Friday, June 24, 2016

Doing "Nothing" on the Seaside Deck

I recently went back to the inn at Spruce Head for a night (after having been there on June 4 (backtrack to the post of June 8.)  I returned so I could sit again on the shaded deck & gaze, & smell the flowers & feel the sea breeze. And to sink into the quiet & peaceful rhythms of the tides & the seabirds & the light & the changing colors. The sketch above is actually a sketch drawn after I got back home. It was based on the rather scribbly & energetic sketch, below.
The difference is interesting to me. 
Below is the first sketch from the previous visit, also different.
Each one is my true impression, but none are attempts at accurate drawing. Sometime I would like to make some accurate  studies of landscapes using perspective among other techniques. But, these sketches are just my way of using my journal to observe & to connect with a place where I love lingering. They are almost an excuse to be able to sit & do "nothing"...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Acadia National Park: Love All Over Again

Acadia National Park is turning 100 years old. I started a new Moleskine accordion in her honor. I'm going back as soon as I can to fill a few more pages. 
I first fell in love with Acadia in 1968, when I hitchiked to Bar Harbor from Orono with a friend. My last visit was recent, & there have been many, many visits inbetween. There were different eras, different companions, different activities, different seasons, & different me's. Each time I grow more deeply in love, each time there is so much more to explore & so much to revisit. How can it be that two million tourists visit each year, & yet it feels so intimately like my own special place?
I'm not 100, but I am delighted to be growing older with Acadia. I am seeing changes, one of which is more of a focus on preservation with the involvement of newer, younger stewards. The Park needs continued loving care. They say that the current generation of young people is more connected to technology than to nature. However, we did see some delightful families, enjoying the magic. The Park also presents some wonderful Jr. Ranger & Explorer programs for kids.
A little about the sketching process: The new Rigger's Bag (from Hamilton Marine in Searsport) sat on my 3 legged folding stool while I stood to draw. Best arrangement I've found so far!! It also works in the car & has made a difference for me to be able to spontaneously stop & sketch with watercolor more often. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's Lupine Time in Maine

Every year in June, I gaze at lupines, lupines & more lupines out my back windows. I take many photos at different times of day because their hues & intensities change according to the light & weather, and because I know that these violet colors are only here briefly. But, it wasn't until I finally did the little painting that I felt I really saw them as I searched for lupine paint colors, as I danced my brush in lupine strokes.
The photos do capture a more accurate image, I suppose. What is striking about fields of lupines is their amazing violet color bands, set off by contrasting colors. The blossoms are beginning to turn to seed, but then the seeds will pop & fly & more lupines will appear next year! 
These lupines were at the Craignair Inn in Spruce Head, just at the edge of Penobscot Bay. It's a lovely & typical midcoast Maine wildflower scene. Yellow buttercups are more plentiful than ever this year, or is it that I'm just seeing them more?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spruce Head, Maine

I had a lovely vantage point for watercolor sketching 
from the deck of the Craignair Inn. 
I was at a French Immersion workshop at Spruce Head.
(Those are purple lupines in the foreground: 
Do you know Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney?)
My "studio" ~ Note my new "Riggers Bag",
 bought at Hamilton Marine in Rockland. 
An artist at Camden's Rockport Blueprint had recommended it. 
Shop local! 
The fog rolled in at, sweet & soft...

The 4 sketches below are in the smaller Moleskine,
the 2 above are in the larger Moleskine watercolor book.
Some people used a free period to go
 for an after-lunch walk. I stayed on the deck. 
During a walking "treasure hunt" activity en français,
 on the nearby small island, (joined to Spruce Head by 
what I think is a natural walking bridge), 
stayed on the deck because of my aversion to ticks &
because of my sun sensitive skin. 
And, because, 
it was my lovely vantage point for watercolor sketching!
Lovely gardens surround the inn. It was
hard to tell if they are cultivated or wild. 

A little stone elf & stone flower greet you near the entrance.

Even though it was just for the day, it was a perfect vacation~ French, art, and the Maine Coast!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cafe Figure Sketching

 Trips to Portland always include 
early morning cafe sketching
and writing notes in the Old Port.
Costumed characters.
Great theater for the price of
a non-fat vente latté.
The notes are as important to me
as the sketching.
It is also my Figure Drawing class.
While so many others are on their devices,
I am on my sketchbook. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Willy Nilly Drop In Journal Book

The Drop In Journal Book, one friend calls it
The Repository. It's a place to toss in
various photos, clippings & cards.
Another blogger friend who inspired this post 
calls them "Odds & Ends". 
My own notes & sketches mixed in with 
images of others...
Patterns to what I collect emerge...
I seem to be fond of grids & squares & rectangles.
This has been going on for years.
 A beautiful card from a special someone...
It could be filed in my box of received cards.
But it needs to be here because of the image.
Some photos & sketches 
of my old Christmas card designs.
Some rough draft remains from 
The Language Exchange logo.
(Not all of the pages are grids and squares.)
 Images of postage stamps.
I had tossed a bunch that I'd kept in a box, 
&  preserved some in the book. 
More little squares, little charts. 
For my naturally nonlinear brain 
they are soothing. 
On the left, a copy of Sara Midda's work. 
On the right, someone's paintings from a magazine
(I should have recorded the artist's name.)
More of my notes & sketches,
 mixied in willy nilly to the Drop In Journal Book.  
This book is just about filled, & I have a new one,
also coptic stitched, standing by!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pop On Sun

 Just a simple petit rien...
I have cities on my mind lately...
And, apparently, pop on suns!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Spring Flowers on the Dining Table

After I had finished a tightly rendered commercial art project,
I found relief by drawing loosely with quill pen, India ink & watercolor. 
They are flowers from a friend, a gift.

The photo process turned the yellows of the daffodils to green. 
Either I need a new camera or a new photo program...
This color distortion happens too often.
Any advice?

It's the lightness of these flowers, & the vivid colors, 
that were most important to me, as they sat, 
Princesses of the dining room table, 
backlit by southern spring time sun.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mini Landscape Lake Scene

 Yesterday, in the midst of many projects,
I stopped to draw a mini landscape
 in my old style (actual size).
It's a loose interpretation of a place a friend of mine
 loves, drawn from a photo she took.
I hope she'll like my little card, even though it no longer
resembles her actual place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Handmade Card

What I love about making handmade cards for friends
is gearing them specifically to each friend.
Above, it's for someone who loves and celebrates 
the flowers of spring (among many other things.)
A card for a friend who is recovering from a fracture. 
Polka dots make her happy.
They made me happy as I was polka dotting them.
And, they brought back some happy 
polka dot memories from childhood.

It's like I get to borrow a bit of joy from my friends,
and return it with some of my own mixed in.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Art of the Handwritten Note

Je souhaite à mes amis Francophones et Francophiles 
un joyeux 1er mai! Je vous envoie un brin de muguet virtuel!
Speaking of virtual cards verses the handwritten: 
The book, The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication begins with: 

"When I mention the handwritten note to any group of otherwise optimistic and intelligent people, I almost always hear someone say, 'It's a dying art.' Wrong! It's not dying, it's healthier than ever. But it certainly is an art, because it brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it."

I am blessed to participate in this art. I sometimes lapse in keeping up my end, even though I so love creating, sending & receiving handmade notes, cards & letters.  I also resort to typing sometimes because of easy editing, spell check & dictionaries, especially when writing in French. I do understand why computers have pushed out writing by hand.
But what's this about penmanship no longer being offered in public schools?? Perhaps someone can explain this evolution to me...We're not all talented for calligraphy, but aren't there times when we still need to write by hand? Perhaps a former generation bemoaned the day when inkwells were taken out of the schools, & I am just an old fashioned member of my generation.

For me, those letters for copying that were posted above the chalkboard in grade school where magical. I grew up seeing my grandmother's handwriting, she being two generations before me & European, & I loved it. Below is a page from one of my grandmother's journals. She was Polish, but it is a poem by French poet Rimbaud. (THAT is a WHOLE other story.)
My cursive writing has degenerated these days & I've been re-inspired by a gorgeous handwritten note from a penpal  (Merci, mon amie!)  The Art of the Handwritten Note is also reminding me that handwriting is not only a means to an end for me, it's pleasant in its own right. Or should I say, "In it's own write."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

French Homework: My Style of Dining in Paris

 I wrote it all in French: Assignment: Describe a favorite meal. I'm not a cook so I wrote about my favorite meals when in Paris:  "La cuisine à emporter", take out food, but not McD's. Asian traiteurs, the neighborhoods of Rue Cler, Rue de la Huchette, & Rue Mouffetard with such varieties of fresh, ready made food! Boulangeries everywhere with more than just bread: sandwiches with fresh ingredients, quiche, salads, soupes. Guichets, windows with counters, where you can watch your crêpe being made, or where you can buy Middle Eastern food. The Monoprix grocery & department store. Oh! And the outdoor markets for fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread, & regional dishes~ & lots of French language to hear.

Where to eat? I admit I have eaten crêpes from the guichets standing on the sidewalks. But benches, oh the benches! They are in the the grand parks with magnificent statues, but also in church courtyards & along sidewalks, and near so many architectural wonders!  (And probably other places I have yet to discover...) If it is raining? Portez toujours un parapluie!

Why not eat in restaurants while traveling? Obviously to save money, lots, (which you can then spend on books & scarves!) There's more: by eating outdoors  you can spend more time enjoying the amazing buildings & action of Paris. Benches are my friends & support while sketching, & also my favorite form of restaurant.

I recently learned the expression, "se mettre dans la peau de quelqu'un.", to place yourself in another's skin, to see their point of view. I understand that restaurants are a big form of entertainment for many tourists, so I know my way is not for everyone.    
N'importe où, bon appétit!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Drawing: Natural or Learned?

 A dear Blogger, La Table de Nana, (who has a most beautiful, creative, happy, loving blog), asked:
"Did you learn to sketch/draw with movement 
or was this natural for you?"

I replied on the previous post, but have thought more about it:

I do observational drawing by feeling the movement & gesture. It is my natural tendency, but I only found it when I was learning by the methods of Kimon Nicolaides in The Natural Way to Draw, 1st published in 1941!  I was lucky that my high school art teacher used this method because it was great for us minority kinesthetic & right brained learners. I think the book is best used in a class or group because students can pose for one another & someone can call time limits for the quick gesture studies. 

My college drawing teacher also emphasized perceiving your subject by physically feeling it rather than just visually aligning things. 

But a drawing can call for different approaches, in my opinion, so integrating the knowledge of diverse techniques & elements such as formal perspective is valuable. 

Finding a process & a medium that best matches one's own nature, as with anything in life, is important. For me, line, a sort of scribbling, is my favorite art element. If you only gave me one drawing tool to use with paper, it would be a fine ink pen. (But please, don't take away my colors!)

I seek out drawings to which I am intuitively attracted  as a way to discover my own inclinations. The drawings of Vincent Van Gogh have such linear energy, such feeling, such movement, as do the sensitively rendered drawings of Rembrandt.  

 (I should not be showing master drawings in the same post as my own sketch, but it is important not to compare one's work, & to just stay centered on what one truly loves to do.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Portland Sunday Morning: A park & a bakery

I don't get back to my old city as often as I used to. But I've been attending monthly Saturday French workshops at my old school, The Language Exchange. 
I still like to get up early to go sketching. Above, from my car, a Sunday morning sketch at Bug Light Park, South Portland. There are oil storage tanks behind this park, as SP is a pretty industrial city, but it has preserved some great shore front space for the public. 
Bug Light has lots of outdoor benches, but downtown does not. So next time I'm in Portland, I will try sketching from my parked car, before the meters kick in. This time, I found an indoor bench at Standard Baking Co., where I ate my raisin roll & watched a steady stream of customers.

Such animated comings & goings, interchanges & transactions! As in French boulangeries, which are the inspiration for this bakery, everything is created daily, right there, in the wee hours of the morning. Standard delivers to restaurants & cafés each day, but buying these pretty & fragrant works of art directly, along with morning coffee, is a fresh & energetic way to start the day! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Storyboard for French Homework: Le stylo plume

 Story-board, un Scénarimage, un Scénario-maquette
with 6 panels pasted onto an accordion fold book.

The writing assignment: To imagine shopping for an item, conversing in French with a shop person, using the comparative & superlative forms. Students "shopped" for things like L.L.Bean Boots, a birdhouse, &,  moi: 
For a fountain pen in Paris.
An American tourist greets the salesperson in a Parisian stationery shop with "Bonjour Madame," & she says she's searching for a good fountain pen. She explains that in the U.S. people don't write with fountain pens as much as they used to, & the U.S. doesn't have as many stationery stores as France does! 
The salesperson shows several pens & compares their attributes. Our tourist comments on the fact that her writing is better with a fountain pen than with a felt pen & it's the worst with a ballpoint pen. 
The vendeuse comments that with fountain pens one needs to use smooth papers of good quality.
The sales person invites the tourist to try some pens (without ink), to see how they feel. She also tells the tourist that she speaks French well. (Is she just flattering her? wonders the tourist, but she enjoys cinversing.) The salesperson asks the tourist where she's from. They chat...
After having purchased her new fountain pen the tourist departs & the two women exchange parting salutations. The salesperson tells the tourist to enjoy her new pen & to enjoy the rest of her stay in Paris.
The tourist does enjoy the rest of her stay, 
using her new pen to write & sketch her impressions of beautiful Paris, its landmarks, & its activity. 

(Click on on the drawings if you would like to read 
my flawed French.)