Yesterday I told you about the work being done across the street from my house - all of the mature trees are being removed from a lot that has always been empty. The work continued on Thursday and I was working at home again and got to capture it.
The workers were just cutting this great big section of this tree.
Another one down.
I hadn't noticed before the way this tree split. After taking down the first part there was what looked like another whole tree to take down.
My depiction of the grade is off here - the tree and the backhoe were actually more level. This tree was on the very corner of the lot, close to the low wall and driveway of the house next to it, so the workers took extra steps to make sure it fell the right way.
Now that tree is (mostly) gone, too. The backhoe driver takes over to work on the "stump," which I'm guessing is still about 10 feet tall.
The backhoe driver continues digging around the stump and trying to break it apart for most of the afternoon.
The backhoe driver and the tree workers quickly did away with the magnolias in the northeast corner, and then all of the trees were gone.
The backhoe driver eventually got rid of the stump, and spent the rest of the afternoon breaking up tree trunks and limbs and putting them into piles. He was still working when I made this sketch at 5:00 PM.
I'm curious about how they will get rid of these piles, and if I'm home when they do it I will probably sketch it.
Editing this to add the two-page spreads from the day.
The backhoe driver digs around the tree in the center of the lot. (The pink background was already there from playing with acrylic ink the night before.)
After digging around the tree, the backhoe driver pushed the entire tree over with the backhoe. This is the top of the tree on the ground.
Another worker plays on the swing as two other workers prepare to take that tree down.
The backhoe driver breaks apart the first tree and starts making a big pile.
The worker in the cherry picker removes limbs from the swing tree with a chainsaw.
The swing is gone.
The backhoe driver starts digging around the swing tree, but stops to try, unsuccessfully, to help one of the workers who is stuck in the cherry picker. He has to wait for the others to return from Home Depot.
The swing tree comes down. The backhoe driver dug around it and pushed it over, like the tree in the center. The workers immediately started to trim it down with the chainsaw so that the backhoe driver could add the pieces to the pile.
Also throughout the day the backhoe driver started taking down the magnolia in the top right of this sketch by grabbing big sections with the backhoe and pulling. The tree workers also started taking down branches from the tree on the corner with the chainsaw. At some point they took the cherry picker away.
A note about the lot: This was the last open space in the neighborhood. The area where we live was once a lake with one big house (we think it was the house that is directly behind this lot), and over time the family that owned the land started selling off lots, and then filled in the lake to sell even more lots. During my childhood, the big house still stood on at least three lots (probably more), including this one, the subject of this post. I have a vague memory of being in the yard where these trees stood, because the people who lived there didn't mind neighborhood kids playing in their yard.
A note about materials: Stillman & Birn Epsilon 8.5x5.5 sketchbook with a Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 pen, Pentel ink brush pen, Royal Talens Ecoline brush pens in light orange and light green, Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencil in burnt ochre, and Prismacolor Premier colored pencil in neon pink. I made the sketches with the Graphic 1 either at my window or on my front porch, then returned to my studio to add color. Because this was all happening so quickly, I picked colors to represent different things - green for the trees on the corner and in the center, dark gray ink for the magnolia, and a combination of the orange brush pen and neon pink colored pencil for the construction fence.
They're back at it today and so am I.
Here are all of the two-page spreads.
On Friday of the Urban Sketchers Symposium I took Richard Briggs' workshop Play and Rhythm: How to Capture Character with Limited Content because I'm very interested in the way he captures information with a very minimal line. We walked over to Amsterdam's "Love Bridge" and had just the most perfect, quiet, shady spot.
Richard started us out by having us wander around to find things that most interested us about the area and to make a list of words describing what we found. He was interested in having us focus on the relationships between these things that made Amsterdam Amsterdam. I found this part very helpful as it pushed my looking - I kept seeing more and more that interested me and that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. He also said, "If it was up to me I'd have us looking for 90% of the time and drawing for 10%," which says a lot about his methods.
The sketch above is one of my favorite spreads from the whole trip. It's in a Stillman & Birn Alpha 8x10, with a Lamy Safari & Noodlers 54th Massachusetts ink.
Our instructions from Richard were to draw things from the list we made. I'll admit, I was not 100% paying attention when he was giving instructions, so I didn't know if we were supposed to do this in his style, which is very distinct, or just draw like we normally draw. I opted to draw like I normally draw, and when we looked at everyone's sketches, I saw that everyone else's sketches were made with a very minimal line, like Richard's. Oh well - I gotta be me!
I made sure I had the correct instructions for the final drawing, which shows my interest in Amsterdams' "public spaces" - the tiny walkway and not-well-kept tree on the left - versus Amsterdams' "private space" - the lush trees and plants around doorways and stoops. And also the relationship of houses to street to water. It was an interesting exercise, but not my favorite sketch.
Oh and I intentionally left out the bike because I figured we didn't need another Amsterdam bike sketch - ha!
After the workshop I had an absolutely lovely lunch at Droog with Shawne, Liz, Maria and Peggy. Sharing a meal with old friends and new is one of my favorite parts of the Symposium.
I attended Rita Sabler's demo Unfolding Stories: Recipes and Ingredients for Visual Storytelling in the afternoon. Rita is an amazing sketcher/storyteller so I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her process. We had a great spot near a market in a shady and breezy area, so as I listened to her I started sketching this interesting structure in the background. Later I realized that this interesting structure is the Zuiderkerk, the impressive building hosting the Symposium, and one of the most-sketched buildings at the Symposium. It made me realize that what I had been saying and teaching since the 2018 Symposium in Porto was true: sketching your everyday world prepares you for bigger sketching opportunities. Because I've been purposeful for the past year in finding and taking advantage of opportunities to sketch and filling up many a two-page spread, I approached this big moment with confidence and ease, not even thinking about it as a big moment.
At the Drink & Draw I drew without an agenda, just layering people and buildings to give a sense of the setting.
Later that night, after cooling off in my hotel room for a bit, I ate dinner at a little Spanish place down the street from my hotel and ended up sketching the ubiquitous Amsterdam bike.
The Urban Sketchers Symposium workshops started on the Thursday of my trip to Amsterdam, and I was so excited! My first workshop with was Karen Jiyun Sung, who I have been following on Instagram since first meeting her at the Manchester Symposium in 2016. She has a playful take on drawing from life and an economy of line that I was interested in learning more about.
The Workshop, Growing a Drawing: Making Sketches Beyond the Dimensions of the Paper, was about starting a drawing and adding paper to extend the drawing, but it was about more than that. It was about composing as you go, and made me think a bit about the mixed water media classes I've been teaching, where we start a painting and then make adjustments to the composition as we go. I also felt like Karen gave me permission to start wherever and see what happens, though I did spend a lot of time just looking first to get a sense of the area I wanted to focus on. That feels so natural to me and took away the pressure to start out with a composition in my mind.
Below are the sketch as it looked at the end of the workshop, and later after I added more darks to differentiate some areas and to make it look more like a finished drawing. I don't normally do that, but since it was a stand-alone work (as opposed to in a sketchbook), I felt compelled to.
(Also note the lovely old bedspread in my hotel room. It was too heavy for the very hot days I was there, but it sure was pretty.)
The exercise sort of liberated me, and I made several more sketches throughout the day that I was really happy with.
I also participated in the Skit Sketch - quick Pecha Kucha-like presentations about different sketching-related topics. My talk, How Is Sketching Like Technical Communication, was a shortened version of the talk I gave in May at the STC Summit in Denver. I was happy to share my ideas about practical sketching applications, and my fellow sketchers seemed interested in the idea of using sketching in practical ways.
In the sketch on the right I was sketching other presenters to calm my nerves before giving my talk. Sketching always makes me feel better, even when I'm nervous about giving a talk about sketching!
The pink sketch at the top is of the buildings across the canal again - such great subjects just right there out my window! I was testing a Derwent Paint Pen that came in our goodie bags and of course I was thrilled with the color.
Below the pink sketch is the view of my hotel room from my bed. I was on the top floor so the ceiling was slanted and had these lovely beams and lots of windows. I just kept sketching them until I started making mistakes and then I knew it was time to go to sleep.
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