Friday, February 27, 2015

After class, Wintergrass

Since the Ad Hoc outing of Seattle Urban Sketchers was scheduled just 15 minutes away at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, I drove over there after my Kirkland class this afternoon. We were there during "Wintergrass".

Wintergrass is a family-friendly Bluegrass music festival, with concerts and dances at 4 different stages. There are also music education programs for kids and adults, workshops, impromptu jams, and a chance to see and hear some great music. Acoustic Sound produced it with the mission statement:
Acoustic Sound is committed to preserving and promoting traditional acoustic American music through presentation and education, with special attention given to the bluegrass music community.

You could purchase tickets to see performances by legends and featured performers, or just wander the hallways and lobbies to see impromptu groups forming up and playing together.
In the hallways of the Hyatt Regency, Bellevue, WA today.

In one of the hallways on the main floor, a group of about 13 people were in a circle, facing each other. John played bass and another musician played the "Dobro" guitar. There were banjos and more guitars, fiddles and singers. All this was played at a very polite level of volume, taking advantage of the acoustics in the hallway. At one point bystanders closed in and began singing along as they played an old classic, "Let the Circle Be Unbroken." The quiet, understated volume lent a very touching, tender quality to the music.

 Upstairs in another hallway, Mack was playing his favorite instrument, a Gibson guitar that he bought for $600 in 1972. "That was a lot of money then", he said, "I turned 66 years old this year, and it's still my favorite."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preliminary sketches

Books by Philip Jamison listed on Amazon 

In his book, "Capturing Nature in Watercolor", Jamison salutes the artists that influenced him, including Winslow HomerEdward HopperOdilon RedonAndrew Wyeth and especially watercolorist W. Emerton Heitland, who was his teacher and mentor in high school. Capturing Nature in Watercolor, generously illustrated with Jamison's paintings, contains information on studio materials and demonstrations of the artist's working methods.

The second book, Making Your Paintings Work (Watson-Guptill, 1987), provides more details on his paintings and pencil drawings. 

Since we are covering composition in my weekly classes, I thought Jamison would be a great example of one who does a considerable amount of preparatory drawing and planning in his watercolor still life's of daisies. 

Classroom set up and demonstrations of 10 to 15 minute loosening up sketches.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From Boren to Bangladesh, Virtually

Last weekend, I indulged my urge for travel and adventure.

In the real world, I drove from my home north of Seattle into the city to sketch with the Urban Sketchers at the new Starbucks Roastery near Capitol Hill in Seattle. I drove around, looking for parking on Boren Ave or anywhere nearby. It was Sunday and the place was jammed!
Virtual Paintout in Bangladesh (twig, ink, watercolor)
The day before, I was on  Mazar Rd. in Dhaka in Bangladesh, thanks to the monthly challenge on Virtual Paintout.
I was definitely in the mood for adventure, so I took out my new Perfect Sketchbook, black ink and a twig from the garden (ala Kian Kiean) and my trusty mini watercolor kit. I sat down in front of my laptop with the Google pegman right there on the intersection and sketched away! The place was MORE than jammed!

I, however, had a somewhat aerial view with a fresh latte by my side, a warm, cozy indoor seat, and nobody looking over my shoulder, asking, "What's happening? Why are all these people out here drawing and sketching?" or worse: "Are you an artist?" :/

Monday, February 23, 2015

USk Seattle at Pike and Melrose

What a group USk Seattle had yesterday at the new Starbucks Roastery on Pike and Melrose! At the end of the session, we filled the sidewalk along the south side of the building with sketchers and their sketches. The number of unique viewpoints, individual style, as well as the obvious high level of accomplishment was astounding. I wish I could have looked over every sketchbook at least one more time.

I arrived about 25 minutes early and couldn't find street parking no matter how many times I circled the block. No wonder! We had approximately 40 people there in our group, not to mention the "regulars" and other Seattle denizens out for a nice Sunday morning cup of coffee and/or breakfast.
Sketches by Michele Cooper-Feb 22, 2015
As I sketched the classic-looking pale green Vespa parked outside the Melrose Apartments, a woman leaned out of her top story window and called out to me: "Are you sketching the Vespa?" "Yes," I answered, "Is it yours?" "No", she replied, "but I was just on the phone with my mother, who's an artist, and I told her-Guess what? Somebody's out on the street sketching the Vespa!" For a time there, I experienced a "New York" kind of moment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seven signs of Spring

These have been in bloom for at least two weeks already!
The calendar says it's February. As long as I can remember, that's included in the winter months in the Pacific NW.

However, every indication seems to be that it is spring! The weather, the temperature, birds, flowers, etc. I saw Flickers gathering nest materials in the back yard last week. My star magnolia looks like it will pop open its little white buds any moment!
You can actually sit out on the patio for lunch!

How about a commitment to drawing and/or painting every day from Sunday to Sunday this week?

Each day, draw a different sign of spring.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Watercolor added to Perfect Sketchbook

Last Thursday I sketched from the car at one of my favorite spots on Camano Island. See Thursday's post for the pen work. 
Today I finally was able to post this, the final result after adding watercolor. I had to use my iPad photo since my laptop isn't working right either with uploading or with my scanner. Color is a bit off.

Update: Monday, Feb 23
1. I found out that the cable company was experiencing difficulties when I was trying to upload photos on Saturday.

2. EXPLORED AGAIN! Wow! Today I see that this one was picked by Explore from my Flickr Photostream. I am very pleased!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Still Life with Shirley

No effort spared, I brought these props to class this week.
This week we had such a great time with still life. Using Shirley Trevena as a contemporary example and Picasso, Cezanne, and the Cubist movement to inspire, I started the class by having everyone draw with twigs.

Although Ch’ng Kiah Kiean has recently been getting a lot of well deserved attention for his twig drawings, I have to say that we used them way back, ahem, several decades ago in a college class I attended.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Car Sketching, Rainy afternoon

The tide was just coming back in as I finished my line work this afternoon. I visited one of my favorite sketching spots on Camano Island after teaching at the gallery. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My two page sketch journal spread from yesterday with ASk

Tri Dee Art Supply is on a corner in downtown Mt. Vernon, across the street from the Co-op Grocery and Deli. Just looking at the two story square brick building from outside, you know it's going to be fun shopping in there.
Thank you, Tri Dee, for my Palomino Blackwing 620 pencil!
I had such a great time, inside the store and out. First, I saw this fabulously colorful umbrella, hanging upside down from the ceiling as a lamp shade. While I sketched it, a woman came in from her walk in the sunny spring weather. She liked it, too. As well as the stack of retro toys and games behind her.

The store owners gave each of us sketchers a Palomino Blackwing 620 pencil, favored by John Steinbeck and others. See the story of the pencil, here. At one time, they were going for $40 a pencil on Ebay.

Outside, on the front sidewalk, was the sandwich board advertising more fun stuff to do here. A tree was all cozied up with a yarn bomb made by an expert. All sorts of colors and patterns decorated it and it was custom fit to the bifurcated tree as it branched out above head height.

The wall mural in the alley is a huge chalkboard, where you can finish the sentence: Before I die I want to:___________________. One person wrote: ......Take over the world with GOATS.
What would you write?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sketching at Tri Dee Art Supply

Tri Dee Art Supply back door and mural. 
There's always such a positive, welcoming environment when I go to Tri Dee Art Supply in Mt. Vernon.You can tell it's going to be creative, fun and exciting, just by the way it looks on the outside!
The back wall has a huge mural that says, "Make Art Not War". It consists of 139 pieces made by members of the community, from the owner's daughter to well known artists.

In the alley, there is a giant chalkboard with blank spaces for you to fill in your words at the end of the sentence: "Before I die I want to____________". Anyone can write on it. Just like the people who made them, the statements are thought provoking, sad, affirmative or amusing.

I liked the ones that said: Before I die I want to:
........Ride an elephant with (name)
........Dance lots
........Take over the world with GOATS
While I was outside sketching, I saw what seemed to be a newly engaged couple, with their photographer, writing that they wanted to marry each other.

On the tree out in front, there is an example of probably the most positive form of graffiti, a yarn bomb. A lovely, colorful cozy has been custom fitted around the tree. This is no beginner project, with various bright colors and patterns, extending several feet all the way up to where it branches in two, and beyond!
Only three of us (Anne, Michele, Sandy) made it back inside the store for a photo on the steps with our sketches.

It was such a lovely day, sunny and in the 60's. What a treat for February! So although our sketch meet up was planned so that we could shelter from winter inside, many of us just had to take advantage of the early spring weather. Some walked up and down the block, others joined up way down by the river. I'm looking forward to seeing their sketches as they post them on the Anacortes Sketchers Blog in the next few days! So much to tell you today, so I'll post my sketches from the day tomorrow!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Kitchen Window

One of the artists whose work I admire is Edward Hopper. I was reading an article recently about his studio in Truro and about an artist who stays there sometimes, Philip Koch.
Photo by Philip Koch
This is the view Hopper would have looked at rinsing out his coffee cup in the kitchen sink- Cape Cod Bay peeking over rolling dunes. The sunlight steaming in through his windows confronts you at every turn in the studio. No wonder it played such a key role in his paintings.---from Koch's article on Hopper 

What's the view from your kitchen window? I challenge all Sunday painters to use that as your subject today. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


What did you have for dessert tonight?
We had Cookies and Cream Chocolate Layer Cake. Whipped cream frosting, with Oreo cookies and a cherry on top! And shaved white chocolate and almonds around the base. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I've been Explored on Flickr! My sketch of the waterfront cabin was picked as one of the 500 finest photos on Tuesday. I am stunned that over 6,000 views have been counted on it.
Explore is Flickr's way of showcasing the most interesting photos within a given point in time -- usually over a 24 hour period.

Flickr receives about 6,000 uploads every minute -- That's about 8.6 million photos a day! From this huge group of images, the Flickr Interestingness algorithm chooses only 500 images to showcase for each 24-hour period. That's only one image in every 17,000!

Considering that the overwhelming majority of these images are photos, not paintings, I am honored indeed!
I thought you might like to see the location that inspired the sketch, so here it is:
Another view of the cabin

AND THEN!.....
The creator of The Perfect Sketchbook asked if he could show my work on his Facebook page!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Possibly the "Perfect Mini Sketchkit" ?

Look what I got! Right there in the middle!  An "angel" heard that I made a mistake when ordering and missed out on the chance to get The Perfect Sketchbook and gave me one of the only two she had. I can't thank her enough!

Update: Thank you, Erwin, for posting my kit and some of my work on your Facebook page, The Perfect Sketchbook. 

All this could fit in a small zip bag, handbag, or pocket of a backpack or jacket:
  1. The Perfect Sketchbook (put business cards in the gusseted pocket in back)  
    Either one of these pencil cases works.
  2. Aquash waterbrush (easy to fill and won't roll away)
  3. Lamy fountain pen with water soluble black ink
  4. Micron Archival black .01 pen (paint right over it, won't smear)
  5. Mechanical pencil (no need for sharpener)
  6. Micro fiber sponge for regulating water on the brush (dries with a squeeze)
  7. Kneaded eraser
  8. My DIY mini watercolor kit (more info and how to make one)
Note: Up until now, I have been using a similar sized sketchbook by Pentalic, the 5"x8" Aqua Journal.
See yesterday's post for examples.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cabin on the shore

Last Monday I sketched at Kalena's house with friends. At one point we all took a walk along the shore. This old cabin was probably built in the 1950's as a vacation place where families would come on weekends to fish, swim, canoe and water ski. We were there on the day after the Super Bowl and I noticed the "12th Man" flag sadly hanging at half staff. The overcast sky added to the mood and atmosphere. It made me smile to see the yellow door.
I scanned the ink line drawing before adding watercolor.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Button up for Winter

Good morning, Sunday Painters. Just wanted to suggest a subject for your painting project today. The lines from an old song are on my mind "Button up your overcoat .......take good care of yourself...."
I know some of you are having some cold, snowy weather or wet and rainy this week. How about staying indoors and playing around with your watercolors today?

Paint something with buttons. What else comes to mind when you think of that subject?
5 generations of buttons
I used to have a pink wool coat when I was 5 with a matching hat, my mother (and grandmothers) had a button jar, and my granddaughter-in-law made the tea cosy which I have used for a tea party with my great granddaughter.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bay View Textures

Looking north at Bay View
Class Demonstration

Using texture "en mass" to create the main areas of a painting: foreground, middle ground, background.

Aerial perspective is achieved by diminishing the appearance  of texture into the distance (size, color, contrast).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Collector's Treasures

Yesterday, I visited a wonderful place with fellow sketchers from ASk. I mean to say, the place wasn't just virtual, it was a state of mind.
We were at the home of one of our fellow artists and she shared her treasures with us. Just like the person, the home was beautiful both inside and out.

(In progress) Almost finished with this year's Sketchbook Project!
All stored in jars, baskets and the collector's memory, each small and seemingly insignificant piece has a story.

Monday, February 2, 2015

At Kalena's with ASK

Opportunities for subject matter around every corner outside. 
Jerlyn, Petey, Missy, Patrick (Back)
Annette, Jude, Bonney, Jane, Katie, Kalena (Front)
Down the beach: Jill--Inside, at the dining table: Linden, Carolyn
Behind the camera: Michele
Thank you, Kalena, for your hospitality in hosting today's meet up with the Anacortes Sketchers. There were views of the tidal bay with a few forested islands, a shoreline strung with beach houses, some still showing their 1950's origins and not a drop of rain as we took our walk on the shore.
Every imaginable beach combing collection was available for inspiration