Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bull Durham Suntrust Sketch

The fun thing about drawing in public is the conversations. While I sat in the hot son and laid out this sketch, I had to repeatedly sight (with my pencil held up or sideways) the locations of different window lines or the proportions and arrangement of objects. It was a challenging subject to get correct - I wanted to be sure to position the stories correctly, and have the right number, etc. The perspective, as the building rose before me, demanded a gradual shrinking of the height of each layer. As it is, I still didn't get the sides correct - compare to photo below.

A group of elderly ladies and gentlemen were congregated in the shade across the street, talking and having coffee. One crossed the street, came up behind me, and asked, "What exactly is it you're doing when you hold up your pencil like that?" It was an intelligent question, and not one I've been asked before. I described how artists neep to map what's before them onto the two dimensional surface, and they use their thumb or drawing tool to compare proportions, or find half and quarter points, to position things correctly. I showed her some tiny hash marks on my paper, which were dividing the space into quarters, and pointed out that the pencil helped me find which line on the building was half way up, and then a quarter of the way up, and then how many lines of windows and dividers were in between, etc. - so I would get them right. She said that made sense, and she thanked me for the answer.

I only did the pencil work on this one while in the sun. I walked to a table in the shade to ink it in, and then did the watercolor from memory several days later, in a hotel room. I had taken several photos (pasted together here - and taken from not the same spot where I did the sketch, hence the changes in angles) to use as reference for the painting, but I didn't need it. I found I could vividly recall the colors I wanted.

This sketch will also appear on our Durham blog, of course. Top of the Triangle. The bilding is the Suntrust Bank building, one of the older landmarks and taller buildings in downtown Durham. The bull is a big, nearly life size bronze set in a small park across the street.

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