Sunday, March 18, 2018

Steve’s Students at Wallingford Center

3/17/18 Steve's students at Wallingford Center

Steve Reddy’s “Confident Contours” workshop yesterday was first out of the gate in USk Seattle’s 10x10 program this year. Although I enjoyed several 10x10 workshops last year, I’m mostly working behind the scenes this time, helping to coordinate the program. It’s like having our own mini-symposium here – including the competitive registration! Most workshops were full a couple of hours after registration opened.

I hopped over to Wallingford Center to see how Steve’s workshop was going. His students were all focused and hard at work learning composition and values in the retail center’s corridor.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Same Foreshortened Nose

3/15/18 20-min. pose

Earlier this week when I was organizing my sketchbooks, I came across a Strathmore toned spiralbound book that I had used during life drawing only a few times. Most of it was still unused. Although I’m not crazy about the paper (I much prefer Stillman & Birn Nova), I like the size and format, so I threw it into the bag I take to life drawing.

3/14/13 10-min. pose
On Thursday our model was Randy, a long-time Gage regular whom I’ve drawn many times. During the break, I started thumbing through the Strathmore sketchbook and found several sketches of Randy that were dated March 14, 2013 – almost exactly five years ago. I found one pose that I had drawn from a particularly awkward angle, giving me a view straight up his nostrils. I remembered it because I had written a blog post about that foreshortened nose. Laughing when I showed it to him, Randy said he had just been thinking he would take that very same reclining pose for the next 20 minutes! And he did, just for me.

I could have moved my chair to a different location to avoid that awkward view, but now it’s a tradition (top of page). I’ll remind him of it five years from now.

Shown at right is the one I did in 2013. Below are a few more sketches of Randy from Thursday.

3/15/18 1-min. poses
3/15/18 2-min. pose

3/15/18 5-min. pose

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pink and Blue

3/14/18 Green Lake neighborhood

These cherries in the Green Lake neighborhood were not the fluffy pink clouds they will be in a week or so. But with that blue sky behind them, they were good enough for me.

The best part? It was warm enough to get out of my car to sketch them!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Surrounded by Color

My (mostly) vintage collection.

The other day when I showed you my two new bookcases, did you catch my teaser about that empty second one? Ultimately, I intend to fill it with more sketchbooks, but that will take a while. In the meantime, I’m using it to display my growing vintage pencil collection.

Each mug, glass or jar holds a different brand of vintage (mostly American) colored pencils (and a few graphite ones). If I was able to acquire complete sets in attractive boxes, I’m displaying them with the box. Unfortunately, most of the inexpensive (and incomplete) sets I got on eBay came in very worn and janky cardboard boxes (some of which reeked of cigarette smoke and had to be discarded). I decided those boxes didn’t enhance my studio décor, so I took the pencils out.

Sharing space with the vintage pencils are a few sets of contemporary colored pencils that I’ve used briefly to swatch the colors, but to be honest, I bought them only “for show.”

Colorbrite, Omega Try-Rex, Dixon. In back are 642 Things to Draw and Blackwing Colors. Monogrammed K glassware
from my mom's kitchen.

When I initially got the idea to display my collection this way, I was going to make a trip to Goodwill to buy some funky old glassware or mugs. Then I smacked myself upside the head and realized I have plenty of “vintage” (OK, just “old”) containers already – in my own kitchen. As for the monogrammed tumblers, those really are vintage ‘70s – from my mother’s kitchen. I never particularly liked them when my family and I drank out of them, but when my siblings and I cleared out our parents’ house after they died, we split up the set of these glasses as mementoes. I was ambivalent about taking my share, wondering if I would use them, but now I’m really happy that I kept them. I’m guessing they are about the same age as some of these pencils.

I’ve always felt that colored pencils are as much home décor as they are art materials. Being surrounded by color (that I also use) makes me happy.

Eagle Verithin, an assortment of vintage randomness, Col-erase. At right is a box of Caran d'Ache Prismalo.

Wallace, Mongol, Venus. In boxes are Tombow Irojiten (contemporary), Colleen and Lyra.

Contemporary collectibles, vintage graphite, lefty pencils (vintage and contemporary)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Shelved and Tidy

My new bookcases

For the past two Christmases, my gifts from Santa were Ikea bookcases  one case per year. I had requested them to help me get my ever-growing collection of sketchbooks – which were starting to stack up on every horizontal surface, including the floor – in order. Until very recently, however, both bookcases remained unassembled in our basement in their original Ikea cartons because I realized I couldn’t move them into my studio until I took a bunch of unwanted stuff out.

In January I finally got organized and hauled the stuff out (see the photo in this post), and Santa’s helper had space to assemble the bookcases. This week the sketchbooks are off the floor and in their new home at last. Ahhh! (After several years of feeling burdened by my excess of “stuff,” that’s the sound of relief and satisfaction.)

Arranged chronologically from top to bottom, the sketchbooks on the top shelf are a mish-mash of assorted sizes and types as I tried many, many books to find ones I liked. Several were only partially filled before I rejected them. The next three shelves look more uniform as I settled on my handbound books, with only occasional experiments with other types. I left one shelf empty to hold future books, and the bottom shelf holds the larger spiral-bound sketchbooks I use at life drawing. 

March 2018
Not stored in the bookcase at all are another dozen sketchbooks I keep on my work table for still lives and experiments with various media.

What about that whole second bookcase that remains empty? That’s for future sketchbooks, too. But I have plans for all those empty shelves in the meantime. Stay tuned.

Shown below are photos I’ve taken over the years of shelves in another bookcase that I had been using previously to store sketchbooks.




Monday, March 12, 2018

Daylight Saving Time

3/11/18 Maple Leaf Reservoir Park

Yesterday at Maple Leaf Park, the sky was blue, and my phone app said it was 63 degrees (quite a change from Saturday’s near-freezing!). At 3 p.m., the sun was still far above the roofline. Saving some daylight suddenly made a lot of sense.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Georgetown Steam Plant: Freezing, Inside and Out

3/10/18 Georgetown Steam Plant

When I woke yesterday morning, our thermometer read 34 degrees. I can’t sketch outdoors in temperatures like that, but the USk meetup was at the Georgetown Steam Plant – an indoor venue – so I wasn’t concerned.

Little did I know that the plant’s interior would be just as cold as its exterior!

Owned by Seattle City Light, the 1907 plant is a National Historic Landmark. According to its website, “The plant’s two vertical Curtis turbines, manufactured by General Electric, helped establish the steam turbine as a practical and compact prime mover, capable of producing large amounts of power more cheaply and efficiently than other generators of the time.”

Open to the public only on the second Saturday each month, it’s a popular place for organized tours as well as sketchers, photographers and history and industry fans trying to take in its enormity. More than 30 sketchers walked through the plant with our jaws on the floor and our eyes popping out of our heads.

Everywhere I looked I saw huge machinery and equipment; I kept feeling like I was too close to be able to scale the scene properly on my sketchbook page. After wandering in awe for quite a while, I finally pinned myself against the wall of a narrow walkway to sketch . . . something (above)  I have no idea what. (Once again, I have to thank Gabi and his “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop last year for helping me to finally understand how to scale something so huge on a small page! A year ago, I don’t think I would have known how to tackle this scene.)

By the time I finished, my fingers were numb, and for some reason I thought it might actually be warmer outside. After all, the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless sky. Although a chilly wind kept the sunshine from being comfortable, I joined a bunch of hardy sketchers in the parking lot to sketch the building’s exterior.

Brrrr! We were all so cold, inside and out! But it was a fantastic opportunity to sketch a piece of industrial history. And for me, it was definitely just a tiny piece. I’m going to go back again sometime to sketch more of it (maybe in the heat of summer, when it might be comfortable inside).

A great turnout!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Chocolate Bunnies

3/9/18 Satia trimming chocolate bunnies at Fran's

3/9/18 Spiraling staircase in Fran's historic building.
USk Seattle has sketched at Fran’s Chocolates in Georgetown in winter and in fall. Yesterday was our first time in the near-spring, and I must say it was especially fun for a rabbit lover like me. The store was filled with chocolate bunnies and eggs (including some that cost $75 – see below)! Even better, the workers visible through the viewing window were busily making them. I went straight for Satia, who was painstakingly finishing the seams on molded chocolate rabbits.

Fortified with a decadent mocha that tasted almost like straight chocolate, I took on the view I had been avoiding at my previous visits: the formidable spiral staircase.

Chocolate. . . sketching. . . does it get any better?

A good turnout for sketching and chocolates!

$75 gold-dusted chocolate egg filled with chocolate chicks

Thursday, March 8, 2018

105 With a Day to Spare

3/8/18 (5-min. poses)
It’s obvious: The easiest thing to do during the #oneweek100people challenge is to go to a life drawing session! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday I hit Northgate Mall again – this time in the middle of the mall at a table facing a coffee shop instead of the food court. From there, I could see people queuing up for coffee in one direction and streaming by me on either side. I finished 24 in an hour, bringing my total to 66.

Then this afternoon I spent three hours at a Gage life drawing session, and I easily made 39 more drawings. So now I’m at 105, with a day to spare! I’ll probably do a few more tomorrow anyway, just for fun.

And it was all fun! It was productive to have a specific goal: Use a brush pen to make as few marks as possible to evoke a unique individual, not a generic symbol. I kept most of my sketches very small – no more than a few inches – to get as many done as possible.

At life drawing, I wasn’t thinking about One Week 100 People – I just did my usual thing. In retrospect, though, I realize that my habit during life drawing is essentially the same as the challenge: To try to capture the essence of the model’s pose with as few marks as possible. And it’s all just practice – something I feel strongly about.

I’ve been so focused on doing my 100 that I haven’t spent much time looking at the drawings of other participants. I’m going to do that now, and I hope to see yours among the hashtags! 






Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#oneweek100people Midweek Check


We’re two days into #oneweek100people2018! On Monday I started out in my usual way – a few commuter portraits on my bus ride downtown. But then I remembered my goal for this challenge – to go for quick figure gestures with minimal marks. So when I arrived at my destination, I simply stood at the bus station for a while and sketched people waiting or walking by. I had so much fun trying to capture a posture or pose in just a few seconds, and I got a lot done in a very short time!

Yesterday I hit the Northgate Mall food court, where I had a clear view of the lines of people at Starbucks – both waiting to order and waiting for their beverages. When they’re waiting to order, there’s a bit of tension in their posture or stance, but when they’re just waiting for their drinks, they relax more and scan their phones. I enjoy reading their body language and then trying to convey it in my sketches.

For the record, Im using a Spectrum Noir Artliner with a brush tip and a blue Field Notes Sweet Tooth (I used a yellow one last year).

I’m up to 42 (counting a tiny baby who is barely visible in a stroller – but I decided it counts 😉)! How about you?








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