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Which Paper Will I Use at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair? Don’t Know—But I Can Tell You How I’ve Been Narrowing It Down

Left: My first runner-up for Fair Journal paper was white Stonehenge. Here’s a test piece I made while sketching from the TV one afternoon. It’s glued down to a larger page in my experiments journal.  Which paper will I take to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair? I wish I knew. I have a vague notion. […]

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The Fifth Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out—Buttons Are Here

See the full post for details.

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My Last Sketches at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair

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Above: Quick sketch of a sheep using a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. 9 x 7 inches, Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. That’s my admission ticket which I stuck on at home. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

As I pack my 2009 Minnesota State Fair journal cards away, to await the construction of a portfolio, I have two more cards I’d like to share with you—more on "the taking a break to revive yourself theme," which I mentioned earlier when showing my break and after cards from my two other Fair visits. (First day break, second day break.)

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But Wait, There’s More…Some State Fair Oddities

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Above: Sketches of a Turken from my third trip to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. This is a chicken (ken) bred to look like a Turkey (Tur), hence the very odd naked neck. The more you look at them the more appealing they become, in an odd way. They have a lovely body structure and a startling flame orange eye. Here are two quick sketches made as this one moved about in his crate (comb accurate on the left). 9 x 7 inches, Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper; Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor pencils used dry. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

"You wanted cows; well here you are…"
An exhausted mother gesturing to the entirety of the cow barn as she entered with her 7-year-old son. (A note on the back of one of my cards as I was walking out of the cow barn.)

So the other day, I was catching up on my scanning and finally finished scanning the 12 cards I made on my final visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. I woke up that morning with what I feared was the beginning of a cold. If I was right, there’d be no way I could make my Sunday trip. I decided to skip my workout, save my energy, and see what happened. I kept in mind that this was probably my last trip this year, so I was on a bit of a mission.

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Another Note on Taking a Mental Break to Get a Second Wind

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Above: sheep sketch; 9 x 7 inches, Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. Hot Press Watercolor paper; Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor pencils (used dry). Click on the image to view an enlargement.

On Sept. 6 I wrote about taking a mental break when your energy is low by returning to a favorite drawing standby. I thought you would enjoy seeing another example of this from my 2009 Minnesota State Fair visits. At the Sketch Out on Sept. 1 I returned to the barns after a short Corn Dog break and decided I really wanted to see some rich black lines on the paper. (It’s all that white paper, it’s blinding!) I sketched the above ewe with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and then scribbled in some various blues for shading. I really like the shapes I was able to catch quickly. It freed my mind up from the small strokes I had been taking all day with pencils.

Zapped back by this little break, I walked into the Poultry section with a renewed mission to sketch one more bird before I called it quits for the day (which had been a long day—I'd walked in at 10:38 a.m.).

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When Things Don’t Go Your Way: Sketching Animals (at the Fair, or Anywhere)

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Above: Chicken sketches made during the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out. I started with the sketch at the left but when that chicken became totally frantic over what was happening in the next crate I moved on down the line. On the right I did a quick sketch of a large rooster to get a feel for the shape and proportions. I then took some notes and left space for my admissions ticket—which I glued in place that night. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry on 9 x 7 inch piece of Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. HP watercolor paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

One of the exciting things about sketching animals, whether or not you’re at the Fair or a Zoo or at home or at a dog park, is that animals do the unexpected.

You can let this frustrate you and end your sketching session, or you can keep working and learn something. You all know which I favor.

I want to encourage you all to give in to the moment and really look at the animal before you, hear and smell its breath (unless it is of the large predator variety and then get the hell out of there) and settle into its rhythms.

Don’t try to sketch right away. Watch. Watch. Watch. Then when you do start to sketch you’ll have a sense of how the animal is moving. I've written about sketching at zoos where the animals often follow a pattern of movement. This allows you to start several sketches in rotation on your page, and work on each for a few seconds as the animal passes that position again. In enclosed spaces like barns or animal pens animals will also repeat positions and behaviors in a smaller area.

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Sketching with Colored Pencils: Why Blue?

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Above: Pig sketch from my second trip to the 2009 Minnesota State fair. (Yes there is a faint outline of his shadow on the wall. I didn't know if I would have time to paint in the background or not; but this shadow isn't to be confused with the restated tail—it had to be moved up higher on the butt to give roundness to the ham.) Faber-Castell
Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry on a 9 x 7 inch card of
Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. HP Watercolor paper. Notes written with a
Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.3. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

After warming up on with some gesture sketches of pigs (see yesterday's post) I had a very pleasant talk with the owner of this pig. We talked about her husband's love of pig breeding and showing. She laughed saying, "There are worse things—race cars, dangerous things…I only wish my husband had a laundry at the farm so he wouldn't bring those clothes home."  (From that we can assume that they have a hobby farm.)

But I digress, blue pencils, why am I sketching with a blue pencil? Well I don't like to use black colored pencils at all (either wax or watersoluble). And I love Indanthrene Blue (which is the color of the pencil used above—remember PB60?) It seems a natural choice for me. When working with wax based pencils I can use it to create a grisaille; when working with watersoluble colored pencils I can use it to quickly blend shadow areas depending on the color choice I layer with it. Bottom line I just like the way it looks on the paper. I prefer it to a warm or cool gray. If I add other colors on top of it I get blending possibilities the grays don't offer me.

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Last Chance to Visit the 2009 Minnesota State Fair

Above: My first journal card from my second visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair on September 1, 2009. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry on a 9 x 7 inch card of Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. HP Watercolor paper. Notes written with a Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.3. I started in the top left […]

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Draw What Interests You: Sketching at the Minnesota State Fair

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Above: My fourth journal card from my first visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. Here I caught a black-faced ewe sitting in a protective canvas jacket with a large green collar. (Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry on a 9 x 7 inch card of Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. Notes were written with a 0.3 Staedtler Pigment Liner.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The eye and aspect of this ewe, sitting in her protective coat with its high green collar attracted my attention. First she was sitting still and "promised" to do so for a few minutes more. Second there was something lovely about her eye. Third there was the delightful shading of black on black across her face. And then there was the crispness of the collar against her shorn beige neck.

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Flexible Intent: Sketching at the State Fair

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Above: Second journal card from my first visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. The card is 9 x 7 inches and is 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper. I used Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils dry. I started sketching the top left drawing of a goat pilfering food from the next pen and then noticed the lovely goat two pens down. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I've written before in my "Journal Superstitions" series about using the whole page (or in this case card) and not worrying about being perfect. I've also written about composition. I find that sketching animals provides immediate reminders of the need to keep moving and to simply get something down on paper. I wanted to post this card to encourage you to really push at the Fair, and keep sketching whatever is in front of your eyes that appeals to you. Don't worry about composition, just get something down on the page.

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