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.
Last March I posted my experience sketching with Prof. Tom Leytham from Norwich University and his class. I credit Tom for helping me loosen up as well as making the sketching process much more enjoyable. I finally understood that the important thing about a sketch is that it is a personal interpretation of the energy of a subject, be it a space, building or object.
While sketching at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Tom asked me to try his beloved Sailor brush pen. I wasn’t used to sketching with ink, much less a brush pen. The tip is soft, so I had to adjust my regular stroke; also, there are no intermediate values, so it’s either black or white.
It was just past noon, the Caribbean sun hitting on us hard. I remember being dead tired, the glare of the sun bouncing on the floor of the main plaza almost blinded me, so that’s what caught my attention. I then attempted to capture the energy of the space as I was experiencing it.
It was a sketch that took me less than a minute, so it was quick, bold and simple. It had none of the bindings of my previously tight drawings. I just fell in love with that sketch and has become my favorite.
Some time later I received an invitation to take part in the Strokes of Genius 4 competition, for a chance of being featured in an upcoming book. I was about to discard the email, but the theme of this edition caught my attention: Exploring Line. I remembered the joy I felt doing that sketch, representing shadows with a line and even the lines that weren’t there but anyway you could see.
Was that sketch good enough for a publication? After all, the invitation was calling “from quick contour sketches to carefully rendered drawings”. Still a little hesitant, I submitted my sketch.
Today, three months later, I received a notification that the winners were selected. I clicked the link and, third on the list: Aparicio, Luis E.
Yay! I still feel goosebumps while typing this. I was one of the 112 artists chosen from 1650 entries. I don’t know how rigorous the judges were, but at least, being selected for a “Strokes of Genius” publication sounds awesome.
Thanks Tom, for lending me your pen…
I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy sketching with pencil, same old #2 pencil we were forced to use for math classes in grade school. I’ll be using pencil a bit more, to practice value, shades and shadows. Call me crazy, but I do love the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil and the whisper it makes when shading on paper. Yes, there is the downside of the smudging, especially for us lefties, but it is cheap, versatile and easy to get. By the way, my favorites were Berol Mirado #2, now extint… The current version by Papermate just doesn’t smell the same…
Here is a couple of quick sketches I did yesterday at lunchtime, #2 pencil on canary yellow tracing paper:
Today I also sketched for the first time with oil pastels. I have been exploring different media and decided to try something new. I bought the cheapest set in the store, so I knew they wouldn’t behave as well as if they were artist grade, but I’m not going to spend on professional pastels if I wasn’t going to like it. Also, I’ve always sketched pretty small, so it also is part of an effort on sketching bigger.
We went to sketch to the Plaza de Guaynabo, a really small and cozy town square. For it being the first time, I guess I could say the pastels felt ok. I’m not thrilled by the results, but I sincerely thought it would come out looking worse. I was sketching on 9″x12, which is more than twice the size I usually sketch in. I liked some aspects of the oil pastels, as well as disliked other. I like the spontaneity oil pastels allow, as well as the workability; you can correct big mistakes pretty easily. I also like the bright colors. Though, I’m not sure if I like them for sketching architecture, for the lack of detail achievable. Or probably I have to think differently, understand and accept the limitations of the medium, and use their strength to my advantage. I’m gonna look for some tips online and keep trying to see if I can accomplish something nice someday.
Today we stopped at Starbucks for a quick sketching session. I’m not that crazy about Starbucks, but it is comfortable, I can get some coffee and most patrons are so still that it can be a good practice spot. Right now I’m trying to be loose while adding a little precision and detail. Here is my sketch: