Sketching the audience

I'm trying to get back in the habit of casual small-scale sketching, so took my tiny pocket Pentalic sketchbook to Oregon Historical Society on Sunday when I attended a free lecture about World War I. I couldn't see much but the backs of heads, but since the audience tended older and male, that actually provided a lot of variety!

Oregon Historical Society WW1 lecture

Some of these men clearly had been spending time somewhere with more sun than we have here in Portland right now...

Oregon Historical Society WW1 lecture

Nothing fancy, but I enjoyed just fidding with a pen and paper without making a big deal about it, and also was impressed with the look of the neutral brown Super 5 ink laid down with a plain ol' Lamy Safari pen.

Cherry blossoms in the rain

Each year, the Portland Urban Sketchers go out to sketch the cherry blossoms at the Japanese Memorial on the Portland Waterfront.  Each year it's a challenge to get it right - we can't tell for sure when the trees will be in bloom, and sometimes the rain washes all the fragile flowers away before there's much time to sketch them.

This year we were a little early; no blossoms yet, just pinkening buds.  It was raining and every surface was sopping wet.  Luckily one of the sketchers works nearby and was able to invite us to sketch from his office.  From that distance, the trees gave an appearance of pinkness so it was almost better than being closer to them! We had great views up and down the Willamette.

I used the gray day as an opportunity to experiment with water-soluble graphite using a water brush.

Burnside Bridge over Japanese American Historical Plaza
Portland Convention Center over Japanese American Historical Plaza

While we had over 300 people on Facebook indicate they were going to attend, and over 3000 interested, I was relieved we got fewer than 10 sketchers. With a mix of new and familiar faces, having a small group made it easier to get to know each other, and we generated some lovely work. Wish my overhead shots of the collection came out better; I'll be working on that!

Many thanks to Jason for sharing his office space and offering us great hospitality!

Coming back to blogging to blog about coming back to sketching

Attempts to come back to blogging in the last few years haven't stuck but here I am! Hello 2017. I miss the sense of concrete achievement I get from posting my activities here and am ready to try again.


Over the years, I haven't been consistent about practice of art. Free time outside of work is a very limited resource and I care about a lot of things; sometimes I've spent that time doing art,  other times I've socialized a lot or studied ASP.NET design patterns or learned to knit or practiced making dumplings or just managed to survive from day to day. Some years the sketchbook never got opened at all; other years, I published comics or flew abroad to sketch in unfamiliar cities. 

Some years I've wondered if I would keep drawing at all, but that question has long ago been answered.  Yes.  Sketching, of all things, is something to which I always return.  

In this last year, I've worked hard as a software developer and lost the momentum I had built as a sketcher.  Attempts to sketch my city have felt like an awkward burden and my lines have been stiff and uninspired.

So - back to the fun exercises, and back to leaning on my fellow sketchers to keep me honest! Though my main group is Urban Sketchers Portland, Sunday morning I gathered with the Portland Drink & Draw group to sketch the Rodin exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. 

Portland Art Museum - Rodin Exhibit

From there, I went straight to Dr. Sketchy Portland's special daytime Academy Awards themed costumed figure drawing session starring burlesque performer Vanity Thorn.

Dr. Sketchy - Oscars 2017

(I've attended an Oscars night at Dr. Sketchy once before.)

These were fun events and I loosed up a bit, focused on observing and trying to draw instead of on trying to make something "good".

Next step: Later today I'll meet up with a couple of my favorite Urban Sketchers at Lan Su Chinese Garden to try to stay loose while sketching a beautiful urban landscape.