It’s summer!!

It’s summer and now that school ended, it’s time to reflect, re-charge, spend time with the family and get busy in the studio. To kickstart the season, I went camping to the beach in North Florida with my husband and two boys. We enjoyed a nine-day getaway, which was a great way to wind down from a busy and rewarding school year.

On this trip, we visited Hannah Park for the first time and really enjoyed the beach and the bike trails as well as the lush wooded campground. As usual, I packed up my favorite drawing supplies and sketchbook and worked on some nature studies of the vegetation and trees around our site.

In a couple of these drawings I set out to explore warm and cool temperature relationships by using the brown and the black or gray.

I enjoy working with different media. Pen pushes me to explore value and mark-making through line, while sanguine and graphite offer more flexibility. The latter allowed me to mass, using the side of the drawing tool while also layering some line work and taking away with the eraser. Pen is less forgiving and forces me to make decisions through the additive approach of mark-making.

In both pen drawings, I set out to create emphasis in the compositions by developing some areas further and gradually easing to a contour line drawing.

Hannah Park, pen study

I have found that when working with this medium, I enjoy emphasizing negative spaces to bring out the positive, something I admire in Corot’s landscapes which inspire me greatly when it comes to plein-aire work.

These nature studies take up quite a bit of my sketchbook work and I find it interesting because I don’t consider myself a landscape artist. The main motivation for these sketches is my love of nature and the act of drawing from direct observation. The process of recording what I am seeing allows me to really experience a particular place and I find it meditative.

Limited palette drawings

I don’t consider myself a landscape artist but when I go on camping trips with my family I love taking time out to draw nature from direct observation. These two studies are journal entries from my camping sketchbooks. The first  is a watercolor sketch of the woods in Stone Mountain. I did this while sitting at our campsite looking out to other campers among the woods. I used my travel watercolor kit and chose to work with a limited palette of earth tones. Limited palettes in color drawings keep the composition unified and can be a fun challenge for the artist, since it requires a simplification of the observed space on many levels, shape, form and color. This was done during the fall, so there was a red brown and orange dominance in the space as the leaves were turning.

The second image is a mixed media drawing done at Driftwood beach in Jekyll Island this summer. I chose to use copic markers (which can resemble water color at times), graphite and multiliner copic markers. The great thing about using markers is that they are immediate and easy to use on the go, no need for water containers and brushes or palettes. They are great for color studies and their transparent quality allows for subtle value and color effects. It is important however to consider the paper you are using. In this case I worked directly on my multimedia sketchbook instead of working on the marker paper. The porous quality of my sketchbook causes the markers to bleed through. I don’t mind it much since the sketchbooks are very personal in my case. Once again I explored a limited palette, in this case, focusing on warm against cool temperatures, which is a fun way of using minimal color in a drawing. I enjoyed the balance between large value and color blocks and fine linear buildup with graphite and multiliner pens.

Study of cypress trees in warm and cool colors

George L. SmithThis week I am sharing an observational sketchbook study I did on one of my recent camping trips to George L. Smith, a Ga state park with beautiful landscape. There are rows and rows of cypress trees in a lake. The swampy feel is unique to the area and can be so mysterious. I love the pattern made by the receding trees and the way they reflect on the water.

This was my first developed drawing with copic markers. I picked a blue grey with sepia to play the warm against the cool colors. These markers are great for layering thus achieving several gradations of value and color. I also added fine lines with copic multiliners. The drawing was done in my multimedia journal, next time I will use the marker paper.

Trees in charcoal

Drawing on site is such a wonderful way of connecting with nature. Here is a little study of trees done in Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth park. I was focusing on the light and dark tones of the trees and the receding space. The medium here is charcoal and the whites were achieved by erasing into the greys and blacks.

Adriana Burgos, sketchbook drawings, charcoal on watercolor paper

Adriana Burgos, sketchbook drawings, charcoal on watercolor paper

Exploring silverpoint

Silverpoint is one of my favorite mediums for small format drawings. I began using it almost 11 years ago when my oldest son, Nicolas was a baby.  My work is usually large and gestural but when I became a new mother, I adapted my studio practice to my new circumstances. I could no longer plan extended times in the studio, so I began a series of small observational drawings of Nicolas while he napped.

Format affects the choice of media and working small required a change of drawing tools, I took this opportunity to explore silverpoint (a thin piece of silver with a sharp point). Old masters worked with silverpoint among other drawing mediums before graphite was invented.

Silver will make a mark on a surface if it is prepared with grounds such as gouache, acrylic or rabbit skin glue; there are even prepared grounds specifically for silverpoint on the market. With time, the drawing tarnishes and turns a beautiful warm grey.  I have worked on gesso boards, 5 ply bristol prepared with gouache and most recently on plike paper, which needs no preparation. One of the advantages of preparing your own grounds is that you can tint it. Many old and contemporary  silverpoint drawings have been done on tinted grounds.

Most of my silverpoint drawings are observational.  In my figurative and still life drawings, my focus has been on reinforcing form and space with line. When drawing landscapes, I have been interested achieving an atmospheric quality and capturing a sense of the place. I find it convenient and fun to work with silverpoint “en plein air” (on site) because my paper fits easily in my sketchbook and I carry very few tools, yet I can take my time to develop the piece.

My latest drawing, “The Encounter” (below) is a narrative piece in which I resumed the process of working from numerous references. I can see how my perceptual drawings have influenced the handling of space. This piece is the first of a new series of small format narrative drawings as studies for larger pieces. Look for posts on the progress of the series in the coming months!

“Encounter”, Adriana Burgos, 8.5″ x 11″, silverpoint on plike paper, 2014