Unraveling the Complexity of Travel Sketching

Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Urban sketchers is excited to be holding it’s own series of 10 workshops around the Bay Area: 10 teachers you’ve been wanting to take a workshop with, and workshops geared towards all levels of sketchers!

My Workshop in San Francisco

Title of workshop: Unraveling the Complexity of Travel Sketching

Level of difficulty: Beginning
Instructor: Richard Sheppard
Date/time: May 6 and May 7, 10am-1pm (I have two spots that just opened up for Saturday May 6. My May 7 class is currently full.)
Meeting place: San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts, on the corner of Baker St. and Bay St.

Class description: The best souvenirs are not the things you buy or the photos you take while on vacation, but drawings you create in a sketchbook. Sketching allows the artist to slow down enough to get acquainted with surroundings that are so often overlooked while framing the world through a lens. Yet sketching in public can be a daunting experience for the self-conscious sketcher, or for those that are just unprepared. The first part of this class will cover tips on getting beyond the emotional roadblocks that keep us from sketching. Then we’ll discuss materials, styles, and techniques that are best suited for travel sketching. The final part of the class will cover developing a visual vocabulary as well as choosing subjects that are memorable and meaningful.

To register contact suhita@gmail.com and put “San Francisco Bay Area 10×10” in the subject line of your email. Suhita will let you know if there are still spots open and she will help you through the registration process.

Urban Sketching workshops!

Urban Sketching Classes Near You!

If you are interested in urban sketching workshops, read through this post carefully, for
1) Workshops around the world
2) Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area
3) And a workshop I’m teaching- in San Francisco!

Workshops Around the World

This is an exciting year for Urban Sketching! Urban Sketchers is 10 years old this year and they’re celebrating with year-long workshops all over the world. Excited? Click  this link to see where all the workshops are. Each city lets you pick from 10 workshops being held throughout the year.

Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Urban sketchers is excited to be holding it’s own series of 10 workshops around the Bay Area: 10 teachers you’ve been wanting to take a workshop with, and workshops geared towards all levels of sketchers! To read more about those workshops, go to this link. If you’re interested in a Bay Area workshop, get in touch with Suhita at suhita@gmail.com and tell her what classes you’re interested in. She’ll walk you through the registration process.

We have quite a fantastic lineup of workshops, so register soon because they’re filling up fast. And whether you are signed up for a workshop, thinking of signing up, curious about urban sketching, or just want to meet and hangout with urban sketchers, everyone is invited to our launch party on Saturday February 11 at Arch Art & Drafting Supply in San Francisco. The event will kick off with a sketch meet-up at San Francisco’s Mission Bay at noon, followed by the launch party at Arch Art & Drafting Supply at 1:30. USk classes will be introduced and individual instructors will be available for a meet-and-greet session. Come join us even if we’ve never met before, we’re a friendly bunch!

My Workshop in San Francisco

Title of workshop: Unraveling the Complexity of Travel Sketching

Level of difficulty: Beginning
Instructor: Richard Sheppard
Date/time: May 6 and May 7), 10am-1pm
Meeting place: San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts, on the corner of Baker St. and Bay St.

Class description: The best souvenirs are not the things you buy or the photos you take while on vacation, but drawings you create in a sketchbook. Sketching allows the artist to slow down enough to get acquainted with surroundings that are so often overlooked while framing the world through a lens. Yet sketching in public can be a daunting experience for the self-conscious sketcher, or for those that are just unprepared. The first part of this class will cover tips on getting beyond the emotional roadblocks that keep us from sketching. Then we’ll discuss materials, styles, and techniques that are best suited for travel sketching. The final part of the class will cover developing a visual vocabulary as well as choosing subjects that are memorable and meaningful.

To register for any of the Bay Area workshops, contact suhita@gmail.com and put “San Francisco Bay Area 10×10” in the subject line of your email. Let her know what workshops you want to sign up for.  Suhita will let you know if there are still spots open and she will help you through the registration process.

Classes are filing up fast!

Gabi and Me at The Flying Goat Coffee House

Gabi and me

This past week I had the pleasure of meeting ultra talented Gabi (Gabriel Campanario) and his family for the first time here in Healdsburg! We met in the downtown plaza and then walked over to Flying Goat Coffee, had drinks, and talked about everything sketchy. I had a great time getting to know Gabi and hope that someday we’ll get to sketch together in Seattle. In fact, I’m going to bet on it.

“An Illustrated Journey” is Now Available

An_Illustrated_Journey_painted_SI’m excited to announce the publication of “An Illustrated Journey” by Danny Gregory. I was one of 40 artists, illustrators and designers chosen to collaborate with Danny on this book about travel sketching. I received my copy today and have just flipped through the pages of the new book. It’s a great collection of sketch artists from around the world. Pick up your copy today!

Art Supplies (Watercolor Sketching Kit)

Watercolor of my-art-supplies

I have experimented with many different art supplies over the years, and my supply list is always evolving. Here is a list of the items I currently use.

• Sakura Pigma Micron pens sizes 01 through 08

• Windsor & Newton professional-grade tube watercolors

• Children’s watercolor set (with the paint soaked out and replaced with W&N watercolors)

• 12″ x 12″ masonite hardboard

• Water cups clip

• Windsor & Newton, Series 7 sable watercolor brush

• Technical pencil (never needs sharpening)

• I make my own sketchbooks

• Arches hot press watercolor blocks 7″ x 10″

• Plastic knife (for removing pages from the watercolor block)

• iPhone for pictures, video, blog posts

• Timbuk2 messenger bag

• Three-legged fold-up chair

• Notebook for writing thoughts

• Kneaded eraser

This post is an excerpt from my book “The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece” and available on Amazon.

Creating a Color Palette

Color_Palette_Test_Sheet

Color is as important to me as are the lines drawn on the page: it’s what gives a sketch its mood. Over the years, I’ve refined my palette by filling my paint box with the colors most important to me. While I miss using some of these colors while sketching on location, I find this limited palette works well for most subject matter.

To create a palette that best fits your needs, I recommend using half a full sheet (22″ x 30″) of watercolor paper. I use Arches 140 lb. hot press. I like to create a small puddle of paint for each color, leaving room on the page to add additional colors later. I also leave space between each color on the sheet, and label each with its name.

After creating your color swatches, look closely at each color to determine which are warm and which are cool, which are opaque and which transparent. Decisions about which colors to use in your palette will come through experimentation. Now use the remaining half sheet of watercolor paper and mix different colors together to see which combinations best fit your needs.

My palette consists almost exclusively of cool, transparent colors. It’s not that I don’t use the colors red or yellow, but I use cool versions of red (leaning towards pink or purple instead of orange) and yellow (leaning towards green instead of orange). Even the blues I use are cool. For example, I stay away from Ultramarine Blue because it’s a warm blue. Choosing a cool palette allows more freedom with paint mixing. When blending colors, keep in mind that warm colors and cool colors generally don’t mix well. Scarlet Lake Red (warm) mixed with Manganese Blue (cool) makes mud, not purple. Some people use all warm colors on their palette, but to my eye, their finished paintings look hot.

I use Winsor & Newton paints (from the tube). Here are the colors that I use in my kit:

Permanent Magenta
Permanent Rose

Scarlet Lake Red (semi opaque)
Windsor Orange

Quinacridone Gold
Windsor Yellow

Green gold
Olive green

Hooker’s green
Permanent Sap Green
Cobalt Green

Cobalt Turquoise Light (semi opaque)
Prussian Blue
Manganese Blue Hue

Paynes Gray (semi opaque)
Windsor Violet

Vandyke Brown
Sepia (semi opaque)
Burnt Umber

With all of these beautiful, cool colors on my palette, I can freely mix and blend without making mud. I try to limit myself to two colors per cup but there are so many I love that I often squeeze in three.

I reserve Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Yellow, and Windsor Orange for isolated areas because they don’t mix well with the other colors. But I don’t want to leave them out since they add warmth and life to my paintings.

“Base” Colors
There are three colors I consider my “base”: Vandyke Brown, Paynes Gray, and Green Gold. Generally, I add these base colors to other colors to darken them or to give a color added depth.

Painting Sketchbook Covers

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 7.44.47 AM

After spending months drawing in my sketchbook, I’m reluctant to finish the last page. The completed book is filled with places I’ve traveled, friends I’ve met, and delicious food I’.ve eaten, all wrapped up in memories. But starting a new sketchbook is exciting too. I often think about the places I’ll visit and the people I’ll meet while drawing within its pages. If I’m lucky, I’ll discover a new drawing or painting technique that I’ve never tried before. Although the pure enjoyment of drawing is my main purpose for sketchbooking, I intend to improve my drawing abilities along the way.

I used to draw in Moleskine sketchbooks but now I make my own. Either way, the technique for painting the cover is the same.

  1. For the base, I paint gesso on the front of the book in a loosely painted rectangular shape, then let it dry. I repeat this two more times, lightly with sandpaper between applications to remove the bumps and brush strokes. Sometimes I add a small dab of color to the gesso to soften its brightness.
  2. Then, using a dampened paper towel, I rub a small amount of earthy acrylic colors on top of the base to provide visual texture and depth.
  3. Next, I sketch my subject on the cover in pencil and then draw over my pencil lines in permanent ink. If I make a mistake, I can use sandpaper to remove the offending line and then rub more color into the resulting white area.
  4. Once my drawing is complete, I paint the shapes with color. Sometimes, for texture, I spatter watered down acrylic paint over the finished piece with a toothbrush to add depth and texture. After letting the cover dry overnight, I’m ready for my next great sketching adventure.

These two sketchbook covers were drawn from photos of the archeological wall paintings of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, Greece. The original wallpaintings are thousands of years old.