Friday, January 11, 2013

Bleecker and 11th

Yesterday in the West Village of New York City, a slice of afternoon light spotlit the brick apartments on the corner of Bleecker and 11th Avenue. 

What attracted me was the way the left tree was a dark pattern against the light building, while the central tree was a light texture against the cast shadow. Since my main interest was this tonal relationship, and since I only had a half hour to work, I limited my approach to a black and white wash drawing.

I'm sitting on a park bench holding the watercolor notebook on my knee. On the right is what the sketch looks like after about 10 minutes. At this stage I'm dropping in big tones over a rough perspective grid, careful to paint around the white of the branches and the windows.

For the big tonal areas, I use two Niji water brushes, one filled with water, and the other filled with Higgins Eternal ink. The light gray areas are the clear water brush picking up a little ink.

Here's a detail of a section the size of a postage stamp. After the big washes dry, I use a black watercolor pencil for the linear details of the windows, mullions, cornice details, and small branches.


Kyler Dannels said...

Wow, I must have walked right through your composition yesterday - I was working one block away on Bleeker and Perry at the RRL store, making period deli runs past the park.

Small world! Wish I could have stopped over and painted with you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for the Sketching-walk-through, and for the materials you use.
Thanks again,

Tom Hart said...

Wonderful sketch, especially considering how fleeting the light must have been. About that "rough perspective grid" - how rough was it? When you have more time, do you utilize any particular tools or tricks to establish perspective?

Tom Hart said...

PS: I should have specified that my question about establishing perspective has to do with our field sketches.

Keith Parker said...

What Tom asked.

James Gurney said...

Tom, I drew the rough perspective lines with a black colored pencil. The skeleton I needed to establish was:

1. The top line of the building
2. The eye level (or horizon)
3. Interpolating between those (and just eyeballing with no ruler and no vanishing points) the top and bottom of the windows.
4. A few other quick lines--the top curve and basic trunk of the trees, and the top of the truck. That was about it for the pencil map.

For the vertical spacing of the windows, I cut those intervals in quickly with the brush during the wet-into-wet layin of the washes.

Virginia Rinkel said...

How does Higgins Eternal Ink differ from Higgins India Ink?

James Gurney said...

Virginia, Eternal is for fountain pens. It will dissolve with water even after it has dried. India dries waterproof.

Nikhita P. said...

Lovely work and nice details for such a short period of time! This blog is so inspiring! :)

Lys said...

Do you use any fixative on watercolour and fountain pen ink?

Have you experienced any damage to your drawings because of friction inside of the notebook?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everyone.
Lys, I haven't had much problem with that in the watercolors. Plain graphite pencil does need fixing.

Vicki said...

So you don't use masking fluid for the narrow white lines. But you somehow manage to paint around them without muddying them over...

And all in a half hour. Many of us can draw and paint, but the ability to sit down and paint some effect that you see, with only a half hour to do it, is the result of years of drawing and painting, looking carefully and putting it down, in every spare moment. I sometimes think I don't have enough time to draw every day, but I surely have a half hour at a time; I just don't usually use it to sit down and paint some effect of light.
Thank you.

Virginia Rinkel said...

Thanks Jim for your answer on the Eterna ink. I didn't realize this difference. Do you find your Niji pens hold up ok if you go between the Eterna ink and regular watercolor. Have you ever tried Dr. Martins Concentrated Watercolors in the pens?
I ordered 3 Niji pens, the moleskin (first I've had of this type of sketchbook) and like the idea of being outside with the setting sun to capture something. Also have been reading some of your older posts. Like Ransome's video on how he painted the cover of his new book. Awesome. Thanks for posting that.