Currently Browsing: sketching at the State Fair 8 articles


Using Watersoluble Colored Pencils for Quick Backgrounds


Above: my last morning sketch from the Sketch Out—made just before our first group meeting. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry and wet 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.

One great advantage of watersoluble colored pencils over wax-based colored pencils is the way you can use the first to create watercolor washes throughout your drawing. You can dissolve the lines of your sketch and blend colors together as you would with watercolor paint. Or you can leave your lines only partially dissolved for additional texture to your sketch/painting. Or you can simply leave them dry, as originally applied, with the same sort of visual effect you would get using wax-based pencils.

If you have a large area to cover and no time you can also lay in a background of blended color much more quickly with these pencils than with wax-based ones.

In this post I have three examples all made on the Sketch Out trip to this year’s State Fair. For each sketch I simply drew the animal I was observing. Then I scribbled in a background of colored lines, typically using two or three analogous colors in a random order across the background (placing darker colors where I wanted more contrast, but no more thought than that to the placement).


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#11: Paper Selection


Above: 9 x 7 inch trial journal card made of 300 lb. Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press watercolor paper. Wild Turkey sketch using Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

It’s time to make decisions—get paper and other media ready for sketching at the Minnesota State Fair. Yes I've been writing about this since August 12, but I still have some decisions of my own to make.

At the end of last week I was still thinking about what paper I wanted to work on. Since I had already purchased several sheets of 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico I was hoping I liked it as much for the Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils I had decided to use, as I do for ink sketches (which I typically do at the Fair).


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#10: Warm Ups

Above: Practice sketch with Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils, left mostly dry. In my journal made with Old Folio. (Verso page is only partially visible. There is a print of a pear painting I printed on watercolor paper and none of the black ink printed. I stuck it in my journal, across the gutter, so […]


MCBA Visual Journal Collective August State Fair Prep Meeting


Above: Roberta Avidor (seated, blonde hair, dark shirt) and her fellow artist and husband Ken Avidor (standing in the blue, white, and black shirt on the left; her right) show artwork made at the Minnesota State Fair. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Monday, August 17, at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective, twenty visual journal keepers met to prepare for sketching at the Minnesota State Fair. Ken and Roberta Avidor presented past State Fair work (journals, as well as paintings) to the enthusiastic attendees.

Talk was fast and furious but Roberta and Ken offered several tips and suggestions:


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#7: Sketching Animals (or People) at the Fair

050829CCow Left: Sketch of a cow from my 2005 State Fair Journal. Pen sketch with gouache wash on prepainted 8 x 8 inch square cards made of 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. This cow was in the birthing barn and I stood on bleachers to look down into its pen. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This post continues the Minnesota State Fair Prep Series begun on August 12.

Everyone who knows me knows that the big draw for me about the State Fair (no pun intended) is the way you can get up close and personal with the animals and sketch them. There are huge barns filled with pens and stalls, each filled with animals competing to be the best in their category.

Everyone who knows me also knows I’m a carnivore (just take me out for barbequed ribs if you want to understand what this means). Yes I am sketching animals that I eat. I don’t have a problem with this. If you do, please stop reading and come back to my blog on another day. (Some of my friends are vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for 18 months once. It isn’t going to happen again. I deal with my carnivore nature and my love of animals by asking questions and by supporting humane farming practices.)

I have a great deal of respect for Minnesota farmers. They work hard, in difficult situations, to create a living for their families, supply quality food for the country’s citizens, and deal with the vagaries and risks of farm life. I have had wonderful conversations with farmers about how they work, how they raise animals and crops. When I am at the Fair and talking to them I believe my role is to listen and learn. In all the years I have been going to the Fair I have never met a farmer who didn’t respect his animals. I have been privileged to hear stories about families who have farmed for generations.


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#6: Dressing for Success

This post continues the Minnesota State Fair Prep Series begun on August 12. KEY TO THE CLOTHING DIAGRAM:A: Hat with an exceptionally long duck-bill (for mixed work in barns and outside). A 360-degree-brim is recommended if you will work mostly outside as the extra neck protection is welcome. Inside the crowded barns such hats become […]


Minnesota State Fair Prep—Part 4: “Travel” Essentials for Sketchers



Above: This photo from a talk I gave about sketching at the Minnesota State Fair, shows MORE stuff than what you'll actually need. Read below for the break down. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This is part four of the Minnesota State Fair Prep Series, started August 12, 2009.

What you carry with you when you go to the Minnesota State Fair can either help or hinder your fun. The goal is to travel as light as possible. Since I go primarily to sketch animals I have sketching tools and paper to deal with (more on these items in a minute). But there are other essentials that will ensure you have a good trip to the Fair.


Minnesota State Fair Prep—Part 2: Have a Plan

Fair-Trail Left: Here's a map showing my line of travel at the Minnesota State Fair for the first 3 hours or so. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This is part two of a multi-part series which began on Wednesday, August 12. These tips apply to any sketch-out adventure where crowds are involved.

Ensure you have a successful sketching day at the Minnesota State Fair with a bit of planning: route, events, times, activities (such as Spin Art creation), and eating.

The Fair can be a hot and crowded affair. Noise, dust, and aimless walking will drain your energy and wear you down, deflecting you from your peak performance levels. Know how you work, what you need to work (water, a doughnut, no doughnut, a place to sit, etc.) and plan in advance ways to make those things happen—the better to have a successful drawing adventure.

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