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.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Northwest School and our Newest Urban Sketchers

Every time I sketch in Seattle with the urban sketchers Seattle group I learn something new about our city. Today was an enhancement of that experience because Tina Koyama and I were privileged to share a morning of sketching with Matt Fujimoto and his summer camp students from the Northwest School.
Tina and Matt walking down Pike Street with Northwest School sketchers.
We allowed a peek into our sketch kits while in the classroom. After sharing some more tips ("It doesn't have to be perfect!") and some reminders about the difference between plein air painting and urban sketching ("50 lbs. lighter equipment to carry") we all walked down Pike Street to the corner of Boren and Pike.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Our destination was Plymouth Pillars Park, a lovely little dog friendly green space that gave us all quite enough room to spread out and choose our individual subjects.(Cat friendly, too! There was a tuxedo cat on a leash taking a nice stroll in the park this morning.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Matt helping his students with their sketches.
Tina (in foreground) getting an overview of our fellow sketchers at the park this morning.
The newest Seattle Urban Sketchers share their work.
I truly enjoyed seeing our little corner of the city through the eyes of these 11-15 year old sketchers. They drew everything from people to animals to buildings, signage and more!
My sketch of the Wintonia Hotel, overlayed by decades of city "furniture".
I chose this view of the old Wintonia Hotel, quite an impressive building, even now. It appeared to be loosely basted into the fabric of today's city with power lines, street car lines and signage. The pair of sneakers strung together by their laces and tossed over a power line seemed to put us firmly into the present.
 
The hotel currently serves as low income housing. See how it looked in its heyday in this detailed illustration with horse drawn carriages, "new" touring cars and street cars in front. You might even say that we have always had urban sketchers in Seattle. With this new small group from Northwest School I hope we always will.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Views

Here's a fresh watercolor for Day 11, Summer Views, for the World Watercolor Month challenge.

I feel incredibly fortunate that my husband and I can take a day off and spend it meandering around some of our favorite places. This is the summer view at Bay View State Park, where the tide is exceptionally low right now. The little weather beaten float has its own pedestal of mud and seaweed for a view all the way across the Bay. There's a brisk breeze but the air isn't too cold with a windbreaker on....and it smells so fresh! 7-10-17

I decided to try out my new 6x12 handbook Field Watercolor Journal. It was a generous gift from a student in my spring classes. Skies wet in wet and drybrush techniques are a bit tricky with this paper but watercolor pigment lifts beautifully for highlights.

We are not too far from the Breazeale Interpetive Center, where an art auction will feature one of my watercolors. Proceeds benefit the Padilla Bay


Monday, July 10, 2017

A Blast from the Past in Georgetown

Seattle Urban Sketchers met in the Georgetown neighborhood this morning at the Bank of America (Georgetown branch) parking lot for July's monthly outing. It was the occasion of the 22nd Annual Georgetown Garden Walk.
On my drive towards the sketchers' meet up, I was looking forward to seeing the historical homes and luxurious gardens that the neighborhood had to offer. It was the first time I had been here with USk. Upon arrival, I received a map of the Garden Walk which listed 59 officially numbered options. Where to start?
As a group of us started walking down Carleton Ave S. towards the only known restroom provided, we saw unusual buildings (one with a question mark worked into the pattern of roofing shingles), a plein air painter working in oils, and lots of invitingly shady gardens.
We reached Oxbow Park and I realized I had found my subject, albeit not a garden. The largest cowboy hat in the world and a matching pair of gigantic boots stood proudly at the end of the park, remnants of the 50's. These unique buildings have been lovingly restored and moved here from the gas station they previously occupied. The boots were originally used as the gas station restrooms.

I found a shady spot at the west end of the park where Kathleen was also intrigued by the unusual shaped buildings. As I sketched, Joseph sang Native American songs, played the flute and accompanied himself on the hand drum. Across the street another relic of the '40's and '50's, a classic teardrop trailer, was all set up as a cupcake stand.
At 12:30 we shared our sketches. It was another beautiful summer day spent sketching in Seattle with the urban sketchers.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer Tunes, Hummingbird

Day 9 - Summer Tunes
My Agapanthus are starting to open up and we are getting hummingbirds every afternoon! Warm summer days make me think of B.B. King somehow. Did you know he wrote a song called 
Hummingbird by BB King

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Taking a summer break, Now and Then

I'm combining two day's worth of #WorldWatercolorMonth sketches in one post. Life has been busy!
Day 7 & 8 for World Watercolor Month 
Day 7 - Friday night memories bring me back to the time when my husband and I were dating. We used to go out for pizza and beer on Fridays and maybe even a movie. At the time, this was a relatively economical date to go on! We lived in a smallish town and after a while they knew what our order would be as soon as they saw us walk into the restaurant.

That was then. Now you could feed a family of four on what some people spend at Starbucks every week. We have our own espresso machine at home, which has paid for itself many times over!

Day 8 - I'm not a total Scrooge, however. When Starbucks came out with this yummy looking drink, the Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato, I absolutely had to try it! It looks so delicious and perfect for cooling off on a hot day. Yes, it was good, but I've had one now and I'm satisfied.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

On the Boardwalk, LaConner

Calico Cupboard and south end of the boardwalk. 
From a sleepy little fishing village in winter to a vacation destination, LaConner certainly wakes up in summer. Calico Cupboard has always been a local favorite but, with the new "boardwalk" and its corner location, the line of bakery/restaurant customers sometimes goes halfway down the block.

The boardwalk is not actually made of boards anymore, but a wide aluminum grating. The new waterfront access now encourages people to amble along the back side of shops, boutiques and restaurants on the Main Street. There are always a couple of pickup trucks parked outside. After lunch, or on cloudy days, activity around the boardwalk sometimes slows down long enough for a bakery treat from Calico Cupboard after a quick sketch or two.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Three Berry Summer Trifle

This is no trifling matter. First, you make homemade raspberry jam. Then you spend two days looking for locally baked ladyfingers. I eventually had to substitute pound cake from the bakery, cut it up and toasted it in the oven. Pick up blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Then you make hand whipped cream and finally start building the dessert.
Scratch made dessert and sketches
I have to say that it requires steel clad reserves of self control to maintain a stoic artistic detachment while sketching this project. I am surrounded by sweet, warm oven smells, raspberry and strawberry perfume and bowls piled to the top with fluffy mounds of whipped cream. Aargh! The agony and the ecstasy!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sand & Seashells

Combining "Sand" and "Seashells" from the daily prompt for World Watercolor Month. Ha!
Just kidding around. I'll post my real watercolor later today.
Just a few of the "found" compositions made by the tide and foraging crows and seabirds.
Here's a quick sketch for #WorldWatercolorMonth and an iPhone snapshot. Okay, gotta go. Company coming tomorrow!



Sunday, July 2, 2017

In the Shade

The prompt for day two of world watercolor month is, "in the shade" which couldn't be more appropriate! We are experiencing a beautiful sunny week of perfect 75° summer weather.
Just got back from a trip to the nursery and I'm  going to let these flowers rest in the shade while I have my lunch. I'll come back and add watercolor in a little bit and post the results on Instagram for #WorldWatercolorMonth. Then as the day cools off I'll plant them in the pots waiting for them out on the deck.
This is also a "momentcatchers " weekend. Candace Rardon hosts an online gallery the first weekend of each month for creatives around the world. I shouldn't wonder if this moment is shared by a good number of artists in the summer hemisphere this weekend.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wild and Free

I skewed the first day's prompt a bit for World Watercolor Month to fit my little watercolor and graphite sketch from my North Cascades sketchbook.
As an artist, I've always enjoyed looking for the person behind the brush. You can see pencil marks in the watercolors of my heroes, John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer. For me, it's an added bonus.

I trust you will get something extra from this intimate little sketch, pencil marks, over washes and all.

Friday, June 30, 2017

World Watercolor Month Starts Tomorrow!

Here's the info you need quoted from Charlie O'Shields', the originator of this great summer challenge!

Not sure what to paint for World Watercolor Month or just need some inspiration? Our official prompts for World Watercolor Month 2017 were created by special guest, Angela Fehr! Prompts are entirely optional to participate, of course, simply use the hashtag #WorldWatercolorMonth throughout July anytime you post your watercolor art. But when making 31 watercolors, it’s always good to have a little inspiration, so here you go!

Thanks, Charlie and Angela, for the inspiration!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finished another 2-page spread in my Nature Journal on Periscope

I finally finished another two page spread in my nature journal from the Summer Watercolors in the North Cascades workshop that I taught June 16-18. I was hoping to visit a little with any of the participants who might drop in while I broadcast the demonstration of the deer and hummingbird. See the Flickr album here.

This time I used my iPhone and could see if people were logging on as well as any comments while broadcasting. Here's the finished two page spread after adding some narrative to the live demonstration on Periscope today.
The following photos show each stage of development that lead up to the final result.
The additional watercolors and a few headlines on today's periscope.tv/michelecoopart 
I added pencil sketches of the deer to my 9 minute scope from last Wednesday. 
The page began with details about weather and a quick sketch before lunch of all the tech involved to get my presentation up and running. The presentation turned out great. And right on time!