Most of you know me as an oil painter, but I’ve always loved to sketch and draw with pencils and pens and I also paint in watercolor on location. Dating back to 1989, I take at least a small sketchbook and kit like the one above with me when I travel.
I’ve enjoyed seeing sketching take-off as an international art phenomenon and I’ve decided to formally throw my well-loved field hat into the ring. Before the end of the month I’ll be debuting a new website dedicated to sketching called “SketchWild”. It will include not only my field and travel sketching and painting, but also art supply reviews, tutorials and online classes. Tell me in the comments what you’d like to learn!
My specialty and favorite subject has always been animals. I seem to be one of a surprisingly small number of artists who draw and paint from live animals and I’ll offering tutorials on how you can do that, too.
If you’ve never sketched before and want to try it but don’t know where to start or if you’re a landscape painter who occasionally wants to add animals like, say, a cow or horse, to your painting but don’t know how to draw them, I’ll be offering classes and/or sets of tutorials for both. I’ll also be offering instruction in pen and ink sketching/drawing with technical pens, fountain pens and dip pens regardless of subject and tutorials on sketching with an iPad, including a review of the variety of apps available. And there are a lot of them!
In the end it’s not about, or only about, making finished pretty pictures, but enjoying the process and seeing the world through art you’ve created yourself. Some of the best souvenirs you can take home are the sketches you did of what caught your eye.
To give you an idea of what I’ve done over the years, here’s a selection from my sketchbooks. Some, like the animals were done very quickly, in maybe one to three minutes, sometimes less. The landscapes hold still so I can spend more time on them. And if I can add an animal, so much the better!
Monkeys don’t hold still for long so you have to work fast and see the basic shapes, in this case a quick indication of light and shadow to go with the drawing.
These colobus monkeys were fairly far up in the trees and jumping around so I simply and quickly sketched in the black bodies, leaving the white feathering the color of the paper.
The horses were in a corral standing around, so I had time to add things like the pinto markings and do eye, leg and hoof studies.
I was sitting up on the rocky hillside of a valley in the reserve when I did these quick sketches of the world’s largest mountain sheep. I’ve seen them many times and have painted them, so I “know what they look like”.
These barbary sheep and tahr posed nicely for me so I was able to do much more finished sketches that I usually manage.
I’ve had the good fortune to go to Kenya twice, once in 1999 and once in 2004 and would love to get back there sometime. We were driving to our campsite and came upon this lion and lioness in the throes of “temporary love”.
While animals are my favorites subject, I sketch pretty much anything interesting that crosses my path. I also like to record an animal’s habitat, which creates a specific kind memory that one doesn’t get from only taking photos.
On a trip to Portugal with a number of other artists we stayed at an old farmhouse that was surrounded by cork trees, the same ones that wine corks come from. They were full of character. I was interested in the twisting branches and trunk.
This scene was near the lodge we stayed at in the conservancy. I didn’t have a lot of time between breakfast and departure, so I focused on the river going back in space, the large, tree and left the rest of the vegetation as outlines.
I’ve had the good fortune to travel to England quite a bit over the years. I love drawing the wonderfully picturesque historic buildings.
I had plenty of time to lovingly sketch the half-timbering, windows and shrubs of this wonderful old building.
Getting to sketch at Stonehenge a few years ago was a tremendous treat. In order to do a number of drawings from different angles I kept it really simple….the shapes of the stone themselves and then filling in the shadow sides.
I also sketch during trips around the USA. I enjoy playing around with edges, cropping in as needed. I didn’t want to bother with the building next to my subject, so I just left it as a silhouette in reverse.
When I did these super quick people sketches I was experimenting with contour drawing. None of them took more than a minute or so. I’ll be showing you how to do it.
The above sketches were done with pens, mostly Sakura Micron .01s. I also work in watercolor on location.
All of the above goes into an REI daypack.
Quick watercolors just to capture the day and the bison.
I spent a couple of hours on this painting, making sure that not only was the horse drawn correctly, but that the saddle and bridle were right. I went up close a number of times to check details. The horse would shift a bit, but then back into the position I’d drawn. Something to remember about sketching animals…they tend to move in a repeating pattern, so one can stop, wait, maybe start another sketch, then pick up the first one once your subject is back in place.
I was sitting on a rock at Hustai, painting this interesting and colorful small rock formation and the surrounding fall foliage when the bird, I think it was a magpie, landed on the top one. I dropped my brush, grabbed a pencil and quickly sketched it in.
I carry a small stack of 8×8″ pieces of Sanders Waterford cold press watercolor paper with me in a gallon ziplock baggie, along with a small foamcore board with packing taped edges and a roll of drafting tape. I’ve found that I really like the small square size and can, as I did here, easily place two smaller horizontal format paintings on it.
And, lastly, I’ve done calligraphy and handlettering for over forty years. Both are also undergoing a revival and I’m considering offering tutorials and maybe a online class or two for that. Here’s a few samples of my lettering…
I’ll be posting the latest news about SketchWild here on my regular website and also in my Facebook group, FoxStudio.
Let me know in the comments what you think and what you’re interested in learning!