Sketching at Chinatown


Yesterday our group Urban Sketchers Philadelphia met at Chinatown Philadelphia. I had only driven by before, so it was my first actual visit. Even with the high temperatures it was a great outing. 

We met in front of the China Gate, an emblematic portal of Chinatown. It was a fantastic experience, great smells of the nearby restaurants, people stopping and talking to us, great subjects… 

One guy stopped, asked for my pen and started scribbling Chinese characters on the palm of his hand. He spoke no English, and kept pointing at the gate. I gave him my sketchbook and he wrote the characters on my page. 

Later I found out that it in fact translates to Philadelphia Chinatown. 

Sketching With Watersoluble Ink (Part 2)

Last week I accidentally posted publicly what was supposed to be a draft. It’s no big deal, except it was incomplete, so now I’ll try to finish my line of thought.  

I had named my favorite watersoluble pen, the PaperMate flair. These are some of the pages I sketched a couple months ago while riding the Philly Ducks, an amphibian vehicle tour in Philadelphia. The simple setup allowed me to be very fast and loose, while adding a shading layer to the sketches.

You can also use fountain or brush pens with any soluble ink. Artist Marc Taro Holmes has explored this technique, using colored watersoluble ink for a wonderful effect. Be sure to follow his blog. He is also a great teacher; he’s got a couple of classes on Craftsy, I highly recommend these. 

As a caution, some inks react in very weird ways with water. I got a bottle of DeAtramentis Mahatma Ghandi, a very nice yellow shade I intended to use in a pen brush and create these blurred effects with clear water. To my surprise, the ink turns into a bright neon yellow, pretty much like a book highlighter. Useless. Glad I had tested it out first.  

Anyway, here’s a short video I recorded in my home studio using a PaperMate flair and a waterbrush. This is the typical process I follow when sketching on location with watersoluble ink.