Can I still say, “Happy New Year?”

Happy New Year to all!!!! Seattle is so dark and cold during these months, that I feel like a sleepy bear starting to emerge from a cave.

I start 2020 with such profound gratitude for so many amazing opportunities: great work projects, amazing travel, and teaching. Teaching is my true calling. I vaguely remember as a child, rounding up the other kids in my neighborhood, and sitting them down in our living room to teach them something… HA! I have no idea what I “taught” them, but clearly, this teaching thing started at a very young age.

I also really want to say THANK YOU to those of you who kindly responded to my plea for a few positive book reviews on Amazon after the first two devastating posts. It worked!! Thankfully, you and others basically buried those heinous posts, and yes, Amazon has finally removed the review about no women in the book! HOORAY!!

As my thank you, I ask, what can I do for you? What do you want to learn from me? More about finding vanishing points and perspective? How to start a painting, a pencil drawing? More about my day job, materials I use, workshops? What can I teach you via this blog???? I’m ready, send your suggestions my way! And let’s make this a great new year and decade!!

(Panorama sketch above was done from our hotel window looking out at Brooklyn in the snow last February, that’s the Brooklyn Bridge on the far right. Those of you who know me know that I first block out all the big shapes on the two pages, then start on the left –because I’m right-handed– and fill in the details working left to right.)

37 thoughts on “Can I still say, “Happy New Year?”

  1. Hi Stephanie – You asked for suggestions. In one of your fairly recent posts you outlined the differences you see between shade and shadow and how to paint/colour these in urban sketches.

    Additionally, how do you deal with reflections? In one of your videos (I think it was) there’s a coloured sketch of a fairly ornate interior in some kind of public building with reflections of walls/people on the polished floor.It really adds impact to the overall effect. Any do’s or don’ts would be most helpful

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  2. Why do you start with details working left to right if you are right handed? Doesn’t that cause your marks to smear if you are using graphite or other media? Why not work from the other direction?

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    1. Hi Peggy, Thanks, you read down to the very bottom! 😉
      It’s because I’m right-handed that I draw starting from the left…I smear much less that way, as my hand is always ahead of my pencil going in that direction. And it’s the opposite for left-handed folks, they need to start on the right side and work their way to the left. Does this make sense?
      S

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  3. Dear Stephanie,

    Thank goodness those two poor reviews have been buried under the avalanche of good ones from those of us who appreciate what a wealth of information you have packed into your little book, “101 Sketching Tips.”

    Selfishly, here’s my thought on what I would like to learn from you: Despite using your “Understanding Perspective” book as a constant reference, I still struggle with perspective. Anything you can add to simplify, put into a list of steps to follow, or whatever you might think of to help spatially challenged followers would be welcome. Your posts are always beneficial and it’s fun to see what you are painting.

    I am really looking forward to the People, Places, Color Workshop in May. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on trying to improve my skills.

    Thank you and a Happy New Year to you!
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, thank you so much for your kind words!!!! And I thought I recognized that name… 😉
      I agree about seeing a step-by-step…I will indeed post this more, thanks for the reminder, it’s a great suggestion! I like seeing those too!
      More soon, and Happy New Year to you!
      S

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  4. Hi Stephanie,

    Happy New Year to you, too!

    Another gorgeous sketch.

    Can’t wait to start 101 Sketching Tips, which leads me to a different question about perspective: would you ever share how you manage work/life balance? (I’m embarrassed to ask, so I’m emailing you instead of posting online.)

    Thank you, Catherine

    >

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    1. Hi Catherine, well, I think this may appear on the blog as it didn’t come through via email, I hope that’s OK…it’s a great question so please don’t be embarrassed, and you are right, no one ever asks this! It’s a GREAT conversation to have, as we are all so busy.

      I will do a post on this for sure. I hesitate some times to be too personal on something like a blog, but what the heck…I’m getting old, why not share all this! Later this month, I think I’m going to post my “Ted Talk”, were I ever to get the opportunity to do one. Talk about personal!

      In short, so you don’t have to wait, I probably don’t manage it very well. These days, I’m benefited by the fact that my kids are now grown and out of the house, which luckily more or less coincided with my learning about Urban Sketchers and getting a fellowship to France in 2013. But it’s always a struggle for me to actually have dual careers–my day job of architectural illustration together with teaching, which I’ve actually done in parallel my entire career. It helps enormously to be self-employed, so I can set my own schedule. I do have a supportive husband who is an architect with a good job, so that frees up my ability to travel to teach. My house looks like a wreck ;), and I have a home office. When my kids were small, I’d put them to bed, walk across the hall, and work on my deadlines! And I work a lot of weekends, but the perk is that I also get to travel for long periods of time. On top of all that, and this is a real secret, I suffer from chronic migraines, so I’m sick a lot. But I’m determined and somehow push through to get things done…

      Is this kind of what you were thinking??? I love this question, and THANK YOU for asking it!
      S

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  5. Would you expand on how to use vanishing points when they are off the page? This always trip me up. Thanks. I always enjoy your posts.

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  6. I enjoyed one of your courses on Bluprint. Is there any way from time to time you could do a Youtube video on working on sketches from start to finish? I follow a number of watercolor artists who create videos for free such as Tim Wilmot. It is great to see the process from start to finish with commentary on what is being done.

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    1. Hi Terry, First, thank for taking the Bluprint course! I have thought many times about doing something on YouTube, I just can’t figure out how to film it. I have tons of ideas…
      I’ll take a look at Tim Wilmot, thanks for the recommendation. And if anyone can help me film these, let me know!
      S

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      1. Stephanie, I’m new to the whole urban sketching phenomenon, coming from embracing photography and, recently, making videos since retiring 9 years ago. I spent my professional life in education and found, after retiring, that teaching is, in fact, what I love to do. I do 1:1 photography training, have developed some video training courses, and am now getting into teaching On-location sketching and watercolor painting in my hometown.

        RE recording yourself to make YouTube videos, don’t think you need a lot of expensive or high end gear. Think newer smartphones! With two decent tripods, two smartphones, a wireless mic, and a well lit space you can do an amazing job. You can refine this setup by using the FilmicPro video recording app (IOS & Android) on each smartphone or, if you have iPhone use Cinamaker, an IOS only app that lets you control up to four iPhones from an iPad! I have used the latter to record two recent training sessions so I could use clips from it for promotional ads for my training.

        If you are interested, I would be happy to help you further long distance (I live in Virginia).

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      2. HI Bill, this is amazing!!! THANK YOU for this information…I will start to think about it more. I suppose I should attempt it at least once, and I sure appreciate the offer for long-distance guidance. I will take you up on that!
        S

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      3. Great, Stephanie! It’s really not difficult to record but you MUST use an external mic in my opinion, if not a wireless clip-on (lavalier), at least a directional one (sounds technical, but it really isn’t). I then edit the captured footage using LumaFusion on my 12.9 iPad Pro. It’s an inexpensive yet professional video editing app for mobile.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Stephanie. I know you are the perspective guru and both your books have been very helpful. I’ve also taken both your Craftsy courses. But what I love most about your work is your use of color. The colors in your sketches, like the one from Croatia you are currently using to headline your blog, just sing! I would love it if you could include more watercolor technique for those of us who struggle! Thank you.

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    1. Hi Dory, my gosh, thank you so much! I always figure people come to me for perspective, so it makes me SOOOOO happy to read you like my use of color!!!! I will indeed do a post on this, great idea. I’ll talk about the palette I use too, as that is key.
      Thanks!!
      Stephanie

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      1. That would be very helpful for me as well, Stephanie. I know many folks vary their palettes by location, season, and subject and I’ve read much of Jane Blundell’s writings on color, but I still struggle with achieving accurate colors. Greens, naturally, drive me crazy, but also brick colors. I, too, have done your Bluprint courses and love how approachable you come across and how practical your suggestions and tips are, so something on palettes and color mixing would be most helpful!

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      2. Hi Bill, Thanks for this note, I will definitely write about colors. I have the same struggles with those two colors as well, funny you mention brick and greens!! I will be sure to talk about those in the post.
        S

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      3. I’ve gotten a few house commissions where one was different shades of brick (wall vs house proper) but the others were kind of a beige stucco. Turns out it’s a very popular “color” in Lynchburg, VA! Some folks in one of the sketching/watercolor groups on FB recommenced Buff Titanium, so I’ve stocked up on that! 😀 Yes, any help with mixing colors much appreciated!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Stephanie! When we were in CDB, you showed us in the church how to determine the spacing of columns and arches in perspective. There was some trick/geometric measurement – where you took a line from one column or arch to determine the placement of the next one larger and closer to you. Does that ring a bell? Thanks, Lisa

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    1. Yes, I remember, Is this Lisa Woodward?? The photo is so tiny, I can’t tell, but that’s the only lisa NOMAD I know, I think!!! But yes, this is a GREAT thing to talk about, I will do this for sure.
      It will be a long and sort of complicated post, but I’m ready to tackle it. Great idea…
      Happy travels, you are indeed a nomad!
      S

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  9. Hello, Stephanie, SO glad your book recovered from those crazy early reviews! Hurray!

    I would LOVE it if you and Shari and your other friend could come to Atlanta someday to offer the weekend workshop you three are offering in CA!!

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    1. Hi Jane, I am sooooooooooo relieved that those crazy posts are gone or buried. So grateful to all! And I will bring up the idea of a workshop in Atlanta to the gals. We have another one in the works for 2021 on the east coast, it’s sponsored by a watercolor organization. We do want to take it on the road, we will probably see how the San Jose workshop goes and figure things out from there.
      Thanks!!
      S

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  10. I’d like to hear how you find inspiration to draw from your every day life, if you are not travelling. If you were to, like me, live in a small town without a lot of big buildings – how would you tackle finding inspiration to keep making sketches? Would you draw from images instead or would you like to redraw the same locations during the four seasons of the year? Do you ever make more polished illustrations based from your sketches? I need to get over my art block which has lasted for a very long time now. I have started to watch a lot of craftsy-classes again to find inspiration, but I just need a big kick in the butt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Linn, Well, I have similar problems…and of course, I get super busy when I’m home–there are so many distractions! I will indeed do a post about this and hopefully open up a conversation. I’d love to hear what others think on this topic. We can kick each other 😉
      Thanks for this suggestion!
      S

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  11. Stephanie, you often recommend the Fluid watercolor block 8×16 inches, however, I am unable to find this size on Amazon, Blick, Cheap Joe’s etc. Do you know of a source?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shirley!!! Well, much to my dismay, Fluid stopped making the 9×16 pads of watercolor paper. I still have a few, but on my most recent trip, I tried using the Winsor & Newton watercolor paper that I cut into the 8×16 sheets. It’s different to draw and paint on, but I got some results I really loved, so I will continue to use it. It’s not that easy to find either!

      What I liked about the Fluid paper is that it was hard enough to draw on, but had just enough texture and finish that I could also paint on it. I’m still looking for the perfect paper for a drawer and a painter!
      S

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  12. Hello Stephanie and happy new year to you!
    Your post arrived just as I was leafing through your newest book- again! Absolutely love the book. AND your first book, wow – along with your craftsy classes – these have helped me and my daughter who draws, understand perspective – truth in the title – for me! Your number 59 tip in the new book is the one that made the penny drop for me (it was my horizon/eye level line confusion), and tip number 69 is pretty helpful too. Actually they’re all great, so thanks so much!
    I’d love to see a post expanding on shade vs shadow in colour and reflected or bounced light.
    Thanks again.

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    1. Hi Iona, THANK YOU, I love love love that you sent me your favorite tips! I’m always curious about precisely when people have an ah-ha moment, so thank you. I will do a post on shade vs. shadow. That was an ah-ha moment for me when somewhere along the way I learned it!
      S

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  13. For the talk about mixing colors like greens & brick colors, Is it ok to give me a link to my latest blog post?
    It is my 2020 Palette 24 colors with a color chart. Lots of different Greens & some nice Brick colors with Indian Red, and Brown Madder. I also have color mixes with the brand new Daniel Smith Joseph Zbukvic Warm Grey and Cool Grey. I really like these Greys
    https://terrykrysakartworks.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-new-watercolor-palatte-color-chart.html

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  14. Lovely to hear from you. Your sketch makes me feel a bit guilty because I have been very busy in the studio as you may have noticed on Instagram, but I have not done an outdoor sketch since October! Yikes! Talk about rusty. Looking forward to traveling with you again in the Loire Valley.

    I will be in NYC in April to get my AWS Signature Status award (yep FINALLY after all these years of trying!) so I will make time from sight seeing to get in at least one sketch. It was sketching in the park last year that gave me the idea for my winning AWS painting. You never know what you will find sketching in Central Park!

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    1. HI Sandy, Yes, I see your posts– a huge congratulations to you!!!!!! Do get some sketching in if you can, but I know you are busy painting!
      Have a great time in NY in April, I know you will celebrate in grand style!!
      xx S

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