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urban sketching

I went out today for a walk and took my sketchbook with me for the first time. This time my efforts are park centered instead of buildings.  I leaned against a fence to draw.........


The sketch done on-site. I used MarcTaro Holmes' technique of using a single line to define my base with the rocks & stump.  It made visualizing SO much easier. From there it was easy to place the dominant trees (the house ended up too big; it's really farther away, but, oh well)

With color added with Inktense

I find it a little harder to blend Inktense than watercolors, but I drew on thin paper that doesn't hold up to watercolor.

Continuing on my walk, I went to the disc golf course and this giant triangle tree caught my eye:
Drawn on-site; Inktense color added at home.  Again I used Marc Taro Holmes single line horizon idea and it made a great top line to establish the rest of the sketch.


Sketching continues.........



urban sketching

Since I'm just starting my sketching journey, I bought a couple of Craftsy sketching classes:  Marc Taro Holmes teaches Travel Sketching in Mixed Media, Perspective for Sketchers by Stephanie Bower (a Seattlite), and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor by Shari Blaukopf.  I can highly recommend all 3 classes -  Absorbing the classes and exploring the internet for urban sketching has been a revelation.

For those who don't know, urban sketching is an international movement to sketch where you live and find beauty in your neighborhoods.  Sketching is supposed to be done only on-site, not from a photo or memory - you can use any medium and any subject as long as it's in the context of what's going on around it.

So after a little bit of practice from photos using some of the techniques picked up from the classes, I decided I wanted to try an urban sketch - something done on-site, in person.  Was it going to be easier or harder in person rather than from a photo?

I stopped on my way home from work to sketch this neighborhood bar (in Georgetown).  Of course, I wanted to pick a somewhat easy building to start with - still screwed up the perspective and had to kind of scribble correct the top, but overall I'm pleased with my efforts.  And, it was fun!  I can tell I'm definitely going to have to do some work on cars .... these look very cartoony and there's something weird about the perspective. And, since cars are all over the urban landscape, I'll have to figure it out.  Onward and upward!


a beijing sketch

I tried a few more sketches, most not worth sharing, but teaching me something each time. Tonight's sketch was a bit more satisfying, so here it is.....

Drawn from this photo of a neighborhood street while we were in Beijing



My efforts (obviously with some elements simplified)


Drawn with my new extra fine tip Platinum fountain pen (suggested by Marc Taro Holmes), colored with Inktense & watercolor.

Am thinking of trying to sketch something "out in the world" soon to see if it's harder or easier.......


a few more sketches

I'm enjoying looking through pictures I took in Paris to now turn into sketches.  

Here's a more complex attempt - the Paris Opera House, which I actually didn't see; Dan took this photo.



My humble attempt..........starting to include darks and some shadows (ala Marc Taro Holmes sketching video series)


This one was a quicker sketch with the idea of hinting at the row of fall trees some with no leaves and some with fall color.  That's a row of parked cars on the right.....obviously need to work on that!  :) Color again added with Inktense.  Will graduate to watercolor sometime soon.


sketching 2

Sketching an elevation view (ala Stephanie Bower) using info from her Craftsy perspective drawing video course (on sale right now). I added color with my inktense pencils & a water brush.


Source photo I took on one of our neighborhood streets:


Stephanie is based here in Seattle, so I'm thinking I might try taking one of her classes in person - could be fun (if I can get over my insecurities!).   Meanwhile I'll continue practicing using the tips in her video course.


branching out - sketching

I've been wondering what my artistic challenge will be for this year - I've done a couple of 365 projects......photos and collages......and thoroughly enjoyed those challenges. I don't think I'm up for that level of commitment, but I feel like I need a direction, a goal.

I found it tonight. I took a free perspective sketching class at Daniel Smith tonight and had the good fortune to sit next to Casey. Casey already understands perspective drawing and was SUCH a help to me - she guided me through the teacher's lesson and patiently answered all my questions.  Thanks Casey!

A couple days ago I bought a perspective sketching class online through Craftsy.com given by an architecture illustrator located here in Seattle. It's 7 video lessons - I've only done one and she begins by having us draw in elevation - standing directly in front of a building and drawing flat. Well, I can do that, sort of, but I was able to use the ration/proportion part of the lesson to good effect.

So, this year's journey is going to be to tackle a long held wish.....that I could sketch. Not picture perfect (I have a camera for that) but to sketch so that the item or scene is recognizable and somewhat follows the rules of perspective and proportion.

Here's my first attempt to draw an elevation from a photo I took of a door in Paris. (I discovered sketches don't scan well, but.....here it is)

Below, the photo:


Watch me as I struggle and try and practice and learn to sketch!

Hope you can make time for a creative, rewarding week!


stitched collage

I've been away from collage too long - this simple one just reminded me how much I enjoy playing with different papers - this time I added in a piece of one of my photos. This will be a great way to work my photos into mixed media.....


To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.  - Kurt Vonnegut


DLP - go out on a limb

This year I'm once again starting out participating in the DLP (Documented Life Project) as a way to create art within a theme, but also to serve as a sort of journal of my year. Now, I've started this for the last 3 years and not been able to sustain it so far.  Maybe this year.

The theme for the first month is : go out on a limb (try something new)  The first thing that came to mind for me is to try photo transfer. I know almost everyone else out there has already done this, but for me it's something that was somehow intimidating so I kept putting it off. This seemed a good time to give it a try.

 Started with a painted background and photo I took in Vermont.

 Tore the edge when I was smoothing out the bubbles - but, oh well.

 After drying overnight, I rubbed and rubbed till the paper was off.

I discovered I actually really like the process of this; I like the way my stamping shows through the background and the way the edges rubbed away.  Now I have to figure out how best to incorporate the technique into my mixed media efforts........


Tried a few other versions as well.  I didn't like the first one - I learned the dark background didn't translate well....all the detail got lost and it didn't work well with my background. But a good learning experience. 

Next time I'll share my beginning DLP pages.... Have a creative week!



reading - part 2

Here's what I read the 2nd half of the year for the FB reading challenge.  Part 1 is here.

The Son    JULY
Bk originally in another language:  The Son, Jo Nesbo  (A)  recommend  -man unjustly imprisoned gets out and seeks revenge
Bk you can finish in a day:  The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett (B) recommend  - queen of England discovers a mobile lending library and rediscovers the pleasure of reading
Popular author's first book:  Patron Saint of Liars, Anne Patchett (B) -woman raises her child in an unwed mother's home and creates an unusual life for her & her child
Bk became a movie:    Wild, Cheryl Strayed   (B)  true story of woman walking Pacific Trail alone to deal with her grief
Bk of short stories:   5 Great Short Stories, Jack London  (B-)
Bk more than 100 yrs old:   Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (C-) why is this a classic?
no category:  Personal Geographies, Jill Berry  (B) mixed media personal map making
no category:   Walking London's Parks & Gardens, Geoffrey Young  (C)
no category:   Walking Paris-the Best of the City, National Geographic

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)   AUGUST
Bk written by someone under 30:  Red Rising, Pierce Brown (A)  highly recommend; futuristic Mars settlement; young person becomes rebel against establishment, sort of Hunger Games genre but more adult, 1st of trilogy
Antonyms in Title:   Him, Her, Him Again, the End of Her, Patricia Marx  (C-) stupid, whiney relationship story
Nonfiction:   Adrift, Steve Callahan  (B) man lost 76 days at sea
no category:   Shadow Man, Cody McFayden  (B+)  mystery
no category:   Golden Son, Pierce Brown  (A)  highly recommend - part 2 of the trilogy

Nathan's Run   SEPTEMBER
A banned book:   Nathan's Run, John Gilstrap  (A) recommend  -orginally banned for language; excellent older YA story of  13yr old & his escape from juvey; well written, action, strong characters
Bk set in high school:   Dare Me, Eric Devine (C+) high school boys and a series of dares
Bk with non-human characters:  The Girl Who Remembered Horses, Linda Benson (C) YA mystical
Bk turned into TV show:  Heat Wave, Richard Castle (B)  light detective, just like the TV show
no category:   Red Light, Graham Masterton  (B-) mystery set in Scotland
no category:  Plain Truth, Jodi Picoult  (B-)  Amish family drama
no category:   No Mercy, John Gilstrap  (A)  recommend  - mystery
no category:  Kindred, Octavia Butler   (B+) recommend - unique combo of fantasy (time travel) and slavery (1970s and 1800s)

The Alchemist   OCTOBER
no category:   The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho  (B+)  recommend, simple fable-like style story filled with positive insights
Bk takes place in home town (Seattle):  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet, Jamie Ford (B-); Japanese internment in Seattle from perspective of young teen
Bk from bottom of to-read list:  My Life as a Fake, Peter Carey  (D)  poetry writing scam & fallout, ruined lives, set in Malaysia
no category:   House Reckoning, Mike Lawson  (C)  mystery
no category:   The Girl who Fell from the Sky, Heidi Durrow  (B)  recommend -YA about bi-racial girl trying to find her identity after death of parents
no category:  Learning to Swim, Sara J Henry  (B-) mystery of woman who saves child thrown off ferry & tries to figure out who wants to kill him
no category:   Second Life,  SJ Watson  (B-)  woman who destroys her life obsessing about sister's killer

The Princess Bride   NOVEMBER
A classic romance:   The Princess Bride, William Goldman  (B) haven't seen the movie, enjoyed the fantasy romance
Bk that scares you:   From a Buick 8, Stephen King  (C)  disappointing, not scary
Bk set during Christmas:   Winter Street, Elin Hilderbrand  (C-) lightweight, boring story
no category:   The Leopard, Jo Nesbo  (B)  mystery, complex plot

Guardians of the Night (Gideon and Sirius, #2)   DECEMBER
no category:   Guardians of the Night, Alan Russell  (B) recommend  - cop & partner (a dog) solve a couple of crimes with a bit of humor
Bk based only on its cover:   Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen  (B) similar to movie Practical Magic
Bk with magic:   Deerskin, Robin McKinley (C+)  magic kingdoms, love, princess
Bk supposed to have read in school:  A Separate Peace, John Knowles  (B)  story of high school boys finding themselves, classic
Bk from your childhood:   Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (B) classic YA
Bk loved by a family member:   Watership Down, Richard Adams  (B) classic fantasy peopled with rabbits
no category:   Rough Justice, Lisa Scottoline (B) good thriller where you already know the killer
A play:  A House not Meant to Stand, Tennessee Williams (D)  nasty people full of meanness, bad way to end the year of reading!

Hope you find time to try some of my recommendations.  Happy Reading in 2016.