Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tomatoes of August

Image on my current Belfast Free Sketchers poster
Next meeting is in September

 Autumn Fever. 
Meanwhile August is a juicy & flavorful time of year.
Like the tomato I bit into the other day from a friend's garden. 

In the fields, spots of faded gold, and tall beige grasses
waving in the breeze. 
Reminders that this will pass.

Another garden friend is busy, as she is every August, 
"putting up" her vegetables in Ball jars. 
Just as her mother did before her.   

The Common Ground Country Fair is coming in one month!! 
Celebrate Harvest Time!

My local Farmer's Market is brimming with leafy greens,
 flower yellows & purples, pinks, 
carrot oranges, beets of crimson and coral...

Every year it happens,
but some years I feel it more than others.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Lady in Waiting

From the window of Atlantic Bakery: Elderly woman, waiting, on a Rockland sidewalk. 
She had navy blue painted fingernails, a huge cameo sort of ring, & silver dangle earrings. 
As she waited she talked & gestured to no one in particular, & kept glancing down the street. 
Eventually, her son (with whom I chatted in the Bakery) came & helped her into a large van. 
She was gone, her image remained.

I was reading that materials often dictate our results. I recently started a new 3.5 X 5.5 Moleskine, 
the one with the smooth cream colored pages, for my carry-everywhere sketchbook. 
With it I use both a super fine Slicci & a heavier point Staples.
And colored pencils. 
Coincidentally, I found this pouch in Rockland.
It is by "Patz, Made in Maine". Perfect! 

In some ways colored pencils are easier for me than watercolors. 
I can use more force than the delicacy that watercolors ask of me, and layer and lift more. 

Crayolas & Prismacolors, they are like a first language to me. 
While some children today have their own studios where they freely make art with lots of materials, 
I grew up on coloring books & Crayolas, on the bedroom floor. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blue Skies, Gray Skies, Rainbow Skies

There's a song (my favorite version is by Willie Nelson) : 
"Blue Skies, smiling at me. Nothing but Blue Skies, do I see...

 ...Nothing but Blue Skies from Now on."

A fast sketch of a Blue Sky Day at our City Park.
But one of my most memorable experiences this summer was not of blue skies at all! 
I watched, from the top Mount Battie, a storm as it moved in over the Bay. 
Then it moved in over me, punctuated by one big thunder clap!
I ran to the car for shelter & started sketching!
To the northwest, from the same spot, 
I saw Blue Skies & puffy clouds at the very same time that 
the storm was gray & wet to the east!!
At the end of the storm, still no Blue Skies. 
But, that was fine by me!

Going north, I drove up my other favorite mountaintop.
Rain again, this time raining right on my car. 
But a few feet from me the trees were sunlit & casting shadows!
I have heard that this is called a "sun shower".
I waited for the miracle that I knew was to appear.
Driving down the mountain, another stunning view.
I stopped to sketch from the car, right in the road. 
A park official stopped to ask me if everything was all right. 
I knew he meant that I should move out of the road. 
I told him that I just wanted to finish my quick sketch...
"Can I have just a few minutes more, sir?"  

Blues skies, gray skies, rainbow skies...from now on...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sketchers Go to a Local Garden

 I joined Sheryl's Urban Sketch Group at a private country residence on one of 
Belfast's Open Garden Days. 
A dense field of daisies lined a gravel path 
that wound its way down to a lily pond, flowers on each side. 
Stopping to look closely, for an extended time while sketching,
varieties in the shapes & arrangements of petals!
In the whispering breeze, they nodded and danced.
These were not your clichéd stereotypical daisies!

A sea of daisies, going back & down, quite far off the path,
yellow orange caps & sparkles of white 
peeking through the daisy foliage in the foreground.

My mother loved daisies.... 
I sketched with ink while standing, added color later.

 A fashion show by ladies, clad in crisp summer
outfits. Hats, hats, hats! 
Like the NYC Easter Parade!
 Eavesdropping from a distance: At the Information Table: 

One of my original sketches didn't quite work out.
So, I made a memory illustration later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Photo: Dream Summer Winter Nightmare

Kathy, at her blog, Catching Happiness, always gets me thinking about how one has the ability to choose how to go through each day. Her recent post, about summer verses winter in Florida, got me thinking about these seasons here at the other tip of the United States. 

Last last winter I spent some time in a living nightmare because of some unlucky circumstances. But I experienced a phenomenon that I had known to be true from inspirational writing & stories: In the midst of fear & despair one can find fortitude, joy & serenity. With some hard work, & a little (a lot of) help from friends the nighmarish circumstances seem to finally be floating away.

And summer has drifted in like a pleasant dream. I first started living in Maine when I was in my late teens. I feel as youthful today as I did then when I am kayaking...(well, almost...) There I go, paddling gently into happiness...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Week-long Class • Coastal Maine Art

Belfast City Park:  Writing will come later.
What luck, Coastal Maine Art Workshops brought one of my favorite watercolorists, Mel Stabin, to teach a week class in Belfast. I served as "Class Monitor" which meant I got to help out in a variety of ways. When not working, I got to participate, & even had a little time to draw/paint. Very accomplished painters in the class, & then, little me, still tied to my ink line & sketching style. But I learned a lot & felt good about offering my services in my own town.

From the Park at Steamboat Landing
Stage 1. Beautiful water views were behind me, but I couldn't face the sun, so loved the view I was "forced" to observe.
Stage 2, continued at home. Learned a lot in this one. Greens still a bit bright, Mel says greens can be poisonous, they must be mixed & varied, not used straight out of the tube. Mel encourages me to do some real paintings now, from my sketches, to get out of my comfort zone...we'll see where I go from here.
Belfast is known for some of its mansions, formerly owned by ship captains. A town with beautiful flower gardens. Again, I continued my initial sketch at home.
 And my favorite: Sketching people quickly. I took pages of illustrated notes during demos & critiques.
 My favorite Mel Stabin book is out of print, but you can find a 2nd hand copy. Watercolor: Simple, Fast and Focused. And he has a website.

Also, check out Coastal Maine Art Workshops. Wow!! What a way to have a Maine coast vacation. You meet people from all over the country! Click here.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Celebrations Summer People

Summer in my little town: Friday morning Farmers' Market.
The Belfast Bay Fiddlers!
And people browsing, shopping, local plants & food.

One key to making a lot of quick sketches:
Use an inexpensive book with lots of pages.
Bring 2 sketchbooks so that one can dry
while you work in the other.
 Thursday night outdoor concerts, 
sometimes on a blocked off road in town, 
sometimes on the Common, overlooking the harbor.
Lots of opportunities for fast sketches of what seems to be
my favorite subject.

My fascination with observing people began
with my mom & little me on vacation. 
We would sit on a bench on the boardwalk,
& describe the summer people strolling by. 
A sort of Conversational Sketching.
The Saturday indoor United Farmers' Market. 
Another happy place. It's crowded, but I found a great
corner with a table on which to rest my book.
Dot's Café in Lincolnville has longer hours now.
The wine bottles, like sparkly little people.
I'm allergic to their content, but they are festive!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Super Fast Sketching

 We attended a tour of the Farnsworth Homestead in Rockland, 
a historic tour of an upper middle class Victorian home in Rockland, 
& part of the Farnsworth Art Museum.
I had to draw & write quickly in order to take notes. 
 Not too legible to others, 
but what a pleasure to  take down information 
in this way! (Glad I didn't have my camera...)
 The house has been preserved as it was when Lucy Farnsworth died in 1935. 
Our guide gave us a sense of the life that had gone on in the house, 
as well as describing the historic interior. 
 The life of the children was evident. 
 After, we visited the Museum. 
The Marguerite Zorach show
has murals, paintings, 
& my favorites: Needlework & tapestries. 
She invented intricate stitches, 
some of the tapestries are huge, complex scenes & montages! 
  Wednesday, a 5 minute sketch from Belfast's Walking Bridge. 
I couldn't stay due to sun & heat, 
so I scribbled quickly.
I'm loving the Pentallic series of 4 X 6 blank books with different colored covers. 
The super quick sketch under the maroon Pentallic is from the Saturday morning Market, 
in the midst of LOTS of passersby, 
while I was waiting for a sandwich. 
Color was added later, but also quickly & minimally.

The Joy of the Fast Sketch! 
No time to think, just attention & focus...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Lupines Are Up!

 They are everywhere, alongside of major roads, the interstate, back roads, & my own back field.
In Maine they seem to always welcome the Summer Solstice.
I marvel again at the colors of this annual event. 

In the field out back I watch them as the light changes 
from sunrise to sunset.

Oh, the colors!
One glance reveals blue-violet, the next, violet-rose.
Some kind of Lupine magic...

The Lupines directly out my back door 
have shed most of their blossoms 
& are getting ready to sow more Lupines for next year. 
A week ago they were in full bloom 
I did a quick morning sketch. 

To see my Lupine post from June 16, 2016, Click here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Local Sketching!

Saturday morning: I met 3 friends to play French Scrabble 
in the large café space at the new United Farmer's Market of Maine. It's here in Belfast!
Wonderful, fantastic, happy, FANTASTIC indoor market! 
It equals the old Portland Market (now gone), & indoor marketplaces I've loved in France. 
Food, produce, coffee, flowers, & even crafts! 

After the game I sketched the view I'd been looking at during the Scrabble.
Tips of white tents on the waterfront~another celebration!

I met a Swiss tourist, an oil painter. 
He showed me his book of lovely travel sketches 
of this region's scenes. I spoke French with a French woman
& her sweet daughter who were selling handmade soaps. 
 Yesterday some of us sketchers went to a presentation on watercolor products 
at Rockport Blueprint in Camden. 
As usual, I sketched through the lecture, both the class scene & out the window. 
Helps me to listen.
Talented artist friend L snapped a photo. 
So much fun talking watercolor & materials with friends & acquaintances. Inspired, after the presentation,
 I did an inventory of my watercolor stuff, then continued some unfinished work.
 They had an after hours sale for us participants.
Voilà my new sketch tote! I brought it with me this morning &
it is not only cute, but it works!

(If you visited my last post, I have replaced the
first sketch with a new draft.) 
I learned a lot through the first one while overworking it. 
I simplified & paid more attention to value in the 2nd.
Still a complex subject & a challenge as opposed to today's sketch, which seemed to paint itself.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Urban Sketch Group Date #2

2nd draft sketch
2nd time with the Urban Sketch Group.
From a small park on Main Street, several of us 
looked down toward the Shore Walk, 
which is just to the left of the boat landing.

Our hilly town presents scenes with distances, 
marvelous combinations of forms & proportions. 
I want to draw more of these complex views 
with their challenges of perspective & scale. 
This is teaching me to simplify, to keep a rhythm going.

I am bolder with the group, I attract less attention from passersby.

After, everything around me looked so vivid & attractive. 
I wished I could have stayed to do more.
They say that when drawing/sketching/painting
 a physiological change occurs
& perception becomes clearer. 
It IS a form of meditation. And a way to appreciate  
a moment in time, a place...

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Something there is about an Iris...in Spring.
(with a nod to friend S. and William Carlos Williams...)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Urban Sketch Group Waterfront

Our 2nd excursion with the Urban Sketch Group.
A Hometown, Downhome day, on our waterfront. 
We didn't need to wander far from town for this pleasure.

I sat in the protective shade of the Gazebo, 
on a blue sea breeze, sun filled cloudless day.
 My warm up drawing (not shown here)
 was of two cabin cruisers, 
an interesting challenge in perspective & proportion, 
but in the end not a scene that moved me.

Two of us stayed on,after the group was done 
& "fell to" silently, drawing & painting, 
separate but in good company. 
We talked about our attraction to water 
& how lucky we are to be here.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Second Drafts and Responding

Both are 2nd draft sketches, sketches from sketches. The little flap above the flowers is from a 1st draft page that I had removed. The top sketch is from a drawing I did in February while staying at a neighbor's home when I had to evacuate my own home due to repairs. The original was stiff, overworked. It reflected a ton of stress, & also reflected a desire to please my neighbor. No.

The 2nd is a re-make from a heavy, overworked sketch at Friday's Farmer's Market which reflected my tension from not having sketched for 2 months. It did not express my feelings to the burst of color that I encountered.

This sketching is like physical exercise: One "stays in shape" & flows by doing it frequently. I am discovering, that Lightness is a key to my authentic response & expression. Sometimes it must be less about what I specifically see & more about the feeling. Always lessons, yes?

Friday, June 2, 2017

With an Urban Sketcher: Farmer's Market

A new kid in town rolled into our Sketcher's Group last week. She is a card carrying Urban Sketcher & she organized a group sketch excursion for us today. We went to our outdoor Farmer's Market!

This solitary sketcher, moi, loved not being alone today. At the end we each talked about our sketch/es & what we experienced. Oh, how fun to learn from other sketchers & to see through their eyes! Thank you to the group and to our leader!

A woman asked us, "Is this a class or are you all just having fun?" Struck me so funny!!

Me, being a gregarious sort, I chatted with people I knew rather than sketched some of the time. This was a sort of warm up day, as I haven't sketched for awhile. It's a rough sketch, the first in my new 81/2 by 11 inch Moleskine watercolor book (bigger than my small comfort sizes.) I prefer the paper in "Hand Book" watercolor journals, but I'm enjoying this larger size.

The Farmer's Market: Local people & tourists, a fiddling duo, flowers, cheese, breads, baskets, seedlings, vegetables, farm animal products...& lots of banter & hello's & it's so good to see you's...lots of movement, lots of walking, toddler's toddling, children swinging, breezes blowing...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Zen of Seeing/Drawing

I'm looking back at my earlier drawing experiences.
Above, a simple drawing from the 80's.
From the 70's, drawings from old sketchbooks. 
I had not intended at the time to show them to anyone.
 I was in a state of wonder,
observing & drawing what was in front of me, 
learning revolutionary ideas that enhanced my pleasure.
My cats provided endless opportunities for focusing on
changing forms & wondrous poses,for enjoying their "catness".
(The brown spots are from aged non-archival glue.)
I've been sketching less lately, but making a lot of notes 
in my Art Learning Journal. From books, museum visits, workshops.
 Early on, Frederick Franck was the influence that changed my life. I learned that I could savor the experience
verses be conscious of what the drawing looked like. His philosophy & methods were perhaps different than a lot of approaches to sketching & drawing, the "How To's". He stated that his drawing process was not about "sketching" to record an image, it was a deep, sensitive, spiritual, Zen experience, an empathetic response, a focused state of being in love. I suspect some Urban Sketchers integrate some of this approach. My best experiences happen when I'm free of thinking too much...But technical learning, such as perspective and proportion, also enhance my experience of drawing/seeing.
Paul Hogarth's Creative Pencil Drawing (1964) was another strong influence on my drawing, back in the late 60's, early'70's. I loved his loose "interpretations" of his reactions to nature & to man-made phenomenon. 

So: I'm reminded: 
If I'm drawing with only the end goal to show my work, or to sell my work, I can lose the "Relaxed Fluency" that Hogarth talked about, & the wonder of seeing that Franck spoke of. 
Not everyone who shows & sells loses this fluency, & the best art retains the influence of the heart & soul.

Conclusion: Studying various approaches to any discipline 
makes that discipline richer.