I had on my City of Redmond Arts Instructor hat on last Saturday and led a group of four enthusiastic people in an introduction to Urban Sketching starting at Redmond’s Downtown Park on a beautiful sunny day. After meeting and greeting and a bit of an introduction as to what urban sketching is - drawing on location and drawing what you see - I had them warm up with their first exercise. I gave each person a viewfinder to use to help limit their focus and do some thumbnail sketches with, orientated both horizontally and vertically. I showed one of the cool things to do with a viewfinder on a thumbnail. It becomes like a frame and sliding that frame around the thumbnail helps to clarify if the subject is in a good spot for a later sketch or needs to be moved to a different spot. It’s amazing how helpful a thin piece of cutout cardboard can be! I shared a number of strategies of ways to approach sketching and then it was time to let the students loose. We moved to the train signal sculpture and I had them try sketching. One student gave me the challenge of how to draw a foreshortened perspective of the sculpture.
I’m a visual storyteller and one of the things I like is to do is to draw food. I was at an Illuminating Women event recently in June where there were a couple of cooking demonstrations for that month’s theme. Both chefs were interesting and the sample salads they made were tasty. But when that was over and Seattle-based chef Logan Niles brought out her frozen pot pies to sell, that’s when my interest in drawing the scene was piqued! Logan is very personable and very clearly connected to and proud of her products. All the pot pies in the boxes were lined up and so attractive. I liked how each one was handmade and each has cut outs of pastry to identify the type of pie. It was clear that Logan has lots of experience with these because although the pies were different because of ingredients, all were regular in size and similar in shape. I admire the hours that have been spent to master that technique.
I got a couple of pies to try at home. They were pre-baked then frozen so all I needed to do was finish the baking to heat and brown them. And when I got to eat mine, yum! I had fun putting together this collage of Logan and her pot pies together. If you’re interested in trying out her pot pies, Logan sells them online through her company Pot Pie Factory.
Welcome to my art world! I try to publish my newsletter every couple of months. This edition has some pictures from recent travels, news about upcoming workshops in August and September, a suggestion for an interesting web site to follow which includes Japanese cats in hats felted from their fur, lots of links and many, many sketches! Please sign up for my email list on my Contact page if you haven’t already done so and you will automatically get my next newsletters. If you would like to read earlier newsletters, they are also available on my About page.
I was lucky enough to be able to go to Portland, OR last month and visit a conservation and restoration studio (MPF Conservation) where some historic carousel horses from the Jantzen Beach Carousel were in-house being evaluated for restoration. There were about 15 of them there. So interesting! Here are a couple of my takes of two of the horses. I penciled them there and inked them at home.
I had an opportunity to lead a 3-hour workshop, “Keep a Daily Sketch Journal,” at the Redmond Library yesterday. I had 15 students and there were 18 people on the waitlist! It’s nice to know that there are lots of people in the community who are interesting in sketching more or at least learning about it. I had a great time and it was very satisfying because the students all seemed to get something out of it. I loved seeing the variety of things people chose to draw from their day. I will do another sketching workshop there in the fall on nature journaling. The date’s not been set yet but the library did promote through Nextdoor.
Are you interested in what’s been happening in my studio over the past three months? You’re in luck. My June newsletter is available full of photos of students’ work, carousel horses, class projects and a gallery show, as well as a very adorable dog and person pair from a recent pet portrait.
The June Newsletter is now available!
Click here to download the PDF.
I have been taking a visual storytelling and illustration class with Tara Larsen Chang at Cloud 9 Art School for the past few months. We are going to have a pop-up show with the students’ final work at Tsuga Fine Art in Bothell, WA. Meet and greet the artists on Saturday, June 29th, 4pm - 7pm. It’s been a fascinating process and everyone’s pieces are so different. There should be many examples of each student’s process and journey from beginning idea to the completed artwork. Come and enjoy!
The images above show some of the design process for me. I decided I wanted an illustration of a cat relaxing in the sun in a pot. Cats in pots are called nekonabe in Japanese. I lived in Japan for three years and I wanted to include various Japanese themes in my illustration. My cat will be in the sunlight between the shadows of a window frame. I auditioned a variety of shadows on my piece. I decided there would be tatami for the floor and that meant researching it, testing out how to draw that texture and also finding a tatami mat ribbon trim. I wanted some cat toys in the picture for my indolent cat and thought of a large kicker fish toy. Since I lived in Japan, I know they have lots of fish on flags for Boy’s Day, so I came up with a pattern for a fish toy. Then where should the toys go? I cut out some paper shapes and played with their positioning until I found a placement I liked. I made a sample fish toy so I could get the right shadow shape. The final picture is starting the painting process.
Recently I started adding color to my drawing of a Portuguese tile pattern that I saw at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal last summer (although I wrote Porto in my sketchbook). I love the way one block pattern can be complicated enough that it takes 16 tiles to show it!
These are some pictures taken during its progress to being currently somewhat painted. I typically work on my projects about 30 minutes at a time. For these tiles, I start with a pencil and ruler and mark out on my sketchbook page where I’m going to place them. I like to draw a solo tile, then in a group of four, and then, here, in a group of sixteen to show the additional pattern that is made. I find the center lines and diagonals in each square and then start sketching out the pattern. Sometimes I will draw the whole pattern first then ink it, but here the design was complicated enough and my hand would rub off the graphite, I inked some parts before I did more pencil. Once the whole page was inked, I scanned it so I have it available for the future - I was thinking of a coloring book of Portuguese tiles. Then, I added color to match the tiles I had photographed.
It’s a time consuming but very satisfying process. I will continue to add blue watercolor to the rest of the drawing but I rather like partially complete painting too. I will scan that before I continue. Which do you like better - partially painted or fully painted?
Here is my latest pet portrait. This is of Finn and Nancy, his person. I love drawing different breeds of dogs because they are so unique. I really enjoyed this picture of Finn and Nancy because having them together really showed off just how large Irish Wolfhounds can get. Also, the two of them were clearly happy and content together.
Please contact me if you’re interested in me doing an ink and watercolor pet portrait commission for you. I work from your photos. Check the link for more information or email me at email@example.com.