had a remarkable response to the group, and an equally remarkable turnout to events. The enthusiasm is heartening and I am encouraged to think that we’ll be able to keep the motivation and participation high.
For this event, we met at Kansas City’s historic Union Station. It’s chilly outside and quite naturally we mostly gathered indoors for comfortable and abundant seating in the cavernous building. As always seems to happen, the act of drawing, sketching, and painting is a curiously voyeuristic action, not on the part of us, as artists, drawing from observation. But also on behalf of people around us. I stopped sketching numerous times to engage in friendly conversation with the curious.
I don’t see these interruptions as a negative, by the way. In fact, the more artists and sketchers connect with these curious observers, the more it becomes apparent that we’re not some special, “precious,” and select group. There is, in fact, little that separates people other than interests. How wonderful that we have this opportunity to chat, to advocate for our particular interests, and to share what it is we are doing. Maybe – just maybe – this passing chat will encourage another to pick up a pen or pencil next weekend.
I made several sketches this morning, beginning with the one at the top of this thread. That particular sketch went through quite a lot of evolution, emerging from the initial pencil marks first as a contour drawing in thinly inked lines, and then getting blocked in with heavier marks using a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Later on, when we gathered together around the food tables across the street at Crown Center, I felt like the sketch looked unfinished so I pulled out the gouache kit and began to add color. I wanted to contrast the cool gray of the overcast sky and the murkiness of the architectural detail around the arched window with a warmth on the highlighted interior of the arch. These color temperatures were intentionally enhanced for dramatic effect, and in fact I went back in even later to add another layer of color to make the sketch feel a little more “complete.”
I was having difficulty loosening up. Maybe I shouldn’t have started with rigid geometry this morning. I find that I get more energy when I focus on more organic shapes as the primary subject matter. That led me to working on very fast gestures of people. After this exercise I began to feel like I could “move” my hands without getting too tight.
By this time, I’d been moving around inside the building for most of the morning and decided to change my perspective entirely by heading outdoors – sort of. An elevated glass walkway connects Union Station with Crown Center, and by positioning myself over the street I wound up with a nice, elevated view of the exterior. I was standing while I sketched, and as sometimes happens wound up getting into the idea of loose lines that define contours and shapes without getting lost in details. The perspective was convincing, and later on after adding some really quick splashes of watercolor, I netted a sketch that feels fresh and not terribly overworked.
I’m still not sure if I like gouache or not. Watercolor, which used to be such a difficult medium for me to manipulate, has become so effortless that I find myself treating it in a rather unfairly cavalier way these days. We also found ourselves discussing how to correctly pronounce “gouache” over lunch today. (I’m notoriously bad about simply making up pronunciations, and I wound up Googling it. Turns out there are at least three “correct” pronunciations and my version seems to be the “most” correct.)
Heading back to my car after our group had shared sketchbooks and enjoyed a light lunch, I realized I had missed an opportunity to sketch the trains on display outside the station. Whatever was I thinking? Guess I’ll have to head back out there again sometime soon!