Pippo Gullotto, and other sketches

Pippo Gullotto pencil Sketch
I wanted to publish a little tribute to my friend Pippo Gullotto (69), who I sketched today when I met him. I admit it’s not perfectly resembling him, but I was just standing with the sketchbook in my hands, and this is the best I could do. It does look like him… somehow! It’s just about 3 inches tall, so I didn’t have much room for details. He would looks just like Santa Claus dressed up in red.

I also sketched other people while I was there.
People at Randazzo Square

The rasta guy was completely smoked. He kept moving weirdly while some performers on the stage were testing instruments with microphones. Can you notice I shaded the left (lifted) foot of the top left guy? It’s not in shade, it was THAT dirty.

All in all, a productive sketching day. I also sketched a few people and a stand at the local market, in the morning:
Randazzo local market, people
Randazzo Local Market - fruits and vegetables in watercolor


Praying Angel

Watercolor Sketch - Praying Angel

Since I am taking part to the Graveyard Challenge on James Gurney’s blog, I went to my town’s graveyard to start thinking of my entry. I am still undecided on the subject, the quantity and variety of grave stones presenting a real challenge in summarizing them, and still preserve their identity, in the composition. I found a nice statue on one of the graves, so I stopped by to paint it.
The drawing is not excessively accurate, and I suffered from having to use a single brush, a 1/2 inch Princeton Neptune flat (with the help of a waterbrush)
I used Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre, which would have been fine to enter the challenge, but then I really wanted to experiment some of the new Supracolor pencils I got, so I guess I will give it another try next week


Old Church Ruins

Today I wanted to paint some ruins. My Town has many, as it’s been bombed during WWII and plenty of historical buildings have been torn down during the conflict. Today’s subject is an old Church, named St.Peter, which was the main one of the area before being destroyed.
Watercolor Church RuinsHere’s the comparison with the scene itself:
Watercolor Church Ruins Comparison with PhotoI dripped some blue on the bottom part of the facade, so I had to pretend that crack in the plaster was actually deeper than it really is. Damn watercolors!


Sketching at the Natural History Museum

My town has a tiny but interesting collection of stuffed animals (mainly birds), and a few archaeological artifacts, stack together and showcased in some old school rooms. I wanted to do some life drawings today, so I packed up some water soluble pencils, a water brush, and my loyal Lumograph 2b, and made my way to the museum.

Big Shell of the museum - water soluble pencils
The first sketch is a big, white shell I came across in one of the rooms. I cursed myself for not having brought some darker ink to paint the background and make the shell look as white as it was. It was kind of back lit because of an open window, and had some tiny led lights over it as well. It was sitting on a blue  carpet so there was a lot of that blue in the bottom part’s shade. Sadly, I failed to capture the right darkness of this bottom part.

Pencil Sketches at the museum
I then move to the archaeological area where I sketched out various things in pencil (it’s not the same sketchbook, this is one I made myself with Fabriano extra smooth paper). That Ursus thing is actually a Bear’s leg. Ursu Spelaeus should mean Cave Bear.

Sketch of a White Stork at the museumIn my last 50 minutes I headed over to the birds collection, and find this white stork pretty inspiring. The beak was of a flame red but I didn’t have any bright color of the red family. My only reddish hue was brown, so I tried using that. The yellowish areas were made by blending a light olive with brown/umber. I used the black pencil again to get the background and try having those white feathers stand out a bit.

Next time, I should really take the inks with me as well.


Sketchwalk in Taormina

Howdy! Yes, it’s been a while. I am still trying to work out a decent post on Gamut Masking.
In the meantime, I went for a sketchwalk to Taormina, one of the most beautiful Towns here in Sicily. Here they are, nothing fancy, just quick studies, and the awful watercolor 😀

Sketchwalk Taormina 1

Sketchwalk Taormina 2

Sketchwalk Taormina 3

Sketchwalk Taormina - Watercolor


Sunset Boat

I just completed the lesson on ripples in the water and noticed the outcome of the final exercise was decent enough to be shared. Ultramarine + Naples Yellow + Burnt Sienna. I used almost all of the brushes I had, mysteriously. And I still can’t get those straight lines perfect, hm!

Watercolor Sunset boat with ripples


Watercolor Reflections and water

Continuing with the Art Tutor class hosted by Rob Dudley, I recently practiced painting water. Which might as well sound weird, painting water with watercolors… or not 😀

Whatever it is, getting reflections right can dramatically enhance a picture’s realism. As far as I could tell so far, the key is to paint reflections slightly darker and with less contrast than the real object (due to refraction some light is absorbed by the water). This of course varies depending on the water’s condition, be it clean or muddy.


watercolor reflections exercise

After several exercises (the one above is the best one really, others were…ugh. I spared you the one color uglies, this is two colors each: lemon yellow + ultramatine, ultramarine + burnet sienna, the same, again lemon, and lastly ultramarine + raw sienna) I went for a complete painting with a limited palette: ultramarine blue + raw sienna + alizarin crimson:

watercolor reflections exercise complete

And then, a choppy sea and boats reflections. The first goal was to get the white sparkles/foam, while the second was getting decent (I won’t dare to say believable for these :D) rippled reflections:

watercolor choppy sea exercise

watercolor boat ripples

Colors are ultramarine only for the boats, ultramarine + phthalo blue for the seas. I also used masking fluid and spattered it all over to get the wavetops in the very first.


Christmas Robins

A few days ago I got terribly inspired by a video I saw on the Art Tutor Facebook page (this one: Make Your Own Watercolor Christmas Cards – 2014) and I decided to take on the challenge of painting robins myself! I used some reference photos I found on Pinterest (here: http://www.pinterest.com/easeljourneys/inspirational/) and drew a couple of quick sketches of the birds. Then, I traced them using vellum, exactly as shown in the Art Tutor video, covered the back with a soft pencil, and traced them down to watercolor paper (140lbs Bockingford NOT). Here are the paintings, followed by the sketches:


Watercolor Christmas Cards 2014 - Robin 1

Watercolor Christmas Cards 2014 - Robin 2

Bird sketches: Robins


I didn’t use the last sketch yet, nor the other reference image I have (which is quite inspiring, I have to say). So I believe I’ll come up with something else very soon. As for the palette, I used a mix of Rose Madder and Lemon Yellow for the orange of the breast, then Ultramarine plus Burnt Sienna for the various gray/blue/brown colors, varying proportions to get the different tones. For the black, once more the same two colors but with as little water as I could.

It was definitely funny, have a go yourself! Feel free to use my sketches as references for your own cards! And thanks again to Siân Dudley for the inspiring video!


Feelin’ like Christmas!

Will you send out Christmas Cards this year?

Well if so, and you love watercolors, why not taking this chance to practice the medium? I made a couple of simple ones to try painting some believable snow. I laid down a pale wash of cobalt blue + permanent rose (just a touch) on pre-wet paper (preserving some of the white flecks by spattering some masking fluid), trying to form the snow’s shadow; then, added the fir trees’ greenery with cobalt + quinacridone gold + a touch of viridian here and there. I’m pretty satisfied with the result:
Watercolor Christmas Card Watercolor Christmas Card