Red line beach people

It’s back to winter for me, but before I start painting snow scenes again, there are still a few Sanibel sketches to complete, and a whole pile of paintings and sketches to scan. Even though I probably posted almost everything I did when I was in Florida, everything was photographed from my phone, so the colour is not at all accurate. And since I like to keep a complete archive of paintings and sketches on my website, I have a few long days at the scanner ahead of me.

The last beach sketch that I did on Sanibel Island was on a very windy day. I sketched this group of three, looking out to sea, watching the wild waves and the diving pelicans. Maybe they were contemplating having to go back to a winter climate, like I was.

My technique for people drawing is a bit different these days. I’ve been using a rigger brush dipped in watercolour to draw with, instead of starting with pencil or black ink. I’m always more comfortable with a brush in my hand, and this technique seems to work particularly well for people sketching, since the brush line is gentle and the red pigment I’ve been using works well with flesh tones.

At rest

I had fantasies of sketching my dog Alice on the beach on Sanibel. We’d be sitting on a towel, under a big umbrella, people watching and relaxing. At some point, with Alice napping comfortably, I would take out my sketchbook and draw her asleep in the shade. But that fantasy never materialized. The beach is far too exciting, and with a constant stream of people and dogs walking by, why would a young dog feel the need to nap? Instead I had to be content to sketch the big old boxer relaxing under a canopy near where we sit. He’s 15 years old, and he hardly moves, except to have a little water from his bowl.

As for Alice, I did a gouache sketch of her today, sleeping in the sun, AFTER her walk on the beach. And even though she stayed in that position for most of the sketch, she did get up and move to another spot, just before I added in the shadow so that part is invented, and not quite accurate.

Last sketch of the decade

It’s almost New Year’s Eve here, so I can safely say this is my last sketch of the year, and also of the decade!

2019 was a good year for sketching, and I think there will be even more of it in 2020. Do you have sketching resolutions for 2020? Things you’d like to get better at? I don’t usually make resolutions, but I am going to keep working at adding people in my sketches, and trying to get them to be less flat. What are your resolutions and goals for your sketches and paintings? I’d love to hear.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2020, good health, happiness and plenty of time to sketch!

Back to the beach

I turn my beach chair around today. Instead of facing the water and the people, I decide to draw the palms and a small nondescript condo building. On a cloudy day, the building wouldn’t have been much fun to draw, but shadows add so much to a scene. Naples Yellow and Cobalt Violet Light combine to create the colour of the building in sun, but for the shadow on that same surface, I add some Cobalt
Blue and Quin Rose to the mix to get a warm glowing colour under the eaves. And just as I am finishing my sketch a murder of crows crosses the sky and I add them in.

The Oil House

The other day I tried to get to the shrimp boat dock to paint, but now that the holiday crowds are here, getting around by car is difficult. I wasted an hour in traffic and a $6 bridge toll trying to get there, only to turn around in frustration and make a pledge to myself to sketch only at places I could ride my bike to for my remaining days here.

The lighthouse at the end of Sanibel Island is a beautiful spot with lots of shade. I’ve sketched the lighthouse before but today I painted a view of The Oil House. When the lighthouse was first lit in 1884, it was kerosene that fueled it. This little white building, restored in 1976, sits next to the keeper’s house.

Backlit beach people

The beach is crowded with families on holiday, so it’s a perfect day to sketch from my chair under an umbrella. Since I’m facing into the sun, most of the figures are backlit silhouettes. I draw in pencil and add colour masses, keeping it to mostly warm or cool tones. It’s hard to see colour when objects (or people) are backlit. Most of the beaches on Sanibel are dog friendly, so there are even dogs to draw. Instead of a photo, a video seemed to capture the scene a little better.

Sea urchins and crab carcasses

The beach at Sanibel is known for its shells. In the past few weeks I’ve seen people wading in the shallow water, holding net bags and digging around in the sand with wire strainers. They must be pulling up some prize shells because many of them spend hours in the water, emerging only to reapply sunscreen or take a swig of beer.

I’ve drawn some of those pretty shells in the past, but on this visit I’ve been spending more time observing the dead creatures on the beach, probably because half of them end up in Alice’s mouth on our walks, and must be extracted before she swallows them. Of course we know why she’s attracted to these tangled piles of detritus — no doubt they smell so rotten and so good.

Today, I brought my sketchbook down to the beach with the intent of drawing some of them. This year there’s an abundance of sea urchins, as well as crab parts of all shapes and sizes. There’s something very satisfying about observing the minute details of these carcasses. Each one shares its beauty (and sometimes a strong smell too) as I hold it in one hand and draw it with the other.