Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Key West - Sketchbook

As I mentioned in another entry, one of the best things for me in this trip to Key West was free time.  That is a rare commodity when on a Road Scholar trip, but I hope to be able to explain to them how important that can be.  Some of of our fellow "scholars" need some time just to rest, some like to be able to re-visit sites, explore on their own, or just sit and absorb the locale.  For me, I finally had time to sketch.

Our first period of freedom came when we were still in the first hotel.  That hotel was located by the harbor where the cruise ships came in to dock.  As a result it was a very busy place so I worried about finding something that would resonate with me as interesting to sketch.  D wanted to lie down for a bit so I went out on the balcony, and there I found what I was looking for.  An umbrella with wonderful colors and a flowering tree down by the pool -

These sketches are all done with watercolor and ink.  The next one is unfinished.  It started out as a study in perspective.  I was sitting on the balcony off in the corner as far away from the second chair (the oval shape in outline only) as I could get.  I sat that way so I could draw both our balcony and the one at right angles to us.  In the empty space in the corner between the balconies were plants reaching up from the ground level below and a palm tree with an interesting frond.  I wanted to capture the contrast between the rather sterile building with the vegetation.  The tall leaves of some of the plants below will show between the railings of the balcony - if I ever get around to finishing it.

After the program was over, we stayed in Key West for some additional days.  That meant we had to move to different hotel (the original was full).  This next hotel was smaller and more like "old Florida".  Instead of modern surroundings, the hotel was a group of houses that had been re-figured as hotel rooms and felt more intimate.  The garden areas were very carefully tended.  The following sketch is area where we ate breakfast.

It's hard to make out what is what in this photo of the sketch, but part of that was intentional.  I wanted to emphasize the lushness we saw all around us.  And to be honest, part of it was a mistake. My fountain pens were in my luggage which I checked.  Lack of pressurization in the luggage compartment of the plane forced the ink out of the pen.  Forgetting that, when I started to draw into this painted part, the ink gushed out and made a much wider line than anticipated.  So then I decided to make the "mistake" deliberate and draw more using that heavier line.  Still not satisfied, I added the touches of orange and bits of red and red-violet.  Boom, Tropical Profusion (or does that sound too much like a juice?).


  1. wow! I like them all. The first one does look like paradise to me! The second needs color (DUH) and the third is full of color and may not be "clear" but it's also a winner! You are an amazing artist!

  2. These painting sketches do say tropical--not what I would expect from your English trip. I love the looseness of the paintings, particularly the last one with its heavy black ink lines which add so much drama.