Sunday, September 25, 2016

Canby Flock and Fiber Festival

Some sketcher friends and I went to the Canby Flock and Fiber Festival this weekend to draw goats and sheep, weavers and knitters, and people who were there to look or to shop. There was a lot going on with numerous sketching possibilities.

We started out in the goat barn where some cashmere goats were being judged. I realized that it takes both patience and strength to keep your goat waiting and looking good while the judges evaluate everything from appearance to texture and luster of the wool.

Then we moved out to the sunshine where there were knitters and spinners and weavers. Some of these people had the same difficulty resisting gorgeous wool and accessories as we sketchers have resisting alluring art supplies.

After lunch, the fatigue set in for some of the humans...

                                                             and some of the animals...

 and probably some of the sketchers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sketching in Pretty Spaces

Last Saturday, the Urban Sketchers of Portland held a sketchcrawl that was rained out for most of us. Luckily, Meadow invited us to sketch in her lovely shared studio space. It was cozy and friendly and we even had a nice soundtrack of music to accompany our sketching and chatting. Each direction held views of exquisitely crafted pottery and the tools used to create it. There were colors and textures and patterns, galore--just perfect if you like to get lost in the details.

Unfortunately, I didn't sketch Meadow's wares, which are delightful. If you would like a mug with the Chapman School swifts diving into the chimney, or a little delicate porcelain vase, or any number of other little treasures, you should head over to the Thurman Street Studios--rain or shine. 

Monday, the day was clear and dry asI joined some sketchers at the LanSu Chinese Garden. We warmed up with tea and treats.

Then I sat outside and sketched a  Penjing (bonsai) ginkgo. I had to bend the branches in my sketch to fit it in my sketchbook, but that seems appropriate for a bonsai.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Summer into Fall

Some of the best sketching days are now when the air is cool in the morning and the sun is shining. 

The Fields and Vicinity

I rarely get tired of drawing in the parks in NW Portland.  There are new buildings popping up all the time...

...and old ones that are changing.

The sky seems wider here...

There are fun spaces for people and dogs...

and gathering spaces for important causes...

Oregon State Fair

I spent a lovely day at the State Fair, mostly drawing the animals. They had been vacuumed and brushed, ready for the competitions. The pigs and rabbits stayed pretty still, but the goats were less predictable--especially the one that suddenly jumped up onto the fence to go after my sketchbook!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, England

We arrived in Manchester the day before the symposium was to begin.   We checked into our hotel and went out exploring to find the location of the symposium and of some of my workshops. Everything was very walkable from our hotel.
We passed this view on the way to the school each day.

Manchester is a wonderful combination of old and new.
This architecture building on the campus had prisms of glass that  change from yellow to violet, depending on the light outside.
This was the Benzie Building where we met each morning.

I met some early-arriving sketchers and did a quick sketch part of a nearby building.

In the evening, we joined several other Urban Sketchers for a Drink at Draw at a colorful green tiled pub, Peveril of the Peak. I met new people and connected with people I knew from other symposiums  and gatherings, but I didn't do the sketch until the next day.

The building is such an odd shape that no matter how it's drawn, the perspective looks off.

One view  of the ever-changing sky from our hotel room above a canal. 

Our other hotel room window faced the fabulous Palace Hotel.

The Symposium officially started at the elegant Town Hall where we heard welcoming speeches, drank wine, and met new and old sketchers accompanied by the music of a string quartet. I was too busy chatting to draw like some of my fellow sketchers and somehow I didn't even manage a photo of the beautiful, ornate ballroom.

The next morning, the day started with a gathering of all the participants (470) and a greeting. Then we gathered in our groups at a nearby park. 

In my first workshop, 'Capturing the Crowd: People in Public Spaces', we walked to the Manchester Town Hall where we practiced drawing people in motion with Jim Richards. We decided that people would look best if drawn loosely and some music and some alcohol would aid that process.

After drawing  a crowd, we used those proportions to add the background architecture and surroundings. 

It was an excellent workshop and we worked steadily, sheltered from the rain, but I didn't finish my sketch while I was there.

Later, at home in Portland, I kept working on it, trying to apply the principles that Jim Richards taught us.

After warming up over hot soup in a noodle bar with a couple of other sketchers, I headed back to the school for my afternoon workshop with Suhita Shirodkar. This workshop had a similar theme to the morning one, 'People and Places: Life in Contrast.' We again found an overhang to tuck into to draw people moving, but this time they were moving quite rapidly as the rain was heavier. Some of us went inside to draw people and one of our fellow sketchers even did one minute poses for us. In the second part of the workshop, we were to add context to our people sketches. Suhita, like James Richards, draws people first, but in her case she does it so if she isn't pleased with the person sketch, she can toss it out before attempting the more time-consuming architecture.

Friday's workshop was 'From Macro to Micro-a visual story of a building' and Nina Johanssen taught this from the scene of the John Rylands Library. I've admired Nina's work for years and it was a pleasure to learn from her. Under the protection of a tree, I tried to capture the large shapes of the complex and interesting building. 

For the second part of the workshop, we escaped the rain and went inside to draw details to accompany our macro sketches. I focussed on some repeating rose patterns on the walls and furniture as well as the statue of Mrs. Ryland with her watchful eyes.

I finished this sketch on site, but I added another coat of red to the building using the Yorkshire stone pigments that I bought from Symposium vendors

I joined another sketcher for an outdoor lunch at the Manchester Town Hall. Although it still rained off and on, we dined under an awning and then bought tickets for a Manchester Jazz event, our next activity.  Caroline Johnson ushered a group into a tent and we chose seats near the stage so that we could sketch musicians as they performed. I decided to use my multicolored pencil as I seem to draw a little looser with this unpredictable tool. It was a familiar pleasure to sit and draw to music.

The audience, including many sketchers
I had another activity scheduled soon after the concert, but I ran into another sketcher friend and we relaxed and caught up in the Manchester Library and I didn't make it back to the school.

On the final morning of the symposium, the sky was clear and we were sketched at the Oxford train station, right around the block from our hotel. Richard Briggs taught the workshop, 'What to Leave Out, What to Leave In: Capturing a Sense of Place.' After a demo, Richard had us spend 20 minutes walking around the site, deciding what we wanted to sketch and to say about our place. This was a very thought-provoking workshop for me, because I don't usually spend so much time thinking before drawing and I don't often think about what I want to say in my sketch.

As I walked around, I first noticed simply visual things: arches, circles on gates, circular patterns of stones, but this led me to think more about people going in and out of the train station, traveling...and I realized that I wanted to do more than just record things that visually appealed to me. Then i noticed cranes, wind blades and the solar panels on buildings nearby, all elements familiar to me as a Portlander.  Next, I saw the bicycles and that clinched it: i decided to include things in my sketch that were similar about Manchester and Portland and that showed the changing character of the city.

As we shared our sketchers, people started arriving for Comic Con, but the waddling Pokemon was too late to make it into my sketch.

My final activity was 'Lettering, Line and Balance' with Pat Southern-Pearce. I've been admiring and studying Pat's beautiful sketches and writing for over a year,  so it was wonderful to learn from her and to look through her lovely sketchbooks. 

We practiced lettering examples from Pat's excellent examples and then looking out the windows, we drew a panorama using our "biro's" (ballpoint pens).  Next, using a pen with a heavier line, we added to the panorama. Then we added boxes of text and accents. In a short amount of time, the group had some stunning results.

After a quick trip back to the hotel, passing my favorite Manchester sky view another time, we returned for a final sketch crawl.

I didn't have much energy to keep sketching.

All of us gathered for a huge final photo...

...and then it was back to the Benzie Building for the ending celebration with an auction of sketches, ,goodbyes and hugs, drinks and appetizers and music and dancing.

Unfortunately, with all the activity, we weren't able to get all the Portlanders together, but Lapin stood in for the missing ones. 

Manchester Street Scene

The memories for the symposium will stay with me for a long time and I'll be spending at least as much time trying to apply the things that I was taught. It was a wonderful experience in so many ways. I'm already looking forward to the next one in Chicago.