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Value of On-site Sketches

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“Bangkok, watercolor by Dong Kingman (1911-2000) (click to enlarge)

Dong Kingman, a watercolorist who was a member of FAS’s Guiding Faculty for many years, had this advice for artists about the value of on-site sketches combined and enhanced with imagination and whimsy:

I like to begin my paintings on location, then complete the work later in my studio. Most often, I begin this process with an on-site sketch, which gives me necessary design information and helps me firm up my compositional ideas. Once the composition is in place, my imaginary characters take the stage.

Be aware of the surprising ideas coming out of your subconscious mind. Bringing these ideas to the surface takes persistence and hard work. Sometimes they come; sometimes not. The important thing is to keep trying. Starting with a design/value sketch assures a satisfying underlying structure for the embellishments that bring each scene to life.