Friday, December 30, 2016

Talk about Happy Holidays!

Christmas Floral #simple grace
This has been quite a holiday season for us!  We've had family house guests that included five grandchildren, chaos, and lots of fun. Yesterday,  I found a chance to do a quick sketch just for fun. It was like a little vacation. It was drawing breath away from the holiday hub bub. Ahhhh.

Adding to that, I've been busy working on the Urban Sketcher's 8th Annual Symposium that will be here in Chicago in July 2017, plus other USk surprises! Remarque Design had a flurry of end of the year commissions and business to add to a successful year. So much to be thankful for as 2016 ends and 2017 begins.

Happy New Year!

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit." Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving and Simple Graces

It dawned on me recently that I had never tasted a persimmon. Off to the market I went. Before I tasted them I had to draw them. I'd never done that either. This is a simple ink drawing. I really enjoyed playing with the pen, brush, and ink. The tasting was great, too. Yum!  I'm thankful for new discoveries and those daily simple-graces. Happy Thanksgiving today and every day.

Monday, November 21, 2016

What to Do on a Cold Chicago Day

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

Sunday USk Chicago met at the Garfield Park Conservatory for our regular sketch crawl. It was a cold day but the Desert Room was the perfect place to warm up. I was really taken by the textures and colors. What a delightful place to spend a cold afternoon! 

It's been a busy time! Urban Sketchers 8th Annual Symposium will be held in Chicago in July 2017. Admin for USk Chicago have been helping the international committee with the planning. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to bring a successful symposium to fruition! I'm honored to lend a helping hand, but it does cut into blogging time. I'll try to do better.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Chicago's Chagall Oasis

Chase Plaza, Chicago
It was a beautiful day in Chicago today. I sat in Chase Plaza with a couple of other Chicago Urban Sketchers and was taken by the color and texture of the garden. It almost over powered the Chagall mural. You can see a hint of it here, peaking out among the trees. The plaza is a beautiful oasis in a bustling city.

Of course, I can't sketch the city without a few quick reminders of the endless cast of characters that add so much to the city's story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Halloween Gathering!

Reportage – Chicago's Longest All Souls Train 

What a great time I had at the Halloween Gathering brought to us by The Chicago Cultural Mile! USk Chicago gathered there to sketch and join in the fun… and boy did we! 

This is my sketch of  Chicago's Longest All Souls Train, just one of the many colorful events of the day. Thank you to Allisu Geriach, the producer of the Halloween Gathering, for using my sketcher for her post gathering FB cover photo! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

Morning light in the alley

There's always something new to learn! I spent Saturday in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood at the workshop "FEARLESS Sketching in Pen, Ink and Watercolor with Adriana Gasparich."  What a fun day! The workshop was held in Ingrid Albrecht's studio in Ravenswood.

As an artist, no matter how much experince I have or how much I know (or think I know) there's always more to learn. That certainly was the case last Saturday. Thank you Adriana and Ingrid for an inspiring, friendly and encouraging day!

I'm a big pencil fan. I love the feel of it on the paper and the expressive lines you can draw with it. It was great to challenge myself and just jump right in with ink. These sketches were done with a black Sharpie in a Stillman & Birn Zeta Series sketchbook. The watercolor was my usual "out and about" palette you see in the blog header.

It was typical Chicago fall day, warm in the sun and chilly in the shade. The changing light was fantastic.

Afternoon light

Thursday, September 29, 2016

360° and 365 Days a Year!

Recently I was discussing my favorite places to draw in Chicago, places that I return to and sketch at least once a year. I have quite a few! It dawned on me, I also have favorite things that I draw over and over again. The Hancock Tower is one of them.

Northwestly view from Olive Park

The Hancock Tower is the fourth tallest building in Chicago and surely one of the city's architectural icons. I don't know if it's one of my favorite building to draw, but from the number of times I've sketched it, it sure calls out to me. Though sometimes it plays hide-and-seek, it's always there for me to draw.

It's my directional beacon. It's also my neighbor, greeting me when I look out the window.

Looking East

Good morning, Chicago!

It's always there, calling me home.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Meet, Sketch, and Share with Urban Sketchers

Ping Tom Memorial Park

WOW, I can't believe I have been away from this blog for so long! This is a sketch from Sunday's sketch meet with Urban Sketchers Chicago. It was such a beautiful and fun day! We were happy to welcome lots of new faces to the group!

Speaking of Urban Sketchers, here's some fabulous news. Urban Sketchers Chicago is excited that we were chosen to host the 2017 Urban Sketchers 8th Annual Symposium! We're happy to be working with the international team to make it possible. Right now we're busy seraching for a location to accommodate over 450 sketchers from all over the world to meet, sketch, and share! I'll keep you posted!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Seasoned Seasons

The Newberry Library, Chicago

Where has summer gone? This is a quick sketch of the Newberry Library from Washington Sq. Park in Chicago. I walk through this park often. I think I've sketched there in every season. Every corner gives you a totally different Chicago vibe, skyscrapers, quaint townhouses, highrise condos, traffic, bikes, the homeless, the wealthy and always dogs and squirrels!

What simple graces will autumn bring for me to discover and sketch?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Can You Keep a Secret?

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Chicago

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is one of the best-kept secrets in Chicago. Our Monday sketch group makes sure to go there at least once a summer to sketch.  Peaceful, quiet, (well, except for the birds, frogs, and breeze through the trees) and uncrowded, it's definitely the pause that refreshes. I was thinking about that as I was drawing. It seems no matter how tired or crabby I am if I stop to sketch a little my smile comes back!

I couldn't resist a quick sketch of the heron that briefly came into view!

Monday, July 4, 2016

July is #WorldwideWatercolorMonth!




July is #WorldwideWatercolorMonth, as proposed by Doodlewash. In that spirit and in hopes of reenergizing my daily practice, I'm going to try to do one small (4x4 in) watercolor a day. The sources will vary, some from life, some from photos, and some from my imagination. I'm usually not good at following through with this kind of thing. I'm like a magpie, (Ooo good idea, Oh look at that idea, Wow, that's inspiring, etc.)  so wish me luck! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All in a Day's Work

We just got back from San Francisco. Bob and I spent a week babysitting for our three grandsons, one 7-year-old, and twins, 2½ years old. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of time to sketch and paint! In between naps (I use the term loosely,) laughter, tears, hugs, kisses, kites, and treats, I did manage a couple.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Different Perspective

A quick sketch from Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The actor, Tim Crouch, was on stage, from the time the house opened to the end of the show so I had a chance to scribble this before the play began. The production "I, Malvolio" tells Shakespeare's story, "Twelfth Night", from the point of view of Malvolio, one of the minor characters, and in one hour! Tim Crouch wrote and starred in the one-man show. Hilarious and brilliant!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Let the Fun Begin!

It's the beginning of Summer Art Workshop season! Yay! Here is a rerun of an article I wrote last year for Urban Sketchers Chicago. I believe they're timeless tips for successful workshop experience. What would advice would you add?

Tuesday Tips and Tricks:

Sketchbook Skool Klass with Jonathan Twingley.
It’s that time of year when art workshops and seminars abound. We’re less than a month away from the USk-Chicago Sketch Seminar 2015! There are some great things planned and we’re putting the finishing touches on the details to help you to get the most out of your workshop experience. 
How about you? Are you getting ready for a workshop? Whether it’s an online class, a local workshop, one that involves travel or even if you’re working you way through a self-study book there are certain things that will help you get the most out the experience. Over the years I’ve given workshops and taken many classes both on-site and online.  I’ve found my mindset is the most important factor in what I take away from the class.
  • SET A GOAL – Why am I taking this class? What do I hope to learn?

    • KEEP AN OPEN MIND – Pay attention and follow directions. It’s easy to fall into the attitudes of “that isn’t the way I do it” or “that isn’t the way so-and-so does it” but leave those notions behind at least for the duration of the workshop.

    • THINK PROCESS NOT PRODUCT  (I know, I say that all the time) –  It takes practice to learn new techniques and methods.

    • ASK QUESTIONS – Your instructor wants you get the most out of your time in the class.
    Last week, Wes gave us excellent advice about what to bring and what to wear. Remember, whether your a novice or a working pro, there is another thing you need for a successful workshop experience, that’s a positive and open workshop-state-of-mind. The opening sketch of this post is an assignment from a Sketchbook Skool Klass with Jonathan Twingley. The goal was to draw not think.  At the end of a week we cut up the sketches made a mixed media collage to surprising results!  What's your "must have" for a successful workshop experience?
    Links Richard E. Scott David Becker  Veronica Lawlor Sketchbook Skool

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016


    Yay, our Monday Sketch Group didn't get frozen or rained out! Yesterday was a glorious day to be out sketching at Navy Pier! At long last, I traded my jacket for a hat and sunglasses! It was a three exclamation point day.

    Friday, May 20, 2016

    Dream or Nightmare?

    Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette IL
    Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted here! It's been a crazy busy time. There are some good things coming. I'll keep you posted!

    I did manage to catch my breath last Sunday with the Chicago Urban Sketchers, at the Bahá'í Temple. The sun was shining and the hospitality was warm so I hardly noticed how chilly the air was. The building is beautiful, covered in intricate designs that look like stone calligraphy. The details are an exercise in drawing negative space. I kept changing my mind between "This is a dream," and "This is a nightmare." I decided to go for the dream rather than the reality.

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    The Great Outdoors…At Last!

    At long last, a gorgeous spring day in Chicago! And what a great way to spend it, sketching outdoors at the Art Institute of Chicago! What first caught my attention when I walked into the park was how the trees were bare but the grass and ivy were green.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Happy Earth Day!

    i thank You God for most this amazing
    day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
    which is natural which is infinite which is yes

    - e.e. cummings

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Pick Your Battles

    One would think that after all these years I would pay attention to the paper! I took this sketchbook on a recent sketch outing and fought the paper with watercolors the entire time! The Lincoln Park Conservatory stick-on covers a spot where the paper won.

    Actually, the paper (Hahnemüehle) has a beautiful hand and I look forward to working on it with pencil and markers. 

    Friday, April 15, 2016


    Pods like these fall all around our neighborhood. The other day I picked up these two. My intention was to practice painting subtle dark values. I accidently step on one. Whoa! What a surprise! It's incredible how something can appear so plain on the outside and, on the inside, be so colorful and bright. I think people are often the same way.

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

    Little Things Do Brighten My Day

    I was in Home Depot the yesterday and this tiny cyclamen made me smile. It brightened a very gray Chicago day. Obviously, I had to bring it home! I thought I'd share it with you.

    This is a quick watercolor done in a Stillman & Birn Beta Series book. Usually, I do a preliminary sketch in pencil or marker, but, on a whim, I painted directly, without a preliminary sketch. 

    Monday, April 4, 2016

    Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    Occupational Hazard or Happy Accident?

    This is a sketch I did last month while I was listening to a think tank panel discussion. I used my usual mini-travel kit. Lately, I’ve been using a larger sketchbook on my treks about town.  Surprise! Yesterday, when I went to use this little orange-covered Hahnemüehle sketchbook (nice swag from last year’s Chicago Sketch Seminar) again, this is what I found. The package of Wet Ones at the bottom of my bag leaked all over the book! More than fifty percent of the pages are covered with varying shades of bleed-through orange. At first, I just chalked it up to an occupational hazard, but when I looked at this sketch I decided it was a happy accident. I think the splash of orange adds some life to a rather mundane drawing.

    Sunday, March 20, 2016

    Another Good Afternoon

    Architectural Artifacts, Chicago
    What a fun afternoon with Urban Sketcher's Chicago at Architectural Artifacts. So much to see, it's hard to focus on what to sketch.  I decided to sketch the story– artists from all over the Chicago area and artifacts from all over the world sharing their unique styles.

    More fun days on the calendar, registration for the Urban Sketchers Chicago Sketch Seminar, July 9-10, opens on May first.

    Monday, March 14, 2016

    Donuts and Drawing = a Good Afternoon

    It was a little chilly and damp today, so our Monday group met indoors. I gave a brief demonstration on seeing values and we had a great discussion. Then we sketched, chatted and ate (guess what). It was a fun afternoon. This was done in my Stillman and Birn Beta Series sketchbook, one of my favorites.

    Saturday, February 27, 2016

    Save the Date for USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016!

    Urban Sketchers Chicago has announced the dates for our 3rd Annual Sketch Seminar, July 9-10,2016!  The American Academy of Art will be our host. AAA is located at 332 South Michigan Avenue and within walking distance of museums, parks, architectural landmarks, shopping and Lake Michigan! So many great places to sketch and learn.

     I'm honored to be teaching a workshop, again, this year. The topic? "The Poetry of Speed Sketching". It's a great skill to have when sketching in such a lively city or simply on the move and want to tell the story. It's been such fun meeting so many of you at our past seminars. I hope to see you and meet some new faces in July! 

    Here are two links that will keep you updated on the details:

    Thursday, January 28, 2016

    You Can See Forever!

    Looking south from E Randolph 

    Our Monday sketch group is back in the swing after a brief hiatus for the holidays. Last Monday we met at a member's condo and sketched the view from her 29th-floor window! What a view! We could see Lake Michigan, Adler Planetarium, the Aquarium, the Field Museum, Soldier Field, and on, and on, and on!

    Sunday, January 24, 2016

    An Elephant Never Forgets

    17th-Century Elephant Automaton Clock  Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)

    Sometimes when I'm the docent-on-duty at LUMA, in between tours, I sketch in the galleries. They're quick pencil sketches, almost doodles. I add the color when I get home. 

    This is a sketch of a 17th-century automaton clock from the D'Arcy Collection at the museum. Jonathan Canning, LUMA's Senior Curator, was a driving force in reanimating the piece. The Turkish figures on the top move around in a circle, the elephant's handler's arm moves up and down and the entire piece parades in a circle. A remarkable achievement for when it was created as well as for today. That's the good news.

    The sad news is that Jonathan is leaving LUMA and going the Glens Falls, New York, and the Hyde Collection.  He will be greatly missed. 

    Thank you, Jonathan, for all you've done for LUMA and for all you taught me over the last five years. Godspeed.