Workshops

Last Night’s Party

Last night’s Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts was as thoroughly engrossing as the others.  At times I felt like I was in the company of professional models! though it was just us chickens of the sketching sort – a fun group.

If you have been wanting to come join us you may want to put our next date on your calendar – Thursday May 23, we’ll be at it again, 5-8pm. Everyone invited, no matter your figure drawing skills or lack thereof.

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These were my 2 minute sketches, done with a wet brush and a graphite cake, which I’d hoped would be a quicker way to do the modeling. It’s a somewhat clunky medium but gets one drawing with a brush.

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At 3 minute poses I switched to pencil and watercolor, which I liked better.

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I guess we all have our visual “issues” to overcome. When I’m sitting too close to someone I’m drawing, I can’t seem to avoid sketching them larger, often so they barely fit on the page – like Catherine here!

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I got out an Inktense pencil to sketch the one on the right.

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In this 10 minute pose I got a bit more ambitious, with more of the figure.

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Last pose of the night. A very wise woman gave us a lovely peaceful pose.

I’m so tempted to go back into these and “finish” them, but I would surely lose whatever “freshness” I have achieved. It’s wonderful practice, and frankly as good as meditation for quieting the mind. We have music playing in the background, but each person is intensely in their own creative space. The resulting portraits are as different in style as the individuals we are.

See you next month, May 23rd?

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Portrait Party this Thursday!

Are you ready for the next Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on April 18, 5-8pm? It’s getting to be a monthly thing, and I’m so glad because I’m meeting lots of new people, getting to sketch with beginners and professional artists both. See the details below and more about last month’s party.

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Come when you can. No need to register first. Groups form as folks arrive.

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Are you getting your pencils sharpened and pens filled for next week’s challenge to sketch 100 people in one week, beginning Monday April 8, and share your sketches on social media? If you want to know the “rules” and the intention behind this fun challenge (now in its third year), go to the Facebook group page, join up and read a fun description with lots of ideas about how to participate. When you put your mind to it and form a plan, it is remarkably easy to do 100 quick people sketches in a week. And once you get going, sometimes it’s hard to stop!

And then, what good timing! You’ll be warmed up for the next Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on April 18, 5-8pm. It’s getting to be a monthly thing, and I’m so glad because I’m meeting lots of new people, getting to sketch with beginners and professional artists both. See the details below and more about last month’s party here.

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On Becoming a Nature Nerd

I spent that gorgeous day yesterday out on the Las Galinas Wildlife Ponds with John Muir Laws and a bunch of nature nerds. It’s OK to say that because Jack (John) told us to approach our nature explorations and journaling like a nature nerd and he should know. In case you don’t know him, he’s the author of The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, and other nature journaling guides, and the founder of the Nature Journal Club here in the Bay Area.

So what does it mean to be a nature nerd?  Well, it’s things like data collection: location/date/weather. It’s walking along a trail and looking for something weird, something that tweeks your curiosity. It’s not just making pretty colored pictures, but writing down your thinking about what you’re observing.

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What I love about this approach is that you don’t have to know the names of the plants and animals or be able to identify the bird calls. You draw and describe what you see and hear and your questions and guesses, and it’s all in the service of being there in your experience of “the wild”. Like those red patches on the red winged blackbirds that look like military medals or epulets. Or the ole coot dunking his head up and down while fishing, and that sound like an “ow, ow”. Was that the ole coot complaining?

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If I had been there alone i would have drawn the familiar outline of the sleek black cormorants lined up on the pipe. But Jack and the other bird watchers were there with their fancy tripods and telescopes and I got to see what a truly exotic bird this common bird of California wildlands is, with its hooked beak and orange face, electric blue mouth and lavishly patterned back! And then they were doing the orange gular pouch flutter and double crested fluff-up of the mating dance. All that can’t be seen without binoculars of course, and you can’t draw what you can’t see!

The young night heron however was quite visible from the path and not inclined to move. While sketching him/her I couldn’t help imagining that the mother had given strict instructions for him to stay put until she came back.

lasgalinas3 Here’s the setting where Jack is showing us an example of how to draw a quick map of the area and use symbols to illustrate different types of wildlife. Along with the usual Marsh wrens, egrets, geese, ducks and cormorants there were spottings of otters and maybe even an orange tailed weasel?

If you want to be on the email list to find out about these outings and courses, go to the Nature Journal Club, and maybe I’ll see you there some time.

 

Land and Me – Fire Sketches

Before this month ends tomorrow I want to report on the fascinating interactive performance event called The Land and Me which was held at the DeTurk Round Barn on March 2. It was an opportunity for us to have the first public showing of our entire body of fire story sketches (120 in all!) at an interactive event, created by artists, musicians, dancers and thinkers! It featured live music, dance, poetry and participatory performance, all packed into about two hours.

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If you haven’t been to the DeTurk Barn, it’s a real gem owned by the city and rented out for events. It’s not out in the country as you might expect, but in a small park near Western Farm Supply just west of Hwy 101 in Santa Rosa.

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To give you a feeling of the inside of the barn, here’s a panoramic shot I took with my iPhone! We were all standing around the balcony calling out lines of poetry and releasing the slips of paper to float leaf-like down to the first level.

 

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Carole, Bettina and I came early to install our show called Sketching Fire Stories: Artists are Second Responders. The sketches date back to right after the devastating firestorms of October 2017 when we dedicated our skills as visual journalists to telling the stories of the people, places and events that so severely impacted our community. Rather than use a camera, we traveled to many of the affected sites armed with our pens and watercolors and sketchbooks to record our impressions of the scenes and personal stories. Other artists joined us and we later archived the sketch stories in a body of work to be shown to the community in various venues.

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The Land and Me project, designed by two gifted Bay Area artists, Carol Mancke and Trena Noval,  afforded an opportunity to share the project and talk to interested people about it. We hung the sketches on clips on the round walls of the barn and had binders of more sketches on tables for viewing. Some people spent time looking at each of the hundred or so sketches and took pictures. . .like this Press Democrat reporter who quietly snapped dozens of pictures.

We were glad to represent the impact of the firestorms on the land and people of our community for the Land and Me project. It was and is our heart-felt offering for the healing and rebuilding of our community.

The event featured multiple layers of activities and artistic expressions.

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You can get a glimpse here of the range of activities at the event. (If you can’t see the slideshow, try this link)

For more information about the project and the contributing artists visit the Facebook page.

And if you’d like an opportunity to view the Fire Sketches, we will be presenting them again in August in a six-week show downtown Santa Rosa sponsored by the S.F. Parks and Rec Dept. More on that closer to the date.

You can also view some of my firestorm sketches on my website and Carole Flaherty’s  on her website. As well you can see sketches from the events surrounding the first year anniversary of the fires, Sketching Fire Stories.

Busy Season

Is your garden growing an inch a day now? or at least the weeds? Mine is. And spring projects, long promised are begging for attention. In Muse Group this week we made monoprints with our acrylic paints, using stone paper for a plate. (More about Stone Paper here. )My first “pull” was a vibrant one that turned into a story for this time of year.

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the earth is busy sprouting

so here I dream of apples

of birds darting and swooping

on spring’s many errands

 

yet still

there are only buds

plumping up to make pink popcorn

and seduce butterflies

The plum tree has bloomed and leafed out. The weeping cherry, beneath which my mother’s ashes lie, has just bloomed. And I wait expectantly for the apple blossoms whose sweet nectar is an invitation to the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, that lay their eggs on the vine, so that I may daily visit the hungry munching caterpillars with the orange polka dots. Simple pleasures of spring I must make time for.

Another Portrait Party!

A portrait party? You mean a figure drawing studio class? Or a party where you get your picture taken or sketched?

Well, none of the above, but all of the above. Our second Portrait Party held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts last week attracted many new curious souls, some of whom wanted to observe, or in fact to pose and be sketched (without themselves sketching). But what we were doing was sitting in groups of six  sketchers and taking turns sketching each other (one person posing at a time). No teacher, but lots of sharing of ideas, techniques, and materials. We were fortunate to also have some accomplished artist/teachers among the crowd of enthusiasts.

We started out with one-minute sketches.

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. . .and went up to five and seven minutes so I got out the watercolor and Inktense pencils. And rescued some hats I’d brought. (A little dog had curled up on them to take a nap, bored as I’m sure he/she was to be in a group of humans where no one was paying him any attention.) We had fun posing with hats. They really help to add some (additional) character to us characters.

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No names here, because really. .  .it’s not about likeness. I have destroyed many a lovely person’s visage with my paint and pencils.

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Can you tell that this was my favorite of the evening?

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A hoody for a change.

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A last minute dark wash pencil at the end, heavy handed, but oozing enthusiasm. . .

And we’ll be holding more of these portrait parties at the Seb. Arts Center, so I hope you’ll be able to come next time. Stay tuned for the dates!