Lesson 2: Everyday Objects with a Tombow Pen

This lesson introduced a new tool: a Tombow pen. This nifty pen uses water-soluble acid-free ink and has 2 ends: a brush and a fine tip.

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2

The fine tip is great for drawing the outline of a final sketch. The brush end is handy for getting more ink on the watercolor brush for darker shading.

Our assignment for this week is to sketch everyday objects, then carefully refine the sketch using the fine tip of the Tombow. Once the inking is complete, pencil lines are erased and the watercolor brush comes out. Using just plain water, the object is shaded.

Here are my first attempts at this technique:

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2, page 2

I couldn’t resist adding a bit of color to the 2nd bird. Jane’s advice is to add more shading at the bottom of the bird. I’m guilty of following the actual coloring of the object instead of simply doing this as a sketch with shading — hence the dabs of peach and yellow.

The next object is taken from the bathroom:

Franki Kohler, Lesson 2, page 2

This pen is mighty fun! I have room for another bird on the first page and plenty of other objects in the bathroom. Stay tuned.

Sketch/Watercolor with Jane

I completely enjoyed the class I took with Jane LaFazio in early 2012 — Sketching & Watercolor, Journal Style — and regret that I haven’t made use of my new skills beyond the class. So I decided to get back into a class with Jane and take it to a new level. I’ve never done much in a mixed media style so her class Sketching and Watercolor in a Mixed Media Journal was the answer.

The class is online — so handy for getting things done on your schedule, not the instructor’s. And Jane is a fabulous teacher! She’s so thorough with explanations, illustrations and feedback that even I can make progress.

Lesson 1: Something from Nature. We were instructed to select something relatively complex and interesting to us. We’ll be sketching different parts and different views to fill a page. We’re then encouraged to create some stylized images based on the realistic ones we’ve already done.

Franki Kohler, Something from Nature

I’ve already learned a lot. For instance, the first thing I sketched was the ‘April in Paris’ sweet pea at the top of the page. I love the plant, but as a subject for this class it was a bad choice. By the time I had the sketch done — really just a couple minute’s time — the buds were sagging. I didn’t notice that at first, so erased and sketched again. Jane is steadfast about sketching from life, not photographs. When I reviewed the adjustments again I realized that the buds were in yet another spot — that’s when I realized what was happening. With that, I moved on to the watercolor stage.

Then I went out and found 2 other items that would work for the lesson. I really like the Red Bud with its striking colors, large leaves and the seed pods. I’ve probably attempted too much in this first sketch and will need to go back to selecting smaller portions of the Red Bud for additional work from new angles.

Jane liked the style and tone of my page — she’s always so positive! But I needed to go back and get more pigment in the paint for those green leaves. I also took a close look at one of the pods and added it to the page. It was interesting to see how much yellow-green there was on a pod that initially read as red violet.

Franki Kohler, Lesson 1 page done

I also have a nice piece of eucalyptus that I’m eager to sketch and watercolor.

Lesson 6: Machine Made Objects

Last week was the sixth and final week of my on-line class with Jane LaFazio on Journal Style Sketching and Watercolor.  We turned our attention to objects made by machine. The issue here is symmetry. Jane suggested choosing something that you really like and TAKE YOUR TIME with it. Good advise because getting these drawings took a lot longer than the other drawings I’ve done.

My first choice was a wonderful antique iron by Sunbeam, the Iron Master model. Pure simplicity and grace in a household object.

The cord was especially intimidating for me, so I was thrilled when Jane commented that I had really captured it.

Next up . . . a bottle of wine with a journal entry and a roly-poly wine glass. I didn’t leave much off of the actual label — it’s a rather simple label — but I was pleased to capture the artwork as well as I did and it was fun to put the date of the drawing on the label.

My journal entry says:  A good wine and a few good friends are always an agreeable combination. Keep the reds at room temperature but chill the whites. A cracker and cheese are a natural for keeping a clear head and a steady hand. Cheers!

How is it possible that six weeks have evaporated? I have had so much fun with this class! And, as with every class I’ve ever taken, I’ve learned as much from my fellow students as I did from the instructor — a bonus factor I always take into consideration when evaluating the fee I pay for a class. If you are considering taking a sketching class, I wholeheartedly give my endorsement for signing on with Jane. I will be taking more classes with her in the future.

Back to Sketching

Last week I fell very short of my goals for sketching flowers. The trip to San Diego was worth it, but I will have some making up to do! I managed only two sketches — I look forward to doing many more flowers this summer. I simply adore sunflowers.

And my hellebore in the back yard are blooming like crazy! Don’t you love the purple variety?

So, that’s the short story of lesson #4 on flowers.

This week’s sketches have been all about shoes. And what a kick (you should pardon the expression!) it has been.  My first try was with my brown boot.

Then I pulled out this sassy little thing . . .

I delved into David’s closet.  Though his tan suede shoe looked interesting it lacked appeal until I pulled out the blue paint. There now, just don’t step on ’em.
And then some silver slippers . . . FUN!

But enough of these big shoes. I trotted next door to borrow from my 4-year-old neighbor, Porter. She generously shared a couple of shoes. But, alas! some sad news: This simply adorable polka dot shoe has lost its partner! Porter can’t bare to part with it and I completely understand. So consider this an urgent APB: If anyone sees the partner to this little dazzler, please grab it and get in touch with me. (No questions asked, of course!)

Last, but certainly not least, is this snappy boot. It’s just a little too big yet, but soon Porter will be stylin’ while seeking new adventures!

Now you’re caught up.  Lesson #6 — and the last lesson for this series with Jane — is machine-made objects.  Oh, this is going to be tough. Wish me luck.

More Sketching

Two more sketches for Lesson 3 — Pen with continuous line contour drawing. My chicken looks a bit snarly. I think he is made in Mexico; he is hand-made and painted with bright colors.

And here’s my olive oil bottle

On to Lesson 4: Flowers!

I have my eye on a sunflower next.

Lesson 3: Pen with Continuous Line Drawing

This lesson focuses on drawing with the pen only (no pencil sketch!) straight on the paper with no lifting of the pen. Yikes! This was scary for me. But Jane explained that this can be a very freeing kind of drawing, allowing for quick work that produces a more loose, wonky image that tends to look “spontaneous and fresh.”

“Okay,” I thought, “It’s part of the plan, it introduces me to a new style, I’ll learn something here.” But the first time I sat down to give it a try I couldn’t force myself to skip the pencil sketch and go directly to drawing with the permanent pen. So I did another sketch that fit Lesson 2. Good practice.

Then I mustered my nerve with a serious ‘Just Do It!’ mental chant and picked up the pen. Definitely wonky. And the very light brown I chose for the pumpkin doesn’t show at all here.

More wonky. . . but at least the color show up with my tea pot.

With a couple of these continuous-line drawings under my belt I am breathing easier. I can see a use for the kind of drawing.

Lesson Two: Green

Let’s face it — there are more possibilities for mixing the color green than I can assign a number to. Understanding that means it’s no mystery why Jane devotes an entire lesson to just doing that. For this weeks’ sketching exercise I selected three different green leaves from the yard. After sketching each leaf, I spent a good while mixing blue with yellow, painting dabs on paper and making notes on what I had mixed to come up with that particular green color. My color set is by Prang and contains two greens so I also started with those and experimented by adding yellow, blue, brown, and so on.

The hellebore leaf is actually quite a bit darker than my rendering shows. I have more  work to do to learn about getting that deeper shade. The succulent had many colors of green and the more mature sections have a lovely dab of brownish-red on the very tip; then the stem is a mottled brown. I had hoped to get more sketching done than this but time simply vanished.

If you are new here, click on the sketch/watercolor category and you can read about the origins of this class I’m taking with Jane LaFazio on-line. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

Another sketch

The Buddha Hand may have been a bit ambitious of me. Who am I kidding? It was very ambitious of me.

I’ll have other chances to come back to this fruit. For now, Jane is moving us on to lettuce. This has been a fast week!

Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style

Well, I won’t be taking commissions any time soon, but I’m tickled with what I’ve been able to do with my first two attempts at sketching and watercolor. This week we are working on FRUIT in Jane LaFazio‘s class. Here’s what I did on Wednesday after I completely read the directions and got myself all cozy with some fruit at the kitchen table:

I scanned this image and the shadows didn’t completely come through. The very light gray at the edges of the shadows were too light to pick up. I may be forced to take photographs of these in the future.

And here is Thursday’s romp with a pomegranate, avocado and mandarin orange:Again….shadow edges have dropped out and some of the violet “frame” as well with my scanner. My shadow on the mandarin orange won’t make the cut, but hey, I’m still encouraged. The right water-to-paint ratio is a big learning curve so I’m happy with where I am so far. I am enjoying the meditative actions of sketching first, then apply the color. Because you’re working with water and paint, you have to work quickly but with a sure hand. It take complete focus — I think the very definition of meditation. So, even though this is all new to me — and doing something completely new would normally be sure to set my FEAR METER at #10 — I’m completely at ease with this process. Go figure.

The work is done on 5″ x 7″ sheets of really lovely watercolor paper. With the exception of the top right corner, the four sides are glued tight, making it possible for the paint to dry and keep the individual sheets absolutely flat and true. When all dry, you carefully tickle the free edge and lift — viola! it releases from the tablet so nicely. Jane promises to share ideas for keeping the journal pages at some point in the lessons.

Skill Building

Last month I posted a question to the members of Postmark’d Art about which pens they liked the most for writing on fabric. The conversation became quite lively as members shared their experiences with a number of pens.  Sarah Ann Smith said she was quite happy with a set of pens purchased for an on-line course with Jane LaFazio. Then I learned more about the on-line class — Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style.

I had been thinking about taking some skill-building classes and this sounded like a good starting point for me. I checked out the schedule on line and signed up for the class.

When I received the supply list I realized just how steep the learning curve was going to be. I’ve never taken a sketching or watercolor class. The list of supplies is short but like reading a menu in a foreign language to me: Niji waterbrush, paper: Fabriano Artistico traditional white watercolor block 5″x7″ block, HOT press (is this anything like cold-press olives??). I have a lot to learn.

Jane suggests that you keep all the supplies in one place so they are ready to use at  moment’s notice. This kind of organized approach suits me well. I am putting a tote I received for Christmas to work right away.

Yesterday I downloaded lesson #1: Fruit. I’m off to read through the lesson and experiment with mixing my colors. Wish me luck!