I’ve been watercoloring quite a few of my evenings lately. It’s been fun; there’s improvement, though watercolor’s definitely one of those things that takes a minute to learn and a lot more than a twelve week class to master. The sketch above is from the class field trip to the Legion of Honor Museum. We were there to draw from the artwork, but I thought the building itself was impressive, as if it were waiting for Stanley Kubrick to come do one of his slow tracking shots through the enfilade. I’m learning watercolor for on-site sketching and possibly for the drawings we do for clients, but this is one of the only on site drawings I’ve made so far. Most of what I have done in the class is working off black and white photos.
The ones below are all copied from photos by Wilfred Thesiger. A little random, but I had to choose something to paint and I’ve loved his photos for years. He was the last of the old-school desert explorers and one of the all-time great travelers. Arabian Sands about his explorations of the Empty Quarter of Saudia Arabia is one of the great books of travel literature; The Marsh Arabs, about his years living in the marshes of Iraq is also great; and the compilation, The Last Nomad, is one of my all time favorite books. His writing describes the landscapes and cultures with an amazing clarity, and the photos are powerfully evocative and certainly don’t need any coloring efforts by me. There’s a selection of photos here, but really his work is best appreciated in an old-fashioned, dead-tree book with text and images together. Both his photos and the writing have a stark black and white expressiveness that fascinates me. They aren’t gardening or design books, but there’s a lot of great content about landscape in them.
The others are scenes from the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world.
The masked woman is from Oman. We’ll see how much watercolor I do going forward. I did feel like it got its hooks into me, so these probably, hopefully, won’t be my last.
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