Thursday, July 24, 2014

Value Studies

Today my friend Cindy Esselman was the guest instructor in my Architecture 415 class.  We introduced watercolor and focused on shape, values, soft and hard edges.  Here is a black and white photo of an alley that was passed to the class to study. The idea was to  paint values in a series of layers from the lightest value to the darkest. The  painted value study is a simplified version of the photo.  Can you reduce the image to a few major shapes first and then add detail?

Here is the value study I did tonight from the photo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Line to Color Workshop in September

Announcing Line to Color Workshop in Tacoma Washington this September. 
Registration deadline is August 15th, 2014.
See for more information see Workshop Details .

Friday, July 18, 2014

Painting outside the Lines

Tonight I was messing around with the Windsor Newton pocket palette just to familiarize my self with how the paints respond.  So I started this with light juicy washes very wet.  Then added midtone and darks all directly on the paper with no lines.  So I was working with shape and value very loosely.
It ended up looking like a muddled mess so I decided to get my Hero bent nib pen and do a semi blind contour sketch over the watercolor once it had dried.  Here is the outcome.  Kind of fun switching it out.

Sketching people in Urban Settings

Yesterday my UW Sketching class went to Westlake Park to sketch people and activities.  That was the perfect spot.  Gabi Campanario was the guest lecturer and demonstrated how he approaches sketching people in the environment.  One hint he gave in sketching moving people is to watch their movements for a while and you will be able to remember the pose to capture it in the drawing.  Also exaggerate the movement.  It makes for a more dynamic drawing.

I sketched the sketch below before I heard those words. I will have to try it again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Water and Reflections

I was just reading about reflections in a Zoltan Szabo's book on 70 Watercolor Techniques.  This is my second try at it.  Trying to simplify the strokes and washes.   I used a 1" flat wash from Daniel Smith. The watercolor washes went down beautifully.  The brush held a lot of water and laid down some juicy paint.

The following is the first study I did from a photograph in a book.  It came out too busy.  Too many reflections and there was not focus to the image.   Too many things competing with each other.  I simplified it in the second sketch.  The watercolor brush in this was also a smaller brush probably a size 10 or 12 brush.  I like the second try better.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sketching and Painting Every Day

Last night  my husband and I met up with Montreal Sketcher Shari Blaukoph and her husband Spiro for dinner.  This was their final evening in Seattle after Shari's world wind West Coast workshops.  She is very diligent in sketching and painting everyday and I enjoy checking out her blog each day to see what new sketch she has done.

I asked her how she can do it every day.  She says thanks to her husband who supports and encourages her in doing it she just finds time and makes it a priority.  Even if you do a little sketch of something at home  it is great practice to just keep you eyes and hands in it everyday.  Get those hourly reps of painting and sketching.

This morning I decided to take some time to sketch the blue house on the corner of 26th and Boyer.
Here are the two stages of painting.  The light and medium values and then the darks.  I tried to capture the dappled light but I think I should have simplified by strokes.
Will try this again some time.

2nd Stage Darks

First stage lights and mediums.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2nd Annual West Coast Sketchcrawl in Portland

Yesterday I had an all day adventure going to the 2nd Annual West Coast Sketchcrawl hosted by the Portland USk Sketchers.  Sketcher Mark Ryan and I caught the 6:45 am Bolt Bus down to Portland for a 3 hour ride down which got us in at 9:45 am.  We just missed 15 min opening of the event but found the group of over 100 sketchers gathered in front of the Portland Art Museum.
Sketchers of all along the West Coast of the US and Canada met for a day of sketching I met people from San Diego to  Vancouver, BC and even found out there were two sketchers from Montreal who came out to join us.  It had a small symposium feeling an so fun to meet sketchers from other parts of the country.  Next year it is in San Diego, CA so look out for the advertisment of this event.

Final Sketch of the Day under the huge Elm tree  next to Portland Art Museum Sculpture Courtyard.  PAM was founded in 1892 which makes is the oldest Art Museum on the West Coast.

Director Park was a hopping place Celebrating Bastille Day and having a waiters and waitress competition.  It reminded me of Barcelona and how the streets and plazas can be the life of the city. Opened in 2009 this urban park covers a 700-space underground garage and was designed by  Laurie Olin of the design firm OLIN, and the Portland-based architectural firm ZGF Architects
At the corner of  SW Park Ave and SW Jefferson, was St. James Lutheran Church the only building I found in good morning light.  The cornerstone for the present building was laid in May 1907 and this late gothic revival building  is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

The 6:45 am Bolt Bus to Portland got us there at 9:30 am.  An inexpensive way to get down to Portland and back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sketching Class at St. Ignatius Chapel

It was a hot day for sketching but we found shade and great light and shadows at St. Ignatius.  Today's lesson was to focus on seeing value and using the colors from Velasquez palette,  Ultra Marine Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna. With Daniel Smith Colors, I used Quinacridone gold (instead of Yellow Ochre), Quinacridone Sienna (instead of Burnt Sienna) and Ultra Marine Blue.  The Quinacridones are more vibrant and transparent alternatives.  Here are pictures of the class work and of my demo sketch.  I also got in a sketch in the interior of the church looking at the Baptismal Font .
Revised with additional Quin Sienna wash over walls and added value at glass.

Demo on Values Observing Light and Shadows Exterior of St. Ignatius Chapel

St.  Ignatius Chapel Baptismal Font
Sketching in the cool of the shade.

Sketching in the cool of the shade.

Looking at the final work at days end.

Final Watercolor sketches.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stages of Building a Watercolor Sketch

Inspired by Shari Blaukoph's watercolor sketch of a bunch of bananas,  I had the Tuesday sketching class try their hand at doing still life watercolor sketches of bananas and nectarines. 

I decided to try it at home and scan it at various stages of completion to show the process of building up a watercolor.  Here are the 4 stages I took to completion. 

Stage 4:  Details and Final Darks

Stage 3:  Picking up some Darks.  Background and Shadows

Stage 2: Hitting the yellow of the bananas and some midtone areas.  Shadows cast by the banana.

Stage 1:  Light Washes keeping highlit areas white.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pictures from sketching classes this week

I gave two classes this week on sketching.  One was with a smaller group of 5 at St. Joes and the other my Architecture 415 summer class a larger group of 18 students. Both are great in their own ways. It is interesting teaching non-architects vs. the architecture student.  It challenges my skills in teaching perspective to people who might not have otherwise been exposed to these ideas. Teaching architecture students is more fine tuning them and if they aren't getting it...helping them see a view more clearly and understand the underlying structure of a sketch.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sketching at St. Joes

My Tuesday Sketching Class will be sketching at St. Joes tomorrow afternoon.  So I went out to scope out what there is to draw.  There are some great spots there, of course Capitol Hill has wonderful old homes with tree lined streets.  It should be fun.
I decided to test out my watercolor pencils instead of watercolors.
Here is the ink sketch at two stages.  With watercolor pencil over lay and then with a water brush wash to blend the watercolor pencil.  It gave an energetic sketch!

We still have openings for the watercolor session starting July 1st.  If you are interested contact me about the class:  gail(at)glwarc(dot)com .   Meets Tuesday from 2-5pm.

Water wash over watercolor pencil

Watercolor pencil over ink.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 28th Workshop Opportunity At SAM with UrbanSketchers Workshops

Don't miss this opportunity! There are still a few spaces available. The price of the workshop includes the entrance fee to the exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum as well as the afternoon workshop and supplies donated by our Sponsors, Stillman & Birn and Daniel Smith. To reserve your spot in the workshop contact Workshop Coordinator Jane Wingfield at

We are pleased to announce an Urban Sketchers Workshop in partnership with the Seattle Art Museum. The event is tied to the upcoming exhibit Modernism in the Pacific Northwest featuring the work of the late Seattle artist Mark Tobey and other leading figures of the modern art movement that took place in the Northwest in the late 1930s and 1940s.

The workshop includes a tour of the exhibit and a hands-on field sketching session at Pike Place Market led by Urban Sketchers instructors Gabriel Campanario, Frank Ching and Gail Wong. During the workshop, participants will gain valuable sketching tips to draw on location —from perspective and composition to watercolor basics— and channel Tobey's spirit of sketching at the market.

Date: Saturday, June 28, 2014.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Registration: $50.
9:30-10 am: Check-in at the museum (1300 1st Ave, Seattle)
10-11:30 am: Introduction and tour of the galleries with USk Instructors and museum staff
11:30-12:15: Lunch break/Presentation by instructors
12:30-3 pm: Field sketching session at the Market

Sketchbook sponsor: Stillman & Birn.
Art Media sponsor:  Daniel Smith

To reserve your spot in the workshop contact Workshop Coordinator Jane Wingfield at

Monday, June 16, 2014

Patterns and Textures of the Flower Market at Pike Place Market

A close up sketch of the flower stalls at Pike Place Market.  So much color texture and pattern there. This was just a corner of the stall about a 20 minute sketch and watercolor.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mark Tobey Inspiration

In  getting ready for the upcoming workshop at SAM I studied Mark Tobey's Pike Place market sketches and used them as an inspiration to try a different approach to sketching.  Mark Tobey worked on newsprint and used watercolor and gouache.  You can see his limited palette and use of a lot of white in some of his sketches.  I see a lot of pattern and rhythm to his work. He ignores perspective, but you do get a sense of depth by location of objects in relation to each other in space and size.  With that in mind I made a attempt to sketch using some of those ideas.  It is hard not to draw using what you know of perspective.  I think you have to get beyond the mindset of realism and  look for geometries, patterns get the essence and feeling and vibrancy of the place.  I used brown sketch paper, ink lines, watercolor and white chalk.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sketching and Watercolor Classes this Summer

If you are interested in Sketching and watercolor classes for the summer, see attached information below. Contact me as soon as possible to secure a spot.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hat 'N Boots and Montlake Music and Arts Festival

Yesterday was a full day of sketch related events.  In the morning I went to Georgetown for the monthly Urban sketchers meet up and sketched the Hat 'N Boots at Oxbow Park.  This was originally built for a Georgetown Gas Station in 1953 making it one of the most successful Gas station in Washington State.  Years later it was abandoned and in need of renovation.  The Georgetown Community saved it and relocated it to the Oxbow Park where is now resides.

In the afternoon I was part of the Montlake Community Music and Arts Festival.  While I had 5 sketches exhibited I watched and listened to some great groups that have some affiliation with Montlake.  Here are a couple of sketches I did over pages I had used for testing watercolor. 
Layered System

Mother Pluckers

Set up At Montlake Music and Arts Festival