Things I’ve seen
More from my sketchbook. I’ve been watching Lisa Congdon’s Creative Bootcamp over on Creative Bug over the past few weeks (there are still two weeks left!) and it’s been really great. I’m doing some of the activities, not necessarily all, but I enjoy watching how other artists work and talk about working. I’m already a huge fan of monochrome and so doing this landscape was really fun. I love flat, somewhat abstract landscapes and have been doing them since my college art school days, so it’s been fun to revisit them.
As I’ve talked about other places on this site, I’ve been retreating a bit in the past weeks. I’m using both my journal and my sketchbook as places to help me deal with the craziness that is happening all around me and the firehose of information that is hurtling at us. So my doodles are reflecting some of what I’m trying to do and breathing deeply is one of them.
We got almost a foot of snow overnight Tuesday into Wednesday this week. I grew up with snow and I don’t hate it, what I hate is living in a place where no one will deal with it: we don’t have enough plows, people don’t shovel, so you can’t get out and about and move around easily. And this is likely to stay with us for another day or two. But I will admit, it was beautiful on Wednesday morning.
The first spread in my super big moleskine, which I’m loving. This was an exercise from Lisa Congdon’s latest class on Creative Bug that started this week. So far I’ve been drawing every day right after work and it’s been relaxing, fun, and I’m trying new things; pushing myself a bit. The large size is the biggest change, but I’m sure they’ll be more.
More buildings, this time in my really large moleskine that is size A3, so it’s much larger than any of my other sketchbooks. I like it, it’s pushing me a lot. This is a village scene done in a more decorative style with water color brush markers. I’m watching Lisa Congdon on Creative Bug and it’s been a great start to the year.
I spent much of my break either crocheting or drawing and I’ve started a few different drawing challenges, one that will last the whole year (more on that later). But in doing the drawings I’ve been inspired by some of Lisa Congdon’s sketchbook spreads to do my own take on buildings, something I’ve never really drawn or thought about much before. As usual, I go for a more illustrative than realistic look, but it’s been funny trying things in different size sketchbooks and with different mediums, this is water color brush pen with black ink for details.
Over the past few weeks I’ve taught myself, through online videos, how to crochet. It’s been interesting, I’ve never had a ton of interesting in doing any type of craft with yarn, but for some reason a few weeks ago I decided I wanted to learn how to do this. I’ll admit that this is a nostalgic thing for me, my Grammie crocheted and I have two afghans that she made. She’s been gone since I was 18, but I still think of her often. So, I’m a hooker now, next up is a small lap blanket to use in my office when it’s chilly.
It is cold here, so maybe I’m dreaming of warmer weather? I’m not sure, but I’ve been repeatedly drawing different variations of trees in my sketchbook. Some are evergreens, so more winter oriented, but this is obviously not that. I’ve gone back to watercolor brush markers and am layering, playing, and having some fun. Trees, for those that have known me a long time, are a recurring theme for me in my life. I keep coming back to them again and again, sometimes with 20 year gaps, like now. But there is something about their changing in the seasons and how many emotions they can convey that keep me drawing them. (I apologize for the crappy photo, but I’m into sharing my work more than waiting for the perfect photo these days.)
Yesterday we went to the Scanfair put on by Northwest Nordic, a group I didn’t know existed before a few weeks ago, but now that I do I’m fairly excited to go to more events. I’m half Swedish and grew up in a large, raucous Swedish American family, so when I go to these events, they take me back to my grandmother’s house and many of the events of my childhood. I bought a few trinkets and quite a bit of baked goods.
I took the last two weeks of September off work and we rented a car and drove down the Oregon coast. It was a really wonderful trip, with beautiful views, gorgeous weather, and lots of time to relax. We are lazy vacationers, with loose plans, but mostly just doing what we feel like each day and it usually turns out pretty great. This wasn’t any different. This photo is looking north up the coast with Heceta Light House in the distance. I highly recommend this road trip if you’re looking for gorgeous views, you can see more photos on Flickr.
Throughout the month of July I haven’t just been finishing up the 100 day project, but I also have been doing another monthly Creative Bug class. It’s been really fantastic. Drawing patterns with brush markers on index cards and it’s opened up my thinking, influenced my 100 day project, and just been really fun. I have all of them on Flickr if you want to see more.
The other night I was sitting at Refresh PDX and the speaker said the word future. I’m not sure why but I grabbed my sketchbook and immediately did the lettering for this piece. The next day after work I filled it in with some patterns around it with my new micron pens that I’m in love with, pink’s never been my color but I’m loving it right now.
I’ve been picking out a few watercolor brush markers or a few pens and then sitting down to decide what to draw with them. This is what happened the other night. I’ve been playing around a lot with the soufflé pens from Sakura and still trying to decide what I think of them. But it was relaxing to play, which is the point of the sketchbook.
I’m really getting into doing some type of background and then drawing over the top of it. So a week ago I made a bunch of painted or inked backgrounds and last night I drew some abstracted peonies on one of them. I have some peonies on the table, so I looked at one for inspiration abut then just went with my gut for the actual shapes. The background yellow is an acrylic ink I got through Artsnacks and I love how bright and crazy it is behind the black in, done with a micron 05.
Yesterday was the quarter way mark for the 100 day project! I’m definitely feeling a lot better about what I’m drawing. I’m now focusing on using just pencil and trying for some hints of expression. I plan to try more angles and views of the face as well. It’s becoming fun and I’m feeling so much better about the project. It’s amazing how drawing just a bit each day helps me improve so much. Related: I know these photos are awful, but I want to spend the time drawing, not taking a perfect photo, so they are awkwardly shot with my iPad after I finish.
I’ve been taking more classes on Creative Bug to freshen up what I’m doing in my sketchbook and also to hopefully enlighten my 100 day project. New techniques and ideas are a good thing. In Pam Garrison’s Creative Sketchbooking I’ve learned a ton and had a lot of fun with some new techniques. One is doing a no thinking watercolor background, letting it dry, and then “finding” things in the watercolor, be they flowers, animals, shapes, etc. She calls it responsive drawing. I did this one over the weekend and was excited about some new ideas for flowers.
I treated myself to some more gel pens by Sakura, including the Soufle pens, which are best on dark surfaces. So to experiment with them yesterday I colored in a spread with the medium cool gray Koi Brush Pen and then went to town while listening to podcasts. I don’t know how I feel about these yet, I’ll keep experimenting.
It was a gorgeous weekend in Portland and it was also a star party weekend. We volunteered to show people the stars as part of our local astronomy club, so we made our way out to Rooster Rock State Park on Saturday. As is typical for these evenings, the sunset was a great prelude to looking up. It’s just too bad the seeing wasn’t so great and the moon was a bit bright, but we saw my favorites, Mizar and Alcor.
I went to the Phoenix Art Museum last weekend and saw this installation by Cornelia Parker, Mass (Cold Dark Matter. It is a really amazing piece and I say that as someone who usually doesn’t really love installation art. The way the light plays off the pieces of charred church in this piece is amazing. This shot is a bit of a detail, because I love the light and shadow on the floor.
Even though spring just started, techinically speaking, it has felt like summer all week in Portland. This has meant that I’m on my porch many afternoons, soaking up the sun. Usually with kleenex (thanks allergies), some wine, sparkling water (thanks Sodastream), the radio (gotta have All Things Considered), and a comic to read (but sometimes this may vary and it’ll be my sketchbook). It is on days like this that I don’t just love my city, but I remember how much I love our little house.
I’ve been drawing daily for most of 2016. I share a lot of my work via Instagram, but I thought it was worth it to start sharing more here. Here’s a spread done this past weekend while watching some college basketball. Right now I’m enjoying line drawings and doing one color for most, if not all, of the spread.
I spent the majority of my holiday break drawing. Some days I probably drew for 5 hours or more, working on basic shapes, geometric patterns, designs, block letters, and just having some fun getting very low tech with pens and paper. I took classes on Creative Bug, a site I discovered through a Twitter friend, from a Portland based illustrator, Lisa Congdon. It was so much FUN! I’ve got lots of pictures of my work on Flickr. And now, in January, I’m doing a 31 day drawing challenge and posting that work to Instagram. I know, I’ve joined Instagram, follow along if you want to see not great iPad photos of my drawing.
Last night we went star gazing again. I’ve been focusing on looking through binoculars and seeing what I can see. I looked at some old favorites, Mizar and Alcor in the Big Dipper, the Coat Hanger, Sagitta, but then decided to try to find something new. I recently got a binoculars highlights book, to help me find things I can see with just binocs, and it’s been fun trying to find the things it points out. I started to look around the constellation Scorpius and found Rho Ophiuchi, a triple star. And yes, this isn’t a photo, but I think this section may start including drawings too.
We headed out of the city last night to star gaze. A welcome relief to get to some cooler temperatures, especially after sitting in our car, which has broken AC, in traffic for quite a while. It was amazing to watch the temperature fall from 95F (35C) in the city to 78F (25C) at Stub Stewart. We both watched as the thermometer was dropping as we climbed up into the foothills of the coast range. Then, as the sun was setting, we saw the glorious site of the sliver crescent moon and venus over the mountains. It was beautiful. There are a few more photos on Flickr.
I went for a walk today, had to get something at the library. The gloom of Portland winter has returned in full force after a week of very cold, but sunny, weather. I walk in my neighborhood a lot, so lately I’ve been taking the camera with me and trying to see things in a new way. This bush was pushing through a fence, a few berries are hanging on along with the drips that hadn’t fallen from the steady mist coming down.
I set an alarm before I went to bed last night. We haven’t used an alarm in our bedroom for several weeks now. It was fine before the holidays, we were getting up, but not so much over the past week or so. So I set one, not too early, just to rouse me a bit earlier. I went downstairs in the quiet house, turned on the Christmas tree lights, made tea, got the paper in, and then went to sit down and eat breakfast. Just as I was sitting down, I looked outside and saw this. It made it all worth it to get up, to remind me that in the winter, our sunrises can be so fantastic.
Here in Portland, our weather has been a bit crap. This week we’ve had a Pineapple Express come through, so a lot of rain. That all coincided with a solar eclipse, so G and I were fairly sure we wouldn’t be able to see it. BUT yesterday about 3:20pm, the clouds scattered and G ran to set up his telescope to catch the last part of the eclipse (it was at peak at 3pm). It was really cool to see it up close and G snapped some photos with our point and shoot through the telescope. In addition, right now a very large sunspot is visible (an average sunspot is at least as big as the earth, so this one is extremely large). Again, looking at that, I remember that we are all pretty small—I like my perspective getting that jolt.
We were at it again last weekend. This dose of warm, clear weather, along with earlier sunsets has made for really great star gazing. Last Friday we battled the traffic for a few hours of peace and quiet at Stub Stewart. My goal this summer was to learn the night sky and the constellations using only star charts and last Friday I found the following: Pegasus (for the first time), Hercules, Draco, The Northern Cross (which include Deneb), Lyra (which includes Vega), Polarus (aka the North Star), The Dippers, and Cassiopeia. It was a good night.
Last weekend we again went out to Stub Stewart State Park to star gaze. G brought his telescope and I used the binoculars for most of the night. We arrived at twilight and I caught the crescent moon before it was hidden behind the hills and trees. I know, you all are probably sick of my star gazing related photos, but the clouds and rains are coming to Portland, so we are taking every oportunity we have to look up at the clear sky.
G got a solar filter for his telescope, which is absolutely necessary to have if you want to look at the sun through your telescope, otherwise you’ll go blind. Today we finally had a sunny day and he set up, put on the filter, being really careful to make sure nothing was damaged, and we looked at the sun. It was really cool, so awesome to see the sun spots. G got a few shots with out point and shoot through the eye piece.
I was desperate to get out of the city again this weekend, so we ventured to the beach, specifically Cannon Beach. It was fogged in, just in that area, but it was still beautiful. We ate a picnic, watched the gazillion dogs racing around in the sand and surf, walked through the water, and I snapped photos. High praise from G, he told me I'm really improving at my photography.
We have family in town which means that we have been out and about to show off parts of our state. Yesterday it was driving to the Gorge and seeing what we could see. We don’t get out of the city nearly enough, and every time we do get out we are reminded of that fact. Yesterday was sunny, breezy, and gorgeous. I snapped this looking down at where the falls turns into a small creek. Amazing, after the power of the falls, to see the water settle so quickly into a babbling stream.
Last night we ventured to another OMSI Star Party. It was so hot in the city that getting out and being near the river was fantastic. Also, it was a “Super Moon,” having been full at 6am yesterday morning. It was gorgeous to see through some of the more powerful telescopes. G took this shot through one of them with our little point and shoot, amazing the clarity the telescope adds.
We are in a stretch of very hot weather for Portland. The forecast is saying 90 or over for almost a full week, so it’s unusual. One of the side effects of the warm, clear days is a fantastic sunset. G and I have been on the porch most evenings watching the sky over our neighbors’ homes go orange, red-orange, and then finally begin to dim. It is beautiful and one of the reasons I love Portland in the summer time.
This past Saturday night we made our way out to Rooster Rock State Park on the Columbia River for the OMSI Star Party. It was a great evening; I saw several planets and star clusters through a telescope for the first time. Plus, the ISS flew over. I caught the sun going down when we first got there, all-in-all, a really beautiful night and a great way to celebrate the summer solstice.
I was in Brooklyn last week to visit with clients and also see friends. I love walking through DUMBO and seeing the cobblestones mixed in with the pavement. I often wonder how old those cobblestones are, how many other people have walked over them, and how different the world was when they were doing so. There are some more shots up on Flickr as well.
Last weekend I met a friend at the Japanese Garden here in Portland. It was a crazy weather spring day, with rain one minute and sun the next. The changes in the light as we went through the garden made it all the more beautiful. I have more shots up at Flickr (at least until I find the time to add galleries to this site).