Confusion of Overlapping Figures

Among the troubles facing a “plein air” sketcher of people is that they move. This happened when I started the sketch below. I started drawing a young man with a blue mohawk. He was still during my first 30 seconds of sketching but moved on and another clerk took his place. I changed my focus […]

Face Time – Practice

Usually, waiting rooms are filled with people. Today the receptionist was the sole person there and only visible from the neck up thanks to the high counter surrounding her. When I was done, her likeness looked like the ones you see on foreign coins. Unsatisfying. Fortunately, I had another opportunity to sketch. A young man […]

Warmup – Moon Reflections

I really want to move on from reflections but, being somewhat compulsive, I must complete the course of my study in the Tate Watercolor Manual.*  The next exercise again relies on preservation of white. In watercolor, the brightest tone possible is the unpainted surface of the paper. Today’s warmup exercise: I used neutral tint, a […]

Lesson 4

Today’s warmup exercise: Working with the same colors and previous warmup exercises (Scales, Limber Session), namely yellow ochre, cadmium red light, cobalt blue and the gray resulting from mixing the red and the blue. I tried variegated (meaning,  ‘a variety of colors) washes today. The lesson I followed in the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the […]

Lesson 3

Today’s warmup exercise: Graded washes have a real application in watercolors. Today I practiced with the ‘gray’ mixture I concocted in my first (published) warmup exercise (Scales).  Instead of gray, it is purplish. After I painted the first graded wash (that deposits more pigment at the top of the picture) in the small sections of […]

Limber Session

Today’s watercolor warmup: Today, washes were on the agenda as per the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend. The lessons in this book are supposed to lead the reader/practicer to learn techniques of the masters.  I am very much looking forward to that. Here is my chart of washes: In the […]


I haven’t played the violin in many years, but I remember playing scales. Scales and arpeggios are the basic building blocks of music, that is, music with which I am familiar, anyway.  I hope to play again some day, but I know that I will have to start from scratch, trying to play each note […]

A Different Kind of Practice

Today’s experiment: I have the wonderful opportunity to practice drawing and painting my grandson in his presence! I am not used to drawing from life, relying instead on photographs. It is quite a different experience. William is always in motion. As I am just getting the correct contour of his forehead in profile, he faces […]

Traveling Today

We had to drive back to San Jose today. It’s 350 miles more or less from LA. We took the scenic route back that takes us right next to the Pacific. Ordinarily it is wonderfully clear, but today it was a bit foggy off shore. Joy and I love to see the ocean. It occupies […]

Back to Basics

It is almost fruit season out here in California. By that I mean painting fruit in watercolors. My wife got me a book about how to paint vibrant watercolor and I am starting from the beginning. Well, almost the beginning. The first chapter was about how to paint an apple. One of the interesting steps […]