Activity Review – Sketching on location in Phillipsburg St Maarten Experience

By Nathan Werthiemer
Multimedia Journalist

Phillipsburg, St Maarten – A few months ago, I took a Caribbean cruise vacation to this great island. This was one place that I had visited in the past. This time, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to sketch on location in this port of call. There are many scenes to sketch at this place. This sketch was supposed to take about thirty minutes to one hour to complete while onsite. Not including post work touch up back on the ship. I was up and ready for this sketch challenge. Are you up for the challenge?

Once I walked off the ship I needed to pick a place to set up shop. So I decided to set up shop near the large statue in front of the St Maarten Visitor Center. It had a great view of the cruise ship, outdoor bar, and shopping area. A lot of people had gotten off the two boats in port.

What was my mindset at this location to sketch? I’m a seasoned Urban Sketcher or Sketch Artist. For me, I was excited to be back in St Maarten. I had an idea what I wanted to sketch out. That was the easy part. This was my first foreign on location sketch assignment; I was inspired by my fellow Urban Sketchers Orlando group who did the same thing on their vacations. So I wanted to try it for myself. Wow what an experience!

What equipment and supplies did I use at this location? I brought a backpack filled with a watercolor paint set, water color brushed, colored magic markers, blank ink pens, a small mixed media paper tablet, and folding tri-fold stool. Could I have brought more supplies? Yes, but I did not need them. Use what you got and go from there.

Once I was situated then I started this sketch with my black ink pen. The first thing I did was roughly sketch out the backside of the statue on a marble platform without a barrier. Then I continued to form the statue before shaping it with thicker lines. It was fun sketching out this statue. Next, I sketched out the background of the building of the outside bar with the two bar stools. Then I did add two actual people inside the bar’s covering. Don’t worry about how they look. The people can be abstract.

You might be wondering where’s the cruise ship in the background. Well, I kept the cruise ship out of the scene because it was a little complicated to fit it in. But maybe next time I will put the ship in. It is ok to simplify the scene if needed. Take out the unnecessary things that clutter the landscape scene.

Then I added some of the rocks near the pier. It sets the mood where this takes place. Next, I added the checkerboard ground. Another art element I added with the street signs post. Then I thought it looked the overall composition. Then I thought the sign looked neat so I added it closer to the foreground on the left side. It is ok to add element to a scene to give it a strong focal point. There are no rules in art. Just do it! Make it special.

What did the locals and tourists think of my sketching on location? Many people walked by and were trying to get a quick look. Many people knew I was not a local by the way I dressed in causal clothes.

A few people came by to chat away. I did not mind. For most people, they had not seen a live artist on location creating artwork. This was new to them. My goal is to get people who have an art skill to come out an experience what I’m doing for them selves. It is a lot of fun. I know some people are not bold to do this on their own. That is fine you can do it as a group then you’ll be more comfortable on our own sometime.

During this sketch the heat and sun was very hot. I tried sitting in the shade. I even had my neck cooling fan on. It helped somewhat. Some people were more intrigued with my neck cooling fan then over my artwork. I guess they were not art lovers or supporters.

Once I completed black and white scene then it was time to add some color to this image. This was the fun part by using my watercolor brushes. No need to bring a cup of water. My watercolor brushes were filled with water before leaving the ship for the day. It is advised to bring some paper towels to clean off your watercolor brushes.

After I was finished for the day on this artwork, I put it away and moved to the next scene to sketch out. The goal is not to over sketch in the artwork. It is best to leave it alone then come back to it in the future for touch ups.

Would I do anything different about sketching my St Maarten scene? No, my sketch is an iconic scene that most people like to photograph. Sketch artist can capture more than just taking one photo. If you like to draw and sketch I advise taking this challenge for yourself. Don’t worry about making a mistake. Go for it! Good luck.

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Artwork by Nathan Wertheimer

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