Birthday at the Beach

Monday, August 24, 2015

Santa Cruz, California

Before I lived in Connecticut I wasn't really a beach person. Now that I'm living inland, I crave a glimpse of water from time to time. It's a good thing we don't live too far from the ocean.

M. surprised me on my birthday with an impromptu trip to Santa Cruz, the original California surfer town. Our lovely B&B, West Cliff Inn, overlooked the boardwalk and the beach.

Just a few minutes' drive away is Natural Bridges State Beach.

Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz, California

Both of these sketches were done on a Fluid 100 hot press watercolor 8x8 block. I'm really enjoying the way paint behaves on this smooth surface.

Mountain View

Play Ball!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's not easy to draw people playing volleyball (though it's easier than drawing people bowling).

Sand volleyball, Mountain View, California


Getting to Know My Part of the World

Saturday, August 15, 2015

San Jose sprawls from urban to practically rural; I've only just started to explore it. From the hill behind our house you can see a panoramic vista of towering palms and carved-out hills, drought-parched grass and tile-roofed homes.

View from Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California


6th Urban Sketchers Symposium: Singapore - Part 2

Sunday, August 02, 2015

You can't go to Singapore without eating ... or shopping. Although I didn't get to see Orchard Road (inexcusable, I know - will have to go back), I did make one purchase: a Hero pen with a bent nib, from Straits Art. It's similar to the Sailor bent nib pen I already own, but shorter and heavier. Its nib lets you make thin and thick strokes by varying the angle of the pen.

I filled its cartridge with the super5 ink that we got in our symposium goodie bag. This is my kind of travel souvenir -- something I'll be using for several years that will remind me of a great experience!

After registration and an opening sketchwalk, the symposium's packed schedule of activities and workshops got underway.

This year, I led an activity for the first time. It was called "Putting the 'Urban' in Urban Sketching." The task was to incorporate found materials -- both as drawing tools and as paper/substrate -- into our sketches, in order to tell the story of a place. I was concerned that Singapore's famously clean streets would yield no interesting scraps to use, but I needn't have worried.

At Albert Mall Trishaw Park, Singapore

I was blown away by the creativity of the activity participants. One found a scrap of cardboard at Albert Mall food center; another used a splayed joss stick to do a great ink drawing.

I used a palm twig dipped in watercolors to draw this -- not easy!

Twig and watercolor sketches, Albert Mall, Singapore

In this sketch, I used a stray price label, a dried leaf, and coin rubbings to evoke the atmosphere of the vendors.

Vendors at Albert Mall, Singapore

Virginia Hein's excellent workshop, "Light and Dark with a Punch of Color" was a good challenge for me. I'm so used to working with line that it's hard for me to see just value shapes.

Value sketches at Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

Value sketches around SAM, Singapore

In Nina Johansson’s workshop, "Light in the Spaces Between," we learned to look at the areas between planes, to seek out the changes in value between surfaces.

Value sketch near Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Nina also showed us how to make subtle warm and cool shifts to our watercolor mixes without creating muddy colors.

Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Shophouses near Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Melanie Reim's workshop, "Found In Translation: The Influence of Calligraphy in the Figure and Environment," was inspirational. I loved "collecting" faces and figures with economical strokes of the brushpen in and around the Sri Krishnan Temple on Waterloo Street.

Collecting figures, Singapore

Collecting many faces with calligraphic strokes, Singapore

Collecting faces, Singapore

Worshippers, Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

Lady in green, Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

Priests in Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

The final sketchwalk was at the Singapore Management University courtyard. It was a tranquil oasis of green, with ample space for sketchers to spread out and choose different views. Some sketched the Singapore Art Museum across the road:

Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

I decided to complete my symposium experience with a sketch of the other sketchers.

Open sketchwalk participants at SMU, Singapore

And who could resist drawing our youngest participant, who patiently held this complex pose?

Our youngest sketchwalk participant, Singapore

All the energy from Singapore will carry us through the rest of the year and onward to our next symposium: USK Manchester 2016 here we come!!