Where do I begin?

Today I had a false start with my sketch. My first attempt was a street scene, slightly to the left of the scene I eventually drew (below), but it turned out to be a boring composition without focus. That happens sometimes when I’m rushed for time, and maybe it does for you too. You’re excited to start and you leap in with little planning, only to find out that your scene has no interest.

So I turned the page and started again.

This time I spent a bit of time thinking about what I was doing, and realized that the most beautiful thing about the scene was the bright sunlight on the propane tanks, so that was where I started my drawing. By shifting the composition away from the street and making the tanks, the concrete block and the yellow wall my focus, suddenly the composition was full of interesting details both for drawing and for painting — the texture of the yellow wall, the calligraphy of the fire escape and most of all the pattern of strong shadows.

Sketched in a limited palette of Hansa Yellow, Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Rose, in about an hour (not including the false start), on my way to school.


18 Comments on “Where do I begin?”

  1. Lael says:

    Composition, chiaroscuro, and making the tertiary brown from orange (hy +qr) and blue. That’s a 3-fer, hat trick of a lesson. Thanks!


  2. Carol says:

    thanks for sharing!


  3. It is always very helpful when you point out what got your attention for the sketch. Learning to identify that “point of interest” is very challenging sometimes, especially in street scenes. I love your use of colour too and when you list the colours that you used, I practice mixing them and keep notes for future use. Thank you.


  4. Bernadette says:

    You must start out early so you can spend time painting before classes. You have great will power and determination. The little details are what make your work so interesting and enjoyable for the eye. Thanks for sharing the false starts and reminding us all that shapes and textures of buildings and stairs make for excellent work.


    • Bernadette, this semester I have afternoon classes which leaves me lots of time to go to the gym, walk the dog, make lunch and then sketch, all before school starts. In fact on this day, I even gave a 30-minute workshop before my class at a centre for adults with disabilities. We painted a little seascape together. It was great fun.


  5. joantav says:

    Nice capture of the lighting effects!!! You make the ordinary looks so special.


  6. Judy Sopher says:

    Agree with above comments. I also appreciate your explaining your thought process and your palette. I guess you do leave your “false starts” in your sketchbook? I am always unsure if I want to see them again.(some are too bad to let live)

    I do like the combination of pen and paint.


  7. joani1 says:

    Your watercolors are always just exquisite! ❤


  8. I love your ultra-urban scenes. By looking at propane tanks and wires and such, you make me look again at them too. I also love how well the light and shade is studies here and the subtle value changes let you stack so many things behind each other and still make them read so well!


    • Wow, thank Suhita. We haven’t had a lot of sunny days lately but it was so bright on Monday that I had to find a sunlit scene. Craving more of these days but it’s raining now and it will continue for a few days. Ugh. The one good thing about the rain is that the grass is getting green again.


  9. Betsy Angene says:

    Love your work. What kind of pen are you using? The ink is waterproof so you can paint over it, so is it hard to keep the pen from clogging?


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