Monday, November 21, 2016

Sketchcrawl in Lawrence

I missed last month's crawl but I made this month. This time we tagged along with the official Urban Sketchers Lawrence group. We sketched along Mass Street on a cold Sunday morning. I loved it out in the cold knowing it would warm up soon. The sun was out, too, which makes an emotional difference. The amount of people along Mass Street surprised me! I had no idea they had commerce going at that hour. Luckily I could buy some coffee. I had my thermos ready but I won't pass up a chance to give some business to a coffee retailer. Only one strange character approached me. He told me I had a good seat (my 3-legged stool on the sidewalk) and then pointed to a woman friend approaching and told me that was Jesus. Oh well, he didn't ask for money. Wilma took the time to do some reading in the warm car as I sketched in the cold.

The plan was to meet up at a local bar & grill at noon to eat and chat. I'm not sure what the disconnect was but they were not welcoming. Maybe they are a closed group. They only use Facebook and I don't have an account there so I don't know how they run their show. I'm just used to these things being open and friendly. Anyway, Wilma and I decided to eat at our own table and we had a nice outing by ourselves. We like coming to Lawrence to spend time. Topeka is closer but not by much. Lawrence has the atmosphere advantage of being smaller and having a major university.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Newport and Vermont

My wife and I are just back from a two week trip to the east coast. We were in Annapolis, MD for the in-water sail show, Newport for the sights, and Vermont so I could get new ski boots. I didn't have much time to sketch but did manage to put these two pieces down on paper.

The first sketch is of the basement window that was in the breakfast area of the Yankee Peddler inn where we stayed in Newport. The inn was built in the 1830s and is reported to be ghostly encounters however. The basement walls are stone and are quite thick.

The second sketch was done on a rainy afternoon in Rutland, Vermont. While my wife was out in the rain shopping I stayed in the car and sketched this old bank building. Post the shopping trip we went back to the inn where we stayed and enjoyed fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September Lawrence Sketchcrawl

This month we gathered at a farmer's field northeast of Lawrence with 40 acres of sunflowers. The locals take this seriously, with several parking lots (fields) and professional photographers, etc. The farm sells at the local farmer's market so they are well known and supported. They have free will stations for contributions, especially if you cut one to take home. It was a sunny clear day and it wasn't unusual for people to say hi and watch you for a couple minutes.

Here is the handiwork of the rest of our group:

Friday, September 2, 2016

2016 State Fair Sketches.

4th year in a row!

A twisted sister sausage is always my warm up sketch.

Liene lodge while the first dried. Experimenting with very non water proof ink and watercolor. 

The butterfly house. 

A nice on the spot commission sparked by a conversation while painting the butterfly house. 

Painted the gate from the Irish pub across the path. Very quick and starting to get dark. 

The Poultry Barn was closing soon so I only had 20-30 minutes so I had to move fast. 

And then finally some people practice before going home. 

Another great year and great group. One of my students participated and that was fun and saw so many artists I know. Lisa and I agreed to make each other submit for the Fine Arts Show next year. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Art Mob met at the Nelson-Atkins gallery last Thursday to sketch and eat.  And to do a whole lot of chatting!  The gallery allows only pencil, which turned out to be a blessing as I kept making mistakes on the 2 styles of arches in the medieval cloister.  Some of us added color at lunch in the Roselle Court where the museum kindly reserved tables together for us.

USS Silversides - Muskegon, Michigan

This past Saturday was a rainy and dreary day at the boat. So, my wife and I drove down to Muskegon, Michigan to tour and visit two WWII museum ships. We toured the LST (Landing Ship Tank) 393 which is a veteran of the D Day landing in France. Today the ship houses an museum and hosts an enjoyable self guided tour. By the time we were done with the LST the rain had gone and the sun was out. So we headed over to the Muskegon channel into Lake Michigan to where the USS Silversides is docked.

The Silversides is a decorated WWII veteran that is docked on the channel wall. You can tour the ship and on shore there is an excellent museum that informs visitors about the Silversides and the the US Navy's WWII silent service. We've toured the museum and boat before so I found a spot to sketch from and did this sketch of the USS Silversides's conning tower structure. The sketch was done with a Pigma Micron Pen and a set of cool grey grey scale Prisma Color marking pens.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Grand Haven and Saugatuck

My wife and I took a short trip down to Grand Haven in our boat last week. On the way south, I did this quick sketch of the dunes that are south of White Lake and Whitehall...our boat's home port.

The town of Grand Haven sits next to the Grand River which exits into Lake Michigan through a wide west facing pier head. The town itself is overloaded with tourists throughout the summer months. While there, we stayed at the municipal marina and had a slip that was conveniently located next to an ice cream store (the banana split I had was excellent). There's also a board walk that runs past the marina and heads west along the river bank to the Grand Haven pier. The second day in town, I unloaded my folding bike from the boat and took the board walk all the way to the pier to do some sketching.

The sketch below is of the two lights, pier, and cat walk that makes up Grand Haven's south pier head.

Turning to face north from where I was sitting you take in the view of Grand Haven's north pier and beach houses which dot the dunes and shoreline. The day I was out sketching the clouds were enormous and towered over town and the shore the entire day.

We headed back to Whitehall mid week and on Friday afternoon we drove down to Saugatuck, Michigan to meet a friend for dinner. While my wife wandered through the stores, I sat in a park by the river and enjoyed the afternoon doing this sketch of an old tree that anchors one corner of the park.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hindsight is so very 20-20!
Our little sketch group met at Oak Park Mall to sketch and I've always wanted to draw the carousel.  Never mind that it's so often in motion and never stops in the same place.  The perspective was totally sadistic!  I gamely painted away, then searched for other things to fill the page.  Keeping to the pink and yellow carousel, I found the perfect shoe, the kind I can't walk in but love to see.

That's when hindsight kicked in:  I went up to the floor above to find a perfume bottle and realized that the perfect painting view of the carousel occurs from above - simplified perspective!  And I suddenly realized that the best way to paint the moving object is from the carousel itself!  Seated on a bench or horse! So I need to make another trip, and this time I'm going to ride! Don't say you can't teach an old dog new just takes a little longer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fish Town - Leland, Michigan

While we sat in Leland, Michigan waiting for the wind and Lake Michigan to calm down (I've become a fair weather traveler with the boat), I got out the sketchbook and spent the morning in Fishtown making this sketch. Fishtown is located right next to the marina where our boat was parked and is what used to be a fishing village along the river that runs into Lake Michigan. Today Fishtown, which is about a block long, is inhabited by old buildings and lots of tourists. The buildings host t-shirts shops and the usual collection of tourist trinkets. Fishtown also has a commercial fishing operation and several charter boats that take anglers out to try their luck on Lake Michigan.

Free Boat Wash

My wife and I are out on our boat for a month plus. This sketch was done this past Sunday morning while I was sitting in the cockpit of our boat. It's a look south out of the mouth of the Leland, Michigan harbor as thunderstorm worked its way in from Lake Michigan. If you look between the pier heads you'll see a fishing boat that came roaring in off the lake to out run the storm. Once the rain started it lasted several hours and did a great job of washing off the boat. We stayed in Leland for a couple of days until the wind and Lake Michigan calmed down.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Had the opportunity to attend Urban Sketchers Chicago sketch workshops this past weekend.  Had an amazing time.  Met quite a few fellow Urban Sketchers which was terrific.  Very talented and dedicated folks.  Learned a lot and tried several new techniques and materials that pushed my comfort zone.  Refreshing, energizing and eye-opening all at the same time.  Stopped in Springfield, IL on the way home to see some of the Lincoln sites.  Got in a bit of sketching there too.  All of these sketches are in a Stillman and Birn beta series book. My sketch materials range from pitt pens to pitt big brush markers to a pentel brush pen and koi watercolors.  Quite a variety for me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hanging Out

This is a sketch I did Sunday afternoon while sitting in the cockpit of my boat. The sketch is of the aft end of a 33 foot Cape Dory that's, for the time being, hanging out in a slip directly behind my boat. I got to meet the new owner of the boat, know the old one, and applaud the new owner's efforts at polishing, cleaning, and re-doing the boat's wood. She's now in great shape and ready to be a part of the new owner's daughter's wedding this summer.

The sketch was done with ink and Prismacolor graded grey scale cool grey markers. Love the effect you get when you start using the pens to provide shadows. Suddenly the flat paper takes on depth and dimension. Fun to work with.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Morning in St Paul

My favorite way to start a Saturday. Sketching with my Son with good coffee. I am using a very non waterproof and overpowering red ink here with watercolor. 

I am allowing looseness...which is harder than it sounds...yet freeing. 

I am loving this current watercolor setup. I set this up almost two years ago and have been using Jane Blumenthals "ultimate mixing palette" for Daniel Smith. 

- James Nutt

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Red roses climbing

By Marcia Milner-Brage, Cedar Falls, Iowa

Steps to garden
Every year I attempt to express the beauty of my Iowa, May garden in a painting or drawing. The climbing roses on the arbor are usually the impetus to see if I can convey what I feel and see in my backyard paradise. Once again, I'm afraid I've fallen short. Nothing from my hand approaches the reality. l enjoyed trying though. May 30, 2016

Here's another attempt that includes our rose trellis from six years ago, shy two days. Note that the roses had not yet climbed over the top. May 28 2010.

Back patio roses

Monday, May 30, 2016

To Windy to Sail...

Sunday afternoon it was way to windy to venture out of the slip to go sailing so I got out the art supplies and went to work.

This is a sketch of one of the marina buildings at Crosswinds where we keep our boat. Right to the left are a couple of boats that are still waiting to go in the water. If you look closely, between the boats, is a guy on a ladder waxing and polishing, trying to get his boat ready for launch. Doing the sketch was a great way to relax the afternoon away.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

date night at Houston's Eisenhower ISD high school

After finishing this fun little e-book, Bill and I had a date night, eating out at Freddy's (they seem to have followed us from Kansas to Texas), then on to our son-in-law's spring band concert. Fabulous music, from jazz to symphony to wind ensemble! But I only got a bit of a jazz band rehearsing before lights went low and it was too dark to sketch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hay Fever

It's been a while since I posted. That's 'cause it's been cold up here and I spend the winter skiing. Well, it's finally warming up, the boat's in the water, and I finally felt like getting out and working with the sketch pad.

This is a sketch of a tree that's in our front yard. It has lots of twists and turns and is interesting to draw. It was also a bit of a hazard since I have spring hay fever. Oh well' finished the drawing and am thanking Zyrtec for keeping the sneezing under control.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lawrence Sketchcrawl

I've been in a sketching slump lately. Gotta get over that. Going to a sketch crawl helps with that. We went to a local artist's farm today. She had a beautiful homestead with plenty of landscaping and neat buildings. She had a nice hospitality committee that consisted of a Great Pyrenees and another large dog and friendly cat. They would make the rounds to see everyone and steal some affection. Nice touch. I just wanted to spend the day there.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

lunch with friends

Earlier this week, we ate lunch at Las Fuentes with some friends. Instead of stuffing myself with tortilla chips and the yummy green salsa they serve, I began drawing what was on the wall next to our table.

Then the food arrived and I finished later at home, from a quick iPod photo. I would have had to finish at home anyway; I didn't have my white gel pen with me, to draw in the silvery embroidery on the hat.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A great loss to the sketching community...

As many of you know, Florian Afflerbach was killed in a traffic accident in Germany a few days ago.  He was one of the original members of the Urban Sketching movement, and a lovely, lovely man.  I was privileged to design the above banner for the USk blog years ago and always remembered working with him...

The memorial tribute is on the Urban Sketchers organization blog, here.

R.I.P., Flaf, you are sorely missed.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

It has been quite some time since I've posted here.  In fact, it has been quite some time since I've drawn anything to post.  I took a bit of my time this past Sunday afternoon to go out and do some sketching around my hometown of Indepencence, MO.  What you see here is the result.  I need to make this a habit again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sketchng in Forest Park, World's Fair Pavilion, St. Louis

The World's Fair Pavilion stands at the crest of Government Hill overlooking a broad expanse of Forest Park. Designed by English architect Henry Wright and built with proceeds from the 1904 World's Fair the building opened in 1910. Cascades of daffodils are flanked by dual stairways at both ends of the structure that lead down the hill to a fountain and pool. Rows of flowering trees added swaths of pink & dark magenta to my view of the arts & crafts-style structure on this cool, gray morning.

World's Fair Pavilion, Forest Park, 04/10/2016, 7"h x 9"w, Canson 140lb cold press, waterbrush, Michael Anderson

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

View from Forest Park, The Chase, St. Louis

Although there are many views within Forest Park that might suggest you are in a wilderness area this previously unpublished sketch, painted mid-summer 2013, depicts the Chase Park Plaza Hotel peaking above the treetops and dense wildflowers in full bloom. The Chase is an art-deco era masterpiece designed by Preston Bradshaw, an architect who prospered during the roaring twenties. Bradshaw designed many hotels and apartment buildings in St. Louis that are still in use including The Mayfair, The Coronado and The Melbourne Hotel, now Jesuit Hall. Early in his career he was a drafstman for the preeminent McKim, Mead & White. That experience is evident in his monumental brick buildings exquistely detailed with stone or terra-cotta details, ornamentation and flourishes.

The Chase, 07/28/2013, watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press, waterbrush, Michael Anderson

Monday, March 28, 2016

Humble Drawing Tools

By Mark Alan Anderson  |  Liberty, Missouri

Marcia’s recent post about new tools got me thinking. Like many artists, I like experimenting with different drawing instruments and papers. I firmly believe that artists should work with the best materials they can afford – clearly, there’s a dramatic difference between the pigments in student grade paint and professional level stuff. But too often my students fool themselves into believing that expensive tools somehow equal “better” artwork. I’m a frugal guy (translation: cheapskate.) I need to justify “upgrading” those tools of mine that otherwise work just fine.

For instance, my lead holder. More expensive than a No. 2 Ticonderoga pencil (which I also keep ready to hand), but it’s lasted me thirty-five years and I see no reason to believe it won’t continue to work just fine at least that much longer. It’s a humble drawing tool.

Recently I rediscovered an old favorite, Nicholson’s Peerless Transparent Watercolors – definitely a humble artist tool, if there every was one. Rather than in tubes or half pans, these fifteen intense pigments are on individual sheets of card stock within a small pamphlet. While there seems to be many approaches to creating a palette of these paints, I simply snip off a half inch wide section and double stick it to a folded card. The card fits neatly into my sketchbook. The paint is activated with a dot of water, so brush pens are a perfect companion. (And talk about compact: a couple pens fit into a breast pocket and the sketchbook into my hip pocket.)

I’ve taped a piece of Yupo to the right hand side of the card stock (not shown) so that the palette winds up being a tri-fold configuration. The Yupo is an easily washed mixing surface.

And best of all, this incredibly simple kit has rich, intense colors – it doesn’t take much!

Last year one of my advanced drawing students began to experiment with ball point pens. Really, just a plain old Bic pen with black ink. I think they cost something like 59 cents...and the drawings were lovely, sensitive portraits! Plus, it turns out the ink is permanent. With a little practice one can produce nice tonal variations, and the ink likes to flow if one uses the medium point pen. I like Bic pens on nice, soft, white, cottony papers. (Be advised that not all pens are alike. I’ve had poor results with roller ball pens – and don’t get me started on “gel” pens! Bic seems to be the best option.)

I also like making my own sketch books and sketch “booklets.” I don’t really save money doing this, but I do wind up with the paper I prefer. A couple of weeks ago I engaged in a little action research by testing out various watercolor papers. I wanted a surface that would work well with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, and would also produce good washes of color. My watercolor paper of choice has been Arches Cold Press for many years, but it doesn’t play nicely with the Pentel. So I made booklets up from various sheets of Arches and Fabriano Hot Press.


I should explain that one sheet of 22 x 30 inch watercolor paper costs between three and five bucks, and that I get four booklets of four pages (eight if you use both sides of the sheet) from each sheet of watercolor paper. My goal was to discover which paper best met my needs. (The winner, by the way, turned out to Fabriano Artistico Hot Press, but I have yet to try the Strathmore Aquarius II sheet that Marc Taro Holmes recommends for this same purpose. So stay tuned!)

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