ink and watercolor sketch

North Carolina cont.

Fine liner pen, watercolor and gouache “spray”

As I said in my last post, I think another time I’d like to try white water rafting, with a solid guide and good crew of strong paddlers at least! The White Water Center in Charlotte would be my first choice. You could tell who the beginners were. Their rafts went wild in the rapids, tossing them shrieking into the air and occasionally, and very inconveniently into the swirling waters. Gulp. No one got hurt that I could see, making for a great show.

One morning Ben had to work, and I had time on my hands to venture into the city to explore. Asheville is well endowed with colorful, quirky cafes, so I ordered breakfast at one called All Day Darling, and got out my sketchbook.

pencil and watercolor in mixed media sketchbook

Opposite from me was the perfect subject, an old guy (I later discovered exactly my age!) with a computer and lots of food and refills of coffee to work his way through. . . with a long wispy white beard and character-filled face. He chatted with everyone who walked by, none of whom were previous acquaintances, sometimes reading their palms and giving rather interesting, friendly advise.They all seemed to enjoy it. So when there was a break in the activity I joined him to show him my drawing and engage in conversation.

He was delighted, and with very little preamble, asked to read my palm, rather insightfully I must say. I introduced myself with the usual, and he introduced himself as a psychosocial cultural forensic anthropologist named Owl Bob or Sensei Owl Bob or Shaman and spent the next two hours adding onto that designation, at times detailing a roller coaster ride of a life that would make a riveting novel with science fiction overtones.

fountain pen and watercolor in mixed media sketchbook

Turns out his history with Asheville and the Arts District goes back to the 1970’s. I took him up on his offer to give me a tour of downtown, wondering how that would be, since he is partially blind (note the magnifying devise he uses to read his computer!) and walks with a cane. But off we went exploring block after block, where he interacted with storekeepers and foreign tourists, cathedral hosts, chocolate shop staff and hotel concierges, reading palms and relating the historical underpinnings of this cultural magnet of a city, once known as the Paris of the South.

The highlight of this short but eventful N.C. trip was spending time with Ben, getting to see some of the places I’ve only heard about from him, and discovering new ones together with him. An unanticipated delight was the experience of deja vous I had repeatedly as we drove around the countryside. I spent the first years of my life, up to 13 years old on the east coast, living in Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut, and again in my 20s and 30s for 11 years before returning to California. So there was a kind of “I’m home!” experience that was a constant echo.

And now back to Olympia! Coming next. . .

Tumwater Falls Salmon Research

Watercolor and brown and black fountain pen in Travelogue sketchbook

Tumwater Falls never fails to impress! I took the walk down to the lower falls recently hoping to see the enormous dogwood in bloom where it presided over a trickle of smaller falls anointing a fern and rock covered grotto.

But the real surprise was this research vessel anchored at the bottom with its stern message , which actually read “Wild Salmon Research. . .Extreme Danger. . .No trespassing”! and blocked half of the river. The spray from the falls made it impossible to sketch on site (and I didn’t have my sketch bag along anyway), so i captured the photo and sketched later.

I would like to be able to explain to you what the danger was that had to do with wild salmon. I mean I always thought we humans, and the bears up river of course, were far more dangerous to the fish than the other way around. Of course, looking at the large funnel in the picture I imagined that it would not be fun to be caught in it. I would like to think of this vessel as a friendly lift for salmon making their way up river to lay their eggs. If you know the meaning of the sign, please let me know!

A Day in Tacoma

@S 7th St and Pacific in Tacoma. fountain pen and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

I think it was about the warmest day so far since last Fall! Jane Wingfield and I celebrated with a day in one of the downtown historic neighborhoods of Tacoma. Mount Ranier was visible in her snowy white robes, punctuating the southern portion of the Cascades. She looked almost close enough to be able to touch her 14,411 foot skirts! We visited the Tacoma Art Museum and then occupied sidewalk spots in the sun across from this lovely building.

While sketching on my stool I heard some mumbling behind me and noticed the lid of a trash bin was opened slightly from the other side. I saw no one but knew of course that one of the legions of homeless folks in the city was hunting for some lunch. An elderly lady named Maria parked in the handicapped spot next to me. After a while she came and politely asked permission to look at our sketches. Then she went over to the person at the bin behind me, still rummaging, and asked his name . . . William . . . and age . . . 35 . . . and struck up a friendly conversation with him. Not much later she returned to tell him how handsome he is and what a nice singing voice!

Finally she joined me to see my finished sketch and, with very little encouragement on my part, told me her own story of homelessness. Not so long ago she was living in Beverly Hills, but then her husband got sick and died. She was left alone, handicapped and not able to manage the remaining money and became homeless. Both of her children said they could not help her and, after staying with friends in temporary places for months, she was facing living in her car. Finally she was awarded the HUD apartment where she now lives.

Her story reminded me so much of the stories I heard when volunteering at The Living Room in Santa Rosa. So often it is the people who have themselves suffered homelessness who are the most compassionate and anxious to help those who still are. To see some of my watercolor portrait stories of my friends from The Living Room visit here.

Tulip Festival!

my favorite tulip! ink and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

It was a fierce competition between the sky and tulip drama in Skagit County, WA last week! I’d been watching the weather forecast for a week, hoping the rain would not drown the tulips, or Janet and I, as we finally launched our three day road trip to the north coastal section of Washington. . .

snow capped Cascades in the distance

and arrived at Roozen Gaarde to glorious peak display and no rain! Instantly I knew I would not take the time to sit down to sketch these impossibly color saturated and magnificently designed flower displays, so I joined the throngs of every-man photographers. I’ll share some here, taken with my iPhone (forgive the crooked horizons!) If you’re a painter/designer/illustrator you may appreciate the color combos. And if you’re a figurative artist you’ll enjoy the people sprinkled throughout, some of them dressed for picture posing! And photographers will note that the reds and hot pinks are seriously “out of gamut!”

What garden have you ever seen where all the blooms are standing up straight like so many soldiers and with no gaps between rows?! 

. . .and no yellow leaves or spent blooms?!

Every year Roozen Gaarde digs up all the gazillion bulbs and replants them in new designs for the next season.

One gets a bit drunk on color after a while and the horizon starts to tip, haha!

Washington Park, Anacortes, across the sound from the San Juan Islands

We cleared our palate the next two days with a visit to nearby La Conner, WA to enjoy the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum and Museum of Northwest Art

I’ve dreamed for a long time of a trip to the San Juan Islands off the coast, and here in Anacortes we got a good glimpse in Washington Park. Some time this summer maybe?

Bunnies and Rhodies

When I start to get tired of this rainy weather, which shows little sign of ending, I refocus on the friendlier aspects of this climate: like a white blanket of snow for Christmas morning! and bunnies cavorting in the garden at Easter! 

blue ink, watercolor, gouache on beige toned paper, Nova sketchbook

I’m sure you’ve wondered, as have I, how bunnies keep their tails so white when they sit on them in the mud. Now that I have two customers dining at the same time on the miniature picnic table I have been able to view and compare their table manners. Not only does Ms Bunny keep her cotton puff white, but she doesn’t put her feet on the table, like her counterpart, the highly athletic, but poorly mannered Ms Squirrel.

blue ink in fountain pen, watercolor and white gel pen

Right next to the picnic table is a  pink rhododendron in many stages of bloom. So I took my stool out in a brief patch of sun to contemplate rhodi- and bunny-ness.

Hope you had a lovely Easter Sunday!

Blue Ink Brown Ink

DeAtramentis blue document ink on 9 X 12″ Canson Mix Media paper: sketched from pics on Sktchy Museum app

Playing with my new inks here! These document inks by DeAtramentis are insoluble when dry and they don’t clog your fountain pen. As you can see here, sometimes when diluted the red pigment separates out in a lovely way.

I used this as an exercise in speed sketching with fountain pen and brush, trying to just capture the features that struck me the most about these poses. Working from right to left (cause I’m left handed) in order to not smear wet ink, it turned out that the ones on the right were the warm up. It’s hard for me to exaggerate features as I intended. I just get so lost in the joy of putting down line and shape and color to paper and my brain shuts off. Guess that’s why I’m so addicted to figure drawing! 

DeAtramentis document Brown ink

Slowing down here and trying out some other ideas. My favorite is the guy in the lower left, done in about 5-10 minutes but with the experience of the others to teach me what to avoid, like over working! 

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Such an adorable pixy face and that bird’s nest hair! No rushing this one, I just kept putting on layers and let the watercolor blossoms do the work of the “nest”.

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Sometimes watercolor really doesn’t work well on this toned paper, so what you get is frustration and unwelcome texture (not to mention curled paper!) I’ve thought I might paint over this in rich creamy gouache and see what happens, but it’s probably smarter to just start over or move on. Not much point in using the toned paper if you’re going to cover it all up with paint!

Looks like Sktchy has a 30 day April watercolor portrait challenge going on. I’ve done a few of these and always loved them. They helped me get in the habit of finding time for at least a quick bit of sketching every day, even when there’s a hundred other things begging for my time!

Worm Tea at the Market

blue ink, watercolor in 5X8″ Canson Mixed media sketchbook

The past week has given us everything from rain to sleet and snow flurries and one sunny day in the 70’s. That was the day last week that we sketchers hit the Farmer’s Market, which is now open Thursday through Sunday through the spring, summer, fall season! Unaccustomed as I was to bright sunlight, I sought the shade of the building and stood for a couple sketches while the sun blindness abated. The worm man was an easy subject as he hardly moved a muscle and there were no actual live worms to wriggle.

Turning 45 degrees to the left, I had the pleasure of watching an old woman leaning against her walker and talking with a young artisan behind the jewelry counter (ran out of space and time to include her). The conversation celebrated the woman’s release from two years of Covid isolation!

Back at the picnic tables under the tent I snapped a pic of this young man enjoying a kabob and later sketched him at home after I’d eaten my own lunch.

Rainy Day at the Library

fountain pen and watercolor in Travelogue w/c journal

It was a rainy day, so we sought out the cozy comfort of the Tumwater Timberland Library.

 

Only a handful of library users on that day, but lots of subjects for drawing! The geometric domed skylight let in lots of light and the marvelous clock seemed to dominate, so i took the Alice in Wonderland approach to design!

A Cascade of Portraits

fountain pen, watercolor, white gouache in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Time to catch up on posting portraits from the past couple months. It’s my way of archiving and maybe getting ideas for new directions or more practice on old. All of these portrait subjects are from the Sktchy Museum free access archives. Many thanks to the folks who offered these great poses!

Here we go! This fellow above has the kind of face just made for portrait artists! Life experience chiseled into every dip and turn of the physiognomy.

I’m beefing it up here with lots of watercolor texture, splatters, wet crawl-backs and the stuff watercolor loves to do, if you let it.

fountain pen and gouache on w/c paper

As always though, bouncing back and forth between the quick-and-simple to “clear the palette” after getting so detailed.

Started this one with a fine liner pen, adding w/c textures in layers.

fountain pen, w/c, white gouache, white gel pen on beige toned paper

Can you tell that my main interest here became this fellow’s black hair and beard, the texture and color – blues and indigos. I never got back to finishing the rest in similar detail. Best to stop while ahead.

pencil, w/c and white gouache on beige toned paper

It’s really about the hard working hands here. What is she doing with this lapful of herbs? I imagine the simple hard working life of my ancestors. Rising before dawn, in bed by nightfall, and all those hours with no screens to lure the mind away from the tasks of the moment. . .like sorting herbs.

brown and blue de’Atramentis Document Inks and white gouache on beige toned paper

I wanted to try out my the new colored inks I bought for my fountain pen sketching, and ended up using them in dilutions as paint as well, and even mixing them with white gouache for pastels. 

If you got this far, thanks for coming! Questions and comments welcomed.

Lacey Cultural Celebration

My address is Olympia, WA, but we live right near the border of Lacey, another city rich with natural beauty, known by me for its parks, Amtrak station, suburban neighborhoods, grocery and big box stores. But last weekend I got to enjoy some of it’s rich cultural diversity at the Lacey Cultural Celebration 2022 with Taiko drummers, Irish dancers, bagpipers, dancers and musicians from Thailand and Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers!

 

ink and watercolor in 5X8″ Canson Mixed Media sketchbook

Since I never got around to joining the #oneweek100people challenge this year, I was happy to at least get some practice sketching the moving performers! 

pencil, w/c pencil, w/c. Thai drummer

In general the musicians were a bit easier to capture. I added dashes of color at home at home to finish some of them, still trying to keep the energy of the quick sketch.  

 

pencils and w/c

This dancer was sketched later from a picture. Can you tell?

direct watercolor and w/c pencil after

I had to stop sketching when this tribe came on stage and the elders invoked prayers and blessings for the land and its people, so many of whom were lost to Covid. When I later painted these two elders I hoped to convey my experience of this moving event.

Jane Wingfield was there also, finishing up her week of 100 people sketches – You can see her sketches from this event and earlier in the week on Instagram