October 12, 2011

This past weekend I joined up with about 20 other people to hike the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim. I brought along my sketchbook with the hopes of doing a few sketches to remember the experience by and came back with more than I expected.

As I’ve stated before, I have never been very comfortable with using color. This past year it has been my goal to work with it more, and I’ve made a few attempts with watercolor that came out okay, but I’m still having a tough time. One of the challenges is that I am usually drawing on the go: in restaurants, museums, on buses, airplanes, or at some kind of festival. It gets real tricky trying to do watercolors in these settings, especially since I am pretty awkward with it to begin with.

So this weekend I tried something different. A couple months ago a co-worker randomly interofficed a small set of German colored pencils to me, so I brought them on the trip and took a bold step into the world of color.

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These aren’t masterpieces by any standard, but they are definitely important drawings for me. I’ve written before about lightbulb drawings–the products of moments when I somehow become enlightened by an idea and reach a new skill level. These drawings represent the time I found my way into working with color.

The most important drawing from the weekend is this one that I did from the deck of the North Rim Lodge.


Not only is it in color, but it’s also a landscape, which is something else I struggle with. This is probably one of the hardest sketches I’ve ever done. The challenge was figuring out how to take a very complicated landscape and simplify it to fit within the limitations of time, color, and paper size, but also still make it recognizable for what it was. I actually started and abandoned two other sketches before I finally produced this one.

The whole weekend was pretty great. I did a ton of hiking, met a bunch of cool people, and had some fun times around the campfire. But coming home with these drawings ensured that it will be unforgettable.

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