Workshops

Announcing: New Workshops and Newsletter!

The Imagine With Art Newsletter is now in its 65th issue and I’m happy to offer it to you here. This issue features new workshops for the fall, some Urban Sketcher Symposium news and an Art Play lesson: Powdered Graphite. Hope you’ll take a look!

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And join me for the latest in a series of on location sketching workshops!

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For more information and to register, please email me.

Epilogue to Chicago

The Urban Sketch Symposium was officially over July 30. But of course I’ve left so much out of my story. . .like KK’s (Kiah Kiean Chng) demonstration of his “stick” and ink drawings and Rita Sabler‘s inspiring lecture titled “Urban Sketch as a form of Protest”. And then there were the demonstration tables with all the vendors who filled our “goody bag” with materials to try!

chicago36Contents of the goody bags!

Bettina and I were staying at Roosevelt University housing on the 21st floor where there is a study lounge with floor to ceiling windows and a 180 degree view of Lake Michigan, Millennial Park, and well, many of the coveted architectural wonders and city views. So we invited a couple teacher friends up to enjoy sketching. And the next morning the room filled up with many of the Symposium teachers, each approaching the scene in his/her trademark way while we watched and did our own.

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Rob Sketcherman here on his iPad. Gail Wong finishing a several foot long accordian fold sketchbook, Virginia Hein doing her color magic, Shari Blaukopf getting it all in with freshness and detail, Uma Kelkar painting those beautiful soft edges.

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My sketchbook was not wide enough for the other side of the room where Marc Taro Holmes was painting the entire scene with brush only, Suhita Shirodhar appeared at some point (check out her blog posts about the Symposium), Laurel Holmes and Joel our treasurer, Bettina and Cathy McAuliff. And to add to the excitement of the morning a helicopter was delivering an air conditioner to the roof of the Art Institute next door! A handy bit of orange accent to include in the sketches!

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After that we took the time to eat an actual full midday meal, which we hadn’t had time for previously in the week! And then headed to one of the other iconic sketch spots, the Chicago Theatre.

And then the for last sketch of the week, one of the lions in front of the Art Institute Chicago, where we indulged in a full day of art viewing. My favorites, Gauguin, Saul Steinberg, and The Paintings of M. F. Husain.

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(The tail was a necessary after thought!)

But I’d missed sketching a scene I saw daily, mostly because it involved sitting under the train with its deafening roar and smelly eructations. So I did the next one from a photo at home.

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And so I’ll end it there, with the very same train that took us to the airport the next morning for only $3. What a bargain!

Chicago: Part IV

On the last official day of the Symposium, there was time for a few more sketches while things were winding up for the big picture taking (of all 570 people from 34 countries and then the evening festivities.

But I thought also to share some of the small sketches/thumbnails I did to get my bearings while in the city, using water soluble graphite in a cake form with my water brush and pen.

 

I often liked these small ones better than the finished pieces. When the visual scene is most complex is the best time to go super small to simplify it.

The soaring green “gargoyles” on the library had been calling out all week to be drawn!

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And then in the afternoon the final sketchwalk with all participants while the city was busy closing down the public areas by the lake in preparation for the big Lollapaloosa music festival.

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The city workers were hanging the sign, piece by piece as many of us dashed off a sketch of the brave native on horseback. My friend Cathy read my mind as she commented, “Is this the Indian they stole Chicago from?”

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Once again here I am trying to prove myself as an authentic urban sketcher (even if a country girl at heart), seeing how many buildings and traffic I can pack into a quick sketch while on the corner of a busy intersection!

Then we were all getting ourselves arranged on a grassy hilltop for the grand Symposium picture, made more fun by a drone that circled around filming us from all angles.

Followed that evening by the closing party and announcement of the location for next year’s Symposium, in Porto, Portugal. Maybe you’ll be there?!

But there’s more! An epilogue, as we stayed a couple more days in Chicago. Stay tuned!

And if you’d like to join me and the Ready, Set, Sketchers! in Sebastopol this Saturday, we’ll be meeting up at 10am and sketching the Gravenstein Apple Fair. All are welcome!

Join us at the 44th Gravenstein Apple Fair for the next “Ready, Set, Sketch” meet-up!

Saturday August 12 from 10:00AM-1:00PM

We’ll meet at the entrance to the park at 10am.

Ragle Ranch Regional Park

500 Ragle Road

Sebastopol, CA 95472

 

 

Chicago: Part III

The next morning I skipped the sketchwalk meet up and just went right to one of the locations on the walk in the financial district. Settled myself on my little stool on the busy sidewalk. Towered over by imposing buildings waving their American flags of commerce, I shrank into a little pool insignificance. To put it simply I was intimidated. So I picked one small section of the overwhelming scene above me and soon had calmed myself down a bit and regained a modicum of that lost confidence.

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Something made me pause and decide to not to paint the colorful red and blue of the flag, even though it would liven up the sketch, and leave the colors off the next one as well.

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This one, sketched while sitting in front of Brooks Brothers and the Rookery Building , was a counter-phobic plunge into the most complicated street scene I’ve attempted so far. While inhaling the smoke from an employee taking his cigarette break in our shared alcove (twice in that hour)and feeling the press of people and cars rushing by, I seriously questioned whether I was up for this particular sort of urban sketch scene.

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The top of one of the grand buildings on the Chicago riverfront, the London House, viewed from way below on the other side of the river, was an attempt to recover through simplification. Drawn with paint first and then pen.

But then I plunged into the river again, figuratively speaking. . .

chicago14The Chicago city planners let the developers build skyscrapers on both sides of the not-very-wide river running through the city but required that there be a public walkway under the buildings along the river. And the river, at least on that lovely July day, was positively teeming with people in river crafts, from kayaks to pleasure boats blaring dance music, from architectural boat tours to water taxis. I finally found a narrow, but relatively unpopulated spot on the river walk to set about sketching some of the story.

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That evening the Symposium folks reserved an area on the grass in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a picnic dinner and a world class choral and orchestral performance. About the Frank Gehry design I wrote , “the performance stage opening is like a colossal beetle mouth with two tiny eyes, random pincers, ruby red mouth and white teeth. A hungry creature like ourselves.”

Stay tuned for Chicago: Part IV and the end of the Chicago visit.

And don’t miss Suhita Shirodhar’s post and free download about teaching at The Bean!

Chicago: Part II

I guess you haven’t really seen Chicago until you’ve visited The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park on the Lake. At least I don’t think there were any UsK Symposium people who didn’t sketch it. My first sight of it was on our first night in the city. A woman who claimed to be an official greeter offered to take a picture of Bettina and I and did an expert job.

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So the Bean/Cloud Gate is an enormous, reflective kidney bean. But here’s another picture to get a better idea.

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And by the way, the whole city is reflected here, and the sky, and you can’t take your eyes off it!

The next evening I got there a bit late, and by the time I’d sat down next to a charming sketcher from Paris and opened up my sketchbook next to hers, it was dark. Knowing we might not get a second chance Sandrine and I loaded up our brushes and went for it while she smoked her Parisiene cigarettes.

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The caption seemed appropriate for this one.

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The Calder sculpture titled “Flamingo” in a plaza among skyscrapers was another popular sketch sight. I was tempted to sketch the Falun Dafa (like Tai Chi for older people in the park) group who were using the plaza for their morning routine. People are more my comfort zone, but I was in Chicago, a capital of the architecture-universe, to sketch city architecture! But in this spot, the sculpture actually got top billing.

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That afternoon the Urban Sketcher Symposium was launched with a “sketchwalk” in the Art Institute Garden, a magical place of lacy foliage!

chicago34The next morning the workshops began and those of us with Basic Passes participated in sketchwalks around the city. I was grateful to go along at my own speed, thinking I would get more sketching done.

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I had watched Paul Wang, one of my instructors from last year, sketch this very scene the day before and thought I’d try my hand at it. It’s a typical one point perspective scene in Chicago with the train (the El) crossing over the street between tall buildings, many of them with reflective surfaces.

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Let me explain. Not far from The Bean is Crown fountain, consisting of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. The images are slowing morphing all the time and periodically a spout in the mouth opens and sprays a stream of water out, delighting all the children who engage in delirious water play in the summer.

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That evening a bunch of SF Bay Area sketchers met for dinner, drinks, and the proverbial “drink and draw” at Exchecquer, a nearby restaurant. Luckily the food took a while in coming. Otherwise, hungry as I was at 9pm I would have immediately abandoned the sketch!

I hope you’ll stay tuned for Part III!

Urban Sketch Symposium

Just back from Chicago and the 8th International urban Sketchers Symposium. In short, my mind was blown, by the city (my first time), and the event. 570 people attended from 34 different countries on four continents. There were workshops, demonstrations, sketchwalks, lectures, concerts, performances, and loads of socializing with sketchers of all backgrounds: painters, illustrators, architects, reportage artists, graphic artists, and more! Pant, pant! and very little time for resting, eating and such! Who cares. You can do that kind of thing at home.

My first chance to open the sketchbook was on the Architectural Boat Tour on the Chicago River where one is immediately confronted with several of the grandest, tallest buildings: the Wrigley, Tribune, and (yes, sorry to say) Trump buildings.  I must admit that I was quite overwhelmed, but dove in as I knew I must, at least to warm up.

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One and a half hours later my camera was full of architectural wonders and my mind with interesting factoids but stomach was empty, so we headed to a restaurant along the river.

chicago02 Still warming up here, doing a quick sketch of my friends Cathy and Laurie.

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Our room was on the 21st floor of the Roosevelt University dorm, a fabulous vantage point with views of the lake on one side and the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower on the other (used to be the world’s tallest building). And down below the trains. The geometry of the trains in relation to buildings fascinated me, so I gave it a try. Also I figured if I could appreciate it a bit more perhaps the incessant noise from it would not bother so much! And indeed, at least in the room, I got used to it.

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Michigan Avenue in the way to get most places you want to go in the beginning. It was a good place to start practicing the one point perspective and getting those people in!

This story will proceed in segments because I’m off for the weekend again, so please stay tuned!

 

Visitors and more summer music

My son Andrew and his partner Maura have been visiting this week. They both live in “the city” and seemed happy to just hang around with us, making good food and eating it. Fun summer things like opening a watermelon and eating it sloppily over the sink. We threw in a handful of activities, like a trip to Doran Beach where the north coast wind was so cold that we hunkered down in the protection of the dunes and they practiced headstands and stalked the creatures.

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Yesterday we attended the Rivertown Revival Festival in Petaluma, which combines music with boat races and steam punk style and interactive art and $5 weddings. . . I watched a very large snake wound around the body of a guy drink water from his dixie cup. Things like that happen everywhere. I shared my sketches of this festival three years ago here.  Only thing is that this year it was so hot there, that even with my parasol, two water bottles and loose fitting clothes I felt like passing out!

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Even the sketching didn’t quite revive me. But here she is Miss Moonshine, the opening act with Andrew and Maura on the hay bale seats.

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Next we caught the Cahoots on the Barn Stage with their sassy cute violinist, before checking out the porcupine who came out of his cage to get petted and misted with the spray to cool down, (while we also stood in the spray to get cooled down enough for the trek back to our car.)

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Back at home under the fan I sketched from my pics. It was definitely a parasol day!

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Catching up on some music sketches here. . .on another very hot day the Rosetown Soul Band was playing some serious hip swayin R + B music in a narrow courtyard packed with people at Montgomery Village Shopping Center. There was standing room only, not the best for a steady drawing line, but great for getting the vibe. This was a kind of sketch/dance combo.

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Now the kids have left and I’m packing my bags to head to Chicago tomorrow for the annual Urban Sketchers Symposium. There has been an insane flurry of activity on social media in preparation for this much anticipated event. In preparation I have been obsessing for weeks about what should be in my palette, what paper, pens, etc. should come in which bag. Not to mentions clothes. . . We sketchers are as bad (almost) as photograhers (I’m married to one so I know) when it comes to gear-mania.

I won’t have time for blogging while there, but have learned to use Instagram and might even try a bit of instant video there if you want to tune in. And the pics I take will also be on Facebook, so please join me there this week.

The Travel Sketching workshop is coming up August 26. It is full at this point but there’s a short wait list and space may open up, so contact me if you’re interested. Also I will be scheduling another sketch workshop for the fall.