Not much

When I paint on the grounds of Macdonald College, I often pique the curiosity of campus security people who want to know why there’s a car parked where it shouldn’t be. Naturally they come over to inspect the car and it’s usually at that point that I show them my sketch and they move on. Today’s guard stayed a little longer. She looked at my sketch, she looked at my subject and she said, “Not much there…”

It’s true. What I was looking at wasn’t very interesting. A few nondescript buildings, a bit of road, some utility poles, winter grass and some trees. But I think everything you look at is an opportunity to try to compose something interesting. That’s why I did a little pencil sketch first — to see if I could make something from nothing. I never regret spending that little bit of extra time because it helps me eliminate unnecessary elements, simplify the composition and think about values before touching a brush.

NotMuch_Sketch

NotMuch


22 Comments on “Not much”

  1. Trevor Travis says:

    When the reflected light and the shadows are as perfectly placed as here, air seems to circulate around the picture. Beautiful.

  2. Tony says:

    Hi Shari. Lovely as always. Just wondering …. are you still using tube greens or were these mixed? Best, Tony

    • Hi Tony, This was a combo of tube and mixed greens. I think I dipped into the Quin Gold and Indanthrene Blue to make most of this but I think there was also some Azo Green in there too. Even though it looks like all Sap Green, I didn’t use that at all. I find the Quin Gold mixed with a dark blue makes really great dark greens.

  3. dapplegrey says:

    There may be not much there, but it’s precisely this that makes it such an interesting composition. It avoids the obvious and draws you in, and gives you space to wonder. I like it a lot!

    • That’s interesting. This morning I showed my graphic design students a video and it was exactly those same things the designer was taking about for page layout. Draw the viewer in, avoid the obvious and leave a little space to move around in. Works for painting too.

  4. Bev Rankin says:

    I hope you showed it to her afterwards – it’s lovely!

  5. Andre Savard. says:

    It’s not the subject, it’s what you do with it.
    You did very well.

    • sandidureice says:

      Dear Shari, I agree with Andre. This is a very valuable lesson I am learning as a student. It’s not finding the beautiful scene that’s important, it is what an artist does with an ordinary scene. Thankyou Andre for saying this so succinctly, and thankyou Shari for all your valuable replies to our comments. Regards, Sandi

  6. Hey, you just gave me the idea to paint in my car! Thanks!!

  7. Marc Lépine says:

    So simple, but so simply beautiful. Soft greens…
    I used to drive or bike around to find a «good spot». But often the good spots are all around. Sometimes I say «I’ll stop in two minutes and draw what I see». It often makes a simple but nice drawing. It’s like your wheelbarrow and pots…

  8. When I sketch in the best part of town where the houses are really expensive the local security patrol always stops by and asks what I am doing, just like you. One guy told me I should put a sign on the top of my car like a pizza delivery man that says ARTIST SKETCHING. The perils of creating art! Jacques

  9. annerose says:

    “Not much there…”, sounds like a perfect title! Beautiful sketch and painting.

  10. Janet says:

    Again you have turned the ordinary into the extraordinary!!

  11. Lee Kline says:

    I really appreciate seeing the sketch and the watercolor together. Thanks.


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