Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rust Bucket

My wife and I were in Ludington, MI again over the weekend. Had a nice stay at a B&B there. This old truck has been a fixture in front of a downtown Ludington antique store for years (meaning I've walked by it a bunch).

I finally had time over the weekend to get the truck down on paper. I found out later it's a good thing. One of the people I was talking to when we were in Ludington told me the block in which the truck now resides is going to be torn down to make way for a new development.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Google Urban Sketchers Map

Hi all!  Feel free to add your location to the new Urban Sketchers map Gabi created!  You can find it here: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=213045706426173609546.0004cd150dcd00d371328&msa=0

That way if you're traveling you may be able to hook up with other sketchers.

You click "Edit," at upper left, then click on the little upside down teardrop.  A window opens where you type your info...join us!

Here's how to make a live link of your URLs, above...I didn't, but managed to find a way to edit it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bike & Sketch

I'm still here, but I've been quiet. Need to work on that. I had a great day Tuesday! Decided to pull a vacation day and have a biking and sketching day through urban Topeka. The Fall colors are just too nice to be ignored. This required riding a rural rail-to-trail into town, and then catching an urban trail to see the sites. This was so much fun I could die. The day was peaceful, the Autumn air could be tasted, and had plenty of coffee breaks. Does it get any better? Oh yeah, sketching, too. I need to kick myself back into the habit.

I carried by gear in a sling (shoulder) bag slung behind me as I rode, and it worked fine. Maybe I could be confused with a young fit urban messenger cyclist? Or not (I have graying in the temples, for those of you who don't know me). This was my test ride for sketching/cycling (thumbs up). The pen sketching and watercolor pencil work I did on-site. Then, over coffee at World Cup, I started the text, which I finish at home.

One memorable moment: I sketched the Monroe School, which was the site of the Brown vs. Board of Education case. The National Parks has restored the building and created great displays inside. Anyway, before I went in I sat down on the sidewalk across the street near my bike to sketch the front of the building. No traffic. No people. I'm in my own zone when a class of high school age kids rush out to leave the building, chattering up a storm. I feel really out of place, but I just pretend I'm a spaced out artist at work and it worked! Nobody laughed at the middle-aged old fart sitting/sketching on the sidewalk. Guess I passed as an artist? My daughter would have died from embarrassment.

Climbing Hydrangea--more leafy and now less

Peppers Inside, Climbing Hydrangea Outside 

I drew the climbing hydrangea outside our south-facing living room two years ago and then again today. I designed the trellis 20 years ago and had it custom made by a local blacksmith. My husband then planted the hydrangea and, over the years, has trained it so when leafed out we have privacy from our neighbor's driveway and house, which is only a few feet away. Today, with many of the leaves fallen, the blue of the neighbor's house is seen.

When I picked the last of our pepper crop over a week ago, they were all light green. Look what happened: a couple turned red in the bowl! Procrastinating on doing this drawing maybe wasn't a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scooter's Malt Shop

We hit 75 degrees here today. By Friday our high is supposed to be 48. So today was a great day to hit the road with the sketch book. My wife and I drove south of Battle Creek to Scotts, Michigan.

Scotts was founded in the 1800s and, in its day, was a pretty large town with a grain mill, railroad traffic, farm commerce, a pickle factory, and large population. The town burned and was re-built a couple of times. Today little remains except for the town's center....four corners, and a few homes. We had a great lunch at the Scotts Corner Cafe, that's it with the flag in front, right across the street from Scooter's Malt shop. The weather was perfect for a malt today...unfortunately Scooters is closed for the season.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Raining Leaves...Help!

Yep, I really do love fall colors, the leaves, the trees...I like 'em a lot! Unfortunately, all my beautiful Maples are in the process of depositing.their color all over my yard. In fact It's been pouring leaves all day. So...here's my mid morning view of all that wonderful color. And oh, after all my work this morning, the front yard is buried again. My wife says the people that live here must be real slackers when it comes to taking care of their yard!

Fall Fiesta Outside--Comfy Chair Inside

Fall Fiesta from 2nd Floor Window
When a straight-line windstorm toppled two seventy-five-year-old maples three years ago in the front of our house, we planted a Fall Fiesta maple to replace them. My husband and I love this new little tree and revel when its leaves turn their full brilliance.

Fall Fiesta in Porch Window
Fall Fiesta in Porch Window
Working on a watercolor block, I roughed in the composition first with water soluble graphite, applied with a brush. Then came the Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels.

To the right: a watercolor of the same tree, seen through a first floor window, done 2 years ago:

This is my husband's favorite chair:
Nighttime Easy Chair
Nighttime Easy Chair
House Across Clay Street
House Across Clay
 And a winter, night view from the same      window of the house across the street.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Old Bedford Mill

This afternoon was a beautiful one to be outside. So I headed north of Battle Creek to sketch the old Bedford mill which is located in Bedford, Mi. The mill dates back to 1855. Grain hasn't been milled here for years. The mill's water wheel is gone but the stream that turned it still runs nearby. Most recently the building housed a small print shop operation but that closed a number of years ago. Sadly this is another historical building that now stands long abandoned.

Wertjes Uniforms: Open for business--Closed for the day

Today, while featuring this small storefront, I got a good sighting of the Cedar Falls Utilities' coal-burning smokestack through the partially leafless trees. Tucked into a neighborhood of houses, Wertjes is three blocks from my house and two blocks from the smokestack. It sells uniforms to policemen and firemen.

A cold front is forecast for the rest of the week. Taking advantage of what I assume to be the last Indian summer day, I set my stool up across the street. In the window,  a handwritten sign stated they were closed for the day while the owner attended a police uniform show in Waterloo. A car parked and blocked my view; I asked the driver if she'd move back a bit and she did. I got sniffed by at least 4 dogs. One of the dog walkers, a man my age in his 60s, told me he'd grown up around the corner when Wertjes was a grocery store;  he'd buy candy and bread there. The owner and her husband returned. After I'd packed up to go, they invited me to come inside. She bought the store 13 years ago  from the Wertjes, who'd owned it for many years. The current owner just happened into it when she went to pick up a uniform for her police officer son and was told the business was for sale. Business is so good, she's thinking of bringing her son from Cincinnati, who just lost his job as a pilot, into the business. I'll have to go back and draw the inside, too. Obviously a thriving business, yet it looks like something from a bygone era.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

View from the First Tee

This is a quick sketch, of the Battle Creek skyline, made next to the first tee at Riverside golf course. The course is about a mile from my house.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Closed for Business

I sketched these buildings in downtown Battle Creek from the top level of the parking ramp across the street. While drawing I had to keep a tight hold on my sketch book to keep it from being blown off the wall I was standing next to. Adding a twist of humor to the entire outing, I had to assure a parking ramp employee that I wasn't planning to jump.

On the sad side, all the stores that once called each of these building home is now long gone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flowers in an Architect's Office, St. Louis

Fresh flowers are always a pleasant addition to any environment but in an architect's office they make a statement about good design and taste. Before leaving an appointment last week I managed to sketch a very quick (15 minutes or so) rendition of the arrangement on the reception desk of a downtown firm on my iPhone. The signature layer was added later. Whether I am finger painting with pixels or pushing watercolors with a brush pen the reward is going into that zone where time is an illusion. An hour can go by in what seems to be a few minutes. I find myself wishing for yet more time to see something familiar in a new way, to be fascinated by color & luminosity and to just continue sketching for a little while longer.

Flowers In an Architect's Office, Michael Anderson, 2012, brushes fo iPhone.

The Hazards and Joys of Urban Sketching

Monday a small group of us went to Navy Pier in Chicago to sketch. It's a great venue with indoor and outdoor sketching opportunities. Since the outdoor sketching season in Chicago is drawing to a close (oh dear, no pun intended) we decided to brave the wind and sketch outside. I found a great place with a table in the sun until…

Before the boat docked my view to the south.

After the boat docked I turned to the west and sketched the landscaping.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life's eventful!

We just got home from the Ozarks, where I walked and stood a LOT, then shopping, then to the City for J's 18-month post-op checkup (all's well!)...

And I ended up using this!  Hooray, glad I had it...better, now!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Choo Choo Bob's

With other friends, took my son the Choo Choo Bob Show. A MPLS phenom for kids around here. I brought my sketchbook in case I got bored. It was actually very good and my son and his friends enjoyed it. I did get a sketch in anyway. Very quick, semi dark, lots of interruptions of the 3 boys wanting to be pickup so they could run down and dance.

Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean

For someone who lives about as far from an ocean or a sea as one can be, it's notable that this summer and autumn I have gazed out on and drawn 3 of the major bodies of water that define the northern western hemisphere. 

Most recently in September, visiting the Central Coast of California, I drew the Pacific Ocean at Morro Bay, with its landmark Morro Rock (the last of a string of nine extinct volcanos that stretch 15 miles from San Luis Obispo, down Los Osos Valley, to the Pacific Ocean at the town of Morro Bay). 

Morro Bay from Cayucos

In August, visiting the Down East coast of Maine, I did drawings of the Atlantic Ocean from the shores of Chandler Bay near the town of Jonesport. If you'd like to see more from this series go here.

Dark Water, mid-morning
Dark Water, mid-morning

Then in July, attending the Urban Sketching Symposium in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, I had one day before the Symposium to do this drawing of the Caribbean Sea.

Caribbean Sea from Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone
Caribbean Sea from Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Falling Leaves

I admit it...I have an addiction to fall color. This year the leaves are spectacular and seems to be displaying their color about 2 weeks early here in Michigan. These two leaves on my front lawn caught my eye late this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gate to Abandoned Orchard

Down a lane in the Cedar Heights neighborhood of my hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa is an abandoned orchard left from when this was farmland and not residential. This iron gate is a curious remnant of another time. Recently, the land changed hands. The scuttlebutt is that the new owner will be building multiple new homes.  When I got back from my recent trip to California, I sensed it was now or never if I wanted to capture this artifact in a drawing.

For most of the 2 hour time doing this, everything was quite delightful as I sat on my stool, set up across the road in the leaf mulch. Then at the very end,  I got swarmed by itty bitty bugs. They weren't biting, but they were all over me and my stuff (inside my crayon box! inside my gear bag! under my hat! under my shirt! between the pages of my sketchbook! EEEEK!) Needless to say, I hightailed it home. Later, my husband identified the critters as harmless spring tails. Before I was attacked I snapped this photo of my set-up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Abandoned and Boarded Up

Decided to do some sketching this afternoon as the rest of the week is out. Anyway, this is an abandoned house on Riverside Dr. in Battle Creek. The house is about 2 miles from where I live and I pass by it often. The house dates back to the 1800s and was quite beautiful. The house has been empty and boarded up for a long time and is now slowly falling apart.


Monday, October 1, 2012

These fall colors are killing me because I haven't had as much of a shot at them as I would like. I am reminded of one older (although it is so fresh in mind I can't believe it was 2002) sketch from Still Water, MN and couple from North of the Twin Cities a few weekends ago on a Men's retreat.

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