Night Sketching

5:16 AM

Bonfire Sketch, Stillman & Birn Zeta Softcover, 3.5 x 5.5 inches, watercolor and ink
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This past Saturday night, we had a bonfire at my sister-in-law's house. She had a huge oak to fall recently and it took down the old playhouse. Between the stump and the wood from the playhouse, there was plenty of wood to burn.

It happens to be spring in Florida and the trees and grasses are blooming themselves silly. Since I am an "professional level" allergy sufferer, I had taken plenty of allergy medicine before we left to go over, but I knew the smoke would be an aggravating factor in keeping my allergies under control.

After we roasted hot dogs over the open flame, I opted to retreat back from the fire and sit on the lanai. This gave me the view you see in the spread above. I was about thirty to forty yards away and I could not help but notice the way the Spanish moss dangling from the trees seem to pick up the light from the flames and sparkle.

This prompted me to pull out my sketchbook and begin drawing.  My husband's aunt and uncle showed up with a bottle of Disaronno (yum!) and it seemed appropriate to add it to the page. Those pesky people were added because they kept wandering on and off the "stage."

The gal on the far right was one of the last to arrive and the fire was burning quite hot by the time she attempted to roast her hot dog. Her stance was created from trying to get close enough to the fire to roast her dog without roasting herself!

The whole thing was sketched in low-light conditions and I even started adding paint while sitting there. I finally realized I was having a harder and hard time seeing what I was doing and I was going to need better lighting conditions to finish up. I still needed to add the lettering and fire sparks.

It was until late Sunday evening that I had another chance to work on the spread. I had painted the tree, the stump and the fire the evening before, but after being away from the spread, I could easily see I needed to go darker. Much darker!

My other challenge came in trying to show the heat of the flames against the night. Everything was actually very warm in temperature—the surrounding background, trees, sky and ground.

I opted to make the background much cooler by making it a dark blue with violet and burnt umber added in. I kept the ground around the stump, the tree, moss, fire and light being cast by the flames as warm as I possibly could to building up contrast between the to temperatures. I showed a slight hint of grayed green to indicate the grass.

Last I added in the headline on the right page echoing the same colors as the flames. The added text at the bottom was just the date and reasons for the bonfire in the first place. I have to say I wasn't at all sure of how this would turn out when I began the page, but I am so glad I did as I enjoyed the evening immensely!

There are few things better than good food, good friends, a roaring fire and my sketchbook!

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1 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Dear Laure - wonderful night sketch. I think it would be difficult to capture all of this in the dark but you did a superb job! So glad you had a lovely evening of fun! Hugs!


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