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.
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.
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