Month: May 2018

Pools and Peppers

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Today I am sharing sketches I did while on activities with my teens. On Memorial day it was frightfully hot, so my daughter and I went to the pool. Under the shade of an umbrella, I sketched another brightly colored umbrella and the life guard. Just that same morning, a huge snapping turtle was hanging out in a neighbor’s yard and started across the street. Looking a bit like a mini dinosaur as it walked, hiked up on all fours, it ambled across, but lowered itself as curious kids pulled up in a wagon to watch it. Most turtles scuttle, with their shell close to the ground. This creature stood a good 4+ inches off the ground! I walked quickly home and got my sketch book and hurried back to sketch it. Eventually it sought shade and crept into someone else’s yard. It was huge!

Today I went to lunch with my graduating senior. We went to Cossetta’s in downtown St. Paul. Perched up at a table above the street, we could look out at the traffic and hubbub below. An ambulance screamed by, as well as a noisy motorcycle. I decided to sketch our food while he went off looking for a fork. His sausage sandwich was piled high on red sauce and I had a gorgonzola chopped salad with a red and green pepper. The pepper was a cherry red and when I bit into it, I could feel a little heat, but saw lots of yellow seeds inside. We had a delicious chocolate mousse for dessert, packaged in a pretty white box. I looked over the railing to the building next door, and liked the turrets on top of Patrick McGovern’s pub. So I decided to draw that piece of architecture as well.

Tomorrow I begin a 30 x 30 watercolor challenge—-doing 30 sketches in 30 days. This was a perfect day to get a little sketching done and psych myself up for my next drawing challenge, which I’ll post as well.


Sepia and Milkweed

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Yesterday my family and I sketched at the open sketch time at Wet Paint in St. Paul. They had many types of paints, pencils, inks, pastels, and other mediums to try. I have not used sepia ink and a real ink pen before, so I decided to try that. We had the option of many types of natural items to sketch—rocks, shells, pine cones, leaves, corals, a nest, weeds, and flowers. I chose the milkweed first. I liked the textures, the colors, and the shapes. I liked using the ink pen and dipping it in ink. I could make super thin lines and darker lines if I pushed harder on the nib. It was fun to try and I liked the brown lines, instead of the usual black lines I use with my other pen. I next put down watercolors on the sketch. After trying several milkweed pods, I moved to a large shell with a hole in it. I found the shapes, shadows, and spirals interesting. Crab claws were next. And finally a couple seed pods with spiky covers. The thin lines of the nib worked perfectly for all the spikes. It was a great way to spend some time on a very hot day!


The Turtles

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A few days ago I was biking around the lake near my house. I found a grove of willow trees and decided to sketch the waterline. I parked my bike and found a spot among dead leaves, logs, and snail shells with the willow branches hanging down like a private curtain.

I chose some logs and branches as my subjects and proceeded to sketch in pen. I kept my strokes loose. Around me I heard birds, a red squirrel chirping at me from its perch in the tree, tail batting back and forth, and sounds of bikers and kids on the trail a few feet away.


Using Schminke watercolors and pen on a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, I worked away under the warm breezes, happy for the shade. I noticed a log in the distance with three turtles sunning themselves. The contrast of lights and darks on their shells grabbed my attention. They were lined up so nicely and I’ve often seen turtles of various sizes on logs along this stretch of shoreline. I knew I had to add them to my sketch as well. It was a beautiful day for a sketch and a secluded beautiful place!


Vajra Warrior

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On Sunday I had the opportunity to sketch at the Minneapolis Institute of Art with the Urban sketchers. I took only pencil because the museum doesn’t allow any wet mediums indoors. I missed my paints. After spending time outside sketching some hedges, another sketcher, and a metal statue, I went inside to see the Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty exhibit. Wow, stuff is OLD! I saw kimonos, intricate drawings of gardens, rivers, mountains, and people (one scroll was designed by a guy who finger painted with ink and also grew his fingernail long then cut prongs in it like a brush to apply ink). I sketched a replica of a tea house, and wandered around statues, vases, and more! I settled on theĀ  Vajra Warrior statue, from Japan, Muromachi Period. Mid-14th Century CE. The fun thing about statues is that they don’t move (unlike real people). So I studied the contours, values, and folds of fabric, and got to work. These warrior statues were used as guards for Buddhist temples, and they indeed looked quite fierce. I walked around the front of the statue after sketching it and its mouth was open with a snarl and you could imagine a fierce cry coming out of its lungs. That would have scared some people off!


Meatballs at the ASI

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I am waiting to see if some of my urban sketches got selected for the Foodways exhibit at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I did three sketches in April, focused on food and culture, and decided to share them online this week. One of the sketches is the one above, of the restaurant FIKA. This restaurant is at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, and because I married into a Scandinavian family, I have been inundated over the years with all things Scandinavian. Which means some trips to the ASI (which is a really cool place). I went to the ASI on a cold blustery day with one intent: to SKETCH, then EAT the meatballs. I love looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows of FIKA (which is a word to describe a daily break in Sweden, which usually involves coffee, pastries, and conversation). I can see the Turnblad Mansion and admire its architecture. I had a fabulous cup of chai tea with lots of cardamom and the meatballs were divine, the best I’ve tasted. They were with a potato puree, cucumber sauce, and lingonberries, and the flavors swirled around in my mouth. I love those meatballs and could eat them anytime! Sketching food and culture is so much fun. Stay tuned for more to come!

Sketching at Minnehaha Falls

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Yesterday was a glorious day to be sketching at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Parking was scarce, it seemed all of the Twin Cities were out at this extensive park biking, running, walking, pedaling trollies, and hanging out. I had a long walk to the falls themselves and enjoyed the budding trees as I sauntered along. I sketched the falls first, from the eyrie at ground level, as the water pounded and thundered in front of me and crashed on the rocks below. It is great to have this waterfall right in urban areas, and it is spectacular! I didn’t venture down the steps to view it from below, but I saw tiny people below in the distance. I found the group of sketchers hanging out in the shade by the Sea Salt restaurant, so I joined them. I sketched the piece above, as I watch bikers and people lined up for the pedal trollies. The place was packed, people were wandering around everywhere. After a bit, the sun was getting to me, so I packed up to walk back to my car. I stopped at the John H. Stevens house, the first settler in Minneapolis. I liked his statue, so decided to sketch it, the house, and the little outhouse in the corner. All in all, it was a relaxing, warm afternoon, and I enjoyed it very much!


John H. Stevens House