Sunday, October 15, 2017

Houses in the 'Hood

Inspired by artist/teacher Marc Taro Holmes, whose course “Travel Sketching in Mixed Media” I am taking from, I’ve been using Holmes’s technique of laying down some minimal, sketchy lines in permanent ink with a carbon platinum fountain pen (extra fine point) and then adding the watercolors – all in very loose fashion.

I decided to draw a few houses from my neighborhood. My first sketch was the house directly across from ours. The owners recently painted their steps and shutters pink, making for a nice visual contrast. I found, though, that as I sketched, the tree wanted the most attention and the steps and shutters became the supporting cast.

Next up was this little blue-gray bungalow just around the corner. It too has an oak out front, as do many homes in our ‘hood, but this time the sidewalk color and texture attracted my attention the most: 

On to another house, a lovely two-story brick that the owners have been bringing to life, inside and out. What I like about this little sketch is the warm palette of tans, yellows, pinks, and browns — with just a little cooler contrast of blue in the windows and along the wrought-iron railing.


Next, just around the corner, a Tudor with a bright red door and, again, a lovely oak.

Then I made this sketch of another house in the hood with a red door – this house in colonial style. I tried to capture the purple ash in the upper left in all its glory, with its translucent peaches, plums, corals, and lime greens. Purple ashes are my favorites of the fall trees — all the more so these days as the emerald ash borer threatens this species. 


But a cropping of this sketch reveals the true main characters: once again, the signature oak, this time with two trunks. (Sorry, purple ash. I will try again next year, so you stay healthy.) 

When I sketch I try to use the same techniques I would if I were meditating: I bring a compassionate, non-judgmental, present-moment awareness to the process. Even as a budding artist I can tell there’s plenty wrong with these sketches, but I prefer to focus on what I like about them.  

(A note re: this is a great web site for artists, with many how-to videos ranging in the range of $20-30. So far I have taken courses from Shari Baukhof and Marc Taro Holmes; I give both instructors two thumbs up.)

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