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New Years 2015

On New Year’s Eve I went down to Boston and stayed at a friend’s apartment. I’d never been to her place before and my girlfriend was talking it up all the way down. Well I got there and I was totally blown away by the view. So I suppose it lived up to the touted expectations.

I sat in the large windows watching ambulances and firetrucks speed by, used a pair of binoculars to follow pigeons as they swooped from rooftop to rooftop, and counted the number of people jaywalking

That night went by incredibly fast and it wasn’t until the next morning that I had time to sketch the skyline.

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I started out with a blind contour drawing to warm up. I think I will be warming up with blind contours more often. It helped me really see subtle aspects of buildings.

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I got a decent way into the actual drawing, but did not finish before we had to leave. I snapped a couple pictures and used them for reference when I got home. After finishing the drawing, I added watercolor. It was a bit of a struggle. My understanding of painting is derived from working with oils and the skill set use with oil paints is completely different than the skills used with watercolors. I’m all about laying down color and moving fast. It seems this method doesn’t work that well with watercolor. At least yet. I’m not sure I understand the basics enough to be able to push for speed. I’m going to have to check out some YouTube lessons and figure out how to better work the watercolors.

That being said, I enjoyed this drawing immensely. It was a breath of fresh air to work on a cityscape.

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The Day After Christmas

We were free on the 26th of December, so my girlfriend, several of her family members, and myself went to Boston to spend some time at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

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We parked near Faneuil Hall and met up with a friend before catching the T over to the MFA. It would’ve been an hour walk on foot.

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First we took a gander at some contemporary art on the third floor of The Art of the Americas Wing.

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And we wound up finding a side corridor that I didn’t know existed. It ran along the outside of the building and had large windows that looked out over Huntington Ave. There were several sculptures in the corridor, one of my favorites was this bust of John Marin by Gaston Lachaise.

We then headed downstairs, where I did a couple of sketches.

Watson Sketch

First I sketched Watson from John Singleton Copley‘s Watson and the Shark in my 4″x6″ sketchbook. You can compare it with the actual piece below.

watson and the shark

After finishing up with the “Copley Room” I walked over to the “Sargent Room.” I was pleasantly surprised to find several paintings I’d seen at the John Singer Sargent watercolor show a year ago. I stood in front of his Head of an Arab and did a quick sketch.

Head Of An Arab Sketch

I started the drawing with my glasses off, focussing on value instead of line. After I’d figured out the lights and darks I started to refine the features. You can compare it with the actual painting below.

portrait of an arab

After checking out the Americas Wing we went over to see the Jamie Wyeth exhibit.

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The Wyeth show was lots of fun, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was this painting. It is titled Southern Light and is a portrait of Wyeth’s wife Phyllis Mills. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the stars. They are rendered by simply separating light and dark. As I looked at the stars I began to notice the peculiarity of the shadows on Phyllis’ dress. They are not dark. They are loose washes of umber that bleed a yellow-red light. they shouldn’t function as darks, but they do. Wyeth uses this technique in several areas of this painting, keeping the shadows scraped away and light. It gives the painting a luminous quality. IMG_2355Here is a photo I took of the actual painting. You can really see how red and loose the darks of the dress are.

All-in-all a good day at the museum, though I wish I had more time to sketch. I’ll have to go back on my own some day.