Laurel Sucsy is showing paintings and photographs in the Mallory/Wurtzberger Galleries at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens right now and I had the pleasure of hearing her talk about her work on October 30.
I wrote down a lot of things that she said. "How you do something is much of what it is," reminded me of D. B. Dowd's book Stick Figures, as many things do, in which he says, "How a thing is made is part of what it means."
That idea - both of those ideas - have become important to me as I've changed the way that I work, because my painting is now more about the act of making it than a pre-planned idea.
I love that Laurel does master copies (copying a painting or drawing) because that's such a good way to learn, and I've been telling my students to copy sketches more to learn about how they are made.
I look for inspiration everywhere, and found it in her saying that she was showing work from the beginning of a series. I tend to work in a series to completion, then show it, then work hard to figure out the next series. But what if I spread a series out? What if it's all a series?
She also said that during her painting process the painting starts talking back, and that reinforces what I've been telling my mixed water media class - that the painting will tell you what it needs next.
Go see Laurel's show! It's on view through January 5.
A couple of weeks ago we took our niece Genevieve to New York - she's the fourth of four so we took her older brothers and sister in 2011, 2014, and 2015.
It was G's first plane ride and she did great! We hit the ground running, eating lobster rolls, riding the Seaglass Carousel, seeing the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry, and eating lots of sushi. Hardly any time to sketch while running around the city with a 13-year-old!
Our hotel room had a pretty amazing view and I had a few minutes to sketch it. At some point in the very early morning I saw the moon to the left of the tall building, low over the ground and the orangest orange I've ever seen. We also saw a guy in a fez on the subway.
All of a sudden I can't wait until March because the amazing Pat Southern-Pearce - those are her sketches above - is teaching a workshop in Nashville! The workshop is at the Union Station Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22.
I first met Pat at the 7th Urban Sketchers Symposium, in Manchester. I didn't get to spend much time with her, but I talked to so many people who did and who were utterly charmed by her sketching and her teaching. Same thing happened at the next Symposiums because her workshops are so popular I haven't been able to register for one! But now she is coming here, just a few hours from me. So excited!
If you are interested in attending (and if there are spots left!), do a search for Pat Southern-Pearce on Facebook and you should be able to find this information. I also shared it on the Memphis Urban Sketchers Group on Facebook.
The next Symposium (the 11th!) is in beautiful Hong Kong in April 2020. I will more than likely not attend because I was already planning a different adventure for April, so I've been thinking about other options for learning more about sketching over the summer.
See the Urban Sketchers website for more information about the 2020 Symposium.
This is a fun-looking summer-camp-like option taught by four incredible sketchers. It takes place closer to the time that the Symposium usually takes place and looks like a nice place to escape the heat of a Memphis July.
See this site for more information about the Urban Sketching Summer Retreat.
Suma CM is teaching a workhsop in Umbria, Italy in May that looks lovely! It's four days and also includes dining and accommodations. More information here.
Liz Steel teaches in the summer in Italy, too. Her Palladian Odyssey Tour is still taking registration for June 2020, and the May tour is already sold out!
You can also check the Urban Sketchers site for Upcoming Workshops for more great options!
Today I met up with the Memphis Urban Sketchers at City & State on Broad Ave. It was the day of the Broad Avenue Art Walk so there was plenty to see, but several of us stayed at City and State as we visited with each other and sketched. My plan going in was to sketch several vignettes across two pages of an 8x10 Stillman & Birn Alpha. I did one of my coffee cup and scone, and then just went for my “fat pen” (Pigma Graphic 1), and sketched everything. It was so fun! I added a few touches of color at the end.
It made me think about Karen Sung's workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam (I posted about it here), where she told us to follow the lines to see where they take you.
I taught a sketching workshop last Saturday and noticed I kept talking about sketching coffee cups as though they are my main subject. These sketches kind of prove they are!
I was keeping count of my coffee cups earlier this year but I've lost count.
Sometimes my coffee cups are travel mugs.
Sometimes my coffee cups are hand-made travel tumblers! This is one of my favorites, made by Bridgman Pottery.
This one is featured twice! I only have so many coffee cups...
Friday cup! I caught up the count at this point, but have lost count again since then. The drawing at the bottom helped me solve a problem in a painting I was working on.
Sometimes my coffee cup is a to-go cup, because I cannot deny my love of Starbucks' Americano. I guess I'm pretty basic.
Wow, three in one! And a fatsia!
Another favorite, this one by Paper and Clay. Now I need to catch up on scanning my sketchbooks - think of how many more coffee cups I've sketched since then!
This Sunday, October 6, is the last day to see my show at the Dixon! I'm giving a tour of the show at 2:00 PM on Sunday and I hope you'll join me or stop by between now and then.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
4339 Park Ave
Open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM today through Saturday. Go eat lunch at their awesome cafe or for Food Truck Friday! Open 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sunday.
Sign Up for Mixed Water Media Class at Flicker Street Studio
Mixed Water Media x 2
74 Flicker St., Memphis, TN
Thursdays 6:00 - 9:00 pm
October 17, 24, 31, and November 7
Click here to sign up on the Flicker Street Studio website.
This will be a four-week class and we will complete two paintings - previously we've done one painting over three weeks. We'll explore a variety of mixed water media and techniques to learn about composition as we go.
On Saturday of the Urban Sketchers Symposium, I warmed up with a little coffee cup sketch, then took a workshop by Santi Salles, Amsterdam Green Microsketching. I am a huge fan of Santi's work - his sketches are energetic and capture the feeling of a place or a table setting (he sketches a lot of food). We looked at the amazing handout booklet he made for us and mixed a bunch of greens and khakis, and followed his step-by-step instructions in the handout. It was the perfect last workshop because it was so structured and we were all a bit tired by that time.
I really enjoyed learning how Santi works. It is complex and works beautifully.
After that I was on my own a bit, but kept meeting up with new and old friends. I ended up back at the Drink & Draw location for lunch and had the loveliest visit with a couple of sketchers. We all headed to the final sketchwalk, the only one I ended up attending!
I got really lucky and was able to visit with my friend Liz for the final sketchwalk, the picture, and the walk over to the closing reception. I love visiting my sketching friends at the Symposium but often our visits are in short bursts, so this felt like such a treat.
The sketch above was my final sketch of the sketchwalk, and it turns out of the whole trip. I headed home the next day and was both too exhausted to sketch and also so incredibly satisfied with the sketching I had done over the last week, I felt it was okay to take a break for the day. It also helped that I had a really good book to read on the flight home!
At the closing reception they announced next year's location: Hong Kong! I'm so excited for the local team and for everyone in that area of the world for getting the opportunity to attend a Symposium closer to home. With the timing of that one (April 2020!) I might not be able to make it, but I have wonderful memories and lessons from this year's to carry me over until I can see all of my sketching friends again!
Yesterday I told you about the work being done across the street from my house - all of the mature trees are being removed from a lot that has always been empty. The work continued on Thursday and I was working at home again and got to capture it.
The workers were just cutting this great big section of this tree.
Another one down.
I hadn't noticed before the way this tree split. After taking down the first part there was what looked like another whole tree to take down.
My depiction of the grade is off here - the tree and the backhoe were actually more level. This tree was on the very corner of the lot, close to the low wall and driveway of the house next to it, so the workers took extra steps to make sure it fell the right way.
Now that tree is (mostly) gone, too. The backhoe driver takes over to work on the "stump," which I'm guessing is still about 10 feet tall.
The backhoe driver continues digging around the stump and trying to break it apart for most of the afternoon.
The backhoe driver and the tree workers quickly did away with the magnolias in the northeast corner, and then all of the trees were gone.
The backhoe driver eventually got rid of the stump, and spent the rest of the afternoon breaking up tree trunks and limbs and putting them into piles. He was still working when I made this sketch at 5:00 PM.
I'm curious about how they will get rid of these piles, and if I'm home when they do it I will probably sketch it.
Editing this to add the two-page spreads from the day.
The backhoe driver digs around the tree in the center of the lot. (The pink background was already there from playing with acrylic ink the night before.)
After digging around the tree, the backhoe driver pushed the entire tree over with the backhoe. This is the top of the tree on the ground.
Another worker plays on the swing as two other workers prepare to take that tree down.
The backhoe driver breaks apart the first tree and starts making a big pile.
The worker in the cherry picker removes limbs from the swing tree with a chainsaw.
The swing is gone.
The backhoe driver starts digging around the swing tree, but stops to try, unsuccessfully, to help one of the workers who is stuck in the cherry picker. He has to wait for the others to return from Home Depot.
The swing tree comes down. The backhoe driver dug around it and pushed it over, like the tree in the center. The workers immediately started to trim it down with the chainsaw so that the backhoe driver could add the pieces to the pile.
Also throughout the day the backhoe driver started taking down the magnolia in the top right of this sketch by grabbing big sections with the backhoe and pulling. The tree workers also started taking down branches from the tree on the corner with the chainsaw. At some point they took the cherry picker away.
A note about the lot: This was the last open space in the neighborhood. The area where we live was once a lake with one big house (we think it was the house that is directly behind this lot), and over time the family that owned the land started selling off lots, and then filled in the lake to sell even more lots. During my childhood, the big house still stood on at least three lots (probably more), including this one, the subject of this post. I have a vague memory of being in the yard where these trees stood, because the people who lived there didn't mind neighborhood kids playing in their yard.
A note about materials: Stillman & Birn Epsilon 8.5x5.5 sketchbook with a Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 pen, Pentel ink brush pen, Royal Talens Ecoline brush pens in light orange and light green, Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencil in burnt ochre, and Prismacolor Premier colored pencil in neon pink. I made the sketches with the Graphic 1 either at my window or on my front porch, then returned to my studio to add color. Because this was all happening so quickly, I picked colors to represent different things - green for the trees on the corner and in the center, dark gray ink for the magnolia, and a combination of the orange brush pen and neon pink colored pencil for the construction fence.
They're back at it today and so am I.
Here are all of the two-page spreads.
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