Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sketching in the Rain

Driving home from work I spotted a flower bed that would be nice to sketch, it was conveniently located next to a bus shelter. So I decided it was finally time to head outside to sketch, my first outing with watercolors! The rain had stopped so I thought it would be ok, but once I reached the bus shelter it started to rain again. I could not see the flowers clearly so I decided to sketch a building instead, and not be dissuaded by the rain.

This was certainly a good learning experience, especially trying to use watercolors outside. It was harder than I anticipated but I'm happy I drew something and hopefully I'll do better next time.

Sunday's sketch idea was better, I bought a cupcake and brought it home. I should have sketched it a second time to practice more, but it was time to eat it!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Place You Always Pass

I too am taking the Sketchbook Skool course "Exploring" and Pat's post inspired me to share today's sketching in front of Sequoya Library which I pass most days. It was rainy and cold today so the sketch was done inside the car, but I enjoyed the experience. It's a place I never would have been inspired to draw before.
Stillman and Birn sketchbook, watercolor first, micron pen on top.

Sequoya Library, corner of Tokay & Midvale Blvd

Spring in Bloom in Madison

Redbud trees in UW Arboretum
Crab apple tree next to Gates of Heaven in James Madison Park
 This week I had an urban sketching assignment from the online class I am taking in Sketchbook Skool.  The teacher this week is Nina Johansson from Stockholm who does wonderful ink line drawing and watercolor sketches in her sketchbooks.  She likes to draw the ordinary every day things around her city and that was our assignment.  It was raining Thurs. afternoon so I sketched in my car parked at James Madison park behind Gates of Heaven.  Later I looked up the building in Wikipedia and found out that it is the 8th oldest synagogue building still standing in the US and was originally built in 1863!  Today I painted in the car again at the UW Arboretum where the blooming redbud trees were right in front of the car.  I find rendering blooming trees challenging to say the least.  There really are so many ways to approach them but realism would take years so I go for loose impressions.  Both of these sketches were done in my 8 x 10 softcover Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook which has fairly thick watercolor paper in it.  The paint lifts off that paper easily which is helpful sometimes when I want to change something a bit.  I hope more sketchers will post some blooming tree sketches, too!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hello everyone.  I just joined Urban Sketchers Madison and want to share a few of my first sketches.  The market across the street:
 I wonder if "Cops at Copps" is related to this news:
"MADISON, Wis. - A baggie of crack cocaine was found near a checkout at a Madison grocery store over the weekend, police said.

An employee at the Copps grocery store at 1312 S. Park St. found the bag Saturday afternoon, according to a release.

Police said the owner was seen coming back several times on Saturday looking around the floor inside the grocery store, but he gave up his search before police arrived."

Sketching got me "out and about" and I appreciated being more a part of Madison 'street life' ;-)

From the news I sketched:
"Super-Mighty Preemptive Strike" (which I hope to never experience).  And the possible respondent, enacting 'road rage' at a trucker rally:
I went to the movies to watch the Dr. Who season 10 premier and then sketched this from the trailer:
And from the Urban Sketchers Madison outing to the Veterans Museum on Earth Day this sketch of Helen Bulovsky,
a WW1 nurse written about in Finding Helen:
As you can tell I'm working on getting faces 'right', and I'm looking forward to meeting more of you in the future - warning: names are harder !  ;-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 22nd: Wisconsin Veterans Museum & Farmer's Market

Tsela, Gretchen, Reba, Deborah and Chris
Sketches from inside the museum and out
 Seven sketchers came out yesterday to sketch at the museum.  It was a beautiful morning so Tsela and Deborah opted to sketch outdoors and the rest of us had many subjects to choose from inside. Some of us had never been inside the museum before and we were impressed with the quality of the exhibits. Welcome to James who joined us for the first time yesterday!!  We all agreed the museum would be worth another visit next winter.  Next sketch date is May 13th at Allen Centennial Gardens on the UW Campus with a rain location of the State Historical Society.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter Morning in Minnesota

A simple drawing with my brown brush pen on Easter morning. I was visiting my son in MN and walked my dog down to a tiny pond near their house. A quiet place in a busy suburb of St Paul.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Urban Sketchers: Beginners Welcome

Liz Steel's sketching gear
We've had several new sketchers join us recently and I came across a really nice article on the Urban Sketcher blog which addresses concerns of both beginners and seasoned urban sketchers.  I thought it should be shared so here it is:

I was trying to think what my advice would be and it came down to 3 things:

1 - Sketch only in ink for awhile.  Put away the pencil and eraser for sketching.  Or if that is too scary you can just make a very light and very quick pencil drawing and then go over that with pen.  I have found that the more I sketch with pen and do contour sketching in particular it helps improve my accuracy faster than pencil sketches do.  I use Lamy Safari fountain pens with various inks alot but also Staedtler pigment liner 0.5 or 0.7 and Pentel Pocket Brushpens ( I cannot live without them)

2 - Get a sturdy sketchbook with at least 90 lb paper.  I prefer hardbound ones to wirebound but use both.  My favorites are Stillman & Birn hardbound and softbound, Strathmore with the 500 series 90 lb paper for mixed media and Hahnemuhle sketchbooks (the only place that has those is Wet Paint in St. Paul, MN. - they are great for ink but pencil and watercolor or gouache works on them too.)

3 - Sketch alot with ink.  No erasing.  I think quantity is often more important than quality because you just improve the more you do it.

Here's the link to Liz Steel's blog where she offers tons of great advice about urban sketching.  I was lucky enough to enroll in one of her workshops for this summer's symposium in Chicago.  It will be fun to meet her after admiring her work for years.  I found  my way to Urban Sketchers from her blog years ago.

Hope this is helpful!  If anyone has more advice please add it in a comment.  Happy Sketching!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pizza & Frozen Yogurt - Sunday April 9th

Clockwise from left front: Mercedes, Jean, Gretchen, Elsie & Ruth
 We sketched at Pizza Brutta in Middleton on Sunday.  Great Pizza and sketching inside and then went outside around the corner to Menchie's outdoor tables and had some frozen yogurt for dessert.  Nine sketchers came out and we all enjoyed the warm weather.  We discussed doing some more Saturday sketch meets and I will post some very soon.  Ruth is our newest administrator as Louise is stepping down (but will always be "Administrator Emeritus").  Thanks to both sketchers for keeping the group afloat and thriving!  Also be sure to take note of the cover on this week's Isthmus; the byline is our own Mike Hirshon!  Well done, Mike - it looks great.
Some of the day's sketches
Left to right: Deborah, Mike, Ruth, Gretchen, Elsie, Pat, Sarah and Jean

My indoor sketch

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Update from Florence, Italy

We have been in Florence for two months now and, even with our busy schedules, I have trying to make some time for painting and sketching. Most of the sketches have been relatively quick ones squeezed in when time allows, often standing with my sketchbook cradled in one arm. Here are a few samples. I'm looking forward to catching up with the group when we return to Madison at the end of the semester.