Sunday, May 31, 2015

Upcoming USk Workshops!

This just in: News of some upcoming USk workshops that might be of interest to those of us traveling abroad in the coming months.

Journey into Matter with Ink and Watercolor
June 24-28
Tuscany, Italy with Simo Capecchi & Caroline Peyron

July 8-11
Oxford, UK with Isabel Carmona, Miguel Herranz and Swasky

September 2-6
Galway, Ireland with Róisín Curé

October 8-11
Naples, Italy with Simo Capecchi, Caroline Peyron and Kelly Medford

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Freedom: NO COLOR

I love the ease of using a few simple tools. Don't get me wrong, I love to work in color--whether crayon or watercolor, too. But there's great freedom in rambling about my neighborhood with just a few tools and a pocket-size sketchbook. Here's a few recent sketches: black, white and shades of grey.

All were done within a short walk from my house in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

7th & Walnut
A house on a corner lot with overhanging eaves has a mature tree to shade it from the east and south.

Vintage Airstream in alley sketch
A vintage trailer parked in a back-alley.

Railroad Crossing 3rd & Iowa
Railroad tracks wend their way through my neighborhood. 

All were done with 5B pencil, Bic stick eraser, and water soluble graphite applied with a water brush. 

You can see more black and white sketches HERE in my Urban Sketchers blog post Black & White: traveling light

Monday, May 25, 2015

Introduction, sketching, and general silliness.

I've been asked to introduce myself to the group, and I'm relatively certain the folks doing the asking had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I'm a generally silly person, and when I dug around for a photograph of myself to include, the image below was the most serious image I could find.

My name is Mark Anderson and I've made my living as an artist, designer, and visual art educator for over thirty-five years. My students and patrons often ask me where ideas "come from." I can't speak for anyone else, but I like to believe I'm a student of the world around me; I unconsciously doodle on any scrap of paper that happens to be at hand and I seldom feel obliged to make a "photographic" representation; rather I enjoy trying to sketch the mood or quality of the moment. With few exceptions, I use a Lamy Safari medium nib pen loaded with Noodler's; I also carry a small travel kit of watercolors. In general, I will try to keep my sketches fresh by putting pen to paper without the "safety net" of a pencil sketch.

I'm also a lot more interested in the process of drawing than in the final "finished" product. Drawing is fun, thumbing through a sketchbook is interesting, but I don't choose to dwell on my finished work. I share it and move on to something new. Because I'm interested in the process, though, I'll often capture the stages of development as I've done in the illustration above.

I enjoy simplicity and I enjoy travel - seeing the world, meeting the people who populate the world. My journeys - and thus, my sketches - are often made while I'm walking or bicycling. I find that those folks who zoom by a place in their car, maybe hopping out occasionally to snap a photograph, are missing the essence of the place. Slow exploration often yields intriguing details lost to the traveler in a hurry. 

This past weekend, for instance, I decided to explore an often overlooked - or even avoided - part of Kansas City. I love areas like this, where the signage seems to date back decades.

I'll often draw buildings or trees, but people really interest me. I seldom miss an opportunity to create likenesses of those around me, and I often will simply fill page after page with ten to fifteen second gesture sketches of people, scurrying around in the everyday hustle and bustle. The sketch above was made yesterday at Ophelia's in Independence. Restaurants are a marvelous place to draw - your subject is often relatively stationary unlike people out on the street!

I've committed to contributing at least ten posts a year, and I appreciate being asked to do so. You may see a flurry of sketches from me at some point in the year, and then things on my end my go quiet for a while as life catches up. I'm pretty active on Flickr, and manage several blogs as well - of particular interest to this group might be Just Sketching. If you are a cycling enthusiast, you may also know me as The Early Morning Cyclist, where I frequently share the results of my bike sketch outings.

OK, enough about me. Let's get out there and draw!

Digital Sketching Demo, Art On the Square, Belleville, IL

 Art On the Square, one of the first art fairs of the year in the St. Louis area takes place the weekend after Mothers Day in Belleville, IL, my hometown. In previous years I have been an exhibitor and in 2011 created a watercolor for the fair's official poster. Each year our local artists' guild has a tented booth in which members provide live demonstrations of their work throughout all three days of the festival. This year my demonstration was live urban sketching on an iPad mounted to a tripod. I connected it to a monitor which visitors could watch as I sketched. The sketch at the top was made using an app called Paper 53 and the app's blue tooth powered stylus called Pencil. Paper and Pencil are very natural sketching tools in that your work is made in virtual sketchbooks in which the pages turn. It does not utilize other digital painting devices like layers, filters, hue & saturation settings, etc. The metaphor is an elegant one.
This image was made with an app called Brushes. Brushes does have layers, brush dynamics and many other digital painting capabilities much like Photoshop. In fact for this piece I stepped out into the street and snapped a photo with the iPad camera and loaded the image into Brushes as the bottom layer of my sketch. After painting over the reference image for a start I turned the photo off and finished the sketch with brighter colors, lost and found edges, simpler shapes & other painterly tricks. I ordinarily prefer not to work that way but this was a demo. My purpose was to show the differences in the apps, capabilities of the device and the fun of urban sketching, showing the world one drawing at a time.

Mike sketching on iPad at Art On the Square, 2015. Photo by Roger Popwell.

Not in the Water Yet

This sketch was done for Saturday's virtual sketch crawl. The drawing is of boats that are stacked 'round the edges of the parking lot of our marina...Crosswinds in Whitehall, Michigan. Whitehall Landing is another marina next door.

The boats aren't quite ready to be dropped in the water for the summer. Their owners are busy, and in some cases not so busy, getting their boat ready for launch. Unfortunately, on a busy Memorial Day weekend, the boats crowd cars in competition for space. Next week more will be in the water. The cars will win their battle.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

virtual sketchcrawl . . . at home

Today is "virtual sketchcrawl day" for those participating on Facebook and Urban Sketchers Midwest. I had considered going somewhere interesting to sketch, but we are busy getting ready for a family get-together on Monday. Bill is smoking a brisket early (in case of rain . . . which we seem to be having daily), and we have been cleaning patios. Also cleaning his shop, where we will set up all the food. Our one-bedroom cabin is just too tiny for 4 kids, 3 in-law kids, 5 grandkids, 1 or 2 dogs, our cat, and two or three additional friends we've invited.

So sketchcrawl is at home today, a sketch of our smoker at the back door with Bill's woodshop beyond. A bit wonky but fun to draw.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Meet the Author--Jim Butcher!

We had hoped to get to the venue in Independence, Missouri, in time for me to sketch it, as well...but the street addresses were so confusing we did well to buzz in minutes before Jim Butcher was to begin speaking.  He moves a lot, but it was an interesting challenge--and great practice!--to try to catch the man during the lively 2-hour talk.

I finally satisfied myself with drawing the audience!  At least I didn't worry about catching a likeness...and I'm always delighted with the chance to draw free models.

Our books are mostly on Kindle or borrowed from the library, so I asked him to sign my journal page!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Business Travel

Had a quick trip to Oklahoma City for a technical committee meeting. Took along my sketch supplies and managed to do some on-site sketching. The rain kept me from ranging too far, but I found the American Banjo Museum! I have a soft spot for banjo. I took it up in college as a way to avoid studying and have some fun. Never stopped playing.

I took a cell phone camera picture of the museum in case the rain started back up, but managed to sketch it live. Some construction workers were close by and busy, but I managed to stay out of their way.

They had a few banjos on display that us patrons could play, so I did. I was the only patron there. Wish I had time to sketch the Deering Banjo that I played, called the Zombie Killer! It had great inlays of zombies, and metal parts with the same theme.

Sketch process: lay it out with fiber tip pen, followed by watercolor pencils and waterbrush. Text comes when I get back home.

Steeple through Spring Trees: the process

A lot goes into a drawing even before I put a pencil or crayon mark on the page. 

KNOWING THE PLACE: I'd walked on Grove Street as it curves and becomes W. 7th many times, in all seasons. That curve borders this large grassy expanse. It was a floodplain of the Cedar River before the flood wall and dike (unseen to the left) were built.  This is a distinct Cedar Falls neighborhood of single family houses with yards, a nursing home, a church, and the Viking Pump Foundry. The Foundry, which was behind me as I stood at my easel for this drawing, is what makes this neighborhood not quiet on workdays. It's only a few blocks from downtown. On the other side of the dike are railroad tracks leading to the coal burning utilities plant and a City park that hugs the bank of the Cedar River. 

WHAT CAPTIVATED ME: the shadows on the grass, the grove of dark tree trunks, the steeple of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church through the trees before the leaves would unfurl fully and obscure it, the small dark red shed behind the tree trunk on the left, the soft colors of early Spring. All of this was in my mind's eye, before I actually started to draw.

The preceding days had been either too cold, rainy or windy. On this late April day all was quiet and early Spring idyllic. We all know here in the Midwest how breathtakingly rapid Spring can unfold. I knew I had a narrow window of opportunity to capture what beckoned. 

STARTING WITH A QUICK COMPOSITION SKETCH--soft pencil in my pocketsize Moleskin. Sometimes, my Moleskin sketches are all I need to do if I feel they've captured what I call "the truth of a place". But this time, I was pretty certain a larger, more developed piece in color was called for. I'd bicycled the 1/2 mile from my house, carrying my roaming studio in panniers: portable easel and my drawing accoutrements.
UNDERDRAWING--9B water soluble graphite applied with a wet brush on warm gray Canson Mi-Teintes paper. 

BRINGING IT TO COMPLETION: After about two-and-a half hours on-site, I'll  have an almost finished Neocolor II water soluble wax pastel drawing. That's about all I can handle standing in one spot. Anyway, it's alway good to take some space, step back and peruse afresh in the cloister of my studio. Sometimes, as with this drawing, I'll do some minimal tweaking (usually of value relationships), before I call it done. Go to my post HERE'S THE CHURCH AND HERE'S THE STEEPLE on the Urban Sketchers blog to see the finished work up close.

Anyone up for a new job for the main USk Organization?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's Time Again - May's Virtual Sketchcrawl - May 23rd

A sketchcrawl "in real life" is normally a group of art friends getting together to share the fun of sketching, wherever they are. In our small group, we meet up once a month on the 3rd Saturday, sketch a few hours, and then eat and share our sketches. Some groups are large, some are small, but we often wish we could meet with a larger pool of artists. (And yes, it IS the 4th Saturday this month, it got away from us.)

So since we are an online community, let's do a virtual sketchcrawl!

Let's meet up, wherever we are, to sketch! Then post to the Artist's Journal Workshop group with VIRTUAL SKETCHCRAWL or #virtualsketchcrawl in the title. We're here:

We're a big regional group, so any time of day you can manage it is fine!

Hosted by Cathy Johnson

Monday, May 18, 2015

April's Sketchcrawl drawings

We had intended to meet up at Case Park in Kansas City, but the rain defeated's been a REALLY rainy spring in our corner of the Midwest.  So we met at the Nelson-Atkins, one of our favorite places, and enjoyed the quiet...and dry!

This young man was there sketching the whole time I drew the chimera...
I've always meant to sketch the chimera at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of art...these are Derwent Blue Grey, the one on the right wet with clear water, the other left as it was.

Of course I did my usual sketch of Quan Yin...
And one from our "virtual sketchcrawl!"
I forgot I hadn't posted these...siiiigh...I've been swamped with other stuff!

a shrimping we will go

Not sure I am technically a member of Usk Midwest since moving from Kansas to central Texas. But I miss this group . . . This sketch is from our recent trip to the Gulf of Mexico.

Just across the lane from Our Place on the Bay, the Bed & Breakfast we were staying at, a shrimp boat was waiting for its next trip out. So I sat nearby and drew her. Early each morning the crew takes her out, then returns to load up their trucks with the day's catch.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Repurposed Rental Truck and a story of my neighborhood

I wander the back-alleys of my Cedar Falls, Iowa neighborhood and find wonderful gems to draw, tucked behind people's houses. Here, a Penske rental truck made into a camper. Through the process of drawing, I come upon a story of place. Not just this driveway, this alley, but about the larger community where I live. Please, follow THIS LINK to the Urban Sketcher's Blog post.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

House up the Road

This little yellow house is located just up the hill from the condo association where I live. Winter, summer I always enjoy seeing the house. It's cheerful yellow color can't help but bring a smile. Tulips are up in front of the house and dandelions are dotting the front lawn today. So this afternoon I made a quick hike up the hill and did this sketch. Beautiful afternoon to be out.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rockford Railroad Bridge

This is a sketch of the old railroad bridge that allowed trains to cross the Rogue river on their way into Rockford, Michigan...another quarter mile down the track. The rails are long gone, replaced by the White Pine State Park rails-to-trails conversion which now crosses the bridge on its way north.
The trail passes about 1/8th of a mile from my house so we often walk the trail and I enjoy cycling on it.

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