Sunday, September 26, 2010

Esther Short Park

Our sketching group met at a coffee shop then spread out to sketch in and around this park in Vancouver, WA. The clock/bell tower chimes on the hour and makes quite an iconic statement at the entrance.

I found the gazebo quite difficult to sketch because of the odd angles, but it is a pretty little structure.  The Victorian house in the background is the Slocum House and sits in one corner of the park.  My husband and I have enjoyed community theater productions here on several occasions.  The parlor is used as the foyer, and the dining room has been enlarged to accommodate a low stage and seating for about fifty.  When the audience sits so close to a performance, it makes it a more personal experience for everyone.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Field Report - Paris

Some Urban Sketching from further afield...

Back in August when it seemed half the sketchers in the world came to Portland to draw our city I found myself going in the opposite direction - on my first ever trip to Europe. I spent a few days each in London, Paris, and Berlin running around madly trying to see everything. And, while I mostly took photos or bought postcard sets at each place I went, I did get some drawing in...

I did the most drawing in Paris, the middle leg of the trip. I wasn't running full speed like I did in London at the beginning of the trip, nor was I exhausted like I was on the last leg in Berlin. Paris is best when you slow down anyway.

You could spend the rest of your life drawing Notre Dame and not be done. I didn't get inside - the lines were too long that day - but I did have a great time drawing the facade.  

The BHV (below) really summed up the spirit Paris for me. This ornate, 150-year old building is...a department store. Paris is old and funky, but it is not decaying. It is used. Lovingly so. Sure, there were plenty of museums, but just as many old buildings were being lived in, worked in, and played in. It was wonderful.


My favorite museum had to be the Musee d'Orsay. I like Impressionist painting, particularly Degas, so the Orsay was high on my list of places to visit. I was not disappointed.

Paris Museums are crowded, but usually around the famous paintings. I didn't bother trying to squeeze into the Monet room, any more than I bothered braving the line to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Instead I usually wandered away from the crowds to try to find something that felt significant to me. My favorite work in the museum turned out not to be a Degas, but this work, 'Le Silence' by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, an artist I'd never heard of before...

Drawing in a crowded museum is not for the self-concious - I'm sure at least a hundred people peeked over my shoulder in the time it took to do this copy. I didn't mind much - you tend to tune them out after a while. And yes, there is a certain amount of satisfaction when you're getting as much attention as the work you're copying.

If you are seeking some peace and quiet in Paris - and you probably will be at some point - try visiting a church. I didn't realise that the church near my hotel, the Eglise St-Paul St-Louis, was open to the public until I went in on a whim on my last day in the city. Very peaceful inside, with locals coming to pray quietly at the front of the church while people with cameras stayed largely unobtrusive in the back (if they didn't the locals weren't shy about telling them so, either!). I did my own form of meditation, by drawing this statue of Joan of Arc in a quiet corner of the church...

All in all, a great first trip to Europe. I did a few drawings in London and Berlin as well, plus lots of pictures from all three cities, all of which I have posted on Flickr.

I definitely plan go back someday. Having done the mad whirlwind tour, I'm hoping to slow down a lot more next time and do even more drawing!

10 Do-It-Yourself SketchCrawl Plans

Recently I committed to increasing my hours at work to a full time schedule, specifically so I can afford to attend the 2011 Urban Sketchers Symposium in Portugal. It's a positive move for me, but I'm concerned about having less time for sketching. My recent blog post How to Keep Making Art While Working a Full-Time Office Job includes some ideas for structuring art into daily or weekly life. Since writing that, I've been continuing to think about the important role our SketchCrawls play in my plan to stay creative. I always know that even if my sketching drags to a halt, only so much time can pass before I get a kick in the pants! I love our SketchCrawls and am very grateful to have such an active, committed, friendly group to meet up with.

So what if someone can't attend SketchCrawls, or just wants to leverage the idea of structured drawing to increase their urban sketching?

Here are some ideas for structuring urban sketching into daily or weekly life, whether as SketchCrawls, with an artist friend, or as a solo venture. Many of these ideas are about completing a concrete set of drawings, since this kind of structure has often proved effective for getting me out the door. Several are specifically geared towards working stiffs like myself.
  1. Make a date with one other artist (or friend with a quiet, solo project to work on) to meet up with for coffee each week. There should be a default time & place, so that if you both drop the ball, the plan stays in place - but you could pick other locations some weeks in order to get new views. Even just one meeting a week, even if the drawing is always of your latte - it would be enough to keep your sketchbook active. Take only your sketchbook and pens/pencils.

  2. Spend your 10 minutes' morning break sketching - near your building, objects at your desk, coworkers smoking.

  3. Draw your commute. With even as little as 10 extra minutes, pause each day to capture a scene that you pass while getting to work in the morning. Maybe this is just house to car and car to office; maybe it would be better enabled by parking a little farther from work. Some of us are lucky and can actually walk to work - I have about 30 blocks to draw!

  4. Draw your local commuter train line - during whatever chunks of time you have free, go to the train station and find something to sketch. Spend a little time there, making note of any additional scenes you might want to sketch in the future. Get on the train to the next station. Each day that you have time to sketch, you could do another segment of the trip until the entire line was effectively mapped with sketches, and you'd know your city better.

  5. Tour your city's small museums - one museum per outting. Portland has all sorts of strange little places tucked away. Check out Hidden Portland! I'm assuming most major cities have a lot of gems like this if you look for them, though they might not always be so well documented.

  6. Check for self-guided tours intended for tourists, and adapt them as sketch tours. This way, you'll get the inside scoop on some local attractions while having interesting locations to draw and the ability to set your own pace. Here are some Portland self-guided walking tours organized around cultural presence.

  7. Create a mini guide to your own city, perhaps arranged to satisfy your own visitors, or as a journal entry or blog post. Go draw everything that goes into the guide, put those images together with text and maps, and put them together into one printable poster or brochure.

  8. Fill a fishbowl (or any other bowl) with scraps of paper, each listing a place you would like to draw - buildings, neighborhoods, parks, intersections, scenic vistas, museums, cemeteries, gardens, etc. Have a weekly date to pull an item out of the fishbowl - and just go. The fun of chance will add some excitement to the trip.

  9. (Courtesy of urban sketcher Pascale) Attend a series of lectures with your sketchbook in hand. These could be readings at your local bookstore, regular musical events at your local pub, or something industry-specific to your career so that you kill two birds with one stone.

  10. Create a sketched collection of something you care about: all your local gardens, the view from all your local cafes, each building in your neighborhood that's on the Historic Registry, each of your city's churches with a little info about their history...
If you have more ideas, I'd love to see them!

Monday, September 6, 2010

White Eagle, Alanna's perspective

Twelve portland sketchers descended upon the White Eagle Hotel and Cafe to do some urban sketching at 10am on a Saturday in September.

It is so much fun to see this group grow in numbers and in energy! I'm pleased that we are all not only enjoying each other's company while sketching, but also starting to talk about other common interests, such as books. I love it!
Here's to many more awesome sketching sessions (aka sketchcrawls) with some amazing people.

And speacial thanks to the folks at White Eagle for not only serving all 12 of us an amazing lunch, but also for their enthusiasm for our sketches!

White Eagle

Here's my (crookedly cropped) sketch of the White Eagle from Saturday. The shadows and perspective are off, but I like the power lines. Now I want to go back and try it all again.
I did a sketch/journal type thing too, that's on my blog (Draw2C) if you're interested.

It was a fun to be out with all you sketchers!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Miss-Spent Youth

Lunch at the The White Eagle

click to enlarge
Kalina was admiring the single malts in the cabinet with leaded glass doors.


White Eagle

Here is our group hard at work on Saturday Morning, sketching the White Eagle Saloon and Hotel. From left to right are (I think) Anne, Jennifer, Kalina, Jason, Vicky, Janene and Louise. I apologize if I got that wrong and sorry Jason kind of got smeared by the photostiching. Also present, but not pictured were Alanna and Carrie.

Here are the two sketches I did.

After doing the first one I wandered down to Interstate Ave to sketch this chimney thing. Not sure what it's for.

White Eagle Saloon

White Eagle Saloon, originally uploaded by jswalkky.
This old tavern, built in 1905, is in the industrial part of town and has quite a checkered past.  It is two blocks from a huge rail yard, and used to be frequented by very tough characters indeed but is now owned by McMenamins and has been beautifully restored.  We spent a fun morning sketching the building, then headed inside to pass around our sketch books and get a bite to eat. Portland, OR, USA

Saturday, September 4, 2010

White Eagle Tavern

I had a great time today! Sketched the White Eagle Tavern's patio.
Thanks to everyone that welcomed me back after a bit of a hiatus. Busy summer! Looking forward to the next Sketchcrawl. Vancouver, WA?

Friday, September 3, 2010

NW Station Way

I've spent my last 2 sketching trips at this small corner of the Pearl District near the train station. It's on the edge of the Pearl, so there's enough distance from the taller buildings to be able to see them and it also has a gritty view of the Centennial Mills, train tracks and part of Union Station. Here's one of the sketches I did from there.

NW Northrup and 9th ave

The only thing it's missing is a dumpster, but there is a portable outhouse that almost makes up for it.