Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spreading the News!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching a class in  Sketchbook and Watercolor Journaling at the Oak Park Art League this winter! In the seven session class I'll share the techniques I use in my "out and about" sketchbooks. We'll cover different types of journals, materials, speed and memory drawing techniques, page layout and quick journal style formats and tricks. We'll also talk about combining the best of two worlds – the richness of your hand drawn journal pages and sharing those pages with the online artist community.

I hope if you live in the area you'll join us!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Looking East

Sunday the Urban Sketchers Chicago contingent met at the Art Institute. I decided to sketch in a section that I rarely explore – the Asian collection. I didn't get far! I was almost immediately fascinated by these ancient Chinese serrated axes and disks. I sketched them with a Tombow 4B pencil and added the color from memory at home. No disrespect intended but I would love to hang any of them on a cord to wear as a pendant. I sketched them as they are displayed - the six pieces in one wall case.

I moved on to discover these "tomb guardians" from  480-221 BC. Made of wood and about ten inches tall. Their bases are about two inches thick but their bodies in some areas are remarkably only about 1/4 inch thick, beautifully delicate and strong at the same time! This sketch was completed at the museum.

The Art Institute of Chicago allows only pencil sketching. I throughly enjoyed working with the Tombow 4B and feel of the pencil on the paper.  The directness of hand, tool and material made me feel a connection with the ancient sculptors. Both sketches were done in my Stillman & Birn Gamma Series sketchbook. There are two spreads left in the book. I've loved working in it, time to get another one!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Caffeinated Mind

My last post mentioned Mandy Patinkin. His voice is incredible! That got me to thinking about some of  my favorite songs I've heard him sing. That got me to thinking about Coffee in a Cardboard Cup, a song from a musical 70, Girls, 70. That got me to thinking about Starbucks and how much time I spend there catching my breath and sketching while running errands. It's a very different take on coffee in a cardboard cup than the one presented in the song.

That got me to thinking about the song's basic premise and I still think it's a good one.
"The trouble with the world today, it seems to me,
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
The trouble with the affluent society
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
No one's ever casual and nonchalant,
No one waits a minute in a restaurant,
No one wants a waitress passing pleasantries
Like "How're you, Miss?"
"How're you, Sir?"
"May I take your order please?"
The trouble with the world today is plain to see,
Is everything is hurry up.
It's rush it through, and don't be slow,
And BLT on rye to go,
With coffee (I think she said)
Coffee (I know she said)
Coffee in a cardboard cup."    70, Girls, 70

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday at the CST

A long, long, long time ago I saw Sunday in the Park with George in New York, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. It was fabulous. When we headed out to Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Halloween night to see CST's latest version of the show I must admit I was afraid. I couldn't imagine how it could live up to a show I loved and that had been further polished by fond memories. SURPRISE! Jason Daneley, as George Seurat, and Carmen Cusack, as Dot, did not disappoint - they were fabulous! The show was great. It was a night for treats.

The scribbled sketches were boxed and colored later at home. The CST logo is from the program.

When you're in Chicago be sure to stop at the Art Institute and see George Seurat's masterpiece, A Sunday on La Grande Jotte. It won't disappoint either.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thar She Blows or I Should Have Seen It Coming!

Navy Pier in Chicago is a great place to sketch, great outdoor and indoor opportunities. You can choose your spot depending on the weather. Since the days of sketching outdoors this year are drawing to an end the Monday sketch group decided to brave the wind and sketch outside. 

Here's my view looking south

until this boat docked right in front of me!

So I turned to the west and did a quick sketch of the landscaping.

Much too quickly it was time to head back home. Time flies when you're battling the elements, boats and having fun!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Punt is a Fall Word

Our Monday sketch group met this week in Old Town in Chicago. It was a beautiful day in a picturesque spot! When I arrived at our designated meeting spot I was early but decided to start sketching right away. Stool? Check. Palette? Check. Brushes? Check. Sketchbook? Sketchbook? Um sketchbook? Good thing Old Town is known for its great shops as well as its charm. I ducked into a little card shop. On the door was a sign that read "Civility isn't a sign of weakness".  I knew I'd find something I'd like in there and I did.
 I picked up a pad of Italian writing paper that had a nice weight and hand but wasn't too pricey. It took the paint without too much buckling. I'll put the rest of the paper to use for some pen and ink sketches.  All in all it was a very good afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thanking Frank

These are little sketches done at our recent USk Chicago meet. So much to see and so much to take in, I opted to sketch some of the details on the Chicago Avenue side of his home and studio. The first is one of the sculptures above the walkway to the hidden door. The second is of the tourists and the reliefs that line the walkway.  I walked across the street for a closer view for  third sketch. It's a detail of the reliefs – the repeated stork motif and lastly a rough rendition of the logo.

Now I must go back to Oak Park and actually sketch Wright's glorious buildings! There was so much to take in at once.  In a five block area there are about seven houses designed or remodeled by Wright. What a feast for the eyes and imagination. The overall feeling of his work is monumental but his attention to detail is what really amazed me. It was a quite a day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back to the Bean

Literally…our Monday sketch group met at the Bean in Millennium Park this week and I did this watercolor with my back to the sculpture. I've sketch there quite a few times this summer so this time I chose a different point of view. 
It was a gorgeous day, an early taste of fall, cool, sunny and delightful!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Taken by Surprise!

Last night my painting "Possibilities" received second place in the Illinois Watercolor Society's national juried show "Small Waters"!

The show, which is at the Oak Park Art League, was juried by Suzanne Hetzel. I was honored by her kind words. Actually, I was thrilled! Can you tell?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Worth the Wait – Usually

Waiting patiently isn't one of my virtues–not even close! But there is something about waiting and sketching other people waiting that I enjoy. Maybe it's the fascination of looking at everyone doing the same thing – waiting – but doing it in their own style. Ah, the human comedy with suitcases, cell phones, sodas and Starbucks for props!

The top sketch was done at O'Hare airport waiting for the arrival of family. The other was done at DePaul University, looking out the lobby window in one of their downtown buildings, again waiting for family.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Summer in the City

Urban Sketchers Chicago - sharing our city

Martha, me, Miriam, LuEllen, Alex 

The fruits of our laughter -uh- labor.
Miriam Ben, an Urban Sketcher from Munich, Germany, was in town and connected with Alex Zonis to arrange a sketch-together in Chicago. We sketched at Millennium Park, near the Bean (aka Cloud Gate). What a great time it was, lots of laughter, chatting and sketching! Thank you ladies for arranging it.

Miriam sketches quickly and beautifully! She inspired me to work faster and complete the painting on the spot. She completed two good sized sketches to my thumbnails! I added the text and photo at home. I have to try and keep up the momentum.

We sketched the tourists. The tourist photographed and filmed us. A group of children even joined us in sketching. We provided paper and pencils. They supplied their enthusiasm and remarkable ability. I always love to see a new generation of sketchers eager to share their visions.

All in all it was a beautiful summer evening in the city.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Do You See What I See?

It all depends on your point of view. There is nothing like seeing or hearing things from another vantage point. It broadens our horizons. Here's to civil discourse and an enlightening exchange of ideas and if not to agreement then at least to understanding!

I bought these flowers and put them in a simple glass vase. When I looked at it it just didn't work with the rustic feel of the  flowers, so I put the whole thing in a brown bag and tied it with string – much better from my point of view!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hot Time – Summer in the City

On Monday, Carole Hennessy and I were the only two Monday sketchers to brave the heat and sun. We went to Oak Street Beach, sat at a table under an umbrella, cool drinks in hand, and sketched for two hours. Tough work I know but someone has to do it!

Spread view

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lazy-Hazy Days

Where is this summer going?! What used to be lazy-hazy days of summer are flying by faster every time they roll around! These are a few sketches from the last few weeks. Not all winners but all were fun to do and reflect delicious-though- speedy summer days.

Caldwell Lily Pool, Lincoln Park, Chicago

Glenview  Fourth of July Parade

Seneca Park, Chicago

Tomorrow is the 36 World Wide SketchCrawl. I'm looking forward to, what for me, is the sheer indulgence of sketching ALL day!  It isn't lazy; it could be hazy but it certainly will be perfect summer day! Urban Sketchers Chicago is meeting near the river on Wabash. Check out our USk-Chicago FB page for details if you'd like to join us!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago

This is just a quick doodle of radishes we received from the CSA program we joined for the summer. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Our CSA is Growing Home. Their mission is "to operate, promote, and demonstrate the use of organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development." 
Once a week we pick up a variety of produce from Growing Home. They select it. It will be interesting to see  if some of the selections are out of our regular picks and will expand out palates. Since I'm a firm believer in"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" it's a perfectly delicious fit!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hearing the Music

The Green City Market in Chicago is an oasis for me during busy times – if only for a few minutes. And this weekend what a few minutes it was! A musician was playing a drum and encouraging (it didn't take much) the children to join him with tambourines, bongos and all sorts of percussion instruments that he had brought with him. I loved that he sang "everybody's got a beat" rather than "everybody's got the beat". It reminded me of
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away." Henry David Thoreau
 I managed one quick sketch (and maybe a little dance) while Bob shopped. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summertime and the LIvin' is…

busy!  In my corner of the world June is a time of house guests, birthdays, anniversaries not to mention graduations and Father's Day!
There are islands of relaxation. Here are two familiar Chicago summer sights – city roses and farmers markets. They reflect a quieter pace than is actually happening in my life! These roses are seen all over the city in backyards on the allies. The Green City Market in Lincoln Park is one of the best farmers markets in Chicago. My husband shops while I people watch and sketch. The amount of sketching I get done is often dependent on the length of his shopping list. I love the chef demonstrations and the music is always fun!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alternate Universe?

Believe it or not these sketches were done in Chicago over the weekend. The top one was done at the Annual Kids Kite Festival at Montrose Harbor. It's always a great time. Amateurs and professionals alike (Professional kite flyer? Why didn't I hear about that job growing up?) spend the day battling the wind, string tangles and trees for that glorious moment when you catch the wind and soar!

The second one was done on Sunday at Lincoln Square. I met up with Urban Sketchers Chicago and enjoyed a delightful couple of hours. The band, Flon Flon and Musette, were a group of musicians from France. They've just recorded their first album.  It seems I was just getting into the drawing when their set was up! One band member is missing along with assorted limbs and instruments. Ah the thrilling sport of urban sketching!

Very different scenes than downtown Chicago and the NATO protests this weekend–

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Puttin' on the RItz …Um – Palmer House

Yesterday our Monday Sketch Group met at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Many thanks to Ken Price in public relations who made sure we were cleared to sketch to our hearts content in the very busy lobby.

The Palmer House was built in 1871 by Potter Palmer as a wedding gift for his wife Bertha. It burned  down during the Great Chicago fire, only two weeks after it was complete. Rebuilt right away, then renovated in the 1920's and again just recently, the hotel has always maintained it's aura of grandeur and glamour.

Although I've been to the Palmer House on many occasions I found I was overwhelmed by the idea of sketching there and had trouble focusing and simplifying. It was still a fun experience.  I had planned to add some of the rug pattern somewhere on the page but didn't get to it. Oh well, I'll just have to go back!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

On Sunday I met up with Alex Zonis, who has started a Chicago branch of Urban Sketchers, and several other sketchers for the first USk- Chicago meet. We met at the Art Institute (BTW the Streetwise vendor from my April 17th post is Ed). It was quite cold so we went to a near by Cosi's for coffee, sketching and talk. It was a good time. 
It's been my experience that members of the sketching community are remarkably generous with their time and talents and eager to help. I'm really thrilled that my circle of fellow sketchers is growing both online and in person! If you care to join us find us on FaceBook, Urban Sketchers Chicago!

Monday, April 30, 2012

And Many More!

just got back from a quick trip to San Francisco where we celebrated my grandson's and son's birthdays with robots and lighthouses –  different days, same month. It was a great time but all too short.
I love sketching in SF but this time there wasn't a lot of time for sketching. I did manage a few.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lions of Michigan Ave. and Adams

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of my favorite places in the city. There's something for everyone! This week I was there several times for a variety of reasons. Each time I had the pleasure of crossing the street with the Streetwise vendor. I don't know his name. I should ask him the next time I'm there. This has been his regular corner for years so I'm familiar with his friendly banter, his tall tales of Chicago and his corner of the city. Each time I'm impressed by the pride and effort he puts into his job. Most of the time I end up crossing the street with a Streetwise under my arm but always with a smile on my face. When he's not on duty I miss him.
If you're in Chicago and at the Art Institute be sure to meet this other lion at Michigan Avenue and Adams! Oh, and buy a Streetwise!