ink and watercolor sketch

Apple Blossom Festival

Twice a year in Sebastopol we celebrate our agrarian roots with an apple festival.  In the Spring it’s apple blossoms, even though the festival lands on a day which is weeks past the actual blossoming of the apple trees. I particularly enjoyed the live music this year.

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And especially this band! It was hard to sit still and sketch rather than dance to their soulful R + B music. We considered sitting in front of the stage directly in the sun and behind the dance area. But there would be little visibility , since the band was in the shade of a tent. The vantage point at the side of the stage was better, a bit closer, though we could only see part of the band.

There’s probably a story to why this wonderful band took the name Lucky Losers, but they were definitely winners in my book!

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When the winner-Losers finished their set there was time to stretch and get ready for the next group. This continuous line drawing was fun, a standing sketch connecting heads in the audience, chairs, tents.  . .

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Once again on the (other) side of the stage I took the strategy with this band to start with the instruments and hands/arms and attach whatever body parts I could see to them! This way I actually got five musicians in the picture, but was unable to see the lead singer Volker Strikler!  Sorry Volker. Another great band!

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A little wind blew up in the late afternoon and the sun seemed more appealing. We sat down right behind this West County Sound guy who was struggling to get the system up and running for the next band, Burnside.

For memories from the fall festival here in Sebastopol, check out last year’s sketches.

 

A Day at SF MOMA

Taking sketch breaks is a perfect way to to avoid the tired feet and visual overload that usually happens to me at a major art museum. The San Francisco MOMA was our destination last Thursday and the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit. Rather than trying to head home before the rush hour, we stayed through dinnertime and benefitted from a more relaxed approach.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in Beta series Stillman + Birn sketchbook

If you feel a bit like you’re on a ship while looking at this, then I achieved my goal of communicating my experience of Snohetta’s architectural design for the new expanded MOMA.  There are so many interesting angles, both inside and out, that one needs to continually re-balance to stay grounded. Perhaps that’s what happened to the bronze statue, which I sketched in an effort to reconnect with gravity.

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I made it through the exhibit about five minutes ahead of my friends and got this much down before they showed up. It’s enough I think. Always better to only sketch what one sees. The mind fills in the rest.

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If you watch an Alexander Calder mobile long enough, the up and down of perspective gets lost and you no longer miss it!

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Looking up through the Occulus as the light pours down. It’s not a subject for a quick study, more an opportunity to record a tapestry of favorite visual moments.

Sketching Between the Puddles

Normally at this time of year here in Sonoma County wouldn’t we be enjoying more predictably sunny days? Instead we’re dodging downpours on a regular basis, and LOVING IT! Gardening days are pure bliss because all the plants that have been biding their time throughout our five year draught are going bananas now!

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So last weekend we planned to visit the goat farm and sketch the baby goats, but that plan got rained out. So we headed over to Harmony Farm Supply and sketched in the sprinkles of rain and under an overhang while garden-fever was in full swing and customers were hungrily selecting additions to their spring gardens.

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Oh, by the way, while being frustrated that it was not a baby goat sketching day, I did a quick one of this handsome young one (Redwood Hills Farm) from a Facebook photo. Good practice for when the sunny day comes!

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Next day, Sunday, was sunny! The Sebastopol Farmer’s Market never disappoints with seasonal fruits, veggies, baked goods, plants, crafts, live music and more to tempt, well, everyone! Greedily I did a series of vignettes, some while standing.

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And then found a sunny spot out of the way to draw the tents and a guy picking out a pastry.

Some of this was practice and thinking through the schedule for my next sketch workshop April 29, 30 in Sebastopol, which will feature on location sketching along with the opportunity for some good eating! If you’re interested, visit my website.

TV and Photo Sketch Practice

The more I draw, the hungrier my eyes become for images to sketch. For instance, my favorite TV programing, Masterpiece Theatre! the costuming! the dramatic expressions of the characters! Sometimes while I’m watching I’m also doing imaginary sketches. So after I watched The Bronte Sisters on PBS I went back and found my favorite poses and indulged myself.

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I grabbed a couple fountain pens, my credit card sized mini w/c palette and water brush, which I carry in my purse, and sketched furiously to simulate real life (and because it was late and I was tired)

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Next day I did the other Brontes, with a bit more care, but trying not to overwork.

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You may have seen the figure on the left from my “live” Fool’s Day sketches. The fool on the right came from pictures I took in the parade. I know I couldn’t have sketched those hands as more than crude mittens if it were live. I think the practice of studying pictures of frozen action helps prepare one for the next real time event.

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I was so impressed with fellow Urban Sketcher Liz’ hat, as well as her sketches, so I had to get her down in my sketchbook.

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And one more post parade fool, texting on the steps.

Fool’s Day Parade

The Fools turned out in force to celebrate April 1st in traditional Occidental style Fool’s Day Parade on Saturday. I donned my tutu and joined them along with sketcher friends.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in handbook field watercolor journal, 8X8″

While waiting for sketchers to arrive I met Baan who was kind enough to pose. Her mermaid tail was a kind of hand-sewn blanket which added the marine effect to the gourd hat. A mix of themes creating a perfect fool-style costume.

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There was time for a quick picture of us with our green “official fool” badges before the parade.

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It was about 85 degrees in the shade by the time the parade got started and the parade was NOT in the shade. Wiltingly I marched along for a while.

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Switched to the brush pen which gets the idea down faster when there’s movement.

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After a bit of walking I ducked into the shade to watch and wish I had an umbrella. I’m not sure how I would have managed the sketching with the umbrella? And at this point the brush pen ink seemed to be melting, so I switched pens again.

The butterfly lady was added at the end of the parade when I was all warmed up and cooled down, sitting on a stool in the shade!

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And this one, while sitting around with the other sketchers, enjoying the last bit of fanfare and then sharing of sketches.

Next year will be my fourth year of foolery and I’ll be ready again! Zero the Clown will be back with his declaration to “do anything that brings fun, silliness, harmony, happiness, celebration, relaxation, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace and life energy to thyself and all other beings everywhere.” I figure that about covers it.

In My Toned Tan Sketchbook

Nice to start out with toned paper for a sketch. Come in with white for highlights and ink, watercolor and gouache for the darks and a touch of color. It’s a shortcut that saves time.

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Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, watercolor and white Uniball Signo pen in Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook, 5.5X8″

If I find myself at the end of the day needing a quick bit of art making  I’ll listen to music, find an image I can relate to, and do a sketch with the brush pen. I was watching a Clarence Becker performance for Playing for Change (I’m a subscriber) and was spellbound by the expressiveness not only of his singing but of his face! Didn’t begin to capture it here, but it was great trying.

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Next night it was an email I got about kids and their families visiting the halls of Congress to deliver petitions (one was mine)  to Save PBS!

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Next day I received pictures from my friends who have just become the happiest grandparents (taking turns holding baby).

So, honestly I got to enjoy a great performance, deliver petitions to Congress and hold a baby, without leaving my studio. I wonder what it will be tonight. . .

Sketching at home

When it’s not the season for travel or time for local event sketching, there’s always what is close at hand. I no longer sketch my food and drink, which is recommended by some of my favorite luminaries such as Danny Gregory and Liz Steel. But I’ve had my eye on the rusty mailbox next door, and then there’s always the goats at the bottom of the hill.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in soft cover Beta Stillman + Birn sketchbook

And then there’s the town I live (outside of), Sebastopol, where I’ll be teaching two workshops this spring. The first is “Introduction of Sketching in Public” on March 25th. So I’ve been wandering around town with the eyes of a tourist sketcher to find what one could capture quickly in a workshop setting.

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A lovely water fountain in the plaza and an exercise in connecting it with the background while leaving out most of the rest of what was there! That’s the hard part.

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I found a bench in the sun and had a few minutes left to doodle some people. I often end up liking these “doodles” better than the more finished ones. You’d think I’d learn.

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But another day I had more time, and a good spot to sit with a friend and kept sketching awhile after my subject had left. Of course they always leave before you’re done!

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fountain pen and watercolor in Toned Tan Strathmore Art Journal

And then there’s always the selfie. This one done while on an hour-long phone call in front of my computer (one looks for time where it is to be found), which might account for having lost a bit of the top of her head. Oh well.

I’ve had people tell me I should paint more attractive self portraits of myself, but this is so much more amusing. I think I feel a series coming on. After all, you don’t have to pay this subject to sit and she’s always available to sketch live!