Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Yes, I feel that I am a sketcher-phrenic.  I am enjoying sketching, and certainly have enjoyed the group I have been sketching with, and, I also enjoy the other work I am doing with different media.  I am a Jack [or Jill] of all trades and master of none, I suppose.  Coming back to creating and making art late, I want to do it all ... well and fast!  All that said, I feel a bit conflicted about sketching.

It appears that sketching has become a huge international movement, or maybe it's been going on forever, and I just recently became aware of it.  I love looking at the sketchings of others, and enjoy the process, for sure.  Sketching is clearly an art form unto itself.

And who can dispute that sketching/drawing doesn't increase overall skills, particularly on how one "sees" things. I sketch, and certainly encourage my students to take time, every day, if possible, to sketch and draw, and, to be sure, their skills, and mine, will increase and improve.

The frustration comes with, perhaps, the scarce allocation of resources, primarily time, and, frankly, materials.  I now have about four separate "kits" to lug around the various classes I give and take, including the re-purposing of an old computer bag on rollers for sketching.  The conflict also has to do with "simplifying my life," and making it more frenetic than ever!

To be sure, sketching and drawing are a huge part of my art-making, and an element of how I teach, to the extent that artists need to draw and sketch, as much to improve the ability to "see" and create compositions and good designs in their watercolors and acrylics.  I so enjoy painting with acrylics and knives, doing watercolors, and working with texture and now collage. How much time can a person take to do all things creative?

Do I continue to spread myself too thin, or do I try to "do it all"?  What do you do?

A couple of Whidbey Island Sketchers on a lovely sunny day in Langley 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art Bash and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Yikes, the Tulip Festival starts April 1st, as do the many art shows in barns and other venues punctuating the acres and acres of tulips and daffodils in Skagit Valley. Art League North's Art Bash will be in The Farmhouse Restaurant [at the corner of SR 20 and La Conner -Whitney Road] for the second year. And I am not ready!  I have been SO busy teaching and running around the county in the name of art, that I haven't been able to get my act together enough to get everything matted, framed, mounted, etc.

I HAVE ordered some cards, and hope to have them ready to sell at least. In the last couple of years, more cards than original art works have been selling at shows, so I started having the cards made. At least the proceeds cover the expense of my entry into the show.
Anyway, I am pleased with a few pieces that I will be hanging in the show. Below is one of them. I started this as a palette knife demo in an acrylics class, and hadn't finished it until just a day or two ago. I like him.

Heron ~ Acrylics ~ Palette Knife

Every day, I see at least two or three herons as I drive through the Valley or by the Swinomish Channel. As often as I see the herons, swans, geese and eagles, each time I see any of them it takes my breath away. Paintings of these birds sell well. Am hoping someone will want to take my guy home from the show!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Week's Life Drawing at the Depot

Cropped from a ten-minute pose.  She thought she could hold her neck like that, but found it was too much.  Glad I got it before she gave up on the pose. On Arches cold press 140# with Doc Martins Hydrus Watercolors and American Journey watercolor stick

Twenty minute from the mirror on Tyvek with Doc Martins Hydrus Watercolor and American Journey watercolor stick 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunny Saturday

This past Saturday was lovely and sunny, the day before the start of spring.  It was so great to see the sun, but, it was REALLY breezy with a little chill in the air.  It didn't matter, though, because the Saturday group of painters went outside and clipped a few sprigs of blossoms and painted them from inside.  Fair?  Not plein air, but close!  Here's a quick sketch that was fun light-hearted, and spring IS in the air ... cold or not!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sketching with the Whidbey Island Sketchers

I spent the afternoon sketching with some great folks from the Whidbey Island Sketchers group in Langley at a tiny little micro brew place.  As the new kid, I felt very welcomed and comfortable.  Since I haven't been out sketching with a group very much, I was a tad tentative at first, but shortly got in to the swing of things.  I brought my Doc Martins [paints not boots] and continued to experiment.  Although I have yet to master them, I had a lot of fun, and lots of excuses for being loose!  I guess the paints were a hit, because several of the artists said they are probably going to order some.  Hey, Doc Martin [and Cheap Joe] do you do finder's fees?  I understand a lot of Hydrus watercolors are being bought by Pacific Northwest artists!

Here's one more of Sue ...

Sue ~  A little overworked ~ Do you think they'll invite me back?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today's Life Drawing

Patricia ~ 30 minute pose with Flair pen and Doc Martin Hydrus watercolors
Am pushing through my feeling of awkwardness with the Doc Martin Hydrus watercolors, but still don't feel I have accomplished what I have been hoping for.  I want to be looser, yet, have an economy of strokes and clear and confident applications of color ... not necessarily the "right" colors, but colors that "work."  The pose was Patricia's best of the day.  She is the same model as the one in the cowboy hat in a recent post.  I have to say, she is still not my favorite, and the drawings I have done, are not my favorites either.  I could say it doesn't matter, it does, but there's always next week, and lots of room for improvement.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring is on the way ... I PROMISE!

I like this bird better, but went too far with the background

I got a little heavy-handed with the spray bottle

We painted robins on Saturday, while it was pouring with rain, and the wind was gusting to 40-50 knots.  It was kind of fun to immerse ourselves in painting robins, harbingers of spring.  I am still playing with my Doc Martin Hydrus watercolors, so I tried  to make mine have a little character by "sketching" the birds with the Doc Martin droppers.  Then I drag the color with a wet brush, then spray with water. I really enjoy doing that, and then waiting for the results, often not what I expect.  Even so, the robins are arrivng, yet the snow geese and the swans are still here.  The fields are morphing from winter drab to yellow and green with daffodils, so the tulips can't be far behind.

For that, I have to start assembling work for the Tulip Festival and our Art Bash Show.  Painting is more fun than matting and framing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good Model Today

Ten minute pose charcoal

Ten minute pose on Tyvek with Dr Martins Hydrus Watercolors ~ A little heavy-handed on the sap green to offset the indian red that also got heavy-handed!

Twenty minute pose on 140# Arches with Dr Martins Hydrus Watercolors ~ More ultramarine on this one.  It works better, I think

Twenty minute pose on Arches 140#
Dr Martins Hydrus Watercolors

Twenty minute pose on Arches 140# with Dr Martins Hydrus Watercolors ~ That's his thumb hanging down!

Jahman is a wonderful model, and has a gorgeous body.  He holds poses, and knows how to best show himself to the group.  Now, with such a terrific model, I have no excuses.  Even so, I was not "on" myself today. 

I am trying to see which combination of paint and surface will work the best for me, using the Tyvek, the Doc Martins, and Arches.  I am still using too much pigment when I "draw" with the Doc Martins droppers.  I am intending to "punch through" pretty soon, and break the code!  I love using Doc Martins, but need to figure out what's going to work best.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have you tried it?

Have you been to the Virtual Paintout blog [Virtual Paintout] yet? I am hooked on the concept, but haven't submitted anything so far.   Blogger Bill Guffey hosts the site and challenges artists to use the Street View of Google Maps to locate a "site" and do a virtual plein aire image of what the artists find in the designated city of the month.

The current city is Cape Town South Africa, and Bill has a Google map on his site on which to clack and get the Street View.  I toyed with the function for a while, and found lots of suburban streets, some highways, etc, and one or two terrific views of the ocean.  What I really wanted to find was people, and indeed I did.  Remarkable.  I "went" to the City Center, and and found some shopping streets, and just roamed the streets to find some local color.  I did find some wonderful images, and THOUGHT I lifted them correctly, downloaded them into Photoshop to tweak and rotate, retaining the street info, etc., and thought about how I might paint them.  Then, I went back to the Virtual Paintout to review the protocols.   I found out that I didn't identify the images correctly, so I can't use the ones I lifted to submit.  I now know what to do to use an image for the paintout, but can't find the original images again!  Oh well, I WILL do it correctly soon, and I still may paint the ones I found.

Even though I may missed painting something for the blog, I had a lovely virtual visit to Cape Town, and can't wait for what's next!  So far, there are some marvelous paintings done by artists who have figured it all out.  Wouldn't it be fun to join them?   

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday's Life Drawing

Ten minute pose is tight.  The model was tight, and I was tight

Awkward ten minute pose and a play with Tyvek and Doc Martins

Of the bunch, this was my favorite, but can you see how tight she is?  That doesn't excuse MY tightness but it added to the challenge

Another twenty minute pose and still tight.  Not my favorite model

This one is from last week's session.  Better sketch, looser model, which, I believe helped ME be looser.  Done with a Flair felt tip pen and brushed with water.  This model is a dancer and currently going to circus school.  Grace and poise made it a better day.

The tulips are coming, the tulips are coming!

The snow is almost gone, and Skagit Valley will soon be ablaze with color.  Acres and acres of tulips bracketed by the foothills of the Cascades and Puget Sound.  The month-long Annual Tulip Festival starts April 1st, and so will an abundance of art shows presented by the various art groups in the Valley.  So many artists paint tulips, of course, because that's what visitors buy when they are here.  I enjoy the tulips, but, frankly, I am "over" most tulip field watercolor paintings that I have DONE, and that I see each year.  

So, in a drop-in watercolor class, the group was doing tulips, and I chose not to do what they were doing but to "play" with my Dr Ph Martins Hydrus Watercolors.  Because I am still "feeling them out," and experimenting with them,  I tend to get heavy-handed and overdo.  And, I am still experimenting with Tyvek, never sure what the medium will do on that, so I like, but don't LOVE, the tulips above. To camouflage the amateur work, I spattered the painting with metallic acrylic ink, again, just playing. I am "getting there," and will still keep on trying, but this is an effort that may end up in the pile ... my gallery in the closet.  

To absolve myself in the group of pretty traditional tulip painters, I did a quick more traditional tulip painting, again with the Dr Ph Martin Hydrus Watercolors, that might redeem myself in the wonderful world of tulip art this spring.

We'll see ...  Maybe I should try some daffodils.  I need some remedial flower painting classes!