Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year!

At the end of the year, many of us look back and take stock of the past year, what we’ve done, what we didn’t do, and maybe, what we wish we had done. I like to page through my sketchbooks and see how my sketches have changed over the year. What worked? What didn’t? What do I need to work on more? It’s always interesting  and there’s always a surprise or two. Then there’s the look to the new year, where would I like my work to be a year from now?

Looking toward the new year, I always choose a word as a theme for the year, some trait or habit that I'd like to make part of my life. This year the word is Simplicity. In a hubbub world of buy, get, do, hurry, etc. simplicity is the goal. Just saying it is like a deep breath. Where will simplicity lead me and my work?
Stay tuned.

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Crèche from Samoa #LUMA

Art & Faith of the Crèche, The Collection of James and Emilia Govan is the annual holiday show at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA). It's an exhibit of Nativity scenes from around the world. This year there's a special focus on South America.

This is a quick sketch I did last year of one of my favorites. It's also today's featured crèche in LUMA's online Advent Calendar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Who's on First

Oh, wait, that's baseball! This week it's school, homework, Karate, choir, basketball. I'm on Nana duty. It's been a while since I've had to juggle more than just my schedule! Bob and I picked up our laptops and briefcases, carried them across the city – score one for technology. It's business as usual between 8 am and 3 pm. All other times we're the chief cook and bottle washer, driver, homework monitor, snuggler, and – a list too long to complete here.  We're a little rusty, but we haven't lost the knack.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Little Monday Reportage

The Thompson Center, Chicago

The Monday sketch group met at the Thompson Center. It's always a whirlwind of activity. I'm a great admirer of the art of reportage drawing and this is a great place to practice. That, along with working on sketching larger, had me lost in the process and thoroughly enjoying it. Even the challenge of the Dubuffet sculpture wasn't quite as frustrating as past attempts.

This sketch is done in my 8x8 Hand•Book sketchbook.

Monday, September 21, 2015

No Excuses, But…

It's been a busy September. Yesterday, I managed to spend a couple of delightful hours at Ping Tom Park in Chinatown. It was the USk-Chicago yearly sketching visit. The weather was perfect (not always the case) and the company was fun (always the case). It was good to welcome sketchers who first joined us at the July seminar and some new faces from the Evanston outing last month.

Chinatown has many interesting views and places. This time, I looked to sketch things I haven't done.  I already have some ideas for next time! I've been using this 8x8 Hand•Book sketchbook in hopes of encouraging myself to work larger when on location. As you can see old habits die hard, but I'll keep at it!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Smiling and Sketching in Chicago

Yesterday, I had the privilege of working with the AHEAD marketing team. I introduced them to the benefits of sketching as well as tips and tricks for Urban Sketching. What a fun afternoon! Thank you, Marjorie, for the opportunity!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer in the City

Oak St. Beach, Chicago
It always amazes me when I sit on the beach in the middle of the city surrounded by skyscrapers and condos.

This is a quick sketch done at Oak Street beach in Chicago. It was painted in spurts while watching my granddaughters play in the water and attempt to build a sand-igloo. It's a different vibe than the same lake painted last week from a Door County perspective.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ah, Wilderness!

Belle Maison, Algoma, WI

We're just back from a brief vacation by the lake in Wisconsin. The all too-short days and nights included kids (4) and grandkids (5), chaos and champagne, sparklers and shooting stars (Perseid meteor shower) and most of all lots of love and laughter. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Who Thinks of Summer in the City as Green?

North Sculpture Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago

It's been along time since I lost a sketchbook but… 

The sketchbook I've been using strictly for urban sketching is gone. I keep hoping I've only misplaced it but I've searched high and low with no success; it's time to move on. For awhile now I've been toying around with the idea of using a square format and working larger when on location. Monday was as good a time as any. 

This is an 8 x 8 Hand•Book I bought the last time I was in San Francisco. It's now been officially designated as my urban sketching book for USk sketch crawls and the Monday Sketch Group. It's a good way to keep a record of our outings. The Monday group met this week at the Art Institute and sketched in the north sculpture garden. We've had a lot of rain lately and also some real summer heat so there were few flowers to be seen but a million lush shades of green. For me the greens even overpowered the sculpture.

Lush greens, loud cicadas, dappled shade and sketching, despite not being thrilled with the sketch, I'll smile when I look back at this page.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Road Trip!

Scenes from the Ohio Turnpike
We took a quick trip east for my greatnephew's baptism and a side trip to Manhattan to the 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower – too short but memorable. There's also something about a family road trip that either brings out the best or worst in people. This one brought out the best. We had a great time. 

The Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes go on F O R E V E R. Good thing I had my Stillman & Birn sketchbook and tiny Velasquez palette with me. I used museum putty to anchor the half pans in a little Altoids tin. I added Hookers Green to his Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre palette.

9/11 Memorial 
The 9/11 Memorial, even when filled with tourists, fills you with the understanding that you're on hallowed ground. These sketches were painted using my larger watercolor travel palette.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Everything Old is New Again!

Sketching Like an Architect with Joel Berman

What an incredible weekend! It was my privilege and pleasure to introduce Urban Sketching to two eager classes at this year's USk-Chicago Sketch Seminar. Many in the classes were not new to sketching but they wanted to hone their skills for sketching quickly on location. Some in the classes were relatively new to both sketching and on location sketching. In either case when my workshops were finished I felt like a mother bird watching her chicks leave the nest and go on to spread their wings in the other workshops.

Filled with their enthusiasm I managed to squeeze in a class myself. On Sunday afternoon I joined Joel Berman's workshop "Sketching Like and Architect." Great class! We started out with thumbnail sketches (a favorite way of mine to start!) and worked up to 6 second sketches! Then we gathered in the courtyard at the Fourth Presbyterian Church for a relaxed sketching denouement.

There is nothing like joining with of other artists to renew and invigorate your own creative juices. Thank you students and instructors alike!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nessun Dorma #tbt

The Chicago Urban Sketchers' Seminar is this weekend!  I'm looking forward to teaching the Beginning Urban Sketching workshop and meeting more kindred souls. Needless to say I've been a little busy.

There's an unwritten rule in my house, if you fall asleep and I'm around you've given permission to be sketched. This is my son asleep on the couch in 1984. I think after this weekend I may be the subject matter.

I haven't forgotten about you kindred souls who visit me here. I appreciate your stopping by. Are any of you coming to the seminar? Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

One Necessity for a Successful Art Workshop Experience

USk Chicago is getting ready for our 2015 Chicago Sketch Seminar and we want everyone to get the most from the experience. Be sure to read Tuesday Tips and Tricks on the USk Chicago blog for some great hints. Actually, if you're taking an art workshop or class at home, away, online or working your way through a self-study book, this is for you, too. Check it out!

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Happened to May?

Riverwalk, Chicago
I don't know! Maybe I'll catch up in June but not today. Today was a glorious day sketching at the Riverwalk. It's going to be a favorite place this summer for an evening stroll and a glass of wine!

Friday, May 15, 2015

USk Chicago Sketch Seminar's Registration is Open!

If you're looking for a fun weekend in July join us at the USk–Chicago Sketch Seminar! You can register online on the 2015 Seminar blog

I want to say thank you to our generous sponsors: Stillman & BirnWinsor & Newton, Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, Nock Co., DeAtrementis Monkeypencil Screen Printing & Apparel. Your support for Urban Sketching is much appreciated!

I promise I'll post an update on Every Day in May soon!

Friday, May 8, 2015

EDM Installment 3

6– Something with Bristles

7– An Envelope

Something with bristles, # 6 on the Every Day in May list is my old workhorse paint brush. I use it all the time. Trees, splatter, texture, you name it, it does it!

The next one, # 7 an envelope, is a more sentimental choice. It's an envelope from a letter my father sent me a long time ago. He was in the navy and when ever he was out to sea he would send me letters filled with love and his Popeye cartoon sketches. There were no stamps on these letters. Since they were mailed from Navy ships the postage was free. I think it was these sketches that inspired me to keep on drawing even as I hit that adolescent stage when many kids stop drawing for fun.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Every Day in May, Second Installment

2. a tree 

4.  herbs/spices in a jar or bottle 

5. something hot
I'm continuing the effort to use less pencil/line drawing and more paint. The process of letting the paint do the work is fun though I'm not always thrilled with the product. That's not the point, right? I'm using odds and ends of paper that are floating around the studio. The different types of paper add a surprise element to the process!

  • May 2 – an evergreen on our back deck that looks like it made it through the Chicago winter.
  • May 4 – vanilla pods
  • May 5 – Happy Cinco de Mayo!

OK,  where's May 3 – curtains? I'll get back to you on that one. It has me stumped!

Friday, May 1, 2015

You Know What They Say About Good Intentions

I've joined the Every Day in May, 2015 group on FB. The intention is to draw on item on the EDM list every day in May. I'm usually not good at these things. I can be like a magpie chasing after the next shiny thing but here goes! Today's item is a favorite food. It doesn't get more favorite than pizza for me.

My other intention for this project is to draw more with the paint rather than pencil. I don't want to eliminate pencil marks (they're almost on the favorite scale with pizza) but to use them more selectively.  Wish me luck! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Choose a Model for Sketching

Saturday was Worldwide SketchCrawl. It was also the regular gathering of Urban Sketchers – Chicago. We originally planned to meet at Cloud Gate, (a.k.a. The Bean) Anish Kapoor's iconic sculpture in Millennium Park. Chicago's weather being what it is forced us indoors at the Chicago Cultural Center on the other side of Michigan Avenue. 

There is so much going on at the center that it's hard to focus. After viewing two art exhibits on display I settled down in the center section on the first floor. Despite the glorious mosaics and architecture, I was pulled toward the floral arrangement that added a touch of spring to my tired-of-winter-gray eyes. Then Jodie, another USk–Chicago sketcher, came along and sat next to the flowers and began to sketch. Perfect! That settled it, two lovely subjects to sketch that weren't going to move for a while! Just before it was time to reassemble as a group in the main lobby, Mary Beth came along and sat on the other side of the table. I managed just a quick sketch of her. 

Thanks to Alex Zonis, here's a panorama of the motley crew.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

These are a few quick sketches I did  at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Chicago a few summers ago. I like the no pencil approach in them. It's a style I rarely use but I've begun playing around with it again. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sketching a Bird's Eye View

What a glorious afternoon! Thanks to Carole Hennessy, the Illinois Artisans, our Monday sketching group had the opportunity to sketch in the Cook County Law Library in the Daley Center. The views were magnificent, so magnificent in fact that I abandoned my usual people mode and went for the vista. The colors of Lake Michigan were almost like the Caribbean and the variety of architecture was overwhelming. I wish I could have sketched the smell of being surrounded by books. It added a cozy feel to the wild blue yonder.

Since it was a library we curbed our usual chattiness. Interestingly, we all got a lot more sketching done. What fun a day!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Coming Attractions!

A Room with a View
Just a heads up for all of you Urban Sketchers and Would-be Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers-Chicago soon will be announcing the details for the July 2015 Sketch Seminar. Keep your eyes open on FB, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter! I'll be teaching a class for beginners in Urban Sketching. Come join the fun!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stealth Sketching at Starbucks

Often when I'm the docent on duty at LUMA I stop in at Starbucks in between tours. It's always a great place to sketch. If you've read this Tuesday's Tips and Tricks over at Urban Sketchers-Chicago you'll quickly see why. You can sit with your back to the wall. You can choose quick sketching with the ever changing customers. If your in the mood for a slow sketch there are plenty of models to choose from.  Everyone is absorbed in their own thoughts or work so they don't notice you. AND you have a table to work on (that's a luxury for urban sketching).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Drawing on the Grid

In my recent Tuesday Tips and Tricks over on the Urban Sketchers-Chicago blog I discuss designing sketchbook/journal pages using a grid. With so many years in print magazine design working to the  grid is second nature to me. I don't think I fully realized how ingrained it is until I remembered this pastel pencil drawing I did some years ago. Everything old is new again.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Hour and a Half to Visit the South Pacific

The Field Museum- Chicago
Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted! So much for that resolution! My plan is to post more than last year so I better pick up the pace!

Today, Urban Sketchers-Chicago met at the Field Museum. I went to the South Pacific to sketch. Maybe I was searching for the sun but I discovered breath taking masks, costumes and musical instruments. The museum was crowded (free to Illinois residents in February and a Saturday) but people were so considerate! If they realized I was working they would make a real effort to say out of my field of vision. I really don't mind people going about their own way while I'm sketching that's part of being an urban sketcher, but thank you!

In this sketch I had fun playing with the textures. I applied the watercolor to the large face mask when I got home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sharpening Your Mind’s Eye – Memory Drawing

A visual memory of Barcelona

It's Tuesday Tips and Tricks at Urban Sketchers - Chicago!  Check out the fun games and exercises to improve your observational and memory skills.  Powerful observation and a strong visual memory are a definite plus for any sketcher.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 5 – Can Spring Be Far Behind?

Sea Grass – Sarasota

Sea Oats – Sarasota

Amelia Island, GA
Day 5 of the art posting challenge, which is to post 3 pieces of work each day for 5 days and to nominate another artist each day to do the same! Today, I nominate Ronelle Van Wyk to join in the fun. It was Ronelle's beautiful blogs (yes, she has more than one) that captured my attention and got me started blogging, Thank you, Ronelle!

I began this challenge with some bitter cold looking landscapes that put me in mind of Percy Bysshe Shelley's
"O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
Today it's so cold in Chicago I'm looking past spring and thinking of summer!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 4 – Portrait Possibilities

Possibilities – Morgan

Off the Cuff – Pope Francis

Remarque Paperworks

Day 4 of the art posting challenge, which is to post 3 pieces of work each day for 5 days and to nominate another artist each day to do the same! Today, I nominate Kelly Brown to join in the fun.

Looking through older work clearly shows how different projects require different things. Today I post three portraits, one done for love, one done as an editorial illustration, and another done as a sketch for a greeting card design. Vive la difference!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 3 – Watch Your Step!



 Day 3 of the art posting challenge, which is to post 3 pieces of work each day for 5 days and to nominate another artist each day to do the same! Yesterday I nominated Carole Hennessy and today I nominate Adriana Gasparich.

We've had our share of trips to emergency rooms and hospitals.  I find drawing to have a calming influence on me.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 2 –Food Glorious Food!


Green Tea and PB&J

Fig Compote 

Day 2 of the art post challenge – Today I challenge Carol Hennessy!
The  PB&J and the Fig Compote are from my sketchbook and are about 5.5 x 6.5 . The Eggs are larger, about 16 x 14.