Since I'm sketching 90-95% at home, there is a lot of food and drink involved. Even outside of sketching, there's a lot of food and drink involved.
We've been getting a farm box from Rosecreek Farm and they have the most lovely produce, like these shishito peppers. I had to sketch them really quickly because my husband was about to cook them. They were delicious!
It seems like I'm drawing fewer coffee cups, which is weird because that's my go-to every day item for sketching. But here's a simple sketch of one, along with some other food and dishes. Another thing my husband made recently was a delicious Mai Tai in a Tiki mug that just begged to be sketched.
After months of sketching the same scene when I pick up my groceries, yesterday I turned my head and drew a different view. This janky tree and that weird carwash behind it just called out to be sketched. I did this very quickly, and was happy to have my fat pen back in my purse as it is the most fun pen for quick sketches.
Later in the afternoon I ran another important errand, and actually planned for sitting and sketching for about ten minutes.
Of course I'm going to keep sketching this building, too!
I took last week off of work for a much-needed break. Normally if I'm taking a week off of work - or any amount of time, really - I am traveling somewhere. But not during a pandemic. (Sigh.) Instead, I had a week's worth of Saturdays, and it wasn't a trip to Scotland, but it was still pretty nice.
For the previous week or two I hadn't been sketching much because my head was too much in work, so I was hoping that having a week to myself would help me to sketch more. I think it worked.
One of the things I had time to do was take a watercolor workshop from Róisín Curé. It was so fun, and helped me to reconnect with watercolor in a way I have been unable to do on my own lately. I highly recommend signing up for one of her workshops!
Having this week to do some leisurely sketching helped me to get to know the format of this 8x10 Stillman & Birn sketchbook. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not used to using it as an everyday sketchbook. But I am much more comfortable with it now!
Thinking about past vacations and travel sketching made me a little sad, though, so I revisited some travel sketchbooks and copied a few of my sketches. The two on the left, above, are from 2013 when we went to Barcelona to attend the Urban Sketchers Symposium.
Here's another sketch from my 2013 Barcelona sketchbook, of La Sagrada Familia. That was such a fun day, it was fun to relive it in sketch form.
In my notes here I'm chiding myself for these slightly lazy sketches - it's that they lack a bit of purposefulness, as I was sketching really quickly for no reason (Sagrada Familia isn't going anywhere). But I remembered that I had only been sketching directly with ink on a regular basis for a year. When I attended the previous USk Symposium in Santo Domingo in 2012, I was still primarily using pencils and by the end of that trip had started to use pen more, as well as marker and colored pencils.
It's amazing how much Urban Sketchers has helped me grow as a sketcher, and therefore as an artist and as a teacher, and now as a writer! I'm sad we couldn't all be together for a Symposium this year, but sketching makes me feel better no matter where I am.
Later this month I'm teaching a sketching workshop for DePaul Art Museum. The class is online via Zoom - here are the details:
Sketching Your Day
Wednesday, July 29, 2:00 PM CDT
The workshop is free and open to all skill levels; registration is required and attendance is limited. Click here to register with DePaul Art Museum.
In this workshop we will learn to tell the stories of our days by sketching with pens, markers, and highlighters that you already have around your house, and any kind of paper. But sketchbooks and notebooks that you've been "saving" are preferred!
We'll find easy ways to draw through our daily tasks and keep up with the practice of sketching.
The idea of using materials you can find around your house was inspired by the late Peter Bowman. He would come to the Memphis Urban Sketchers gatherings with a plastic bag full of random tools. Then I realized that I have a plastic bag full of random tools! I figured many people have pens and pencils and highlighters around the house, plus crayons and kids' markers.
And for sketchbooks, any paper or notebook will do, really. We don't need fancy materials to tell the stories of our day.
This is a typical spread of sketches from a couple of days. The more of these you create, the more of a story you will tell!
I prefer medium-sized sketchbooks, but sometimes I switch to small ones just to mix things up a bit. This sketch is in a small Stillman & Birn (5.5 x 3.5). I've been enjoying this size since I've been mostly staying home - sometimes taking it around the neighborhood with me, and always taking it with me when I pick up groceries. But I've also been working in an 8 x 10 Stillman & Birn Alpha, because why not mix it up and challenge myself during an already super-challenging time, right? (This is when I roll my eyes at myself.)
Working with layouts in the larger sketchbook has been challenging, just like it is when I switch from a medium sketchbook to a small one. In the sketch above, I was putting more thought into the design of the two-page spread after looking at other people's sketchbooks on Instagram.
Back to the small book - sketched the table and chair I set up on the other side of my carport so that I can visit with one friend at a time, at a distance, outside.
Then the big book again for a Sunday Sketching sketch of the fatsia outside my studio window. The text on the side is the notes I took during that day's episode USk Talks.
And back to the small sketchbook for a couple of weeks. Mostly of sketches around the house, like the one above, or to take outside, like the one below.
The sketch above is a return to the big sketchbook and a return to the studio fatsia for Sunday Sketching.
In the sketches below, I decided I was all in with the big sketchbook for now. The small sketchbook now stays in my purse for running errands.
Urban Sketchers has been hosting a show on Instagram Live for the past few months, and it is a delightful treat! Rob Sketcherman hosts, interviewing a couple of sketchers each week on inspiring topics such as urban sketchers from other eras, sketching to learn, and sketching for a cause. Each week the sketchers each give viewers a challenge. My sketch above is in response to Gabi Campanario's challenge, Tell Me More. Gabi asked us to share sketches with informative captions written in our own voice. This is the first of the challenges that I've done; I'm terrible with prompts for some reason.
I started this sketch on a break from working in the yard. I began to label the trees and shrubs as a reaction to my frustration with my neighbor's bamboo and privet. As I was drawing the utility wires, I thought about how some places don't have utility wires above ground, so they don't have trees trimmed into odd shapes by their utility company. I switched my focus, and added a second sketch of the view behind the houses on my street looking east, where there is a valley created between the trees to accommodate the above-ground wires. And I wrote about it.
The other thing I love about USk Talks is getting to help out with some of the post-show work. I've been writing summaries of the shows for the Urban Sketchers website since the April 19th show. You can see the summaries here. It's a pretty simple task compared to the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to produce each show. The team putting this together is a fantastic, creative, hard-working group, and I just swoop in when it's done and write a summary.
I'm very proud of the writing I've done for this project. I've noticed my writing getting stronger since I started. Even though my job is writing, it is technical writing - I'm taking existing written information and reworking it in a clear and concise way to help users do their jobs. But for USk Talks, I'm taking notes during the show and putting together highlights based on the show's theme, both interviews, and the challenges. It's a stretch for me, but a good one.
This week's show, Episode 13: Watercolorful, airs on Urban Sketcher's Instagram Live on Sunday, June 28, 4:00 AM GMT (that's 11:00 PM Saturday here in the US Central time zone, CDT). If you follow Urban Sketchers (@urbansketchers), just go to Instagram at the show time and you will see they are live in Instagram stories. The show is also available on Instagram for 24 hours after it airs, and then you can find it on YouTube.
They don't stop, so I might as well sketch them!
This meeting was different, though. It was at the end of a virtual conference for the Society for Technical Communicators - this was the "after party." And it had such a great vibe for a Zoom! There was a lot of (guided) interaction, and there were two musicians who played. For a Zoom meeting, it was quite lovely.
Last week I had to attend a four-hour training session, so I tried mapcrunch.com for the first time. Map Crunch takes you to a different Google street view every time you open it, and you can go to new random locations, too. When I opened it I saw this image from Guatemala and sketched it while listening to the training. It really kept my mind focused! And I had fun using random pens, markers, and highlighters to create a colorful scene.
I've been going out more! But not really. I'm still only going out to pick up groceries, to find toilet paper, and for the occasional restaurant food pickup. I try to sketch while I'm out, but it just depends on how much time I have.
I'm guaranteed more time at grocery pick-ups, like the one above. I'm also still just keeping a pen and my small Stillman & Birn sketchbook in my purse.
I've headed to Huey's a few times, too. While they were still only doing "curbside pickup" they had a great system going, but I usually found myself with a few minutes to sketch.
On this day (above) I had enough time to draw all of the stripes in the Clark Tower, and start on the other building.
This one is also from the Huey's parking lot, so I got a different angle on the Clark Tower.
Since the first week that Memphis' "Safer at Home" started, I've been catching up with sketcher friends in San Jose, CA, where they were already in more of a lockdown. We chat about our week, about sketching, and inevitably about the pandemic as we sketch our desks, the view outside of our windows, and each other.
The sketch above is of my studio table - always full of art supplies and usually a La Croix can. I did this in a bigger Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (8 x 10) because it was one of those times I wanted to draw EVERYTHING.
This sketch is of my work desk and all of my little treasures, and is in the small Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5 x 3.5). I can fit a lot on a small page!
On this Sunday I was feeling uninspired, so I just sketched my watercolor kit (from art-toolkit.com). I love that I always have my sketch gear around to sketch it.
On this Sunday I set up outside and sketched EVERYTHING again in my big Stillman & Birn sketchbook. Before I could finish, the sky opened up and I ran for cover in the carport. I never went back to finish because I like the unfinished look of it.
So I sketched the car. Back to the small sketchbook for this one. I'm enjoying going back and forth between the big sketchbook and the small one. The adjustment for scale is a good exercise.
The last time we got together (we skipped Memorial Day Weekend) , I just felt like painting so I worked in gouache in the big sketchbook, painting the fatsia outside of my studio window. The text is notes from that day's USk Talks, which you can see on Instagram Live on Sundays. I write up the summaries for the Urban Sketchers website.
Check out all of these fine folks on Instagram:
Urban Sketchers @urbansketchers
Art Toolkit @arttoolkit
Suma CM @suma_cm
Suhita Shirodkar @suhitasketch
Uma Kelkar @umapaints
Stillman & Birn @stillmanandbirn
My house came surrounded by these bushes called fatsia japonica and I love them! These bushes are outside my studio, and sometimes I draw them from the studio. This is from several weeks ago, so they are even taller now!
This sketch is a combination of gouache and watercolor - a really good combo for fatsia!
I sketched this from my studio, too. There is construction going on across the street and on this very muddy day a forklift carrying a palette of building materials got stuck in the mud, and the flatbed truck tried to pull it out. Very exciting stuff.
And here's the back yard! Another fatsia to the left, an azalea still blooming to the right. I started this one with watercolor and when back over it in pen - such a good way to tackle both organic and non-organic shapes! I think There is some gouache on this one, too.
Oh look, more fatsia! Inside, in some water.
Backyard fatsia. I was going to start this one with watercolor and then move to pen, but I had too much fun just with the watercolor and left it like that.
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