Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sketching Sunday at the RR Station

I was delighted to find "my" railway station had only been moved, not torn down.  It's restored as a museum, near the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence now!

This is what it looked like when I was a kid...a bit over a half block from my house...

The station agent lived next door to me...he taught me Morse Code when I was just a kid.  This is his desk in the station...

Yep, we ALL had phones like this once upon a time...

And since it's a museum now, it was all decorated for Christmas...the baggage cart you can see in the old photo was all tarted up with greenery and big red bows and looked kind of ridiculous...I left it and the wreaths out of my sketch.  Not how it was when I was a kid...

And for a complete change of pace, we ran by Costco and I sketched in the parking lot with my vintage Sheaffer calligraphy pen.  That was fun, too...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Urban landscape, Forest Park, St. Louis

Soon sketching outdoors with watercolors is not going to work. Today though temps reached 50 degrees F and when the sun was shining it was very comfortable. This small sketch was inspired by the view looking north from the Old Stable Bridge in Forest Park. There are several spots in the park where the foliage and dense undergrowth are not "maintained". At first glance it is difficult to remember that one is in the city with mass transit lines, interstate highways and urban development just a few blocks away.

"Urban Landscape, Forest Park, St. Louis, 11/25/2012", Michael Anderson, 4" x 7", watercolor on Canson Montval, 140lb cold press.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Out and About, Home and Abroad

Sometimes I think I live in parking lots!

Trying out a new Pilot Penmanship pen from JetPens, in the neighborhood.  It came with water-soluble ink cartridges, so I went with that!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

From the same window, again and again

Early this morning, before the wonderful craziness of cooking, eating and sharing that is Thanksgiving Day, I painted two watercolor versions of the same view--the morning sky over the rooftops--from my second floor bedroom window.

Sky Above Rooftops Thanksgiving Morning

I worked in tandem on 2 individual sheets of watercolor paper--the top one on cold press and the bottom on hot press. I've been experimenting with water soluble graphite, applied with a brush, for quick, out-and-about sketches. This time I used watercolor and the water soluble graphite on larger works.

I've done other drawings from this window. I guess it's one of my favorite perches to look out on the world from. 

One in summer and another in winter, both including the rooftops you might identify in the above: 

Pink Sky Hot Day
Snow Covered Rooftops

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Air Zoo C-47

This sketch was done yesterday morning at one of my favorite spots...Kalamazoo, Michigan's Air Zoo aircraft museum.

The Air Zoo houses a wide variety of aircraft but I particularly enjoy their WW II aircraft. This piece is of the Zoo's C-47. The aircraft shows the colors and markings that it would have displayed during the June, 1944 D-Day invasion of Europe. At that point in time the aircraft would have been carrying paratroopers headed for various invasion drop zones.

The C-47, the military version of the venerable Douglas DC-3, was flown by the Army Air Corps throughout Europe and the Pacific during the war. The aircraft continued service with the Air Force post the war and was still flying combat missions during the Vietnam conflict. Pretty amazing considering the DC-3 design first took to the air in 1935. The airplane is considered by many to be one of the most reliable ever built.

I have to pass on my thanks to the Air Zoo. They've kindly given me permission to work inside the barriers that surround the aircraft. Being able to get close is a big help with details and it's great to be able to bring along a chair that I can sit in while I'm working!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Forest Park Skyline, St. Louis

Several buildings along Kingshighway stand above the dense treeline at the edge of Forest Park including the venerable art deco Chase Park Plaza and the Barnes Jewish Hospital complex. It was a beautiful autumn day for water color sketching.

"Skyline, Forest Park", Michael Anderson, 11/18/2012, watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Bridge of Madison County

Finally had time to finish what I started in Iowa last weekend...adding the color to my morning sketch.

While my wife and her sister spent time shopping near DesMoines, I spent last Saturday morning driving down some very dusty Iowa roads finding the various covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. This one, the Roseman, is located in a hollow about 10 miles west of Winterset, Iowa. Apparently the bridge builders of Madison County all used the same set of bridge plans 'cause each one I found was pretty much like its siblings. In common too with the other bridges I found on my tour, this one, courtesy of a very dry summer, spanned a pretty much dry creek bed. Once I was done with my bridge quest I headed off to my wife's home town of Indianola, Iowa. The sketch from Indianola was posted earlier in the week.

Saturday Sketchcrawl

This is part of last summer's outdoor garden improvements--a lovely place to sit and sketch!

We visited Van Till Family Farms and Winery again for their lovely ambience as well as that wood-fired pizza and wine!  Christiana actually managed to sketch her pizza before eating it...

They have a  greenhouse-like enclosure that works summer and winter--and you can watch your pizza being baked, right on the spot.


John Payne and Wilma look over Christiana's colorful sketchbook.

...and Christiana admires John's!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Death Knell for Twinkies

Wonder Bread, November 17, 2011

The inevitable has happened. Hostess Brands, which includes Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies, is bankrupt and are closing all their operations around the US, including Home of Wonder Bread in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. Approximately 80 workers--including bakers and drivers--are losing their jobs here. 

Home of Wonder Bread was built by the Continental Baking Company in 1957. This yellow brick with red accent building is a landmark, sandwiched between the Carnegie Waterloo Public Library, the orange-y building to the right, and the Waterloo Art Center (unseen) to the left. The aroma of baking bread has wafted from it for over a half a century.

Almost exactly a year ago, I drew this from my car on a chilly, windy November afternoon. My original flickr post of this drawing is here.

For local news coverage in today's Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier with some photos of Home of Wonder Bread go here.

I associate Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies with guilty pleasures from my childhood. Oh, those pure white, silky, flat pillows of white bread, spread with smooth Skippy peanut butter and Welch's grape jelly that I was served at my best friend's house (never at my own!). And the rituals of eating a Twinkie--the thrill of  breaking open the golden spongy loaf, appreciating the inside's perfectly centered, whitest of white cream, which I'd test with the tip of my tongue, before taking a bite. But my most favorite were the Hostess Cupcakes. They were the ultimate of comfort food, with their dark thin frosting crossed by that cheerful and elegant white loopy line. Inside: flawless chocolate cake with a white cream heart. There were two schools of eating a Hostess cupcake: mine was lifting off thin wafers of frosting before taking a bite. Or my friend's: cutting to the quick with a bite to the middle--cake and frosting and cream all in one mouthful. Hostess cupcakes were the standard for chocolaty wonderfulness until, as adults, we were swept into gourmet and the likes of upscale flour-less chocolate cake decadence. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quarter of the Square - Nancy's Hometown

My wife and I are just back from a trip to visit my brother in Illinois and my wife's sister in Iowa.

This is a sketch of  a corner of Indianola, Iowa's town square. My wife grew up in Indianola. She lived but a few blocks from the square and my father-in-law fixed cars for years in his garage which was located just off the square. My wife also tells me her teen Friday nights were spent cruising round-and-round the square with her girl friends!

While I was working this sketch I noticed a guy taking pictures of me. Turned out he was from the local paper. I wound up being interviewed and having pictures taken of this sketch and other work in my sketch book. My wife thought the interview was quite cool. I thought...slow news day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Caffeinated Mind

My last post mentioned Mandy Patinkin. His voice is incredible! That got me to thinking about some of  my favorite songs I've heard him sing. That got me to thinking about Coffee in a Cardboard Cup, a song from a musical 70, Girls, 70. That got me to thinking about Starbucks and how much time I spend there catching my breath and sketching while running errands. It's a very different take on coffee in a cardboard cup than the one presented in the song.

That got me to thinking about the song's basic premise and I still think it's a good one.
"The trouble with the world today, it seems to me,
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
The trouble with the affluent society
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
No one's ever casual and nonchalant,
No one waits a minute in a restaurant,
No one wants a waitress passing pleasantries
Like "How're you, Miss?"
"How're you, Sir?"
"May I take your order please?"
The trouble with the world today is plain to see,
Is everything is hurry up.
It's rush it through, and don't be slow,
And BLT on rye to go,
With coffee (I think she said)
Coffee (I know she said)
Coffee in a cardboard cup."    70, Girls, 70

Monday, November 12, 2012

Downtown White Bear Lake Square sketch

I realized I hadn't sketched in a couple of days and I especially haven't sketched White Bear Lake, MN where I work. They have a wonderful square, a beautiful lake, and I keep thinking about sketching these things but don't. So I did. What is funny about this sketch is I circled the block three times. Found this perfect spot, pulled in backward,  then this huge truck pulled in next to me...I am being kind in the sketch, and then I sketched for about 30 min.  Noticing I had lost track of time I threw sky in.  If you look close you can see that I threw too much in.  Started the car, and nothing.  I had killed my battery.  Turned out to be a low battery that just wanted a drink of water from the bar I had just painted.  I plan to do a lot more around the square and area.  This was on a moleskin watercolor log book with my altoid paint kit.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spent a couple hours in a converted warehouse that's a coffee shop now in downtown Tulsa that I found on prior business trips. Again on business, I  was lucky enough to be in town when I knew they had an open mic night. House rules say all material must be written by the performer, so I wanted to see what local artists can do. I brought my sketch gear to keep me company. Turned out to be a fun night. Performers were approachable, the audience was supportive of their talents and I had some nice sketch time.

Thursday at the Theater with Bob

A long, long, long time ago I saw Sunday in the Park with George in New York, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. It was fabulous. When we headed out to Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Halloween night to see CST's latest version of the show I must admit I was afraid. I couldn't imagine how it could live up to a show I loved and that had been further polished by fond memories. SURPRISE! Jason Daneley, as George Seurat, and Carmen Cusack, as Dot, did not disappoint - they were fabulous! The show was great. It was a night for treats.

The scribbled sketches were boxed and colored later at home. The CST logo is from the program.

When you're in Chicago be sure to stop at the Art Institute and see George Seurat's masterpiece, A Sunday on La Grande Jotte. It won't disappoint either.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Back to my Roots

I'm not sure why, but recently I really wanted to go sketch some of the places that were meaningful to me as a kid. The old railway station is gone, but these two buildings are still there...one almost unchanged.

I took ceramics classes here when I was in third grade!  LOVED it, too.  The building is for sale, and while I sketched a young couple came to look at it.  I hope it will be in use again!

This is the only thing I have left from those days...I STILL like the interesting clay, with chunks in it...

This was my uncle Ed's grocery store...they'd deliver, and whenever we ordered Ideal Dog Food, he would bring me one of these cute little metal advertising dogs you see in the lower right corner.  (Yes, I DO still have one!)    It's a small engine repair place, now, and has been for 20 years...much changed but still in use.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Out to Pasture

While waiting for my wife this morning I decided to head over to Kalamazoo's Air Zoo museum.

The Air Zoo houses an excellent collection of aircraft and aircraft related items. As I'm retired from 20 years in the Air Force I do have a lot of interest in things that fly. So I went to look at the aircraft that are on static display. The birds in this sketch are parked next to the building where Air Zoo staff members work on restoring various aircraft. The planes are long retired...and are showing their age.

First in the row is an F-84, behind it is a Lear Jet, and last is a B-57. I thought the repeating tail pattern was interesting.

After sketching retirees I decided it would be interesting to do a detail sketch of the F-84's nose wheel. Here it is. It was interesting, but have to say my hands got cold drawing...it was only 43 this morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Sketchcrawl last weekend!

I'm glad to see this old car is back in the lobby of the Elms Hotel after its extensive renovation--couldn't resist sketching it!  Still using just the primaries on this one...nice range of neutrals!

My pen was acting up on the tree...so I did more writing than usual.  and at right, Malinda's young one was playing with his tablet...he moved a lot!

As always, we had a lovely late lunch/early dinner and shared our work.  Kelly's friend couldn't join us, but it was a good group for lunch!
We missed Christiana and Bill and Vicky this time, but hoping everyone else will add their sketches!
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