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Sketch Night at the Bell in March

See the full post for details.


Pentel’s Aquash Brush Pigment Ink Filled Brush

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Drawing with Your Brush

Sketching directly with the brush. Some thoughts and inspirations.


Journaling Superstitions #11: You Must Keep Your Watercolor Palette Clean

Debunking another journaling superstion: clean palettes.


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#7: Sketching Animals (or People) at the Fair

050829CCow Left: Sketch of a cow from my 2005 State Fair Journal. Pen sketch with gouache wash on prepainted 8 x 8 inch square cards made of 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. This cow was in the birthing barn and I stood on bleachers to look down into its pen. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This post continues the Minnesota State Fair Prep Series begun on August 12.

Everyone who knows me knows that the big draw for me about the State Fair (no pun intended) is the way you can get up close and personal with the animals and sketch them. There are huge barns filled with pens and stalls, each filled with animals competing to be the best in their category.

Everyone who knows me also knows I’m a carnivore (just take me out for barbequed ribs if you want to understand what this means). Yes I am sketching animals that I eat. I don’t have a problem with this. If you do, please stop reading and come back to my blog on another day. (Some of my friends are vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for 18 months once. It isn’t going to happen again. I deal with my carnivore nature and my love of animals by asking questions and by supporting humane farming practices.)

I have a great deal of respect for Minnesota farmers. They work hard, in difficult situations, to create a living for their families, supply quality food for the country’s citizens, and deal with the vagaries and risks of farm life. I have had wonderful conversations with farmers about how they work, how they raise animals and crops. When I am at the Fair and talking to them I believe my role is to listen and learn. In all the years I have been going to the Fair I have never met a farmer who didn’t respect his animals. I have been privileged to hear stories about families who have farmed for generations.


Jury Duty


Above: The first page spread I completed during my recent stint in the jury pool. I was working in a journal I made with Nideggen paper (6.5 x 8.5 inches, approx), using a fresh .1 Staedtler Pigment Liner, and Schmincke Gouache in light washes (with the Niji waterbrush). The gentleman on the verso page was sleeping when I walked in. He was snoring loudly, alternating between wet and dry noises. I worried about sleep apnea! Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Last week I had jury duty. For a self-employed person this can be quite a juggling act. For me it meant working doubly hard the previous 3 weeks to clear time. (It’s one of the reasons I don’t take vacations.) Despite having always been a registered voter I had never been called before. I was always glad of this because of work, and because of the dogs (who were used to me being around 24/7 and could have been left alone, but would have been disgruntled). When my summons came my first thought was, well at least I’ll get it over with before the cycling season starts! (I was determined to be positive.)


SketchCrawl in the Twin Cities

Left: Penguin at the Como Zoo from one of my journals. Just one of the many subjects you'll have available if you join us on the SketchCrawl. Click the image to view an enlargement.

Saturday, April 11, 2009 is the next scheduled SketchCrawl.

What is SketchCrawl?  It's a world-wide drawing marathon event founded by Enrico Casarosa. It's held all over, wherever even just one sketcher goes out to sketch. If you aren't in the Twin Cities and want to organize something in your area see how to participate here

Ken and Roberta Avidor and I have been talking about getting a group together to participate in the Twin Cities. It looks like we have some interested folks: we pitched it to the MCBA Visual Journal Collective last night before the meeting started.

So here's our plan. If you are a sketcher in the Twin Cities area and want to join us, please do. You don't have to be a member of the Collective, and you don't have to do anything more than have a desire to sketch out in public, have some fun, and, well for our event, enjoy cake, but more on that in a moment.


It Only Takes A Moment

Left: 2-minute brush sketch of a bunny sitting at the far end of the yard. Schmincke gouache with a Niji waterbrush, on Velin Arches (formerly Arches Text Wove) paper, 6.5 x 8 inch (approx) journal. Click on the image to see an enlargement. (The text was written with a Staedtler Pigment Liner after the bunny hopped away.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, over and over, because it's good for me to hear it too. It only takes a moment to make a journal entry!

Yesterday after running errands I looked out the window and saw a bunny sitting happily in the dwindling sunlight. I wasn't sure how long it would stay there and it was too far away, and back lit, for me to get clear details, but I ran to get my gouache palette and Niji Waterbrush and just painted a quick impression in my journal, in less than 2 minutes. You always have time for that.


Journaling Superstitions #3: You Must Work Chronologically



Above: A page spread from yesterday’s trip to the Bell Museum of Natural History. Sketching the live painted turtle in the Touch and See Room. Pages 6.5 x 8.5 inches; spread 13 x 8.5 inches. The text paper of this journal is Arches Text Wove (now called Velin Arches). The strip of text in the gutter was pre-painted outside of the book (leaving certain lines masked), then glued in place when I started this new journal last week. Sketches are done with Staedtler Pigment Liner .7 and Daniel Smith Watercolors (with a Niji waterbrush). Click on the image to see an enlargement.

I’m having a hard time with this superstition: you must work chronologically. You see, I actually, in my heart of hearts believe this, or at least I believe it is better when you work chronologically for a host of reasons. But that’s just me. And it’s just the way I work. Sometimes superstitions, like clichés have some truth in them. But no one should adhere to this working method if it is keeping him from working in his journal.

Here’s the deal. I tend to work chronologically in my journals because one of the important aspects of the journal for me is the timeline of my life that it presents. If I work on a first signature page then go to the back of the book, then the center of the book, and so on, I don’t get that chronology.


Journaling Superstitions #2: It Must Be Profound


Above: A sketch of a stuffed lion. This page spread is from a rather large and unwieldy journal (10 x 8 inches; spread is 20 inches wide); lightweight Gutenberg Paper. Pentel Color Brush Pen,  Daniel Smith watercolors, and a Niji Waterbrush. Read below for more information about the image. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

A lot of people I encounter seem to think that they can’t or shouldn’t keep a journal because their lives are not important enough or interesting enough or profound enough. That’s a fallacy. It’s a trick of negative thinking. Everyone’s life is fascinating if one takes a moment to examine, enjoy, or explore it. This is particularly true when you are out and about journaling with friends.

When I made the above journal page entry I was out sketching with two friends at the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota. We were talking as we were sketching. When this happens I tend to write things down that people say because I want to remember what we were talking about. More often than not people say funny and interesting things. I want to be able to remember those things.

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