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Painting in the dark with dip pen and watercolor

figures ink and watercolor life as an artist urban sketching watercolor Dec 12, 2018

December 12, 2018

The above clip is from a documentary filmed and edited by my daughter, Nicole, in 2005.  The rest of the documentary is not soooo dark; it's filmed in my studio and in one of the galleries where I had a solo exhibit in 2005.

In 2004, Pat Sonne and I began working together to bring the process of creating art into the public eye during open mic sessions in local pubs.  Aside from it being incredibly fun, our goal was to inspire the inner artist within people who might not step foot into a gallery or museum, as well as to dispel the notion that an artist creates art only while standing at an easel wearing a beret. Pat, a life drawing model, moved to the music while I sketched her movements. We were "working the pubs" three to four nights a week for about two years.

Ladd Hoover filming at the Todd Wolfe Blues Jam in Easton, PA

Feeling the urge to expand the concept of painting movement in public venues, I set out on my own and painted during yoga classes, dance rehearsals and performances, jazz concerts and zumba classes. In 2011 I caught a ride with a blues musician into New York City every Monday night to paint at Big Ed Sullivan's Blues Jam at The Grisly Pear and then at The Red Lion when the jam moved around the corner. Amazing musicians from around the world stopped in to join the local musicians for a night of once in a lifetime music.  Every night was totally unique.  I loved it!  Occasionally I sketched the crowd, mostly, my focus was on the musicians.

Sean Daly playing at The Grisly Pear, NYC

Musicians playing at The Grisly Pear, NYC

Bobby Radcliff playing at The Grisly Pear, NYC

Getting home at 4am began to be a problem when I started to travel extensively, painting and teaching workshops.  Sadly, I stopped my habit of working the pubs and picked up where I left off painting and sketching everything else in sight.

While clearing out my studio I came upon the stack of boxes that hold the hundreds of little sketches painted in the dark. I knew I had to breath new life into that element of my work.  I now carry my dip pens and ink vial (in addition to my fountain pens and paints) with me, and occasionally treat myself to an open jam night in whatever city or town I find myself.

Recently, I posted a dip pen, ink sketch on the Fountain Pen Sketchers Facebook page.  Several artists have asked me what my setup was for painting in the pubs.  I didn't have the camera equipment ten years ago to capture the process.  Now I do!  I'll be giving it a try this coming weekend during the performance of The Messiah in a pub in Maine.

I can answer the most common question right now. How do I keep from spilling ink all over everyone? I use a small vial for my ink.  It fits perfectly inside one or two locking collars. (My husband builds packaging equipment and we had several stray locking collars in the garage.) When I began teaching pen and ink workshops I asked him to make little ink stands for me and I often use these now rather than the locking collars.  The wooden ones are lighter weight.

The wooden one is made from a large dowel and a metal washer to keep it from tipping over and to keep the vial from falling through.

The other important piece of equipment is the water container.  I can't keep getting up and down for clean water, it's too disruptive to the people around me.  I need to have three separate containers of water, one to clean my dip pen so that I don't get ink on the table, one to clean my brush between color changes and one for totally clean water.  I fill my container, sit down and don't get up again until it's time to pack up.

This white, plastic one was great in spite of it being large.  When I saw one of my students with a set of nesting containers, I was able to fit all my supplies into a shoulder bag rather than a backpack.

That's all for now ... I'll return to this topic at a later date.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to create an in-action video this weekend in Maine.

I invented a great, light-weight carrying case to get the wet paintings safely home from the pub.  I'll show that in another post.

Thanks for being curious!

To view more of my paintings and sketches visit:

my flickr galleries



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