It is too dark to paint in the evenings… I gave up on painting in artificial light because when I look at what I painted in the morning the color temperature always needs to be corrected. So I thought of getting back into sketching during these long and dark winter evenings. I haven’t done any drawing, except drawing for a painting, since I finished The Sketchbook Project.
Just sketching – for the sake of the process – without being too attached to the result – is very satisfying. I keep my timing to an hour or less, and any piece of old junk is a perfect subject. I am trying different materials – micron pen, conte, pastels. I am thinking of getting a fountain pen, have always been curious about drawing with a fountain pen. If you have a favorite model – please share.
Just a few days before the time Leslie created her Fabulous Faceless Figures I did my own. Independent of her. Great minds and all that… Same wavelength… I then proceeded to completely forget about them. Today I was packing my sketchbooks to go home and found them. One is Micron pen, the other mechanical pencil, both sketched from small statues my mother has on her sideboard. There seems to be something profound in the absence of face.
Some sketches from Jerusalem
I am working on two portraits at the moment, one in graphite and one in watercolor. Both are taking a very long time. Graphite one – because it is complex, and watercolor one – because I don’t know what I am doing. I got tired of all this serious work full of self importance and had some fun with stick figures. So there!
Graphite and Pigma Micron pen on sketch paper.
But I was not at all bored. My friend Mike and I got together for coffee and sketching in this dear neighborhood joint. Not trendy or snazzy, it is more of a cheap student place, old-fashioned, a little dumpy and in need of fresh paint, but serving good coffee and free Internet.
From my street level window, looking up, I saw an abandoned patio, now empty and closed for the coming winter. The café is on a garden level, so I had to look up at chairs turned in and a convenience shop across the street. The day was gray and blustery, I was looking for shadows to draw, but there were none, because there was no sun. Winter is coming…
Mechanical pencil, micron pen, watercolor pencils in my Artist’s HandBook.
Our Monday Sketch group met in Chicago Cultural Center today. Nobody can call us uncultured now! Us and about 90 Chicago seniors who happened to have some kind of event there. They looked about 80 and upward and were extremely frisky, running around like spring chickens, although some dragged their unused canes behind. I pray I would be that energetic when I get to be their age…
Chicago Cultural Center was built in 1897 at a cost of $2 million of that money. The firm of Shepley, Rutan and Collidge of Boston had the honor of doing it. These are the same guys who designed the Art Institute of Chicago.
We sketched in the Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor. Named in honor of an important Chicago theologian, the Hall is spectacular. The space is beautifully proportioned and exquisitely decorated: 38-foot tall Tiffany stained glass dome and Tiffany chandeliers, Carrara marble walls inlaid with mosaic of color stones, glass and mother-of-pearl, just to name a few things.
I was seduced by the curves of entryway arches and the ceiling and set out to sketch far too large of a view. You probably need to sit there for a week to do justice to the details. I had an hour and a half. Mechanical pencil and micron pen.
Artists-bloggers have been extremely kind to me. It deserves a separate post to express my gratitude. Pete Scully sent me a very useful tutorial and a title of a book that talks about sketching techniques. Christy DeKoning stopped by my blog and offered me useful advice and suggestions out of the kindness of her heart. Roz Stendahl answered my newbie questions. And finally Barbara Weeks of Drawing Breath, a fellow Chicagoan, a sketcher and a blogger, invited me to her sketch group. Thank you all!
On Monday I went to sketch with a new group. Chicago weather did not cooperate. It was blistering cold and windy, probably 20 degrees lower than it should have been this time of the year. But a group of women gathered to sketch in Mariano Park was undeterred. All 39-years-old and not a day more, we were sitting there – our noses red, pencils firmly clutched in our blue fingers – sketching, laughing and chatting. Barbara, it was a blast, even if it took several hours to regain my normal body temperature, – thank you so much!
This is what I produced on location.
Well… When I showed it to my husband he asked which Chinese restaurant is this. I knew at that moment that I have to do the sketch again. The little building in my sketch is a coffee stand that was designed and built by Birch Burdette Long, a Frank Lloyd Wright student. I was blissfully ignorant of this fact until yesterday, when my fellow sketchers told me. Here’s my second attempt. I think this time it looks more Prairie School and less like a pagoda.
Reading on it later I learned that Birch Long was the architect who brought Asian influences into Prairie style architecture, so my husband wasn’t that off the mark.
There is a giant pots sale in the Gethsemane Garden Center on Clark St. The pots are beautiful, they are tree size pots, substantial and heavy. Gethsemane is often on our trajectory as we walk in the neighborhood, we stop by and look at the flowers for sale, trees and bushes, and of course Christmas trees, depending on a season. “Pansies” gift shop there sparkles with beautiful and tempting curiosities from around the world, teapots, incense, porcelain, fabrics and art books. I warn you: it is wise to leave your wallet at home if you are planning to visit. Now that I think of it – they should pay me a percentage for all this advertisement I making for them in Blogosphere.
This sketch was giving me a run around, I attempted it 3 times. First I tried to do a true sketch with a quick gesture drawing. It was a complete failure. Note to self – need to practice gesture drawing. Then I tried to exercise more control, but it went nowhere as well, the shapes were not there, the line elegance and symmetry were lost. I didn’t want to give up this idea, so I doggedly set out to build my symmetries with a help of vertical center axis. Better. Perhaps I cannot call it a sketch anymore, but I got the image I had in mind on paper after all. Mechanical pencil, micron pen, watercolor pencils wash in my handbook.
Oh, my dad is sending me his watercolors, the true Russian ones, made in St. Petersburg. He says they have real “meat” in their colors, unlike anything else he tried. I am very excited to try real WC washes, although I will miss a variety of pre-made pigment mixes I have in WC pencils.
For my walk today I went to the post office. The PO is 1.7 miles from the house, that makes it almost 3.5 miles there and back, not a bad exercise. I always drive there, and as a result of driving the only thing I see is traffic. And that is usually depressing in Chicago.
Walking you see a lot of interesting things. Squirrels were screeching like mad, street were being cleaned and repaired, kitty cats were looking out of the window, kids running in the parks. I enjoyed near empty streets and some wonderful houses in the neighborhood. Here’s one of them – 6337 N. Hermitage, with a lovely round front porch. Micron pen and watercolor pencils.
I was walking with my husband around the neighborhood, we came upon this quaint old street with colorful houses that looked like something out of a fairytale. I am still shy to sketch in public, but I had a little camera with me (thanks, Shelly!), so I took a snap shot. I didn’t think anything would come out of it, but the houses looked so vibrant and lively that I had to sketch them. This was a very quick one, maybe I’ll make a more detailed drawing from it later. Micron pen and watercolor pencils.
I am working on a tonal graphite portrait at the moment, I have eyes down (most important, IMO) and general face tones, but it is not anywhere near posting yet. It will come… Unless I’ll mess it up!
And I found this interesting link: 100 Best Scholarly Art Blogs – interesting resource.