Thursday, July 2, 2015

Alsace and Bourgogne: Drawing People

The best part of being a teacher is that June and July are travel months. The world is a great big place and I enjoy the opportunity to get out and see it, meet and chat with different people, to embrace new perspectives - and to ponder these new vistas in my sketchbook. This June we explored the regions of Alsace and Bourgogne in France, by foot and on two wheels. I filled many, many pages and will be sharing them in three segments: "People," "Place," and "The Direct Experience." I begin today with "People."
Digging into the “gallery work” of my past one will find that I focused on figural subject matter rather than a more specific genre of, say, landscape or still life or portraiture. I find myself less attracted to likenesses than I am in body language or physical expression. There’s an inherent honesty that appeals to me in finding a way to express character rather than in what often comes off as caricature. Not to put myself on the same plane as Kathe Kollwitz or Richard Diebenkorn or Marc Chagall but those are attributes that resonate for me in their work.
Richard Deibenkorn
Kathe Kollwitz
“Gallery” work is less and less important to me, and over time I’ve found myself retreating further into the rows of sketchbooks that line a couple of bookshelves. While it is true that sometimes I find a “type” comes through, I’m more interested in communicating the energy or entropy, the lassitude or élan of a person when I begin to draw them. Capturing a believable gesture communicates dynamism.
Every now and then I’ll work up sketches using a graphite stick and holder, as in the example below. It’s an easy tool tool to carry and doesn’t carry the threat of leakage, nor does one wear black smudges upon one’s hands all the livelong day as tends to happen when carrying and sketching with a pen. But sketchbook pages rub together as I bustle about a place and there is a loss of line as the drawings smudge under such duress. I also find myself worrying over details I never would bother about with a pen.
I treat my sketchbook like a sort of visual journal, often scribbling down notes or impressions that are only remotely relevant to the drawing I make on that spread.
It’s often by necessity that I wind up catching someone in a moment of stasis. Movement means your subject is fleeting and unless one is practiced in very short gesture sketches, one is entirely at the mercy of one’s rather faulty memory to make a believable drawing happen!
This is why many of my people sketches are of folks in what I refer to as the “significant pause.” It’s the moment just before or after the energy, in contemplation or on the brink of motion.
Outdoor cafes are wonderful places to sit and sketch, and enjoy a glass of wine, a cool breeze, and the surreptitious glances of fellow diners and wait staff who are universally curious to see what one is drawing!
I find that a good way to practice is to forgive oneself the necessity of rendering detail and to work with very small gestural sketches. The people in the sketch below are, perhaps, an inch or less in size. No more than fifteen seconds was devoted to any single figure. What’s very nice about this is that it tends to develop one’s ability to lay down confident looking lines. The drawings are insignificant and quick, so if one makes a mistake – no problem. Start another page or start another corner. Just keep the pen moving. —Mark Anderson

Monday, June 22, 2015

TJ Stitchery & Frame Shop

This is a sketch of another of our neat old Rockford, Michigan buildings. The building sits next to what was the rail line that served our town. The rails are gone, replaced by the White Pine bicycle trail. The building is home to TJ Stitchery & Frame Shop. The building's back end hosts a fly fishing shop that services the fishermen who fish the Rogue river which runs through and around Rockford.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mac Racer gone Cruising

I sketched this view of Glider last week but couldn't do an upload 'cause I only had my iPad with me. Glider is a 40 footer that sits next to my boat at the marina in Whitehall, Michigan. Glider is a Cal 40. Cal 40s were designed to race from California to Hawaii in the annual Pacific Transpac race.

Glider did her share of racing, doing several Chicago to Mackinaw Island races (300 plus miles up Lake Michigan). Her current owner rescued her from a boat yard and restored her to beautiful and immaculate condition. The boat, and her owner, now spend summers cruising northern Lake Michigan with family and friends aboard. Glider still occasionally races locally. And having been passed by her on the race course, I know how fast the old gal still is. The sketch was done with pen and Prismacolor grey graded marking pens.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Starting small, I did the sketch on the Plaza, a local shopping area with Spanish-themed architecture. Sketched in 7 minutes, I added color later because I was on my way to a class.  That's the technique I'm trying to improve so that I can sketch on site when I travel with non-sketchers.  It left a lot of blank page, so I tried filling it out with text.  Onward and upward!

Virtual Sketch Crawl June 20th

It's almost time for another Virtual Sketch Crawl...this month it's June 20th. Join in wherever you are and take part. Click on this Link for Information on this month's Virtual Sketch Crawl

Monday, June 8, 2015

Public Art by Dale Rogers, Belleville, IL

“Public Art, Belleville, IL, 05/08/2015;” watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press sketch book, Michael Anderson.

“Flight,” a temporary public art installation by sculptor Dale Rogers landed on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College last month.  Nine stainless steel birds with 12 foot wing spans supported in 16’ high steel frames were arranged in a serpentine line along both sides of the street leading to the campus quad. Although it was a cloudy day when I visited the exhibit the polished steel birds still reflected the sky and their surrounding environment making them visually active and interesting. “Flight” debuted as an installation at ArtPrize 2012 in Grand Rapids, MI, winning a “Best Use of Urban Space” award. In his artist’s statement Rogers says “Art is a catalyst for thought, conversation and connection...” I think that is a perfect description of urban sketching as well.

Here is a link to a gallery of photos of Flight from the sculptor's website

Urban Sketcher's Workshop - From Farm to Plate: Documenting the Slow Food Movement in Chatham County, NC

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