After all the fuss and bother – lost emails, language barriers, and impossibility to communicate – the spirit of art and urban sketching prevailed. “Matite in Viaggio” exhibition opened in Venice Itally yesterday, October 10, 2014. Five of my drawings are showing there!
Here they are in the covered exhibition table – photo on the left. And here they are in the exhibition catalog along with my b&w photo and what seems to be a blurb of text – photo on the right. I wish I remembered what I wrote, and can only hope it is not too embarrassing.
And I almost missed this whole excitement because I could not go, which sucked. But a friend was there and took these photos ( photos © NotNot Tana Luc). Thanks, Luc!!
I am way overdue posting new sketches. I’ve been very busy painting and did not have much time for sketching or posting sketches. Now is a good time to catch up.
In December Urban Sketchers Chicago went to investigate the new Logan Art Center in Hyde Park. It turned out to be a wonderful building with spectacular views on Hyde Park, University of Chicago and even the lake from its glassed terraces on 8th and 9th floors. On the other hand the Center is so new it set my teeth on edge. It smells fresh cement dust.
When I called to check if Urban Sketchers can come and draw there, the event manager recommended the Penthouse views from 8th floor. Then he added that to rent the Penthouse for a group use would cost us $1000. That was pretty funny, and after we chuckled over it, he suggested that we just come and sketch in the Penthouse if it is available, and leave when someone arrives to use it. This strategy worked well. The brick gabled building in the sketch is a view down from the Penthouse. After an hour of drawing some people indeed arrived to set up a show, so we went down to a cafe on the first floor.
The cafe offered a moody and pleasant view on Midway Plaisance – all gray and misty in December afternoon. I’ve never sketched a landscape before and cars are still an unfamiliar business to me. I decided to be brave and try new things. The cars came out a bit wonky and cartoonish I think, but overall effect is kinda nice.
Here’s us in the Logan Art Center cafe with Midway Plaisance behind us:
This Stockholm adventure was turning out pretty awesome, not withstanding a hotel room the size of a matchbox. But it reached a new height on August 19 when I met with Nina Johansson to sketch in Gamla Stan – the Old Town.
This is Nina in the sketch! We found this little passageway where we could reach the opposite walls if we extended our arms to the sides. We hoped we would not be disturbed by hordes of tourists. We were wrong. Apparently this was a very important alley and FOUR tours traipsed over us in half an hour we spent there. They were VERY excited to find us there and took numerous photos of us. Two of the tours were English speaking, one Russian, and one – unfamiliar language.
One of the tour guides shared that she lives here in Gamla Stan. The basement of her building is very old indeed – 12th century. Her actual building is much more modern – 1600’s. Just imagine! From another tour guide I learned that this alley – Skeppar Olofs – was already built in 1587, that’s the first known mention of it in the records. It was named after captain Olof who was an important figure in Swedish Navy.
The reason Nina and I only had a half an hour in Skeppar Olofs Grand was that we were meeting Ed Harker at Stortorget – the Big Square. Ed is a sketcher from Bath, England. It turned to be a truly international sketch-meet. We had a great time sitting in a cafe and sketching Stortorget. My view was Swedish Academy and Nobel Museum – the very place where they decide the Nobel prizes every year since 1901.
Stockholm is one of the very few European cities that did not get bombed into oblivion during WWII. The old buildings and stone paved streets are still there, intact for centuries, they can take you back in time like a time machine. Many date back to 1600’s, with some going as far back as 12th century.
I sketched this sitting in a cafe on the intersection of three streets, Norra Bankogrand is the street in the sketch. It leads to the piers, there between the buildings, and Baltic sea.
Stockholm has a different palette than any other city I’ve been to. It is all painted in natural earth colors. I heard this is a city ordinance of some sort. So I found myself using a lot of yellow ochre, sienna and umber. And my favorite – Palette Gray.
I was sitting in this cafe with my coffee and my sketchbook, working on my drawing, and somehow this made people think that I was local. I was asked directions, lol. In one case a family talking to me happened to be from Chicago, and we had a little laugh about it. Amazingly, I did know – this once – how to get where they wanted to go.
I have just come back! Stockholm is amazing!
But let me start from the beginning. About a year ago The Husband was invited to present at Stockholm University. The topic – Empathy – was his specialty, and of course he said yes. I too said “But of course!” meaning that I was going too, and surprised him only a little.
Now, a year later, we are just back having spent 11 days in Stockholm. And what a tour that was! I will try to tell the story with my sketches.
SAS airline surprised us by being unusually on time! In the last 10 years I don’t remember anything starting or ending at the promised time where air travel was concerned! The second surprise was that the food was almost edible. Still, there were some peculiarities – strange raggedy curtains between classes (we of course flew the “chopped liver” class.)
This is Södertörn högskola – South Stockholm University – where The Husband was a keynote speaker. This giant amazing bazalt rock is the centerpiece of the campus. The conference “What is Empathy and what do we need it for?” was multidisciplinary, which means that, while it was overrun by philosophers, there were also psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, people with the whole alphabet after their names and one artist.
The title of my husband’s talk was “A Heideggerian Approach to Empathy: Befindlichkeit is not Enough.” You can read it again, I’ll wait. But it would not make any more sense than the first time. The talk however was amusing and very entertaining, he made me laugh. I skipped the rest of the presentations (they spent three days convincing each other that empathy is important and we ought to have more of it.) Instead I went sketching, which was the whole point of going to Stockholm.
I have more sketches, but as I am learning any sketching expedition comes with after the show part: sketches have to be tagged, dated, locations cleared, text added where needed, pages cleaned, color corrected or added. Then all need to be scanned and filed. So I will be showing more sketches of Stockholm in subsequent posts until I run out sketches or out of patience, whichever comes first.
Here are a few more sketches. I am trying various pens. I am finding that I love drawing with a pen, can’t believe it seemed to be an unattainable skill to me before.
I drew the perfume bottles with your regular Paper Mates I had in four colors (my daughter gave them to me a while back, they are somewhat dry by now.) The coffee pot is in rollerball ink pen my husband brought back from some conference. The Aladdin-like vessel is drawn with my beautiful new Lamy Safari fountain pen, although I am unsure of the blue ink – would rather prefer brown…
The shell I drew with conte and pastels. Though not in pen, I thought I’d include it simply because it is already scanned.
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.
It is finished. Not another stage that is finished, but the entire book is completely, wholly, absolutely finished! And gone. In the mail to Art House Library, Brooklyn, NY.
Here are the front and back covers that I have just made:
And here’s my wonderful UPS man holding it:
I am exhilarated, sad and relieved. What a ride it was!
I am finishing up the book. Again. I already finished it in the last post having drawn the last portrait. Then I finished it up the second time by going over every page, cleaning up, restoring lost contrast, applying fixatif, and in some cases doing some serious revamping. Like I completely changed the original self portrait on the intro page to this one. Several other earlier portraits got changed fairly dramatically as well. Then I finished the book for the third time writing titles for each portrait, signing and dating everything. I have significantly underestimated the amount of finishing work I had to do. Besides I am a little tired of the whole thing by now – it is time to really finish it one of these days. Now the only thing left to do is the cover. I hope to have the book sent off to the Art House by the end of the week.
Meet my husband Lou!
None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for my husband. There would be no project, no 40 portraits, no sketchbook. For four and a half months my husband supported me, cheers me on, left me alone, reminded me to bring my camera when we went someplace, admired my half-finished productions, and was saintly patient.
He shopped for groceries and cooked chicken korma, and I drew.
He cleaned bathrooms, and I drew.
Laundry would only get done when we literally ran out of things to wear, and I drew.
Dust-bunnies grew bigger than the cat, and I drew.
General life was postponed until after the sun-down so I could draw.
I could speak of nothing else, but references, bone structures, face modeling, expressions, skin tone, paper quality and lack of daylight – and he listened.
This was very much a team effort. He even wrote my artist’s bio for me to accompany the sketchbook. So it is only fair that his name should appear in the book. I dedicate this book to Lou, my husband. I love you!
And so, boys and girls, this is the last page, #40 of 40. The project is complete.
Oh, there are still a few things: the cover, the table of contents, cleaning smudges, restoring contrast on several pages, applying fixative… but all this is post-production.