Monday, January 25, 2016

Creating an Urban Nature Sanctuary

I am delighted that after some years of work and thought, we've managed to create a tiny nature sanctuary right here in our old neighborhood.  We attract many species of birds, as well as raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and the very occasional white tail deer and fox.  We plant flowers to attract butterflies and bees, and there are many species of wildflowers and useful wild plants on our little lot.

Plus WONDERFUl sketching opportunities!  There is much more to our urban environment than buildings and people.

I do quick on the spot gesture sketches and often add color as the birds stay around.

I make my own art supplies from things that grow in my little sanctuary...note the more practical dip pens on the right!  I love accepting nature's gifts and incorporating them into my art.

My feeders are usually busier than this!

I learn a lot about my environment by sketching what I this case, a woodpecker's burrow caused the limb to break off so I could see how the nest was made.

Birds DO move fast, but we can sketch their basic shapes, just like people in a cafe or airport terminal, and add color as we have the chance.  I like to list the birds I see on any given day...

And record special events like this!  A white tail deer chasing my cat through the woods.  I was able to dash down their shapes as I watched, then added my familiar trees once they'd boogied on out of there...

Pilieated woodpeckers are making a comeback!  I've sketched him several times...even on my feeder, though I was told this big bird doesn't come to feeders.

These guys are ALWAYS good for a laugh, as well as fast sketching practice.  Here, mostly a Prismacolor dark grey pencil with washes added...

This kind of peanut feeder attracts a lot of birds...

I'm even doing a backyard Materia Medica of all the useful herbs and plants...

I've learned a terrific amount about what grows even here in town, and what benefits they offer.

 What nature can you find in YOUR urban environment?  It's precious, and we are nourished by it.

There is a program that gives certification for this kind of effort from the National Wildlife Federation, well worth looking into if you are interested.

And enjoy this site, The Urban Wilderness, for more inspiration--one man's effort in Kansas City's populous Brookside area.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

breakfast with friends

Bill and our pastor enjoy getting together for coffee some mornings. Recently they invited us wives to join them . . . and I began sketching some of the decorations on a nearby cupboard. The waitress seemed to think it was an amazing thing, this drawing in a journal. I told her that simply learning to sign your own name is a form of drawing . . . do it often and you get better at it. Drawing is like that.

This current sketchbook journal is my 52nd one since beginning in May of 2007. I've had a bit of practice by now.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Traveling & Sketching on Amtrak

I just returned from a round trip excursion from Saint Paul's Union Depot to New York City via Amtrak's Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited. Amtrak is a great way to see and sketch our part of the country. I particularly like sketching midwesterners and the folks passing through. Here's a few sketches from my journal.

Allegorical statues in Chicago's Union Station and a passenger with an awesome hairdo.

Amish people on the train.

Quick sketch of a passenger with a lot of stuff.

Sometimes Amtrak is late because of weather and freight trains, but the staff do a great job of taking care of passengers.

One very tired, hard-working Amtrak employee.

Check out the 4th Annual West Coast Sketch Crawl!

The Fourth Annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl, will be held in Tacoma, Washington (USA) Aug. 19-21, 2016. Tacoma offers an historically and architecturally rich downtown area. San Francisco, Portland and San Diego were hosts of this annual event in previous years. See the blog for details. regarding past events, the agenda (schedule of events for Tacoma), lodging information, how to RSVP if you plan to attend, and our Facebook link. This is a free event. 

New USk Workshops--check the parent blog for more information--it's here:

Feb. 13: Orlando, with Thor and Kelly Medford
March 6: Lisbon, with Ch’ng Kiah Kiean
March 21, 25: Newbury, With Isabel Carmona, Inma Serrano and Swasky
April 22-25: Seattle, with Frank Ching and Gail Wong
May 13-15: Seattle, with Stephanie Bower
July 14-16: Galway, with Shari Blaukopf, Róisín Curé and Marc Holmes

(I wish the links would copy, but they didn't, sorry...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

a barn raising in Round Top, TX

The weather around here has been a bit gloomy lately, lots of clouds and a bit of rain. So when Tuesday turned out to be full of sunshine we went for a drive. Ended up in Round Top, TX where we parked in the sun as I drew a work crew raising a barn and windmill.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lawrence Sketch Crawl

We went to the Lawrence Sports Pavilion today for our Sketch Crawl. We didn't know it, but they are hosting the Heartland of America Volleyball Tournament this weekend. Can we say 4000 young ladies playing on twelve courts for two days? This place was busy and noisy! We stayed for an hour and that was about all the nerves could take. Sketching people is one of my weaknesses but I sketched them anyway. Can't get better if I don't put myself out there. With the time limit I stuck to fountain pen/ink. Then we skipped over to Big Biscuit for some relative quiet, conversation and food.

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