It was a sketching sort of day. I met with one group of sketchers first thing (haven't gotten that one scanned in yet) to draw a lovely garden. Then I went straight on to the regular monthly Memphis Urban Sketchers group down at a funky indoor flea market in my neighborhood. It's fun to sit around and sketch with a group, and Judi Munn, a potter I admire and a friend who lives in Arkansas, was here with the potters guild show this weekend and managed to join us for an hour or so. It's fun to draw more people in to the idea of group sketching.
I often use the urban sketcher meetings to try things I don't normally in the course of my regular work. Today I kept playing with waterproof ink and watercolor, and in the second one, I left the foreground black and white, only adding color to the landscape out the window. That was the bit I was really drawn to.
This evening I sketched my third wedding, but I'm rushing to get out of town again (it looks like I'll be gone about every other week for a while), so I haven't scanned any of them in yet. It was neat to get to be a part of such a special occasion, and esp
I've been quiet here lately as I frantically get ready for a month in France. One of my wonderful new sisters set me up to pet sit for three weeks with a friend of hers in Paris, and I'll spend one more week traveling the countryside somewhere. I leave this morning, and I've got copious sketch books packed, along with watercolor and pen and ink. I've never been to France at all, and I'm thrilled to have this chance to see the art there, see the churches and gardens, and make some of my own art as well.
In the meantime, here's a watercolor I did this week at Dixon Gardens with the Memphis Urban Sketchers.
I've been involved in the volunteer organization Park Friends for some years now. It's focused on preserving and maintaining the large park (Memphis' version of Central Park) near my home. Occasionally projects sap my art time for a while (usually fighting some major threat to the park, like the city plan a few years ago to dig up the picnic field for a storm water retention basin), but it's been quieter lately, and helping out always feels like a great cause, since the park is where I walk daily and paint often. It's my closest sanctuary place, and the most important, since I can be there in a lovely three block stroll.
Recently a small group of folks donated a number of new trees to the park. It started as a small-scale project, but a number of factors (a nursery closing and giving us good deals on trees as well as donated work by landscape designer Tom Pellett, also an Urban Sketcher) made the project blossom. We ended up adding 300 new trees to the park and another 100 shrubs. You can see me above helping to plant a bottle brush buckeye with my new nephew Max. Tom is standing just behind us.
Today was the celebration for the new trees, and it was a joy to walk over past many of them to drink a little champagne.
I decided that the best possible way to mark the celebration would be to sketch a tree there in the park, so I did this drawing of an old magnolia I've been admiring and meaning to paint for some time.
I'm looking forward to walking in the park for many years, visiting the new trees, watching them grow, and painting them as they grow into mature and lovely creatures.
I keep mentioning it, but the Memphis Urban Sketchers have changed my life. Several people in there are never without a sketchbook, and I'm trying to emulate that. This is from my tiny one (3x5", I think) that fits in my pretty small purse. I also learned this sketching technique from the Memphis group recently -- just a fountain pen and a water brush for washes. It's a very nifty, streamlined kit to carry around with me, unlike my usual bulky backpack of supplies. And I love being able to pull out a sketchbook wherever I am. Hopefully I can keep this up.
Today was one of the periodic international sketch crawls by various Urban Sketcher groups around the globe. So far I've seen drawings posted from Sydney, Australia (before we even got out this morning) and Montreal. The Memphis Urban Sketchers headed to the South Main arts district and took part officially for the first time.
I love everything about the Memphis Urban Sketchers. I love going out with a group to draw (and not be the only one huddled on the sidewalk). I love the folks in our group. And I love learning new ways of drawing. Today, inspired by a couple of people in our group, I tried drawing with a fountain pen and using plain water to make washes in the ink. I couldn't find my water brush (an all-in-one, pen-looking contraption), so I just used a regular watercolor brush instead, and I do like the softness of it.
Above is my first attempt, with a little blue watercolor added in. It's a quick method, and I did a whole series this morning, enjoying the brain fizz of trying something new.
Several of us nipped into the Bluff City coffee shop and sat at the bar in the window. It was nice to take a break from the wind and have a hot chocolate while I sketched.
After meeting up to compare sketches, five of us hung around to have lunch in the famous Arcade restaurant and keep on sketching. I enjoyed the camaraderie, the sweet potato pancakes, and (once again) sketching in company.
I added extra watercolor to this one, but I wish I'd left it a little more simple. It's easy to overshoot the mark.
My final sketch was out the window to a whole tangle of traffic lights and trolley wires.
I know artists who always have a sketchbook with them, and I've never been that organized. Thanks to the influence of the Memphis Urban Sketchers, however, I'm working on being prepared and have a tiny one in my purse now (assuming I'm carrying that...).
Recently it's paid off, and here are two quick tree studies from (moderately) recent trips. One the left is yet another stunning tree in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis. On the right is a pine from the parking lot of the dance weekend I went to in Chattanooga, TN. I probably would have finished the top part a bit more, but it was raining lightly as I worked, and I finally called it a day.
The other thing I did today was help hang the Memphis Urban Sketchers show at ANF. It took three of us two hours to hang artwork from about 16 of our regular artists. It's fun to see the group's work all up together, and I like spreading the word about the genre of urban sketching.
Appropriately, the Memphis Urban Sketchers met the morning after Elizabeth's and my opening. It was fun to get out with a group, with no agenda (show, commission, etc.) and just draw. The first thing that caught my eye was the moon setting over the church in the west. I've really enjoyed watching the moon's progress this month and may have to do some more moon sketches soon.
A race was happening while we were there, and they had a brass band playing at the finish -- awesome! I love brass band music, and this group is made up from some really fine musicians around town. I love to sketch musicians, too, so I did a couple of sketches until they stopped playing. I don't draw people that often, and when I do, it's usually bands Elmore and I have gone to see.
Finally, I went to join the rest of the group in an inner courtyard. This tree called me immediately.
The Memphis Urban Sketchers met on my home turf of Idlewild Presbyterian this past Saturday, and it was fun to get to draw with a whole group in the church I grew up in. It's a beautiful old Gothic church, built just before the depression, and it was fun to share it with the group.
I got my first peek at the Memphis Magazine City Guide issue that used my illustrations. It's on sale for the month of August, and it was fun to see my watercolors in print. I took one to my opening Friday night for folks to see.
It was a highlight week for me, art-wise, because the opening for my watercolor show at Playhouse on the Square was wonderful also. I really appreciated so many friends turning out to support me, and it was fun to get to share some of my favorite places with them through art. The show will be up through September 16th, and I hope people will see it and want to visit Greece and Turkey.