Month: February 2018

Mall of America Sketches

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MOA people

Yesterday I was at the Mall of America to go to dinner with friends. As I sat waiting for them to arrive, I noticed a store worker sitting on a bench a few feet away from me. She was dressed in a bright red shirt, black pants, black apron, and had her hand under her chin and her elbow on her thigh, staring intently into a smartphone. We sketchers always look for interesting postures, so I couldn’t resist a sketch. She sat just long enough (I was sketching intently only to look up and she was gone) to get a quick pencil sketch, which I inked and colored in later. Later in the evening, I waited in Starbucks for my son’s order. I couldn’t resist sketching a lady with bright blue hair, red lipstick and thick-framed glasses. She was looking intently at a laptop. People intrigue me, and I always find lots to sketch when out in public places. I wondered—- what was on the phone or laptop that captured their attention? It’s interesting nowadays how many people are sitting around on their phones, staring intently into a screen. I try to read the body posture, but really can’t decide what they are looking at… it’s a mystery!


Thumbnails at Central Park

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park 2

Today I sketched at Central Park in Woodbury. I like that place—it’s warm, sunny, green, and after a bunch of snow, it feels like spring. I sat at a bench and drew several thumbnail sketches. These are small sketches of many things, instead of a whole scene on a page. They are fun to try when there is a lot to look at and you can’t decide on one thing. I draw boxes with pen, then decide what goes in them. I first began with a water feature under the bridge, moved to a man in a hoodie sitting on a bench. Then I turned my position and faced looking out the window, and did some peeling birches in the snow. A landscaper had come by a couple times wheeling a cart with paver stones and then another guy began laying soil down in the plants several feet away. I could smell the soil, it was a nice smell, earthy. I drew the guy leaning over emptying the bag of soil, some plants growing on the sidewalk. After each sketch in pen, I put watercolor down on it too. It was a fun way to pass some time, and got me around green things!

park 3


Trying Schminke Colors

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orange 1

Sometimes it’s nice to slow down and try different products. I recently bought a Schminke travel split primary watercolor set. It is made in Germany and costs a fortune. I got mine on sale, thankfully. I haven’t really worked with it much until now. I had used it in a sketch last week, but the colors are not quite what I am used to, and I needed brighter colors, so fell back to my Koi set.

I set up a little plate of fruit—a half-eaten apple (I liked the ridges), a half-peeled tangerine (I liked the peel), and some strawberries. I sketched out the drawing in pencil, then started with the oranges. The orange color was nice and intense, I watered it down for lighter values, then built up layers with less water. The yellow color was perfect for the apple (kind of a Naples yellow), but doesn’t always give me the results I want if I mix it with other stuff. I need to experiment with the colors it will make. I worked through the berries, then mixed a purple to use for the shadows. I was thankful I took a color theory workshop years ago to help me know what to mix. But I’d be wise to make a color chart for all these new colors. Here they are: Perylene dark red, Saturn red, Cobalt Azure, Phthalo sapphire blue, yellow orange, rutile yellow, Potter’s pink, Perylene violet, perylene green, hematite black, viridian, and mahogany brown. I have a lot to learn, but I had fun, plus a ready-made snack afterwards!

orange 2

Sketching in the Minneapolis Skyway

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On Sunday I went downtown Minneapolis to sketch with the Urban Sketchers. We met in the IDS Center, an amazing structure of glass and steel. After introductions, we went off to sketch in various skyways. I sketched the Hudson building. I liked the architecture—windows, stone, and archways. I sat with others on the floor above the Target atrium and also drew some people I saw below. One lady did a fantastic sketch of the Foshay building. We were happily sketching until a red-haired security guard came over, asked us what we were doing, and told us we could not sit there. We could stand, but not sit. I was coloring in the building, so rushed to get that done, which so often happens when you sketch on location. Your subject leaves, you get told to leave, something changes, so we got up and continued on our way. I went to Gaviidae Commons, but nothing grabbed me, so back in a couple other sky ways I went, before ending up in the IDS Center again. The sketch above was done there, from a white park bench. I liked the second level balcony, and a huge fountain dribbled water from stories above to a huge granite plate-like structure below. I sketched a couple people, a restaurant umbrella, a tree with white lights. Sparrows landed on the seat across from me, people talked, and we all later met up to compare sketches and take a group photo. It was a very fun and interesting afternoon!

Hudson Building

Sketching at the Pet Expo

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Today I went to Central Park to do some quick sketches. I found some type of small expo happening—people set up at tables, selling things. Bottles and gadgets always make good sketch subjects, so I went into the library and sat in a big poofy green chair by the fireplace, facing out the window.  A vendor had her back to me—but her purple jacket was hung over a chair and the color grabbed my attention. She had all kinds of bottles, baskets of items, and more. I didn’t know what she was selling, so after I finished the sketch, I went around to the front of her table where a dad and his kid were looking at her items. I saw an array of doggie bones, custom treats, and doggie shampoo. Her company was “Pet Wants”. That was cool! I heard barking dogs, and wondered what they were doing, so I kept walking down the crowded aisle and saw pet scratchboard portraits, primo pet supplies, and information about dog leash safety. I sat on a bench by the waterfall, as I noticed the next scene: a bright green and purple banner announcing–“Caring for Cats”. This table had 3 ladies at it, and a ton of cat toys, blankets, and other things stacked upon it. I couldn’t resist the colors, so I did a quick sketch.

Pet show 2

The amphitheater was ramping up for All Breeds Obedience School demo, so I wandered past the leash safety info. table. As the demo began, I noticed three French Bulldogs, tethered to their owners, standing in front of another display. I couldn’t tell what it was, but two of the dogs flopped on the floor, their jowls oozing onto the floor, front legs splayed. I had about 15 seconds to sketch one of them before they jumped up to greet a passerby. I completed ink sketches of all these things in about 25 minutes, and added watercolor when I went home. It was a fun event and provided lots of sketch potential!

Blue Umbrellas

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A few days ago I was at Barnes and Noble to sketch with a friend. We settled into comfy chairs, she looked down an aisle of bookshelves, I looked ahead and this scene is what I saw: umbrellas for sale! I liked the shapes of the handles, the unique objects, and the way they jauntily tipped towards the books on the table. I also liked the “Clearance” signs. I don’t normally see umbrellas in a row like this, so I knew this was my sketch! I used pencil to draw in the rectangle of book boxes and then switched to pen to do the rest. I slowly sketched the umbrellas, following them carefully with my eyes as I drew the lines on paper. They were light blue and had colorful raindrops on them. After the sketch was complete, I painted in watercolor. I think I’ll sometime go back and sketch, there are many delightful shapes, colors, textures, and outside-the-box objects in that store!

Pete’s Sax

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Last week I was sitting in the choir loft at church. I am a sub for the handbell choir and had finished ringing for the songs I will play this weekend. I began looking for things to sketch, and saw the piano sitting nearby. I am often drawn to something for its shape, texture, colors, or unique qualities. I have never sketched a piano, so decided to try it! I began with the shape—a large rectangular cube, then added the top, back, and sides. I added all the items on top of the piano too, a little clutter makes it authentic!

Last night, I once again found myself with time to spare, so sitting in the same area, I began to sketch a large saxophone, the instrument of our bell director, Pete. I liked the open box lid (a challenge in perspective), the dull gold of the sax, and all the pads and bars, and how it laid haphazardly in the case. The sax had been played during our rehearsal that evening, right behind me, in fact. I had a little familiarity with its sound.

I used pencil for both sketches, then followed up with watercolors. It gives it a nice soft look.

I haven’t sketched very many instruments except guitars, so now I add these to my collection!

Pete's Sax