Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Truce

I bought tickets for the John McCutcheon concert which was to feature his song "Christmas in the Trenches", about the Christmas Truce of WWI, held at the World War I Museum in KC. We missed the concert but spent about four hours going thru the Word War I Museum. I've seen the Kansas City monument for ages but haven't taken the time to visit it. My knowledge of WWI was minimal and I wanted to change that. The history is more engaging that I thought. It's a very involved history. Wilma and I absorbed it all. At their cafe for lunch I had Trench Stew (mmm!) with carrots, turnips and corned beef.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December Sketchcrawl was fun!

I parked myself in a comfy chair in the atrium and sketched iconic Christmas figures...nice and quiet there! This was an old Sheaffer calligraphy pen and watercolor.

The light wasn't too great, but the place was...and I love Father Christmas!

Keith was sketching the trees beyond the door...lovely pen and ink work!

Kelly liked the golf course's tree...those are golf clubs coming out the top!

Cindy chose the Parks and Rec department's lovely natural tree...

Carolyn is sketching at the water bar, where they used to serve a variety of kinds of mineral water to visitors from around the world.  We still get visitors but the waters are not currently available.

Keith moved to the other side of the bar to sketch the mugs and so forth.

Here's Cindy working away!

And here is her tree!
my last of the day, with a Pentel Pocket Brush, watercolor added later...

I set up by the door to sketch outdoors...

I love this old Art Deco building, so many fascinating nooks and crannies!

My finished sketch...that blue detail defeated me! Konrad flex pen and De Atramentis Document Brown ink.

And as always, the fun afterward, sharing a meal and our sketchbooks!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trying to be a BIG City Urban Sketcher for a Week

I was in Brookline, Massachusetts for a week spanning Thanksgiving, spending time with family. Brookline is part of the greater Boston metropolitan area. My husband and I rented a pleasant flat in an apartment building, on a treed street.

From Beaconsfield Road Flat
Through the front windows, I did a Neocolor II wax pastel drawing of the apartment across the street. To my Midwestern sensibilities, the building was quintessentially Boston: brick facade, slate roof, copper flashing, bay windows and stone lintels. Snow remained on the roof from the flurry the day before.

Beaconsfield Road preparatory sketch

I had high hopes of doing a slew of big city urban sketching in-between family times--drawing on the trolleys and subways, sketching Boston landmarks, even fitting in the trademark Urban Sketchers coffee shop scenes. All that alluded me: I came down with the flu! After which, looking out from the inside of this cozy home away from home was all I could muster between fever, chills, and long naps.

My daughter-in-law sent over flowers.  I put them on the counter next to the kitchen window.

Drawing a minimal sketch of the utility pole from bed seemed a huge effort.

Luckily, on my first full day in Boston, before I got sick, I went to the Goya exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. What a world-class museum! What an inspired exhibit! See some of the works in the Goya exhibit and sketches I did at the museum in my Urban Sketcher International Blog post: Goya and his admirers in Boston HERE.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Anniversary to all of us!


Seattle, WA, 05 December 2014 – Urban Sketchers.org, a non-profit organization, is celebrating its fifth anniversary since incorporating on December 6, 2009. Its mission is to promote on-location sketching and to connect people around the world who enjoy urban sketching. Wildly successful, the international community of urban sketchers is estimated at 50,000+ and almost 14 million page views on the Urban Sketchers (USk) blog.

Seattle-based journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario launched the group in 2007 by creating an online community of urban sketches on Flickr.com. Sketchers scan their drawings and share them on the group’s Flickr site, Facebook page or blog. The idea went viral. So far communities of sketchers have formed 60 regional chapters in 29 countries.

"Urban Sketchers is growing because sketchers are finding each other where they live and travel.” says Membership Director, Jessie Chapman. “Members are building relationships and communities with people who share the same interests, both online and at our events."

USk raises the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing with workshops and events held all around the world. USk has organized five international symposiums in Portland, USA; Lisbon, Portugal; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Barcelona, Spain and Paraty, Brazil.

The 2015 Symposium will be held in Singapore July 22-25. Organizers expect 250+ attendees from around the world.

“Artists of all ages and skill levels have stories to tell,” says founder Gabi Campanario. “Urban Sketchers is a free group that provides a platform for them to renew their love of drawing and to learn more about storytelling.”

To find out more about Urban Sketchers or to locate a regional chapter near you, visit urbansketchers.org.

USk is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are used to foster educational opportunities for sketching enthusiasts with workshops, events and symposiums. Donations made in the United States may be tax deductible.

Press Contact:
Brenda Murray
Communications Director
Urban Sketchers

Friday, December 5, 2014

Some coffeeshop time in Pre-Xmas Salina

I had the good fortune of having time on my hands while Wilma attended an activity of her own. That gave me the chance to find a neat little independent coffeeshop in Salina. Had some sketch time while I took in the local scene.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Symposium for 2015 is on!


In case you missed the announcement!

This should be good, the Singapore folk are very committed and active.  They just shared this video from one of their recent sketchcrawls...I would LOVE to be able to do something similar for our group!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Aaaand, from our October Sketchcrawl..

I forgot to post these!  We were at the City Market, in Kansas City...fun, if small, crawl!

The Spirit of Urban Sketching

This is from Gabi Campanario's blog--Gabi is sort of the founder of our Urban Sketching concept. I thought it was a good clarification, if such is needed.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The spirit of urban sketching

The way I see it, being an urban sketcher isn't merely about drawing cities, big or small, urban or rural, with a pen or with your fingers on an digital tablet. It's about drawing places that can be put on a map, and everything that happens in those places. It's about showing the world with drawings, taking people to locations they may never go through artwork only you can create. You were there, you saw it, you sketched it, you told us what happened with your hand drawn art, sketched in the moment but perhaps touched up later because you ran out of time or can't resist the urge to fix something up. What matters is that you "draw what you witness," as my fellow sketchers in Indonesia like to say.

Those beautiful vases of flowers or the bowls of fruit on your kitchen table are sure great subjects to draw, but do they tell me something about a place I can put on a map? There are countless of beautiful sketching subjects to be drawn from observation that don't quite fit the spirit of urban sketching: an out-of-context portrait of my friend or her cat or her baby or her baby's shoes, for example.

But there's no point in making lists to define what urban sketching is or is not. You know what it is already, you've probably been an urban sketcher for a long time!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Whoops, KC area sketchcrawl!

UPDATE:  We'll try the River Market, and meet in front of Steamboat Arabia, how's that??

Thanks Holly!


Holly wrote to tell me the KC Marathon starts at Crown Center, and there will be 10,000-15,000 spectators in the area.  NOT good.  We're scrambling to come up with a fall-back plan, and I'll let you know as soon as possible!


Pumpkin Sale

My wife and I were in Newport, Rhode Island through the middle of this week. It was the second stop on a trip to the east coast that started with several days in Annapolis, Maryland for the in-water sail boat show. We went to Newport because we've been a couple of times before and really enjoy the town and its history.

This was done Tuesday this week while my wife was shopping. The sketch is of Trinity Church which over looks the Newport water front. Every year there is a pumpkin sale that goes on in the park in front of the church. Between the orange pumpkins and the church framed against a blue sky, the sight was more than eye catching.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October Sketchcrawl for KC area sketchers

HI all--thanks to Susan for the reminder, we're planning our sketchcrawl for next Saturday, the 18th, in the lobby of the Crown Center Hotel, at 12:30--I need to paint/sketch the waterfall, and there's a lot there to do!  I've sketched The Streetcar Named Desire before, and there's always lots of good people sketching.

Hope to see you!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall Creeps into Montague

Yesterday was my day to work at the White River Gallery in Montague, Michigan. The gallery is located kitty corner across the lake from where our boat spends its summers. This is the view down the street from the gallery yesterday afternoon. The sun managed an appearance. It was cloudy most of the day. And the fall colors are creeping into the trees.

We pulled our boat for the winter last Friday and it is amazing how much the trees have changed in just a week. Where it was green last weekend, almost overnight, green has been replaced with reds and yellows.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Public Gardens of Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Thuya Garden

After a decade and four trips to Downeast, Maine, my husband finally agreed to a side trip to Mt. Desert Island so I could visit the public gardens I'd read about. On our way back to the Bangor airport to fly home to Iowa (after 10 days in the lobster fishing village of Beals), we spent a few glorious hours at three gardens:

By the way, my husband enjoyed these horticultural interludes as much as I.

Wild Gardens of Acadia

My three posts to Urban Sketchers Blog about the 10 days before: 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


This is a sketch of some of the main sheet rigging on the boat that sits next to us in our marina. I'm intrigued with drawing the blocks and various features that ships with sails have in abundance. Hence the sketch.  I haven't worked much with a pencil/pen combination of late so it was fun to get back to the medium.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bone Yard

Most marinas have a bone yard. It's the place where boats, abandoned by their owners, are left to die and be overtaken by mold and vegetation. This piece was done in our marina's bone yard which is across the street from where our boat spends its summers. These two boats have been sitting, now, for a number of years and probably will remain unless they're sold or cut up for parts and scrap. Sad ends.

White River Light

This is the light station that we pass by in our boat as we head out to and come back from Lake Michigan. The light, which was built in 1875 and is no longer active, was built in 1875. Today the old light and house is a museum, a host to weddings, and a great place to watch boats as they come and go between White Lake and Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bringing the Midwest to a larger audience

Urban Sketchers: Meet the Correspondent: Marcia Milner-Brage > Cedar Falls:

Windowsill Hickory Nuts, Winter Outside

I've been chosen to post to the Urban Sketchers Blog!!! I'm so excited to have the opportunity to bring the Midwestern scene to a larger audience!!! Urban Sketchers has been an inspiration to me over the past several years. I hope my continued work will do likewise.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great time at our August sketchcrawl!

The annual Fly-in and BBQ On The River in Excelsior Springs--what fun!

My almost-finished sketch...

Lots more sketches on our Facebook group, here, as well as on Warren Ludwig's blog with his tale of derring-co!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scow Race

Over the past weekend White Lake, where our boat lives in the summer, was host to a national scow racing event. The race draws large numbers of boats and crews and is fun to watch. I made this sketch while race watching on a hill by the White Lake Yacht Club.

Sturgeon Bay Tugs

The first stop for us post crossing Lake Michigan with the boat was Sturgeon Bay, WI. Next to the marina where we stayed for a couple of days was a row of tug boats that caught my eye. This sketch is the result.

From Minneapolis to  Excelsior Springs, Mo

On a trip to drop my son off with his grandparents in Arkansas I had a two day trip back to do as I pleased. I had always thought of stopping by Excelsior Springs to visit Cathy Johnson. Cathy is an artist I greatly admire and helped me with advice and encouragement and a great example of living by art.

These are roughly in the order I sketched them. 90% on site work.  The last 10% was line weight ramp up and some color touchup.  It was getting dark, and I will admit a little creepy being the only one walking around downtown once it got dark.

Cathy and her husband Joseph graciously welcomed me in.  I had no idea if they only had time for a quick visit but it turns out we all went to dinner together at a beautiful hotel downtown.  The restaurant at The Elms is quite beautiful and food was great.  As soon as the food was done the sketchbooks came out!

Neat little building corner.  I think it was the Mill Inn. I need to go back and put the lettering in.

It was starting to get dark and the color got away from me. This building isn't really green, but now that I have some distance on my frustration that it turned green I really like it. Always be careful with mixing yellow at night. You really can't see it so use about 1/3 as much yellow as you think. Or just go for it and have bright interesting colors the next day.  Either works!

This was just a neat building corner.

Such a wonderful evening.  After they left I had about 45 minutes to an hour of daylight and made a quick walking tour grabbing what sketches the light allowed.  I think I may have been one of 5 people out and about downtown.

The night before I loaded up two pages with color for some yet unknown project the next day.  Over breakfast I did these two drawings.  The family in front of me turned out to be an art teacher from Omaha that I wound up showing my sketches and paint kits to.  It is always fun to meet people.

Such a nice morning and beautiful patio to have breakfast at. I should have drawn the biscuits and gravy but they somehow went away to quickly!

James Nutt

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