sktchy portraits

And We’re In

Our movers showed up early on a sunny hot morning  exactly a week ago now, and they rolled out the red carpet!

A nice touch. And they were cheerful and anxious to get it right. We were anxious too, traffic directing as the boxes came rolling in 6 or 7 deep and sometimes a bit squished; and with the heavy furniture getting carried up the stairs accompanied by loud grunting and shouted commands (I had to leave for this part because it was so unnerving!)

But no one was injured, and only one piece of cheap furniture crumpled, and so far everything else made it intact. Phew!

Precious

And when they were ready to leave I got to meet the co-driver of the monster truck, Precious! She had to come along on the run, because no one was at home to care for her. But I got the sense she was well loved and cared for and even content to watch much of the drama from the bed behind the drivers seat.

art studio-to-be in the third garage bay

And here is my studio! I can certainly set up a table and do some painting here until we find a contractor to do the work. Actually right now I’m on my computer at the back of the space.

bounty from the garden

I’ve been wandering the garden every chance I get to make new discoveries. The abundance of this summer garden is mind boggling to me. After struggling to garden with clogged irrigation, gophers, deer, and hard clay soil I can scarcely believe this. The green lawn strikes my California senses as a bit scandalous, but during the rainy season here it rains so much that each neighborhood has collecting ponds to capture the overflow and send it draining down to the Sound. 

Ms. Willow

One of my favorite spots is the shade of this willow out front. It’s a green mansion, and several degrees cooler than the rest of the sunny garden. The bunnies we’ve been seeing every day must have gone to their underground homes during this extreme heat wave, but we have seen them lounging on the front lawn. It’s hard to think of them as pests, though the gardeners here say they eat everything.

white pencil and gouache on black paper

And ending with the only sketch I’ve done this week of unpacking, done inside and with the fan blowing on me! Last day of the big heat is today, and then more exploring Olympia wonders. 

Thanks for joining me!

Exploring Town

The Move to Olympia continued. . . 

We had 5 or 6 days to do a little exploring of the city before moving into our house and taking on the overwhelming task of unpacking and organizing. We picked the right place for our first meal, a restaurant which proudly proclaimed its Northwest allegiance, the Cascadia Grill. We were welcomed warmly by the owner and Tickles the Beaver (statue) and Jonathan Livingston Eagle (statue) and delicious fish dinners.

Cascadia Grill (note tattooed arm on customer to left)

At a little bookstore down the street I picked up just the book I needed, Making Sense of Olympia by David Scherer Water. I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but the first few pages help to set the stage for what we saw on the city streets: There are 83 financially solvent bars(or were before the pandemic anyway), 41 of them downtown and 40 tattoos shops and 58 banks. The question being how a city with a population of 50,000 sustains all that. Oh, and 8% of Olympia’s 20 square miles is city owned parks. So, it’s a great place to be out in glorious nature, have a drink, get a tattoo and go to the bank?

Oh, and have an excellent cup of coffee! The coffee shops have the best espresso drinks I’ve tasted anywhere. The first morning we found one in a clothing store which opened at 7 for coffee. Then we found this one in a motorcycle shop. Great parings that surprisingly work. And always friendly people to chat with.

Later in the week we had an afternoon coffee break at Burial Grounds Coffee Collective and my latte was a work of art! (Day of the Dead style!)

Burial Grounds coffee

Somehow I think the moms in this town would be fighting a losing battle trying to keep their kids untattooed. I started to feel like I might need to get one myself. . .naw! The untattooed one in the picture is my son, but that may soon change.

Olympia Farmers Market

The Farmers Market on the harbor is open 4 days a week in high season. And it’s got a permanent roof, which makes sense since this is a rainy place for much of the year. Or that’s what they say. I haven’t seen it yet. Haha! The food is so attractively displayed that it’s hard to put down the cell phone camera long enough to buy something.

When it cools down a bit (111 is the forecast for today, gulp!) I’ll bring my sketchbook to the market.

Watershed Park

Have you heard of Forest Bathing? That’s what we were doing on our walk in Watershed Park, a 5 min. drive from the Market. It’s a rainforest with all that lush vegetation. The gold is the light bouncing off the rocks under the water I think. Breathe it in. Pure oxygen.

Tumwater Falls

And five minutes in the other direction is Tumwater Falls and the trail along the river. Can you hear the roar of the water?

Finally it was move-in day and the truck’s arrival at our new home. And the first thing out was my car, which required a tow truck with a flat bed ramp to disembark. More on move-in day coming up next! 

But one last picture, of a portrait I did in before the move (just to prove I’m still an artist!).

portrait from picture on Sktchy app, gouache on beige toned paper

“Ahhhh!” she sighs. “Don’t you just loooove Olympia?!!!”

Packing Memories

I’ve had the strangest feeling about moving lately, that I’m not so much packing belongings as memories and layers of personal and shared history. And if I had a more efficient/useful/reliable way to accomplish the memory thing, there would not be so many things to find boxes for!

For instance, the wind chime, a gift made by my friend Ellyn that reminds me of her warm and wonderful heart every time I see and hear it. Or the beaded talisman made by Muriel to guard my studio door. Or the metal frog fountain-head from our pond in our Albany home, dating back to when the boys were into tadpole-ing and bringing critters home to take up residence there.

The boys (well men now) are a great deal less in need of these reminders of childhood than I.  They are too busy writing the big scripts of their lives, while I am enjoying the reruns.

So these things got packed today along with birdhouses and nests and rocks from my collection. The nests that were too fragile to pack have been distributed to key locations in the yard.

This one is my favorite, nestled in the bosom of the old apple tree behind my studio, inches from the tiny new apples. The history that I leave behind is somehow as essential as that which I take with me to re-plant in the fresh soil of the north. I can finally imagine how all these mini tasks are the structure of ceremony, that of continuance as well as rebirth.

Meanwhile the evening portrait painting continues, as I pursue a variety of poses on Sktchy and much needed practice with gouache.

I have more control and dexterity with watercolor, but love coming in with the opaque white gouache at the end to perk up the toned paper and make the eyes sparkle.

Inktober Continues

I’ve fallen in love with ink all over again, dipping into it on a daily basis. And not just black ink, but colored inks. All thanks to the Inktober challenge and the Sktchy School app and my son Andrew, who decided to do it with me.

sumi ink and brush

Day 7: Fancy The source photo is courtesy Sktchy and the teacher of the day who selected it: Dylan Sara

by Andrew
Day 8: Teeth. Golden, red-black and sumi ink on toned paper with white pastel
Day 8: Teeth. by Andrew
Day 9: Throw (back). Sumi ink
Day 9: Throw. by Andrew
Day 10: Hope. by Andrew
Day 11: Disgusting. by Andrew
Day 12: Slippery. Noodler’s Golden ink, Higgins violet and black inks
Day 12: Slippery. by Andrew
Day 13: Dune. Higgins red and blue inks, red-black and sumi inks and brush
Day 14: Armor. Sumi ink
Day 15: Outpost. Noodler’s golden and Higgins blue and sumi ink and brush

The word prompts are just there to get you going, not to slavishly adhere to them. It’s all about ink-love. But I better get going with Day 16. The sun has already set!

Inktober starts

This is actually the first time I’ve participated in Inktober. It’s a 30 day drawing challenge and every day there’s a different word to serve as a prompt for the art.

Jake Parker created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

I have all kinds of ink pens – fountain pens, dip pens, felt tip pens, brush pens, technical pens, bamboo pens, etc. etc. which I’ve used and collected over the years. Add to that inks of all kinds and colors. So experimentation was high on my list of reasons to participate in this challenge.

And then my son Andrew Cornelis, who is staying with us now, wanted to do it with me. So now dinnertime is when we show off our efforts, and I will be sharing them here as well. Mine are all portraits done from the Sktchy app archive photos and portrait challenge, and his are fresh from his prodigious imagination.

Day One: Fish. by me. drawn with stick, brush and dip pen
Day 1 by Andrew Cornelis
Day 2: Wisp. by me, watercolor, dip pens and white gel pen
Day 3: Bulky. by Andrew
Day 3: Bulky. by me. red-black ink with dip pen and brush
Day 4: Radio by me.
Day 4: Radio by Andrew
Day 5: Blade by Andrew
Day 5: Blade by me
Day 6: Rodent by me. Sumi ink and brush
Day 6: Rodent by Andrew

See more of Andrew’s drawings here!  More coming soon!

Anxious

 Have we used up all our anxiety on police brutality and racial injustice, the pandemic, global warming, and the upcoming elections? Apparently not.

Once again there are dark smoky skies raining ash and a neon red hot sun, and we’re spending our days checking the evacuation maps and nights  listening to our cell phones ding/beep/shriek at us about new warnings. 

My family of three is still here, watching and waiting, and not so close to the fires as we were a month ago. But oh lordy, my friends across the plain are evacuating and it’s another deja vu. 

It calms me down to sketch people. This guy is from the Sktchy app that has the interesting poses. When I finished it this afternoon I realized he looked like an evacuee, waiting to find out if his house burned down.

I never really spent much time learning to paint with gouache. It’s really quite different from other mediums. But I’m determined to make use of the black toned paper in my sketchbook and I need to use an opaque medium. So I will just muddle through and keep trying til it becomes more natural. I finished it off a bit with pastel pencil.

I thought I’d save this one for Halloween! I mean we can’t go trick or treating this year so maybe I’ll just sketch more of these. I made a pretty girl look a bit goulish. She did have yellow hair though.

Decided to sign up for the Inktober challenge on Sktchy and practice some new ink portrait licks with tips from the teachers.  I’m hoping it will keep me from the anxieties lying in wait at every turn. Want to join me?

30 faces/30 days

Another one of those 30 day challenges? Yeah, I’m afraid so. This one was right up my alley, so I couldn’t resist – Sktchy apps‘ draw 30 faces in 30 days. Sktchy app “is a portrait artist’s dream come true. Join to share your art, connect with fellow artists around the world, find and save inspiring reference photos and participate in our weekly Portrait Party.” And this month you can also get all kinds of tips on interesting ways to fertilize your practice of obsessive portrait sketching!

So I signed up for it. And I’ll be sharing some of my portraits here, for better or worse, because that’s what always happens when you plunge into a challenge!

30.30blind

Day one gave tips on warming up with blind contour drawing. I hate to say this, but I like this blind contour (meaning you don’t lift your pen/pencil once or look at your paper while drawing) drawing better than most of my other faces.

 

30.30day

But I couldn’t resist doing it again, not blind. I like the first drawing better, it’s more interesting.

30.30Maura

My son was still home, along with his partner Maura, and they enjoy sketching too, so there was a fair amount of time spent at the dining room table sketching each other.

30.30AndrewNaw!

and I was having difficulty catching him at the right angle and in the right light, so I ditched the idea of getting a likeness and went rogue! So the image here is total invention, with the earrings being the giveaway.

30.30candlelight

And then as we were waiting for dinner, and sketching in candlelight, where I couldn’t even see the colors in my palette. . .

30.30vanishingpoint

This was a new concept for me – finding the vanishing point on a face! illustrated here. The models or “muses” on Sktchy are often wonderful subjects to draw!

30.30hair

Another great Sktchy subject! I wanted to add color to this, but was afraid I’d mess it up. Don’t you love his hair?!

I’m still at it! More coming.