Saturday, September 9, 2017

After the Rain

Finally! After more than 50 days without rain, forest fires and smoky, hazy air with ashes from forest fires falling on our heads, we had measurable rain for a few hours today. What a relief!
The fields still look dry with our new record for most consecutive days without measurable precipitation (55 straight), the city’s combined rainfall tally the past two months of just 0.02 inches ties 1914 for the driest July-August on record.
I hopped into the "mobile studio" and drove to a spot across the road from an old barn, shoulder deep in dry grass and right on the flight path to the municipal airport. Here's my initial pencil line work, just one, in my Pentalic Aquajournal and my watercolor set up, using the new color dots from QoR, one of our generous sponsors from the Chicago Urbansketchers Symposium.
Here's my mobile studio setup, trying out the little QoR sample palette.

Rain at last! Some like it, some don't.

It finally rained after 55 straight days of dry weather. You tend to forget a few things about taking sunshine for granted:
  1. No matter how diligently you water your plants, they don't appreciate it as much as even a few drops of rain. (That's "Knucklehead" the potted pumpkin. Look at those big leaves reaching for the raindrops!)
  2. Not a good idea to  use water soluble ink, even if you're sketching under the eaves on a dry patch of the sidewalk. Instant specks!
  3. A cat can forget that its secret nap lair leaks in the rain.
Our neighbor cat emerged from her secret nap lair, VERY disgruntled and soaking wet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chicago Symposium, Day 1

That's me in a black top next to the bench, taking a panoramic photo of our huge group on our way to the first Sketch Walk at the USK 8th Annual Symposium 2017. We walked up Michigan Avenue to the South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago. Eventually the approximately 200 sketchers strung out for three blocks and through several stoplights.
This was the sketch walk gathering point outside of the symposium venue on the first morning. Thanks to the volunteers who guided us to the best sketching spots in the city.  None of these photos can truly express the impact of  the entire crowd of around 200 sketchers walking together along the streets of  Chicago, stopping for a while to see the world one sketch at a time..
The reflecting pool and fountain at the south garden of the Chicago Art Institute was a tempting spot to try to stay cool while sketching an inspiring subject.

I decided to go on ahead of the group to the north garden of the Institute, our second stop on the sketchwalk. It's a smaller space and even without the fountain, provided a nice shady spot with benches, tables and chairs perfect for sketching. Outdoor sculpture, like Alexander Calder’s Flying Dragon, is carefully sited. I always enjoy viewing from different angles and chose this north facing profile because it seemed not at all like a dragon, but like some exotic tropical bloom, repeating the shapes of the surrounding foliage and other plantings.
Yesterday morning we went out on our own to see the Buckingham Fountain. Even at 8:00 am, it was hot enough out in the sun to appreciate the cooling windblown mist off the edge of the fountain.
Buckingham Fountain with Chicago skyline. 7/25/17

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Getting Wet, Day 23

Okay so I actually painted this one the day we were supposed to! Wait! No! I'm two days late!

We're in Chicago for a visit with family and to attend the 8th Annual Urban Sketchers Symposium. This is the Buckingham Fountain, straight out the front door and across the park from our hotel.
Well, this month is crazy busy and I feel as though summer is slipping through by fingers, literally!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer colors

Day 22 - summer colors 
Nothing says summer like an ice cold slice of watermelon! That red, juicy color is so much fun to paint in watercolor!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 21, Wind in the Trees

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Wind in the trees, Day 21 for #worldwatercolormonth I just wanted you to hear them whispering in the wind. 
Wind in the Trees

These are the trees I planted 40 years ago with our children. Squirrels scamper up and down the trunks and a hawk uses the tallest ones as a lookout. Hummingbirds rest on the twigs, looking over my garden for something to sip. Here's a link to my 11 second video.

As usual, I am playing fast and loose with the "daily" prompts for WorldWatercolorMonth. I acutally just finished painting this today! 7/23/2017"Getting Wet"--I see there's still time, so I might find a way to add that one in as well. :)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Skies

Front seat sketching, on location and out of the wind. 
We are so used to dramatic skies here in the Pacific NW that it's been a challenge to be inspired with plain old boring blue skies for the past month. Even though I painted this watercolor to fulfill the Day 5 challenge for World Watercolor Month, I actually had to wait for day 20 before being inspired.
It finally did rain a little today. I drove about 5 minutes from home to park at a soccer field where a perfectly inspirational summer sky was waiting to be painted. Without any preliminary drawing I used my #10 Escoda travel brush and Prima watercolor set on 140lb Fabriano Artistico CP watercolor paper.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Piggybacking on a Piggybank

We made a quick exit from lazing around at home to join our son and his family at Pike Place Market yesterday. I had a handmade DIY sketchbook in my bag just in case!

However, I never really count on having enough time to do any sketching when out and about with family and friends who don't draw.
To me, family time is so valuable, I wouldn't want to isolate myself for any long period of time while everyone else is visiting. So here's a couple of rough (really rough!)10 minute sketches from our afternoon at the new Market Front at Pike Place Market.
It's amusing to see how determined kids are, trying to get on Billie the Piggybank. They usually end up clinging onto the slippery bronze statue piggyback style. One of the best views of the Seattle skyline looking south can be seen from the outdoor area near the Desimone Bridge. I did manage to rough in the Great Wheel, the stadiums, the viaduct and even Mt. Rainier!

It really was a beautiful summer day to be out in Seattle.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Family afternoon at Pike Place Market

We have out of town family here for an extended visit so when they asked if we wanted to go to Pike Place Market this afternoon, we agreed. We hadn't yet had an opportunity to see the new MarketFront in person. We parked on the north end of the market. As we walked down the street towards the market, I had to get a shot of this!
A passerby stood for a long time at the front end of the car looking at the false eyelashes on the headlights and reading something."Excessories" was spelled out in a mosaic of beads on the rear passenger door.  Compared to the handbags, rows of sunglasses, boots, beads, and shoes plastered all over the car I was struck by the little Smart car in all its minimal simplicity nearby. 
I guess the leash law includes tourist pigs who come to see "Billie the Piggybank" as she sits in a new spot at the Market Front. A large group of Seattle urban sketchers were just around the corner, participants in a workshop with Kia Keane and Melanie Reim. See #uskseattle for photos of the event.
The new terrace gives us a great view and the afternoon sun casts a glow on our son and his family.
What would a trip to the market be without sensory input from the flower stalls? 
Easy traffic on Old Hwy 99 got us here in time to watch the sunset at Gardner Bay.
I love this spot for viewing the sunset. I am amazed at how many beautiful paintings there are in a single sunset. There's a new one about every 20 minutes. I'm counting this for Day 12 of World Watercolor Month-Golden Evenings. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day 13 - Popsicles

These are all my favorite flavors. It was a special treat to buy Popsicles when we were little. With 6 children in the family and very hot summers in Eastern Washington, you would have had to own  a franchise to keep up with the rate of consumption we would have achieved. 

My Mom kept the sticks from store bought Popsicles, washed them in hot soapy water, then used them in homemade "popsicles". No fancy popsicle freezer forms for us! We made them in squares from Kool Aid in aluminum ice cube trays. At the time, my favorite flavor was grape.