If there ever were a perfect day to meet at a beach, sit on a log, sketch, visit, and eat, it was last Tuesday, May 27. Other than the mock-drowning we witnessed (the underwater park for scuba diving is located in the waters there), and the little 3-year old who sat down with us to draw, there were no distractions. Just enough sun, just enough clouds, just the right temperature. Did we think of anything but what we were seeing, experiencing? I don't think so. I'll have to ask my drawing buddies if our time there was timeless for them, too. Here's my page of sketches. Beneath that, an adjusted (at home) photo I took. Highly recommended to all of you artists: get outside to sketch this summer!
Time for a report from the little drawing group! We met chez moi in early April, and were inspired to draw something with some Easter relevance. Over the course of the years, we have sketched many different things, but never, in any detail, a mammal. Oh--on second thought--we did sketch one of our member's black cats. But the cat wasn't particularly Eastery so I'll feature our rabbits (Desert Cottontails). Mind you, we couldn't find a Desert Cottontail who would sit still for us so I resorted to borrowing Irene Brady's example in The Redrock Canyon Explorer. (Thank you, Irene!)
Here are our sketches:
When I first went to Brooklyn, NY to help my daughter paint and enhance her apartment last September, we started with the entrance hallway. When it was time to paint the door, I volunteered to do the detail painting around the hardware on the door. When that was done, I was struck by the graphic impact of the locks and the history of securing residents they represented. Inspired by these two elements, I immediately felt moved to paint that section of the door in oil on canvas. Here it is:
My wedding was in 1975. What does this have to do with my first calligraphy commission? As a then-employee of the University Bookstore in Seattle, I fell into possession of an unneeded Speedball lettering booklet in Spanish. I copied the Italic style of calligraphy in that booklet and soon deemed myself qualified to do the calligraphy on my wedding invitation (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing). So, armed with my newfound expertise, I accepted a calligraphy and illustration job from a friend who had admired the invitation.
Last week that artwork was returned to me because the friend is gravely ill and wanted me to have the piece. It had been a gift for his mother in 1975. When she died, he collected it from her home and has kept it with other keepsakes. I photographed it so that I could share it here but didn't feel I needed to keep it. It has a new home now, and that is with the older brother of our ill friend. The poem and the goose were meaningful to the sons' mother so it is ideal that it is staying in the family.
I can tell when I've come through a busy period. How? By gasping when I see how long it's been since I posted things on this site and on my professional site. It's true: "the holidays" keep most of us pretty well tied up with seasonal activities, projects and traditions. After the rush & hubbub were over, the little drawing group convened and exchanged stories about our hubbubial lives. What did we sketch? A plate of Christmas cookies, of course! Here's what showed up in our sketchbooks:
When I started designing a needlepoint stocking for my first child, I had never done needlepoint. Lots of sewing, knitting and embroidery yes, but no needlepoint. The year was 1978 and my preference for making as many things as possible by hand was well in place. I learned what a unique design challenge it is to create a design based on a grid and to shade and color pictures with yarn. I love it still, even though my time for such work is limited.
Below I have posted a series of photos of the two stockings I eventually completed for son Eli and daughter Emily. The third is for Eli's daughter Ada, and it is a work in progress as you will see. On Christmas Eve it will be filled by Santa if all the stars and yarns are aligned.
Is there anything sweeter than to stitch something for a beloved child? To keep the little one in mind, stitch by stitch, throughout the creation of the object, trusting that this thing will be used for many years and that a bit of the maker's heart and soul remains entwined with the stitches even after she, the stitcher, is gone? No wonder the tradition is worldwide and ongoing, especially for the mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers whose fingers speak a unique language of love.
"Can we work on foreshortening?" asked one of my drawing group members on Tuesday. "Yes!" was my reply. So I went off to find something we could all draw as a foreshortened object. A quick surveying of my kitchen yielded a subject: my yellow KitchenAid mixer. Here are the results of our drawing practice:
On this October day, we had no set subject to draw. But there was a plate of small, homegrown apples (intended for eating), variety "Liberty" that served to provide subjects for drawing and painting. How convenient:
Three artists, three renditions! We all tried to loosen up our brushes so that the watercolor would flow and blend the way the colors on the skin of the apples did. We added some light pen work to bring in some definition.
Staying in historic B&B's always has appeal. Exploring a building that has served as a residence for significant citizens of a place can be intriguing, and revealing. Last month we stayed in one such B&B in Longview, WA, the home town of my husband. Tired but elegant in "bones," Rutherglen Mansion is a noble old home in need of restoration and a more professional staff, but it nonetheless has some beautiful features worth admiring. An example: the European tile in the bathroom of our room was elaborate and in excellent condition. Floor to ceiling and bold in color and pattern, the tiles still shone with earthy richness. I felt compelled to sketch a portion of the wall tiles to show the variety in the tiers. The pen, ink and watercolor tile sketch is above.
Of interest to artists would also be the former library of the home which is paneled in local Douglas fir adorned with "grainart" images. This room is currently part of the dining area jon the main floor. It was too dark to photograph.
Below is an arial view of the Rutherglen estate. The home was completed in 1927 for J.D. Tennant, the superintendant of Long-Bell Lumber. It was subsequently used as a home for troubled girls, and also as a nursing home. The estate overlooks the Columbia River and the mills alongside it.
I always remind drawing students that drawing houses and other buildings provides one of the biggest challenges in the realm of freehand sketching. Capturing accurately the persepective, the scale, and the right amount of detail add up to a tough exercise. Here, I began a sketch of the back of the mansion, the side that overlooks the river. My progress was happily interrupted by my granddaughter who arrived to join us for the Sunday brunch.
Do I recommend staying at Rutherglen? Only with cautionary recommendations: it is not your usual, comely B&B.