Monday, June 22, 2015

TJ Stitchery & Frame Shop

This is a sketch of another of our neat old Rockford, Michigan buildings. The building sits next to what was the rail line that served our town. The rails are gone, replaced by the White Pine bicycle trail. The building is home to TJ Stitchery & Frame Shop. The building's back end hosts a fly fishing shop that services the fishermen who fish the Rogue river which runs through and around Rockford.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mac Racer gone Cruising

I sketched this view of Glider last week but couldn't do an upload 'cause I only had my iPad with me. Glider is a 40 footer that sits next to my boat at the marina in Whitehall, Michigan. Glider is a Cal 40. Cal 40s were designed to race from California to Hawaii in the annual Pacific Transpac race.

Glider did her share of racing, doing several Chicago to Mackinaw Island races (300 plus miles up Lake Michigan). Her current owner rescued her from a boat yard and restored her to beautiful and immaculate condition. The boat, and her owner, now spend summers cruising northern Lake Michigan with family and friends aboard. Glider still occasionally races locally. And having been passed by her on the race course, I know how fast the old gal still is. The sketch was done with pen and Prismacolor grey graded marking pens.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Starting small, I did the sketch on the Plaza, a local shopping area with Spanish-themed architecture. Sketched in 7 minutes, I added color later because I was on my way to a class.  That's the technique I'm trying to improve so that I can sketch on site when I travel with non-sketchers.  It left a lot of blank page, so I tried filling it out with text.  Onward and upward!

Virtual Sketch Crawl June 20th

It's almost time for another Virtual Sketch Crawl...this month it's June 20th. Join in wherever you are and take part. Click on this Link for Information on this month's Virtual Sketch Crawl

Monday, June 8, 2015

Public Art by Dale Rogers, Belleville, IL

“Public Art, Belleville, IL, 05/08/2015;” watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press sketch book, Michael Anderson.

“Flight,” a temporary public art installation by sculptor Dale Rogers landed on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College last month.  Nine stainless steel birds with 12 foot wing spans supported in 16’ high steel frames were arranged in a serpentine line along both sides of the street leading to the campus quad. Although it was a cloudy day when I visited the exhibit the polished steel birds still reflected the sky and their surrounding environment making them visually active and interesting. “Flight” debuted as an installation at ArtPrize 2012 in Grand Rapids, MI, winning a “Best Use of Urban Space” award. In his artist’s statement Rogers says “Art is a catalyst for thought, conversation and connection...” I think that is a perfect description of urban sketching as well.

Here is a link to a gallery of photos of Flight from the sculptor's website

Urban Sketcher's Workshop - From Farm to Plate: Documenting the Slow Food Movement in Chatham County, NC

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I'm Dave Worfel

I'm Dave Worfel, one of the Urban Sketchers Midwest blog correspondents and site co-administrators. I actively post here as-well-as to the Urban Sketchers Midwest Facebook and the Urban Sketchers (group) Facebook pages. I live in Rockford, Michigan which is on the west side of the state just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My wife says I've achieved my life goals...I'm retired, and I've become a ski bum, boat bum, artist, and, oh yeah, still an electronics tech. In winter I'm a ski patroller, lead patrol hill trainer, and a professionally certified ski instructor. In the summer my wife and I sail, and live on, a 36 foot sailboat.This is our boat, Amadeus, when we were in Manistee, Michigan last summer.


I spent 20 years in the Air Force and Air Guard as an electronics tech and Squadron Commander. And I've been a ham radio operator for more years than I care to own up to. I also figure out how to create and install marine electronics system for our boat. That's me playing with my aging ham radio gear.

Art wise I'm pretty much self taught. I do photography...had several sailing magazine covers,  watercolors, and pen and pencil sketches. Subject wise I love doing marine related work, buildings, and most anything else that catches my interest. Below are some of the pieces I've done. 

So that's sorta me in a nut shell.I can be reached at

Friday, June 5, 2015

Station Stop Whitehall Michigan

In the late 1800s Whitehall, Michigan, where we keep our boat, was a booming lumber town. There were several lumber mills and a tannery here. There was also rail service. The mills and tannery are long gone and so are the trains. The last that trains ran the rails here was 20 plus years ago. The track ran directly in back of our marina. Fortunately, the track bed route wasn't abandoned. A rails-to-trails conversion converted and paved the track bed and turned it into the Hart-Montague trail. Today bike riders, walkers, and roller skaters put the trail to great use. I've ridden the 50 mile trail end-to-end several times. The sketches provide a glimpse of what the trail looks like today.

Thanks to Mike Anderson for inspiring me to post the before (sketch) and after (ink and watercolor) of the view down the trail. That building in the distance is the old Whitehall train station. It stands today and is used by the Chamber of Commerce to provide tourists with information about the local area.

This is the drawing.

All done.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Shakespeare In Forest Park, St. Louis

“Antony & Cleopatra, Forest Park, St. Louis, 05/22/2015;” watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press, Michael Anderson.

“Antony and Cleopatra” is being performed nightly under the stars for free through June 14. This year is the 15th season for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Each year the festival alternates a comedy or tragedy but the production values, actors, costumes and set design are always top notch. In 2011 “The Taming of the Shrew” was presented in a 1950’s setting complete with a mid-century modern villa, 50’s style rock music and even a gold 1957 Cadillac convertible was driven on stage as part of the action. By contrast the current show is presented with only a very few props and a simple set comprised of 5 dramatically lit gold-leafed pillars on a raked stage. The wooded background of Forest Park completes the scenery perfectly. The spare design relies on Shakespeare’s language and your imagination to convey action, location and setting.  I must admit I sometimes find Shakespearean syntax incomprehensible. Yet the meaning always comes across and in fact it always surprises me how many expressions we use in daily conversation originally appeared in the plays. In the first act Cleopatra says that these are her "salad days."

The link below is to a short video of Milton Glaser creating a portrait of Shakespeare while he explains the importance of drawing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

I spent the afternoon wandering around the Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Hodge Park, just outside Liberty, Missouri. I had the place nearly to myself and meandered around sketching the various historical buildings with my Lamy Safari and occasionally using my watercolor travel kit.

The buildings here have all been relocated from other places and brought together to provide a snapshot of what our area used to look like. As usual, I scribble with a pen first and then decide whether or not to add splashy washes of color. The jail depicted here looks to me to be one lonely and forlorn place to spend a night locked up!

This is an old one room school house. One thing I try to do when I sketch locations is use elements of the locale to "lead the eye" around or through the composition. Thus, I'm always on the look out for diagonal lines, fences, tree lines, roads, etc. that conveniently allow this to take place.

And just up the hill, atop a heavy wooden post, sits the old school bell. It's cast steel and looks like it would be very, very heavy. I enjoyed "keeping it simple" and just letting the colors run together to create the illusion of rust and patina.

Here's another example of that principle. I enjoy finding a point-of-view that lets the road do the heavy lifting for me in the composition. I'm very interested in going back to draw that mill in the foreground, by the way.

A group of visitors from outside the country were very interested in my sketches. Likewise, I was interested in them as well. I only managed to get one sketch made of their group, an older couple. The others were simply moving around too fast for me to even get a "grab sketch" made of them!

Here I was, just playing around. I needed a break from the pen and made this simple watercolor sketch. I think this is some sort of well house.

Shoal Creek has a lot of interesting vantage points from which to draw and paint. It's quite rich in architectural subject matter and is situated in a very pleasant green location. Best of all, it's free! I'll be heading back again because these sketches only scratch the surface. 

Annapolis Maryland

Never got a chance to post either of these sketches last fall due to the fact my iPad doesn't like the blog. Anyway, the first sketch was done while sitting on a street corner, just off from the city wharf, in old Annapolis. We were in Annapolis for the in-water sail boat show. I was sketching while we waited for the show to open. This is a sketch of some of the neat old houses that line the very narrow streets of the old town.

The following sketch was done while my wife was off shopping. The drawing is of the state capitol building that's located in Annapolis. Interesting, early in the nation's history, Annapolis was for a brief time capitol of the country.

Marcia...must say I was having fun when I did these, and lately, just working with pen and pencil.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Prairiefire Museum

I spent a little while in the car with my dog on a rainy day drawing the 
Museum at Prairiefire (website:  It's a joint venture between a developer and the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.  The NYC museum sends new shows for  viewing every few months.  The exterior employees dichroic glass - the largest architectural use of dichroic glass in the hemisphere or in the world (I've forgotten). It really does resemble a fire on the prairie and the unique thing about the glass is that it changes color with different sun conditions and even with the viewer's movement.  I've since gone inside on a sketch crawl and the staff were so very gracious and accommodating! 
Naturally, I failed to capture the real magic of the exterior, so you will want to visit yourself to see this unique building.

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