September 12, 2020

Virtual tour of Narragansett Bay (8/8/2020), Rhode Island (water soluble ink and Inktense pencils on watercolor paper)

On the 23rd of August I was treated to another virtual sketching trip. For this one we didn’t even leave the US, but instead went sailing on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. But before we left, our host shared the actual sketch book and fine point permanent black ink pens he used while sketching onboard the sailboat. (That was for the geeks and art materials nerds like me…) Then he showed us what was inside his sketchbook. I just love the way this guy sketches—small jewels of continuous fine line, with just the right amount of spare watercolor dropped onto the page. At first glance the color seems so random, but once you look at his overall composition, you realize it’s strategically placed. If I were to use one word to describe his work it might be “intimate” or even “romantic.” (If you have been following my blog I have already shared the ideas behind some of his sketching. He is the one who does what he calls “red light” sketches—see August 29, 2020 post.)

Once we had ogled his amazing pen and ink sketches he told us stories of how he captured his views. It seems he sat at the very back of the boat (There’s a name for that part of the boat, right?), sketch book and pen in hand, rendering the open water, other sail boats and shoreline as the wind scooted the crew, plus artist, along their way. He told us that he first would do a continuous line ink drawing, then when he was ready to add watercolor, he just leaned over the side (There’s a name for that part of the boat too…) and filled up his water cup from the bay. OMG! I was so in love with this idea, making his painting process just as romantic as the finished pieces in hand. He also described the interesting watercolor effect he got when he mixed the bay’s salt water with the watercolor pigment. He said you didn’t notice any difference right away, as the magic happened only after the water evaporated and the paper dried. And once it was dry, small white halos are left behind where the tiny bits of salt have stuck to the paper. Just brush that off and it’s done. Magic!

Now it was our turn to virtually set sail on the Narragansett, sketching as we went. (Our host even found us some salty sea music and played a version of “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” I know that jaunty little tune, but the words I seem to remember were much more “off color.”) I did as he described and began the line work with my new Fude nib fountain pen filled with new purple ink. I let the ink dry and added Inktense pencil. Finally, I grabbed a brush, dipped it into my paint cup filled with imaginary bay water, and started to blend the Inktense colors. Yikes! The ink was bleeding all over the place and into the other colors! Silly me, I hadn’t realized my new purple ink was water soluble. But you know what? I just let it go, letting the colors run and blend where they wanted. It was magic. I mean, I was out in a sailboat on the Narragansett, what was I going to do?

This might be a good spot to talk more about creating different paint effects whether you add the natural salt of bay water to damp watercolor pigment or attempt such a technique on dry land. You can see more about the effects of using rock salt with a watercolor wash by Googling just that. And if you want to go further with a cool background effect, check out a product called Brusho. It may look like a craft material rather than something a serious artist might use. But I have several sketching friends who have used Brusho and salt crystals to create amazing backgrounds. 

Virtual tour of Narragansett Bay (8/8/2020), Rhode Island–overlooking a lighthouse (water soluble ink and watercolor on watercolor paper)

At this point in our virtual tour of the Narragansett we were dropped off near a light house to sketch. And before I knew it the sailboat sailed away. All in all it was a great day in and by the bay. And I now have a real sailing adventure I would love to try someday. 

Until next time.

Virtually yours,

One California Girl 

(Please think of us kindly as we struggle to live and breathe with all this smoke.)

2 thoughts on “September 12, 2020

  1. Certainly thinking of you, and all those on the West Coast who are struggling with the reality of fires, smoke, power outages, and more…and all that in addition to the big burden of the pandemic. Stay safe!


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