Yosemite Valley charcoal sketch

It seems like every National Park has an “Inspiration Point” somewhere along the trails. And from that point you can see an iconic view.

Yosemite was no different and the view was truly stunning, overlooking Yosemite Valley itself. It was a wonderful place to stop on the way into the valley, enjoy a short hike up to the point itself, and enjoy lunch before capturing the view in a charcoal sketch.

You can see El Cap on the left, Half-Dome in the middle, and Bridal Falls toward the bottom right. What a fabulous experience!

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Charcoal drawing of Yosemite Valley in the National Park
Yosemite Valley

Simple Landscapes

While working on the cityscapes and sunset trees I also wanted to experiment with some simple landscapes. Though I might sketch some scenery while out and about, I definitely don’t paint them very often. It was fun to quickly create these two pieces, especially since they represent real places in Washington that I have fond memories of.

This is the watchtower on Mount Freemont in Mount Rainier National Park. Ashley and I hiked out there with Jackie and Mikel. This view was photographed in the rare few clear moments when we could see. It’s not a detailed “accurate” depiction of the scene, which I had to consciously be ok with. I can tend to focus on the details and struggle to achieve a loose, flowing style.Using the same basic palette I also tried to capture the feeling of our time spent at Lake Crescent. On one of our visits we stopped for an early morning coffee break to enjoy the view and lucked into perfectly still water. The mirrored mountains only magnified the beauty of the location.

Each of these is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylic paints.

More sketching homework

After my last sketching assignment, I was ready for the next one. Both because I wasn’t please with the fifth sketch and because I wanted to move on. And so, my next bit of homework was to draw an image using 5-7 continuous lines, one for each major structure. Time was limited to 15 minutes.

I adjusted my script accordingly so that the time was accurate, and set about to work on the sketch. Didn’t take a photo of the line-drawing only as the timer was running and I wanted to get my darks in place. Here’s the finished sketch:

Sketching homework

I love the look of “urban sketching” which is the act of going out and recording the world around you from direct observation. One of my old sketchbooks has drawings of classmates in highschool, captured while in class. At least they were paying attention! 😀 So, apparently, I’ve been doing a version of urban sketching since before it was a thing. (Not that it’s some new concept…)

While researching, I ran across this post on Citizen Sketcher with sketching assignments. Since I’m working on getting back in practice, I figured why not!

The assignment that I worked on is to create 5 small sketches using a single, continuous line in each one. Set a timer to limit each sketch to 4 minutes. Afterward, go back with a brush pen to add dark shadows (which I didn’t have, so I used a dying sharpie instead).

Instead of going out on location, I found photos online to work from and wrote a script that automatically displayed them for four minutes, one after the other, with a 5 second break in between. So my focus was on sketching and not having to worry about the clock.

The initial line drawings:

Then with darks added: