I just finished a commissioned watercolor for some very kind folks who recently had to move away from our little town of Moscow, Idaho. The house is on Hayes Street, and once they had painted it this color several years ago, it became known as "Purple Hayes." They're fans of my work, and asked if I could do a piece for them - in their words, "to document, in a real and personal way, our time in this lovely home." This watercolor wasn't completed in a single sitting, and it wasn't done exclusively on-site, but it's the result of several visits to sketch and experiment with various points of view, and to figure out how to get that purple color, especially because I've effectively reduced my palette to just three colors. It helped to think in layers ... the first pass being more heavy on the alizarin crimson, then adding a light glaze of ultramarine blue. Commissioned drawings like this aren't a regular thing for me, but I could see doing them more often - particularly when it involves a meaningful place like this. Please feel free to let me know if you're interested.
This morning there was a "Quick Draw" competition at the Moscow Saturday Market, part of the week-long Palouse Plein Air event. We had about an hour to sketch before the results were put on display for the public to vote on. I'm happy to report that this drawing was selected as the winner - I received a $20 prize that I needed to spend today at the market, so I brought home a few pounds of delicious local sausage. It was a beautiful morning out there on Main Street, a wonderful reminder of how much I love this little town on the Palouse.
What to say? Barcelona was an amazing experience on every level. Reconnecting with old friends from previous symposiums and workshops ... making so many new friends ... learning from sketchers I have been admiring for years, in their workshops (Thank you so much, Shari and Eduardo!) and by paging through their stunning sketchbooks ... and enjoying a truly wonderful city ... my head is still spinning more than a week later.
I can't thank the organizers enough. Putting on an event like this, and having it run so smoothly ... it was really an impressive accomplishment! Thanks also to my fellow instructors - my only regret is that I couldn't go to ALL of the other workshops. Based on the many comments I heard from participants, everyone did an outstanding job.
Thanks also, most of all, to the people who signed up to participate (and to those who made the trip even without being able to register!). I was so moved by the positive attitudes, the willingness to try new approaches, the abundant humor, and the general goodwill displayed by so many people from so many locations and walks of life. I can't describe how fortunate I feel to be part of this group, this movement, this crazy extended family!
I was reminded of something Lapin and I talked about at the very first symposium in Portland - that these events are like "the Woodstock of Sketching." I was kidding when I first said it ... sort of ... because it struck me that we were a similar type of group. Obviously we're focused on sketching rather than music, but we certainly do come from a wide variety of locations and backgrounds to meet in one place and share three incredible days of art, laughter, and friendship. Of course, symposiums are better - Woodstock only happened once (and it was really muddy and there were too many people in just one place, hahaha), but we get to do symposiums each year in a new location! I only hope that I'll be able to attend the next one, and the next, and the next ...
In the meantime, I'm going to make a real effort to start doing more regional, smaller-scale events, to keep the energy of the symposium going. I hope everyone involved with Urban Sketchers will do likewise, and contribute however they can to strengthen this movement that was started by our friend Gabi Campanario just six short years ago. Thank you, Gabi, and thanks again to everyone who made this possible. Força dibuixants urbans!
Crummy weather for outdoor sketching today ... windy, with occasional snow flurries. So the first sketch had to be done from the comfort of a cafe. I always try to depict light (as much as possible), and in cases like this, it's all about capturing the silhouettes with strong dark tones, and trying to catch reflections where I see them. The second sketch I started outside, but my hands started to freeze up, so had to finish it back in the cafe again. This alley view is one of my favorites here in Moscow, and some might recognize it from this post ... almost the same perspective, this time done with a Yafa fountain pen and Lexington Gray ink. I hope everyone around the world had a great sketchcrawl day, I look forward to seeing the results!
We have a full-day symposium in our college today, consisting of several alumni giving talks about career, community, and identity. The information is geared primarily toward current students, rather than faculty like me ... and the quality of the presentations is quite varied, of course. Some have been really excellent (particularly the talk by illustrator Noah Kroese), while others gave me more of a chance to sketch. But this isn't at all the same thing as "not paying attention," because sketching doesn't prevent one from listening, even from listening very intently.
Sketching while listening is one of the few instances I'm aware of that can truly be called "multi-tasking." Most often, what people call multi-tasking is actually just shifting from one task to another in quick succession. Sketching and listening, however, can comfortably be done simultaneously. It's as easy as walking and chewing gum at the same time ... and more worthwhile to boot, because you come out of the experience with a visual record, a touchstone that can tie you back to a particular place at a particular point in time.
I teach architecture at the University of Idaho - design studios, architectural graphics courses, and a professional practice course. One of my passions outside of teaching ... and music, and plants, and mycology, and ... is observing and understanding the world through sketching with various media, such as pencil, pen, charcoal and watercolor. Passing along the same skill and interest to students is a goal I've pursued through my teaching here in Moscow, Idaho, and through an 8-week study-abroad program in Rome each summer.