Las Vegas. A simple name that has grown into an icon, instant imagery, thoughts of gambling, over the top shows, and other adult activities. Smack dab in the middle of the desert this iconic light, metal, poker chip and slot filled city seems out of place. As you fly over endless sand, the Grand Canyon, and beautiful mountain ranges, the last thing you expect to see is a cluster of skyscrapers.
My first trip to Las Vegas was incredible. It was so much fun, like nothing I have ever done before, and I got to experience it with the most important women in my family, my mom, sister, and aunt. Together we boarded our Delta flight, flew from one coast to another, until we found ourselves in sin city.
The first thing that struck me as we prepared to land was the Las Vegas skyline. It was as if the city suddenly sprouted out of nowhere. The desert that had been stretching for hundreds of miles, took a break for just a few miles, before continuing onto California.
Once we arrived, we checked into our first hotel of the stay, Mandalay Bay, and hopped into the elevator that went up more stories than I could count. We entered the room and immediately I saw the full window wall and another view of the desert city. I couldn’t wait for the sun to set that night. From the moment we planned the trip I couldn’t wait to see the neons ablaze, the millions of flashing lights that would make it seem as though nighttime doesn’t exist inside the Las Vegas city lines.
As I eagerly sat on our giant hotel bed I watched the sun slowly set and the lights come on. It was everything I thought it would be but bigger, brighter, and more colorful. Every day that passed as we sat at dinner and list the highlights. At the end of the trip we each shared our top three favorite moments, and this was one of mine. The skyline, the visual impact of the city itself is something I will never forget.
- Visual journal
- Book pages
- Rubber cement
- Paint brushes
- India ink
For this visual journal page I decided to focus on the silhouette of the city, with a light color pop in the background, and a bright white color pop to emphasize the light coming from the Luxor and the Bellagio fountains. I opted to use water color and india ink, which easily bleeds through thin paper like book pages. I planned ahead, glued together book pages outside of my book to paint on, and once dry, glued it into my book.
Once I had my book pages set up and glued together I loosely sketched out the skyline as a guide when I started painting. I reference a skyline picture on the internet, while making sure I focused on the buildings I liked the best. Once my outline was complete I began painting the sky, always work from the back forward. I used yellow and gray watercolor to create the eerie nighttime glow. To get the two colors to blend together in the center I moved the brush in circles using yellow, overlapping into the gray at the top, and while the yellow was still wet, added gray and swirled it in, overlapping into the yellow at the bottom.
As I painted in the sky I made sure I didn’t paint in the area where the Luxor light would be shooting up. I wanted this to be bright white, and it’s hard to achieve that if there is a base color. Next, I went in with India ink and filled in my Las Vegas skyline. India ink is a very thin, very dark black ink. It works well if you want a rich black color, but because it’s thin it can look streaky. I tried to plan for this and carefully painted vertical strips, which helped it look cohesive. Some areas still look a little messy, a second coat would have helped a lot.
Last but not least I filled in the fountain and spotlight with gesso to create a strong contrast to the skyline and focal point. Once everything dried I glued my mini painting into my book using rubber cement.
Create a visual journal page that focuses on contrast. Incorporate a dark black and bright white to create a graphic, bold image with a strong focal point. Good luck!
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