I have been tempted by Liz Steel's Sketching Now course, Buildings for a couple of weeks now, but I tried to put it off because I had told myself I am going to focus on flowers this month and that I shouldn't be so easily distracted. However, when I saw Suhita's post, her beautiful sketches and her mention of the class, it was too much to resist. So I finally broke down and bought the class and I am so glad I did. 

I did all the exercises from lesson 1, and yet to do the exercises from lesson 2. On first look it all felt fairly abstract, and honestly a bit dry ... heavy on technique and less on inspiration. Also, the concepts seemed too simple (line, shape, volume ... duh!). I told myself to give it a chance and do the exercises anyway, and I AM SO GLAD THAT I ATTEMPTED THE EXERCISE. It is only when I tried to do the continuous like drawing, the abstracting shapes exercise for the horizontal and vertical blue striped boxes that I realized how tricky it all was and why I needed the technique before I could make beautiful, inspiring paintings. All the lesson 1 exercises were trippy, and they all taught me something about myself, the mistakes I tend to make and issues I need to work on. Gosh, so much packed into that one lesson, and yet you will not realize it unless you work through the exercises. 

The other wonderful thing that happened is that I started "seeing" buildings everywhere. I know that they exist everywhere, and I didn't need a course to tell me that ... but I started noticing the buildings now with enhanced interest. Before I used to find drawing buildings boring, they are mainly just blocky shapes, what is there to draw after a few lines etc. etc. But now I see possibilities! I am really glad that Liz chose some very simple buildings in her exercises because it gave me the idea that any building can be explored and made to look interesting! What a revelation! I am surrounded by apartment buildings with very interesting architecture. I cannot wait to get out there and draw more of them!

Anyway, all that said ... today I went to Murphy Ave in Sunnyvale to sketch with the friendliest group of painters I have ever seen, Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Thursday paintout group. I set myself up right next to Thai basil, I sat right on the sidewalk (just like Liz) and got to work. I did some continuous line drawings to explore the scene in front of me, and that helped me resolve the elements i want to capture in my paintings. Then I moved to doing a graphite sketch, and that helped me further identify the interesting elements and how they relate to each other. Armed with all that knowledge I set about painting. 

My first painting was a little tight ... I wonder if it is because of all the expectation ... Also, I started with a little sketch in watercolor pencil, so that may have contributed to the tightness too.

I was almost out of time, and had just a few minutes ... so I decided to see if I can do something with the second scene. The lack of time meant that I had to go straight to watercolor and that resulted in a much looser and more interesting painting.

As I was painting, the owner of the Thai Basil restaurant came out to check out my sketches. He said that he saw me painting from inside the restaurant and wanted to know more about what I was doing. We had a nice chat about art, and it was so kind to offer me a very refreshing Thai iced tea :-) These lovely encounters are so memorable and add so much to the act of drawing and painting. 

I had a really good morning painting, and will definitely be back to this location soon.