In addition to giving a talk at a conference in Denver, I also did a LOT of sketching! I always sketch a lot when I travel, but when I travel by myself I sketch even more. Starting in the Memphis airport, of course, followed by some in-plane sketches with my HI-TEC-C Coleto multi pens that I've mentioned before.
Denver is called the Mile High City for good reason. It smells like pot everywhere! But it is also at an altitude from 5,130 to 5,690 feet, and I am a delicate flower, so I tried to take it VERY EASY the first couple of days. After I got there I relaxed in the hotel and painted the view of mountains in the (far) distance. It was so pretty! I loved watching how the light moved over them and changed in the late afternoon. I thought this would be the first of many, but I didn't see much of the mountains after that as it was overcast most of the time I was there and the mountains all but disappeared.
On Saturday night I wandered around downtown and eventually made it over to Euclid Hall. I wanted to try everything on the menu! I got the Krakenpopper, a spiced-rum-marinated octopus tentacles wrapped in a thin sliver of jalapeño and deep fried. It was actually much less decadent than it sounds, but it was delicious! I was glad it was on the smallish side, because I didn't want to miss the duck poutine. It was deLICIOUS.
Sunday morning I took it easy and had a leisurely breakfast, then sketched the big blue bear (I See What You Mean by Lawrence Argent, fiberglass and steel), which was at the conference center across the street from my hotel. As I've been doing lately, I painted watercolor first and added colored pencil on top. I am really enjoying working that way when I have the time. After practicing my talk, I went to the Kirkland Museum and rested some more before the conference began at 5.
The next day I gave my talk (yay!) and did more sketchnoting than sketching, but still had my hand in it so that's okay.
On Tuesday I found the bar on the 27th floor so I could sketch the view. It was overcast so no mountains, but there was plenty more to see. It was such a huge view that I had to focus in on one small section of the cityscape, so my sketch turned out pretty small, too.
Then I walked around downtown some more, taking the free mall ride to the Tattered Cover bookstore. While I was there I overheard some people talking about walking down to the river, so I asked them where the river was. They replied that they were going to walk in that direction until they found it and I said "Oh, I'm not doing that." As soon as it came out of my mouth I thought, "That doesn't sound like me," so I decided to go looking for it, too. And it was only a few blocks away! But it was more of a "river," a tiny little thing compared to the River where I come from (that's the Mississippi River - I can't miss an opportunity to point out that it is bigger than all the other rivers). Anyway, I sketched it! Watercolor and colored pencil again. It was getting very dark as I sketched for about 30 minutes, but I managed to adjust enough to finish my sketch. Then I went to Euclid Hall again.
The last few sketches might show my waning energy. I was more acclimated to the altitude by then, but exhausted from the conference (in a good way!) and ready to be home.
All sketches are in two Stillman & Birn Alphas - I had to start a new book for the last two sketches!
Sketched with the Memphis Urban Sketchers at Crosstown in March and I can't believe that was the last sketch group I went to! In April I was doing my taxes, and in May I was out of town. It's especially weird since for those three months I was so immersed in organizing the Memphis Urban Sketchers show, First Saturdays, at the Dixon. It's up now through July 7 but don't wait! Go see it! A great day to see it is June 1st, because we'll be there sketching. All ages and skill levels are welcome.
These two sketches are in my trusty Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5 x 5.5). The first page is a mix of several days, telling a little bit of a story about my week. The second sketch was all done with watercolor and a Kuretake waterbrush while I chatted with other sketchers.
Last week I attended my sixth STC Summit, the annual conference for the Society of Technical Communicators. Technical communication is my day job, and this year I merged different parts of my life - tech comm and sketching - to present a session at the Summit.
I titled my talk How Sketching Is Like Technical Communication - that's the title slide above. As an artist and a technical writer it's a topic I think about a lot. I've noticed connections between the two - primarily that they both rely on understanding your subject to clearly convey information, and they are both tools to help you with understanding. I believe most people can benefit from sketching, so I proposed that we take the idea of art out of sketching to use it as a tool to understand a subject better, to improve memory and observation skills, and to help us in everyday life.
In my presentation I showed practical applications for sketching, such as the above sketch that shows planning I did for an exhibit. Because I drew this out in my sketchbook, I had a physical space to look at and think about it before I installed it. There are so many of these practical applications that I use without giving much thought to it, but now I'm thinking about them all the time. From the questions people asked after my presentation I see that people do want this information. So expect to see more of these sketches, if not here then definitely on Instagram (@elizabethalley) and Twitter (@alleyelizabeth). And you can also follow me on LinkedIn, where I'll be sharing tips about practical sketching.
If you're interested, here are the resources I used for my presentation...
Sketchwork is sketches and work about sketching - teaching, making art, art supplies, books, sketchers, artists, Urban Sketchers, Memphis Urban Sketchers, and traveling.