Join me this fall for some mixed media fun!

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Do you want to put the play factor back into your painting while learning to recognize your intuitive voice? Each session will add a new mixed media painting technique to your repertoire, pushing the boundaries of inks and acrylics, adding textures, collage and more. Meditation and writing are added into the mix to evoke that powerful Muse energy!

For more information and to register, please visit my website. And come paint with me.

Country Pleasures

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This winery is five minutes from my house and along one of my favorite walking routes, Vine Hill School Rd. The iconic landmark of Martin Ray Winery, seen from far and wide, is the tower. I always find it easier to do a quick sketch of a lovely landscape if I can fit a manmade structure in as a counterpoint to all the foliage. (And there’s a farmworker in there too below.)

So Bettina and I spent a lovely half hour or so in the shade, enjoying the pleasures of the quiet garden (with the busy wine-making going on behind those trees). And while sitting there we were visited by a welcoming crew of the marketing chief, the assistant gardener (who gave us freshly dug up dahlia bulbs) and the master gardener who shared his project plan with us.

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Once again taking advantage of the weather I ventured out with Carole this time to another Sebastopol farm to visit a friend who gave us a tour of her magical garden with chickens and doves and these sheep and an arts and crafts studio and more! All the creation of a person with an irrepressible urge to manifest things of beauty.

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At her kitchen table I couldn’t help myself. . .

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Saturday was Bob and my 27th wedding anniversary and we headed out toward the beach, getting as far as Duncans Mills before the cold wind moved in. So I practiced some speed sketching (and painted it later).

The anniversary date continued with a visit to art galleries in Guerneville and in particular the Blue Door where we met paper (collage) artist Douglas Devivo and were treated to an explanation of his process of transforming paper of all kinds into tapestry-like art of stunning beauty.  Check it out  at devivolife.com I left with a bag full of papers scooped from his table and blessings to give it a try. . .which I will!

Summer in Sonoma County

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Fountain pen and watercolor in 8″ X 8″ hand.book w/c sketchbook (double spread)

There’s no better scene for people watching than a summer concert in the part and the Healdsburg Plaza never disappoints. I wanted to tell the story on the spot. At first we were seated, eating our pizza, in the area away from the stage, so I started sketching the guy in the blue pants eating a Souvlaki and the lady with a baby. Then I moved up closer to get the lead singer, a dancer and the other musicians. There’s nothing to do, but just add them in and hope the story gets told. The color was added when I got home.

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This lovely red haired mermaid was waiting for a face at the Gravenstein Apple Festival in Sebastopol this weekend. The artist is Michael Coy, a great guy and talented artist and I couldn’t resist joining the children behind the mural to pose.

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The Apple Festival has something for everyone. I sat down at a demonstration of how to make Farm to Bottle Fermented Hot Sauce (even though I doubt I’ll ever get around to that) and imagined the symphony of flavors I could enjoy.

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There was plenty of shade under the oak trees at the Apple Stage to enjoy some excellent cowboy music and humor with Sourdough Slim and Robert.

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And after seeing the arts and crafts exhibits, buying a new sunhat and eating a Honey Lavender Bacon and Gravenstein Apple melted sandwich, I headed back for more music. As I finished a young girl came up to compliment me on the sketch and I got to return a compliment. She had the first prize ribbon for the apple pie contest!

UsK Symposium and trip finale

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Day two of the Symposium continued with one event after another, a painting demonstration “From Splashes to Lines” by  Delphine Priollaud Stoclet, an exhibition opening with illustrator Lynne Chapman, “Unfolding Stories: Sketching the Everyday” and finally dinner with Bay Area urban sketchers at a Korean restaurant. A late bedtime followed!

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Next morning “Shape Shifters: Overcoming Complicated Scenes with Dynamic Results” with Paul Wang was at a restaurant appropriately named Rain Bar (in fact it did rain once again). We were handed four watercolor pigments and taken through a series of exercises leading to (hopefully) new skills to tackle those complicated urban scenes. If I’d had time to do one last painting. . .I think I would have gotten it!  Ha! Great workshop, Paul.

UsK024When you’re in this urban sketcher crowd you never know when someone may be sketching you. This one by Don Low, teacher of “Decisive Line in Drawing Figures in Movement and Repose”, caught me unawares, until he introduced himself and asked me to write my name on it. (In retrospect I should have asked him to take off a couple of the chin lines!) But no kidding, he totally captured me with that big juicy black brush pen of his.

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Everyone was sketching this clock tower on the Palace Hotel. I was a bit worn out at this point but managed to sketch the top from a comfortable vantage point in my hotel across the street.

UsK014along with this studied view of the canal, train tracks, and a dizzying variety of urban angles and textures. I had learned to focus on something of interest and leave out the rest. Like this bustling city overflowing with urban sketchers, Jazz festival goers, costumed Comicon attendees, an army of bulldozers and construction workers, and aggressive geese, I was overflowing with images, impressions, and a kind of frantic desire to take it all in, tempered by exhaustion from the effort.

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And suddenly it was all ending, and 500 of us from 43 countries were melting ourselves into one picture. See me there on the right?!

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That evening at the closing reception where I waited in vain to win the raffle, the symposium site for next year was announced (like the next Olympics) drum roll. . .Chicago.

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Then there was one more morning where I was free to wander the city alone and sketch.

UsK017Still trying to understand buildings and the mystery of sketching volume in the flat light of a cloudy day.

UsK018I treated myself to lunch at the Town Hall sculpture cafe where the chairs are old leather and the busts are of 19th century mayors.

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And that’s it. Getting back to California from a Europe recently traumatized by terrorism was an exhausting affair. But the memories of an amazing journey arrived home with me intact.

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along with happy memories of my traveling companions, gratitude to my wonderful teachers as well as all the other sketchers and local hosts I shared experiences with along the way.

I arrived home in California with the Urban Sketchers manifesto emblazoned on my heart: We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.

(For more about Urban Sketchers, visit http://www.urbansketchers.org/)

And you can be sure there is more to come. . .

7th Internat’l Urban Sketchers Symposium, Manchester, England

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We arrived in Manchester, England shortly before the opening reception of the Urban Sketchers Symposium. The event was in the 19th century grandeur of the Town Hall with its crystal chandeliers and muraled walls.  We were met by waiters bearing trays of wine glasses.

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But I knew I’d truly arrived when I found the string quartet with a host of sketchers on the floor doing what all urban sketchers worth their salt do. . .plop right down and start sketching. So I joined in, and when the emcee stepped up to the mike, I found myself right at his feet.

UsK03These were some of the 478 participants from all over the world. A unique multi-cultural tribe with their own customs and rituals.

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I jumped into the fast moving river and was carried along for the next 3 1/2 days.

UsK022Early the next morning I boarded a double decker bus for a ride out to the John Rylands library for Liz Steele‘s “Architecture in Edges, Shapes and Volumes” workshop. Liz has been one of my favorite urban sketch bloggers/teachers for a while and it was a thrill to be caught up in her irrepressible energy and light heartedness for the morning.

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And what a morning it was. There were few breaks in the rain, but she soldiered on, giving us a week’s (month’s?) worth of teachings in 3 hours while dodging raindrops and struggling with poor vantage points for viewing the building. Meanwhile I grappled with poncho, umbrella, puddles and sketch gear and have little in the way of art to show for the morning.  Luckily Liz has an on line course called “Buildings” coming up next month. Architecture has been the weak link for me, but I’m convinced she has the key for unlocking the mysteries of doing quick sketches of buildings.

UsK07I’m the one in the middle under the black umbrella. How many hands does it take to sketch in the rain? More than I had.

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At lunch time happily I got a window seat in a deli right between two other sketchers from England and enjoyed a dry half hour of sketching an urban scene in comfort!

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In the afternoon another double decker bus took us out to the canal area of the city for a “Puzzling Out the Picture” workshop with Veronica Lawlor, author of One Drawing a Day among others. The rain followed us there and remained for most of the afternoon, but at least there were bridges to stand under.

We were to think of the picture space as dimensional with things entering and exiting and moving in directions, and start by composing thumbnails.

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Eventually I was able find a spot where I could sit long enough (in a bit of drizzle) to watch a dimensional story unfold – to have a conversation with the old guy who’s lived on the canal boat for many years and the geese, who periodically marched right up to me and shrieked/squawked at me in argumentative tones (I’m guessing they were expecting food ).

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Next morning was the Fred Lynch workshop, “Hunting and Gathering: Sketching Vignettes and Lists”. Fred kept us extremely busy for the 3 1/2 hours capturing quick vignettes and visual lists. “A vignette is an irregularly shaped image on a page that isolates and focuses attention on a particular subject.”

We had only minutes to go out and find a subject and do a vignette. I got this one done before another cloudburst.

UsK010and decided to stay dry inside for the exercise on sketching a page of a Visual List, an arrangement of objects that make a singular statement. There were plenty of sketchers inside the great hall of the school, and I became particularly fascinated with their sketching hands.

The vignette format lends itself so well to the quick capture type of sketching which tells the story of a place and time. In my experience there is rarely time to do a finished sketch but it can be so satisfying to include what is most interesting and design out the rest!

Next: the final days of the Symposium and Ireland/Manchester adventure!

 

 

Ireland Sketches Part 4

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And then we were en route to our next stop, Bandon, stopping on the way at Bantry House, another grand Manor House, where we ran into Marc Taro Holmes on the hill behind the “house” doing a breathtaking painting including the house, the formal gardens, the sea and mountains beyond!  How do you do it Marc?

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I picked a more contained subject to practice perspective and vignetting. The stable/carriage houses on either side of the gardens offered some great spots and the sky offered a bit of sun at moments to read shadow shapes.

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Another Carriage House view with an antique pram.

Ireland041Next day we spent some time in the colorful seaside town of Kinsale, a favorite of tourists. The dock we could access was far from the boats and frequented by families with gull-feeding children and noisy rooks. So the sketch became a story, which I suppose all of my travel sketches are.

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We had lunch in this colorful plaza area where a young violinist was playing. The Irish lady next to me showed great interest in my sketch and soon was pointing out omissions and giving directions.

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You see, the hand and bow was moving as were other parts, and I was waiting to get a better look rather than guessing, but this was disturbing to her. Finally I added the bow and, of course thanked her graciously for her help.

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Our last two nights in Ireland were spent in a historic B + B in Trim, across the street from Trim castle (whose claim to fame is the filming of Braveheart!) in the beautiful Boyne River area west of Dublin. As usual we feasted at the local restaurant, enjoying the wall art of humorous quotes.

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We spent our last day in Ireland touring the Passage Tombs of Newgrange and Knowth dating back to 4000 B.C. This picture was taken while standing on one of the larger ones looking down on one of the smallest. We were able to go inside the Newgrange passage where the light at winter solstice has illumined the passage for 6000 years. The megalithic art forms cast their spell and I had meant to sketch more, but finally drew some just to remember the extraordinary day of retracing history and experiencing the awe of human nature touching the divine.

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Next: Manchester, England and the International Symposium of Urban Sketchers