Above: No this isn't a pigeon, this is my first sketch on my first trip to this year's Minnesota State Fair. I walked into the Swine barn at 10:52 a.m. (running late) and met this pig, who was napping, but kept opening his eye and twirling his ears around, listening to all the barn sounds. A 9 x 7 inch, 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico journal card, with Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry. I was just getting used to this card size and these pencils on this paper. I wasn't really interested in drawing the pen as the light strokes there suggest, but the pig looked like it was floating, without that. I miss my definitive ink lines, but I pushed forward because I love experiements and a challange.
Yesterday I did make it to the Fair to test out my new selection of materials. As mentioned in the caption above, I decided this year to go with pencils and not use pens for sketching. This still seems very odd to me, but after the above warm up sketch, I had some good moments. The main difficulty for me is that at 9 x 7 the card size is a bit too large for me when working with pencil. I need to fill up the space quickly and the pencil doesn't do that, the way I use pencils. We'll see, as we move into other visits I may come to love these cards.
I sketched a couple goats and sheep in the Swine Barn, walked through the Cow Barn but couldn't find a likely model. Also it was rather cold in the Cow Bar as the fans were running and the outside temperature was only 68 degrees Fahrenheit. There were more sheep and goats in the Poultry Barn, and of course POULTRY! Which on the first Friday of the Fair, to me means Pigeons!
Left: A journal card on which I simply started sketching pigeon portraits (left to right; each bird looks so different). I wanted to do one more card before I took my break but I also didn't want to focus too closely on one subject because my eyes were getting tired. For me, the final sketch on this card, on the right, made today's trip worthwhile.
I'm still getting used to the white cards (since I usually have cards with pre-painted backgrounds). And I'm not totally happy with the choice of a blue pencil to sketch with. I tend to use blues in life drawing, and build with analogous colors. At the end of the day I found I was using a Payne's Gray and a dark gray pencil more. And after my break, when I was so tired that I thought maybe I should just pack up and leave I did do one card with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and colored pencil—to remind myself it was about experimentation. That got me going again, and I drew two more sheep with the pencils.
So right now it's still about playing with the pencils on the large cards, in a crowded space. I kept about 8 pencils in my pocket, so I wouldn't be holding too much and drop them (I didn't want to crack the leads). I find that working with pencil is much more slow going than with ink. First there is more to juggle, and second, the build up or value and texture is much slower. Reaching into the pocket for another pencil, making that color decision adds time. And there is the need to sharpen!
But slowing down when I sketch can be a good thing, so I'm finding ways to enjoy the process. And as always, the animal is there for me to enjoy.
I stood the entire time I was at the Fair, so the larger pack (to carry bulkier supplies) was definitely a liability. When I walked out of the Fair at 4:45 p.m. I had completed nine journal cards. (When working smaller and with pen I typically have 12 to 15 cards in a similar time frame. I will always analyze and compare, and knowing that, frees me up to just let it happen and keep on producing, which is ultimately the goal.)
I'm looking forward to the sketch out day at the Fair, to push my experiments and play a little more, especially with all that white space!
But even more important I need to get some Cheese Curds! All I had on Friday was a corn dog (albeit one of the best corn dogs ever as I walked the extra yardage to a booth that was making them with fast turnover) and some salt water taffy!
Expect more Fair updates later this week and next.