The Fifth Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out—and a Short Video of Ken Avidor

August 30, 2013


Above is a short video I made at the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out 5—on August 27, 2013. If it doesn't show up embedded you can view it here on YouTube.

A couple weeks ago in Minneapolis the hot summer gave way to beautiful sunny days with temperatures rarely going over 70 degrees. The rainless days started with crisp mornings when I could ride my bike with temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s. Heaven.

I came home one day and told Dick, "August is going to bite us in the ass during the State Fair."

It doesn't take a psychic to make that type of prediction, just someone who has lived in Minnesota for decades and paid attention. Some years hot summer days give way to early fall coolness and you actually find yourself a little chilly at the Fair. Then other years…well this is one of those years.

But despite the heat, which climbed to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and a heat index of 103, eighteen people braved the weather to attend the sketch out. (Seventeen showed up at the meeting; one departed earlier after a full morning in the heat.)

We all had a great time visiting and sharing our sketches; and checking each other for signs of heat stroke. One great thing about the heat wave for us was that the crowds were small. If you wanted a soda or a corn dog, there usually wasn't a line. And there was no great sea of humanity to work your way through, against the tide.

Ken Avidor has already posted some of the sketches made that day at UrbanSketchers—TwinCities. (I'm sorry, I've been delinquent and haven't had a chance to scan any of my images yet—you'll see them soon.)

Because of the heat and my injured arm (elbow bands are a pain in 90 degree plus heat) I went later to the Fair than my usual habit, guessing I wouldn't be able to stay until the meeting if I didn't. I arrived at about 11:40 a.m. I wasn't in the swine barn for two minutes before James Nutt called out and came over for a chat. He'd already filled pages with sketches, and mastered the technique of finding animals beneath the large barn ceiling fans to sketch (so he could be as comfortable as the animals).

I worked my way through the barns and was eventually joined by my friend Bill Snyder. After a sno-cone break we went off in search of Avidor at the Heritage Square. (It's closing this year and Ken wanted to capture it all in sketches.) On our way we bumped into Heather Leide who exhibited a lot of sketching stamina as well as viewing stamina—she had a list of activities she was determined to see. I encouraged her to look through the Fair Museum as I don't know if it is going to be rebuilt somewhere else.

Bill and I continued our search for Ken, found him, offered him a cold drink, went in search of other sketchers and each sketched part of Heritage Square.

I then returned to pester Ken and videotape him sketching. (I enjoy watching people sketch; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.) In the short video (which I think is about 8 minutes) he also talks about using his limited palette of "dirty" colored pencils. Ken works in hardbound journals from Strathmore containing their tan toned drawing paper. He uses a couple different types of fountain pens (I can't see which this is, some are Preppys and some are Noodler's) and Noodler's black ink, and of course his colored pencil selection. In the video you'll also see he's wearing the lovely commemorative button designed this year by Suzanne Hughes! 

If you went to the Fair on sketch out day but didn't make it to the meeting we'd love to hear from you and see what you sketched. If you went on another day we'd still love to see what you sketched! (There are still buttons available for sketchers.) We know one day isn't going to work for everyone's schedule.

Either way, the temps look like they are falling into a more comfortable range. And the Fair runs through Monday. You've got time.

And we hope to see you next year at the SIXTH Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out. You never know, I just might pester you, and make a video of you sketching.

    • Chris
    • August 30, 2013

    HA! In a cruel twist of fate it was actually cooler in Houston on your “Fair Day” than it was in Minneapolis.

  1. Reply

    Yes, very cruel indeed!

  2. Reply

    I do too. I feel sorry for the Fair vendors who took a hit on low turn out this year!

    • Joshua
    • September 3, 2013

    Nice video! I wouldn’t have even watched it if you hadn’t described it in your post, and I would have missed out.

    I think it’s a Noodler’s pen, if the choices are Noodler’s or Preppy — Preppy caps snap on, while Noodler’s screw on, as far as I know.

  3. Reply

    Thanks Joshua, I’m glad you watched it because I think it’s fun to see Ken sketch, and thanks for the observant comment about pen caps. I walked over to my desk and found a Preppy and they do snap on so. Ken uses a couple different types of fountain pens, filled with the same ink.

    • Ricë
    • September 10, 2013

    Loved the video, Roz!

  4. Reply

    Thank you Ricë, Ken is a wonder. I want to do another one of him, but not in the HEAT! EEEE. I know you like the heat but I think this would have been too much even for you.

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