Thursday, May 31, 2012

Painting in a crowd, Place Des Armes

Yesterday I spent the afternoon painting with Shari in Place des Armes. The square is finally in use again after a massive  re-construction project. At lunchtime, it was absolutely packed with downtown office types enjoying the sun. A bit later  we had tour groups showing up from all over the world.  I'm starting to see cultural trends. Asians seem to love art, and often come up to talk. South Asians seemed mainly worried their kids were bothering me (I don't mind), and Europeans often do drive by, "hey good job' comments without stopping. Or hang back in my peripheral vision, so I'm never quite sure but I think they're taking pictures :)

I had an incident with a rogue gust that tipped over my easel, dumping out my paint water. Usually I catch the dammed thing. If you're painting often enough, I guess it's going to happen. I supposed it's my own fault for taping half sheets to this tripod that's meant for quarter.

This might have meant a trip to buy an overpriced water bottle, but fortunately, the base of the Maisonneuve statue is a fountain!  I think I was a bit discombobulated after that . The painting turned out a little more chaotic than I’d like.

I’ve been feeling lately that I need to get the people and cars into the paintings. Usually I avoid cars as much as possible. Somehow they seem anachronistic next to the subjects I choose. But, it is part of life as it exist in the city, and I should be learning to paint any situation. So, this is the first pass at handling the presence of people. Clearly I’ve simplified the crowd into silhouettes – the lighting situation at mid-day helped with that. This is going on my list of things to work on. I want to be able to tackle the complexity of a street scene a little more gracefully in the future :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Youthful Helpers

Biking through Ladd's Addition after work tonight, I pulled over because I heard the sound of banjos from the center of the grassy circle. Sure enough, the weather is nice enough for the tradition of the Wednesday night bluegrass jam session to be back in action--I counted about 12 musicians with either fiddles, banjos, or guitars playing and singing together.

My first instinct was to sketch the musicians, but the nearby boy holding his poodle's leash immediately struck up a conversation once I busted out the watercolor kit, so I went ahead and decided it was time to tackle Item Number 10: Dog and its Owner. (The poodle got some wonderful back-scratching from my sweetie while she posed.)

The sketch is somewhat peculiar, largely because more and more kids got interested in what I was doing as the work progressed. The adorable crawling baby was handily (and repeatedly) intercepted before she got into the paints, but a nearby adorable toddler and the older sister of the boy with the poodle were eager to either give advice, or grab a brush and help paint! I quickly wrapped this sketch up and flipped to a "sacrificial" page of the sketchbook so I could let the kids have a turn--which happened to be an incomplete sketch of a Benson Bubbler (Scavenger Hunt Item #18).

The pen work had been abandoned because I was drawing while waiting for the bus, and voila! The bus came! (Funny how that works.) So it was really generous of the kids to help me finish the piece. The 9-ish girl was choosing colors carefully and placing them very deliberately in order to flesh out the shape of the fountain and show the water squirting out, while the 2-ish toddler used my mop brush to swirl all the paint around on the page like mad. I really adore how it looks. So dynamic! Hooray for collaborative artworks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No 6, Streetlamp, and No 8, Fire Hydrant

Well, I pretended that I was going to get stuff done around the house on Memorial Day, but then I wisely hopped on the bike to join the Urban Sketchers down in Sellwood for some sketching instead. I've got temporary possession of the Shared Sketchbook that's focused on the theme of public a perfect excuse to knock a few things off of the scavenger hunt list, on that gorgeous rich watercolor paper!

I'll try to bring the shared sketchbook to another sketchcrawl soon, so other folks can dive in. Seems like a lot of things on our scavenger hunt list are appropriate for the public works theme: streetcar, lamp post, fountain, fire hydrant, bridge, Benson bubbler...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial day sketching

Kalina Got us out sketching on memorial day. We met at staccato gelato where we warmed up sketching. I found a fire hydrant to sketch (though i think Katura's version is closer to a Pete Scully than mine!!!!
We went to a funeral home and were impressed by all the people memorialized within the old building. I did not end up sketching the building, but I attempted an old stone bridge 'to nowhere' as Pascale said. I sketched from two angles and liked my second attempt more. Checked off scavenger hunt list: bridge and fire hydrant.

old trick, new to me: drawing with clear water

We were in the Toronto area on a business trip the other week, had a half day free, and thus: The Soldier's Tower at the University of Toronto Queens Park campus. 

Watercolor plien air painting, Hart House, University of Toronto

The watercolor continues to reveal new properties to me. I had a small breakthrough on this one, finally seeing the advantages of wetting the paper with clear water. In this case, the trick is mostly visible in the sky and the foreground.

I cut around the silhouette of the tower with clear water, and floated in areas of color to make the sky and the pavement. It really does allow the first wash to bloom organically, without leaving the sharp edges of your wet area. Glad I finally experimented with that. It's a useful addition to the arsenal.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SE Street Painting

Word on the street (SE 33rd and Yamhill) is that tomorrow the neighbors will put some finishing touches on their sunflower in the intersection. I really encourage you to go take a look and maybe make a sketch. If nothing else, you'll get a blast of color and a sense of joy in this community. Thanks, Kalina, for letting us know about this.
I made some quick sketches. You'll have to imagine the bright colored paintbrushes and feet.

There are more photos of the street painting on my blog, if you're interested.

More Scavenger Sketching

Last Friday a few sketcher friends and I spent some time in the Pearl having coffee at Cloud Seven Cafe. The weather was lovely so we were able to sit outside. I added a fire hydrant, lamp post and coffee to my scavenger sketches.

Later we went to Powell's Books. I found a street musician and a bicycle to sketch.

Posted by Katharine

Looking down from SW Oak and 4th

I wish I had access to more places like this

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scavenger Hunt - Watercraft

Earlier this month on one of May's sunnier days I flitted about town sketching this, and sketching that. Sketched and painted these boats that afternoon. I don't think I had ever tried to sketch a boat before. A lot going on there. I'm just really looking forward to another nice day where I have time to chill out on the waterfront again... c'mon sunshine!!

Watercolor and ink in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scavenger Hunt on Hawthorne: Coffee and Stripes

It was great fun meeting up with folks along Hawthorne for this month's sketchcrawl. I was very glad that my fellow sketchers were drinking coffee at the tea-house where we met up...
...and that a young woman at our lunch stop was wearing a lovely striped shirt, as well.
That's items 21 and 11 checked off of the Scavenger Hunt list!

I also did a sketch of Vicky, because her hair was looking so lovely and my fancy new brush pen was eager to leap into action. Her glamorous movie-star sunglasses attest to what amazingly lovely weather we enjoyed over the weekend. 

Scavenger Hunt Item 13: Watercraft

We had a lovely solar eclipse this past Sunday. I was lucky enough to be sitting along the riverbank with my eclipse-viewing glasses, alternating between watching the sun getting nibbled away to a tiny sliver; and watching a team of dragon boats racing down the Willamette! I was so completely enchanted by the whole scene that I almost didn't want to sketch it...but the way the diffuse, eclipsey light caught the wake of the boats finally did inspire me to break out my watercolors for a quick sketch.

(I just picked up a tube of Payne's Gray paint...and I love it so much.)

Scavenger Hunt: Hawthorne and Beyond

Most sketchcrawls start with coffee or tea, making it easy to get one item on the list. This was drawn from the porch at The Hazel Room.

From there, I could also get a bicycle (Katura's, I think) and some roses.

 I hadn't noticed before that that bicyclist logo is wearing a helmet.

Here's a McMenamin's sketch that I did from the car last week. I painted it at home and realized that part of the building has become sky.

And here are some lampposts, a new one and an old one, seen from a table outside the Winningstad Theatre.

I've been doing the easier to find items. I'll have to make a special effort to get the bike pile, the elk, and the three groins fountain!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello from USK Montreal!

Hey hey - Marc Taro Holmes from USK Montreal here. I wanted to stop by and say hello. You probably have heard that Shari Blaukopf and I will be in Portland August 3-5 doing a Watercolor sketching workshop. (oh hey, I see our logo in the side bar:) I guess everyone has heard!

At the time of writing this I was in Alliston Ontario (it's a long story). I had a bit of free time, so I headed into town and stumbled upon this great little house. It's like the baby brother of the Lady Meredith house I was painting the other week.

A great chance to use my new found familiarity with red brick :) Apparently brick is an east coast thing - somehow I've never found myself to painting these houses in the Bay area.

I have to admit - I got lazy with this one and skipped an important step.

The very first thing, before starting any descriptive drawing, it's a great idea to lightly mark the volume (height/width) your subject will fill. You make your first statement about proportion here. How tall is your subject vs. how wide. Get this right, and you'll save a lot of time erasing later. You'll also know you like the placement on the page. (Not jammed near an edge, not glaringly dead center). You don't want to catch bad proportion *after* you've drawn a lot of windows and doors.

Anyway, I was so excited to find this house, I skipped that step, and ended up drawing off the bottom of the page. I was actually peeling off thin strips of the tape stretching my paper, trying to get a little more space. I had to bail out and fade the front porch to white.  Oh well, these sort of things happen when you're in a rush. It was still a fun drawing, and it gives it the sense of a real field sketch :)

I"m looking forward to seeing Portland this summer. Drop me a line if you have any questions about the up coming workshop. And let me know if we'll be seeing you in Santo Domingo in July!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sketching on Hawthorne

Had a blast sketching on Hawthorne during the monthly sketchcrawl. Hipsters, street musicians, vintage and dog lovers–all on a splendid display on this beautiful sunny Saturday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scavenger Hunt: A mcMenamin's

I've sketched the Bagdad before. It's a very complicated building. I decided to try something different. I started by sketching the negative space between the traffic light and the building, and then I added in some detail. I'm not sure I really like the result, but I liked the process of trying something new.

Scavenger Hunt: Musician

This musician was slightly irritating to the sketchers gathered at Cha Cha Cha. He played right behind them... But he was fun to sketch nonetheless! I also sketched these buskers discussing the finer points of busking.... Such as positioning yourself a respectable distance from another so as not to have competing music...

Scavenger Hunt: Coffee

Yes, I had a latte at a tea room. Liz Steel would be appalled, I'm sure!

Scavenger Hunt: Benson Bubbler

Sketched in West Moreland, in front Of Starbucks. Many stopped to sip as they passed.


stripes by Anne T1000
stripes, a photo by Anne T1000 on Flickr.

A sketch for the Portland Urban sketchers Scavenger Hunt list


smartcar by Anne T1000
smartcar, a photo by Anne T1000 on Flickr.

Great neighborhood! Always find some thing great to sketch.

Rose 1

Rose 1 by Anne T1000
Rose 1, a photo by Anne T1000 on Flickr.

This was fun! I'm still challenged on the new uploader, though. Do not know how to add 3 photos to blogger at the same time. Anyone got any suggestions?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Item 23: Bird on It

The first thing I sketched with a bird on it was a t-shirt that was clearly playing off the hype of the Portlandia show. Funny, but too commercial to stand on its own.

I was beyond thrilled when I found the second bird-on-it: a bike parked in front of a martial arts studio had splendid hand-painted "FLY FREE" sign on the milk-crate, with two rather lovely paintings of white crows on black backgrounds on the side panels of cardboard. Now that is old-school DIY bird-putting if I've ever seen it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scavenger Hunt: Item No. 20, Mount Hood

I had been out sketching hippos at the Oregon Zoo this weekend. While hiking back down the hill towards town, I paused at the rose garden terrace to watch a hint of the sunset colors appearing on Mount Hood. Lovely.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Nice Day For Lounging

This past Monday was a nice day for just lounging about on the waterfront and I wasn't the only one who thought so. Bike riders, runners, walkers, lounge abouts, and just the general Portland populace was out in droves to enjoy one of the warmest days of spring. Sketchbook in hand, I lounged on the grass of the esplanade, soaking it in.
Scavenger hunt, a dog and their person. Thought about adding color to this later, but I figured I'd post this one before I go mucking it up. Dip pen (yes, I brought ink a dip pen with me) over pencil in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.