Danny's truck

My sore back has kept me inside during the gorgeous spring weather here, but today I could no longer resist, and I gingerly set up my easel on my front yard and painted this truck, using mostly gouache — transparent watercolor. I haven’t touched my gouache in a while, and my blue and red tubes were caked dry, so I had to improvise to get the colors you see here. Time to buy some new paint!

The underlying drawing is better than the finished painting. I did a very careful and accurate pencil drawing, but I chose brushes that were too large. Artists always say use the largest brush possible, but I think I took that principle too far here. Still, it was great to get outside and paint again.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of Danny’s truck,” gouache, watercolor & graphite on paper, 5” x 7,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of Danny’s truck,” gouache, watercolor & graphite on paper, 5” x 7,” 2019.

Broad Branch Market

Broad Branch Market is a charming neighborhood general store in northwest Washington DC. Every time I visit it, neighborhood kids are buzzing around socializing, neighborhood parents are shopping for groceries, and friendly people are sitting at the tables in front of the Market, enjoying the day. Followers of this blog may recall that I painted a tiny ink-and-watercolor sketch of the market last summer, plein air, in my sketchbook.

Well, the Market is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and I guess they were googling themselves when they ran across my blog post. They contacted me about acquiring the painting and displaying it in their store and on their website. So lo and behold, the Market now owns the original painting, now handsomely framed under glass. Their website apparently will be updated later this year to commemorate their anniversary; here’s the current link. https://www.broadbranchmarket.com/

Anyway, if you need some groceries and neighborly cheer — and if you want to see a Watson original — stop by the Broad Branch Market. :)

Geoff Watson, “Broad Branch Market,” ink wash & watercolor on paper, about 5” x 8,” 2018 (private collection).

Geoff Watson, “Broad Branch Market,” ink wash & watercolor on paper, about 5” x 8,” 2018 (private collection).

Watercolor sketches

I’ve been painting in watercolor every day this week for a change of pace. I love working in watercolor, but I do find them more challenging than oils. Here are a few example’s of the week’s work.

First, a pair of interior sketches — the first in watercolor, the second a quick pencil study.

Geoff Watson, “Interior sketch,” watercolor on paper, about 8” x 10,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Interior sketch,” watercolor on paper, about 8” x 10,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Quick interior sketch,” graphite on paper, about 5” x 8,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Quick interior sketch,” graphite on paper, about 5” x 8,” 2019.

Next, my trusty stainless-steel water bottle. I spent all of 60 seconds on this, but I like the orange.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of a water bottle,” watercolor on paper, about 4” x 6,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of a water bottle,” watercolor on paper, about 4” x 6,” 2019.

Finally, my piano bench. For the first four decades of my life, music — especially piano — was my main creative outlet. But as I grew older, my fingers and hands started to ache when I played piano. For whatever reason, painting doesn’t bother my hands much at all, so I moved from performing to visual arts. Although I have been drawing my whole life.

Geoff Watson, “Piano bench,” watercolor on paper, about 4” x 4,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Piano bench,” watercolor on paper, about 4” x 4,” 2019.

Darien bookstore

We visited southern New England last fall, and I drew a few sketches and took a few photos. I did a watercolor of one such scene last night; it took a bit more than an hour. I like how it turned out, though I confess I have a lot of trouble taking good photos of my watercolor paintings. It’s not so much the curled edge of the sketchbook paper as accurate depiction of colors and temperature. This picture is warmer than the original, and it looks better in the original sketchbook. Still, I hope you get the idea.

Geoff Watson, “Darien shops,” watercolor on sketchbook paper, about 4” x 7”, 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Darien shops,” watercolor on sketchbook paper, about 4” x 7”, 2019.

Here’s another imperfect photo. I’m not sure cropping it shows it off better. If the photo above is too warm, this photo is too cool!

Geoff Watson, “Darien shops,” watercolor on sketchbook paper, about 4” x 7,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Darien shops,” watercolor on sketchbook paper, about 4” x 7,” 2019.

Snowy road

I did a pencil sketch of this snowy road a couple of weeks ago, after a light dusting of snow, and finally got around to developing the sketch into a little studio watercolor. I’m afraid I haven’t photographed it very well; the original is somewhat cooler and whiter.

Geoff Watson, “Snowy road,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 5” x 8,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Snowy road,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 5” x 8,” 2019.

Here’s an earlier version, photographed in cooler light. The colors are closer to the original. There’s not much color in the painting, to be honest, as the scene was mostly grey and white. Still, I need to add more color to my watercolor. :)

Geoff Watson, “Snowy road (in progress),” watercolor and gouache on paper, 5” x 8,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Snowy road (in progress),” watercolor and gouache on paper, 5” x 8,” 2019.

Harry Potter, per Jim Kay

Illustrator Jim Kay has been lending his prodigious skills to the Harry Potter series; he's illustrated three so far.  The pictures are wonderful!  I'm glad that Kay doesn't mimic the films. Instead he offers his own unique vision of the magical world. He likes to work from life: he uses real people as models for most of the portraits, and he built maquettes (3D models) for characters like Dobby.  You can learn more at his website here. You can find the books here.

My renewed interest in the Harry Potter series coincides with the departure of my daughter for college -- her own version of Hogwarts.  I like to think that I'm a better dad than Vernon Dursley, though.  :)

Here's an example of the art from volume 1.  Kay's Hermione is modeled after Kay's niece, but she also has bushy hair and other features described by J.K. Rowling.  I love the graffiti on the door, the cool reflected light on Hermione's face, the way she grips her wand in the middle (not at the end), and above all the intelligence in her eyes.  

Jim Kay, "Hermione making one of her blue flames in a jar."

Jim Kay, "Hermione making one of her blue flames in a jar."

Sketching weekend

I'll be traveling to New York this weekend, so that means no oil paints until next week. I've been warming up with my ink and watercolors instead.

Geoff Watson, "Pool cabana," ink and wash on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Pool cabana," ink and wash on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Roof," ink and wash on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Roof," ink and wash on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Snack bar," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Snack bar," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Two markets

Today I did some urban sketches at two markets in Washington, DC.  The first is a neighborhood store called the Broad Branch Market, on Broad Branch Street, NW.  A good friend recommended it, and I'm glad she did!  I was struck by the friendliness of the place. The customers all seemed to know each other, and several ate snacks on picnic benches in front of the shop.  Teenagers hung out with friends, and parents brought kids to the soda fountain and deli. This isn't my best drawing because I was struggling to adjust to a new fountain pen, but I still like it.

Geoff Watson, "Broad Branch Market," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Broad Branch Market," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

I then went to check out another recommendation, the Circle Yoga building, but I had trouble finding a spot with a good vantage point. Instead I sat in my car at the parking lot behind Magruder's liquor store and sketched that. I was struck by how quickly patrons arrived, purchased, and departed.  There was little of the interaction I saw at the Broad Branch Market. I suppose you don't go to a liquor store to socialize. I freely admit I bungled the lettering on this one! I was going to paint over it with gouache but didn't get around to it.

Geoff Watson, "Magruder's," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Magruder's," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

View from poolside

It was a beautiful but hot day, so I decided to draw and paint at the swimming pool. I wasn't sure I'd finished coloring this piece when it was time to leave, but maybe less is more? 

Geoff Watson, "View from poolside," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "View from poolside," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 8," 2018.

Here's a picture of the piece after I'd finished drawing, with just one thin wash of watercolor on one part of the roof. I love drawing architecture! If the weather stays this hot, I may draw this building a lot this summer.  

Geoff Watson, "Drawing from poolside," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Drawing from poolside," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 8," 2018.

Primary Election Day

I voted and then spent a couple days hanging out at my polling place, talking to campaign volunteers and a couple candidates -- and sketching the proceedings.  Here are some of the political signs in the parking lot:

Geoff Watson, "Parking lot on primary day," watercolor and ink sketch on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Parking lot on primary day," watercolor and ink sketch on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

And here's the entrance to the polling place.  There was a steady trickle of people arriving to vote, but at any given moment, there were more campaigners than voters.

Geoff Watson, "Polling place on primary day," watercolor and ink sketch on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Polling place on primary day," watercolor and ink sketch on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Women at the pool

I went swimming today, and I noticed this group of women by the baby pool.  One dad did show up for a brief time, but other than him it was all women.  I did this quick pen-and-watercolor sketch of the scene.

Geoff Watson, "Women at the pool," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Women at the pool," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Swim team practice

The highlight of this swim practice was when the coaches insisted that little kids demonstrate dance moves while standing on the starter block.  It was so cute!  But dancers are tough to draw, so I focused instead on the coaches, who mostly stayed still.  

Geoff Watson, "Swim team practice," watercolor and ink on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Swim team practice," watercolor and ink on paper, 5" x 8," 2018.

At the pool

I spent the afternoon at the pool and did some sketching and watercoloring. Apologies for the glare in this first photo. I can't re-take the photograph because I accidentally blotted the picture after I photographed it!  So this will have to do.

Geoff Watson, "Pool sketch," watercolor and pen on paper, 3" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Pool sketch," watercolor and pen on paper, 3" x 8," 2018.

I did an ink wash sketch, using blue ink, of a woman sitting at the pool.

Geoff Watson, "Sketch at the pool," ink wash on paper, 4" x 5," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Sketch at the pool," ink wash on paper, 4" x 5," 2018.

And a lifeguard.  It's a bit out of proportion, but it's still kind of fun.

Geoff Watson, "Sketch of a lifeguard," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 6," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Sketch of a lifeguard," ink and watercolor on paper, 4" x 6," 2018.

Softball field

More softball!  This time I sketched the whole field across two pages of my sketchbook.  The game ended before I finished; I wanted to darken the darks, for example.  Still fun!

Geoff Watson, "Softball field," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 16," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Softball field," ink and watercolor on paper, 5" x 16," 2018.

Softball

I brought my fountain pens and watercolors to a softball game today. First I sketched a few people hanging out before the game.

Geoff Watson, "Hanging out," ink wash on paper, about 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Hanging out," ink wash on paper, about 5" x 8," 2018.

At the diamond, I started with this quick pen-and-ink sketch of the catcher.

Geoff Watson, "Catcher," ink wash on paper, about 3" x 5," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Catcher," ink wash on paper, about 3" x 5," 2018.

And a quick sketch of the coach.  Alas, I closed the sketchbook too soon, and some of the ink ran, but it still captures his gesture.

Geoff Watson, "Coach," ink wash on paper, about 1" x 3," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Coach," ink wash on paper, about 1" x 3," 2018.

Next, a ballplayer.

Geoff Watson, "Ballplayer," ink and watercolor on paper, about 5" x 7," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Ballplayer," ink and watercolor on paper, about 5" x 7," 2018.

I have some earlier sketches of players at bat and some infield action, but I haven't gotten around to photographing them. So for now you'll have to settle for a watercolor sketch of fans in the bleachers.

Geoff Watson, "Softball fans," ink and watercolor on paper, about 5" x 8," 2018.

Geoff Watson, "Softball fans," ink and watercolor on paper, about 5" x 8," 2018.

Sheba (continued)

I arrived late at life class today, but I had a good excuse -- my daughter scored the winning goal in the homecoming field hockey game! I was worried I wouldn't get my "spot" in front of the model, but I managed to squeeze my way into more or less the right position. The lighting was different, especially on her hair, but I actually liked the new lighting scheme better.

I made some progress on the painting, but it's not really finished. The eyes and eyebrows need more work; I didn't finish glazing skin tones over her left cheek; I inadvertently created a bit of an outline near her chin; the ear is too big; and the drawing is better but still not a perfect likeness. Other than that, it's perfect! 

These issues are all fixable, and Sheba models for us regularly, so I'm hoping I'll get another chance to improve this one. But I signed it anyway, just in case. This portrait was really fun to paint! I'm eager to do more portraits in watercolor.

IMG_6129.JPG

Some 10-minute "Gesture watercolors"

I had lots of fun with the watercolors during "watercolor week." I did a few interesting little paintings on the train to and from New York; I may post some of those later.  I also did some 10-minute "gesture watercolors" in a tiny sketchbook.  A "gesture sketch" is a quick drawing intended to capture the general energy and proportions of a pose, not fine detail. So I suppose a "gesture watercolor" is a similar sketch but done with watercolors.

I did these at a one-hour short-pose life-drawing session at the venerable Art Students League in New York, on West 57th Street. Every time I visit New York, I drop by the League for a drawing session or two. The League has a storied history, and it's good to see it's still busy training artists today. Check it out here: https://www.theartstudentsleague.org/

Anyway, I  typically spent five or six minutes drawing and  the final four or five minutes painting.  The results may not be masterpieces, but they're interesting. 

Nude on chair, watercolor on paper, 6" x 6", July 6, 2017, at the Art Students League. I tried to capture the rather defiant expression on the model's face.

Nude on chair, watercolor on paper, 6" x 6", July 6, 2017, at the Art Students League. I tried to capture the rather defiant expression on the model's face.

Nude with globe, watercolor on paper, 6" x 6", July 6, 2017, at the Art Students League. That's supposed to be drapery on the floor, but I had a bit of a mishap with my blue paint.  :)

Nude with globe, watercolor on paper, 6" x 6", July 6, 2017, at the Art Students League. That's supposed to be drapery on the floor, but I had a bit of a mishap with my blue paint.  :)

Watercolor week!

I usually paint in oils, but when I'm traveling, as I am this week, I grab my watercolors and gouache. I'm taking a watercolor sketch book, as usual, but I may also bring a couple of Ampersand Aquabord panels. I'm still debating about whether they're worth the added weight.

On the one hand, there's an irrational part of me that seems to concentrate more when painting on a rigid support.  It's as if a panel is Art, and paper is a mere sketch.  On the other hand, there's a very rational part of me (my hernia scar!) that prefers to travel very light, which argues for paper. Plus, we all know from "rock paper scissors" that paper covers masonite, not the other way around.  (Ha!)

Anyway, if I produce anything of note, I'll post it in this space. At the very least, I hope to attend a figure-drawing session, so I may have a few gesture drawings to show off.