Month: January 2019
Last week a sketching class assignment was to sketch an area in your house. Somewhere that had a lot going on, or a complex scene. I looked around a bit and decided on my teen daughter’s room. What could be more complex and detailed than that? Though I think her room is “messy” (as most teens’ rooms are), she claims that it’s just fine because she can find everything and knows exactly where things are. If it gets picked up and organized, she says she can’t find anything. So, I bravely sat on the floor and looked for a focal point to tell my story. She plays electric guitar and is becoming quite good. So I decided to sketch the guitar, then expand the focus and include other things, like a shelf, music equipment, and books and pencils on the floor, even a lone ball of string. The page felt a little blank, so I added a trace of her window and curtain. I used my watercolors to add color, keeping a few things that weren’t the focus devoid of color. Sometimes we don’t have to look far to find things that are colorful, complex, or interesting. Sometimes our living spaces can provide just that! Where might you develop a sketch of an area in your house?
I went to lunch at Portillo’s last week with my sketching friend. I have sketched this Chicago born hot dog/other food place before, but this time I was able to add both the workers behind the counter and a guy waiting for his food. Also a yellow floor sign so people won’t fall where it’s been mopped. A lot was going on in the background, including signs, dishes, equipment, and more shelves. But I let that all fade into the background and made the checked counter and people the focus. It’s important to let the sketch have a focus and work outward. I started with a blank page and hurriedly sketched the man in the baseball cap on the right. Then I sketched the counter, added the workers, then worked the sketch outward from there. Both the workers and the patron were waiting, and it was fun to see how each person handled the lull in time.
I am taking an online sketching class with Sydney urban sketcher, Liz Steel. One of the exercises she had us do was to go to a place and look around us. Do thumbnail sketches of a few different views and then choose one to do a final sketch. I went to a Caribou Coffee shop and sat by a large window. I looked around and did little sketches of a guy on a stool, a woman working on a computer, and a table with colorful coffee cups. Then I looked outside across the patio and parking lot. I noticed a red fire hydrant in the foreground, and a Chili’s restaurant a distance away. An iced-over pond was below it with retaining walls visible through the snow. I decided this would be my sketch! I started with my Faber Castill Pitt pen on the hydrant on the bottom of the blank page, then added the bare trees that led up to Chili’s, then drew the outlines of the restaurant itself. I got the main shapes in place, then began putting in the details—awnings (these are actually red, but with white snow, they look pink to the eye), brickwork, lamps, windows, etc…. I got those sketched in then worked the background, middle ground, and foreground. Once the ink work was done, I began to add watercolors, first to the building, then to the landscape around it. I like the thumbnails on the top of the page, they kind of tell my process and what I was thinking about…. This was so relaxing, sipping hot chocolate, listening to music, and sketching. Always a joy!
Yesterday my urban sketching group sketched the Minnesota capitol building. The weather is frigid and we worked indoors. I sat on the second floor of the rotunda on a very cold marble bench. I was overwhelmed visually with all of the colors, columns, arches, statues, and perspectives of the space. Drawing little thumbnails is something I am working on in a class I am taking, and it worked well to do it here. I could explore possible options and compositions before jumping into a large sketch. I chose to focus on fixtures for this sketch. And I liked the lamp with its ornate and detailed metal work, its darks and lights, and its unique shapes. So I sketched it carefully. It was tedious, but fun. Later, I sketched a second lamp in a hallway against a large orange wall. I liked its contrast with the colors behind it. Sometime I hope to sketch more of the architecture. But when overwhelmed, I have learned to pick a smaller focus, one that is manageable, and it too, tells a story!
How fun it was to sketch an exotic creature for the first time! Chloe the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth at Como Conservatory. I watched as she scratched her long hair like a dog and looked up at me with a peach-colored face. She clung to heavy vines and then after a short time, turned around and became still. It still amazes me how slow she moved!
Flowers can be such a blessing and today I offer a couple sketches of flowers in vases. This first sketch is of an arrangement for my father’s funeral that we had back in August. We wanted something that looked like it had just come out of my mom’s garden, and the florist provided the most beautiful purple, white, blue, and yellow flowers, with plenty of greenery as well. It was stunning! Last week I got a beautiful birthday bouquet from my co-workers, and I have been enjoying it very much. In the dead of winter, it is so nice to have color in the house, and these beautiful yellows, pinks, and greens are such a wonderful blessing. I just had to sketch it before the flowers all turned brown and died! It’s a wonderful memory from a wonderful birthday celebration with family.
Last night I was out in a hallway of an office building and noticed an interesting still-life sitting right in front of me—a fully laden trash can on wheels, old boxes, and a janitor’s mop and bucket. I liked all the shapes, colors, and textures! I listened carefully for the elevator, knowing a woman would come eventually and clean the floor. It was obvious she was on another floor, so I sat down to sketch. I started with the can and worked my way down and to the right. I sketched in ink (Faber-Castell Pitt pens, watercolor was done later at home). It was fun to capture this tiny slice of life… about 20 minutes or so later, I heard the elevator whir, and knew someone was coming up. Sure enough, the janitor came out and began vacuuming the hallway where I was sitting on the floor. I went into the office where my daughter’s appointment was. About ten minutes later, we were ready to go. We went out into the hallway and all my still-life items were split up, in different places, trash in front of the elevator, boxes removed…. I told my daughter that I had captured something on paper that will never look the same, ever. Those items will never be posed in exactly the same spot, the same angle, or with the same items. I captured a moment in history! And I have a sketch to show for it. One of the joys of urban sketching—-capturing these slices of life that we will never see again!