Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Trees

The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, I have been wondering a lot about trees lately. Specifically, I've been wondering how to draw and paint the gorgeous gold and red trees around town. I've been looking at examples in books and online and practicing trying to replicate other's paintings (especially Shari Blaukopf . Sometimes I drew branches first and then painted and other times, I put down blobs of paint and then added the branches. A few times, I added splashes.

I've been to some of my favorite spots, like the south park blocks...

and I've painted from the car when the weather's been bad...

This weekend, by request, the Urban Sketchers of Portland concentrated on trees, looking at examples and discussing techniques.

Some tips that I learned are:
Sometimes landscape designers and architects begin trees like maples, with three overlapping circular forms. The main branches are shown where the circles overlap.
Deciduous trees seem to have rounded forms on the top curves and more pointed edges below.
Sky holes (a delightful new term to me) are usually in the less dense parts of the tree.
When drawing only, beginning with the branches first helps give the shape of the tree,  but with watercolor, it works best to start with the colored forms and later add the branches.

Then we went out into the neighborhood of Ladd's Addition and put our new knowledge to work. 

I still have a lot to practice, but I don't mind because it means I'll spend lots more hours staring at and wondering about our magnificent trees.


 I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.  ~Henry David Thoreau
A special thanks to the trees that have been used for my sketchbooks.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reed College Sketchcrawl

The Urban Sketchers of Portland had a sketchcrawl at Reed this past weekend. The college ha a beautiful campus with gorgeous trees and interesting architecture. I think I could spend another day just sketching gargoyles

This time, I drew another sketcher, ...

the Anna Mann building through the trees, ...

and the doorway to one of the old residence halls...

And now for something completely different: 
From the opposite side of town, here's a view from the Fields, Portland's newest urban park.

It seems like the colors are getting better and better each fall, but maybe I just have time to appreciate them more now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Whitaker Ponds Nature Park

This weekend, we went to Whitaker Ponds Nature Park, a park we had never visited. I had seen it on another blog, Life is Good, and was curious about it. Since it was a gorgeous fall day, it seemed like a perfect time to go. We saw only a few people, but there were lots of ducks and we heard many songbirds.

The first pond we came to had a log in it....

that looked surprisingly like a shark fin...

Not fearing sharks, but eager to sit in the sun, I sketched from an observation dock. One loose sketch....

and one with more ink....

Here are a couple more views from my camera.  It might be worth a trip back when the colors are even brighter. 

I wish I had a canoe.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Samurai Exhibit at the Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum has a show of Samurai armor--armor for the horses they rode as well as for the men.

Often, a family crest was repeated in the details on the helmets, the clothing, and the weapons and battle standards.

The helmets sometimes had an animal appearance or even details from plants (like an eggplant stem).

The lines of many of the helmets and masks were graceful and exquisite...

and the craftsmanship was flawless.

I spent a couple hours sketching over two days, and in that time we saw a lot of people and many children. A couple of them joined us in sketching at one exhibit. I was so pleased to see that one little boy's mother always carried his sketchbook for him.

It was a bit disheartening to hear that a little girl, going from exhibit to exhibit asked, "Is this for a girl to wear? Is this for a girl?" I think I only saw one, rather plain item, that belonged to a Samurai woman.
The next show is Venice: the art and music, so I hope there'll be more for her then.

Fall Color is Creeping into Town

Portland State Farmers Market

Portland Art Museum

One of my college era apartments.

In every season, I love this curved tree.

More Toned Paper

From the warmth of my car on a chilly day, I sketched this entrance to Laurelhurst Park.

Today, I added the shadows. I don't usually have the patience for this, but it went by quickly while I listened to a gripping episode of 'This American Life.'

Now it has a more ominous feel with people walking into the darkness. Is it a result of the radio episode or maybe a foreshadowing of Halloween?