Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Year of Art in Review

I like to have an annual theme, something to explore, pay closer attention to – and I decided that 2015 would be a Year of Art.  The idea was to make art more of a regular practice rather than the dabbling I’d done before.   I’d say it’s been pretty successful!

What happened:
·         A little gallery took 20+ watercolors on consignment (Four Corners Art and Frame shop in the U-District), and sold over half of them along with a few prints.

·         I entered a painting in the Shoreline Arts Festival, where it was selected for the Juried Exhibit.
·         I tried different media, including pastels...

...colored pencils...


...and acrylics...

·         I painted really big (murals)...

... and really really small (miniatures)

·         I read a bunch of art books
·         I went to galleries, art museums, and art festivals
·         The best thing:  I joined the Seattle Urban Sketchers group and went off on many adventures around the city and beyond, meeting new folks, getting two of my friends to join in the fun, and having a blast drawing whatever we found in a low-key, non-critical fashion. 

Urban sketches --  a few of my favorites:

The absolutely very best of all thing that happened was that my friend Tina, who had given up drawing and painting over thirty years ago, was inspired by my reports on the Urban Sketchers to tentatively give it a try – and she loved it so much that she couldn’t stop – she has wholeheartedly rediscovered and embraced her youthful love of drawing.  The sheer joy of her experiences with art this year have made everything else I’ve accomplished pale in comparison. 

So art is now a big part of my life, and will continue to be so. 

Onward to 2016 – the first year of retirement – the Year of Exploration and Renewal! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sky Nursery Sketches

Last Sunday Tina and I drove up to Sky Nursery to see what we could find to draw.  Although the main outdoor plant section is enclosed, the big door was open, letting chilly air in, so we scurried into the nice, warm, indoor section where they sell supplies and gifts.  

There we found this wonderful subject -- hats for sale!   I admit to a bit of artistic editing -- I left out the hats on the back side, a pile of more garish hats cluttering up the bottom, and a mirror on top.  I really like the clean, simplified result.

Next I wandered around the bulb section, and found an old wagon display.  I think this would have worked better if I'd drawn it from an angle, but there was no place to sit on my camp stool anywhere but the spot with the straight-on view without getting in the way of customers.  So this turned out okay but not great.

Then I checked out the nice, warm, houseplant area.  I found a handy bench across from shelves holding small stone fountains and bonsai plants:

Beside this display, on the floor, stood a bust of Buddha.  After the hat stand, this was my second favorite sketch of the outing.

Although we stayed there just a bit over one hour, I got some excellent sketching done.  I'm looking forward to Spring when the huge outdoor plant areas are warm enough to draw in, as there is a lot of good material there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day part two

The second hotel lobby we visited on Christmas Day was the Fairmont Olympic, built in 1924.  It's on the National Historic register and thank goodness for that, as it has fabulous interiors that need preserving.

Here is the grand ballroom:

And here is the view from the grand ballroom entrance looking back into the lobby:

This beautiful staircase went three stories down.

We did not do any sketching there, but I'd like to go back sometime to try drawing the architecture, which I find daunting.

I did sketch the next day at a Christmas party -- we had a White Elephant gift exchange on Boxing Day:

The last Christmas themed photo is a Study in Green and Red (AKA, an Anna's Hummingbird at my feeder):

Coming Wednesday:  More drawing at Sky Nursery.

Monday, December 28, 2015

How I Spent My Christmas

But first, in THREE and a HALF DAYS, I will be RETIRED!!!!!!!

Okay, now we've got that out of the way, here is what I did on Christmas Day:

This is the Star Wars-themed gingerbread village in the Sheraton Hotel lobby.  Tina and I popped down there to see if we could get any sketching in.

Everything else was closed, and it was too cold to sketch outdoors -- but of course, hotel lobbies never close.

But we found the displays, while fascinating and fun to look at, were far too complex to draw, and there was a constant stream of people passing in front of them.

So we looked around the lobby for other possible subjects.  These glass sculptures were quite attractive -- but there was no good place to sit and again, they were a bit too complex to sketch while standing (trust me, sketching while standing for any length of time gets VERY uncomfortable!).

At last I spotted this peculiar sculpture -- a perfect subject.  Interesting, not too complex, and out of the way of the Star Wars traffic.

It was made in 1982.  I've no idea what it is supposed to mean or represent -- and I doubt that the number "12" refers to Seahawks' fans.  The piece is titled Obelisk with Phoenix and Esoteric Symbols of Nature.   Whatever it means, it was fun to draw.

Next, we headed over to check out the lobby of the Four Seasons Fairmont Olympic hotel, one of the oldest in Seattle.  Stay tuned for that report tomorrow!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Things That Didn't Fit into Other Posts

Just a few pics from the past weekend that didn't fit anywhere.  Enjoy!

On the way to the library: Are we there yet?

We're there!

At Magnuson Park:  Come on in, the water's fine!

A Pied-billed Grebe hanging with the Mallards

Back home:  this Ring-necked Pheasant visited my neighbor's yard!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sketching in the Tropics

No, I did not fly to the tropics -- instead, Tina and I went to the Volunteer Park Conservatory this past Sunday for some warm sketching on a chilly day.  We discovered that while 80 degrees sounds great in theory when it's 40-something outside, it's actually a bit too hot for comfortable sketching.  Especially when it's also humid inside those big greenhouses.

The place was beautifully decked out in holiday decor.

They even had a train!  

My favorite room is the one with all the cacti and succulents.  The plant below does not normally grow with bright red Christmas ornaments on its tips.

I opted to artistically remove the ornaments in my sketch.

Instead of my usual ink with water-soluble colored pencils, I did everything in ink with watercolor paints.  I found it a lot easier to get exactly the right color that I wanted, and was happy with the results.

After about an hour, I got acclimated to the heat, which is good, since we spent a good two hours sketching.

Plants are hard -- I tried to focus in on one small section, but even those were complex.

After doing those two drawings above in the palm/tropical rooms, I returned to the cactus room, which I liked best.  Again, I chose to ignore the Christmas decorations.

This was a most enjoyable afternoon.  The conservatory was relatively uncrowded, the subject matter was fantastic, and we even had a harpist playing holiday music for a while.  A great place to go in the off-season, and an excellent sketch outing location.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Truman Wants All the Presents

My neighbors gave me a Christmas gift, and as the package felt soft and smooshy, I figured Truman couldn't harm it any by opening it for me.  He does love to tear up wrapping paper, and he probably thought it was another stuffed toy.  It turned out to be a muffler, which he still thought was meant for him.  He tried to wrap himself up in it.

Maybe I should find a Truman-sized muffler for him to wear!