Sunday, February 5, 2017

Group Reportage from Manchester Symposium, Inside and Out

Since I won't be able to be there for our group reportage Seattle 10x10 USK workshop, June 17, I've decided to organize my sketches and post some thoughts from my experience at Marc Taro Holmes' symposium workshop last July. Finally!
Perhaps this will give those of you considering the Seattle version an idea of how it works. (We do have a few modifications to the procedure, timing, etc. for Seattle, so read the program for details.)
Knowing how much information Marc Holmes imparts in any one workshop, I had a clipboard and stack of laser jet paper as well as my usual sketchbook, pens, clips and other supplies. I'm glad I brought an adhesive tape runner so I could attach one of the card prompts he gave us.
We walked over to a plaza across the street from the museum where Marc gave us an overview of the workshop with examples and a demonstration.Then we went out to tackle our first assignment.
We no sooner began our 1 minute, 5 minute and 15 minute sketch drills than it started raining in earnest. We dashed in and out of the small lobby nearby between sketches. We shouldn't have complained. Take a look at the poor "Holme-less" students in another location that morning with Liz Steel!
The unrelenting rain forced us into the museum, where we met in a top floor room. Marc dealt out two decks of his cards, face down on the table and we all picked one for the first assignment. Then it was down the wooden staircase, card in hand, in search of a subject to sketch.
I found a display case with incredibly detailed hand sewn dolls by Jane Livesy, inspired by "things with antennae". Her pencil sketches, hand stitching and carefully selected fabrics showed a meticulous depth of research into her subject. She inspired me to find things with antennae for the first part of my reportage assignment. The assignment was based on this clipped on card from Holmes' set.
         Butterflies have antennae! So it's down a flight of stairs to capture them. I admit I found it challenging to apply the concept of the prompt and opted for basic overhead views. While running up and down the Victorian staircases, time ran out before I could even get started on the bees.
Today, I've cut down the laser jet paper to fit my Pentalic Aqua Journal and attached it and other ephemera using a permanent adhesive tape runner.
Sharing final results after round 2
It was raining so hard that I made my second sketch looking out a ground floor window at a huge monolith in a rear courtyard. Included in the photo is my prompt from Marc's set of cards, clipped to the board. Here, we are just beginning to share all our results from the group reportage. (Crummy exposure on this photo, though)
My Bee Collection Sketch
I found that many of the students needed first round and sharing after to get a grasp of how this group reportage works. I liked the fact that when we shared our sketches, we would see an entire composite of the site, not 15 views of the front of the building, or some other scene that most of us might choose to sketch on our own. The final share in Manchester was awesome! Thanks so much, Marc, for the education and  inspiration. Bravo for keeping everything going despite the weather!

Because bees are such a symbolic icon for Manchester, I really wanted to sketch them while visiting the city. I had to wait for another opportunity and the next day I finally found a small collection of bees in a drawer in the museum's children's activities room.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rainy Days and Memories

Thursday was Groundhog Day. For most people in the USA, it's a 131-year-old tradition, when the most famous groundhog -- Punxsutawney Phil -- emerged from his burrow at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Thursday and saw his shadow, which, according to legend, means six more weeks of winter. 

Yesterday, February 3, was my parents' wedding anniversary. Now that they are gone, the date always brings up bittersweet memories.

So it's appropriate for me that today is my day to participate in a monthly online sketch project called #momentcatchers. I've been housebound with the seasonal cough, cold, fever lately. (Strike three!) I'm in the studio, puttering around and as I look out at the cold, grey, rainy afternoon, a touch of green in a dormant flower pot catches my eye........and our little hedgehog boot brush by the back door. Voila! I can catch this moment in my humble little sketch to express all the memories, a bit of ennui, and a hopeful sigh of optimism that Punxsutawney Phil's prediction might be off this year. Ahhhhh! Art is therapeutic. 

I stood inside the warm, cozy studio to sketch my take on the view by the back door, the weather, the season and my impatience with this irksome seasonal cold. Spring can't come too soon!

Friday, February 3, 2017

UPDATE! Classes added to Seattle USk 10x10 Workshops

The response has been phenomenal to our upcoming USk Seattle 10x10 Workshops! Thank you so much, sketchers!

All of our classes are full and registration requests keep coming. In response to that, we have added classes so that those on the extensive wait list will not miss out.

My original workshop runs from 9:00am-12:00 noon on May 20.
There is now an additional class the same day from 2:00-5:00pm at the same location.

I know that May seems a long way off, but the list for the second class is already starting to fill up. So please register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Materials list will be sent once your registration is confirmed.
Class 8 - Visual Journaling: Sketching a Montage - Michele Cooper
May 20, 2017
Location: Starbucks Roastery at Melrose and Pike
Two sessions:
A. 9:00am-12:00 noon
B. 2:00pm-5:00

Registration and more information on all the workshops

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bumpers, Buoys and a Boat Named Larry

One of the most beautiful and subject-laden locations for a sketcher in Seattle is the Center for Wooden Boats on south Lake Union.

After a long cold snap, with freezing temperatures in the 20's and low 30's, our weather turned a bit more merciful. I wanted an opportunity to see the new building at the Center for Wooden Boats, as well as do a few sketches in the sunny winter air. Well, 47 degrees F isn't quite as toasty as you might think, especially out on the docks at Lake Union Park.

The good thing about visiting the center, even when closed on a Tuesday in January, is that there aren't as many people there as on a sunny summer afternoon. Parking was easy, close by and gave me a warm car for refuge from the cold. No matter when you go, however, there are just so many subjects for the photographer or the painter/sketcher.

When I first arrived, the familiar pavilion stood out, with its Native American carvings both inside and out. Looking down from the ramp, I saw the perfect image of a Haida canoe, reflected in the rippling waters of Lake Union.

It was a day of unusual names: I met a bearded fellow whose name is Jessica. He helps with the carving in the Pavilion. The Native American carver and artist in residence is named Saaduuts Peele and there's a boat named "Larry". The type of sky we had is referred to as a "mackerel sky" because the clouds are shaped like fish scales.
I've saved some room for information about the bird carving. I will fill it in later.
I do know some of the more common names for things like life rings, bumpers and buoys. I had fun drawing the shapes and shadows of these buoyant objects as the afternoon sun lit them up.

I am hoping for an answer to my email to Saaduuts regarding the bird carving. My guess is that it is an eagle or an owl with a salmon in its talons, but there is much I would like to learn about the meaning of various elements on it. What is the significance of the drawing on its wing? Will there be another like it on the other wing? Is it meant to be the top of a story pole? Does it have a name? Once I have the answers, I will record more information in the empty space on my sketch.

Note: The Center for Wooden Boats is the 10th and final location for the upcoming new series of USk Seattle Workshops. Come to Daniel Smith, Inc. on Saturday, January 28 from 11-1:30 for a presentation of the the workshops and meet the instructors.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Workshop Announcement--Explore our city of Seattle

Urban sketching is a way to combine drawing and writing. We cultivate the ability to be in the moment while standing apart as an observer. Not only do we record our drawings, thoughts, and observations for ourselves, we then post them online to share with everyone. Our motto is "See the world one sketch at a time".

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Urban Sketchers, an unprecedented program of one day workshops is being offered in major cities worldwide. Each city will offer ten workshops by ten of the area's artist instructors.
I am honored to be among Seattle's USk instructors.

Come to Daniel Smith, Inc, in Seattle on Saturday, January 28, to meet all the instructors and a free preview.
11:00am to 1:30 pm
Join me on May 20 for my workshop on Visual Journaling, see details below

Registration and more information on all the workshops

Class 8 - Visual Journaling: Sketching a Montage - Michele Cooper
May 20, 2017
Two sessions:
A. 9:00am-12:00 noon
B. 2:00pm-5:00
Location: Starbucks Roastery at Melrose and Pike

Workshop Description
Sometimes the sketch location is more than a street view. It's often a collection of happenings; the sounds, the scents, the people, the weather and incidental details. There's much to explore: Melrose market, Starbucks Roastery building interior and exterior, Six Arms Pub, surrounding street views and signage. In this workshop you will learn how to combine drawing, writing, lettering and ephemera to capture your experience while on location.

During this workshop you will learn:
  • four basic layouts for composing the page
  • easy lettering tricks for headlines and narrative
  • how to make simple figures in just six brushstrokes 
  • how to combine multiple sketches with narrative and turn your observations into reportage. 
You will use/practice/refine these new skills in guided exercises on location.
Instructor will bring several examples of her sketchbooks in a variety of formats for inspiration and reference.

Transportation to Workshop Location: 
Melrose and Pike, Starbucks Roastery

Our location is the lively Melrose neighborhood on Capital Hill, just a 4 minute walk from Seattle Central College or 5 minutes on foot from the Washington State Convention Center.

For those visiting from out of town, you can easily get there on foot or by car, bus, uber or taxi. Check out this trip from Pike Place Market to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery - 1124 Pike St, Seattle, WA on @rome2rio:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Capturing the Moment at Sea Life Park

We spent a lovely day at Sea Life Park on Saturday. What a great place to take two little girls, ages 3 and 7. 
I had a comfortable seat in the covered area of the bleachers at the Dolphin  Show. Good thing! Not just to protect us from the sun, but also a sudden change in the weather! On the horizon, you can see the huge bank of a rain squall coming toward us. I was able to keep the rain off my sketchbook but there was so much salt spray in the air that my sky washes went their own way!

As an urban sketcher, I take my sketchbook everywhere to record, report and to capture the moment. After returning home, however, I learned of a new online challenge using #momentcatchers on Instagram and Facebook. 

Here's what Candace Rose Rardon has to say about her new online project for 2017.
 "Over the past few years, I’ve taken part in several “sketch crawls” organized by the wonderful Urban Sketchers organization.  The premise of a sketch crawl is simple: A group of sketch artists meets up in a city, spends a couple of hours sketching, and then comes together at the end to share their sketches with each other.
My vision for the Moment Catchers Project is similar, except we’ll sketch on our own wherever we happen to be in the world, and then connect through social media to share our sketches with one another." See more about this project at
I hope I'm not too late to post this one for January, Candace!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Evening Sketching at Kahala Mall

While visiting family on the island of O'ahu, Hawaii, I get to enjoy lots of experiences that are unique to this beautiful tropical paradise. This year I had a rare opportunity to sketch with my 7 year old granddaughter along with USk O'ahu. We met at 6pm tonight.
Leila's sketch of fruit bins, Kadomatsu and a customer at the entrance of Kahala Whole Foods.
We met at the north entrance to Whole Foods Market where Leila and I got a head start on the display of Kadomatsu. These are traditional Japanese New Year's decorations made of bamboo, pine branches and tied with rope. A pair of them are usually placed on either side of the entrance of a home between Christmas and January 7. Kadomatsu means "gate pine" in Japanese. Click here for more information on this tradition. 
Inside Whole Foods, there was a plethora of subjects from which to choose. Sebastian appeared at a table outside between sketches and inside I made a makeshift table of some wine boxes while juggling sketch materials and tiny "bears" filled with locally harvested honey. Kristie, an employee, came over to learn more about urban sketchers. She got a business card from Harald and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek as she left for her break. All too soon it was time to share our sketches and say farewell.
On my way through the check out stand I picked up a small bottle of organic "Ocean" vodka made on Mauii and a tiny brown shopping bag (used to hold a Whole Foods gift card) I added these, a bit of lettering and some narrative to finish off my sketch spread. Here's the result:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Windy Day at Kalama Beach

12.24.16 It was a very windy day at Kalama Beach on O'ahu with the family. We had a view of the "Mokes", two islands off Lanikai Point. The windsurfers and kiteboarders were having a great time while swimmers and body surfers watched from the choppy surf closer to shore.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kekaulike Mall with USK Oahu

When you have blue skies, warm breezes, palm trees and a bustling market square in Chinatown, it begs to be sketched. A few of the USk Oahu sketchers were kind enough to meet with me on Saturday afternoon for an impromptu outing at Kekaulike Mall in downtown Honolulu.
Here's my finished spread with my cool new USk Oahu fridge magnet from AJ! Thanks, AJ!
Check out more photos by Sebastian and our sketches on Flickr!
We met at the intersection of Kekaulike and North King St at 1:30, exchanged sketching stories, browsed each other's sketchbooks and realized we should probably get busy! That's Sebastian, Harald and A.J. (above) making the most of the hour of intense sketching we did during our visit to Kekaulike Mall. Sebastian wore an official orange USk Oahu tee shirt for easy recognition.
We felt that we could have spent a lifetime there, but accomplished a decent start in our sketchbooks. As we shared our sketches, we promised to get together again in early January for another outing. 
I liked the way the bananas are hung on a rail above boxes of fresh produce. It's illuminating to take the time to read the produce signs, even if you can't read the part written in Chinese. There are so many new and interesting subjects here: a rainbow display of shiny plastic housewares, a variety of brooms made in all sizes, shapes and materials and a gigantic durian which was mercifully intact! I  had to go back for another go at the sketches I started, finishing up some text and adding color.

A bit of history about our location: Much of Chinatown in Honolulu was rebuilt at the turn of the century after two fires. In the 1980s the city developed both Maunakea Marketplace and Kekaulike Mall to draw in commercial ventures. Along with O`ahu Marketplace, these centers teem with immigrant entrepreneurs selling fresh produce, seafood, clothing and household items.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Beach panorama

Here you go, all those wearing warm socks, indoors with a blanket by the fireplace. 
I posted a video on Instagram showing step by step progression.