Midweek of my weeklong winter getaway in Venice Beach, California, I pedaled off on my rented bike to capture the swaying palm trees that tower above the rooftops of this beachside Los Angeles community. Coming from the Midwest where trees are prized for their shade, I wondered what these trees offered, since they are too high to supply much of that. I drew from the boulevard on my folding stool, loving their wild tossing silhouettes against the sky and the rustling, swishing sound of the fronds being moved by the wind.
"Palm Trees & Wires", Neocolor II wax pastels on black paper, 12.5"W x 11"H
Across from our rental house on Flower Avenue was a lovely, pale green stucco apartment building with a beautifully tended garden. I enjoyed sitting out on the front stoop--perfect temperature and no mosquitos.
"Green House on Flower", watercolor, ink & white acrylic ink, 8.5"W x 11"H
One of my fellow Urban Sketchers, Stephanie Lowe, teaches art at Animo Charter High School in Venice Beach. Stephanie and I met in Portland at the first Urban Sketching Symposium in 2010 and then we both attended the 2nd Symposium in Lisbon in 2011. Having taught drawing at the elementary and college levels years ago, I was excited by her invitation to visit her classroom as a guest artist and share my excitement about sketching with a younger generation.
|Stephanie (on the right) and I (on the left) last saw each other in Lisbon, at the end of the Urban Sketching Symposium, July 2011. In the middle is Orling Dominguez from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, who is one of the organizers and instructors for the upcoming Urban Sketching Symposium|
I met with two groups of students: a regular drawing and painting class and then an after school group--the newly formed Animo Urban Sketchers. I showed them some of my sketchbooks (mostly drawings from this California trip) and I drew alongside them. The kids were great and interested! I enjoyed seeing what they'd done in Stephanie's class and in their sketchbooks.
|Animo Urban Sketchers and me|
I talked to the kids about how I sometimes use windows in drawings, how it helps to zero in on what to put in a composition and to define foreground and distance. We drew together in the school courtyard. Here's what I did with the kids watching over my shoulder. My "window" was the opening to the sky created by the horizontal of the rooftop and the darker green trees on either side.
|"Animo Charter High School View", 11"W x 13.25"H, Neocolor II on black paper|
|Me working on the above drawing|
Kids wanted to know what I was going to draw next. They gave me their recommendations, which is why I went to the beach and Venice Skateboard Park on my last day before flying home to Iowa. These will be in my next and last installment of Venice Beach: An Iowan Explores a Corner of the LA Metropolis.