Drawing in the Dark

January 24, 2020
A small, approx. 4 x 6 inch portrait orientation sketchbook from Hahnemühle, with watercolor paper.

Towards the end of last year Dick and I drove out one snowy night on an errand. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank. I took those few moments to quickly sketch the intersection before me.

I did not have an interior car light. We were at a side pump that didn’t benefit from light leaked from the gas station shop.

I reached into my purse to pull out a Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pen. Since my pens are always in the same place this was not a big task.

I sketched quickly. It was pretty easy to see the ink lines on white paper even in the very low light, i.e., dark.

I pulled out my waterbrush, also where it needed to be. No problem.

I pulled out my watercolor palette. 

OOPS. It wasn’t where it needed to be. I had to unpack the purse in the dark and feel around a large new eyeglass case.

When I got the palette out my heart sunk. I’d forgotten that I put my 11-color palette from a day’s outing in my purse weeks ago. It didn’t have my usual colors and in the dark I couldn’t really tell what I was using. (The order wasn’t automatic as it is for my regular palette.)

But you know what? Dark values are dark values.

So I mixed up the paints and worked faster because it was about 60 seconds before Dick would finish his task and get back in the car.

I even managed to find red and splotch it on as the solid lights now appear to be to my eyes.

So when I look at this painting I am reminded of how fun it is to look at and sketch snow piles; how fun it is to sketch even in a few quick minutes, even in the dark; and how glad I am I took time to record this moment.

Yes I dropped the palette when I just started painting and one of the colors (the blue I needed) fell out before I could finish (Dick found it on the floor the next day), and the paint got all over my pants—but hey, I wear black pants 99 percent of the time now (long story) and it washed right out.

Life is too short to not find the fun and hilarity in moments like this.

    • Jeanne
    • January 24, 2020

    Last Sunday, I took my large drawing pad to the movie theater. Before the start of the movie, I practiced an interior architectural drawing of the seats in front of me and some surroundings, something I want to improve on (inside cars, buses, planes, auditoriums). When the room darkened for the movie, it turned into a truly blind contour practice. When I got home, I opened the page to see what had transpired while I was watching the movie. I got one good Picasso-esque face and several head/shoulder sketches that I could tell were heads floating near their shoulders. I had fun trying it, plus not looking at the paper didn’t distract me from watching such a superlative film.

    Right away, I could see snow and a red stop light in your painting. I love it! Abstractly impressionistic. Because your eyes are frustrating you, imagine yourself as Luke Skywalker in the penultimate scene where R2-D2’s computer has blown. Luke then turns it off to let the Force guide him in targeting & destroying the Death Star. You might want to play more with letting the Force guide you in some new direction, hopefully a fun one like this time. Let the Force be with you! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Reply

      Jeanne I’m glad you tried drawing at the movies. I do this all the time and love the odd sketches that result.

      The Force is guiding me back to BAKING and I think I’m going there!

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