Save the whites!Posted: June 27, 2014
Use your sketchbook as a place to make observations. I’m often guilty of overworking my sketches but lately I’ve been trying not to worry so much about getting every line perfect, every person anatomically correct and every colour exact. The sketchbook is a place where you should be experimenting, pushing your limits, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Have one simple goal per sketch. This morning I did two quick sketches at the yacht club. In the first one below, the kids were coming in from sailing class. The white sails made an interesting pattern of triangles against the trees. I drew them quickly and added in a few shapes of kids in the middle ground. Then one more boat came in and I added that too. That foreground boat made a more interesting composition and I’m glad I added it. The one goal I had for this sketch was to keep the white shapes — to paint around them — and add mostly mid-tones and a few darks around them. Even though this is a very simple sketch, I’m happy that I achieved that goal of painting quickly and capturing the essence of the scene (and the whites) in a minimum of strokes.
For the second sketch my goal was to paint some simplified reflections in the water. I kept the boat shapes in the upper section of the sketch so that all the complicated shapes of sails and masts and hulls would not distract me from the goal of painting the reflections.My first pass of blue wash covers everything in the sketch except the white highlights. You can’t get those back if you paint over them! Then all I did was add some details on the boats and try to simplify the reflections. BTW, these two sketches are on one page in my sketchbook but I separated them for this post.