Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Coming Down

3/15/19 Heavy equipment ready for action on the viaduct.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct has been closed for more than a month now, and its demolition has been occurring gradually, a small area at a time. After seeing the Jeffrey Gibson exhibit at SAM, we wandered through the north end of Pike Place Market to see if any destruction was ongoing. Lots of heavy machinery was scattered about the otherwise empty viaduct, waiting for some action. We could hear activity further south, but nothing was happening near Steinbrueck Park where I sketched this. Soon enough, it’ll be a noisy, dusty mess there.

The graffiti’d lane signs shown in this sketch are the same ones I sketched in February when I walked on the viaduct – but from the other side.

(According to my phones weather app, it was 63 degrees while I sketched this! Spring could happen yet!)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer

3/15/19 Seattle Art Museum

Contemporary artist Jeffrey Gibson uses found objects, repurposed cultural artifacts and disparate materials like rawhide, punching bags and tin jingles to bring together his multiple heritages. Including paintings, three-dimensional wall hangings and sculptures, his exhibit Like a Hammer at the Seattle Art Museum provokes thought through vivid colors and shapes, pop music lyrics and lots of fringe and beads.

It’s also a sketchable exhibit with numerous large, colorful pieces displayed in wide spaces and good lighting. On Friday morning, we had SAM to ourselves, and I managed to get quick sketches of two visually striking works. One is part of the “Everlast” series of beaded punching bags. The other is called “All for One, One for All,” one of several large avatars.

Like a Hammer is at SAM through May 12.

3/15/19 Seattle Art Museum

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Green Lake Drive

3/13/19 Green Lake neighborhood

The drive curving around the perimeter of Green Lake doesn’t allow parking everywhere, but this spot was handy: Parked where the road turns sharply, I could see the profiles of several houses as well as trees and cars directly in front of me. (It was a partly sunny day, but the temperature was in the 40s, so I’m still confined to my mobile studio. But at least we seem to be past the threat of snow!) I thought this unusual view of the Green Lake neighborhood was just right for St. Patrick’s Day.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Unpaid Model

3/13/19 graphite, Yupo

While studying portraiture for a full intensive weekend with Gary Faigin, I heard repeatedly the value of learning to draw from life (rather than photos). If we can’t practice from professional models in a studio, he encouraged us to sketch unwitting models in public every chance we get. Short of that, he reminded us that we always have at least one head at our disposal – our own.

Suddenly the self-portraits I had been doing as part of selfie Sunday, a casual social media challenge, took on greater significance. Faigin said that most students in his full-term (10-week) classes studying his portraiture methods are able to draw with a strong likeness after practicing about 20 to 30 portraits. I don’t know when I’ll get to No. 30, but let’s call this one No. 1.

One part of his method that I’m ignoring (surprise, surprise) is the material – charcoal. Using a tortillon to smudge soft graphite (here, I used an 8B) and the same kind of kneadable eraser we used in the workshop, I think I can still apply his principles and techniques for the purpose of learning. And like the smooth paper we used in class, I’m using Yupo, which I’ve already discovered to be a fun support during life drawing sessions. The result is different from charcoal, of course, but also much cleaner.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dynamic Pete

3/7/19 Pete (2-min. poses)

Last week’s dynamic model at Gage’s life-drawing session was Pete. (He was also a portrait model at Gary Faigin’s workshop, but sitting for that class was about as static as you can get.) Like many of Gage’s excellent models, Pete also models for DigiPen, a Seattle-area game developer, where game animators are required to practice their drawing skills on extremely short poses lasting seconds, not minutes.

While these two-to-five-minute poses must have seemed downright leisurely to Pete, I appreciated the creativity he used (including props he brought) to give more realism to his actions. Drawing him was pure fun.

3/7/19 Pete (5-min. poses)

2-min. poses
5-min. pose

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: Atelier Caran d’Ache: The Workshop Book

OK, maybe I’m a sucker for eye candy. So shoot me. I bought Atelier Caran D’Ache: the Workshop Book knowing full well that it would be an overpriced promotion for the Swiss art materials company. But I couldn’t resist.

As you may know from some of my reviews, such as of Prismalo colored pencils, I am interested in (OK, a total geek of) the history of my favorite materials. I was hoping this book might shed light on some dark corners of Caran d’Ache colored pencil history. Nope. But it does deliver on the promised eye candy.

Most chapters cover the major product lines: graphite, colored pencils, fiber pens, watercolors, gouache, acrylic and modeling clay. Other chapters offer techniques and ideas, including some unusual innovations. These chapters do not include step-by-step instructions but simply photographs of works in progress. A final gallery shows works made with Caran d’Ache products.

There is a chapter on company history, including a timeline, but nothing illuminating to this geek.

On my bucket list is to someday travel to Geneva and tour the Caran d’Ache colored pencil factory. This is mostly a fantasy, as I’ve heard that Caran d’Ache does not offer public tours. In case this bucket list item is not fulfilled, the book does offer a few photographs of the colored pencil manufacturing process. It’s not Geneva, but it will have to do. For now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


3/9/19 Wedgwood neighborhood

Driving through the Wedgwood neighborhood last week, I noticed a fleet of bright yellow Seattle City Light trucks parked on both sides of the street. There must have been eight or nine of them. I pulled over immediately, and the easiest way I could see several at once was to look through my sideview mirror. (I learned this trick from Roy deLeon, who frequently sketches from his mobile studio, too.) My timing was impeccable: Right after I finished this sketch, they all started rolling out.

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