Month: March 2018
This week I did another thing I have never done—attended the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America. While there with my teen daughter and her friend, I sat and sketched one of the themed areas (above). I have never seen a place that was totally focused on crayons. As large as a one-level department store, brightly colored walls, videos, green screens, and play structures over-did my senses. You could take a photo then make it into a coloring page. You could mold your own crayons into shapes. You could melt crayons and do drip paint. You could eat in a crayon-themed cafe. You could dance on a floor of moving objects and they’d be projected on a wall. You could create your own crayon colors and name them. My daughter chose names from The Office— Obnoxious Michael Green, Dundie Yellow, Dwight’s Beet Red, and Ryan Started the Fire Orange. After some time, over-stimulation from the many little kids and parents took its toll, and we departed. But it was truly and interesting experience!
Yesterday it was a balmy 53 degrees F and I went to the Como Conservatory to sketch flowers. On my way, I passed Como Lake and noticed some brightly colored people out on the ice. People were in the water and standing on the ice. Their yellow jackets stood out against the white ice and black water. I had to take a look! I parked and grabbed my sketch stuff and went to check out the action. The St. Paul Fire Department was doing training on how to do ice and water rescues. Yellow-suited men and women took their turns floating in the frigid waters and crawling out on their stomachs on ice to rescue others. As I started to sketch, I talked to a firefighter who was curious about what I was doing. He said they had new recruits in a six-week program and they were training them in ice and water rescues. The suits were warm (for awhile) and could fill with air and float. They had a wide red flotation band that they would inch out to people in the water and wrap around their bodies, then they would pull them up onto the ice. Other fighters stood a ways back on solid ice, pulling the ropes that would ease people out of the water. After a few water sketches, including the seagulls, I went up a sidewalk to go back to my car. I was almost there, but looked behind me. I saw the parked ambulance and fire truck on the bank, and saw another group doing rescues from the shoreline, and knew it would be a good sketch. So back I went. I sat at a picnic table while the wind blew around me, and sketched the sidewalk scene (above). Firefighters in their blue and black uniforms struggled in and out of yellow flotation suits and rescued their colleagues from the water off shore. Some stood talking, others held ropes, still others waited their turns.
I have never seen people doing this type of activity and it was a great opportunity to sketch. Thomas Thorspecken, an Orlando Urban Sketcher, says: “Where there is action, go towards it, instead of away from it.” I followed his advice and got some fun sketches!
Today I went to the “March for our Lives” at the State Capitol. It was a cold cloudy day and the wind picked up the later the event lasted. I went to the rally with another friend and her daughter and as we approached the mall, we saw a sea of humanity weaving its way up the streets, waving signs and posters. We went up the side area and stood on the steps to hear the speakers. I don’t know how many thousands showed up, but it was a lot. The sketches below I did standing while observing the crowds and listening to the speakers. I picked up slogans from signs, quotes, and people themselves. The crowd was very quiet and respectful when students got up and spoke. It was emotional and difficult to hear their stories and pleas at times, yet, very powerful. Further into the speaker line-up, we had the privilege of hearing from the students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, whose hockey team was in our state for a tournament. You could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. A dad spoke first, detailing the heartache of the past events on Feb. 14 and the difficulty in coping. But he reminded his own kids that their survival enabled them to make good change in the world and that their friends would not be forgotten. A boy said “Never again should someone have to attend 17 funerals in one week”, another shared how they had to stay in a closet for 2 hours with a teacher, and a choked-up girl was sharing the horror of having to move on after the shootings, without her friend and classmate by her side. They worked on assignments together and turned them in with both their names listed, so she still lists her friend’s name on the assignments. My heart had broken for these people by then and the tears ran from my eyes. You see the news, the stories online, you watch the video clips, but it doesn’t prepare you for the personal stories spoken from kids who knew these other kids. They were there. And they are living as many families after after gun violence of many kinds: broken. My sketches convey a small amount of what I saw and heard, and much more resides in my heart and soul that I couldn’t put on paper if I tried. But I give these sketches as a small offering, that maybe in some way, change can happen.
I tried another experiment with colored paper, this time blue. I sketched a portion of the deli at Kowalski’s from the second level. I liked the hanging lights—they looked like black telephone cords hanging down. I was able to capture a deli worker behind the counter as well. I’m not sure how I like the blue background, but colored pencils and pen show up on it pretty well. The lighting was interesting too, the back row of food trays were illuminated and the front ones weren’t. A fun activity and one I would try again.
My son and I went to a meeting about high school racing for the Minneapolis Sailing Center. We went into the Uptown community room on the corner of Bryant and 36th in Minneapolis, and while waiting for other students, I looked around for something to sketch. I could see out the windows to the street and noticed the Calhoun Pet supply building across the street. Between cars stopped at the light, pedestrians, people’s heads from nearby tables, I grabbed this sketch quickly. I started with the jaunty sign (it looked ancient), and I liked the broad blue signage and yellow-gray brick (or maybe river brick) front. Posters and displays decorated the windows. A red and white truck blocked my view for a few seconds, so I sketched it, but then the light changed and it was gone. Some kids arrived early for the meeting and went to the store to look around. They commented that it smelled like dog food and there were no animals (I think they thought it sold pets). Later in the evening I was able to fill in a few more bricks and other accents and color with watercolors. Good thing I carry my sketch supplies in my purse, you truly never know what you’ll get to sketch!
My parents house is a treasure trove of antiques. I am not an antique collector, but they are. They love old things and find them at sales and other places. Over the last couple years I have sketched a few of their items. My most recent sketch (above) was in the dining room. A large cabinet that my dad made is stained cherry-colored. It contains many pottery pieces my mom has collected. She says her style is “Rustic” or “Primitive”, so collects old bakery and cooking pieces as well.
The sketch below is of things on their porch from my mom’s side of the family. An ox yoke, washboard, icebox, grocery scale, Pound-a-Peg, and coconut tins are not things we’d see nowadays, but they add character to the porch.
I sketched a wall in the living room in 2016. I liked this dresser and rocking chair, both pieces they have redone. A large crock holds a blanket and dried baby’s breath sits in the basket to provide texture. I never knew how fun it would be to sketch antiques!
Airports can be fun places to sketch. I did the sketch above while waiting for a plane yesterday. There was a cafe open and a variety of interesting displays, including a pretzel rack. I liked the guy with a shaved head and pony tail, he added interest to my sketch. Below is a sketch I did at the Minneapolis airport. I was eating a muffin at Caribou and looked out the window. A plane was being fueled and eventually pulled away from the gate. This contraption didn’t move, so I had time to sketch all its details. I saw a similar fuel station when my plane pulled into the gate yesterday and the other side was facing me. It was full of dials and displays, which I didn’t see when drawing it last week. It’s amazing how even machinery can be fun to sketch!