Saturday, April 14, 2018

April Doodlewash up to Now

Day One-Rainbow
Here's what I have for the first two weeks of #DoodlewashApril2018 and #WorldWatercolorGroup. I'm not sure how to categorize watercolor pencils. 
Bunny rabbit, iced treats, dandelions, french fries, birds, zoo animals, bubble gum, partial Monopoly
I'm not that linear when it comes to the calendar, so a daily prompt helps but then I see the whole page as something to compose and things get juggled around a bit. See the sidebar for the daily prompts.
Olive Oyl, daughter of Coal Oyl, I believe
When we played Monopoly, my Dad was always the top hat and I tried for the sports car. Hated the thimble. The Scotty dog got lost. I think my sister took it.
Birds, Olive Oyl again, the rest of Monopoly, Shredded Wheat breakfast cereal, my favorite toy, pets and cake
I always wanted to know if anybody really did like their Shredded Wheat hot? Why???!! And I always crumbled it up before pouring on the milk because it's way too awkward to eat it whole like they showed on the box. These are things people don't know if they only read the box and never try the cereal. Now I just get the Mini Wheats with sugar already on it. And I saw this most beautiful cake on Instagram a while back and couldn't forget it. *mouth watering. heading for the pantry right now!*

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Perfect Little Vase, Hellebores and Gel Pen Sprouts

I went out to the garden this morning to cut fresh Hellebores for my lovely new antique vase. It was given to me by a dear friend and is the perfect size for my desk in the studio. Who knew that this small task would lead to another surprising discovery in my garden?
Helllebores blooming and Gel Pen Sprouts
I was reaching for a few blossoms to put in my new vase, when a spot of yellow, spring green and orange caught my eye. The Gel Pen Sprouts were already up! The orange one was no doubt dug up earlier  by squirrels, but I could see that the clip was already fully developed.
Fresh Gel Pen Sprouts, cleaned and ready to use.

I love the way these pale green and white hellebores go so perfectly with my new little vase.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Five Minute Sketches, WIP

I assigned Tuesday's watercolor classes a little warm up exercise: Take your sketchbook out for a 5 minute sketch. Use any simple tool you like, pen, pencil, etc. Take 5 minutes to find a subject, 5 minutes to sketch and 5 minutes to return to the classroom and share your sketches. It was raining, so just a few chose to brave the cold damp weather outdoors for 5 minutes. The rest chose to spread out all around the interior of the building, sketching what they saw out the windows. I was so impressed by what they did. I think they even surprised themselves! (Sorry, I didn't take a photo of their sketches.)
My five minute sketches from Tuesday, ready for a touch of color and narrative after breakfast today.
Towards the end of the day, I discovered this ingenious little light well with its own pocket garden, flower pots ready and waiting for spring, and a Tuscan mural to cheer up those looking out from the windows on the opposite wall. I only had time to do the ink sketch, planning to add watercolor pencil and ink wash later.
A light well hides a secret garden.
My 5 minute sketch with the Sharpie Pen after class.
Here's the result of some simple color and ink washes on the secret garden sketch. I have time lapse video demo on my Instagram feed of the color/wash process. See link in right column.
See my Instagram feed @michelecooperart for a time lapse video of process of adding color.
I managed to get a few trophy shots of my other two 5 minute sketches (see below)
Afternoon sketch. Looking straight across the alley at the cracked wall and weathered window on the next building.
I had planned to go outside and was headed for the elevator for my first sketch when an unusual appliance in the parking lot caught my eye out the second floor window.
I have no idea what this is....maybe a refrigeration unit? But what fun to draw!
I started on the right hand side of my Pentalic Aquajournal in the morning, then added sketches in the afternoon and after class.
Tuesday am sketch demo (right side) and pm sketch (left side)
I have a heading, 2nd FLOOR, but still haven't decided what my narrative will be for the rest of this two page spread in my visual journal. I will post it here when it's finished.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Abandoned Art drop Tomorrow, Which One?

Which one should I leave at the Grand Avenue Marketplace?
Here are some examples that I demonstrated for my watercolor classes this week, while encouraging my students to make progress in their watercolor skills by working in a series. They’re all 5x7” hand painted watercolor mixed media greeting cards.
Get your vote in on my Instagram @michelecooperart and then come sketch with Seattle Urban Sketchers from 10-12:30pm. 
I will drop one of these cards sometime during the sketch outing at Grand Avenue Marketplace. Once I’ve abandoned it, I will post a hint on my Instagram feed. I’ll tweet @michelecoopart  Find it and it’s yours!
Details about the outing here on the SeattleUsk blog.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Winter Workshop Day Two

Looking over the Great Wall of Art and final projects on day two.
If every expert was once a beginner, then these beginners will  be experts in no time. Just look at all the work they did this weekend! What a great group!
Congratulations, Krista! You won the drawing!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Introduction to Watercolor workshop day one

Here's the classroom during lunch break after a morning of learning new techniques in watercolor at Kirkland arts Center. We are just  getting started in the Winter Introduction to Watercolor workshop.
Projects at the end of Day One

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Free Kickoff Event at Daniel Smith, Inc on March 3–Join Us!

I am honored to be teaching one of the workshops for beginners. 
For the second year, USk Seattle is taking part in 10x10, the worldwide initiative to offer educational workshops wherever sketchers live. Launched in celebration of Urban Sketchers’ 10th anniversary in 2017, the program brings a variety of courses on urban sketching techniques taught by talented local instructors in their home cities.

All workshops are on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration begins Sunday, March 4, 2018, 9 a.m. The cost is $60 each.
UPDATE: My workshop May 19, 2018 (#8 First Steps into Visual Journaling) is FULL
Wait list taken. Please send your request to , and you will get a response regarding your status on the list. 

A free Program Kickoff Event will be held March 3, 4:30 p.m., at Daniel Smith’s Seattle store. (Although the kickoff is free, registration is required.) Meet the instructors, see their sketchbooks, and learn about the workshops before registering. The kickoff will be followed by an unhosted, informal “drink & draw” at a nearby location, which will be another opportunity to talk with instructors who attend this optional event. Hope to see you there!

Street corner sketch by Michele Cooper 
Please see the Seattle blog for workshop details and registration information. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Snow, trees and the Stillaguamish River

I'm putting my dagger brush to good use in the studio today. Now that most of the residual snow has washed away, I want to preserve some of the winter beauty while the memory is still fresh in my mind. It just so happens that I haven’t done my “trees “ or “river” prompts for February World Watercolor Group Challenge yet. I’m almost all caught up!
The dagger works as a watercolor wash brush, yet has a fine tip for details and fine lines. I let the brush do most of the work. This is about all the preliminary drawing I did. I scanned it darker so it would show up but actually the pencil is very light.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

"Is this a dagger which I see before me?"

I doubt that Macbeth had to feel guilty about killing a good sketch, but that quote came to mind as I prepared to use my "dagger."

The brush with the shorter tuft is called a dagger, a longer one (also made for watercolor) is called a sword and the very long tuft but shorter handle seen above is a dagger striper. I have had the latter for decades. It's usually used by sign painters and car paint detailers for long, thin lines.
Douglas Fir Pine Cones
See my Instagram feed for a quick video of how I use the dagger brush for creating soft edges for snow shadows,
Trying out a new bleed proof disposable fountain pen.
I think my ink started to freeze while sketching out in the cold today, but it was the only viewpoint that I wanted for my pine cone sketch for WorldWatercolorGroup prompts. I'm all out of sinc with the calender now, so I'm just having fun catching up. Three more days to finish the February daily drawing challenge!

How's it going for you?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Snowed in on Sunday!

It’s cold out there 
Just when I was looking forward to sketching in Seattle with USK Seattle, we got 4” of the white stuff over night. Snowed in in February! Winter is not over yet!

UPDATE: I am honored that my sketch has been Explored on Flickr and as of 12:13pm Sunday 2/25/18 has over 8K views!

Looking out the window to see about driving conditions 
The sun came out and so did the birds! Little Junkos hopped all around the seeds we put out for them.
So nice to see sunlight and shadows again. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Beginning Watercolor Workshop

Not sure if watercolor is for you? If you have always wanted to try watercolor but been afraid to, or have tried it and become discouraged, take heart. This workshop will dispel your fears and help you begin to experience painting as an enjoyable and adventurous part of your life.

No need to go out and buy loads of expensive equipment. Pay a nominal lab fee and try everything out for the weekend. (If you used to paint and want a great way to get back into it, you come too!)        

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The fully loaded 2018 Compact Ambulator

My husband brought this home from the second hand store
Looks like this is the answer to making a commitment to fitness for senior citizens and orthopedic surgery rehab patients. Don’t forget to wear your helmet!

Although I wonder how it will fair in light of the new automatic safety features for next year’s model, such as automatic lane departure warning and the emergency sitz pillow airbag.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Short List of Sketching Pens

Last night I decided to see which of my sketching pens were water proof and which were water soluble. Then I wanted to determine which were the right ones for a minimal sketch kit, something that would work for a student just starting out in urban sketching.
Super Bowl Sunday art project 
All the pens listed here wrote well and there was no bleed through or ghosting on the back of the page. My test paper was a pad of 90 lb  Canson XL multimedia.
Waterproof pens  allow you to draw first with the ink and then paint over it with water color without  smearing the ink lines. Water soluble ink pens allow you to draw then selectively wet some of the lines with the water brush, pulling the ink away from the line to create shadows and contours. 
For beginning  sketchers or artists on a budget choose the blue starred pens. Red starred pens can be added when you’re ready. The Uniball Signo white gel pen is water soluble if you want to remove some with a damp brush. It is quite opaque when used over dry dark washes.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Composition, Positive and Negative Space

Paul Brand uses "white space" in his composition to create movement, asymmetrical balance and direction

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Abandoned Art #2 in Hawai’i

Not always, but sometimes I take along a little extra surprise in my sketchbag when I’m on my way to meet up with fellow urban sketchers. Today I decided to abandon this original 5x7” watercolor at the Honolulu Fire Museum while spending the early afternoon sketching with USK O’ahu and my two granddaughters.
Here’s what happened: A visiting sketcher from Australia was working on her sketch of Engine #6 when she spied something on the driver seat!
Averill from Australia found it while sketching the fire engine!
Here’s phow I do it:

  1. Choose a piece of art, original or print, to abandon. Tag it and wrap it.
  2. Post a photo and details of where this will happen on my Instagram feed (follow me to get the latest notifications)
  3. Post a photo on FB Art Abandonment Group page.
  4. Place the free artwork for someone to find, but don’t get caught!
  5. Post a photo of the abandoned art as a hint for the finder, whoever they may be. (Sometimes if a fellow sketcher finds it, they will surprise me by letting me know of their find! Three times the fun!)

More about Art Abandonment here.
More about my process while painting Kawainui Marsh here.
Please read more about our wonderful day with USK O’ahu here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Kawainui Marsh

Had a wonderful afternoon stroll at Kawainui Marsh. Inspired!
I made a value study and 5x7" greeting card preliminary sketch in watercolor. I plan to abandon this art at the Urban Sketchers O'ahu meeting on Saturday.
Just before sunset on the marsh.
I think the pigeon is trying to blend in

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tenting in Hawai'i is not camping

Here's something that you aren't likely to experience in the Pacific NW. 
I had to sketch fast to keep up with this efficient crew
Periodically in tropical climates, a homeowner may have to call in the pest control experts and have the house "tented ". Our son had his home treated for termite control today. 
Fumigation is a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides—or fumigants—to suffocate or poison the pests within. 
Kama'aina Pest Control crew tenting the house
This was our first and only experience with tenting for pest control but the crew and other representatives from were thoroughly professional and easy to work with. They had the entire job finished in no time and made sure everyone knew the safety requirements. 

A Familiar Scenario

Yesterday my husband and I went to Sandy Beach, Oahu, for a little wave watching and for me to do a bit of sketching.
I love sketching on location with line and wash watercolor whether on vacation or just around my neighborhood.  We had beach chairs,  sunscreen and my little travel sketch kit. Then the tropical winter ensued. So even though it’s 76°F on O’ahu, I had to resort to sketching from the mobile studio. (Hmmmph. Seems very familiar to sketching at home.)
Taking advantage of the sunny intervals even though the wind was blowing sand in my eyes.

However, every 15 minutes or so the weather would alternate between bright sunshine and rain squalls. My husband dashed in and out of the car with his beach chair while I sketched in the “mobile studio”, alternately rolling the windows up and down, wipers on and adjusting the AC.

Just as I would step out of the car to fine tune my sketch, another squall would blow up. The salty rain spatter on my preliminary ink sketch didn’t seem to affect the  successive watercolor washes other than to retard the drying time a bit.

Still, it was warm rain and the sun came out eventually. And everything wasn’t gray. 

It was amusing to watch the people with the red umbrellas start out with the pole fully extended, chase the umbrella down the beach three times and finally crouch under it like turtles under a shell.