Sunday, March 1, 2015

Loosening up Exercises

If you only paint occasionally it can seem as though you are starting right back at square one each time you start a new project. Here are a few tips to help you Sunday Painters loosen up:
  • If possible, set up a collection of several vases and containers of daisies (white ones) like I did for my class. If you can leave them up for the week, you will be able to do spontaneous sketches whenever the opportunity presents itself, instead of starting all over again.
  • Use opaque containers at this time, to concentrate on the mass or "cloud" of flowers".
    • Always start with a few loosening up sketches first.
    • Simplify. Create masses rather than a tedious collection of individual shapes
    • Practice direct brushwork, pre-wetting the background and "dropping in" additional color/value to create loosely suggested foliage and flowers.
    • Stay aware that you are practicing by using charcoal when you draw. See my examples above.
    • Keep it loose when adding color, too. Use a large flat brush and limit your brush strokes. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

After class, Wintergrass

Since the Ad Hoc outing of Seattle Urban Sketchers was scheduled just 15 minutes away at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, I drove over there after my Kirkland class this afternoon. We were there during "Wintergrass".

Wintergrass is a family-friendly Bluegrass music festival, with concerts and dances at 4 different stages. There are also music education programs for kids and adults, workshops, impromptu jams, and a chance to see and hear some great music. Acoustic Sound produced it with the mission statement:
Acoustic Sound is committed to preserving and promoting traditional acoustic American music through presentation and education, with special attention given to the bluegrass music community.

You could purchase tickets to see performances by legends and featured performers, or just wander the hallways and lobbies to see impromptu groups forming up and playing together.
In the hallways of the Hyatt Regency, Bellevue, WA today.

In one of the hallways on the main floor, a group of about 13 people were in a circle, facing each other. John played bass and another musician played the "Dobro" guitar. There were banjos and more guitars, fiddles and singers. All this was played at a very polite level of volume, taking advantage of the acoustics in the hallway. At one point bystanders closed in and began singing along as they played an old classic, "Let the Circle Be Unbroken." The quiet, understated volume lent a very touching, tender quality to the music.

 Upstairs in another hallway, Mack was playing his favorite instrument, a Gibson guitar that he bought for $600 in 1972. "That was a lot of money then", he said, "I turned 66 years old this year, and it's still my favorite."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preliminary sketches

Books by Philip Jamison listed on Amazon 

In his book, "Capturing Nature in Watercolor", Jamison salutes the artists that influenced him, including Winslow HomerEdward HopperOdilon RedonAndrew Wyeth and especially watercolorist W. Emerton Heitland, who was his teacher and mentor in high school. Capturing Nature in Watercolor, generously illustrated with Jamison's paintings, contains information on studio materials and demonstrations of the artist's working methods.

The second book, Making Your Paintings Work (Watson-Guptill, 1987), provides more details on his paintings and pencil drawings. 

Since we are covering composition in my weekly classes, I thought Jamison would be a great example of one who does a considerable amount of preparatory drawing and planning in his watercolor still life's of daisies. 

Classroom set up and demonstrations of 10 to 15 minute loosening up sketches.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From Boren to Bangladesh, Virtually

Last weekend, I indulged my urge for travel and adventure.

In the real world, I drove from my home north of Seattle into the city to sketch with the Urban Sketchers at the new Starbucks Roastery near Capitol Hill in Seattle. I drove around, looking for parking on Boren Ave or anywhere nearby. It was Sunday and the place was jammed!
Virtual Paintout in Bangladesh (twig, ink, watercolor)
The day before, I was on  Mazar Rd. in Dhaka in Bangladesh, thanks to the monthly challenge on Virtual Paintout.
I was definitely in the mood for adventure, so I took out my new Perfect Sketchbook, black ink and a twig from the garden (ala Kian Kiean) and my trusty mini watercolor kit. I sat down in front of my laptop with the Google pegman right there on the intersection and sketched away! The place was MORE than jammed!

I, however, had a somewhat aerial view with a fresh latte by my side, a warm, cozy indoor seat, and nobody looking over my shoulder, asking, "What's happening? Why are all these people out here drawing and sketching?" or worse: "Are you an artist?" :/

Monday, February 23, 2015

USk Seattle at Pike and Melrose

What a group USk Seattle had yesterday at the new Starbucks Roastery on Pike and Melrose! At the end of the session, we filled the sidewalk along the south side of the building with sketchers and their sketches. The number of unique viewpoints, individual style, as well as the obvious high level of accomplishment was astounding. I wish I could have looked over every sketchbook at least one more time.

I arrived about 25 minutes early and couldn't find street parking no matter how many times I circled the block. No wonder! We had approximately 40 people there in our group, not to mention the "regulars" and other Seattle denizens out for a nice Sunday morning cup of coffee and/or breakfast.
Sketches by Michele Cooper-Feb 22, 2015
As I sketched the classic-looking pale green Vespa parked outside the Melrose Apartments, a woman leaned out of her top story window and called out to me: "Are you sketching the Vespa?" "Yes," I answered, "Is it yours?" "No", she replied, "but I was just on the phone with my mother, who's an artist, and I told her-Guess what? Somebody's out on the street sketching the Vespa!" For a time there, I experienced a "New York" kind of moment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seven signs of Spring

These have been in bloom for at least two weeks already!
The calendar says it's February. As long as I can remember, that's included in the winter months in the Pacific NW.

However, every indication seems to be that it is spring! The weather, the temperature, birds, flowers, etc. I saw Flickers gathering nest materials in the back yard last week. My star magnolia looks like it will pop open its little white buds any moment!
You can actually sit out on the patio for lunch!

How about a commitment to drawing and/or painting every day from Sunday to Sunday this week?

Each day, draw a different sign of spring.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Watercolor added to Perfect Sketchbook

Last Thursday I sketched from the car at one of my favorite spots on Camano Island. See Thursday's post for the pen work. 
Today I finally was able to post this, the final result after adding watercolor. I had to use my iPad photo since my laptop isn't working right either with uploading or with my scanner. Color is a bit off.

Update: Monday, Feb 23
1. I found out that the cable company was experiencing difficulties when I was trying to upload photos on Saturday.

2. EXPLORED AGAIN! Wow! Today I see that this one was picked by Explore from my Flickr Photostream. I am very pleased!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Still Life with Shirley

No effort spared, I brought these props to class this week.
This week we had such a great time with still life. Using Shirley Trevena as a contemporary example and Picasso, Cezanne, and the Cubist movement to inspire, I started the class by having everyone draw with twigs.

Although Ch’ng Kiah Kiean has recently been getting a lot of well deserved attention for his twig drawings, I have to say that we used them way back, ahem, several decades ago in a college class I attended.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Car Sketching, Rainy afternoon

The tide was just coming back in as I finished my line work this afternoon. I visited one of my favorite sketching spots on Camano Island after teaching at the gallery. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My two page sketch journal spread from yesterday with ASk

Tri Dee Art Supply is on a corner in downtown Mt. Vernon, across the street from the Co-op Grocery and Deli. Just looking at the two story square brick building from outside, you know it's going to be fun shopping in there.
Thank you, Tri Dee, for my Palomino Blackwing 620 pencil!
I had such a great time, inside the store and out. First, I saw this fabulously colorful umbrella, hanging upside down from the ceiling as a lamp shade. While I sketched it, a woman came in from her walk in the sunny spring weather. She liked it, too. As well as the stack of retro toys and games behind her.

The store owners gave each of us sketchers a Palomino Blackwing 620 pencil, favored by John Steinbeck and others. See the story of the pencil, here. At one time, they were going for $40 a pencil on Ebay.

Outside, on the front sidewalk, was the sandwich board advertising more fun stuff to do here. A tree was all cozied up with a yarn bomb made by an expert. All sorts of colors and patterns decorated it and it was custom fit to the bifurcated tree as it branched out above head height.

The wall mural in the alley is a huge chalkboard, where you can finish the sentence: Before I die I want to:___________________. One person wrote: ......Take over the world with GOATS.
What would you write?