Month: November 2018

Sketching the Painters

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My pastel group did a “Paint Around” last week. We had 6 of our member artists each do a painting in the span of 80 minutes. They each got 10 minutes at their easel to start their painting, then passed the painting on to the next artist in line every 10 minutes (rotating in a clock-wise direction). This meant they worked on 6 different paintings. The final 10 minutes they finished up their original painting that they had started. As they worked, I did some sketches of them working busily at their easel. We were delighted and awed at the work they produced, and as you can see from above, it was amazing work!

paint around

Toy Sketches

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It’s fun to sketch toys of all shapes and sizes….

This summer, I sketched the remote-controlled car of the little girl next door. I never had one of these as a kid, but I’ve seen several of them around—getting kids ready for driving early, it seems. I once watched another neighbor pushing one of these toys up the hill after it lost battery power. I liked the bright pink color and all the shapes and textures of this subject, especially the wheels.


This was a grouping of toys in a waiting room. I used watercolor pencils on this sketch. I colored only the barn and left the other baskets colorless. It kind of accentuates it this way!


Finally….a Bobafett alarm clock, in my daughter’s room! I liked all the shapes and colors of this messy nightstand, including the money sticking out to the left. Plastic shiny toys are fun to sketch and force you to slow down and observe details that you might miss. All of these toy sketches were great subjects!

Sketching at Target

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starbucks target

I had the opportunity last week to sketch at two different Starbucks, one in a regular Target, and one in a Super-Target. See my sketches above. I captured a man who was in the coffee area eating a Lunchable, I think he worked with the barista from the conversation I heard. The second picture was of an elderly woman, and her fuzzy white hat and bright red coat caught my eye. I got a quick glimpse of her slowly pushing her cart, then she disappeared around some merchandise. I tried to sketch the carts in the cart corral and was doing OK until someone came and wheeled a cart away and there went my subject! I settled on some Target baskets in a stack, thinking those wouldn’t move too much and the lady with the red coat came and sat down nearby, obviously waiting for someone. I sketched her body and head as fast as I could! Soon, someone came for her and she left. It’s fun to sketch people in the coffee shop, you never know what or who you will see!


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Cossetta’s Alimentari is an amazing fixture in St. Paul. It opened in 1911 by Michael Cossetta, from Calabria Italy, as a small Italian market, and eventually expanded from there. Whether you go to the Italian eatery, Pasticceria, or Italian Market, it’s a great place to sample delicious food or buy ingredients for your next Italian meal. After a delicious antipasti lunch, I chose to sit in the Pasticceria (pastry and gelato shop) while my mom perused the market. I decided to draw the large marble countertop and pastry display case. Everywhere were wonderful goodies, in little packages, paper cups, or cellophane packaging. Taste buds watered. I first sketched in this guy at the counter. He was there for a very short time and moved a lot as he completed his purchase, but I got his main profile in. Next, I concentrated on the counter—the moulding, the glass, the fixtures on it, and finally the delicacies inside it. Here was my basic sketch (above with just a light wash for the countertop and a little watercolor). After I finished with the pen, I began adding light watercolor washes layer upon layer, eventually deepening the values more and more. Finally at home I added the final layer and the sketch was completed (below). The shop was full of people and smelled divine! I can’t wait to go back and sketch again!


Sketching My Kit

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I am taking an online urban sketching class and I drew the items in my sketch kit. My first sketch is of my pens, pencils, pens. As I did this, I thought about what I use and what I bring but don’t often use and why. The items I use the most are my black Faber-Castell Pitt pen (F) and my water brush. If I was on a deserted island and only had those things plus my watercolors and a sketchbook, I’d be fine.

pens blog

Next, I drew my painting kit. I have three watercolor sets— the Koi one, the Schminke one, and one with tube watercolors in an old blue Grumbacher palette. I mostly use the Koi kit although the colors aren’t as intense.

paints blog

Finally, I drew a new set of watercolor pencils I received from one of my students. I have not used watercolor pencils much, so they were a delight to try! Inktense, they are called, and the colors are really cool! I then drew an antique tea cup my mom had given me because I loved the fuchsia pink color and used a sable brush to add water. It was fun to try a new product! I can see myself using them in some sketches I try. This was a great exercise to learn more about what I like about my kit, as well as the things that cause hang-ups. I want to keep trying new things and see what I like! What are your fav tools?

pencils blog


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Last week I did a sketch at Cabela’s outfitters. My mom was looking at some clothes and I wanted to pass a little time. I chose to sit at the cafe area and work on my one-point perspective skills. I used a pencil to sketch in a few parallel lines and find my eye-level line, then I began sketching in the display racks in front of me, the floor, the pillars and items for sale. At first it wasn’t coming together well and I had to make a couple adjustments in my lines. I inked it in, then began to add washes of light color. After they dried, I passed over it again, deepening values. An employee came by and asked me what I was doing, so I told him “Sketching” and showed him my work. He wanted to know why I was doing this. I described my sketching classes and how I wanted to create another example of perspective to show them, plus I was waiting for my mom. He worked in the archery section and knew all about people waiting for other people while they went to the gun shop, so he seemed satisfied with my answer. Once I got home, I deepened values a little more, went back with my pen to accentuate a few more details and added the splatter paint. I have learned many times as an artist that sometimes you have to push through, even if a painting or drawing looks like a train wreck. Often with a little work, you can save it and get it to a place where you are satisfied. But it’s the pushing through “the ugly time” that is hard, when your instinct is to quit and trash it. I pushed through and got a sketch I am happy with!

Como Conservatory Sketches

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My Thursday sketching class ended last week with a sketch-out at Como Conservatory. I have sketched here several times, often in the Sunken Gardens, so wanted to try something different on this visit. I chose the Tropical Rainforest trail (indoors) and wandered around looking with my students for sketch subjects. I passed the fish, snakes, lizards, and other tropical animals. As I rounded the path, I saw this huge tree (I think it was real but I’m not entirely sure) with foliage growing off of it. I liked the stump at the end with the value changes and the greenery hanging off of it. Luckily a bench was nearby, so I sat down and got to work. Yellow birds flew over my head in the canopy, I hoped they wouldn’t poop on my head! A mouse ran across the path a few feet away and I noticed a mom and boys trying to find it in the bushes. As I checked in with a student who was sketching the “sloth tree” (minus a sloth), I was glad I took a slice of time to be in this warm humid place with lots of birds chirping.

My second sketch was outside in the Japanese Garden. As I stepped out into the chilly cloudy weather, I wondered what I would find. Someone inside had noticed fallen leaves on the pond, so I thought that might be a nice sketch subject. Having seen the garden in the summer with lush green foliage, I was not prepared for the exquisite beauty of the orange and yellow leaves, beautiful rocks, dark water in the pond, and greenish-gray pine needles of some of the trees. As I started down the trail, a garden volunteer with a nametag saw me and began telling me the story of the Japanese garden, the architect, and how it is a sister garden to one in Nagasaki Japan. She pointed out the four lanterns, the rocks with his face in it, and other delightful garden lore. It was fun, but left me with 15 minutes to complete my sketch. I worked quickly in pen and added watercolor after I came home. I love the quite beauty of this sketch… it has quickly become a favorite!