Thursday, August 21, 2014

Amanda, five-minute sketch

We were at the market on a very busy weekend day, we were in a workshop being instructed by Gabi Companario, we were given just five minutes to do a live figure study and the time starts now!
This was my 5 minute sketch done on location at Pike Place Market, just inside the flower stalls. Amanda, a fellow workshop participant, was in a hurry and got tangled and twisted with her shoulder bag and jacket. I was struck by the similarities and comparisons of the girl, the bucket of paper wrapped flowers and the column. Sort of a transition of static to lively, masculine to feminine, and all "wrapped" around in a way. 

Since my drawing was only allowed 5 minutes' time, I felt it only fair to do the color in equal time.  It's not meant to be a finished piece, obviously, but I feel I caught the wrapped up quality of the moment. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Response" at Pier 1 in Anacortes

It's all about the tires!
Interesting things happen when you hang around a dock long enough. No, not that! I'm talking about sketching with the Anacortes Sketchers this past Monday.

A typical Pacific NW fishing boat was on its way out as I sketched on the sunny west end of the dock. A "certain aroma" occasionally wafted by. All sorts of leisure craft came in and out of the harbor while the crew washed windows and cleaned the already pristine decks of the "Response", a tanker tug and firefighting vessel. While I was sketching, one of the crew came out and assumed his best "Captain Morgan" pose for a good 5 minutes. No problem. Got it. Little did he know that for me, it's all about the tires! I loved the necklace of huge tires laced around the "Response" as she languished there in the shadows.. How much does just that big tire alone cost? I don't know, but here's what a $42,500 one looks like! 
Sailing Away
Here's what she looked like as I was getting ready to paint the all-important shadows. Arrrghh!
It was kind of cool, though, as she gracefully pirouetted 360 degrees and let us see the entire boat before she sailed away. Her crew can rightfully be proud of her.

Info about the "Response"---Built in 2002, by Marco Shipbuilding of Seattle, Washington (hull #489) as the Response for Crowley Marine of Jacksonville, Florida. She was the first Response class tug built for Crowley Marine. Besides being a tug for seagoing tankers, she is a Class 1 firefighting vessel, capable of throwing over 13,000 gallons of water per minute a distance of 400 feet. Quoted from tugboatinformation dot com.

 Avast me hearties! Steer your vessel to the Port of Anacortes 6th Annual Anacortes Workboat Races and Pirate Faire at Historic Pier 1 on the Guemes Channel in downtown Anacortes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Figure Studies vs. 6-Stroke Figure

If you've been around my blog and/or website for a while, you have probably encountered my tutorial on simple silhouettes, which I call 6-stroke figures. I even have a tutorial page and video on how easy they are to do. They're great for giving scale to a cityscape or adding the human element to a composition.

A 2 page spread from my little DYI pocket sketchbook
While I am recharging my art spirit this summer, sketching all over the place with friends and colleagues, I have decided to kick it up a notch (as Emeril would say) Let's see if I can put a little personality, individuality and expression in the figures I'm adding to the scene. BAM!
I would call these more than a silhouette, but less than a maybe "studies" would be a good term to use. I feel that I did achieve a bit beyond the generic and succeeded in trying to make them as individual as possible.

I guess the guys on the fishing boat are half stroke figures, or maybe just a dot! ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Painters, Loosen Up!

This could keep you busy for a month of Sundays! I grabbed some random supplies from the studio to play around with today. I have some ideas to give you a bit of practice with color mixing, water ratio, pencils vs paints and more!

Watercolor Techniques in a Nutshell!

1. If you're a bit worried about color, start with working out value, the relative light and dark pattern you need for any sketch or painting. Choose three graphite pencils of varying value. Harder ones are lighter and softer ones are darker. Now one at a time, see if you can make the same light, medium and dark values with each one. Practice crosshatching small 1" square sections on a piece of sketch paper. (Copy paper works, too) You'll have to control the pressure, depending on which pencil you use.

2. Now make similar little squares with your watercolor, mixing Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue to get neutral midtones. You'll have to control the amount of water as well as the balance of warm/cool color to get the results you want.

3. Choose three tubes of watercolor, each color intrinsically light, medium or dark. Practice using the paint almost full strength, choosing a subject suited to these three colors and values. Check your results in black and white or grey scale. The above examples are referenced from a previous challenge and show how loose you can really get!

Tip: Have you been drawing lines around things to make them look more realistic? Unless you want "tighter" paintings that look like coloring book pictures, keep it loose. Squint! Draw general shapes lightly with pencil, then paint with a good pointed brush, using value and color to get the definition you desire. Keep detail to a minimum.

About Sunday Painters posts: Especially during this summer, I have been posting weekly inspirations for those of you who like to play around with art at home. These are not meant to be lesson plans or complete exercises, but just a jump start to get you going. Please let me know if these ideas are giving you a little boost to practice on your own. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Mimsy" to be sure

To continue from yesterday's post---It was something of a fantastical morning, painting in the intermittent rain at Gasworks Park and Marina.

"A beautiful pea green boat"
A few of us wound through a narrow wooded path from Gasworks Park to a tiny houseboat marina for the last half of the outing.

And what should I see? A beautiful peagreen boat (house), apparently just sailed back from the sea by the owl and the pussycat! See what looks for all the world like a vintage Evinrude motor attached to the hull? I am told that these are true house BOATS, because they are capable of being navigated out on the water.

Kate posed us for a great group shot at the end of the outing and check the USk Seattle Flikr photo pool for photos of our work (Nice work, Tina and Peggy). Regardless of being a bit damp, we were all proud of ourselves for braving a few little summer showers. I, myself, looked a bit like a borogrove when I took off my hat.

"All mimsy were the borogroves," What is the meaning of the adjective, mimsy? Flimsy and miserable. "When I make a word do a lot of the work like that," Said Humpty-Dumpty, "I always make it pay extra."
A shabby looking bird. "...And a borogrove is a thin, shabby looking bird with its feathers sticking out all around- something like a live mop." - Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carol.

Sketching in the rain can be like that.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Tea Party" at Gasworks Park

Rain was coming down in big, splashy drops as I arrived at the Gasworks Park meet up with USk Seattle this morning. There was a shelter, a restroom and the hope that for once the forecast would be accurate--diminishing rain throughout the morning. I was a bit early, and by the time everyone arrived, we had the rain break we were hoping for. Yay!

I found myself in an "Alice in Wonderland" state of mind. Perhaps memories of visiting the park with my children had something to do with it. I looked up above the main shelter and there was an orange "teapot" for me to draw! I had enough time to put some color on and start with my next subject, the "blue layer cake and sandwich plate caddy". It was in a puddle, just around the corner, below eye level. I had to dash in and out of the shelter now and then for a few details, since we had a few light misty sprinkles of rain.....evidently the "10%" that the forecast reported.

Visit here tomorrow for the tale of the last sketch of the morning. :-) "All mimsy were the borogroves,"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grey Days

"Summer Squall" - Original Watercolor by Michele Cooper

If you've been reading my recent posts, you know I was sorely tempted to go back to Rosabella's, if only to get a look at the famous 5lb. apple pies. Today is one of only three days a week that they are open!

Value Plans - Pencils or Paints
 Then we got quite a bit of rain yesterday and again this morning. It accomplished two things:
  1. I lost interest in driving all the way to Bow in the rain, thereby being saved from encountering the giant apple pie and possibly taking one home.
  2. I was inspired to think about the way wet in wet watercolor loosens up one's approach to sketching, drawing and painting while using a limited palette in the color of the day.
After all my recent line work and summer color, I'm ready to loosen up and simplify the landscape into broad areas of value or tone. These are my two paintings of the day.

"Summer Squall" by Michele Cooper
Original Watercolor - 7x15" - Price: $115

Value Plans - Sketchbook page NFS

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rainy Day Cat Nap

Someone once told me that every cat has two homes: the one where their owners live and the one where they spend all the rest of their time. I believe it.

A cat has been napping, meowing, hanging around and generally acting like our home is hers. We never let her into the house, so she has about 5 or 6 spots around our yard and patio where she takes naps. She goes home at night but the rest of the time she's here. This has been going on for over a decade. We have no idea what her name is or where she really lives. She sneaked into the studio yesterday and stared intently at the bin under the counter. Disconcerting.....and I don't want fleas in the studio. OUT!

We stack our patio cushions on the umbrella table to protect them from rain. That's when this cat enjoys the cushiest of nap times. THAT'S when I have to get a lint roller out for cat hair! And I don't even own a cat. Come on! I have proof that she is quite pleased about the whole thing. While we both hid out from the rain today, I decided to make a watercolor sketch from my view of her out the back door of the studio. Here is her portrait, napping on a stack of our cushions, wearing that self satisfied smile.

"Rainy Day Cat Nap"
Original Watercolor by Michele Cooper
Size: 8x10"  Price: $100

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rosabella's Poppy Patch

Rosabella's Poppy Patch
It was a perfect, sunny, HOT, summer Monday in Skagit County. I promised to post this after adding more color yesterday. (See yesterday's post for more.) I named it for the reason I stopped to sketch. Anyone who knows the location at Rosabella's Garden Bakery will see that I took out the very nice, but too-big-and-in-the-way sign. It was right in the middle of the poppy patch, blocking my view of the road going uphill into the distance.

I wish they had been open yesterday. Here are a few of the things for which they are famous:
(I really wanted a bouquet of those flowers....and at least a look at the 5 lb. apple pies)
  • Rosabella's famous 5-lb apple pies
  • Fresh apple cider donuts - watch them being made
  • Fabulous lunches and pastries from the Bakery
  • Experience hard cider and unique fruit wines
  • Vintage gift shop full of discriminating food & unique gifts
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables in season
  • Rosabella's specialty-cut flower bouquets
  • Great coffee and espresso

"Farm Fresh Eggs" ink sketch on location, Bow, WA
As you see (photo-right), I took a photo of my ink sketch (in the cool, air conditioned front seat of my car, sorry for bad exposure) and got a bit of color on before my sketching buddies arrived. You can see that stage of my sketch in this photo. (I'm the one in the white hat-my sketches are top and bottom left.)

Today the lighting has changed drastically, with lightning storms, possible rain and hot, muggy, overcast skies in the forecast for the next few days. Still, I just might have to go back and see what else I can use for the next page in my sketchbook. Did they say they were open on Thursdays?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Edison Journal

Edison Afternoon
The writing:
"Lavender grows in baskets at the corner of an old red ochre brick building in Edison, WA.
The distant mountains have a purple haze and
A huge stand of green bamboo makes a quiet sound, rustling in the breeze.

At 2 pm the porch light is on at "Hedgerow"
And the sunflowers are going dry."
Michele Cooper - 8/11/14

The sketch: Well, I got all tangled up in the textures and should have quit while I was ahead. I still had a memorable experience in Edison, WA with my sketching friends and I think it's better reflected in the "journal" part of my sketchbook this time.