Was sitting in my borrowed office at 5 Times Square yesterday evening, wondering where to go to dinner before seeing "Stephen Merchant Live: Hello, Ladies..." at Town Hall.
It had to be nearby. And had to be a bit touristy, a bit dramatic, to get us properly in the mood for slightly off-kilter stand-up. I scrolled the New York mag online restaurant listings and hit upon Inakaya.
It's a robata-yaki restaurant, featuring vegetables and seafood/meat grilled while you watch. Yes, it's a bit over-the-top, but the minute we walked in and heard the host and chefs singing out greetings, I wished I'd brought my sketchbook along.
Fortunately I happened to have a sheet of plain Levenger heavyweight paper in my day planner and a Platinum Preppy fountain pen, so I dashed this off while waiting for our various courses to arrive (on long wooden paddles, accompanied by more theatrics). Sadly the ink in the pen isn't waterproof, so I had to be careful when I added color.
Enjoyed the food and fun, and laughed our heads off at Stephen Merchant later on. Totally worth it!
On Sunday, biked a few miles along the Norwottuck Rail Trail going east from Northampton, Mass., and then stopped to do a quick watercolor sketch of the dying light on the hills and fields somewhere in Hadley. Started rushing at the end because it got quite cold! Added a bit of ink later, to provide some contrast.
Was glad to be in Vermont, truly -- after it was ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene, I really wanted to support the state, spend money in its restaurants, eat maple candy and gawk at the glorious foliage. How fortuitous that I'd signed up for Susan Abbott's fall Vermont landscape workshop, I thought.
Well, we did the first three. The foliage (what there was of it) hid behind mists and drizzles and on-and-off downpours. Not the most auspicious weather for plein air landscapes. Despite my moodiness, and the bugs, and the mud, there was sketching. And painting. (Some outdoors, even.)
We stayed at Pie in the Sky B&B in Marshfield for the first two nights. They have sheep. (And a guard llama, which didn't stay in one spot long enough to make it into my sketchbook.)
Later in the week we stayed at Emergo Farms B&B, in Danville -- it's a dairy farm that supplies Cabot.
While it rained, we did exercises in the studio:
And when the clouds parted, we rushed outside hoping to avoid the ambush of sudden showers.
The rain helped paint this one:
It's hard to be spontaneous when faced with a sheet of Arches paper. I like this color sketch better than the actual painting I did right after.
We sketched and painted on lands private and public. People have a lot of land up there.
So? Go! Go wander Montpelier and buy art supplies at The Drawing Board, eat at Tip Top Cafe in White River Junction and Elements in St. Johnsbury. Bike the Kingdom Trails rain or shine. And at the end of the day, savor a maple creamy at Bragg Farm. Yum.
If you're in the Westport, CT, area, please visit Love: In the Eye of the Beholder, the fall group members juried exhibition at the Westport Arts Center. My abstract ink-and-watercolor work "At First Sight" is in the show and available for purchase. The show runs through the first week of November. More information here.
And now, a late-summer journey through my sketchbook.
In August, M. and I were in Mystic for a family reunion. Fair weather generally means lawn games, such as the Ohio staple cornhole and an old favorite, croquet.
For my birthday, we were in Boston on a very muggy weekend. Sadly, this is all I could bring myself to draw in that sticky heat -- a dashed-off sketch of the Public Garden.
Yesterday, we were off in rural Pennsylvania, visiting a friend in her country house. Her cats -- apparently quite active by night -- dozed lazily all afternoon in the warmth of the woodstove.
It's been a while, I know -- after Lisbon, first I spent several weeks just enjoying not being on a plane, and then came the drama of Hurricane Irene (which, thankfully, spared us). I have been sketching here and there, and I'm getting ready for a painting workshop at the end of the month, but here are a few things from the summer to tide you over. These two watercolors are companions to the piece that was accepted into the Connecticut Watercolor Society show earlier this year. I had originally created them as a triptych for a different show that didn't pan out.
Four days in and around Lisbon. Gorgeous cloudless weather. So many amazing artists I'd only known online -- in one place. And nothing to think about all day but "What shall I sketch next?"*
*Okay, those of you who know me can probably guess that I was also scouting out where we'd eat next, too. Turns out it's NOT so hard to be vegetarian in Lisbon after all.
But on to the important stuff. Here's my visual diary of our workshops and Sketchcrawl.
We started with a bit of anthropology -- a study of urban ethnography in tiny Largo de Barao de Quintela. At first glance, not so visually interesting, but we were in the midst of a veritable turf battle among pedestrians, vehicles, recycling receptacles, fire trucks, dogs. So I sketched one perspective first, and then turned around and drew another.
The Environments workshop had us peering down a steep staircase toward the typical Lisbon sea of terracotta roofs and pastel walls, with the castle looming in the distance.
Then we ducked into a little cafe, to capture some interior life.
We began the second day with a panel discussion; most of us were already walk-weary from the cobblestones lining the alternately soaring and plunging terrain.
In the Contrasts workshop, we negotiated stairsteps on Rua da Bica alongside iconic yellow-and-white trams, painting as they ferried passengers up and down.
By that afternoon, I was cranky-tired and not in a drawing mood (sorry, Cityscapes workshop!). But after dinner by the docks, I had enough energy for a sketch of the scene in the twilight.
Our last day began with "Light of Lisboa" -- an attempt to force the brilliant light of the city onto our sketchbook pages. First, in graphite:
And then, in watercolor:
We closed the symposium with the 32nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl, in Praca do Comercio.
Only one question remains: Where will next year's symposium be???
Woke up last weekend craving a boat ride -- and remembered that the Norwalk Seaport Association runs ferry cruises out to Sheffield Island. Packed up a picnic lunch and headed off to the dock in SoNo. The three-hour excursion went by fast! I barely managed to dash off this quick sketch after our lunch, lighthouse tour, and hike. Lovely outing for a gorgeous summer day.
On the last day of my second trip to London for work, I woke up around 4 a.m. to see the Bermondsey Square Antiques Market. Figured since I was staying at the hotel directly above, I shouldn't pass up the opportunity.
Unfortunately the skies had decided to open up, so there was little other than a few grumpy vendors complaining about the rain (in London? really?) until well past 6 a.m.
While I waited for more dealers to set up, I trekked 20 minutes north to More London to find a working ATM, but even by the time I got back there was nothing compelling to buy. So I had breakfast in the hotel and sketched the scene outside.
In the last three weeks I've been in two countries and five states (seven, if you count airport layovers). My sketchbook came along for the ride, but it wasn't always easy to find time for drawing. And sometimes the weather was just plain uncooperative (NoLa, I'm lookin' at you).
My first jaunt was to Cleveland. Naturally I timed my arrival to coincide with that of the midges. They were everywhere -- swarming cars, storefronts and all. Still, I did manage to step outside and fend them off long enough to do a quick sketch of the skyline from the plaza outside the Marriott Key Center.
A week later, I was in London. No sketches this time -- was wandering a new neighborhood between back-to-back meetings and dinners.
The end of the week found me in New Orleans -- where it was hot, sticky, and uncomfortable. I mostly sketched from the coolness of the hotel room, 10 floors above the Mississippi River.
Oh, and I did manage to draw between courses during Sunday jazz brunch at Commander's Palace:
Hoping my next two trips -- back to London, and then to Lisbon -- will offer better weather...
It's been some time in the making, but I finally redid the sky, added the houses, and signed it. It's quite different from the photo it's based on -- I took the photo in bleak winter many years ago, and clearly the painting is of a much sunnier time.
The Road, Donegal; oil on panel, 13.5" x 13.5" framed.
Yes, I paint lifeguards often, I know -- but then again, I do live near the beach, and I am fascinated by the graphic quality of their perch against the sky. This painting was larger before, but I wasn't happy with the other figure in it so I cropped and reframed it to include only the one.
My painting "Look Out" was accepted into the Connecticut Watercolor Society's 71st annual juried exhibition. It's on display (and for sale) until June 26 at the John Slade Ely House in New Haven, Conn. Go see the show if you're in the area!
Walked off to the beach the other day for some inspiration and found it. Dashed off this quick sketch with a pencil, a small box of watercolors, and a waterbrush. As usual I like my sketch -- done in about 10 minutes -- better than the painting I did later over several hours! While I was working, two little girls, about 9 and 7, came up to see what I was doing. They asked if I liked to draw people. I said yes, but also noted that I have a hard time getting the faces to look right. I told them that's why I like drawing people from the side or back. The older girl promptly replied, "Well, let us know if you'd like to draw US from the back, and we'll freeze for you!"
No, not on the Amtrak -- but I HAVE been traveling several weekends in a row, can you tell? Here's a roundup post of all our adventures!
Before heading down to Philadelphia for my 15th reunion at Penn, M. and I went to Bar Rosso in Stamford for dinner on "opening" night. Glad they finally got everything worked out. Enjoyed the food and the view of the pizza oven from the second floor:
The next morning, we headed down to PA. Our first stop was the Northern Liberties neighborhood, to check out the interesting shops and eateries. We stopped for a hot drink at the perfectly decorated One Shot Coffee:
When we got to campus, I vainly attempted to sketch -- but the reunion tents had invaded! It was hard to get a good view of anything.
Here's a rather abstract view of College Green, with trees, tents and Ben:
Saturday morning we went to a flea market in West Philly's Clark Park, where some characters were hanging out and talking about the benefits of exercise and cranberry juice. Wasn't terribly happy with the sketch so I turned this one into more of an abstract compositional exercise.
This past weekend, M. spoke at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. On Friday I toured the fabulous Baltimore Watercolor Society 2011 Mid-Atlantic Regional Exhibition at the Strathmore Mansion in Rockville and then took the Metro down to D.C. to see the Phillips Collection. After all that inspiration, I just had to draw -- so I parked myself in Dupont Circle near the fountain.
Saturday was gloriously sunny -- we went for an early morning ride on the hiker-biker trail at Rock Creek Regional Park, and then I sat at the playground and sketched various people at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. My use of a dip pen attracted a lot of curious attention!
We ended the evening with a swing dance at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park -- such fun!