I made most of the sketches over the last few weeks at home, since I was stuck at home with bronchitis. The one on the right was made after a doctor's appointment, though.
I've had so much hot tea over the last few weeks! I'm a total convert to herbal tea and especially lemon and ginger tea. In the sketch above I made myself two cups, one with a lid to keep it hot.
The Nickel Boys is a good book - very clearly and concisely written and still very affecting.
More things around the house, more hot tea. I drew small boxes in anticipation of small/quick sketches. That blue cup is the one with the lid from the sketch above. An artist gave it to me as a gift, probably 20 years ago, after I helped her with a show of her work.
The sketch on the right was the view out of my window one day when the sun came out after days of rain and made everything look like it was glowing yellow. But the sky behind it was purple, indicating more rain to come.
I surprised myself by doing this two-page spread of my tea setup. The small dish is for the tea bag - I find that if I leave the tea in the kitchen to steep it just stays there. And I happened to have this small tray that is the perfect size for this.
Usually I sketch when I'm out, but I enjoyed capturing these little moments. Do you sketch more in your house or outside of it?
I've been sick with bronchitis for two solid weeks! I'm starting to feel better (FINGERS CROSSED), but I have some scanning to catch up on. This is the last thing I scanned before I got sick.
Here are a couple of different angles on this pair of buildings that I like to draw so much - officially the Clark Tower and the White Station Tower, unofficially My Devil's Tower and The One with the Hat.
In the sketch on the right I was meeting with the other Memphis Urban Sketchers administrators, passing along all of the information I could to them as they take over for me. I'm now officially retired from Memphis Urban Sketchers! But I will continue to attend the sketch groups and so should you!
I love a winter landscape! But I'm confounded by the tops of trees. They are so twiggy - how do we sketch that? For the tree I sketched in this post I used a colored pencil. It worked well for that sketch, but I might not want to do that for an all-ink sketch, like the one above.
One way to solve the twiggy tree-top issue is to draw evergreens! Like these, above, at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. That's a Jun Kaneko sculpture in front of the evergreen trees and bushes.
By the way, this book was incredibly good and I highly recommend it. But it will make you cry.
This food truck is near my house and we like to get burritos from there sometimes. When I started this sketch my goal was to sketch and paint the truck - it is a dramatic black and green and hot pink - but I got so distracted by the winter trees!
Another reason I'm looking at trees more closely is that I started following artist Jo Blaker on Instagram (@jo_blaker) and she has started posting with the hashtag #ayearoftrees. I love the idea and have started participating because Memphis is such a tree-rich place, which I love showing off. Also, whenever I think I don't have anything to sketch, there will always be a tree there.
Whenever I work on my sketching classes and workshops I end up sketching. It's a very handy thing my brain does. Doing it helps me think about it, which helps me figure out how to talk about it. Here is a coffee cup and the view out of the Starbucks with just a few simple materials - a black fine-liner, gray brush pen, and two colored pencils.
In the workshop I did a demo using three materials - a black fine-liner, a gray brush pen, and a colored pencil. It was easy to make a whole scene and the differentiate the background with one color.
During the second half of the workshop we worked with watercolor and with drawing a more elaborate scene. This is a silly exercise I have them do where they draw around something they have already drawn. It's inspired by a workshop I took with Mike Daikubara, but we had the whole Chicago skyline as inspiration! My students find this exercise frustrating, but I think that means it's working! But next time I might adjust it so that we start with one item in a corner or along the bottom, and work a more complex scene around it - like I did with the top sketch.
I learn so much from teaching!
Between December 15 and January 5, I went out of town three times - here is the third one.
I went to Maine for a quick weekend to see my friend of 30+ years, Andrea, and her family. Her mother, who I've always been a big fan of, recently passed away and we had a Celebration of Life party where we all told funny stories about her, at her request/insistence.
On my previous trip - to the beach with family - I sketched with my nieces and nephews and we talked about how to sketch faces. My nephew Calvin sketches made-up faces a lot and I asked his advice on doing that because it is a habit that helps with sketching people in person. It definitely helped me to sketch these 14 faces in the Philadelphia airport.
I didn't do much more sketching - it was a busy weekend! We had a lovely visit, though, and I am already looking forward to my next visit.
After Christmas most of my immediate family got together at a house in Inlet Beach, FL, to spend some quality time mostly eating and playing games. This sketch is of a LOUD game of Scattergories. Can you hear it?
Inside and outside views of the house.
Some of us went for a hike at Camp Helen State Park. Here I am trying to get a sense of the language of marks to use for the trees and the sea ferns.
Ah yes - colored pencils! They are my favorite way to sketch the landscape lately.
The trail we were on led to the beach.
While everyone wandered around the beach I had time to sketch this view of the water coming from an inlet lake to the Gulf of Mexico. There were ruins of an old pier that made striking shadows.
I started the sketch on the left at Camp Helen State Park, then finished it back at the beach house.
On the right is a sketch of the kitchen. My niece Somerset was sketching it so I figured I should, too!
I got out my "real" watercolor brush - a Rosemary R13 - to capture the sea ferns behind our house one morning while visiting with my sister-in-law. I hate to admit how much of a difference a real brush makes since I'm such a huge fan of the Kuretake water brushes, but lets just say they can be used in different ways.
I also used my Expeditionary Art Palette here, and had to mix all of the greens!
The walk to the beach from our house was less than 10 minutes, so we went several times. This time, everyone tried to convince me it was nice to walk on the beach in bare feet. Um, no - not when the sand is cold! So I went back to the steps and made this sketch. The shadows of the beach umbrellas begged to be sketched.
While we were there 2019 slid into 2020, without much noticeable difference. We spent the week playing games, doing puzzles, telling stories, cooking and eating, walking and hiking, and generally enjoying each other. I'm very grateful for it.
I'm teaching a workshop at Flicker Street Studio this week called Sketching Your Everyday World where we talk about using sketchbooks to tell the story of our everyday world. So we're focusing on the adjective everyday, meaning "encountered or used routinely or typically" as opposed to every day, meaning "each day."
I don't sketch every day. Some people do, and more power to them! Sometimes I do sketch every day for a long stretch, but sometimes I don't, and I give myself permission to be okay with sketching when I feel like it instead of putting pressure on myself to produce every day. Notice these two pages span a Friday through Tuesday.
In the sketch above are some everyday things - buildings around me while waiting on a train and for a food order. And on the right is a sketch that I went out and looked for. I walked to one of the four churches in a half-mile radius of my house and spent some time sketching it. I was surprised to find that I spent a half hour on it!
I recently went to San Jose, CA, to attend a one-day Edward Tufte seminar. One of my flights was very long so I read a lot, watched Elf one and a half times, and made this sketch, which is way more detailed than I usually have time for on a flight. I enjoyed using my new Expeditionary Art Palette.
Seriously, the flight was so long I had time to sketch this, too!
When I arrived I went out to find lunch, and spent the time it took me to eat that sandwich listening to an old man tell me about the original such-and-such drives that he worked on. I imagine that is a very San Jose experience. He also gave me advice about becoming a "chair person," which involves finding others to help you but also something he called "abracadabra."
Then I went back to my hotel and took a nap because I deserved it!
That night had the pleasure of meeting up with three San Jose sketchers for dinner - Suma CM, Suhita Shirodkar, and Uma Kelkar. Having friends to sketch with almost anywhere you travel is a definite bonus of being a part of Urban Sketchers.
We talked about sketching people. Suhita is a natural at it, but I'm not always comfortable with it. After participating in several years of One Week 100 People, I feel much more comfortable sketching strangers but when it comes to sketching people I know, I chicken out fearing that I won't sketch them as cute as they are in real life. (Yes, everyone I know is cute.) They all said to just do it anyway and perhaps I'll get more comfortable with it if I do it more. Solid advice!
Morning sketches. Those coffee cups *rolls eyes*.
I spent the day in Edward Tufte's seminar Presenting Data and Information. It was great! He talked a lot about the importance of presenting data in an ethical way and about analytical thinking. He showed amazing examples of representing data visually - about showing it with more than words and arranging it to be easily and well understood. He also had good tips about making presentations, with an emphasis on your story or content, but also your credibility. Plus we got all of his books as part of registration, so it was definitely worth it.
After another nap (I love naps), I walked around downtown San Jose a bit and ate dinner at Original Joe's. I had a great seat at the end of the counter and could see all of the cooking action.
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.
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