This past Sunday we had a sketching meet up at this cool park in Philadelphia. Oversized games (chess, Connect Four, Jenga), hammocks and lots of people just relaxing and having a good time with their families.
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It’s spring, but the winter cold is still here; I wanted to sketch today, but couldn’t feel my fingers. So decided to go indoors and share a sketch from Saturday, my son and wife swimming at the YMCA. It was really warm in there…
This morning we attended a re-enactment of the Battle of Brandywine at Sandy Hollow Park in Pennsylvania. Participants had fantastic costumes and were very much into their characters. It certainly was a very interesting outing.
Here’s an image of a quick watercolor still life I did a few days ago. I’m really enjoying sketching directly with the paintbrush. I think it’s the best approach to painting free, loose and expressive.
Some time ago I had stopped sketching because I wasn’t doing perfect. Architecture school trains you to be a hybrid between technical and creative. I’d spend 90 minutes sketching something, it wasn’t perfect, I’d get frustrated and stop for months. This was the norm until a friend made me realize that it is just a piece of paper, we are not dealing with anything more than that. I haven’t stopped sketching since.
Over the years I’ve heard countless stories of people that don’t want to ruin their sketchbook. I also know of a very select few whose sketchbooks just need an ISBN. We can’t judge ourselves against these few. I wouldn’t have ever touched a basketball if I’d compared myself to Magic Johnson.
There was a workshop at a USK seminar that dealt with the fear of the blank page. I couldn’t attend to it, but I remember that participants were to get the pages dirty, footprints, smudges, paint beforehand, to avoid dealing with the neatness of the white page.
I have never got to that extreme, but I certainly sketch very dirty. In my everyday sketchbook I draw with HB, 3B and 5B pencils, so you can imagine how smudged pages can get. And I don’t carry erasers, so every line is there to stay.
I must admit that, even as a veteran of a thousand battles, I can’t get to use the first page. Don’t know why, it just feels weird.
Lately I’ve been only drawing on the left side pages. Being a leftie, I’ve always hated drawing across the spine. It is even worse with the wire bound sketchbooks I’m currently using. Or sometimes I start from the back pages. Anyway the other page gets so smudged that I don’t use it. So, it’s my sketchbook and it’s one of the few things in my life with which I can do whatever I want.
Today I stopped to sketch at the San Juan Cathedral while waiting for my class to start. Because of the lots of tourists passing by, there is a guy that takes this spot to sing along his guitar and harmonica.
He noticed me sketching him and took a break to see what I was doing. He liked it and asked me to write down his name: “Sención Castillo”. I had thought about leaving it in black and white, but he asked me: “Pero dale un brillito” (roughly translated “Give it a little shine”). So I did. And then he approved it.
I love when people stop by and chat; I get a lot of vibe from them. I wish it was more often. Well, Mr Sención Castillo, thanks for a nice moment.
Here is the sketch:
Today we went to sketch to Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera in San Juan. It was a beautiful, bright day, lots of people in the park. I had gone a couple times before but I never had seen so much energy in the place. The park is well kept, with very nice shadows from trees and very colorful tropical plants. I managed to do a few sketches while enjoying some great company and conversation with long time friends. Then the rain cut our day a little short, again… but at least had a lot of fun.