On Friday, July 17, AJ, Harald, and I arranged to visit the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), a giant plane aiming to complete the first-ever round-the-world flight solely powered by the sun. Victoire, a member of the Solar Impulse press team, was an excellent host and guide. She shared with us the technical and cultural challenges that the team encountered on their journey so far.
As we walked across the airfield, we saw forklifts loading Si2 parts and supplies onto an Ilyushin cargo plane. Entering the hangar, we got a firsthand impression of the solar plane’s size and unusual proportions. At a wingspan of 72 m (greater than a Boeing 747), the plane just barely fits into the hangar. The plane’s solar panels were covered in reflective foil, and the propellers were dismounted revealing the battery compartments. We were able to see the plane from all angles – even from a balcony above. Although it was a hot day, we greatly enjoyed our visit.
I found the Si2 challenging to sketch because of its size. I actually had to swivel my head from left to right to see the entire plane.
Due to repairs, Si2 missed its opening for the next leg of the flight and will overwinter at Kalaeloa Airport. While the plane stays here, the team will spend their winter in Europe. The round-the-world flight will continue in early April next year. We look forward to the team’s return and hope to coordinate a full-scale event to sketch the plane in March before it departs for Phoenix, Arizona.
Last week I was at Honolulu Harbor helping ship two pallets to the Big Island on a Young Brothers barge. I intended to provide support, but ended up sketching at the main gate. This was my first time at the port to see the loading process and all the heavy equipment (forklifts, reach stackers … had to look that one up, and trailer trucks). I met very nice people – even made a friend of a security guard who requested a sketch of himself. He offered me a seat under a tent in front of the guard house – a welcome relief from the scorching heat of the day. Fortunately I had come prepared with a liter-sized water bottle… his was twice or three times the size.
Since I was unable to help, the multiple-hour visit meant I had many sketching opportunities. I used a set of liquid-ink pens and later applied crayons, watercolor, or charcoal with conté pencil. These different media/styles were spurred by a full sketchbook… I drew on spare loose paper, as well as the cardboard backing and other surfaces of my sketchbook.
A few weeks ago I noticed ominous crunching sounds while cycling and brought my bike to McCully Bicycle to have the bottom bracket replaced. It was interesting to see the axle dismantled, all the specialized tools that were used, and what caused the crunching sounds. I had a good experience and thought I would return to sketch the shop.
As this is a bicycle repair shop, there are many bicycles, tools, boxes, spare parts, and people to sketch. It was challenging to realistically capture the repair shop without going into enormous detail. What do you include in the sketch? It’s definitely a learning process. I look forward to returning to make another attempt.
I used watercolors, crayons, and a black liquid ink pen on dry-media 9x6in. paper.
For New Year’s Eve and early January, I was in California. While there, I was able to meet up with San Francisco Bay Area Urban Sketchers for their monthly Sketch Night which was held at Whole Foods in Berkeley.
Flowers, fruit, and vegetables are three products many stores place near their entrance to entice consumers. The variety of colors and textures at Whole Foods was very appealing, and I could not resist sketching a shelf of vegetables.
After finishing the first sketch I realized something could be improved. I was using a pen and pack of crayons – outlining basic shapes with my pen and filling in those shapes with bright waxy crayons, thinking that the crayons would nicely accentuate the produce. Instead of limiting the use of crayon to the vegetables though, I got carried away and started filling in the shelves. This counteracted my original intention of making the vegetables stand out. I decided to do two additional close-ups with the refined method – using crayons for the vegetables and crosshatching the shelves with pen. This created the distinction I was looking for.
Encountering this problem drove me to think about using more than one medium per sketch. Does one medium communicate the character of an object or scene better than another? What combinations are possible? Could you combine crayon and watercolor; pastel and ink; charcoal, pastel, and watercolor? A mixed media sketch is something I have not tried yet.
A big thank you to Cathy and the SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers for their warm welcome and for an enjoyable evening sharing sketchbooks, approaches to sketching, and interesting Bay Area sites!
Happy New Year to all!