I could draw this shape with my eyes closed. It's often what I see when I close my eyes because when we were in St. John's, Newfoundland, this was the view from the bedroom. I would wake up and make out the shape of the hill in the dark. Every morning I would see the sun coming up over it. I snapped a lot of pictures of it, even when half asleep.
I finally sat down and sketched something from St. John's again - this hill, this shape, of course. I did some sketches when we first got back but have had trouble getting back to it because it was making me sad! I did not anticipate the intense sadness I would feel from missing being there so much. I felt like a teenager who had broken up with a boyfriend then regretted it and stalked his instagram.
There is a live feed of St. John's Harbor on YouTube. I visit it a lot. I can see that hill, though at a different angle than from the bed. But I like to see how it's doing, if the water is rough, what the weather is like.
On our last full day there, I sketched the hill and other important shapes - the little yard that dropped off to the water, and the view from over the kitchen sink of the hill behind our house. So many good shapes.
I sketched so much in Newfoundland and wanted to keep up the intensity when I got back, but the reality of, well, reality, is that sketching isn't as front of mind as it is when I'm traveling. But I did manage a few fun sketches my first week back.
This was a fun one - sketched at Cooper Young Festival while listening to a band. I've always wanted to sketch this house, and this was the perfect opportunity.
This wasn’t a vacation, it wasn’t a work trip, and it wasn’t a family vacation. It was a different thing altogether. This year I’ve put a lot of thought into where my work comes from and why I paint what I paint, so when we arrived, I was super-aware of how I was experiencing this place, but also trying to ease into it since we were going to be there for so long. I was also overwhelmed with the sketching possibilities. Everywhere I looked there were interesting landscapes, cool rocks, new-to-me plants, and BOATS!
So I kind of surprised myself when, instead of easing into it by sketching coffee cups or everyday items around the house, I went ahead and sketched the big hill that loomed over us across the body of water outside of our house.
When I went to New Zealand earlier this year (I know – isn’t it funny that we went to New Zealand and Newfoundland in the same year?), I had this one big grounding experience that helped me know what to do with myself while I was there. I still made crappy sketches, but that’s all part of the process.
In St. John’s, over the four weeks, I had this as a series of experiences – walking and suddenly it was like the landscape would come into focus and I could really see and know the differences in the plants and the sounds and the light and air around me. And being three-fourths through a hike and feeling a connection to the earth I was walking on as all distractions fell away. And landing on my sweet spot of sketching materials a week and a half into the trip.
I ended up sketching the hill a lot. These three are out of a total of nine, and are just from the first week. I can still see the hill when I close my eyes.
Lately I've been thinking about how my work consists of sketching on location and experiencing places through sketching and through various actions - like walking or swimming - and then my oil paintings come from a combination of the sketches and the experiences. When I paint, I think about how well I can get to know a place through these actions – how it feels, the energy of the place, the sounds, sights, smells, solidity or airiness, wind, rain, cold and heat - and the sketches contribute to getting to know the shapes and lines that go with it. So, the point is to connect with a place briefly, so that what I paint comes out abstracted or flattened or with unlikely colors or patterns, but the feeling of the place is there.
We took a boat tour in Auckland - a whale and dolphin safari. We saw neither whales nor dolphins, but I was perfectly happy sketching all of the little islands we passed by. I just used pencil because we were sitting on the front of the boat, and I didn't want to risk losing any sketching supplies to the bumpy ride. Keeping it simple seemed like a safe bet.
On our last full day in Auckland, we rode the bus around town to six different places that sell meat pies and I sketched every one of them, but I didn't taste all of the pies. The Mill Bakehouse and Ripe Deli were my favorites. We ended at a restaurant called Toby's, which seemed appropriate. I kept it simple here with just two Pilot Parallel pens.
After we came back, my sketching felt refreshed. Here are some from April and May, right after we returned from the Symposium. I feel like the Symposium really helped me to find my sketching sweet spot again, as did the trip we took to Newfoundland, which I'll tell you about next time!
I'm testing posting from my phone - again. This software is glitchy but I check back every so often just in case.
If it works, you'll see this sketch that I made in Mobile, Newfoundland (get it - mobile!), as a preview for upcoming posts about my trip to Newfoundland. I'll keep posting spring and summer highlights until next week, when I can start reflecting on this trip.
Fingers crossed this works!
(ETA - It only kind of worked. I'm sticking with the full online Square/Weebly blog editor.)
I went to the art museum in Auckland, and it was so nice to look at art and draw it and to think about art and to not think about it and just breeze by or say nope or to GASP with surprise and delight when I walked in a gallery and saw something unexpected.
I did this sketch on the terrace with a Pilot Parallel pen and a pencil for the background - I love how cartoonish these sculptures look in my sketch. They were pretty cartoonish in person, too. And after the Symposium, it was nice to have this time to put thought into a sketch and a little more oomph, incorporating some of what I had learned.
I walked around at my own pace and ate two small lunches!
I sketched at Albert Park again, trying a new thing where I sketched the same scene twice. I did the thumbnails in the smaller sketchbook, then did a big sketch (top), then went back into the smaller book (8.5" x 5.5") and did a really quick sketch of the same subject. An unscientific poll of some of my Instagram friends preferred the second one - I'm not surprised! When you draw or paint a thing twice, you get the awkwardness out in the first one.
I'm in a different part of the world right now, but wanted to go back and share more from New Zealand. I've shared some special moments from our trip, now here are some sort of ordinary scenes - well, ordinary for traveling to the other side of the world. This is from Albert Park on the first day we got to Auckland - I went ahead and got a sketch of the tower out of the way on day one!
This one is from Elliott Stables - a food hall next door to where we stayed. It was perfect for a day of recovering from jet lag.
And here we skip to after the Symposium. I was so happy with this page because after days of (really wonderful) workshops, it was nice to sketch in my own style. I captured the hotel laundry room as I washed clothes, and a takoyaki stand where I waited for lunch. One of the best things about this trip was that I got to go to two takoyaki stands!
The Auckland War Memorial Museum was a delight! So were the mussels I had later at The Occidental.
On our last day, I was packed and ready to go way too early, so I drew the hotel room, using what I had learned from Stephanie Bower's perspective workshop. It was sad to say goodbye to this sweet little room!
I still have lots of things to post from earlier this year, like the rest of my trip to New Zealand, but I also want to show that I am sketching regular things all the time. And it doesn't get more regular than this from earlier today - a Walgreens at a big intersection. I used a Pilot Parallel pen because I love the variety of line that they offer, and I sketched quickly because it's hot out!
Here are some more highlights from my summer sketchbook, a small Laloran, 4.25" x 4.75".
As I posted here recently, I have started to think about how observing while walking or through some other action is part of my art practice, so when I was at the Florida gulf coast recently I kept that in mind.
This sketch above was the view from the kitchen window of the Santa Rosa Sound and the town of Navarre Beach in the distance. I loved watching how the light changed throughout the day and day by day, and how the colors changed as a result.
When I got back home, I kept thinking about the shapes - the point of the Sound in the sketch to the right, the sandbars and seaweed patches, the grasses and scraggly bushes, the almost straight lines of the sky, water, land, and the roads, sidewalks, and fences whose edges are obscured by sand shapes. All of which I observed while staring out the window or from the balcony, walking, driving, and swimming in the Sound.
I took the time to capture some lines, marks, and patterns on a couple of walks - tire tracks on the beach, the rhythm of walkways and stairs, clumps of seaweed and grasses, and the lines created by seaweed that mimics the waves when they hit the beach.
Of course I also made my typical vacation sketches - things that were in front of me and the things that accumulated on the kitchen counter. And even sketched a few family members working on a puzzle!
It was a lovely time, and I'm so thankful that my family totally gets that I need time to sketch and to walk around and look at things. And enjoyed that I wasn't the only one sketching!
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