sketching continues

Didn't do as many sketches last week - will have to try to do better this week. I did finally invest in some artist quality watercolors for the first time so was eagerly awaiting my Dick Blick shipment this week.  I changed up my palette and added the new colors, then had to draw it!

I also ordered a couple of new sketchbooks - ones that seem to be favored by most of the urban sketchers I've been reading.  I got a Pentalic small 3x5 one (below) and then a larger one with heavier paper more suited to watercolor, a Stillman & Birn, alpha series (above).

I sat on my deck after work and drew this little sketch of my yard into the neighbor's.  We have a gorgeous red maple shrub that dominates this viewpoint.

We went to Virginia City to visit family - Dan's mom will be 93 in a couple weeks.  We stayed with his brother and wife and they have this lovely yard - tough to sketch, but I gave it a shot.  First time I painted on site in real time.  And, I did it all with no yellow - I totally ran out of yellow paint so couldn't get some of the greens I wanted, but.......the overall capture is fine.

Hope you're in the midst of a creative week!  Practice, practice, whatever your interest ---- do more of it!  :)


seattle skyline & taking a walk

Continuing my sketching.  After work on Friday, the weather was so pretty I decided to go to west Seattle and try a broader cityscape type sketch. It seemed like it should be easy cuz it's all rectangular shapes.  Well.......

then a touch of color & some darks

the reference photo:
 I cropped out the fence in the photo, but actually it was easily half my view. Also, I made a major error in scale calculation so totally ran out of room to get all the buildings.  However, the exercise was good, it was fun to do, and I was so engrossed that time just flew by.

Then I stood up and focused on a single element of the scene.

This weekend I went for a walk & did 2 quick sketches. My goal with both of these was to draw them quickly, while standing, pretending I was short of time but wanting to capture a view. I just read a Marc Taro Holmes blog post where he talks about the value of being able to simplify and sketching quickly that I found inspiring.      (this boat below hasn't moved from the yard in the 3 years I've been walking this route) The dark shadows are the blacks showing through from the other sketch.
(color added when I got home) - funny, I don't even remember seeing that arrow sign, yet I drew the tree behind it. :)

Marc also wrote about seeing & using darks which I tried to keep in mind with this sketch. By the way, his website has all sorts of tips and instructions about urban sketching - definitely a valuable resource.
Paint & shadows bleeding through from other side. Guess I shouldn't be so cheap and not draw on the back of the pages......

Hope you all have a fabulous and creative week!


a little urban sketching

Okay, here's a first. Sketching in public with just Dan (not part of the urban sketcher group).  We went to the Rhododendron Botanical Garden last weekend and I took my sketch stuff though I wasn't sure what there would be to draw.  We absolutely loved the bonsai museum (garden) that adjoins the botanical garden and there was lots to sketch there so I gave it a go......FUN and not so scary after all.

Here are the photos I took after the sketching:

A few days earlier Dan and I went to our fave local beach and I sketched a bit there.....

Added a touch of color at home....

A couple more sketches through the week from travel photos. I'm trying to work on being quick and representative rather than slow and exact.

Montreal, Notre Dame (furthest back bldg)

St Augustine, FL, Flagler College

Hope you enjoy a creative week.


some watercolor practice

No serious sketching this weekend - had a family day with the boys & their girlfriends Saturday but I managed to squeeze a bit of paint playing today.  Rough sketches were just to practice with paint.

Practicing a tree and its shadows.

Different tree & leaves technique (funny little boat shape needs some work :))

It's trying to be spring and I have some tulips on my table, so........makes sense I would try my hand  at a touch of spring.

Have a creative, productive week!


keeping it challenging

I tackled a couple of complicated looking scenes (for me) over the last couple days.  This first one is the view out my kitchen window.  It's interesting that when I look out it seems all I see are houses, but in the drawing it seems like all fences.  Guess it's both.

Then, yesterday I drove around after work looking for a likely subject.  I headed to West Seattle and discovered this cafe on the corner, right by the freeway.  It was raining, so I found a good parking spot and sketched from the car.
Here's just the sketch (sorry for the weird light - caught the shadow I guess):

Then I added my watercolor - the bright yellow wall is what caught my eye, but not sure I love it in the's SO dominant.  Need to work on my evergreen trees and that fence doesn't translate well as a more practice ahead!

The reference photo taken just as I started - cars came and went so as I was finishing up this is the car that was there (that needs more work too!)  Anyone have any car drawing tips?

Their window sign says they have the 'best' milkshakes, hamburgers & beer.  Told Dan we'll have to go eat there now that I've drawn it!  :)


new sketches

Here's what I've been working on the last week or so.  Still sketching - seeing some improvement but mostly just enjoying the process.  I feel a sense of satisfaction when the perspective comes together and I'm loving playing with my watercolors again.  It's been so long since I painted with them, I have to relearn most of the techniques and when I screw up, I think "oh, I remember that now!"

 The last day of my perspective class we went to King's St train station. A challenging venue, but everyone's sketches were so very good and each with a different view (or perspective, if you will :))

A Vermont covered bridge from a few years ago.

 Dan's family farm in Rockfield, IN.  Made another one for his mom who thinks I'm a genius! :)

Ucluelet BC lighthouse.

A street in Arcos, Spain.

Luxembourg Palace & garden, Paris last fall.  I attempted to add a few people and they got kind of blobby.....definitely have to work on that. Tried to use my watercolors more randomly and drop in spots of accent colors on those big wall expanses to mixed results (ha, get it, "mixed")

Some quick 5 minute sketches to see if I can capture the essence of something quickly.  Will practice this more as I think it will be especially helpful when traveling.

A Vermont church drawn in about 10 minutes during my lunch break at work, looking at my photo on the computer screen - proportions are difficult to gauge from that format, but when that's what you have.....

So, as you can see, I've been keeping busy.  I've had a miserable cold for the last 3 weeks and haven't had the energy to venture outside. Hopefully, I'll be well someday and will get back to trying to sketch in person.  It's definitely a different challenge.

I'm back to reading all your blogs and following your creative journeys on FB or Instagram or wherever you are - and lovin' seeing all that wonderful inspiration. Every journey is SO different!


urban sketching adventure

Yesterday I joined in on my first Urban Sketcher (USk) adventure!  The group meets monthly around the Seattle area to sketch and share their efforts. I have to admit I was more than a little intimidated, but there were a couple of familiar faces (Stephanie, instructor at  the workshop I just took, and Barry, a classmate) in the 25 or so people who turned out.  You can read more about the Seattle chapter of USk here and see sketches some of the participants did.  There's also a flickr group if you want to see more.

We met at UW Suzzallo library and since it was pouring rain and super windy outside, everyone headed indoors to sketch. The building has a few beautiful, dramatic rooms.

I decided this was much too complicated for me yet.... so I kept looking.

I decided to try this view.  I spent the most time figuring out the proportions and getting the "big" shapes in, in pencil. Then switched to ink to do the actual drawing ...... learned a couple things about watercolor when I added that step that I hope I remember next time - I need to work a little wetter so my colors blend better and my shadows don't have such hard lines.  But, for today, a good effort.

5x8" sketch

Looking at all the great sketches at the end. There is SUCH a range of styles and paper sizes and abilities..... an amazingly talented group!  I'm looking forward to the next one.

On the way back to my car, the rain let up a bit so I wandered thru the quad to look at the cherry trees, soggy though they were.  

Hope you're doing something creative this week!


learning perspective drawing

I took a perspective sketching workshop last weekend and loved it.  The instructor, Stephanie Bower, was so clear and full of good examples and tips that I actually had several "aha" moments in being able to "see" vanishing points and angles. She was great!  She also offers a really good class on (and they never expire so you can watch it over and over) which hits the high points covered in her in-person class. I highly recommend it.

So, we primarily focused on one point perspective in the class.  After a morning of instruction and practice, we went "out into the world" and sketched in the atrium at Pike Place Market. I was actually able to create something in perspective - hooray!

Stephanie has broken down the beginning steps of a perspective drawing to three things:  define the main shape (usually a square or rectangle), establish your horizon or eye level, find the vanishing point. After doing those 3 things, I got my 2 walls in perspective (ignore my funky looking people). (see my vanishing point pretty much right in the middle, lower half?)

Stephanie giving class demo

The 2nd day of the workshop was about adding watercolor to a sketch to bring it to life - then we went out into the market again and sketched during the afternoon. This was much harder - there were lots of people milling about in and out of view and each of us picked our own area to draw. I picked this hallway:

That's a store front and restaurant entrance on the right, elevators on the left. This took me forever, but I'm pleased that I was able to complete it. The white space in the center is actually open to the outside and I had trouble with that, so left it blank for now.

Stephanie demos watercolor techniques.

Here's my class watercolor efforts - we painted from a's always so interesting to see how people interpret the same information so differently!

If you're in the Seattle area and interested in learning or improving perspective drawing, I highly recommend Stephanie's class.  Or, take her online class - it's also REALLY good and this comes from a chronic failure at understanding anything about perspective!