Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My New Urban Sketching Kit

Inside, All loaded up

I must have at least a dozen sketch kits. In fact, I have posted many of them here on this blog.

It's different, though, if you are going to be in the city and want to blend in. You can't be carrying easels and backpacks with camp stools strapped on when you're in a crowded market, bus, or coffee shop.

Contents of my new Urban Sketch Bag
So I've taken the mini-elements from some of my most compact set ups and I'm trying out this chic, cross body city bag for a few times. I took it all out so you could see what's in there. Zoom for details.

Something exciting happened:
Seattle Urban Sketchers posted my sketches from the SAM-USk workshop here!

My New Smaller Bag
And I was able to maneuver around Pike Place Market and 2nd Ave sketching on that Saturday, while carrying this, the plein air bag that I take on trips and out to the countryside! ....with an umbrella and a camp stool added in, no less! (Thank goodness I left the easel at home.)
Imagine what I could accomplish now with this trim, new urban setup instead! Can't wait for my next urban sketching outing to try it out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A bit of flair

Beautiful colors displayed by the inhabitants of aquariums at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center.
Oh, and a little color and shoe flair by the "two Michele's" in the parking lot.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Completed Sketch Pages

I felt that my quick 20 minute sketch on location yesterday at Ed Epp's garden needed more on the page. Here is how it looked on location. Here is how it looks after bringing it home and doing some more "thinking with my watercolors".
Further exploration of warm and cool reds

I got a better image by scanning the page and tweaking the colors a tiny bit with my watercolors.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Bay View and a Garden View

Here's my sketchbook after the First Annual Sketch Crawl with ASk and others at the Padilla Bay Interpretive Center this afternoon. Most of the photos I took today were with my iPhone, so the resolution or focus may not be so great. I'll try to replace them with better ones soon.
I sometimes write haiku to further express the experience of the moment. See my sketch above right of poppies for an example.

Sunday Painters. Line Up

Okay, guys. Here's an assignment for you Sunday painters:
Speed sketching with an overhead viewpoint. Compose within a small format. Zoom in or zoom out?
  1. Choose a spot outdoors or in the house with lots of natural light.
  2. Use the sidewalk, if outdoors, or spread out a white pillowcase or sheet on the ground. If indoors, use the white pillowcase or sheet of watercolor paper on the floor for your background.
  3. Lay out a row of similar objects. Uneven numbers are best.
  4. Trace the outline of a business card or credit card several times on your sketchbook page or watercolor paper to create frames for your sketches. Orient some of them vertically and some horizontally.
  5. Now, with your subject viewed from above, sketch one group at a time within it's own frame using graphite, ink, markers or line and wash.
  6. Include the cast shadows and highlights.
  7. Give yourself a 5 minute time limit per sketch.
  8. See how many you can do in 30 to 45 minutes. Ready, set, go!
Here are a few ideas to get you started, but please try to work from life instead of photos. What do all these objects have in common? Answer: roundness. 
  • For the best shadows, make it early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • If you finish before the timer, reset and start another sketch. Don't fiddle.
  • If the timer goes off before you're finished, stop. Go on to the next one.
  • Look for variation in your line of objects. Don't assume they are all alike. Embrace the differences!
  •  Repetition with variation is the principle to keep in mind
Challenge: Make a composition of even-numbered objects. As Tim Gunn would say, "Make it work!"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cap Sante - rest of the color added

I'm finally posting the finishing touches on the sketch I did here and wrote a bit about seeing the tall ships in Anacortes.
With watercolor, showing negative space (the space between and behind things) requires intricate painting, wet over dry. If you don't wait long enough, all your new colors bleed into adjoining spaces and spoil the effect. It tries your patience, especially near humid locations like the ocean and harbors.

I challenged myself not to use any "tricks" or aids like masking fluid, wax resist, chalk, gouache, etc. to reserve the whites. This is pure transparent watercolor with graphite sketch drawing. For both of these sketches, I further challenged myself to the use of two brushes and my Tiny Altoids Travel Palette with only 6 colors. The rewards are great, however, when you can see counterchange and alternation in your finished watercolor work.

For the Sketchbook Project 2015
watercolor and graphite on Fabriano Artistico 140#CP
Three page 7"x15" accordion fold-out, each section 5x7"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alternate equipment

In a recent sketch outing with ASk, I decided to try out a few of my pared down urban sketching tools. (I still brought my larger shoulder bag with me this time, though)

Here's my tiny DYI Altoid's set with six colors, water brush, and one #8 round watercolor brush. I used my official sketchbook (rebound with Fabriano 140#CP) which will be for the 2015 Sketchbook Project. In addition I used a Micron pen, sponge, a small #4 round travel brush and a pencil.

Both sketches on this spread were done with just those tools.
Two reasons for leaving this spot:
1. I lost my shade cover on this very hot sunny day. See? There it goes, off the right side of the photo.
2. I started thinking about how close I was to a fire hydrant in an area where people walk their dogs. (Hmm. It's cute, though. Maybe I'll sketch it.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I got to sketch with ASk at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes on Monday. I was attracted to the tall ships at the end of the dock.

My sketch of baggywrinkle
From a distance, all those shapes along the rigging make it seem as though there is a colossal rat problem on the Hawaiian Chieftain. As I got closer (zoom in to ship's rigging) I thought maybe they were sponges. After talking to two girls on the crew, I learned they are handmade from rope and called "baggywrinkle". Hehe, that name just makes me chuckle. (Plural is the same, as in deer", they said) Their purpose is to prevent chafing of the sails against the rigging.

The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain have set a visit for Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes July 9-27, which will include public tours and public sailings.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cap Sante Marina with ASk

Met with Anacortes sketchers today at the Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. Right away I noticed the masts, flags and rigging of two tall ships.
Hawaiian Chieftain now joins Lady Washington, the Official Ship of the State of Washington, in educational cruises and ambassadorial visits along the west coast throughout the year.

My shady spot disappeared at the point where I was adding color to my sketch of the distant rigging of Lady Washington. Even so, I needed to let background washes dry before adding darks and details.
So Joyce and I walked down to see the ship up close. I found out the name of the boat blocking my view of the entire profile....Zorro. :-/

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Painters Origami Project

Origami Business Card Holder
It seems like I never have my business cards with me when I'm out painting or sketching. I have a whole box of business cards in the studio at home, but I need something to carry a few. So I end up grabbing some, putting a rubber band around them and stuffing them into my bag. Usually, the ones on the outside get ruined, or the rubber band breaks and they all get mixed up with other things in the bottom of the bag. Waste!
I have purchased those plastic holders before, but I need one for every bag I have. There must be some way that I can create my own unlimited supply of card holders without special scissors, glue or fasteners. The answer? Origami!

Oh, I know! You hear the word "origami" and your eyes roll back into your head, drool starts from the corner of your mouth and you feel like eating a whole box of chocolates.

Maybe you should have a cup of tea first, just to calm you down.
Follow the EASY directions here and you will be excited about accomplishing the simplest and easiest project you've ever done.
See? Even I can do it!