This sketch of a hot cross bun is one of the quickest sketches I have done lately (under 3 minutes) but when it came to write a few words about it, I realised that there were lots of thoughts going on in my head at the time.
And I can’t help thinking (once again) of some very powerful thoughts in a wonderful book by Tom Hoffman Watercolor Painting: A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium. It’s one of those books that I LOVE to read over and over again. The text in this book is more important to me than the images! In the introduction he makes a lot of amazing statements about watercolour – here are a few that I have highlighted:
"The same qualities that make watercolor so attractive also make it difficult to control, and even harder to correct...
Its look of ease and spontaneity makes competence seem within reach. Most of us quickly discover that with fast-drying, transparent paint there is no place to hide.
Uncertain strokes and attempts to disguise mistakes remain visible in the finished painting. What at first looked so easy and spontaneous turns out to require either a great deal of thought or phenomenal luck."
Oh! I love that book and couldn’t resist sharing more than a single quote with you.
But getting back to the bun…. here are some of the thoughts I had as I did this super quick sketch:
- I made the decision on Thursday evening that I would be working through Easter (ie. Friday, Saturday and Monday) but at a slower pace so I would have time fit in a few relaxed sketches. Therefore my hot cross bun for morning tea needed to be sketched. But so much for being leisurely, I wanted to eat it hot, meaning that I would need to sketch it fast.
- So while I was boiling the kettle for the accompanying cup of tea I was strategising how I would attempt it – what medium and where I would sketch and eat it. I decided to start with paint and to sketch it on my painting desk as my home palette is out and ready to go. Not sure which brush was out but I would go with the flow with the first brush I saw.
- With my #8 round brush (which was lying on my desk) I painted the main bun shapes with a monte amiata natural sienna wash dropping in a bit of darker pigments and then some goethite and potters pink for granulation. Next I added the shadow on the plate allowing the two washes to mingle (no time for the plate in this sketch). I wanted some soft edges within the bun so was happy for everything to mix together and for watercolour to works its ‘magic’.
- Painting the fruit was a little more challenging as I wanted hard edges but didn’t have the time to wait for the first wash to dry. So I picked up a smaller brush, mixed up a much juicer wash (with little water) and dropped it into the wash hoping the pigment would sink rather than float. And I then noticed a Dark Indigo watercolour pencil on my desk so I used it to define the hard edges to the fruit. No worries that this was a dark blue pencil and not a dark brown one – I didn’t have the time to go looking for a brown pencil!
- Time to enjoy the hot bun and my cup of tea! This was probably after less than 2 minutes of painting… so I walked away from my desk (carrying the bun with me of course) to a more comfortable spot for morning tea. Do you really need to know all this detail? Actually, the fact that I walked away and didn’t watch what the pigment was doing was a little risky!
- After I had finished my tea and bun I came back to my desk. The washes had mostly dried now and all I had to do was punch the darks and put a little more to the shaded side of the bun.
And there you have it. It is amazing how much I can write about such a simple sketch… but I firmly believe that quick sketching has a lot of thought and/or practice behind it. On this occasion it was important decisions edges and the wetness of the paint that guided the process – on other occasions it might be the need for accuracy in one part of the scene. Do I need to tell you that I explain a lot more detail about edges (and even food sketching) in my upcoming SketchingNow Edges online course? How was that for a lead in? Sorry… I couldn’t resist! No seriously, putting the content together for the Edges course made me realise how important edge decisions are to make aspects of a successful sketch.
To get back to the Easter theme… I normally try to find and sketch a chocolate Bilby at Easter time, but sadly I haven’t come across one in my regular chores during the past week. Ah! less chocolate is always a good thing – hey? – so a fruit bun sketch it is for this year.
And just for the record, these days working for myself it’s sometimes hard to determine when to rest and when to work, but I am happy with my decision to work through Easter. After all ‘writing a book’ is a season of one’s life that one would expect to be VERY busy. I have been able to enjoy writing for my book this weekend much more without the pressure to keep up with email and other projects. So its all good!
Looking forward to my usual day of rest (from work and sketching), my day of worship tomorrow (I don’t observe Easter as anything different from the Lords Day every week!) and time with my very special family over lunch on Monday.
Happy Easter everyone! Have you sketched something related to Easter – please share a link to it in the comments section if you have!