Lately I haven’t sketched outside much and I had been feeling getting tighter; I can’t afford to lose the spontaneity in my sketches. A few days ago I decided to do a quick Virtual Paintout, as they were during the month of November in Iceland. I grabbed a few random markers from my box and loosely did this, always with the broad tip. I need to get back on markers more often, as I enjoy them too much.
I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post. And it’s not that I haven’t been sketching; on the contrary, I’ve been sketching a lot. I’ve been trying new materials, new styles, practicing a lot. Tonight I even been practicing caricatures.
I joined a Facebook group of Puerto Rican caricaturists and got inspired to try it out. This week members submit their caricature of the chosen public figure, the legendary wrestler Carlitos Colón. I grew up watching him wrestle and my late grandpa was a huge fan of his. I tried diverse styles, first more cartoonish, with felt-tip pen and watercolors; then tried a more… elegant style? I like more the latter, here are both:
I also have been doing some Virtual Paintouts, last month at Valparaíso, Chile and last night at Vilnius, Lithuania. Here are both:
Also I’ve been sketching on location, especially people in action while I was participating in Festival Claridad. Here are a few of my sketches there:
Best of all is that I’m enjoying the process, learning a lot and having fun.
It has been a long, long time since I engage in one of the Virtual Paintouts. After joining the Urban Sketchers I have exclusively sketched on location, but tonight i was bored and wanted to practice with the bamboo pen.
This month the group is sketching via Google Street View at Isle of Man. I only had heard before of the place because it is home to my former side job, Pokerstars… Here’s my sketch for tonight, done with a bamboo pen, a kabob skewer and Higgins ink on 11×14 smooth Bristol board.
I’m basically a self-taught artist. Granted, in architecture school I did learn to draw, but not formally as part of a class. I have learned from watching others, reading books and lately through the internet. Until now, I hadn’t ever considered myself an artist. Because I like to draw/paint/sketch what I see and not something from the imagination I had thought what I did wasn’t art. A few weeks ago a youngster with a formal art degree convinced me that what I do is exactly art; I paint my interpretation of what I see… how I see my surroundings. So yes, I’m calling myself now an artist. I’ve accepted it. And now what?
I have always done this just for fun, just as a hobby. For quite some time various friends have told me to sell my sketches, but I never even considered it. But I figured that artists also eat, right? So decided to sell my art, a couple of weeks ago I went to my first artist event, La Campechada, held at Old San Juan. The first day I didn’t sell a thing. True, I was focused on painting and not selling, but by-passers didn’t even stop. The second day I sold a few, but I didn’t even break-even.
I then opened an online store at Etsy (link), and have got lots of visitors, and a few faves. I don’t actually like to sell reproductions, so I have been selling my original sketches. I thought that if I managed to keep the price low that I would sell them quickly. Wrong! No sales… even when I’m selling my original pieces at what other artists are pricing their reproductions. I figured that it’s too early to tell, but I just read an article that opened my eyes. It says that if the price is too low, buyers could think that there is something wrong with my pieces that I’m not saying. It also says that a low price is the equivalent of cheap, which could work against me, opposed to what the logic would tell us. I read that if you are getting the views but not the sales that the pieces may be priced too low. So, it’s apparent that the price ain’t right!
Well, I’m a man of my word, so I’m not gonna increase the price tags of the items I’ve already put online. But I’ll definitely increase them for the ones else I put on the store from now on. I still want to make it affordable, but if pricing it low means I don’t appreciate the pieces myself, it’s not gonna happen. Let’s see how it goes.
Also I’ll be doing pieces larger than 9″x6″. I just got in the store my latest “cavinela”, the term I made up for my paintings with coffee (café) and wine (vino) in a watercolor (acuarela) fashion. Here it is:
Although it is not the same as sketching on location I find amusing the idea of the virtual paintouts. I am trying a new set of Yarka watercolors, so the virtual location was better than nothing. I first washed in w/c and then sketched over it with the bleeding Papermate flair. Then retouched a bit with the waterbrush. I really like the results I get doing the line drawing after the color; I’ll be trying that next time out.
A good thing about virtual paintouts is that you can go “exploring” other countries without having to do it physically. However, sometimes I want to sketch interesting places or buildings and not necessarily streets, which is, well… Google’s Street View forte. But I remembered seeing the Colosseum in Rome as the opening screen, so maybe “Street View” is not limited to streets.
So I searched online for traditional Japanese architecture. I remember when in architecture school we were introduced to Japanese gardens and villas. I stand behind the word “introduce”, because that is exactly what they taught us, a very brief lecture on Japanese gardens. Oh, and it was as part of a design studio, not in History of Architecture. That is a flaw the curriculum I studied in had; we barely touched oriental, middle-eastern or even latin-american architecture.
But whatever… I found about Himeji Castle, regarded as the finest surviving example of 17th century Japanese architecture, and it happens that Google Street View works in it! So I explored around the place and found a couple of interesting views. It is a beautiful place. I sketched it directly with Sennelier watercolors on a 9″x 6″ heavyweight paper sketchbook. It’s not watercolor paper, but it behaves better than I expected. I used a water brush for this, very convenient when painting watercolors in front of the computer (no water spill accidents).
I hope I keep finding interesting “street views” in the virtual paintouts from now on.
I had an impromptu sketching session today at lunch; had almost 50 minutes free, so I went virtually to Cape Town once again, as part of The Virtual Paintout. After navigating for a while, I finally settled for the view. As I hadn’t planned, I could only use the few items I had at hand at the office: 32 lbs. Hammermill Laser Printer paper, felt-tip pens, a Sharpie and a four or five almost-dried-out Prismacolor markers. Really tempted into rendering with fluorescent highliters though… I’ll definitely try that sometime.
Yesterday I went on a family trip with my wife and son. We took with us some snacks, a cooler with ice, water, some cheese, yogurt and home-made ceviche for lunch. We drove to Guajataca, which is in between Quebradillas and Isabela, at the northwest part of the island. It was a beautiful and breezy day. We took turns driving, so both of us did our warm-up sketches on the freeway. After we had lunch we spent some time sketching. I managed to do just a few, as I wasn’t feeling that well, so we missed sketching at the most interesting spots. We’ll be back then sometime.
I did something I’d never done, that is doing two versions of the same sketch. In the first one I sketched directly with watercolors and in the second version I painted first with watercolors and then loosely sketched over the colors with ultra-fine Sharpie:
We wanted to sketch again today, but we were really tired to go out. I remembered I had seen a blog that people used Google Street View as a resource for visiting interesting locations to paint. We could have done it on our own and select any city we wanted, but decided it would be fun to participate with them, doing the same location as everybody else is doing this month, which is Cape Town, South Africa. Here is my sketch, done with watercolors and a sepia Pigma Micron:
It felt a bit weird; first, I’m not used to drawing from pictures, second, Google’s Street View photographs are taken higher than eye-level and third, you don’t feel the space. You don’t have the smells, sounds or the local coffee I like to enjoy wherever I visit. But hey, I don’t know if I’ll ever go to South Africa, and if I go, probably wouldn’t find this view. In short, it is not the real thing, but still fun to do it. I guess I will be doing some more of these.