Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tightly Closed

3/19/18 Tony's cherry tree, Beacon Hill neighborhood

My brother-in-law has a lovely old cherry growing in his yard on Beacon Hill. Whenever I visit, I admire its classic umbrella shape and knotty, gnarled trunk, but I never seem to catch it in bloom. He’s out of town right now, and I figured the cherry was fully flowered, so I went over there to surprise him with a sketch of the blossoms he’s missing. But the sad surprise was on me: Although a few spindly young cherries across the street were pink and fluffy, all the reddish buds on his tree were still very tightly closed – not a single blossom in sight.

Since I’d come across town to sketch it, I decided to do it anyway. Any time of year, its majestic shape is still beautiful.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Hunt for Pink

3/16/18 Ravenna neighborhood

Driving through the U-District Friday afternoon, I didn’t have enough time to stop at the Quad (arguably the best show of spring in these parts), but I thought I’d check on the nearby blossom situation. Crossing Ravenna Boulevard, my peripheral vision spotted some pink, so I turned around at the next intersection. Slender trees lined both sides of the residential street. With rounded petals instead of the telltale notched petals of ornamental cherries, this tree was probably not a sakura (at right). But on a beautiful day like that, I don’t discriminate.

3/17/18 UW Quad cherry blossoms

The next day I did make it to the Quad, where the news media had been reporting “near peak” cherry blossoms. Although I certainly saw open blooms, I also saw lots of tiny, tight buds. This particular variety is closer to white than pink, and from a distance, some trees still looked dark from buds firmly closed. In my down parka, I was too cold to sketch, but I stopped long enough to make a quick one of the buds. Not quite ready for prime time, the blossoms were still enough for some chilly hanami

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Steve’s Students at Wallingford Center

3/17/18 Steve's students at Wallingford Center

Steve Reddy’s “Confident Contours” workshop yesterday was first out of the gate in USk Seattle’s 10x10 program this year. Although I enjoyed several 10x10 workshops last year, I’m mostly working behind the scenes this time, helping to coordinate the program. It’s like having our own mini-symposium here – including the competitive registration! Most workshops were full a couple of hours after registration opened.

I hopped over to Wallingford Center to see how Steve’s workshop was going. His students were all focused and hard at work learning composition and values in the retail center’s corridor.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Same Foreshortened Nose

3/15/18 20-min. pose

Earlier this week when I was organizing my sketchbooks, I came across a Strathmore toned spiralbound book that I had used during life drawing only a few times. Most of it was still unused. Although I’m not crazy about the paper (I much prefer Stillman & Birn Nova), I like the size and format, so I threw it into the bag I take to life drawing.

3/14/13 10-min. pose
On Thursday our model was Randy, a long-time Gage regular whom I’ve drawn many times. During the break, I started thumbing through the Strathmore sketchbook and found several sketches of Randy that were dated March 14, 2013 – almost exactly five years ago. I found one pose that I had drawn from a particularly awkward angle, giving me a view straight up his nostrils. I remembered it because I had written a blog post about that foreshortened nose. Laughing when I showed it to him, Randy said he had just been thinking he would take that very same reclining pose for the next 20 minutes! And he did, just for me.

I could have moved my chair to a different location to avoid that awkward view, but now it’s a tradition (top of page). I’ll remind him of it five years from now.

Shown at right is the one I did in 2013. Below are a few more sketches of Randy from Thursday.

3/15/18 1-min. poses
3/15/18 2-min. pose

3/15/18 5-min. pose

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pink and Blue

3/14/18 Green Lake neighborhood

These cherries in the Green Lake neighborhood were not the fluffy pink clouds they will be in a week or so. But with that blue sky behind them, they were good enough for me.

The best part? It was warm enough to get out of my car to sketch them!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Surrounded by Color

My (mostly) vintage collection.

The other day when I showed you my two new bookcases, did you catch my teaser about that empty second one? Ultimately, I intend to fill it with more sketchbooks, but that will take a while. In the meantime, I’m using it to display my growing vintage pencil collection.

Each mug, glass or jar holds a different brand of vintage (mostly American) colored pencils (and a few graphite ones). If I was able to acquire complete sets in attractive boxes, I’m displaying them with the box. Unfortunately, most of the inexpensive (and incomplete) sets I got on eBay came in very worn and janky cardboard boxes (some of which reeked of cigarette smoke and had to be discarded). I decided those boxes didn’t enhance my studio décor, so I took the pencils out.

Sharing space with the vintage pencils are a few sets of contemporary colored pencils that I’ve used briefly to swatch the colors, but to be honest, I bought them only “for show.”

Colorbrite, Omega Try-Rex, Dixon. In back are 642 Things to Draw and Blackwing Colors. Monogrammed K glassware
from my mom's kitchen.

When I initially got the idea to display my collection this way, I was going to make a trip to Goodwill to buy some funky old glassware or mugs. Then I smacked myself upside the head and realized I have plenty of “vintage” (OK, just “old”) containers already – in my own kitchen. As for the monogrammed tumblers, those really are vintage ‘70s – from my mother’s kitchen. I never particularly liked them when my family and I drank out of them, but when my siblings and I cleared out our parents’ house after they died, we split up the set of these glasses as mementoes. I was ambivalent about taking my share, wondering if I would use them, but now I’m really happy that I kept them. I’m guessing they are about the same age as some of these pencils.

I’ve always felt that colored pencils are as much home décor as they are art materials. Being surrounded by color (that I also use) makes me happy.

Eagle Verithin, an assortment of vintage randomness, Col-erase. At right is a box of Caran d'Ache Prismalo.

Wallace, Mongol, Venus. In boxes are Tombow Irojiten (contemporary), Colleen and Lyra.

Contemporary collectibles, vintage graphite, lefty pencils (vintage and contemporary)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Shelved and Tidy

My new bookcases

For the past two Christmases, my gifts from Santa were Ikea bookcases  one case per year. I had requested them to help me get my ever-growing collection of sketchbooks – which were starting to stack up on every horizontal surface, including the floor – in order. Until very recently, however, both bookcases remained unassembled in our basement in their original Ikea cartons because I realized I couldn’t move them into my studio until I took a bunch of unwanted stuff out.

In January I finally got organized and hauled the stuff out (see the photo in this post), and Santa’s helper had space to assemble the bookcases. This week the sketchbooks are off the floor and in their new home at last. Ahhh! (After several years of feeling burdened by my excess of “stuff,” that’s the sound of relief and satisfaction.)

Arranged chronologically from top to bottom, the sketchbooks on the top shelf are a mish-mash of assorted sizes and types as I tried many, many books to find ones I liked. Several were only partially filled before I rejected them. The next three shelves look more uniform as I settled on my handbound books, with only occasional experiments with other types. I left one shelf empty to hold future books, and the bottom shelf holds the larger spiral-bound sketchbooks I use at life drawing. 

March 2018
Not stored in the bookcase at all are another dozen sketchbooks I keep on my work table for still lives and experiments with various media.

What about that whole second bookcase that remains empty? That’s for future sketchbooks, too. But I have plans for all those empty shelves in the meantime. Stay tuned.

Shown below are photos I’ve taken over the years of shelves in another bookcase that I had been using previously to store sketchbooks.



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