Monday, November 19, 2018

Rejuvenation at Cannon Beach

11/13/18 Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park

We’ve been returning to Cannon Beach, Oregon, nearly every year since we discovered it three decades ago. A small beach town that’s crowded in the summer, it’s deserted once the weather turns cold and stormy – which is our favorite time to go. February, May, October, November and even December are the months we choose, and the weather can change from sunny and chilly one moment to stormy and windy the next and back to sunny again. It’s best not to check the weather report – just pack a range of jackets and layers and see what you get.

11/13/18 The Needles through a rain-spattered window.
Last week we got the full range – sunshine, a little rain, a lot of rain, high winds, deep fog, overcast skies. During the pleasant weather, we walked on the beach for miles. During the less pleasant weather, we stayed in our hotel room, where Greg photographed from the deck and I sketched through the wide windows. That’s really all there is to do in Cannon Beach – and that’s all we need. A few days of that, and we return home with our spirits rejuvenated.

Sketching from our room, I pulled out the full arsenal of sketch supplies – even larger papers that I never take on location. When we walked on the beach, I stuck only a Field Notes and a couple of pens into my jacket pockets. It’s a nice balance between maximalism and minimalism.
11/14/18
 One goal for the trip was to make at least one 9-by-12-inch full-color sketch, possibly to frame if I liked it enough. A second goal was to take lots of photos to use for reference sometime during the long winter months. As you know, I’m not a fan of drawing from photos, but I would like to make one of Cannon Beach and practice the techniques I learned in class last year. 

I did make one sketch that might qualify for a frame, but it’s not my favorite of the visit. My favorite is the graphite-only sketch at the top of the post that I made in my usual DIY sketchbook signature. Because we always stay right on the beach in front of iconic Haystack Rock (and the smaller Needles surrounding it), I tend to focus on that up-close-and-personal view. But a mile or two north at Ecola State Park, the view of the same rocks takes on an entirely different dimension. From that distance, I realize that those ancient mammoth boulders are only tiny pebbles next to the mighty Pacific. And if we were walking next to Haystack, we would be smaller than grains of sand.

That’s how tiny we are in the grand picture. It’s reassuring.


11/13/18

11/15/18

11/15/18

11/13/18

11/15/18

11/15/18 On our last morning before we left for home, the sun was finally bright enough to make a full-color sketch with
plenty of light and shadows. I finished this hastily, even as housekeeping was knocking on our door (we were a bit late
for checkout).

11/14/18 sunset (9"x12" watercolor paper)

11/13/18 Sunset from Ecola State Park

11/14/18 beach dwellers

In the sunshine . . . 

. . . under overcast skies. . . 

. . . in the foggy cold. . . 

. . . Cannon Beach will always be one of our favorite places on earth.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Tillamook

11/12/18 Workers cutting cheese blocks
11/12/18 A worker inspecting the wrapping process.

After staying a night in Astoria, we continued down the coast on Highway 101 to Tillamook. Although it’s only an hour or so south of Cannon Beach, we hadn’t been to Tillamook in years – certainly not since I started sketching. The Tillamook Cheese Factory, the city’s main attraction, was completely remodeled earlier this year, so it was a good time to revisit.

Following the excellent self-guided tour, we learned all about the cheesemaking process from cow to grocery store. Visitors can view the entire factory from the floor above, looking down onto the workers through ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall windows. I was impressed by the free, well-designed tour. The workers wear blue uniforms that complement so well with all that yellow and orange cheese!

11/12/18 Small thumbnail of dairy exterior
Of course we sampled all the cheeses (and dined on grilled cheese sandwiches in the Creamery café), and they were delicious. I recommend the Cape Meares variety, which I’ve never seen in local stores, so we bought a loaf. In the gift shop, many unusual types of cheeses are available, including some that have been aged for several years and, like wine, are priced accordingly.



Cheesy decorations

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Astoria

11/11/18 Flavel House

Although we visit Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast nearly every year, this week we tried something new by stopping first in Astoria. A port city on the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria has several historic attractions, and at the top of our list to visit was the Flavel House Museum. (I haven’t seen the 1985 film The Goonies, but apparently this museum was featured in it.) I had just enough late-afternoon light dipping below the trees to sketch the house itself, which is in the Queen Anne architectural style.

I didn’t sketch much inside (small lamp inset in sketch above), but we enjoyed seeing the period furnishings, especially the beautiful woodcased tub.




11/11/18 Astoria Column
The sun was going down by the time we got to the 125-foot Astoria Column, which was built in 1926. Huffing and puffing up the spiral staircase, Greg and I had déjà vu of our climb to the top of the clock tower in Coimbra, Portugal. (We met a local man on the staircase who goes up and down the column six times a day as part of his workout routine!) Once we got out to the viewing platform, however, our workout was rewarded with a sunset and spectacular view of Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the Columbia and even a bit of the Pacific.

A long climb up this spiral staircase!




11/11/18 The view from the Baked Alaska cafe where we had lunch.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Basic Caran d’Ache Palette

My basic color palette

As most sketchers eventually discover, one’s color palette is a very personal thing. Like a favorite pen, paper or bag, which are very specific to the way we draw, the other media we use, whether we sit or stand, and other personal habits, the colors we use most often depend entirely on our preferred subject matter and – even more idiosyncratic – how we perceive hues. One’s palette is something that gets refined over time. In addition, my palette tends to change seasonally and, if I’m traveling, with the location.

That said, as is obvious from all the many paint and colored pencil sets available to buy off the shelf, it helps to have a set to start with. The problem I’ve discovered is that most basic sets of 12 colored pencils are not the 12 I use most. Last year I gave a deep think about how many colored pencils a person really needs and which 12 (or 25) would be in my ideal set. Not surprisingly, that ideal set has already changed for me! And so it goes.

Recently two sketchers asked me for the color numbers of what I consider my basic Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle palette, and it occurred to me that while I listed the hues I picked out for Portugal last summer, it’s been a while since I showed my basic palette.

Shown above is the part of my basic palette that I recommended to those two sketchers who asked. I think these 10 hues would be useful to most urban sketchers. (Only color numbers are given because Caran d’Ache began using names on pencil colors only recently, and most of my older pencils have numbers only.)

The idiosyncratic part of my basic palette
Another four colors are also included in my idiosyncratic basic palette, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to others. These difficult-to-mix colors are very much based on subject matter I tend to favor. Here’s how I use them:
  • Faber Castell’s Middle Cadmium Red (217): The only non-Caran d’Ache color in my current palette, this dark, subdued red is not available in Caran d’Ache’s line, but I like it for brick buildings.
  • Gold cadmium yellow (530): This is my “heavy equipment yellow,” and I can’t leave the house without it.
  • Green (220): This unnatural shade of green is ideal for recycle bins and Seattle street signs.
  • Blue (660): This is the blue I use for the sky with my “licking” technique (please see my demo before you gag at that description). One thing I appreciate about Caran d’Ache is that all of its pigment hues are consistent across various product lines. Up until recently, I had been using 660 in a Museum Aquarelle pencil, but I switched to the same hue in the Neocolor II line, which is Caran d’Ache’s water-soluble crayon collection. The hue is identical, but I find it faster to lick a rich swipe of pigment from the crayon than from a pencil tip. I consider this blue somewhat idiosyncratic because in its dry state, it looks way too dark for the sky, but when “licked,” it dilutes significantly.

 Since the photos above didn’t reproduce the colors as accurately, I’ve also included scanned images below.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Master of the Foreshortened Pose

11/8/18 10-min. pose
11/8/18 2-min. poses

After Randy finished a series of five-minute poses, many of which included challenging foreshortened limbs (challenging for me, not him), I quipped to our model that he was the master of the foreshortened pose. (I was complaining as much as complimenting him.) He obliged by giving me several more.


11/8/18 2-min. poses

11/8/18 5-min. poses

11/8/18 5-min. poses

11/8/18 10-min. pose

Monday, November 12, 2018

Pinehurst Pea Soup

11/8/18 Pinehurst neighborhood

It was another pea soup morning, but the weather report said that the fog would lift by noon. Fog often seems thicker further north, so I head out to the Pinehurst neighborhood, where tall firs fringe the sky even in residential areas. On a quiet street with no sidewalks, I parked in a spot that may not have been legal, but I saw very few cars going by.

Even as I sketched, the fog had started to lift; for a while, I could barely see those trees.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Urban Color

11/7/18 Wedgwood neighborhood

A green recycle bin in front of a red pickup, and next to them, a banana plant with reddish-green leaves; behind them, a fiery yellow-orange tree. It was the most colorful scene I have ever run into on an ordinary neighborhood street.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

High Up at Elliott Bay Book Co.

11/9/18 Elliott Bay Book Co.

Elliott Bay Book Company is one of Seattle’s last remaining independent general book stores. With high ceilings and exposed beams, the space invites settling in for a few hours of browsing thousands of books.

After strolling through the main floor, I headed up to the loft-like upper level, where I found an interesting view of several sketchers down below. I knew the perspective on the towering bookcases would be challenging, so I worked carefully trying to get them right. I must have gotten tired by the time I put in the back walls, though, and my perspective fell apart!

Tucking my tail under, I went into the café for a snack, had a nice chat with other sketchers, and made a non-challenging sketch (requiring no perspectival study) of the café’s countertop. Any book store that sells pencils right next to the coffee, scones and (delicious) biscuits is my kind of book store.
11/9/18 Elliott Bay Book's cafe

Although the basement where readings are given was closed to the public, the manager allowed us to use the space for our throwdown. As always, we had a good turnout and welcomed a few new faces.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Glasses Are Still Over-Rated

11/6/18 Costco checkout

Shortly after I began sketching (and before my sketch kit was perfectly tuned to avoid such mishaps), I found myself at a sketch-worthy event with a careful selection of materials – but forgot my glasses. Since I’m presbyopic, I could see my subject matter well – I just couldn’t see my sketchbook. With fast-moving subjects, it hardly made a difference, and I remember having as much fun as ever.

The other day at Costco, I knew I had only a couple of minutes to sketch while Greg went to the restroom. I had my glasses with me, but putting them on would have wasted a few seconds. Now, as then, glasses are over-rated.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Addition

11/6/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

In August I made several sketches of the house across the street while the addition was being constructed. Although the ongoing presence of trucks and the Porta-Potty indicates that work is still happening on the inside, we haven’t seen much change on the outside for a couple of months. So as far as my series goes, I consider it done.

I’ve posted the sketches in reverse chronological order. The last sketch at the bottom of the post is one I made in May when I wondered aloud how long the family would stay in the single-story house that seemed too small for four. Little did I know then the changes I would begin to see just a few weeks later.

8/16/18
Technical notes: As you can see from the series, I had some problems getting the proportions right on the original part of the house! For the final sketch, I measured carefully twice, so I think they are finally accurate.

Another major challenge is that the front of the house is almost always in shade, so I often used a gray Pitt Artist marker as a grisaille before adding color. This shortcut seems to be more effective, however, when only small areas of a building are in shade rather than the whole elevation. In the final sketch at the top of the post, I skipped the grisaille altogether, leaving only the small sections of roof in the light. I’m not completely happy with any of these techniques, but lately I’ve been trying to rely less on the marker grisaille technique so that I can learn to control values with watercolor pencils alone. I’ve been using that approach with organic subject matter like foliage ever since I studied landscape drawing in colored pencils, but I have a harder time doing it with entire buildings. I know there should be no difference – it’s all the same principle – yet I get more confused about depicting urban colors in shade. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it (until I get better at it).

8/13/18

8/8/18
8/2/18
5/9/18
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