April Watercolors

April showers bring May flowers.  As you’ll see from this month’s selection from an ongoing watercolor sketch project, I was inspired by the stormy skies.  Although I said I’d be continuing on a jump rope thread from last month, I got diverted to a series I can best describe as “fun with frisket masking,” sketching lightning, lava and more.  Check them out after the jump.

Not all watercolor sketches need be serious: here is a little humor piece from Easter.

Fun with Frisket, Round 1: Lightning

I admire weather and geological phenomena, especially lightning (and, to an extent, tornadoes).  The below explorations were achieved with liquid frisket, a quill pen, a toothbrush and generous watercolor washes.

The very first lightning sketch came out far too weak and pastel-ly.

The second attempt looks much better thanks to a darker, contrasting wash. This one also uses a generous splatter from a toothbrush dipped in frisket.

Third attempt, with a distant vantage pointt to give the scene some ground. This one also adds a dark splatter to go along with the light splatter achieved with masking.

The fourth attempt zooms back in a bit while going crazy with color. The green gives the sketch a more electric touch.

Feeling more comfortable with the quill pen + frisket (it's difficult to manage...notice how it clumped up and caused large blobs), I moved to more scenic sketches. I imagine this storm taking place in Kansas.

I love the idea of storms in a big city, with city lights complementing the whiteness of lightning.

Back to Kansas for this one. The top and bottom thirds turned out well, but the middle third got frustratingly muddy. Due to using too narrow of a quill pen, the lower lightning bolt is scraggly.

A sketch based on an oddly nostalgic memory of camping in Kansas during a thunder/tornado storm and hearing sheep bleating from a nearby field. The background is far too light.

Potentially my favorite sketch of the batch. I usually hate pastels, but there is a great mood to this one.

I wanted a graphic piece that had geometric shapes mimicking the angular nature of lightning. A giraffe pattern seemed to be a good opportunity to do this while keeping things organic. Unfortunately, the brush strokes in the sky overpowered it.

I tried the sketch one more time for good measure. While I like the loose background, with the geometry pulling it back together, I just don't know that my heart's in this one...

Fun with Frisket, Round 2:  Lava

Along the way of making all the lightning sketches, I realized that frisket would be great at simulating the white-hot countenance of lava.  So, that started a series of volcanic eruptions, fire, and lava flows.

This one has a nice, graphic presence, but a dismaying over-scrubbed texture in the darkest parts.

This one tells a simple story: volcano erupts, people flee. I'm pleased with the smoke effect.

There's a lot of energy released when lava hits the ocean, and that called for a piece with lots of steam and splatter.

A really quick sketch of the aftermath of a lava flow. I definitely need more work on representing fire.