On the day after Christmas, Boxing Day in some countries, I wanted to leave out all the clutter and mess to remember the pleasure we had.
Then, taking an idea from another sketcher, I decided to collect some of the memories in a sketchbook. I used the Sennelier accordion book from the Urban Sketching Symposium. Next month, I'm going to take an online lettering class, so I've started adding some text. This way, I can see the before and after results.
I want to remember some things for next Christmas, so some of those notes are in there, too...
and I want to be sure to thank friends for gifts we've been given...
There's a lot to remember about this Christmas, but here's a start.
It was such a pleasure to be out with the Urban Sketchers of Portland today... such a lovely group of people who inspire me, challenge me, and encourage me. It was a gift to spend the day in friendship, sketching, laughing, talking, and sharing.
I know this hot chocolate is delicious because it's from a wonderful restaurant in NYC and because I had a sample at Sur la Table yesterday. I bought this intending to give it as a gift, but it is very, very tempting to crack it open.
Funny how after I'm finished, then I can see the mistakes. (The back of the mouth of the cup is too wide and crooked.) I could blame it on the potter, but that wouldn't be fair, because it's really quite perfectly formed.
Having noticed that the cylindrical shapes that I draw seem to be too rounded, especially at the base, I decided to do some serious perspective study today to figure out what actually is happening when a circle is drawn in perspective. I decided to draw some glassware that I could see through, and the wine and cocktail glasses fit the bill: red, white, champagne flute, a martini glass, and a rectangular bottle for contrast. When I got down a tray for carrying them all upstairs to my desk, I noticed a dishtowel with a grid of squares. Perfect!
I decided to simplify things by using one-point perspective. I set up a grid on my paper, complete with horizon line, vanishing point, and stationary point (at least two times as far away as the outer limit of the sketch from the vp) so that I could determine the depth of the square grid. Then I started drawing the bases of the glasses on the grid. I still need some work here, but now I know what to study next.
I just eyeballed the tops of the glasses and their curves. That will be study for another day.
After all this thinking and staring at empty glasses, I felt the urge for a little reward. Cheers!
p.s. If anyone has suggestions for simply drawing glasses that look accurate, I'm eager to know them!
Today I practiced making ellipses by drawing them on the faces of cubes drawn in various positions. Those are the shadows that are coming through the paper in this sketch. Drawing ellipses is kind of like practicing scales. Hopefully, it will pay off one day.
Here's a color version...
By the way, if you go to Paris, be sure to bring back a periwinkle ceramic yogurt cup. The yogurt is delicious and you and your friends will find many uses for the resulting cup.
Well, that was a month and I managed to sketch every day. There were a few days when it seemed like a chore, but most days it really wasn't too difficult. Today, I hadn't even thought about this being the last day until I had made two sketches.
It has helped when I don't worry too much about the quality of what gets posted. Today's sketch, is an example of that. We were downtown for browsing and lunch, and we had a great parking spot at the end of a block, looking directly at the corner of the library with a gorgeous red-leafed maple tree. (Actually, it was the second parking because my husband was nice enough to move the car from one that wasn't quite this good.) I got back to the car half an hour before the meter expired and did this loose and somewhat messy sketch. I always have a sketchbook and pen with me and today I had tossed the watercolors in my purse, just in case an opportunity arose.
When I've sketched each day, it seems like I find more opportunities for sketching. I often start noticing things in the morning that I might want to sketch during the day. This challenge seems to have led to more inspiration. I seem to see more things that look interesting, potentially sketchable, or just delightful. Since that's part of why I sketch anyway (to notice and appreciate things) I think I'll continue with this practice--at least until I don't. Being a retiree, I don't like having lots of rules, so I'll keep with this until it isn't fun or rewarding in some way and right now, that's hard to imagine.
I found this interesting quote on NPR's site. JS Bach was quite the guy with a simile.
J.S. Bach's Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) is, by its very nature, a departure for the oft-solemn composer, who frequently wrote in coffee shops. One segment of the piece translates as, "If three times a day I can't drink my little cup of coffee, then I would become so upset that I would be like a dried-up piece of roast goat."
This morning, I started a sketch of the beautiful sky over a neighbor's house. I painted in the blue sky and the lavender clouds, but when I had time to get back to it, it was dark.
Mostly, I've been in the kitchen today, but I took some time to illustrate a favorite recipe. This is an adaptation of a recipe from my friend, Jayne. Although we're having our traditional vegetarian Thanksgiving tomorrow, we won't be having this because we've got too many other things to eat. I'm feeling full just thinking about it.
Since starting this daily sketching, I often notice something during the day that I plan to sketch later. I think about it and sometimes even plan how I might draw it. Today, being a busy day of shopping and errands, inspiration didn't come until later when I spotted Hanno, the wooden gorilla, sitting on a shelf. I propped him on a yoga block and thought that since he has so many flat planes, he would be good for shading practice.
After one sketch, I wanted to do another and then another. I have a feeling that this gorilla will appear again. After all, Van Gogh painted his postman at least seven times and I need a lot more practice than Van Gogh!
We got this rose hip wreath at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago. I really applaud the people who make these, because it must be tricky to gather the branches into the wreath and wrap it up with wire, all while wearing thorn-proof gloves.
It's much too cold to stand on the front porch to draw this, so I brought it inside. Next, I'll be sweeping up all those little fallen rose hips that bounced around the floor.
This is not a a very interesting picture, but I'm not sure what to do to it to improve it I even added glitter to the glitter bottles, but sometimes glitter can't even do its magic. I tried adding more contrast after this one, with lots of shading. It was not effective.
Mostly, I wanted a record of making Christmas crafts with my daughter-in-law. I have that, so that's plenty for me.
Looking out the back window, I could see frost on the grape arbor this morning. Tucked into the corner of the landing, with my pens on the windowsill, I stood and sketched this small scene.
When our son was little, he and his friends played in a sandbox that we built under the grape arbor. Luckily, we always kept the sandbox covered when it wasn't in use, because only later did we discover that opossums liked to roam above it at night, feeding on the grapes.
If you want to see some beautifully painted leaves, you should look at Shari Blaukopt's blog, which probably inspired me to paint these desiccated leaves that fell into the yard from the massive tree next door. I tried Katharine's trick of adding some powdered instant coffee while the paint was wet. I wasn't very careful when scattering it, so some went outside the leaf shapes. With the addition of water, it became the background. It's not clear in the scan, but the dark spots are kind of thick and very shiny. Maybe I used the wrong kind of coffee--or maybe it was supposed to be tea. Well, at least my sketch smells good.
I've been wanting to draw the corner of our grape arbor with its withering leaves, but it's been too cold and wet, so today I brought some leaves inside. Early on, it was clear that they were going to look very plain, drawn on the toned paper. I remembered Kalina's dramatic black brush pen work, so I thought I'd add some black to the negative spaces. I was listening to a very interesting radio program and probably got a little carried away, but I had a good time. Yesterday's rule about not using markers for leaves has already been broken. So much for rules.
There wasn't much time for sketching today, but I spotted a cat napping in a downtown store window and took the opportunity to do a quick sketch while it was relatively still. Then I added some leaves that I had picked up. What I learned from this: don't draw leaves with markers.
The next is another souvenir of our walks, a spiky seed pod.
It was easy to get in today's sketch, since the Urban Sketchers were out this morning sketching in Goose Hollow. While I was gathering my courage for going out in the cold and rainy outdoors, I sketched this window view from upstairs at Fehenbacher Hof.
At lunch, I tried to get a few quick portraits of some of my fellow sketchers. The odd cropping was necessary to remove a poorly placed ear. It would be much appreciated if my subjects all wore their hair or hats over their ears.