Lamps and Thumbnails

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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!

Chloe the Sloth

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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!

The Blessing of Flowers

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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.

flowers 1

Capturing Slices of Life

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trash can

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!

Silly Slippers

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December 25th found me at my in-laws house for Christmas dinner. Earlier in the day, I had fun sketching my daughter’s jingle slippers. There are so many bells on those things that I can hear her coming all the way across the house! They are silly-looking and were a treat to sketch with all the textures, reflections, and colors. Later, I sketched the presents and part of the Christmas tree. And a lone cup of Glogg, the Swedish mulled wine drink that we had before dinner. The sketch was heavy on the right side and bottom, so I left blank space in the left corner for the eye to rest a little. Like I’ve said before, anything can make good sketch subjects!

St. Lucia

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to sketch at the American Swedish Institute. Out in the courtyard was a huge metal statue dressed like Santa Lucia, a martyr killed for her faith in 304. My blank page began with the hair of this statue, made from some type of fabric. I inked in the face and rest of the statue, then added the clothes. It’s hard to tell, but I would guess the statue is around 20 feet or so tall, as I saw people taking pictures in front of it. In the background of the courtyard were trees, a fire pit, seating areas, and the Turnblad mansion. While my family looked around the museum, I sketched. I found the statue a bit strange-looking, and by comments from other people near me, I was not alone. I think the metal features of the face and the see-through hair behind it kinda messed with most people’s image of a pristine blond-haired Swedish girl as the St. Lucia. But in any case, it made for a great sketch subject, as did the mansion behind it!


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Remi is my husband’s cousin’s dog and she is a beautiful silver-brown lab. We had the opportunity to spend time with her over Thanksgiving and I did a few quick sketches of her napping. I wanted to add more to my page, so a few days later I was sketching this reddish backpack at Caribou and it seemed like a fun addition to the page. Both the dog and the backpack were resting while their owners did other things. It was a nice parallel!