Above: My warm up sketch of a milkweed plant. (Pentel Pocket Brush pen in a handmade journal that's 6.5 x 6.75 inches, so the spread is 13 inches wide.) Drawing with a PPBP is always a pleasure, but I have to say that on a warm day the ink glides out in a way that is so effortless and delightful you just want to draw forever. I had the good sense not to try and add green paint to this—milkweeds are an odd green!
This month's Metro Sketchers outing was delayed a week (because last week 5 of us were sketching dogs at Paws on Grand). Yesterday, however artist Paul Damon and his wife Susan invited us to sketch in Susan's native species garden. Under a sunny sky (with only an odd cloud or two) we sat in the shade (or sun) and sketched plants while hummingbirds flitted about and monarch butterflies floated on the breeze.
There were also some nasty red bugs sucking the juice out of the milkweed pods that I dubbed "milkweed ticks," but Susan assured me that they weren't poisonous and she had plenty of milkweeds so we needn't worry. Later Paul pointed out that there were several other plants that were also milkweeds and it is always a good day when you learn something useful like that.
Mostly we worked in silence with the birds chirping. But once in awhile there were discussions, disembodied voices rising up from behind walls of flowers. Ken said he was going to meditation afterwards but then quickly admitted he was doing that right then.
I can't remember when I have had such a relaxing time sketching. I was running late (so I didn't get there until 1 p.m. and only had two hours to work) but I did remember to bring my folding chair, and I have to say I might be a convert from standing and sketching, even after all these years!
The day wound up with glasses of Key Lime Lemonade (Tim Jennen's concoction of Key Lime Soda and Lemonade) which is refreshing and I think probably highly addictive, while we shared work and a little conversation inside the Damon's home. I met their very friendly black cat Skank (or Bean, depending on the company you're in). There are 3 other cats, but they wisely stayed out of the bustle.
We also talked about Paul's fundraising project for his trip to Norway. He is giving collectors the opportunity to buy paintings that will be painted upon his return, in advance of his trip, to fund his trip. I find this approach a very inventive way to raise funds for the trip. I know that several bookartists will pre-sell their limited edition works to raise money to print and bind the work. A friend of mine raised money for her son's Olympic training and supporters received frequent newsletters. The Damon's seemed amenable to my suggestion that they set up a blog to give regular reports to his funders. Additionally I lobbied for categories between "supporter" ($25 sketch) and "friend of the artist" ($250 painting). There's a lot of space between those two levels that might appeal to some budding collectors. We'll see. If you would like to view Paul's landscape paintings and read his proposal for his Norway trip go to this link. (The proposal is at the left, simply click on the Norway Trip box to download a pdf with details.)
If you aren't already a Metro Sketcher maybe you need to think about coming along on a sketch out—there is talk about a short road trip to a chicken farm just south of the Cities next summer. I've seen photos of the chickens and the lovely prairie and a very picturesque barn.
In the meantime if you join the group on Facebook you'll find out about the outings for the rest of the year! Liz Carlson and Tim Jennen are doing a great job finding fun drawing locations that have a little bit of everything for any metro sketcher! (You'll also get to see artwork made by the other artists on the sketch outs at the Facebook page.)
Update August 18, 2011: I just heard from Liz and Tim that they have started a Yahoo email list to notify folks of the times and locations. People who aren't on Facebook, or even people who are, can contact them at MetroSketchers@yahoo.com.
Thank you again to Paul and Susan for their gracious hospitality.
Above: My second and final page spread of the day. (I started talking about movies, my bad!) I decided to push myself and do a landscape, but what to focus on? I was looking from the center of the garden out, just as a lovely cloud floated by. I narrowed my focus and did a vertical slice. I don't spell well in the sun: "profusion." (Staedtler Pigment Liner and Daniel Smith Watercolors). My last sketch was the sunlight on the gargoyle. Sun does something really wonderful to stone and cement. And you only get to see this if you go outside.