Monday, September 23, 2013

Pettygrove Park

On Saturday, I joined other Urban Sketchers and sketched 'The Dreamer' sculpture, tucked into a tiny park with towering trees and little round hills. I wanted to take it slowly at first, so I started by crosshatching (2nd sketch). The lines of the sculpture intrigued me, so I did a line drawing next (top).

After the toned paper, I wanted some color, so I switched sketchbooks and drew in watercolor and threw on some watercolor pencil. Then the rain started--with a vengeance.  I wish I had moved closer to Manual Izquierdo's sculpture and listened to it. Apparently, it is filled with foam so when the rain hits it, it sounds like a kettledrum. A missed opportunity!

After a tasty lunch with about a dozen sketchers, a few of us weren't ready to quit.  We headed over to the PSU Farmers Market, where I did some quick people sketches, adding the color later.

It was a fun day of sketching and chatting, sharing sketchbooks, catching up with sketching friends and meeting new sketchers.  It was pretty much a delightful Saturday, even with the rain.


Summer is ending and the trees along the Portland waterfront are starting to change colors. One day last week, I got a little sunburn drawing the Marquam Bridge...

and the next day, the blue sky was obscured by some very unusual clouds...

If I had painted those clouds, it would have just looked like I had no idea how to paint clouds--which is basically true.

Luckily, the sky cleared somewhat when I added the paint to my sketch of the Hawthorne Bridge...

and by the time I left, even the geese were enjoying the day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Line to Color Workshop

This weekend, I took an Urban Sketchers Workshop with Gail Wong and Frank Ching, in Seattle. It was terrific and filled with useful, individualized instruction as well as lots of time to practice what we were being taught.

We started Friday evening with a short demo from Frank and then we spread out in the Ballard neighborhood to draw some buildings or street scenes. (I'm not going to post my first sketches.) Later, we had more instruction over antipasto, salads, and pizza.

The next day, we got an early start in the Fremont neighborhood. Here is my sketch of the canal. (We went straight to pen in this workshop, so all the guidelines and mistakes, remain.) At one point, the bridge opened and a tall sailboat passed through.  It held a violinist playing at the bow, playing as the boat moved along the canal.

Besides trying to use appropriate perspective and measurement, we were trying to have our subject placed in context (i.e. the surrounding area). I was pleased to see that those plants (with clusters of three leaves) that were surrounding me, were blackberries and not poison oak.

We moved up the hill where I drew a view of Saturn (with solar panels) atop a building. On our walk to the next site, Frank pointed out a view that would have included Saturn, the building under it, and the rocketship across the street. Lesson: finding the best view is the important, first step.

We concluded the morning with a value sketch of the Lenin (yes, that's not John Lennon) statue. This would lead into our afternoon lessons on value and color with Gail.

I made the head too large and the legs too short, so I did a second sketch of his head. I think it's appropriate that someone painted his hands blood red. For the story of how this statue happens to be in a Seattle neighborhood, here's a link:,_Seattle

After a quick lunch, we headed over to Gasworks Park. Here we mixed our watercolors to get a neutral gray scale and used those paints to establish the values of one of our views. Originally, we were trying for atmospheric graying (in the distance), but the view didn't really lend itself to that concept. Here's one of my attempts, which was a real challenge for me without using lines.

The view of the blue sky and sparkling water was gorgeous by late afternoon and perfect for the outdoor wedding that was being held. I added the color to this sketch later, trying to practice "selective coloring" that we learned this weekend.

On the final day, we had lessons again from both Gail and Frank and put to practice our new skills at Pike Place Market. I did a quick sketch of an alley as the vendors were setting up their fruit and vegetable displays.

Later, from a place on the crowded sidewalk, I sketched this iconic view. (Full disclosure: a few of those lines are Frank's.)

 A couple of children came by and painted with us for a few minutes. Here is one of the little charmers...

and here are a couple of quick sketches of my fellow sketchers.

Back in Portland, I decided to try some of my new skills on a view I've sketched before. Here's the result....

and here's a slightly different view of the same spot last spring. 

I think I've improved!! Thanks to Gail and Frank and my fellow sketchers.