Saturday, November 28, 2015

On Tuesday, Nov. 24 I decided I needed to get out of the office over lunch, and went to the Western entrance of The Prairie Center just West of Olathe. If you haven't been there, you might want to check it out some weekend. If you follow 135th street west out of Olathe, you'll find it. There are trails that wind back through 300 acres of tallgrass can read about it here:

For this painting, I decided to focus on the shapes and pattern of colors rather than a slavish representation of what I could see. I ended up painting the sky a bit darker/gloomier than it really was, and intensified the colors of the distant hill. Overall, however, it's not far off from the real scene. It's a small painting at just 8" by 8" - but it's a convenient size for sketching, especially on a chilly day when I'm confined to my car. 

I used a new paper from a North KC company called Shizen Design - Check out their website for more info, you have to register, or look them up on Facebook. The paper is 100% post-consumer waste and has a very rough texture and deckle edges. It varies a little bit from sheet to sheet in how it absorbs water and paint, but the texture I get from it is worth a little bit of uncertainty. I bought the paper at Artist & Craftsman's Supply on Southwest Blvd in KC, MO. If you haven't been there, I would also suggest you check into it. Looks small on the outside, but it's much larger than you would imagine.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Old Potato Barn

This was once a busy agricultural hub, selling produce on Old Missouri 210 Highway; it bustled with activity near Liberty and Missouri City.  Now new 210 has rerouted most of the traffic and the barn isn't on the way to anywhere except a city park, which is mostly used seasonally, so it's abandoned and falling in on itself.

I used to stop there frequently to buy potatoes and other produce...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Waco Bi-plane

When my wife an I were in Maine last month we spent a rainy afternoon at the Owls Head Transportation museum, located in Owls Head, Maine. The museum is home to vintage cars, trucks, and an collection of old bi-planes. What's especially interesting about the museum is that each of its inhabitants still runs and flies. During weekends the old vehicles are out and about on the museum's grounds and the planes take to the air.

Being an aviation buff, this beautifully maintained 1923 Waco caught my eye. So I borrowed a place to sit (actually a large plastic bucket), sat down, and give this sketch a go.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Apple Tree on 2nd Street

By Marcia Milner-Brage from Cedar Falls, Iowa

There are other apple trees growing on public boulevards in my neighborhood. This one is notable: it’s the latest to bear fruit and then, the fruit hangs on the tree well into winter. This year it was particularly bountiful.

Apple Tree on 2nd Street sketch

I wanted to draw it before the first hard frost and the first snow. Before the brilliant autumn colors diminished. Time was running out. The forecast: 2 days of rain and wind followed by colder temperatures and then a snowstorm. With one day left, before the upcoming string of unfavorable weather, it was still too cool and windy to draw outside of the car.

Unfortunately it was Sunday and there were more parked cars then on weekdays. So I couldn’t get the angle on the tree that I had envisioned. I wanted to be across the street, with the tree in the foreground and the car wash sign on the other side of the block in the mid-distance. Hoping that a parking spot with this view might open up, I decided to bide my time and draw this sketch in my pocket-size Moleskin. No cars vacated my optimal spot. Resigned, I launched into a gouache painting, right from where I was.

Go to Eat Local: Scavenge on the Urban Sketchers Blog to see the gouache and  enjoy a closer look at the apples.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


I was being discreet. Really I was! We dropped in at Just Like Heaven for lunch (I had a yummy Mexican quiche!) where I began to draw the Western Auto sign. It's been a long time since I've seen one!

I continued on to draw the old guys sitting in the booth, being careful to look away as much as possible (causing them to look a bit wonky). But as they got up to leave, one of them came over to me and said they had been teasing about who was the handsome one I was sketching. I was busted! And a bit embarrassed to be caught in the act, even though I know it's silly to feel that way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Mississippi River at Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

The weather was unusually warm today, so Roberta and I voted early and biked down the Mississsippi River Trail (MRT) to the River Heights Marina in Inver Grove Heights. We ate lunch on the deck of the Mississippi Pub  (good eats) and (of course) sketched the view. The scenery includes the marina on the near side of the river and on the far side the Northern Tier refinery. Nearly all the boats were out of the water, so Roberta and I sketched the refinery in our journals. There are a great many things to sketch in the marina and the adjoining Rock Island Swing Bridge Park, so we plan to bike there again next year.

Roberta's sketch.
My Sketch.

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