Monday, March 20, 2017

Cherry Pie in One Minute

I had a lot of fun doing a time lapse video demo with the last of the cherry pie...then I ate it!
It's quick and loose. Just the thing to do at teatime! Watch both the drawing and the watercolor process on my Instagram feed. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spending Our One Sunny Day in Fremont with USkSeattle

'After all the recent rainfall, it was a beautifully sunny day at Hale’s Ales Brewery for the Urban Sketchers Seattle meet-up at 11 a.m. Since 1983, Hale’s claims to be the longest running, continually owned brewery, of any size, in the Pacific Northwest, and indeed one of the oldest in the entire U.S.
There were fascinating things (like a red London phone booth) to sketch inside, but the forecast is for another week of rain and I didn't want to waste our one sunny day! I found a great spot out back of the brewery at the corner of 8th Ave NW and NW 43rd. 
Who wouldn't want to bask in the warm sun while sketching a grain elevator with a worn out Moss Bay sign, a container with the word "clepto" spray painted in red on the side, a small spare tire secured with rope to the blue tarp on a storage bin and a nice big green dumpster? After a while, despite the sunshine, my hands did get cold so I went inside to see what the menu had to offer.

Along with lunch, a few of us ordered a flight of ales with interesting names like El Jefe Weisen, Red Menace, and NightTroll (a play on words referring to a nearby landmark, the Fremont Troll.)

I counted 23 sketchers today. I'm not surprised. When we get a sun break here in the Pacific NW we don't waste it! After sharing our sketches and getting a group photo in the Pub, I headed for one more spot on the way home.

I've been waiting for a sunny day and some good cast shadows so that I could sketch the old Everett Courthouse. These shadows weren't quite what I had in mind, but we have only one day of pure sunshine before it rains again!

The front steps are no longer used and some of the landscaping is getting a bit overgrown. It's an unusual type of architecture for our area, but Everett does have a few random Spanish style buildings, including the old courthouse. The shadows I wanted would have been better in about an hour but I felt uncomfortable alone in the deserted neighborhood.  So I quickly sketched an abbreviated version of the scene and went home to add color.

Update: I was notified that my sketch of the Old Everett Courthouse I added to the Flickr group Urban Sketchers Seattle has been selected to be its cover photo. See how it looks here:

Sketchers sketching sketchers while being sketched

Blue sky and sunshine all day! Yay!

Perfect for the monthly meet up of USkSeattle at Hale's Ales in Fremont.

You can tell by the hunched up look of the plants on the patio that it was 32 degrees this morning, though. Not quite fully spring time yet!
USkSeattle monthly outing at Hale's Ales."Who's here for the first time?

  We had quite a few new sketchers this time. A good number were from West Seattle. Welcome!

Sketchers in the corner and at lunch, being photographed by other sketchers. The server exhibits sketch pose #1.
We thought our beer samplers were quite generously sized and looked like jewels in the sunlight! (Server in sketch pose #2)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pi Day Leftovers

Anyone for pie? Yes, I know that National Pi/Pie Day was four days ago, but it's taken me this long to digest the whole series of events that took place that day.

WIP-sketching at the kitchen counter
We weren't actually aware that it was Pi Day on Tuesday, but the overwhelming number of others who were observing the occasion possibly created a subliminal influence and we had pizza pie for dinner that night. After dinner our granddaughter texted from Haagen's, a local grocery store, to let us know that ALL their pies were half off! Well! We do like their chicken pot pies for a cozy dinner on a stormy night.

My husband grabbed the car keys and he was off! Some time later, he returned with most of what you see here! Four days later and I am overwhelmed with pie. I couldn't think of what to do other than put them all out on the counter and sketch them. I was planning on leftover pizza for a late lunch, but as usual, when I'm sketching food I forget all about eating it until after I finish sketching. I could smell it, though!

In an uncanny circumstance, I finished sketching at exactly 3:14pm. Huh!

Read my journal sketch page to see how I accidentally got even MORE pie from McDonald's!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Special Trip to "Seeing Nature"

Here we are under John Grade’s large-scale sculpture, Middle Fork, which echoes the contours of a 140-year-old western hemlock tree located in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. It's suspended over us in the main lobby at the Seattle Art Museum.
Beginning by making a full plaster cast of the living tree, the artist and a cadre of volunteers used this mold to recreate the tree’s form out of thousands of pieces of reclaimed old-growth cedar.
Clean, bright and white on white, even the carafes, condiments and recyclable utensils are artfully inspired. We're making our selections from the appetizing menu at "Taste", the museum cafe. Anticipation for the upcoming tour of "seeing Nature" was one of the main topics of conversation at lunch.
This was one of the top favorites in our group probably because, of all the oil paintings, it most resembles watercolor.
It's not everyone who can say they have a Monet, Cezanne or Manet in their private collection.

I particularly liked this Venetian painting by Eduard Manet. It reminds me a lot of John Singer Sargent's work.
Edward Hopper's gigantic panorama of the Grand Canyon features arresting colors. I could "feel" the heat! See how such a thin strip of sky is used to enhance the feeling of vast depth in the canyon.

We all stood on the steps with the sculpture for one more photo. I trust you are encouraged by this small selection of the artwork to visit the collection and enjoy a guided tour for more insights. The show goes through May 23, 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

An Unexpected Detour at SAM

The 4th floor display of world art at the Seattle Art Museum cannot fail to impress. A visit on Sunday afternoon reaffirmed my resolve to return more often. Although I came to view paintings in the landscape exhibition, I found myself returning to this exhibit for a second and third time. There is so much to see and so much to learn by reading the description on each piece. 
The clothed mannequins and tall sculpture pedestals beyond the escalators seem to populate a village with their masks, shirts, coats, dresses and headdresses from Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Liberia, Guinea, and other west African nations.

Eventually, museum goers became an almost inconspicuous part of the tableau. 
Is it true that we exist in a series of parallel universes? It seemed as though a momentary time lapse occurred in a quiet corner of the gallery.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Finished! 100 people in 5 days

There was no question about where I would go for some of my last sketches in the challenge to do 100 people in five days. This was Friday, I just finished teaching my morning class at Kirkland Arts Center, I was hungry and couldn't wait to have lunch at Mediterranean Kitchen. It's just a few minutes away in Totem Lake.

On the way, waiting at a traffic stop, I grabbed one of my business cards and sketched a woman across the street who was waiting for the bus and listening to her iPod.

I glued the card into an empty spot on yesterday's page. But it's #1 out of 26 needed to catch up with the final total of 100 by the end of the day!

Made it for lunch at Mediterranean Kitchen just before the afternoon rush. The food is delicious and there are always great faces and characters to observe. I found the perfect spot to enjoy lunch and sketching at a table along the banquette seating on the east wall.

I must say that the belly dancing set of music is a bit harrying and stressful when you're trying to sketch. It just makes me try to draw faster and faster.
Some people left before I could finish. I really liked my watercolor pencil drawing of the man in the lower center of the page but he left before I could do much more. The guy in the lower right corner was fixing his hair and taking selfies while waiting for his take-out order. Ahem! Missed a spot!
I could have added another dozen sketches from the car outside the cinema.
It takes about 50-60 minutes to commute home from Kirkland. I ended up going out after dinner for the last nine sketches needed to complete my 100 for the week. I knew right where to go on a Friday night---the local multi-plex cinema!

By now I've learned to check the schedules on my proposed venues. (It's very disappointing when there's nobody there to sketch!) This time I knew that a movie would let out at around 9:15 or 9:30 PM. I sketched a few people in the concession area and then had my choice of subjects coming out into the lobby as they left the auditoriums.

Meanwhile, the security guard noticed me, came over and sat down next to me on my bench, looking over my shoulder at what I was doing. Once he saw my pages from earlier in the week and learned about my project, he must have deemed it okay to bring outside sketches into the theater. Off he went to continue his rounds. (Good thing I didn't bring any outside snacks!)
This was a good place to fill up as many pages as I wanted, but it was late and I needed to go home and add color before posting my catch of the day.
So that's 27 for the day and I'm all caught up! I think my total is actually 101 for the week.

I usually include people in context as part of my urban sketches so this challenge was a bit disorienting for me at first. I panicked a bit at the prospect of having enough time to draw 20 live, bustling people a day, much less their accoutrements and surroundings! It was a marathon, but so much fun! And it got me out of the house into weather I would have avoided and at times when I normally would have stayed at home. Thanks again, Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel for the inspiration!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 4 and 7 short of Goal

I'm sketching at Haagen's grocery tonight after a really busy day. Got this shot of the last group to leave. I'll be 7 short of my goal of sketching 20 people for the day so tomorrow it is going to be catch up time. 
For me, the quickest way to sketch a group is directly painting with a brush, no pencil or preliminary drawing. I'm starting to get a better feel for the hot press surface in my new Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook.  I'm using a Pentel Waterbrush and my Atoids watercolor mini tin with 6 colors. If time allows, I can use my Sharpie Stylo fine tip pen for a few details. The woman in her '30s (upper right group)  had an entire collection of what looked like toddlers' car seat toys strung up and hanging from her backpack zipper pull.

So this brings my total to 74 people sketches so far. Tomorrow is Friday, the last day of the challenge. I have a class to teach until 1:00. I'm glad it will be a day when there's typically a lot of people out there!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

20 People at the Outlet Mall on Wednesday

Here's 20 more people for the #oneweek100people2017 drawing challenge. That makes a total of 61 for the week so far.

I found a great spot at the window counter looking out onto the central square at the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall today. I had a tall bar stool to sit on, a long table for my stuff and a nice hot latte' to sip in the warm Starbucks coffee shop. Now that's what I call luxury sketching. I trust you can tell how cold it was out there by the hunched over posture and puffy jackets and gloves most people were wearing.
This store is usually packed with a line out the door, but the cold damp winter weather on a Wednesday made it difficult for all but the hardiest of shoppers to be out and about....and sketchers like me with a goal!

I enjoyed combining fine tip waterproof pens with brush pens loaded with water soluble ink, adding color with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush at the end. These seem the most appropriate for my new Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook with its smooth thick paper. What a fun challenge! I am constantly amazed at the variety of characters one encounters and it makes me wonder about their stories.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

20 Drawings for Tuesday

On a cold, rainy day, I headed for the grocery store. Much to my surprise, the middle of my journey was occupied by road construction, causing us to line up single file and drive by in alternate queues. I started to draw while waiting, but the line started moving almost immediately, so I had to resort to a few quick snapshots with my smart phone and finish these first 6 people from photos.

I parked at Safeway and added color to the road workers, then went into the store to "buy bread for dinner" while stalking customers for my next 9 sketches. It seems my ninja sketching skills are waning and the most interesting profiles or face on people caught on to what I was doing. The one that gave me the most trouble was the lady in the lower right of the page who barely was able to hold onto her armload of groceries. I actually  tracked her all the way to the shopping carts, where she deposited her haul and promptly disappeared.

I realize that standing with your sketchbook in the grocery store might look like you have a very copious check list, but I really only had a package of dinner rolls in my cart. That florist was even faster than me and my grocery cart. She flitted like a bee all over the store and I felt I would look a bit suspicious hustling after her. Who knows what the security tapes already looked like during my 45 minutes in the store!

Lastly, I had 5 more people to draw for the day, so I went to the gas station, but there wasn't a good vantage point. Got gas. Then I thought there might be some people in the nearby Michael's hobby store on such a dreary day. Well, the customers were outnumbered by the clerks and here they all are. Well, 4 of them are customers and the lady with the strangely asymmetrical hair style was one of the clerks.

Tomorrow will be the last day that I can freely search for sketch models. I have to leave after dinner for my night watercolor class at Skagit Valley College. Then classes each day through Friday. If you come to class, I will sketch you!

Monday, March 6, 2017

21 Drawings for Monday

It's the first day of the One Week 100 People global drawing challenge. I decided to use a new black Pocket Brush Pen by Pentel on my second sketch below. The pen has cartridges that can be replaced and I figured it might be a good idea to have some backup this week. I imagine I will be using a lot more ink than usual!

It got pretty cold this afternoon when I was finally able to scout out one of our local Starbucks stores. I spent 30 minutes on 6 out of 7 sketches in my Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. I haven't used the smooth paper from the Zeta series before. My usual Sharpie Stylo pen just glides over the surface!  I had to wait about 14 minutes to sketch the girl at the drive thru window because I only got glimpses between customers. By the time I left, it felt distinctly like snow was in the air! (It is snowing outside as I post this!)
These 7 sketches were done from life on location.
This morning, I caught a glimpse of a photo from Rome, which had a few urban sketchers in it. I liked the group shot, so used it to try out my new materials.
This one's from a photo, so doesn't really qualify as an urban sketch. It was not drawn on location- a weird dichotomy since I referred to a photo of 10 urban sketchers.
4 kids in a snow flurry
The last sketch brings the total up to 21, since I'm counting partial people. These kids arrived at the North Cascades Institute for Spring Mountain School amidst a thick flurry of snow. Three out of four were delighted and I wanted to see if I could capture the various reactions on their faces as they got off the bus.

I used a reference photo from the NCascades IG feed for reference.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Imagine All the People

How will I ever get 100 drawings of people in 5 days?!
That's probably one of the first things that pops into your mind when you see the proposed global drawing challenge on blogs by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel. The idea is to draw 100 people in one week. It starts tomorrow, Monday, March 6, ends on Friday, March 10, and I'm in!  I'll post each day on my Instagram for sure and on my Flickr photostream and on this blog as time allows.
Start with something simple.
Ever since I first saw it, I have admired this contour drawing, a self portrait by John Lennon.
Lennon is remembered for his music but he began drawing long before he had a guitar. He attended Liverpool Art School between 1957 and 1960, before his sessions with The Beatles became a full-time occupation. Lennon would always maintain “Art came first.”

I became aware of the principles behind contour drawing through Betty Edwards' book, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". It was revolutionary in 1979 when it was first published. It's the first book I advise my students to buy if they want to improve their drawing skills. I use my own particular adaptation of contour drawing all the time, especially in my sketchbooks.

Why not try a few contour drawings as warm ups and then just keep going tomorrow until you have 100 of them by the end of the week? If you like to use your watercolors, why not try simple 6 stroke figures like the ones I demonstrated here.

Don't forget to share your efforts using  #oneweek100people2017.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

March Momentcatchers and Multitasking

In my usual multitasking approach, I am combining two online drawing challenges today; Candace Rardon's Momentcatchers (a watercolor every first Saturday of the month) and "One week 100 people" a global challenge starting up on Monday. (I'll post more about the 100 people challenge here tomorrow)

I took a moment or two to set out a bunch of sketching supplies to see what I might use for the the upcoming week's drawing challenge. Bing! THAT'S what I'll draw and paint this weekend for my contribution to the Momentcatcher's  Challenge---the pile of sketching stuff I'm using! This will be my third post for the year on this challenge. I plan to add one a month on the first Saturday of each month.
See more about the Momentcatchers Project at

In another spate of multitasking, I took some photos at each stage of today's sketch.

1. Drawing with my Sharpie Stylo Fine tip black waterproof pen in my new Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook.
I chose this sketchbook because its thick, smooth paper is particularly pen-friendly yet allows for wet media, should I have enough time to add watercolor washes.

 2. I wanted to try out both the smooth paper of the S&B Zeta and my new very pointed tip travel brush. It's a #6 round Voyage by Silver Black Velvet

So I mixed up a semi neutral grey with my DIY Altoids mini travel tin and washed in the shadows over the pen drawing.

What do you think? Does it make that much of a difference from the simple line sketch?
3. Finally, I added watercolor washes over the previous two stages and used Picasa to superimpose a little text list of my choice of supplies for the challenge. I do that sometimes to see what it would look like if I add narrative to my sketches. I think if I do decide to add text by hand, it will be slanted to fit the angle of the drawing of the sketchbook page. You can see what it looks like without the text added on my Flickr photostream here.

I hope this qualifies for my Momentcatchers entry. There IS watercolor in it. :)
Oh, and here's a shot of my work in progress.
PS. My cappuccino got cold. I got carried away yet again and that part of my multi-multi-multi tasking failed.