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. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Candy from a stranger

Would you? Take candy from a stranger? And then follow them to another location out of curiosity?
Sounds like the plot from a horror film. And yet.......
I realize this seems like a lure, but I promise, no malware lurking while I paint something sweet on Periscope today.
That's what happens all the time on social media. A common malady on today's social media is "comment spam". Has this happened to you:

You open your blog and see that you have a new comment or two. As you start reading a compliment about your content, images, etc. you begin to feel gratified that someone has taken the time to communicate their appreciation. Then annoyance and disappointment set in. There are two suspicious links and a request to visit their website for thousands of free followers on your Instagram or blog. It's a little like taking candy from a stranger. Don't click the links in the comments!

Up until now, I have allowed anyone to post their comments here immediately. Recently I have received a few manageable comment spams which I delete as soon as I see them. But to avoid wasted time and energy, I need to be able to manage them effectively.

 Therefore, I am putting a protective measure into place. I will set my comments to moderation. For a short while, you will need to fill in the secret wobbly letters or numbers to prove that you are a real person, not a spam robot. Please take the time to go through this extra step, just for a while until the robots go away.

Your comments matter. There’s no doubt about it. I particularly enjoy reading what you have to say on any particular blog post here.  I want you to feel that my site is a safe place to be. And I want to know what you are thinking. I am energized and invigorated from reading legitimate remarks from real people like you – engaged readers adding thoughtful and insightful discussion to my content.

Don't worry about my links in these blog posts. They are safe. Just don't click links in readers' emails or tempting sales websites in their comments. Meanwhile, you can always comment on my Instagram posts where blocking spammers is easy and there are no problems for readers who want to comment.

Now. Who wants chocolate? What's your favorite candy? Watch my today at 4:30 Pacific Time while I paint a sweet watercolor demonstration.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Yesterday's Drybrush Demo on Periscope

It was fun demonstrating live yesterday afternoon on 

We had people from Camano Island to Seattle to Virginia to New Zealand watching as I shared some tips on drybrush technique in watercolor. If you missed it, you can still watch the replay.

I enjoyed sharing the process of discovery as I played with a granulating, low chroma palette of Daniel Smith colors. For those who asked, the easel I used can be viewed here.

Thanks again for watching!
"Snowline"--Original Watercolor by Michele Cooper (8x10" on Arches 140lb Rough)

I was inspired by this photo from the North Cascads Institute Instagram

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Seasonal Turning Point

The end of November and beginning of December creates a shift in the landscape here in the Pacific Northwest. The North Cascades Pass is now closed until May. Fall colors fade and disappear under new snowfall as the snow line comes down lower into the foothills.  (View and comment on Instragram) Watch live on Periscope at 4:30 today for a watercolor demo of similar scene.

As I sorted through my studio yesterday, I picked up this half sheet watercolor and decided to make a few adjustments. Not a lot, just a few refinements and then signing it. The contrast of soft, rough and hard edges is a challenge to ones watercolor technique, brushwork and timing. Sometimes it takes a while to allow the initial impetus to fade and to see the painting on its own terms.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A sunset series Inspired by color

I painted this sunset live on about an hour ago. I wanted to experiment with some new Daniel Smith watercolors. The colors are listed as the Shirley Trevena set.
Earlier, in my morning class at the gallery, I combined some of the new colors with some of my own in this demonstration.
I think it's a good idea to work in a series as you experiment with new colors, comparing their properties to those of your accustomed pigments.
I never copy a photo reference. It is sadly lacking, compared to the real thing. However, this photo is what inspired my ongoing sunset series.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two new paintings from our UK trip

I painted two watercolors from our recent trip to the UK this past summer. They were offered during my Annual Studio Open House on Saturday.
Village corner, Dobcross original watercolor by Michele Cooper - Available
After the 2016 urban sketchers symposium in the city of Manchester, some local artists offered to show us around a village in the countryside. I was charmed by the village of Dobcross, near Oldham and Uppermill. Having streets with names like Lark Hill Road, ivy covered brick and stone houses and window boxes overflowing with summer flowers, how could you not be enchanted?
"Red Car, Dobcross, UK" original watercolor by Michele Cooper -- sold