Monday, April 30, 2012

And Many More

We just got back from a quick trip to San Francisco where we celebrated my grandson's and son's birthdays with robots and lighthouses –  different days, same month. It was a great time but all too short. Not a lot of time for sketching but I did manage a few.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I forgot to post this sketch the other day, from our sketchcrawl!  A strange juxtaposition of an Art Nouveau glass pitcher and a huge bronze squashed donut...

and a few additions to the Materials and Supplies page!

I've had my eye on one similar to this...all those pockets would be almost like a traveling studio!

I've added some things to our new supply catalog bags, brush holders, plein air French-style easels, pens, and even some folding stools for those of us who need to be a bit more comfortable when working on the spot and more.

As I have time, I'm adding notes about various tools...if you've got input, please let me know!

Have fun poking around!  It's at the top of our page, or right here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cavalia Big Top Redux, St. Louis

I couldn’t resist returning to the Cavalia big top for another sketch, see  2/17/2012; this time on a larger format page. I blocked in the sky piece with a wash brush but finished with waterbrushes which are so handy for sketching with watercolor. The challange though on this day was the relentless wind which kept blowing over my backpack and other supplies.  After awhile I had to retreat to my car to complete the piece.
Cavalia Big Top, 04/15/2012; Michael Anderson, watercolor on Arches 140lb cold press, 12″ x 16″.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

35th International Sketchcrawl--Kansas City

I sat at the bottom of the steps out in back of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and sketched the west end of the facade...
I took this photo after I can see I just did that far end!
Frustratingly enough, my *ahem!* Ahab pen went on strike, in the warm sun, and dropped a big blog in my sky area at left.  So when I got home, I decided the evergreens would work well if they were ALL a field of spatter!  I protected the building with one of the post cards I'd picked up, and spattered away.

Actually, I was pretty frustrated with my pen...several people had stopped by to watch me work, and I mentioned that to one young couple.  The girl insisted I take her pen, so I finished with my NEW art supply!  Bless her!

We were there to see the Decorative Arts from the World's Fairs, 1851-1939 exhibit.  It was a bit overwhelming!  But I loved the Art Nouveau section...there wasn't room for that huge glass vase at was 3 feet or more tall, so I turned my book and drew it on the side.

This was the first sketch of the day--I kind of posted these backwards!  It's right at the entrance from the parking garage...light and surfaces and sculpture and visitors all at once!

Here's Jeanette and Cindy heading for the World's Fair show, about halfway down the hall...I couldn't resist shooting the picture before chasing after them!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flowers for Mr. Glass: a Memorial

This bouquet was picked from my Cedar Falls, Iowa neighborhood and garden. It was drawn on April 15, 2012.  I had painted another version of the bouquet a few days before in watercolor, that included a tall red tulip as the center of attention. I had envisioned this second drawing, done in Neocolor II wax pastels, to also include the tulip, but alas, it dropped its petals before I could execute it.

Two days later,  I received an email from a dear childhood friend telling me of her father's death on April 15, 2012. For me, this drawing then became a memorial for Mr. Glass. For me, this drawing represents the melancholic side of Spring: its breathtaking, all too fleeting beauty. Such is life.

As a teenager, I knew Mr. Glass as a kind man with a gentle smile, the father of one of my best friends. I was always welcome in their rambling house in Scarsdale, New York, which was filled with many books, creative projects laid out in process, and sleeping cats occupying the kitchen chairs . The garden that he and his wife tended introduced me to a variety of perennial flower gardening that I would try to emulate in my adult life. I hadn't seen Mr. Glass in decades. Only with his passing did I learn through the New York Times obituary of his illustrious career and his painfully difficult youth. This one is for you, Mr. Glass, in honor of your long life, well lived.

In A Private Garden, St. Louis

Beyond a picket fence and surrounded by dogwoods, oaks and shrubbery, this view of a gazebo in a private garden was just calling out to be sketched.

Gazebo, Lemp Mansion, 04/01/2012, Michael Anderson, watercolor, Canson 140 lb cold press, 7″ x 9″.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

North High School, Wichita, KS by vickylw
North High School, Wichita, KS, a photo by vickylw on Flickr.
I have always loved the Art Deco design of the high school my parents went to. Much more attractive than the larger East High that Bill and I attended. Built in 1929, it has tile insets & panels, a terra cotta roof, and sculptures of Native Americans and American bison. The same local architect, Glen H. Thomas, later designed a nearby bridge to match, which was featured in American Bungalow magazine.

Arriving too early for last week's watercolor class (which meets in a church nearby), I parked on a side street and did a quick sketch of the tower and part of the building -- now hidden by maturing trees. I added color later at home.

random sketching

Before leaving for class, I also did a quick sketch of Jack's Hamburgers shown on the left page, a walk-up eatery across the street from the high school which has been there continually since my parents' school days. I remember Mom taking me here as a child -- the first place I had sprinkles on my ice cream cone!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lions of Michigan Ave. and Adams

Between Chicago's fascinating characters and glorious architecture sometimes it's hard for me to focus on what to sketch. 
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of my favorite places in the city. There's something for everyone! This week I was there several times for a variety of reasons. Each time I had the pleasure of crossing the street with the Streetwise vendor. I don't know his name. I should ask him the next time I'm there. This has been his regular corner for years so I'm familiar with his friendly banter, his tall tales of Chicago and his corner of the city. Each time I'm impressed by the pride and effort he puts into his job. Most of the time I end up crossing the street with a Streetwise under my arm but always with a smile on my face. When he's not on duty I miss him.
If you're in Chicago and at the Art Institute be sure to meet this other lion at Michigan Avenue and Adams! Oh, and buy a Streetwise!

Alley, DeMenil Place, St. Louis

An alley is literally a back of the house view but offers the sketch hunter the visual challenge: How do you represent the scene in an accurate yet appealing way. In this case I like the deep perspective. The alley extends the length of three city blocks all the way from DeMenil Place to Lemp Avenue.  The cast the shadows laying on the pavement and climbing up the wall under the bushy overhang also caught me eye. The final touches were linear.  The guy wires, utililty poles and bare tree branches tie the whole sketch together.
Alley, DeMenil Place, 04/11/2012; Michael Anderson, water brush, water color, Canson 140lb cold press, 7″ x 9″.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Legal grafitti, St. Louis

While grafitti is considered to be criminal defacement of property and a sure sign of urban decay there is a place in St.  Louis where it is completely legal, even encouraged.  Since 1996, Paint Louis, has attracted local and nationally known grafitti artists to tag a 20′ high concrete flood wall with distinctive signatures and murals creating a work of art that extends for 2 miles starting  just south of downtown. The wall runs through industrial areas rarely seen by the public but most of it is just a few blocks over from Broadway, a major thoroughfare.  It is easily accessible but admittedly I have always felt that the area was a little sketchy, the other kind, even in the daytime.   The Paint Louis blog links to a Google Street View which shows a  portion of the length of the grafitti wall.

Grafitti Wall, 04/15/2012, Michael Anderson, watercolor heightened with gouache, Arches 140lb cold pressed, 10″ x 14″.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Our Chicago Monday sketch group met on Wednesday this month due  to the Easter holiday.  We call ourselves a sketching group but I think we're a chatting group that sketches -even in the the Newberry Library where we met. Either way we have a good time. 
Right now the Newberry is hosting the Chicago Calligraphy Collectives annual exhibit, a remarkably beautiful show. I'm amazed at the creativity and skill of these artists. I'm envious!
These pages, done in my 8 x11.5 Moleskine watercolor book, are just some fast visual notes from the library lobby. Nothing much or great going on but it is what it is and I enjoyed doing it. 
I'll be glad when the weather warms up so we can move outside!

Winter--Now Spring

Crabapple Winter Shadows

White Crabapple 11th & Clay

A tree, drawn two months apart, is a way for me to chronicle the seasons. This crabapple is across the street from my house. I drew it from my second floor bedroom window in February at midday, compelled to record its blue shadows on the white snow. This week, in mid-April, it came into glorious bloom--a veritable cloud, a perfumed canopy, that spans overhead across the sidewalk. I set up my portable easel on the sidewalk across the street and drew, my back to the west. The late afternoon sun warmed my shoulders and cast dappled shade. Cedar Falls, Iowa, my home for 25 years, is a very treed city. This individual is one of my favorite.

Both are done with Neocolor II soluble wax pastels in Canson archival photo albums. Winter was done on black paper, spring on "wicker". 13.5 " X 11"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Up on the roof, St. Louis

The stair well on top floor of the Keiner Plaza East parking garage bristles with satellite dishes. Like all forms of clutter after awhile they become invisible and just another piece of the urban landscape. I completed this sketch over a period of several days working 15 to 20 minutes at a time during the lunch hour. I have recently noticed a few other seemingly mundane infrastructure set pieces in the downtown area such as electrical transformer stations that are monumental in scale and intricately complex. They now are my “sketch worthy” list.
Satellite Dishes, Keiner Plaza East Parking Garage, 03.30.2012, Michael Anderson, waterbrush, water color, Canson 140lb cold press, 7″ x 9″.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Portico, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

Now preserved as a garden feature in the Temperate House, this classical stone portico was the entrance to St. Leo’s Catholic School built in 1902.  According to the info on a nearby wall plaque the school was on Mullanphy Street  and was demolished in 1978. Thankfully the elegant  portico was salvaged by the Saint Louis Architectural Art Company. Although the day was unseasonably warm it was too windy to attempt sketching outdoors. I commandeered an empty bench, broke out my supplies and sketched this sunny but completely indoors scene.

Portico, Missouri Botanical Garden, 02/28/2012, Michael Anderson, waterbrush, watercolor, 7″ x 9″, Canson 140lb cold press.

More California Sketches

This was a quick one, done right before we went off to the beachside's the lifeguard shack we mentioned before...
You can see the spares, waiting in the wings at Zuma Lagoon...
My painting setup, on a nice big flat rock...

I love these little shacks all up and down the coast...
Here's last year's drawing, as promised!  Marcia Milner-Brage sketched them in 2011 as well, as you saw in this post.  They're irresistable!

I seem to have edited out the highway and all the buildings...
Zuma Lagoon, lifeguard shacks, and Highway 101 in the background...

And a few more travel sketches on our parent blog, Urban Sketchers, here.

Powell Gardens

Structures on the property at Powell Gardens. These are part of the newer Harvest Garden section of the site. Beautiful to be outside drawing on a warm spring afternoon. It was fun to take the steps to the top of the silo and be able to look out across the gardens (my legs felt it the next day though).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wainwright Tomb, St. Louis

Louis Sullivan designed one of the most sublime architectural creations anywhere for Ellis Wainwright in 1891. The arrangement of simple forms and the restrained use surface embellishments must have seemed way ahead of it’s time. The millionaire brewer had commissioned Sullivan to design an office tower downtown still referred to as the Wainwright Building and generally considered to be the world’s  first skyscraper. The tomb was commissioned upon the death of Wainwright’s young wife and has been nicknamed the Taj Mahal of St. Louis.
Wainwright Tomb, Bellefontaine Cemetery, 03/01/2012, Michael Anderson, watercolor, waterbrush, Canson 140lb cold pressed, 7″ x 9″.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

our front door from another angle

For those curious, here is an older sketch I did of the front of our small apartment building, the same porch seen in the previous post from a different angle.

There are several similar buildings in this town, built in 1920 when housing was at a premium due to a huge oil field being found here in 1915.


Expectation by vickylw
Expectation, a photo by vickylw on Flickr.
Not sure what Ceilidh is expecting . . . . a passing dog? another robin in the yard? Our renter coming home to greet her? She seems to be happy just waiting.

This was sketched yesterday, a very overcast day with rain coming soon. I didn't think ahead -- I just grabbed my sketchbook the moment I saw her sitting so still. Our neighborhood seemed to be in silent expectation as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Carpet of Violets and Dandelions in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Today I took my easel to Black Hawk Park, a few minutes by car from my house. I walk there regularly. When I saw this yesterday, I knew I had to come back before the color faded or the mowers were dispatched. I spend too much time sitting (looking at all the wonderful artwork on flickr or sketching from my folding stool), so I decided to stand next to my portable easel, set in the tabletop position. This was my first plein-air drawing of the season here in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Small Town Library

I'm on my bike doing training rides for a biking event on Memorial Day, and one of my rides is to a small town 13 miles south of me. The ride takes me through little-traveled farmland to the quiet town of Overbrook. They did have Shirley's, a locally owned/operated cafe, run by Shirley herself. I'd always order a cup of coffee and a danish. Unfortunately for her customers, she retired. So now I buy a coffee or milk at Casey's gas stop. I like to then go downtown and sit on a bench and watch things. Last Sunday I packed my sketch gear and across the street was their library. That was my sketchable moment. I think the locals figured out I was not from around here, in my biking tights on a bench using art supplies in broad daylight while they drove through town in their farm-muddy pickup truck with cattle trailer. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


LUMA (Loyola University Museum of Art) and the Center for Intuitive and Outside Art are co-hosting and exhibit of outsider art with the theme of Heaven + Hell – LUMA hosting the Heaven side and Intuit, the Hell. On Monday the docents from LUMA toured the Intuit presentation with Jan Petry, one of the curators. Familiar now with both installations I am astounded by the creativity and vision of mankind when we just let go and let the artist out. 

There wasn't a lot of time to sketch but I managed some quick scribbles and added color later.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bates City BBQ

Bates City BBQ is just across the railroad tracks from the Bates City Antique Mall. While my wife was in the Antique Mall I sat outside and did a quick sketch of the restaurant. The sketch is in a watercolor moleskine and I did add the watercolor after I got home. The weather has been absolutely beautiful this Spring and I'm glad I had the chance to get this sketch in while enjoying the nice day.

Don Gore

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Home again, home again!

We Midwesterners seem to be on a traveling kick!  I just got home from California with 19 pages of sketches in  days...

I always like to do one composite page in the airport...

I've yet to EAT here, but it's really cute...

California backyard...with my Noodler's flex pen...

A Hotel composite...several days worth on one page...

Across from the Sunset Restaurant in Malibu...

Nice landscaping...

And my father-in-law's poor, sweet rescue beagle...I think I ended up with 15 sketches of her.  (I was raised by beagles...)
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