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!
Just a few more days till I head to Philadelphia for my 15th reunion at Penn. Hotel's booked, reunion schedule's loaded onto my iPhone, plans have been made with faraway friends.
Our class was one of the first to get email/Internet (Telnet and Mosaic, anyone?), so there isn't much of an electronic archive to pull up from my time on campus. Of course, I've dug up old photos and college house newsletters to laugh over; might even make an early '90s mix tape -- uh, iTunes playlist -- for the drive down from Connecticut. But for me, what brings back the memories most vividly are my sketchbooks. It was my way of navigating the college experience, learning my way around a new city, adapting to the unfamiliar.
So here's a look back at my Penn undergraduate experience, in works on paper.
When I moved into English House (aka Kings Court English) as a freshman, I found that my dorm room window overlooked the construction site of the law school addition. For the first few days, we didn't have any curtains up, so it was like living in a fishbowl. There were construction workers right outside, and they could peer in. So I peered right back, and drew them.
Some of my classmates had teddy bears for comfort -- they turned up in my sketchbook, too.
We didn't have laptops then, so when we weren't in our dorm rooms or computer labs, we studied with notebooks and pens. Furness (aka the Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by Frank Furness) was a popular, and visually stunning, place to hit the books.
In nice weather, it was all about College Green.
Sometimes I killed time before classes by sketching the decor -- here's a rendering of the sunflowers in the Annenberg School building.
As an upperclassman, I lived in an apartment in High Rise East (Harnwell House) with three roommates. One of the first things I did when I got there was to sketch out a color scheme and layout for my room. (Very Martha, I know.)
Of course, one of the best parts of going to Penn was being a few steps away from all of Philadelphia. Here's a hasty sketch of the city that I did from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Since I'm on the reunion and class gift committees, there are a few must-attend alumni events over the three days I'll be on campus. But I'll definitely make time to feed my muse as well, with visits to the Sheila Hicks retrospective at the ICA, what's left of Secrets of the Silk Road at the Penn Museum, and Lauren Greenfield's Girl Culture at the Arthur Ross Gallery.
And naturally I'll be toting along my watercolors and a fountain pen or two, to record new memories of Penn. Go Quakers!
M.'s grandmother turned 90 last week -- so I embroidered a picture of her dog on a vintage handkerchief as a gift.
Yeah, I should really stick to watercolors, huh? :)
Sometimes you just need to fall in love with the city again.
So, yesterday: Roamed Barnes & Noble in Union Square; sipped drinks in the cozy, technically guests-only lobby bar of the Bowery Hotel (sketched above); savored delectable tacos at Hecho en Dumbo; and then met amazing children's book illustrators at Scholastic's charity auction reception for their "Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life" literacy campaign. (Go bid on their work!) Humbled by what these artists do with brush, ink and paints.
Still glad I don't live in Manhattan anymore. Still glad I'm just an express train away.
I promised a post on the stuff I bought a few weeks ago in the UK -- and here it is! When I wasn't sketching London, I was busy touring its art supply stores. This time I went to some modern ones, though I do love the older classic stores like Green & Stone or L. Cornelissen & Son. There's a list of shops online here.
First, a visit to a familiar chain: Cass Art. I LOVE their tagline.
They even had a watercolor promotion going on to coincide with the "Watercolour" exhibition at the Tate Britain.
Then, I proceeded to London Graphic Centre where I just had to take a picture of their colorful doorway installation, made of pens:
And finally, a helpful person at the Royal Watercolour Society/Bankside Gallery told me about the veritable warehouse known as Atlantis Art Materials, on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane and Shoreditch High Street, with tons and tons of different kinds of paper, among other supplies:
So what did I purchase? Mostly, things that are either less expensive there or can't easily be found in U.S. stores near me.
- A spiral bound Saunders Waterford artists' watercolor paper field book
- A spiral bound brown paper sketchbook -- thinking it might work with gouache-y techniques
- A watercolor travel brush with flat (instead of round) bristles -- loving this!
- A small Winsor & Newton pocket set (which came with a watercolor postcard book)
- A Daler-Rowney acrylic paper pad, to try with watercolors
(Yes, that's one tiny and rather useless travel brush that's included with the set; luckily I have others!)
I also bought some UK art magazines at the Bankside Gallery's little shop -- great for finding out about workshops, classes, etc.
Now I just need to get sketching!