Posts Tagged 'sketching'

Spending time

NCseashoreI’ve spent all my vacation this month, and now I’m looking at work schedules, as well as some training. But I am so glad I took time to spend with family and friends.

1 week “invested”, and here are my rewards:

  • Walking the shoreline, enjoying low tech days
  • Hunting for fossils (found: ancestors of the sand dollar)
  • Pausing to watch pelicans drift across the sky in lazy Vs

    shells-sanddollar

  • Laughing while playing board games
  • Watching thunderstorms across the water
  • Sketching the beach from the comfort of a screened porch
  • Waking up before sunrise for a walk on the beach at low tide
  • Visiting friends and family on our way home

The shoreline of North Carolina was a beautiful place to visit. Returning home, our yard seemed newly beautiful too, with lots of monarch butterflies migrating through. Hope your summer break was grand.

 

 

Holidays where the air is clear

Kites at Harkness Memorial State ParkA while ago, I visited New England, staying with friends where the air is clear. It was hot and a bit humid during the day, but it would settle into cool temperatures by 1 AM, which is clearly a huge benefit of living up north, in the hills. It was one of those long weekend holidays, with somwhat stressy driving on either side of solid days of beautiful weather and really good seafood.

There was time for sketching, late night reading (my friends have an enviable library of mysteries of the “cosy” sort), and drowsy attempts to identify which frogs I heard through the open windows. There were trips to parks, where I sketched in the shade.

I goggled at the giant frogs of Willimantic (on the bridge… very large, with shiny gold eyes). Go to this article to read more about it: Bridge Ornaments. A friend and I visited a museum up there, that was housed in a section of the old American Thread Company (ATCO). I’ll possibly post pictures from that part of the trip in my Flickr (in the sidebar).

I regret nothing… not even coasting home at 2 AM to cats who had lost all hope that even the house sitter would return. [They were thrilled by their people arriving at a weird hour, and then they gave me the stink eye for the next 2 days.] I do regret leaving the cool weather and coming back, but I did have work to do and cats to feed.

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Traveling by Memory

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Nebraska in watercolor pencil, and supposedly waterproof ink…

Lately, I’ve been daydreaming about trips I’ve taken around North America. Trips up to Connecticut, daytrips to regional parks in Pennsylvania, the long trek down coast to the bottom tip of North Carolina, and family journeys up to Stratford, Ontario, Canada so we could see Shakespeare in the round. The trips to Canada always had a special day when we tried to buy whatever we could with our last remaining currency before coming back to the States. Lovely times spent in parks eating the apples or plums we had bought, prior to crossing the border where they would become contraband.

One year, I drove solo across Nebraska to Colorado for a conference. I kicked myself for not scheduling more time; once I found a park where there were sightings of wildlife, I wanted to do an early morning vigil, looking for the Prairie Chicken. The drive was dreamlike: long stretches of road, with 2 stops for museums, meals, and to sleep in a clean hotel. I managed to avoid the traffic near Lincoln (big football game), had one of the best steak dinners ever in Kearney, and drove up into the foothills near Denver as the sun was setting. While I drove over the flat earth, with the mountains off in the distance, I could see movement out of the corner of my eye. And I thought, what the heck is that… ants on my window?

The ants continued to grow, and I thought, maybe those are a line of cars on a road…. But they were too even, with too little light between them.

And the road grew larger, until I could see that parallel to my road, but looking like they were going to cross on the horizon, was a line of rail cars following a line of tracks that was hidden partially by the optics of the dirt and scrub. Maybe 30? Maybe more. They seemed to shimmer in the heat.

The other day I drew what I saw in my memory, imperfectly. I’m beginning to feel like I need to sketch some of the places I’ve been, to relive how wonderful they were. So, if you were going to memorialize a trip…. what trips have you taken that you daydream about months or years later?

The Power of Art Supplies

scouringrush

Sometimes, during rainy days, I practice using print materials.

Never underestimate the power of art supplies to allow kids to dream, teens to learn, and adults to grow. In college, I started out as an art major then switched degrees (keeping the art minor). I’ve carried what I learned from the classes (skills and a sense of space) along to every workday. I am not a professional artist.

But I still take tiny art vacations that allow me to reset my creative soul / sense of self / internal rhythm.

I’ve suggested taking art vacations to people who felt stressed, and one of the people I spoke with at a conference said, “That sounds interesting, how do you do that?” I had to stop and explain a little, but it occurs to me that busy professionals might want to take a mental vacation from their work cell phones. So let’s all unplug and focus on the page.

Gather your supplies prior to your next work trip, day trip or vacation. Like fishers collecting their gear or a photographer getting her kit together…

  • Pencils (2B are fine, as are colored pencils — but make sure you have eraser and a sharpener)
  • Pens (some people use ballpoints; you can also use markers or a Sharpie)
  • If you have watercolors, a brush, and watercolor paper, bring them along (along with a plastic cup for water)
  • Grab a leftover pad of sketch paper, plain paper, or recycling paper
  • Bring a list of parks and museums near your hotel
  • A bag to carry your supplies

Here’s the beauty of an art vacation: you don’t need to be a serious artist. It’s a vacation, where you use a different part of your brain.

If it’s raining, go to a museum and find something that inspires you that’s close to a bench. Draw what you’re looking at, or jot down images of how a painting makes you feel. Museums often have policies about the use of pen or marker, but you can always play around with your pencils and fill in with ink later.

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Quick sketches don’t have to be perfect; you can also snap a photo to sketch later.

If the weather is good, grab your hat and something to sit on, and sketch whatever interests you. If you want to experiment with watercolors, try wetting the paper with a brush and flowing the colors behind your pencil sketch. If your pen has waterproof ink, experiment with drawing in the sketch in the foreground, once the background is dry.

When I go on my vacations, my kit is normally packed from weekend day trips. My sketchbooks are a jumble of watercolor samples (mixing paint), ink drawings of the neighbors’ houses, colored pencil doodles of flowers at a historical museum, smudgy pencil sketches from a tavern in Europe. I challenge myself to at least a half to full hour of sketching during a trip, so I have a break from driving or talking with family. Experiment with what works for you.

Mostly: Have fun. Borrow your kids’ art supplies, and experiment. No one’s grading you, and you just may rekindle some of the joy from school art day.

Paper

I’ve been thinking a lot about paper — sketching, writing, painting, writing letters.

I have friends who use their computers for everything, but I’m using pen and ink, watercolors, and pencil.

For quick sketches and writing ideas down, I have a tiny square notebook called “hand book” which comes from Global Art Materials. It’s a bit too small for the sort of sketches I normally do, and ink just drags badly over the page. The spiral bound notebook I got from a local, independent art store is wonderful, though. I’ve taken it on vacations, business trips, and just around town to local museums. It’s from a company called Bee Paper, and it’s their Super Deluxe grade of book (heavyweight drawing paper that can be used with wet and dry media). I’ve found the 6-inch by 12-inch size to be good value for my money. This picture shows a portion of a quick watercolor.

North Carolina coastline, August 2013, (c) R

North Carolina coastline, August 2013, (c) R

It’s good for pencil sketches as well (this shows the dimensions — perfect for scenery work).

A quick sketch for Project Spectrum in a park

A quick sketch for Project Spectrum in a park

So, if you have favorite paper —

  • What brand?
  • Why?
  • What for? (Which medium are you using?)

If you’ve switched over entirely to electronic media, or are doing a mix of both, feel free to leave a note too.

 


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