Month: February 2019

Board and Brush

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b and b

This is a sketch of Board and Brush, a wood painting studio. We had a snow storm yesterday and I went searching for a shop front to sketch. Once again, I sat in my car, heater going, and worked in front of my steering wheel. I worked backwards—-normally I begin with pen and fill in with watercolor. I wanted a looser look so I began with watercolor pencil lines and watercolor shapes, then went in with pen and worked on outlining and adding texture. I have tried this with a few of my sketches and find that I enjoy it… but I had to use several layers of watercolors to deepen values. I also used a brush pen to get the sign darker and a white gel pen for the lettering. Winter sketching is very different, both in subject and the challenge of keeping warm… but sitting in my car has worked well. You just have to find a parking spot that gives you a good view of your subject without being in the way of plows going through the parking lot!

Three Arches

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My urban sketching group met at the Minneapolis Central Library recently. Although it was a fairly new amazing modern-looking building, a couple friends “in the know” zipped with me up the glass elevator to the fourth floor. On the right side was this enormous archway, an entrance to the James Hosmer Special Collections (rare books and such). Unfortunately, it was closed, but we sat down at computer tables to sketch the arch. This arch is historic, and was from the original library, part of a fire place, made of mahogany. It was immense, detailed, and very beautiful. I didn’t measure particularly well, so it’s a little crooked, but who cares! I sketched in pen, then put in watercolor. The wood was very ornately carved and I just suggested most of it, I would have been there three days if I tried to sketch every detail. The right side of my page was blank, so I decided to sketch a sleeping man in a blue jacket. I had noticed him while walking around the library. He was a nice addition to my sketch! Below are the variety of the three sketches we all did, you can see how we approached the same archway very differently. I love what they did with their sketches!

3 arches

Experimenting with Pen Weight

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I am taking an online class with Sydney urban sketcher, Liz Steel. We are discovering edges with pen lines and this week our task was to do a complex sketch in a work area using different pen weights in our lines. I chose our workbench in the basement. I use Faber-Castell Pitt pens and mainly use the F size for my regular sketching. I was interested to see what would happen when I chose larger sizes— M for the foreground, and S and XS for the middle and background. I chose B (brush pen) for the dark shadows, so used 4 different weight pens for this sketch.

pen size

I must say, I was pleased with the results! I don’t typically sketch with different pen sizes (although I have tried it), but I like the effects, especially in getting the less detailed background sketched in. I think in retrospect, that I should not have done the brush pen in the shadows of the vertical compartments on the right upper bench, but I can’t go back. I like how the M pen emphasized the drill press on the left side. All in all, a very interesting experience with different pen weights!

Snow and More Snow!

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snowed in

I ventured out to buy a new tube of watercolor paint from my favorite art store, Wet Paint, and parked a block away on a residential street. After getting my purchase, I decided to sketch the street scene in front of me. I was parked and had the heat blasting, but a few things grabbed my attention: the ice-blue house and the little red car. And the expanse of white snow, thrown up against the trees, car, and sidewalk. I liked the texture of the trees too. I started sketching the car in first on a blank page, then moved to the right, adding trees, snow, and the house. I also added another car on the right (hidden by a snow bank), a neighboring house, and I couldn’t resist the sign in the yard telling everyone to SLOW DOWN (for children’s safety). We have had to dig ourselves out of major snow the last two weeks and I thought this scene captured it well!

The Best Pretzel Ever

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pretzelI recently went to the 3rd Act Brewery in Woodbury. It’s fairly new and I hadn’t tried it before. Our family got two neopolitan pizzas (pepperoni and margherita.). I was hoping for pizza as good as Punch Pizza, which has amazing pizzas ready in just a few minutes. The pizza was OK, Punch’s was better by a long shot. But what was truly amazing was the jumbo pretzel we had. This thing was enormous!


I avoided the bright orange cheese sauce and tore off a piece of the pretzel. Freshly made and warm, it was soft between my fingertips, with a soft exterior. So many pretzels have a hard chewy surface, but this was surprisingly soft! The flavor was amazing! Brewery-made root beer washed it down. We were so full we had to take a portion of the pretzel home, where we enjoyed it the rest of the evening in little bites! It was the best pretzel I have ever tasted!

A Little Pho

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I made Pho last week. Pho is a Vietnamese soup with broth, noodles, meat, and vegetables. I sketched the ingredients (above) before I put them in the soup. I chose to use watercolor pencils for this sketch, later outlined in black pen. I prefer my pens and watercolors, but it was fun to try something different! The final bowl of soup was sketched before I ate it, so I had to work quickly. It was rewarding in the end to have a fun sketch and a warm soup for a super-cold day!


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This post finds me musing about why my orchid doesn’t bloom. And, I had the opportunity to lead a short sketching class at Como Conservatory yesterday and while there, I sketched a beautiful orchid. I am glad to see orchids that are in bloom this time of year, they are true plant beauties!