A Snowbound Christmas in Mystic

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Like many in the Northeast, we celebrated the holiday and then hunkered down for the impending storm. Luckily southeastern CT seemed to suffer more howling wind than actual snow accumulation, but since we found out that we had lost power back at our house in Stamford, it meant a longer visit than usual with family -- and LOTS of board games, puzzles, crafting and sketching to pass the time.

Our Christmas Eve routine generally involves going to 5 p.m. services at St. Patrick RCC super-early to ensure we all have seats. By about 4:30 the church is standing room only (read: a fire hazard). I pass the time by sketching, but over the years I've drawn most of the stuff I can see over the tops of people's heads -- so this time, my subject was some random architectural detailing -- and then people's heads.

Christmas Eve Mass in Mystic, CT, 2010

While we spent much of the post-Christmas blizzard-holiday trying out the new games that had been gifted and unwrapped on Saturday, we also broke out the classics. Here, the family decided to play Monopoly, thinking it -- and the storm -- would last us quite a while. Surprisingly, the game ended in mere hours, barely giving me enough time to finish this sketch!

Snowed in with Monopoly, Christmas 2010

Watercolor Experiment on TerraSkin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A friend gave me some sample sheets of TerraSkin -- the environmentally friendly "paper" made from mineral powder and nontoxic resin -- and I decided to try a loose watercolor on it. The subject is a farm building from a photograph I had taken somewhere on the road between Red Hook and Hudson, NY, earlier in the year.

As many other artist-bloggers have noted, it's not easy to erase pencil lines on this surface. I do like the way the watercolor puddles on it (and granulates -- probably picking up a bit of the mineral dust -- if you work into it a lot, as in the sky). It forces me to give up control, which is a Good Thing For Me! :) Lately I've been looking again at the watercolors of Hopper and Homer and Sargent, trying to see (and paint) simpler shapes and values.

Farmhouse near Hudson, NY

Another Mystic Memory

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Watercolor of a small outbuilding that I had photographed in August, near M.'s parents' home in Mystic, CT. A little overworked, unfortunately -- didn't make the sky quite blue enough at first, and then used too much dark cobalt in the second glazing. Think it would have worked better in something a bit closer to cerulean plus cobalt turquoise light. And of course I need to force myself to think "big value shapes" instead of picking over each tiny detail!

Outbuilding, Mystic, Connecticut

Metro-North Commuter Series, Framed

Sunday, December 19, 2010

M. had the idea of putting together several of my Metro-North commuter iPhone sketches -- so I found an old frame upstairs, and voila.

Metro-North commuter series, framed

Summer Memory: Morgan Point Light, Noank, CT

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One of the highlights of M's annual family reunion weekend in Mystic, Ct., is a boat ride along the picturesque coastline in the area. As the Whaler bounces about on the water, it's fun to try to keep the camera dry enough to capture the scenery -- lobster shacks, lighthouses, sail boats, etc.

Since it was much too cold to paint outside today, I decided to relive the summer by painting from one of the photos I took on the boat ride earlier this year. Had to look up the name online, but the building is Morgan Point Light, in Noank.

Morgan Point Light, Noank, CT

As usual, it was tough to control the paint on the Hot Press surface, but I think I'm getting a little better at it. I used a goat hair mop brush for the clump of trees, inspired by Don Gore's experiments with roughly hacked off brushes. The colors are mostly Winsor & Newton with some Schmincke. (And I did use two Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens on that vine-covered wall for a bit of texture.)

Scanning My Way Down Memory Lane

Monday, December 13, 2010

On a whim -- and to test out some slideshow/album widgets -- I decided to scan in a bunch of sketches and small watercolors I had done while in high school, some 20-odd years ago. Here's a Flickr slideshow of what I've scanned in so far.

The View from the South Bank, Revisited

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Finally got around to adding watercolor to the ink sketch I did in London a few months ago. I've been playing with my new Schmincke 24 half-pan set -- the colors are super-bright, so I'm trying to learn how to control them so they don't appear garish. Here I used a mix of the Schmincke colors and my Winsor & Newton paints.

London from South bank, with watercolor added