Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three page spread finished-Jennings Park

For the past three days, I have been sketching at the WSU Extension Master Garden at Jennings Park. It's been so hot in the afternoons, I'm going this morning when it's cooler to see if the light works for me. I'll let you know when I get back.

This 7x15" spread is part of my 2015 Sketchbook Project

Okay, I'm back! It was so much cooler being in the garden around 10:30 am rather than after 2 pm in the afternoon. Once I finished my sketches of summer squash, I found a lovely picnic table in a shady arbor on the north side of Jennings barn. That's where I finished the journal writing and painted my sketch of the little Altoids mini palette. See how you can make one of your very own here.  All the watercolors on these pages were done with only 6 colors, pen and pencil. (When I got back to my car, the gauge said it was 92°F out in the parking lot. Thankfully, it cooled down to 84°F on the way home.

Jennings Memorial Park is a treasure and has come such a long way since we took our children there in the 1970/80's. Tonight, there will be a free outdoor concert in the Lions Centennial Pavilion. They now have free Saturday movies outdoors in the summer, too!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day two of a three day project-the cottage

Jennings Park, Marysville, the Master Gardeners' Project
Well, I thought it would be a two day project, but since I started the whole thing late in the afternoon, I guess I have to work on this one more day. Too much sun and too late to do it today. Everything I planned to include is in this part of the sketch, but then I saw some squash blossoms on my way out today. So I'll give this place one more afternoon to furnish me with the rest of the inspiration.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The start of a two day Project-The Sunflowers

Master Garden at Jennings Park, Marysville
This is the left side of a tri-fold accordion section for my 2015 sketchbook project. I'm busy with other things today, but the weather looks good for tomorrow. I'll come back then and work some more on the rest of the composition. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A beautiful day sketching at Lavender Wind Farm

My sketch with a view across the Salish Sea

I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon sketching with the Anacortes Sketchers and Whidbey Island Sketchers at the Lavender Wind Farm outside Coupeville today. It was the best possible weather and the most stunning location. There was so much from which to choose: the shop, with its copper still, the gardens of cut flowers, the maze garden, wreath makers, lavender cutters, visitors touring the garden, the artists at work, the drying room, the koi pond, the panoramic views....!

The driftwood sculpture says it all - JOY!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday painters-Found Still life

"Found still life" usually refers to a composition that you come upon by accident.

I had just finished with my lunch of an avocado with lime and casually put the unused part of the lime up into my kitchen window. Walking away, I glanced back and saw a very good composition. Without rearranging anything, I wondered what it would look like if I brought a chair into the kitchen and sat down to sketch. As I lowered my eye level, the composition got even better. It just so happens that this is getting north light.
Sometimes, everything just works!

Why not try a found still life today? I'm sure there's one just around the corner waiting to be discovered. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Mini Watercolor system

I forgot to post this the other day. But I still plan to put more things on the page, so when I do I will post again.
I am making everything small enough to fit into my compact "urban sketch" bag. This is a section I cut off a sponge, and a tiny travel size hair spray bottle filled with clear water inside the cap from a cosmetic bottle.   (It's a lot more fun to sketch these than it is to snap a photo!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seattle USk at Lake Union Houseboats

My two pages of sketches for the day

Photo Credit: MKBuike, Red Harp Photography
Here I am (blue jacket, white hat) on the dock outside Mary Lou and Sam's houseboat with Seattle Urban sketchers Peggy, Frank and Jess. See the Seattle USk blog for more photos of the day's outing. BTW, that's my new pared down urban sketch kit on my lap. It worked great this first time around!

An extra treat: Sam took some of us out afterwards on a cruise around the lake in his Lear boat, the "Plug N Play".
A view from Sam's boat
We saw another whole aspect of the houseboat community from the marine viewpoint.
Thank you, Mary Lou and Sam for your generous hospitality.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sharing Our Work at Breazeale Interpretive Center

See my previous posts and more accounts of this wonderful experience:
Sketching Bay View, Anacortes Sketchers
Ed views sketches of his garden

"You touch the wet paper like this....see what happens?"

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.
Update: My tiny water container and spray bottle were still in the bag! These are the missing elements. :)

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!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Checking out our own sketchbooks

Jennifer, Tina, Michele and Judy
We made it! Judy Gowdy and I got to the Sketchbook project around 1pm today. I drove from Marysville and Judy from Bellevue. We met Tina Koyama, of USk Seattle, who walked up from Pioneer Square after sketching with the ad hoc group this morning. Tina is lightning fast, and posted her account way ahead of me. :) (see link with her name)

We also met someone new, Jennifer Smith, an artist with a studio at Inscape Arts, the former INS building. She walked over to see what the Sketchbook Project was all about and struck up a conversation with us.
Here we are with our own sketchbooks that we all checked out, plus a random one apiece. We found a nice bench in the shade and traded them around. That way we got to see 8 sketchbooks! Jennifer's were chosen by the librarian, since she doesn't have a book in the project yet.

We would have gotten more books, but the check-out system is a bit challenging. So if you get over there before it ends tomorrow, give yourself a generous amount of time.

One book, that Judy got, was from a New York artist who illustrated the history of the handbag. The sketchbook was beautifully hand bound, with 3-D attachments and patterns for the construction of classic handbags on some of  the pages. At the end, there were tiny drawings of over a dozen classic bags, all in gold ink! Artists are phenomenal, aren't they?

PS I didn't see the food truck today, but I did see a school bus.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Speaking of Urban Figures

Speaking of urban figures, at least two of my Seattle students visited the Sketchbook Project Tour on its first day at the downtown Seattle Public Library. I got a fabulous report from Susie Rogers, who was there with Jean. She even made a sketch! These are her sketches.
Sketches by Susie Rogers
Here's an excerpt of  her report:

Hi Michele!  Jean and I went to the Sketchbook Project today. It was their first day of using a new computer system for checking out the books and they were having some trouble. It will be helpful if you bring a copy of your sketchbook's UPC code with you.

We saw lots of fun sketchbooks and I wish that we had more time to browse. They had to shut down early at three because of their location on 4th avenue. We went to the "lecture" which was held at 1pm on the 4th floor.  . . .they did give us $10 gift certificates to Daniel Smith!
Jean and I did a little sketching afterwards and a library employee came by and took a photo of me sketching the mobile library to use on their Twitter feed.  Ha!
The heat wasn't bad at all, since it's pretty shady downtown.  We got down there around 12:45 and left at 3.  There were quite a few people, but according to an Urban Sketcher that we met, their whole group is coming tomorrow after they sketch at Pike Place Market- so it might be more crowded!  The library could have brought out more tables and chairs- they just had one!  I didn't realize that the food truck was a special addition for this event.  We already ate lunch before we left.

Have fun tomorrow!

Encyclopedia of urban figures

On a recent sketching trip to Pt. Townsend, I took quite a few photos with my camera. The ones I took with my cell phone are so much easier to access because I don't have to take out an SD card and transfer them to my laptop.

So I finally got to review the ones on the camera. What do you know! I have captured the "encyclopedia of urban figures"! Just about every example of people walking in town is in this one shot: distant figures, near figures, mid-range, singles, couples, sitting, all ages, variety of overlapping and separation, with jackets, vests, shirts, dark top/light bottom, dark bottom/light top, light to dark local values, with and without hair, variety of stride and foot positions, etc.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Sketchbook Projects Then and Now

The Seattle Times wrote an article about The Sketchbook Project in 2011.  I was thrilled, since it was the first time the tour came to Seattle and the first time that I had entered.

With promises of drinks and nibbles afterwards, I dragged my husband, sister and brother-in-law with me all the way downtown to see my contribution. We waited outside in a line that went down the block and around the corner. I remember seeing a mother and her 8 year old daughter sitting outside on the stone windowsills of the building, smiling and reading each other's sketchbooks.
Accordion spread from 2011 Sketchbook.
Note: I rebind my sketchbook with 140lb. watercolor paper, because it better suits my way of working than the thinner paper that comes with it. I also use a few accordion folds to make it less bulky at the binding and to extend the pages out further when the subject calls for it. Good for my style, not so much for the way they digitize the pages. So not all my pages are visible online. I hope someday they will discover how the flaps might fit their format. Guess you'll just have to visit the Library or Mobile Tour to see the missing images!

A spread that stayed folded up in the 2014 digitized version.

Come to the Mobile Tour in Seattle July 10, 11 & 12 at the Seattle Public Library and check it out! More info.
You can see my projects digitized at Sketchbook Project here.

PS. I wasn't planning to, but I signed up for the 2015 Project, since it's coming back here to Seattle on Tour. It could contain a lot more street scenes if  I can include some of the sketches I am doing with the USk Seattle and ASk.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

See the Sketchbook Project in Seattle with us on Friday

Remember the highly encouraging suggestion I gave during watercolor class last year about joining the Sketchbook Project 2014? :) Did you do it?

Get ready to see the results! Judy Gowdy and I plan to visit the Mobile Library Tour at the downtown Seattle Public Library, on Friday, July 11, at 1pm. The Mobile Library (and a food truck) will be parked on 4th Ave. It will be open from noon to 4pm.

Update: I just discovered that if you are planning a visit to Brooklyn Art Library or one of the Mobile Library events, you may use the Digital Library’s ‘Queue’ function to start your own list of books that you want to check out in person.

The library is running a related program from 1-2pm on the 4th floor, with materials provided by Daniel Smith. It's all three days of the tour, July 10, 11 and 12.

Tina Koyama, of Urban Sketchers Seattle, and I thought it would be fun to meet up, check out our own sketchbooks and get our pictures with them. If you plan to meet us there, please let me know!

Even if you aren't able to join us, let us know your name, city and theme of your sketchbook so that we can check it out! (You can put that information in the comments below or email them to me.) We don't want to miss anyone.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Easy, Icy, Ahhhhh!

It's a hot day here at the Pacific NW Studio. Though, strictly speaking I am actually in the outdoor studio, on our shady deck, sketching. Here's a photo of how rough it can get around this place in the summer.

I "fancied up" the recipe a bit by substituting Black Currant Vodka for the rum and sparkling lemonade for regular lemonade. I'm out of lemon, so used lime slices. Mint straight from my garden! Yes!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

People at the Flower Market

I made a few  quick contour drawings at Pike Place Market last weekend.
People were packed in as tight as flowers in a bucket. Maybe I will have time, and room, to add color today. :)