Sunday, November 30, 2014

Selective Focus

Sunday Painters' Challenge:
Paint a landscape or a close up in black and white or monotone. Try another composition  with color only in the area of interest or focal point. (See photo references in yesterday's post)
i.e. You may choose an area of selective color like the snow covered rose or the porch light through the trees, or the beginning glow of morning light.  Let the color fade gradually outwards.
2.5x3.5" ACEO
Even though some of you Sunday Painters may live on the summer side of the globe, you can still find a time of day (dusk or dawn) where the landscape has muted color. Try it!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black and White

Perfect! After "Black Friday" comes "White Saturday"!

Not everyone in our area has this, but I saw snow coming down late last night. I hoped there would be a white surprise for everyone when we woke up. Here is what it was like outside the studio this morning at 8:30 a.m.

We still have family staying here with us, but if I can grab a few minutes, I will post any sketches I do on my Instagram. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Gaze into the chocolate . . . Chocolaaaaaaaate
How's everything going so far? I come from a large family of eight, so when everyone comes over and the house is full of conversation, food and hugs it all feels perfectly right.  My husband has one older sibling and hasn't quite mastered the art of hopping in and out of multiple conversations...or tuning it all out for a little "me space".  Either way, I've set up a quiet spot in the studio where you and my fluffy little buddy can sip a cup of tea, gaze out the window and let the chocolate do it's thing. 
Don't you just love my tea cosy? Quinn's Crochet Corner made it for me!
I set out the double handled cup for you. It was designed as a bouillon cup. My mother used to make it to build up our strength if we were sick. The two handles were also used for the infirm or elderly to make it easier to hold the cup for tea. I figure it as a safety measure in case there's a heavy slice of lemon and a little dram or two in your second cuppa. Don't want to lose your grip now do you?

Anyway, I trust you enjoy the company of friends and family every time you are together and keep it as a treasured memory. I do. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Feeling a bit dainty today. ATCs-Each one is just 2.5x3.5"
Yay! I did it! The goal was 50 drawings or paintings in 30 days for National November Drawing Month. So with these three little Artists' Trading Cards I am now ahead of myself!

As I meet up at various locations with the sketchers, I sometimes find myself in a place where I wouldn't usually go. We've been to some antique shops in the last months and I've begun to revive my small collection of bone china tea cups.  I put them all away when we remodeled the main floor of our house a few years ago. Then Liz Steel's work reminded me of how very paintable they can be. It's such a fun subject for watercolor and a great drawing exercise. I decided to go traditional with these; a light pencil drawing, transparent watercolor, no masking fluid, no white except the reserved paper. Fun!

There will be a lot of goodies around here for awhile, and what better way to enjoy them than with some nice hot tea in a lovely cup!

Monday, November 24, 2014

At Carolyn's in Anacortes with ASk

We were invited to come and sketch at the home of Anacortes Sketcher, Carolyn, today. Through the beautiful wrought iron gates and into a warm and hospitable atmosphere we came.
More photos and sketches on the Anacortes Sketchers' Blog.
Homemade baked goods and pots of piping hot coffee or tea were offered. The butter cream frosting was like a pillow of creamy sweet goodness! Just the right thing on top of Carolyn's rich, moist (gluten free) chocolate cupcakes! Perfect balance!
Everyone chose a spot at the large family sized table in the Victorian dining room or in the cozy parlor. Then we spent the afternoon sketching, visiting and admiring works in progress.

That makes 6 more for NaNoDrawMo 2014, unless I get desperate and then I'm counting each one of those truffles!
Total: 48/50

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seven from Starbucks

7 more for NaNoDrawMo! Total: 42 with 7 days to go!
As I left the house on a sketch hunt today, I thought I would be parking across the street from a barber shop I know. The light was good. I had my Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Micron Pen, Lamy Pen and mini kit. All I needed was a nice, warm latte to keep me company.

WELL. Turns out that the clouds came over and ruined my lighting. Plus, the chairs are quite comfy at one of our local Starbucks. So I ended up with 7 little sketches instead of a larger, more complicated street scene. This doesn't hurt my total for NaNoDrawMo, either!
Here's the story:
  1. My most frequently used sketch pen, the Micron .01 Archival Waterproof. (The barista stand, #5, was with my Lamy pen, however.)
  2. Left handed, leaning over, pouring cream in a to-go cup. No need to remove his huge puffy jacket. He's in and out in no time! (Yes, the mornings are pretty cold this week.)
  3. Ignore pen again. *This ginger haired worker took his break in three different chairs. First, he sat in the sunny window which was decorated with long streamers of colorful tissue. I didn't sketch him the other two times as he faced me both times and seemed to be wise to my sketch hunting presence.
  4. Two pounds of Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend. What a pretty, autumn leaf package!
  5. Top edge of the baristas' brewing machine with the gigantic coffee filter on top right. Blurry scan.
  6. Lower left. Another table hopper. He seemed so uncomfortable, trading tables four times, including using the bathroom, taking off his hat, smoothing his hair, opening and closing his 3 ring binder. He escaped before I could draw any more.
  7. Lower right. This Mo Bro (I detect two different stages of facial hair--grown out mustache and newish beard) was easy. Even though he got up and down twice, he always returned to the exact same position. Thanks!
*Question: Are male coffee shop workers referred to as "baristos"? Answer from Yahoo: The term baristo (and correspondingly baristos) is occasionally found in English to refer to a specifically male bartender. This is a hypercorrection, as it is a misinterpretation of the -a ending as a female ending, while in fact barista is used for both males and females."

Personal observation: the vast majority of men in and out of the shop had facial hair. I wonder if they are participating in Movember? Wanna be a Mo Bro or a Mo Sista?

Sunday Painters: Be an unofficial Mo Bro or Mo Sista, even if you don't have a mustache. Draw and/or paint someone with a beard or mustache today!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

ATC, the answer for NaNoDrawMo slackers like me

Three before dinner and three after.....I'm catching up!
These 3.5x2.5" Artists' Trading Cards take a bit longer to make than you think, but it's actually a lot of fun! These are taylor made for NaNoDrawMo slackers like me!

Let's see, I have to do 15 more drawings/paintings in 8 days-Yeah, I have a few ideas. :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Late Breakfast, er, Lunch and NaNoDrawMo #29

But wait 'till you see NaNoDrawMo #26!
So today I emerge from sorting through my camera roll, catching up on email and seeing what's going on in the art world online. Yikes! Missed breakfast! But I already have a plan.

Yesterday, during a class demonstration, my trusty collapsible water container finally sprung a leak. Sue Ann loaned me hers and the show went on. See blog post from yesterday. I knew I could replace it with a cottage cheese container from home. HOWEVER, there was still about a fourth of a cup left in it. (Really, who leaves three bites of cottage cheese in a quart container?) But I digress.

I'm washing out the container, remembering all those people who are already ahead of their goal of 50 drawings in 30 days for NaNoDrawMo 2014. I like the way the soap bubbles look. Full stop. Grab the sketchbook and Lamy pen and draw what I see in the bottom of the sink. Aha! Drawing #27!

No stopping now! The rules say that the drawings can be anything, and don't have to be good. Eggshells, #28. I am really hungry now, but just look how cute those egg yolks are. So before scrambling them for my omelet, I make another sketch for my total of #29! Sooooo hungry!
New Goals:
  1. Cook and eat omelete - check
  2. Post to Flikr group for NaNoDrawMo - check
  3. Get busy on the last 21 drawings in the next 9 days. - Working on it!
Note to self: You can do it! Go for it, Michele!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Class demo Thursday

Waiting for the "last 5 strokes".
Here is the class demonstration from today's lesson. As I told my students, it's about 98% finished. The first time I confront a new subject I will work out an initial composition, then see where it takes me.  The reference photos are for inspiration but not to copy verbatim.  Usually, I will have made a value plan. Without a value plan, I am leaning on my experience. For a panoramic format like this I will use the steelyard type of composition. 

Balancing the composition: If you imagine visual interest as having weight, the trees have less "weight" than the buildings, so it takes a greater length of them as a counterbalance. I will need a small dark shape somewhere in the lower left quadrant to balance the large collection of buildings on the center/right. Its just like a lighter child who must sit further from the fulcrum of a see-saw to balance a heavier child. The fulcrum is seldom in the middle because most of the time artists are deliberately balancing a heavier mass with a lighter one. That is an artistic balance of unequal parts or asymmetrical balance.

Check back in a day or two for "the last five strokes". Feel free to write and tell me what you would have done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Checking the Balance at the ATM

She stood there for the longest time....absolutely still. At first I thought she was checking her receipt after using the ATM, but later I wondered if she was texting on her cell phone. I never did see her face, her age or the color of her hair.

I was parked across the driveway, tidying up my checkbook in the car and when I looked up there she  was! Finally ready to leave, I quietly backed out and drove around the block in the opposite direction, heading home. As far as I know, she's still there!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ASk at Smugglers' Cove

Anacortes has unlimited choice of subject matter, no matter what the season. Indoors or out, there is bound to be the challenge of choosing from more than what one could sketch in a lifetime.

This is especially true of our location at Smugglers' Cove on Commercial Street this afternoon. Thanks to Kristen, the owner, we were invited to come in from the cold on this chilly autumn afternoon.

Smiles, happy greetings, hugs and lively conversation ensued! We tried on vintage hats, recognized toys from our childhood and marveled at the eclectic bounty from which to draw. Everyone eventually found a little spot or two of their own. Gradually, with concentrated focus on our sketchbooks, the shop became quiet and I overheard Kristen on the phone in the other room; "......I've got sketchers here....."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday with USk Seattle

This morning I am sketching with the Seattle urban sketchers at the Pioneer Square transit station. It's just behind the Smith Tower with an entrance on Yesler Way.

Brrrrrr! Since I have to leave relatively early to get there from here, the temperature hasn't had time to warm up yet. As I leave our garage at home, my weather app says that it's 18°!

Once I meet with the sketchers, I find it hard to believe that it's supposed to be in the low 40's. They must mean the sunny side of the street and not in the tunnel! The breeze down the stairs to the mezzanine creates a chill factor, I'm sure. But, we're all dressed for it, so off we go to make our sketches for the day.

My sketch journal page for the day.
A fellow sketcher, Tina, and I ducked into Shawn O'Donnell's American Grill Pub for a respite from the cold, hot coffee, and a rest break. We had another 25 minutes to find something to sketch, so we sat inside at the sunny window. I found two quick subjects to add to my NaNoDrawMo 2014 collection. Still need to post most of the ones I've done for the month, though. Goal: 50 drawings in the month of November.
Two more for my NaNoDrawMo 2014
Hey, Sunday Painters! How about trying the NaNoDrawMo challenge!?
Inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), NaNoDrawMo is a personal challenge to push would-be artists beyond the bounds of comfortable "when I have time" practice for one month and see what happens.

Loosely defined goals are for each participant to produce 50 individual works/drawings between Nov 1 and Nov 30. You can always do more than 50 if you've got it in you! That's just the minimum everyone should be shooting for.

You do not have to be good. There is no quality requirement. The idea is to force yourself to practice by setting a high quantity goal. Also, it’s not a competition (except with yourself). Any medium is OK, as long as you can get it onto Flickr somehow.

Please tag your uploads “nanodrawmo”.
Flag your upload as "Art / Illustration" or Flickr won't let you add it to the group. (quoted from Flikr description)

Oh and don't forget to have some fun while you're at it.
Check out the Flikr photostream of current national uploads for inspiration.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chilly afternoon at the Ballard Locks

This afternoon, I am going out sketching in the Ballard area of Seattle. I'm not sure exactly what I will find but I have just unwrapped my new Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook and can't wait to get it started! - 2:30pm
I can see someone in the little office. It's attached like a bird's nest on the side of the bridge.

Brrrrr! That was cold! We found ourselves down by the Ballard locks where the bridge was raised up. I could see someone in the gate keeper's office. A train approached and the bridge was lowered while I shivered in the little covered shelter on my side of the channel.

3:45 pm After that, we found the warm welcome of Caffè Appassionato over by Fisherman's Wharf. Nothing could have been cozier than late Saturday afternoon with a warm cup in my hands, the aroma of fresh roasted coffee and the sound of an occasional newspaper page being turned.
One sketch out in the cold, one in the cozy warm coffee shop.

Friday, November 14, 2014

ATC swap on Friday at KAC

First, I asked everyone to select a card for anonymous trade. We placed them all face down and picked one at random. Then I told everyone that they could trade any extras that they brought with their friends. After that, everything is kind of a blur. Anyway, here is an idea of the wonderful art that goes on in our Intermediate class on Fridays, just for fun!
Painted at home and in class. Wonderful!
Then people brought out ATCs from their personal cache. 
More cards from personal trades. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday's ATC Trade at A Guilded Gallery

I thought I lost my photos from our very busy day in Stanwood. Found them! Look what our very busy class did at A Guilded Gallery. There was a fun session of trading ATCs going on in lieu of the usual critique today!
They have captured the rainy character of fall in the PNW, haven't they?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday evening at SVC-ATC trades.

I offered this ATC to trade.
This week is going to be very exciting. Because we are finishing up most of my fall classes, our last day of class is going to be an exchange of ATCs in addition to the final lesson.

Here are the results of a very busy two days of trading!

Wednesday afternoon:
We had an anonymous trade in Anacortes, with all the cards face down and then everyone picked  one at random. This is the one that I contributed, and look (below) at what I got in exchange!
I got this beauty in trade at Anacortes.
Here's the selection from which we chose this afternoon:
Wednesday Evening:
Here's the selection from the night class at Skagit Valley College.

ATC or ACEO Tarts

I use a magnetic whiteboard to hold the tiny cards in place.

Dessert anyone? Is it tea time yet? These are the steps for your ATC or ACEO tarts:
#1. Go to your favorite bakery and purchase some fruit tarts. Or something else that you like that is equally yummy. 
#2. Use your .01 black Micron pen to draw them on 2.5 x 3.5" sized 140#CP watercolor paper. You can cut them yourself or buy them ready made.
#3. Use your artists' quality water colors to paint all the strawberries first, then the crusts. Once they are dry, then paint all the blueberries, then the cast shadows. Tips for painting the berries: Vary the colors and make sure to reserve the white paper for the top of the crust and shiny highlights.
Sign them, trade them, eat the tarts. Hmmm. May have to go back for the lemon ones. Oh! Did I say that out loud?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ACEO Canyon 1

Van Gogh #4 Travel Brush and ACEO
Canyon 1
Original Watercolor ACEO by Michele Cooper
Size: 3.5"x 2.5"   Price: $30

This time of year brings back fond memories of taking our young family to visit my parents in Eastern Washington. It's always colder there than it is on this side of the mountains, and the foliage changes colors sooner. We used to drive through Tumwater Canyon to see them until they moved to the Yakima area. Canyon Road can be very icy during the early fall and winter, but the views are worth it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Seattle sketcher, Gabriel Campanario, signed my books at Elliott Bay Books

I sketched while listening to Gabi recount anecdotes and inspirations for the book.
We were at Elliot Bay Books on Capital Hill in Seattle yesterday at 3pm on a cold, rainy afternoon to hear one of my favorite authors present his book, "Seattle Sketcher". It was both enlightening and entertaining to hear him speak about his inspirations and experiences. Gabi signed my book while his daughter held the pages open. (Since she is a minor, I cropped the photo for privacy.)
Thanks, Gabi, for signing my copies of your two titles!
My sketch page from Gabi's reading
Click to Zoom
As you see in the photo, I was pleased that I brought both the "Seattle Sketcher" book, produced by the Seattle Times from the MOHAI exhibit and Gabi's new one, "The Urban Sketching Handbook, Architecture and Cityscapes"  If you're in my fall classes, that's the one I have been recommending for you to take out sketching. Here's a list of titles by Gabi Campanario.
Check out Gabi's blog, Instagram and other social media for up to date information about signing dates. There's a new release by Campanario coming out soon for urban sketchers on People and Motion.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Painters, Get the whole family involved!

ATCs or Artists' Trading Cards are small original artworks on a 2 1/2"x 3 1/2" format. They can be done in watercolor, pastel, acrylic, oil, pen, stamping, collage....just about any medium you could think of. You can cut up paper or card on your own, or you can purchase sample packs already made up for you to use. Strathmore has sample packs with watercolor paper, illustration board, canvas, and more.

Get the whole family involved on a weekend or during time off for the holidays! All ages can join in the art making fun and then trade with each other. What a nice memento of your next family gathering!
ATCs are generally 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. This is the size of playing cards and other trading cards.

I recently assigned my watercolor students to make ATCs of people and umbrellas in the rain. Here are a few examples of the ones they made as well as workshop examples from previous classes. There's an illustrated lesson plan online here at WikiHow.

While the purpose of ATCs is to trade, not sell, those who are interested in creating these wonderful works for profit, it would be more appropriate to list them as ACEO's (Art Cards, Editions, and Originals). These are more often made for the purpose of sale, and by labeling them appropriately we don't take away from the ATC namesake tradition. All creation rules are the same for ACEO's as they are for ATC's. Limited Edition, Signed and Numbered ACEOs, especially with short print runs of 25-50 cards, are very popular and still count as ACEOs because they're the Editions.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

We Had A Blast!

It was the 20th Annual NW Studio Open House. People came throughout the day with family, friends and classmates. I was honored to have two women over 90 at our wine and cheese reception and quite a few couples (artist with supportive mate). At one point there were 4 generations of my family here. Our daughter in law did a fantastic job with the refreshments, including homemade pumpkin bars. Our granddaughter made me the most adorable tea cosy ever! And Pat brought us a very generous plate of wonderful homemade shortbread. What a great celebration of twenty years welcoming people into my studio! Thank you all for coming!

Dave G, of Seattle, won the drawing----his choice of $100 worth of art or $100 studio credit. Congratulations, Dave!

Andrea did a fantastic job with the wine and cheese table!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Now for the Friday class and their ATCs!

Just when you think you can't be amazed any further, the Intermediate Class gets busy on the ATC assignment. Look what they produced in class at the Kirkland Arts Center today!
Intermediate Class ATCs at Kirkland Arts Center

Well, gotta get back to tidying up the studio! The 20th Annual Studio Open House is tomorrow. Hope you can come! Hours: 10am-7pm (Wine and Cheese from 5-7pm)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ATC from the Thursday class in Stanwood

These people amaze me! This is what my students in Stanwood did during class today at A Guilded Gallery. We are all working on more ATCs (Artists' Trading Cards) at home for the big trade in class next week!

The Thursday class ATCs
If you would like to learn more about ATCs, please follow the links below:
Explaining ATC or ACEO cards

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Artists' Trading Cards in class this week!

What fun! With all the drenching rain and stormy weather we've had recently, there had to be a class on wet streets and another on people and their umbrellas. Everyone worked continually on their ATC format, making 3 1/2x 2 1/2" cards. Just look what the Wednesday students produced in class!
From the afternoon class
From the evening class at Skagit Valley College

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Shabby French Market Journal Page-A Memoir

Sometimes it takes me a while to decide what part of my sketch page will be written and what I want to say. I was so full of thoughts about The Shabby French Market experience with the Anacortes Sketchers that it took me until today to write them into my sketch page. (After putting down my thoughts, I have to say that I have a ways to go in the antique French script writing department.)

You enter the building from the street and immediately have so many options: up two more floors on a beautiful, wide, handcrafted wooden staircase or into one of the many doors leading off the foyer or to your left around the corner and downstairs into a treasure of shabby French nostalgia. Our rainy day meet up with the sketchers was planned for the basement. It's warm, cozy, with clear lighting and a sofa and a dozen or so chairs you could use. There's a bed, too, but it is definitely not meant for customers' use.
Last page in my Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook click to zoom
So I walked around the shop, like wandering through a memoir, stopping to sketch with the colors of fog and mist. The things that caught my eye were the hand-tied raw silk lampshade on its leaded crystal base, the silver hot chocolate pot with its aged patina, the fleurs-de-lis everywhere, along with delicate bouquets of dried hydrangeas. There is a little key-shaped wall mount for hanging your keys. "Mais oui!" Everything had the feel of treasured, though time worn objects with yet another home to grace. In the background, 1940's pop tunes and French-sounding jazz added to the atmosphere.

Many thanks to Elizabeth and Tom for welcoming our little group for an afternoon of sketching in their delightful shop.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Shabby French Market with ASk

It felt so very French with 1940's jazz and pop tunes on the air. I turn a corner and there's a picture on the wall in a little alcove. It's a sepia photograph of a carriage driving down the wide dirt street of Commercial Avenue in 1910 and the Keystone Building is on the corner. That building now has a shop called The Shabby French Market, the perfect place to sketch on a rainy autumn afternoon.
I spent a wonderful day downstairs with the Anacortes Sketchers, drifting through time from one spot to another on a journey of discovery.
It's the last page of my sketchbook and I'm still working on it. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday painters, join the class!

I am teaching a watercolor workshop for beginners this weekend and I thought I would invite you Sunday painters to "virtually" join our class. Pretend that you are with us. Yesterday we went outside and picked up a whole bunch of autumn leaves. Then I showed them some of my tricks and techniques. Here are the results. Didn't they do just great?!
The essence of Autumn!