Everyday Sketches

Thanksgiving Moments

My thanksgiving holiday was pretty much like many people’s with lots of cooking and eating, visiting, getting out to see some sights around town. Ben flew in from North Carolina and Andrew and Holly joined us from Seattle. I snatched some pictures and decided to do so quick sketches from them after the holiday, using the same kind of technique I would use in on-the-lap-on-location sketching/storytelling. 

dip pen and ink in hand.book journal

I rarely take an inkpot out with me because of the chance of spilling it! But this was done in my studio and I didn’t spill it! That’s me at the end of the table. Can you tell?

The day after Thanksgiving Ben wanted some Pacific Northwest nature drama, so we drove out to the ocean at Westport and lucked out by arriving at high tide, a King Tide crashing against the sea wall in 15 foot vertacles, spraying onlookers and flooding the nearby streets. We stuffed ourselves on fish n chips watching the water creep down the road out front.

Afterward we took a walk above the dunes, not wanting to be ON the beach where the tide sometimes drags people out to sea! A very dapper looking pheasant was not to be deterred from his walk on the trail so we followed him for quite a way. And later stopped for coffee at a coffee shop with unique decor. The mannikin at the window seemed to be inviting visitors to come and sit a while with her!

Back home again, Drew (Andrew) took up his favorite spot in the living room. My boys are masters of comfortable poses!

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Dazzled!

Dazzled by fall colors! And anxious about how quickly the fall rain and wind storms are denuding my favorites! 

I keep thinking I’ll find the colors to mix, the techniques to employ, the tools to utilize. . .to capture. . .a touch of the outrageous autumn foliage displays. I keep working on it, but. . .

You probably think I’m exaggerating. But Nature is the biggest and most outrageous exaggerater, always. It was awful windy at the Capitol building this week, too much to try to put the color on the page on site. A more intrepid urban sketcher surely would have done so. I just wanted to memorize the look of that redderthanredred against that greenerthangreengreen with the gold thrown in . So at home I just kept putting paint on til I gave up. . .yet strangely still felt satisfied from the effort. 

Autumn glory upstaging Washington’s state capitol building!

And meanwhile this artistry was going on in my neighborhood. What would you say. . .New Gamboge with a touch of Quin Gold? Quin Rose? 

And then this morning this 4 inch glowing something in the middle of our lawn. A golf ball? A piece of paper trash (it is trash day) a wrapper? A fried egg for goodness sake? Would it glow in the dark to flavor up the spooky Halloween?

Did you guess? A mushroom of course! Time to get out the mushroom ID books!

Rock, Stone and a Time Machine

pen and watercolor in Etchr w/c sketchbook

As you may guess from the sketch, the Time Machine is a vintage/antique shop in a historic building on the main street in this small town of Tenino. While I sketched, Janet, a non-sketcher, took her time enjoying the Shiplap Quilt and Coffee Shop across the street.

I can’t help wondering if the Time Machine will change the sign in 10 years when the future is no longer future and the Time Machine brings us back to the present, which we have been trying to escape for many years. Food for thought.

But to back up. . .we were heading out to Tenino on a Sunday and discovered that the Stone Carver studio, a main attraction in this town known for its stone quarry, would be closed. I called the number and reached Keith, who was eating his breakfast at the cafe across the street. “I’ll meet you there!” he said. And there he was waiting to greet us, still munching his hurried breakfast.

Turns out that Keith Phillips is the Master Carver in town and has been a journeyman stone carver for many years, working on large projects on government buildings like the capitol in Olympia but also creative sculptures like a stack of books for Powell’s in Portland. After showing off The Shed (the barn above) he took us on a tour of sculptures he made for the town and invited us another time to see the action at the workshop where the big tools are used.

Keith, beaming ambassador for Tenino, and a delighted artist/tourist. Gravestones? Birdbaths? Garden sculptures anyone? His team is ready to serve.

I sketched The Shed last year, and will definitely be returning for some more. Maybe sketching the stone carvers at work in the workshop next time?!

Summer Daze

fountain pen with blue ink and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Blueberries and lavenders. It’s the season of purples, from the blues to the pinks of the spectrum. I can pick a bowl a day of the blueberries in my back yard and enjoy the rich dark lavender mounds in our front yard. But it’s always a treat to visit a lavender farm, and there’s a beauty here in nearby Lacey – the Evergreen Valley Lavender Farm where you can picnic, purchase everything lavender, and of course sketch!

The Olympia Art League has a plein aire group that meets weekly on summer evenings at local spots. Unlike the Sonoma County weather where the temps cool down in the evening, here in the northwest the heat and bright sunlight often peaks in the evening and the sun sets later. I’m finding that it’s my favorite time of the day to get out and enjoy exploring.

The Schmidt house is the elegant historical home of the founder of the 1904 Olympia Brewing Company in Tumwater. This sketch shows just a small portion of the house and estate with its spectacular formal gardens.

Walk at Woodard

w/c and w/c pencils in 5 X 7″ spiral mixed media sketchbook

Packed up my water brush, tiny palette, a couple pencils and a water bottle and headed out to one of my favorite nature spots this week – Woodard Bay. The cormorants were roosting in great noisy numbers and only a couple seals were sunning on the docks next to the old railroad track pier in the waters of the sound. I managed this sketch just before the preschool kids arrived and turned the historic dugout canoe into a jungle gym, chattering in that high pitched way, a flock of another sort. 

Of course the park had not changed since last July, soon after I’d moved here and claimed it as one of the best reasons to be happy about a move to Olympia! See that blog post here. Of course there is also the memory of the kayaking adventure with Andrew where we got stuck in the muck! blog post here. Luckily that’s just a funny tale to tell in retrospect! 

Spooners

This berry stand is three minutes from my house, and I’ve been watching the parking lot fill up with folks buying flats of strawberries every day lately, at least until about 11am when they sell out! These are not the California variety. They are a very deep dark red all the way through and you have to gobble them up quickly because they’re very ripe and juicy. And since red is probably my favorite color to paint, I couldn’t resist setting up the stool to sketch the action, and Ineke joined me. 

You may notice that the sky is dark in the picture. It was 11 am and the sun was doing its hide and seek game we’ve gotten used to here. That was then. Now we’re getting some real sun and heat this week, finally!

fountain pens and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Something about the bright colors compelled me to lay the paint down first and draw later. No way to get too precious and correct but the result has more energy. I also did another couple pages with figure studies, about a minute each, because that was how long it took folks to get their flat and carry it away. And then home to binge on strawberries!

Saigon in Olympia

Sailor Fude fountain pen, black liner, and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

It was a last minute out-the-door call from Jane OlySketcher to sketch downtown. How could I resist? She has a great eye for sketch angles. And Saigon in Olympia? Well, we have a bit of every cultural accent in town. As you can see we are still dressing for the chill. Not unlike San Francisco actually, where you better have a warm hat and jacket even in the middle of summer.

So here is Jane in her down vest, clutching her hot coffee, with pens erupting from pockets on the sidewalk. I found a spot in the street behind a parked car, and soon we were meeting some young Asian men who happened by. One of them works at the Rendezvous restaurant . Another was a fine artist in his own right who showed us his sketchbook. So it was an hour well spent!  

Taco Truck

fountain pen and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Across from the wonderful Childhood’s End Art Gallery in downtown Olympia is a parking lot with food trucks. When Jan and I met to sketch somewhere between the harbor and Capitol Lake, this colorful truck caught my eye and shouted Sketch Me! The other choices were the usual boats and water and overcast skies. So we set up our stools on the pavement for a chance to pretend we were in Mexico for an hour! When it started to drizzle and the ink lines burst in tiny water explosions, we aborted and moved under an awning for lunch.

Direct Watercolor

watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Day One of the #30X30DirectWatercolor challenge. No other theme here. But I gave myself time limitations of 30-40 min. Pulled up a picture of last week’s cabin on Goss Lake I’d been meaning to sketch. Drew in the big shapes with a light value Quin Gold. A good way to warm up is always to paint fast and not think too hard. It shows, but this challenge is not about results. We’re going for the kind of transformation that happens over time when you do a lot of it!

The main frustration was that i wanted to go in with a pen to delineate, correct, enhance. And the big quandry was how dark to go, a tricky thing with watercolor because it’s so easy to end up being wishy washy, muddy wuddy.

And then today my sketch friends were not available and the weather was finally warm and balmy, so off I went to scout out some nearby scenes. This one is 5 minutes from my house and I liked the train as a counterpoint to the trees, which we have in such abundance here in Olympia. While I was sitting close to the track an Amtrak train barreled by on the nearest track, rattling me a bit. So we’ll blame that on the fact that my train sketch looks more like a hungry caterpillar.

Two days down and 28 to go. We’ll see. . .Are any of you going for it?