bamboo pen

Lattin’s Cider Mill

I live right on the edge of country, so if I drive a mile down Rich Rd from my house, the landscape starts to look like my Sonoma County home (after several good rains anyway) with barns and woods and old weathered buildings and open fields and the occasional farm stand, and then Lattin’s Cider Mill! Last Thursday they were in full swing getting ready for their apple festival and lots of families were getting a head start, enjoying the hot apple fritters and making the tour of the farm animal pens and cages.

bamboo pen and ink, red felt pen and watercolor in 8 X 8″ Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal

As soon as I sat down to draw, a drunken yellow jacket joined me and wouldn’t go away. And I hadn’t even treated myself to an apple fritter yet, so I’m not sure why he chose me to bother. Soon a whole family decided to join me  – I guess, figuring I was part of the show and would be fun to watch while they devoured their donuts and fritters, dropping powdered sugar around me in a semi circle and not once being visited by that yellow jacket. Go figure. I held my ground though and eventually it got bored with me. 

fude point fountain pen, watercolor and watercolor pencil

At this point after sitting in the damp and cold for an hour, I was about done, so I bought an apple fritter to boost my energy for more sketching! And then stood at a couple of fences to sketch my old favorite. . .goats! Later when I got home I added a larger drawing from a picture I took, just to feel more finished. Those goat eyes are so very alien that it takes concentration to get even close to capturing goat-ness.  

And the sheep are so very different!

So back home I slowed down and studied a picture of an old goat I’d taken, playing with my Inktense pencils and white gel pen and, I swear I started to feel warmer and like I was knitting a muffler, enjoying the hyggelig (coziness) of winter wool and charm.

And the apple fritters? Where were the apples? They were warm deep fried dough with a sugar glaze. Give me a hot piece of apple pie over that any day. I’ll be back when they go into full production of pies next month!

Ashley Creek Farm

What is it about pumpkins and autumn? Is it the pie? or the color orange which we experience as sun saturation that warms the belly and the soul? Is it orange’s tendency to make a blue sky electric?

I think I’ve probably painted pumpkins every year since my beginning in watercolor in 1992 and possibly even longer. So when the local sketchers got permission for a private access to what I’m guessing is the primo pumpkin harvest farm in the county, Ashley Creek Farm, I couldn’t wait!

The farm was getting ready for the hoards of pumpkin-loving families to arrive for their season opener, when their field fills up with carloads and they sell pumpkins so fast that they are constantly replenishing them from the fields nearby. It’s not just the pumpkins that draw folks, but the idyllic and beautifully cultivated farm by a creek with hundred year old trees and house.

I was drawn to the contrast of blue-green to orange and red pumpkins and orange tractor! and anxious to practice with my new bamboo pen and India ink, followed by the Derwent Line and Wash palette.

And while I was sitting there painting I kept glancing over to the farmer who was feeding the cows and driving the tractor. He was a much older gentleman who walked with a cane and moved through his farm chores slowly and with great care. I was delighted when he came over to see the art makers and show interest and gratitude for our efforts. 

And so I got to hear Robert Sand’s story of moving in the 1950’s to Tumwater, Washington  from eastern Nebraska where he grew up on a farm. He raised 6 (or 7) children on this farm, teaching them the work ethic of farming.

He wanted to join us for our “critique” time after sketching and shared specific appreciation for each of our sketches, charming us all!

But Robert was not the only art lover. His black kitty stole the show by making a big deal of the art, particularly Ineke’s lovely sketch of the house!

Monarch Sculpture Park

Turn right at the end of my street and suburban neighborhoods give way to more open countryside with woods and fields and barns and gardens. Cross a railroad track, turn onto Old Highway 99. One more turn and you’re there.

Or take your bike on the Chehalis Trail and stop when you see large sculptures. The Monarch Sculpture Park is a contemparary outdoor sculpture park and center for the arts, open daily. Walk right in. There’s no gate, but signs to welcome you. You hear distant voices of a handful of small children and moms, but otherwise you have the place to yourself. Is it a spiritual retreat or a magical mystery tour, or a stunning nature retreat? It’s all three! And a fabulous place to sketch. In fact I’d like to go every day for a week and fill a sketchbook with paintings and musings.

bamboo pen and India ink, Derwent line and wash paints, 9X12″

Our local sketch group met there last Thursday. I was immediately drawn into this scene and compelled to draw the bamboo with my bamboo pen, which has become my favorite drawing implement! so capable of boldness and subtlety. When the tip runs out of ink, which happens quickly, you can dip the pen tip in water and keep drawing for a bit with the lines quality so subtle.

I paired it with the Derwent Line and Wash Paints with their strange colors and granulating pigments. It’s hard to go dark with these paints so the black ink takes over when more depth is needed.

watercolor and pen

Sitting in a big open meadow, viewing these collossal white humanoid sculptures, I was struck with a delicious memory of papier mache sculptures from childhood! The layers of drippy paper smelling of wet newsprint. At the kitchen table with mom.

The red and the white with the green backdrop. I couldn’t resist. Sculptures by artist/owner Myrna Orsini, a creative and generous soul to whom I offer my gratitude! I’ll be back again and again.

A Lively City and Peaceful Garden

Seems like ages since I’ve taken an online painting course. But when I saw The Lively City advertised on Sketchbook Skool I thought it seemed like an exciting new approach to reportage sketching that I could try. The teacher, Jedidiah Dore, an urban sketcher and reportage illustrator in New York City, uses a bamboo reed pen and ink, bright watercolor washes, and other techniques to create uniquely expressive and highly energetic scenes of the city.

Gathering up the materials I have in my studio, I took myself out to the East Bay Waterfront in Olympia to try it out with one of my favorite views here of the bay and marina with a backdrop of the Olympic range. 

In my rush to get out of the house I moved my materials into a larger bag. When I pulled them out on location I realized that I’d forgotten the bottle of India ink to use with the reed pen and dip pen. Phooey! I had my fountain pen, a more controllable tool, which however robbed me of some of the initial spontaneity and line texture which Jedidiah achieves at the get go with big expressive lines. But I enjoyed the process, which abandoned my usual approach of matching colors, and establishing atmospheric perspective. The result was purely an invention of my own of how it felt to be there on that glorious day. Thanks to Jedidiah for encouraging the play with pen and ink and spontaneity which makes painting feel more like play.

The Thursday sketch group met at the Yashiro Japanese Garden, a tiny garden enclosed in bamboo with fountain, koi pond and temple structures. Normally a peaceful, quiet spot where you can download and listen to the local symphony orchestra while enjoying the Zen-like setting. On this day we were greeted by a crew of gardeners weeding in the bushes and clearing the grasses from the path using a noisy torch to singe them. I guess that’s a way to avoid using Roundup?

Not being able to tune out the noise of the gardening ruckus so that I could settle into the peaceful fountain and pond scene, I got interested in the gardeners. And when they left, settled into the pond scene, equal parts stationary lily pads and gently flowing koi. 

As I left I passed a gardener who was thinning out the bamboo and I asked for some fresh bamboo stalks to use as dip pens, perhaps for the new Lively City works that have yet to emerge!

Keep it simple

naturedoesnothurry

black and sepia inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  -Lao Tse

Take a piece of tissue paper.  Crinkle it up and place it on the paper. Squirt some ink on the tissue. Roll over it with a brayer. Now use the same tissue paper to print more ink marks on the paper. Keep it simple. Dip a home made bamboo pen in the ink and add a quote.

mudluscious

Now take it one step further and draw on it a bit with a water soluble pencil. Paint a whisper glaze of dilute acrylic. Keep it simple.

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.  – E.E. Cummings