A tale of two cities.

22 February, 2019. A couple of days ago I shared some super quick pencil sketches I made while traipsing around downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

I’d already decided I liked one enough to use it as the basis for a color study, emphasizing a combination of washes, shapes, and the interplay of positive and negative spaces. What I didn’t expect was how dramatically different the watercolor would be from the pencil. Sure, it’s clear that they are compositionally of the same family: The subject and point of view don’t differ at all. But emotionally, expressively, the two sketches diverge. I feel like the pencil sketch has an energy emerging from the urgency of the marks. It doesn’t reveal much in the way of detail, yet I love how it has captured a sense of place. I love how the vague generalities, and maybe it’s me, but I even feel the winter season is credibly present. By contrast, the crisper edges of the watercolor have a sharpness to them, the color seems to demand a more immediate response, whereas there’s a tendency toward thoughtfulness in the pencil. To be clear, I don’t know that I favor one sketch over the other, I just find it interesting to make the comparison.

What do you think?


  1. Michael Scandling · February 23, 2019

    It’s urban rush vs. quiet moment. I’ll go for the quiet moment. I love the washes.

  2. Ruth Bailey · March 1, 2019

    I like the quiet watercolor washes, but then, I like watercolor!
    You said you like the energy of the pencil sketch which comes through in the marks you made. I’m guessing that you took longer doing the watercolor than you did on the pencil sketch. And if you went back to do another sketch in pencil, it probably wouldn’t have the same freshness as the initial sketch. Oh the joy of creating art in the moment, and the different feeling we get from using those sketches to produce another version!

    • azorch · March 1, 2019

      In my experience it’s nearly always the case that those initial sketches tend to be fresher than what follows. The challenge is always how to recapture that vitality in a subsequent work.

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