Opening tomorrow at the Seattle Art Museum is a special exhibition, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, featuring the work of four artists central to the Northwest school of modern art—Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, and Guy Anderson. Tied to the exhibit is a special event on Saturday, June 28: A tour of the exhibit followed by a three-hour field sketching session at Pike Place Market led by Gabi Campanario, Gail Wong, and myself. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Seattle Urban Sketchers site at <http://seattle.urbansketchers.org>.
Thanks to Bob Krikac of the Washington State University’s School of Design and Construction, Gabi Campanario, Gail Wong and I were able to spend this past weekend conducting a series of drawing workshops in Pullman, Washington. It was great to see the energy and desire to draw among the mixed group of students, professionals, and individuals simply interested in urban sketching. After the teaching sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning, we all met at Bryan Hall with its iconic clock tower for a final sketchcrawl. Here are two of the three views that I managed to do.
We’ve spent the last few days in Savannah, Georgia, one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the U.S. Savannah’s founder James Oglethorpe developed the original town plan on a grid centered around a series of squares. It’s instructive to see how the grid and series of park-like squares reveal themselves even today after all these years.
The purpose for our visit was to give a presentation and a series of workshops at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’ll try to post a few drawings from the trip after our we return to Seattle. In the meantime, here are a few photos.
I am happy to announce that I have been selected to be among those who will be teaching workshops at the 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium to be held August 27–30, 2014 in Paraty, a historic Portuguese colonial town situated on the lush coastline between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. To be able to meet and draw with urban sketchers from all over the world in such a beautiful setting is a rare privilege.
For more information and to keep up with the latest news, see <http://paraty2014.urbansketchers.org>.
I want to thank Gail Wong and all of the participants in our Line to Color workshop for a fun and stimulating weekend. For me, it was inspiring to see and feel the energy emanating from the group as we sped through downtown Fremont Saturday morning, settled into Gasworks Park in the afternoon, and then reconvened down at bustling Pike Place Market on Sunday, all the time being blessed with great weather and company. After a workshop it’s always difficult for me to gauge the impact of what two-and-a-half days of drawing can have but I did see a lot of progress and hope all who attended will continue to pursue and enjoy this creative activity.
Being occupied with working with each of the participants, I didn’t have much time to draw on my own. But here a couple of very quick sketches. The first is one of my teaching sketches that I do to demonstrate how to block out a composition on a page.
The second is a market scene where I dabbled with a waterbrush that I borrowed from Daniel, one of the participants, to see how the it might react with the ink lines. I kind of like the effect even though it’s quite subtle. The ease of creating gray washes with a waterbrush might be the first step toward incorporating color into my drawings.
Gail Wong and I will be offering a second Line to Color workshop in Seattle September 6–8. As in our spring workshop, we’ll begin on Friday evening with an introductory sketching session followed by dinner and presentations at the Ballard Pizza Co. On Saturday, we’ll work in the Fremont neighborhood and at Gasworks Park. Then on Sunday, we’ll meet the Seattle Urban Sketchers at either Pike Place Market or Pioneer Square. As always, it should be fun. And beginners are certainly welcome!
Here is a pdf offering a complete schedule and more information.
If you’re interested or have any questions, please contact Gail at email@example.com.
On Tuesday, I flew from the west coast of North America to the extreme east coast to arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I’m attending the Festival of Architecture, the annual conference of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Before my workshop sessions begin, I’m finding the time to walk around the waterfront district and do some sketching. Here are three views: one of the waterfront, another of the Halifax City Hall built in the late-19th century, and the last, a panoramic view from the Halifax Citadel.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching with Gail Wong and working with the 25 participants in the Line to Color workshop this past weekend. Beginning with a brief sketching session and pizza dinner on Friday evening, working all day Saturday in the Fremont neighborhood and at Gasworks Park, and then meeting up with the Seattle UrbanSketchers group on Sunday morning at Pike Place Market—the past three days have left me tired but also exhilarated by the energy and warmth of the group and their willingness to try out different approaches and techniques. Above is the sharing of work at Steinbrueck Park and the obligatory group photo, which includes not only the workshop participants but also members of the Seattle UrbanSketchers group.
While I didn’t have a lot of time to sketch during the workshop, I managed to get to Pike Place Market a little early on Sunday morning to capture this view of Post Alley, and at the end to sit on the curb and quickly sketch the iconic market sign.
In preparing for the Mt. Vernon workshop that Gail Wong and I will be offering this Saturday, I’ve assembled a Keynote presentation to introduce participants to a few basic principles to keep in mind when drawing on location. After teaching for 40 years but continuing to discover aspects of the drawing process through my own as well as others’ observations and experiences, I find it difficult to prepare these presentations.
What I do on an intuitive level—with insights gained through practice and experience—can be difficult to condense into a few fundamental concepts. Yet, in a one-day or even a three-day workshop, one has distill drawing lessons down to a few key ideas that can be more easily digested, especially for beginners. One of these is acquiring a proper point of view, which is vital to producing a good drawing. If one’s vantage point is flawed due to an inherent imbalance of graphic elements, an unexpected or unfortunate alignment of spatial edges, or an ill-considered placement on the page, then all the skill and experience one can muster might not be enough to salvage the drawing. On the other hand, a well composed image can often survive a number of common drawing mistakes.
In each slide of the Keynote presentation, I limit myself to a maximum of three, concisely stated points. In this example, I present three keys to drawing composition.
1. Select: Draw what interests you, what catches your eye—whether it be a detail or a fragment, an entire structure or a spatial environment—but make sure this is a conscious choice.
2. Compose: Vital to composition is walking around until one’s view of the selected subject matter holds the compositional forces that you desire. Understand whether the view is symmetrical or asymmetrical, contains the desired point or area of focus, and has the potential for conveying layers of depth.
3. Place: Understand the proportions and size of the selected image before placing it on the drawing surface or page.
There are, of course, more slides in the presentation and I look forward to seeing how effective they are in the workshop. Preparing a presentation is very much like the drawing process. One never quite knows where it will lead; one can only learn from the experience and improve at the next opportunity.