Mongolia Monday- Warming Up For Sketching In Mongolia

I’ve planned this next trip to leave time for more sketching and to do studies using watercolor pencils and gouache. Last year it was all I could do to keep up my Flag Expedition Journal. This time I’ll be writing my journal in a Moleskin sketch book, but it won’t be a big narrative production like before.

The current plan is to spend the first two weeks traveling in the countryside camping out with a guide/driver and a cook. This will provide maximum flexibility since one can camp pretty much anywhere it seems reasonable to put up a tent. It’s one of the great things about Mongolia and something I haven’t been able to take advantage of before. Then I’ll be in and out of UB for a couple of weeks, then going to Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve for about ten days.

I’ve been easel painting almost exclusively for most of the year and haven’t done much field sketching, so I felt I needed to spend some time getting back up to speed. I got a start late last week and spent the afternoon doing the kind of work I plan to do in Mongolia when I can sit for awhile drawing something that isn’t moving much, like buildings or rocks.

Some years ago, my husband and I saw a show of field studies Thomas Moran did when he was the artist accompanying the Hayden Expedition, which surveyed Yellowstone, resulting in the creation of Yellowstone National Park. He worked on toned paper with watercolor, using an opaque white for his body color. I really loved the look he got and started to experiment with different papers. What I’ve settled on is a 100% cotton paper, Annigoni, from Cartiera Magnani, an Italian company that dates back to 1404.

I’ll be using another Magnani paper, Pescia, when I want to work on a white surface. Both take water media quite nicely.

Here’s two examples of my inspiration, courtesy Thomas Moran. The light brown tone is the paper color, which means this method also saves time:

And an example that I did at Hustai National Park on my 2006 trip. As you can see, the toned paper is perfect for punching up the white on the sunlit side of the gers:

Pan gouache on Annigoni paper, 10x7"

Last week’s pieces. I did them pretty quickly, less than a hour for each larger one. I wanted to replicate as closely as possible how I would do it in the field, even if I was working from photographs. For the pen work I chose Sakura Micron .01 pens. The ink is archival and waterproof. This means I can do the pen work first if I want to and then add water media:

Main Temple, Gandan Monastery- Sakura pen, watercolor pencils and body color, Annigoni paper, 10x7"
Enroute from Ulaanbaatar to Arburd Sands ger camp- pan gouache, Annigoni paper, 10x7"
Horse and tack studies- Sakura pen, watercolor pencils, Annigoni paper, 7x10"
Rock formations, Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve- Sakura pen, watercolor pencils, Pescia paper, 7x11"