Monday, May 8, 2017


We've had lots of terrible weather this winter and spring, so outdoor sketching has been pretty limited until now. That left me to mostly draw in the house or in coffeeshops. Somehow, that's never as inspiring as being outside, so I took the opportunity to take an online class and follow a book of watercolor instructions so keep up my creative spirits. I decided that it was time to actually try to learn how to paint with watercolors, instead of just messing around.

Here are some of the direct copies of Will Freeborn's examples in 'Learn to Paint Watercolor with 50 Paintings. I took some liberties and added a few things of my own (for example, the tattooed arm got a political message), but most are similar to his examples.

After this flower, I wanted to try some on my own, which I did with mixed results. I'm not pleased with the smudgy dark backgrounds.

I also took an online Craftsy class by Anna Mason. She gave excellent, detailed, exacting directions which I did my best to follow. This rose (approximately 10" x14") was a test of my patience and persistence. It was drawn and painted from a photograph and it has numerous layers.  I learned a lot and I'm glad I finished it, but I won't be doing more of these. I call it 'Never Again.'

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

That's it for the Cherry Trees This Year

This is my final cherry tree sketch for 2017, done in an accordion book. I sketched this while there was lots of action in the park: people practicing Qigong. dog walkers, bicyclers, families with toddlers and strollers, lots of people taking pictures, a drunken man sleeping behind me, and even a drone over the Steel Bridge. It took me several days to finish painting it. It seemed like too much time was spent waiting for paint to dry!

This one I tweaked by adding some shadows. The people seemed to be floating more in the previous version.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Those Elusive Cherry Trees

Every year, I sketch Portland's cherry trees and I always try to somehow capture the color, or the delicacy or a tiny bit of the beauty of the trees. I keep trying and trying!

This year, I was so eager, that I was down at Tom McCall Waterfront Park before the blossoms opened. I wasn't alone, as several people came out to enjoy a rare sunny day under the cherry tree branches.

As Portlanders know, we've had many rainy days this year.  On those days that it didn't rain, I dashed to waterfront park. Often, the gray clouds loomed overhead, but I was lucky to have avoided most of the showers.

With the start of spring break, the park was full of people taking photos, posing for photos, shaking branches and just enjoying the beauty and delight of a (mostly) rain-free day.

Finally, I decided to focus on a close-up of a tree with its graceful branches and delicate flowers. 

I'm hoping to get in at least one more day under the cherry trees, but if not, I notice that the magnolias and plum trees are looking inviting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bring on the Color, Spring is on the Way

I've drawn flowers for the Vernal Equinox before, but this year there are really slim pickings in our yard. Miniature daffodils and heather are pretty much all the perennials that are in bloom so far.

I've been systematically studying Wil Freeborn's book, 'Learn to Paint Watercolor with 50 Paintings.'

These are some of my attempts: 

Souvenir rocks and shells

Items from my purse, (highly organized)

The art supplies I used to make this sketch

Here's one leftover from before spring officially arrived. I drew this in the car on a chilly, rainy day. The wind was whipping the cypress trees that were already frayed and broken from the winter ice storm. The camellia bush was the only thing in bloom.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Waiting for Spring

I was at Lan Su Gardens recently, but I was too cold to sketch outside. Even the hot tea didn't keep me warmed up for long.  

 Sketching the calligrapher's desk, I resisted the strong desire to go inside and use the materials. If there had been a coal brazier under the desk for keeping the feet warm, the temptation might have been too much.

Kennedy School was plenty warm and even had the smell of woodsmoke.

I'm eager for when it will be warm enough to sketch the lovely gardens at both of these places. 
Come on, Spring!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Winter Sketches

In December and January, we had a lot of very cold days. It was so cold that I sketched these trees from the comfort of the car.

Then we got about a foot of snow, so I sketched from inside the house.  I realized that snow is very difficult for me to draw.

Somedays, the sky was blue and the snow and icicles sparkled in the sun.

One day, it was nice enough to put on my Yaktrax, grab my hiking poles and join some other sketchers in a neighborhood coffee shop. I wasn't the only one eager to get out of the house for some companionship and a sketch.

On days when I was housebound, it was a good opportunity to take Veronica Lawlor's online class and play with line and pattern.

I also added a little to previous sketches.

Finally, tiring of snow and ice and expecting that we might lose our power, we decided that we needed a change of venue. M and I  trudged to a bus stop and hopped on  a bus for a downtown mini-vacation. We checked into a hotel right off Directors Square.  I've sketched there many times, but never from the comfort and vantage point of the 10th floor of the Paramount Hotel.

We could hang out in the lobby....

or, by using extra care, we could walk to restaurants, a theater, and Starbucks.

Eventually, the snow and ice disappeared, followed by heavy rain. Even the rain couldn't keep me and thousands of others from attending  inspiring and uplifting Women's March.

Now, happily, the snowdrops are peeking up and the possibility of spring is on the horizon!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Future: First Sketch of the New Year

The skies were beautiful today: big billowing clouds against blue or gray. This was the view out the landing window. It's the best view near dusk, but an awkward place to sketch.

'There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.'

Leonard Cohen, 'Anthem' 1992, The Future