Sketchcrawl Downtown #3 – Olvera Street

Click picture to enlarge
Here’s the third and last of my drawings I did last week on the sketchcrawl in downtown LA, and another response to the “draw a local landmark” challenge. With limited time for drawing I opted to spend the time drawing rather than doing washes or painting on location. Today I took some time to figure out how I wanted to handle those washes. As an experiment, I printed out the line drawing on watercolor paper rather than use the flimsier paper in my sketchbook. That also gave me a backup in case my ideas didn’t work – I could just toss the printed version out and print another one. In fact, I might paint one using bright colors instead of this monochrome/sepia scheme which is primarily based on tonal values.

Unlike the Union Station fountain painting, in this experiment I decided I would draw it as it actually was, because I liked the angle and the bustling activity following the morning’s rain. Also, unlike the courtyard painting, I opted for Rapidoliner and wash because I wanted to draw the small details of the shops instead of suggesting dabs of color with the brush. I did take a picture before I left, so I might still try an impressionistic watercolor sketch for comparison. Below is the drawing before painting, if you’re curious. Click to enlarge.


  1. Lin
    March 17, 2006

    OH WOWOWOWOW!!! Karen — I LOVE this — I mean really really LOVE this!! And in sepia! The detail — the fine, fine detail — exquisite! It reminds me of those travel journals I drool over! YEP — MY FAVORITE OF YOURS!!!

  2. Kate
    March 17, 2006

    That is very, very cool…

  3. Jane
    March 17, 2006

    Karen, this is really stupendous! You’ve caught the feeling exactly. Love the fact that there are people in the scene. You could do a guidebook of Los Angeles at this rate. (except for the horrible hassle of self publishing or getting it accepted)

  4. shavenwarthog
    March 17, 2006


  5. Sioux
    March 17, 2006

    Karen, they are just wonderul. It makes me feel as if I had been there and seen it. Thanks!!

  6. Marie-Dom
    March 18, 2006

    Absolutely fabulous! Full of atmosphere and bustle.

  7. clare
    March 18, 2006

    Karen, this is AWESOME, I loooooove it.

  8. Don West
    March 18, 2006

    Outstanding Karen! I really like this. You have a great ink style. Keep it up!
    We could use your help over at sketch-it
    It’s good practice too :-)

  9. Jean Mikulla
    March 18, 2006

    Great Job. I really like your idea to print it out and try painting it differnt ways. Jean

  10. Tami
    March 19, 2006

    Karen, Nice job! I too, like the idea of printing it on watercolor paper. If you do a rendition in bright colors let us take a peek, although I love the feeling of the tones in this on.
    I am still working out what mediums work for me in a sketchcrawl. I colud use some of you guys for company on a crawl.

  11. Jana Bouc
    August 25, 2006

    I really like the sepia sketch–it makes the whole scene so special and gives it that olde town look. Thanks for sharing the technique with printing on watercolor paper and then doing the wash.

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