I spent a moment by a creek in Yosemite lightly sketching the light illuminating the trees and winding along the surface of the water – you can see the whispers of my pencil marks in lighter areas. Then I sat cross-legged on the sandy shore with my travel watercolors on one knee and my sketchbook in the other and quickly laid down the basic light blue of the sky and turquoise color of the light shining through distant trees in the background. I focused on the major shadow and light shapes and a simple color palette, keeping the paper very wet so that the colors would bleed together. The final stroke was a big wash of blue along the right side and bottom right corner to glaze in the shadow I was sitting in. Plein air painting forces me to work quickly to capture the impression, and as a result, it helps me be fully conscious the moment and soak in natural beauty of the landscape.
Title: Glowing Underground Keep in Digital Watercolor & Chalk
Medium: Digital watercolor & pencil in Corel Painter 11 & Intuos3 4x5Wacom Tablet
Size: 6.1″ x 8″
Notes: I was inspired by Minas Morgul from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Notre Dam and created an image that could be used in a childrens’ book. I prefer to sketch directly in Painter rather than scan in one created on paper as it involves fewer steps and the result is cleaner. I used the Sketching Pencil variant in dark grey on Fine Hard Grain paper. Then I switched to a Pavement texture and colored it with the New Simple Water variant of the Digital Watercolors brush. I created the grainy texture of the stone with Variable Chalk. The carved figures lining the door are thematic. Women on the right and men on the left, and from inside to outside they are soldiers, scholars, and merchants young to elderly. Created as an educational project.
At five years old I had chosen my first favorite color: Black.
I know what you’re thinking: I must have been a death-rocker in the mid-80’s, back before black was the new pink. No, goth. Definitely goth. Robie, my good college friend, supplied this incriminating photographic evidence.
Here my dark secret is exposed: I was a goth child, seen here communing with a conch. This was the precise merger of the known and unknown, the outer shell that is seen by the outside world vs. the inner sanctum of the shell.This was my natural state, prior to public school, genderization, and exposure to social expectation.
Seriously? No, not really. I did play with GI Joe before I picked up the Barbie habit…but I had an alternative motive for choosing black.
I loved black because I’d realized that all of the outlines in cartoons were thin black lines. I realized that black encompassed the world and imagined lines around everything. I hadn’t heard of negative space, outer space, or the spaces in-between. I just saw the common thread, and it was black.
This was the age when I became an artist.
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