No watercolors at the MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, like most museums is fine with you sketching in most anything as long as no paints is involved. Today I skirted that problem by drawing with water soluble ink in a fountain pen. Below, I have captured the area just inside the entrance to the Robert Lehman Collection, many people call it, ” the new wing”.

It is a fascinating juxtaposition of new and old. The left side is the original brick arched exterior wall of the MET, on the right modern facing of beige granite cover the bare walls and, the two flank a narrow three story glass window.

I used an ink I love called Pecan by Papier Plume . This ink has the special property of changing color when you add water. Moss green appears from the brown ink as water touches the ink but as you add more water the green turns pink. It’s a beautiful and subtle way to get a hint of color without calling attention to it.

It’s my secret weapon to allow me to get color on a piece in the museum. Stealthily I slip out my waterbrush and apply light washes on the piece. If it’s too crowded, I head down to the cafeteria and go to town down there. By the way, The MET’s cafeteria is a great place to be able to have a cup of coffee or a full meal without a table wait and cool your heels for as long as you wish. Below, you can see the photo I took of the location just after I finished sketching it.

By the way the fountain pen I was using was a very cheap pen ( under $5usd) that I ordered off the internet from China. I ordered 3 for about $16usd including shipping and 2 of them are as good as ones I have spend over $40usd on. Clearly an inexpensive low risk adventure.

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The Waterwitch Outboard Motor

At the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, on the Main floor all the way in the back of the good design area, under the stairs that lead up to the abstract expressionists, sits an outboard motor cased in a Lucite box. It is beautiful; silver and shiny in spots and grey industrial metal in others. It is a hierarchy of knobs, tubes, flanges and handles. The motor was designed by John R. Morgan and manufactured by the now defunct Sears, Robuck and Company in Chicago Ill , 1936. It is made of steel aluminum and rubber.

As the MET has a strictly no water media permitted zone, I drew this with Graphite Aquerelle by Faber Castell and a Printing pencil which produced the very darks. I had planned to add water in the cafeteria, but have since decided to leave it as is. It was a very focused sketch with all the engine’s parts weaving in and out under the gas tank and I really enjoyed it in spite of the fact that the pencils were a 4B and 8B making very difficult to keep a sharp line. I don’t often draw in pencil anymore and this drawing made me question why that is.

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Roosters on the lam

Out at the barn adjacent to The MIlleridge Inn, a local restaurant, live a flock of roosters. They sneak under the fencing and chicken wire enclosure and have a gay old time strutting their stuff in the parking lot oblivious to vehicles and gawkers. Due to February weather in NY, I painted these in my mobile studio.

I am becoming rather smitten with these feathery fellows as it really allows me to play with my Rosemary &Co. 1/2″ sword in a very calligraphic way. While it is usual for me to not put down pencil first, in these instances it would be a fool’s errand. They scuttle around so quickly that they would long be gone as I was just getting an indication of the back tails in graphite. Laying down instantaneous color on clean paper in a wet on wet and dry brush manner is my only chance.

One actually flew onto my minivan hood and tried to get onto the roof by climbing the front windshield. I felt like I was in a scene of Hitchcock’s, The Birds, until I saw him sliding down the same windshield; then, it was pretty comical.

As the weather permits, I am sure to go back repeatedly as they are equally fun to paint as they are to watch. Stay tuned for more barnyard antics!

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